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A fan’s view on why F1 2010 wasn’t as great as everyone makes out
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A fan’s view on why F1 2010 wasn’t as great as everyone makes out
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Dec 2010   |  10:20 am GMT  |  195 comments

Fantastic response to the season review video posted yesterday, which reminded us all of what a great sport this is and what drama we had in 2010.

But not everyone thought 2010 was a ‘vintage’ year for F1. Long time reader and poster Paul Lucas, who posts here under the name FlukieLucas, sent in an interesting analysis of why he thought that the rule changes for 2010 made F1 into “Proforma” racing – with the absence of refuelling strategy.

He argues that it was only the “peripherals” such as weather, safety cars, penalties etc, which made the races entertaining. This was true even of races like Abu Dhabi where the first lap safety car set in train the Rosberg/Petrov strategy which led to Alonso losing the championship.

I think safety cars, while undoubtedly artificial, are not “peripheral”. They are now part of the fabric of F1 – how else can you keep the race going after a crash like the one on the first lap in Abu Dhabi? But overall I think he has a point and as a discussion starter I felt it worth sharing with everyone. It’s been edited down slightly.

Tomorrow I’ll explain why 2011 will be a completely different story.

FlukieLucas writes: Let met tell you exactly why I found F1 2010 a *passion killer*

F1′S PROFORMA MAKEOVER
People used to tell me when they saw an F1 race the only thing they observed was cars in a procession. I understood their complaint. I told them that, although there appears to be little unfolding, they were racing according to a strategy and that the gaps between cars each lap mattered because you didn’t know about the fuel strategy of the cars in front and behind. There were other variables like weather, driver error, mechanical/pitstop issues. But beyond those peripherals, it was as a base spectacle a game of high speed chess.

Bahrain showed the risks of the refuelling ban (Darren Heath)


The race was a gradual unfolding and unveiling of the ultimate result. Sport being an entertainment industry, that’s roughly what you want to keep people interested – some intruige, something uncertain, and a result.

It’s been disappointing then, that the rule changes churned out in 2010 have nearly defeated the entertainment value such that when you now observe cars processionally circulating there is actually little beyond that. F1 has manifested it’s own caricature.

Uniform strategy increases predictability
*Removing refuelling during race pitstops was a rule change for 2010. The measure intended to save the teams 300,000 EUROs per year in logistical costs.

Because refueling is now prohibited during the race, the only thing that the team needs to see to in-race is a change of tyres. The current rules require the use of two tyre compounds during a race, so the teams are mandated to pit their cars at least once. And once is almost always all there is. Because one set of harder compound tyres suffices for the entire race distance, as soon as the soft tyres which the cars start on are past their useful life the only sensible thing for all the teams to do is to pit the cars and switch them on to the “hards”.

And it inevitably occurs on roughly the same lap because once on the fresher tyres (bearing in mind all cars carry roughly the same fuel load throughout the race) they naturally lap quicker. So we have the inevitable pattern throughout all the races this year of one stop for tyres, occurring on roughly the same lap, and for the same amount of time 3-4 seconds. This contrasts steeply to the days of fuel strategy where not only are there varying strategies, different cars who are racing one another pitting on different laps, but a multitude of unknowns instead of a uniform window to pit for tyres like today.

The effect of this has been to universally standardise pitstop strategy. There’s no room for movement unless you want to play things different and lose out, as Button did in Japan and as Webber suffered in Canada. There was no mystery to the destiny of those “rebel” strategies.

With uniform strategy, I question the grounds for drivers giving it their all:
• With a heavier car there is greater advantage with regard to tyre care in contrast to pushing lap after lap – producing “qualifying laps” as some would term them. If you’re the car behind you tend to slide in the turbulent “disturbing” air of the car in front, so there’s no incentive to attack. In fact, as I see it, there’s every incentive to take things easy. You will note if you watch the Singapore race Sebastian Vettel coming over the radio saying “I am not pushing”. To illustrate my point about the effect of “uniform strategy” I would point out that in that particular race, Vettel who qualified 2nd sat behind polesitter Alonso for the entire 2 hour race duration, pitted on the same lap, and finished second. Without forcing Alonso into a mistake there was no means of racing him for the lead besides an outrageous overtaking attempt.
• Because race strategy is now, I would argue, ” uniform”, there is a sense that there is no longer that gradual unfolding or unveiling of the race’s ultimate result. There’s instead a proforma feel to it. The certainty is that you will finish where you qualify, so long as neither you nor the team make a blunder of some sort relative to the other cars and drivers.

The peripherals alone don’t make for interesting races
In fact, I would argue the peripherals have been the only true variable in all races this year. What I mean by peripherals are the incidental things that occur in a race:
1. Safety cars.
2. Accidents.
3. Weather.
4. Penalties.
5. Mechanical issues.

Because these things are incidental, I argue they cannot be the basis relied upon for an interesting race. It seems to me that the races lacking the peripherals, have all been uninteresting this season (eg Bahrain). Whereas these incidental matters can add to the interest of a race which already has a basis for interest on the weight of the “natural” racing, they are alone a poor foundation for the sport to produce flourishing entertainment for both casual and longtime fans alike.

Close action in Malaysia (Darren Heath)


Time gaps to competitors are meaningless without fuel strategy
With the advent of uniform strategy, it seems to me as though the time gap between two drivers becomes nearly meaningless. One can grant that if you are racing another car on fuel strategy, say you are pitting two laps before the car behind, then the time gap to the car behind becomes meaningful. I used to estimate that for each lap a car/driver could run longer before their pitstop (relative to the other guy’s earlier pitstop) they would gain 1.5 seconds per lap.
But what reason is there to create such a gap to the car behind if pit strategy is uniform? I would argue that tyre care wins you a greater advantage in the race than increasing the gap to the car behind (or else maintaining a close distance to the car in front).

In-laps, out-laps, and hot-laps are a lost art of racing this year
One of the single most appreciative opportunistic aspects of fuel-stop racing for me was when a driver and his team could “leap frog” the car in front via their in-lap or out-lap (the lap at which they were pitting or their first lap out of the pits). If a passing opportunity on the track didn’t present itself during a given stint in the race, the driver could look to utilise the moment in which the car in front they were racing wasn’t immediately ahead of them on the track but in the pits or on their own out-lap.

So, if your first fuel stint in the race is 23 laps as opposed to the guy ahead whose is 22, you might utilise that single lap with “clear air” to put in your best lap of the race, pushing your car to it’s very limits. If successful, the pace advantage from the extra lap, coupled with the fact that the guy formerly ahead is heavy on fuel, will be enough to “leap frog” him when you exit from the pitlane a lap later. This became known as a driver skill to be able to find the time when they needed to turn it on.

But is this limited to a driver having more laps of fuel than the car ahead? Not at all.

In contrast, the benefit of the fresher tyres and the first-lap performance posits an advantage that can also be utilised against the driver ahead who (although light on fuel) has older worn tyres. Michael Schumacher performed a pass on Kimi Raikkonen for 2nd place at the 2006 British Grand Prix by doing as much. Similarly, Schumacher was also able to maintain a gap to Mika Hakkinen at the 2001 Spanish Grand Prix by doing the exact same thing after the first round of pitstops.

Yet with uniform strategy, uniform fuel-loads (roughly), the opportunity for “hotlaps” is almost annihilated under today’s regulations. The only instance I can recall of a in-lap making a difference to a race result in 2010 was Alonso’s at Monza to leap-frog Jenson Button, though it must be said this was as much down to a faster tyre stop as it was Alonso’s in-lap. It’s frustrating as a viewer, to observe that the driver is simply unable to make a difference under these regulations.

Conclusion
I would argue that, for credibility, top level of motorracing demands two things: 1) the driver finding the limits of his car and finding the grip as it changes throughout the race, 2) the opportunity for drivers and teams to pass where on-track passing opportunities are limited. I would argue that the sport has changed in 2010 to fundamentally erode and these two essential tenets.

Let us know your point of view.

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195 Comments
  1. monktonnik says:

    Thought provoking article.

    The arguments are well balanced, but I think that much of the predictability came from having a conservative tyre manufacturer rather than a lack of refuelling. No soft tyre should be able to last half a race, and no hard tyre should be able to go a race distance. Canada was the one race where the tyres were marginal and it was unpredictable and exciting.

    I think that 2011 will be more unpredictable for two reason:

    1. Pirelli have said that they will bring more marginal tyres.

    2. The adjustable rear wing.

    For me the combination of the two is the most interesting possibility. It may produce more ‘artificial’ passing but it may also cause strategic problems for both cars. The wing will “switch on” at a gap of around a second a lap. This means that any car within a few seconds of the car in front will be pushing like mad to get into that zone and turn on the wing. AThe car in front will be doing everything in it’s power to stop that happening. This means that cars are less likely to try and conserve tyres and catch their opponents at the stops, or simply rely on track position to get a result.

    The fastest car and driver will still most probably win the race, but I genuinely feel that this will allow more flexible strategies whilst enabling more overtaking.

    1. Wayne says:

      There is an imporant difference between an entertaining season and a season of good motor racing. The season was entertaining DESPITE FOTA, the FIA and CVC. It was not a good season of motor racing i’m afraid.

      1. monktonnik says:

        I don’t agree. I thought that there was some good racing and a largely unpredictable championship.

        We did see some overtaking as well. I think that this season wasn’t the worst I have seen by a long way.

      2. Wayne says:

        Unpedictable because of peripheral issues (reliability/weather/FIA decision making etc) not because of car parity and good racing.

      3. Euan Taylor says:

        maybe this season was was only exciting because of the peripherals but who cares it was still exciting and thats what really matters. some people are never happy, when you get the most exciting f1 season for a generation some people complain that it wasnt exciting for the “right reasons”. personally i think this was the best f1 season i can remember and i don’t care why.

      4. Wayne says:

        Depends if you want to watch a soap-opera or a good motor race doesn’t it? F1 is probably the most exciting soap opera on the planet, but real, politics-free, honest wheel to wheel racing? There are many better examples out there. And I am a lifelong fan of F1 and will continue to be.

      5. Sebee says:

        It was an artificially sweetened season. It will not stand the test of time. My wallpaper of Vettel blowing up tells me so. Long time fans, in retrospect I bet we miss tire wars, quali engines, unlimited engines and gear boxes, spare cars, red flagged GPs with a second start, 1hr quali sessions where the last 10 minutes was worth the 50 minute wait, etc.

        As time passes the real sweet pure sugar is replaced with artificial sweetness. Be it out of necessity or budgets. I also remember when I didn’t care about an F1 team budget. It was a wonderful time.

    2. Jason says:

      I’m still skeptical on how much of an impact the adjustable rear wing will have on overtaking. Did cars with the F-duct overtake car after car?

      The over-reliance of aerodynamic grip over mechanical grip for the modern F1 car will always hinder overtaking, which is why I’m hopeful that Pirelli will carry through on their pledge to provide marginal tyres. Its clear that when mechanical grip is affected (e.g. wet races), races become exciting.

      1. Lockster says:

        Agreed, bring in marginal, low-grip tyres please Pirelli!!

      2. Wayne says:

        Another way to introduce rogue elements to give the impression of racing. All this tyres that fall apart, push to overtake buttons, rear wings that give a totally unfair advantage to the chasing car business is papering over the cracks.

      3. Jason says:

        Wayne, of the several features you mentioned, only the adjustable rear wing will provide an advantage to the chasing car. All cars will be using the same tyres and KERS will be used offensively and defensively as far as overtaking is concerned.

      4. Wayne says:

        Yes, Jason, I realise that and that is what I said, poor punctuation aside. However, think about what this means – the chasing car now has an advantage. This is momentous! This is inherrently unfair! This is not real racing!

  2. Jake Borg says:

    We all used to complain about the lack of on track action prior to the refueling ban, with most ‘overtaking’ being based on strategy and playing out in the pitlane.

    I think this is a case of the grass always being greener on the other side.

    We were treated to a great season, the weather and other peripherals play a part in all sports, and they just add to what is already a great show. The real problem in F1 is that some tracks are just not conducive to overtaking, Abu Dhabi, Valencia, Hungary etc.

    1. K says:

      “We all used to complain about the lack of on track action prior to the refuelling ban”

      No “we” didn’t.

    2. seisteve says:

      I agree, whilst I also expected a procession this year when it was announced that re-fuelling would be banned, butI have loved it all. Well the first race is the exception :-)

      Tyre management was a key area and more than once a driver cooked the tyres and lost the speed for a position or two later in the race.

      2010 was a great year, maybe for different reasons but who cares…. it was a great year.

      1. Sebee says:

        What should keep you and infact everyone in the circus awake at night is improved car reliability, sunny grand prix weekends and laws of averages.

        Quite frankly Brazil was the yard stick for me in 2010 – a venue that produces awesome GPs year after year produced one that didn’t make me concerned about pressing the jump ahead 15 minutes button on my PVR four times.

    3. Luca says:

      i would have to agree with you – in many instances the track is more the issue with lack of overtaking built into the circuit. This combined with tyres that are far too durable have lead to the uniform racing.

      I have to say i also loved the elements of strategy that refuelling brought to the racing. However, I think there have been enough variations that could be used to argue that the strategy, currently, is not uniform. There is a safe strategy for sure, but there are still enough variables to make the pitstop work to make up spaces.
      Also, there is no mention of how the driver(/teams) use the fuel mixtures to manage phases of the race and when they can push or not to make up time or manage the car to the end of the race.

      Going forward I don’t see KERS and the moving rear wing as the answer. Canada should be used as the template for a good race – marginal tyres.

    4. Carlos says:

      I would say it was a great SEASON, but with few good RACES.

      When different cars are dominant at different tracks, with some attrition thrown in, the championship becomes very interesting from race to race. It doesn’t mean that various cars were actually competitive with each other at the same race, let alone raced each other closely for the win.

  3. Des Murray says:

    Lucas,
    A very well constructed argument, with which I find myself agreeing totally. As a lifelong fan, I feel I will still enjoy the spectacle regardless, even enjoying the varations in ‘interest’ across the decades (!), but the sport must continue to expand it’s fanbase if it is to survive, and this means making ‘the show’ more immmediately satisfying.
    Lucas is absolutely on the money saying the peripherals cannot be relied upon – and I think this year, though fascinating, could have been very different were it not for various random influences.
    What F1 needs is a return to refuelling and the supply of two VERY different tyre compounds for each race. Both would ideally be unable to run a full race distance, forcing drivers and engineers to be more creative both tactically and strategically.
    Bridgestone, understandably perhaps, always seemed reluctant to provide ‘marginal’ tyres, and I wonder if Pirelli will be any less so.

    1. Refuelling, or the lack of, wasn’t the issue – with the conservative tyres we would still have seen almost everyone run the same strategy, with variation decided upon on Saturday probably dictating the outcome.

      For me the major factors that hampered the on track action were:

      - Conservative tyres where even the soft could last most of the race distance at many tracks.

      - Adjustable front wing allowing the drivers to trim the car throughout the race, eliminating the variation in pace caused by balance problems as the fuel loads change.

      - Double diffusers giving the cars too much grip and too much of a wake, leading to problems for following cars.

      - The Red Bull car being too dominant at many of the races. 2004 was dull for on track racing, despite refuelling, because of the dominance of Ferrari.

      Hopefully the rule changes for next year will address most of the above.

      1. Martin says:

        Chris, I’d argue that with refuelling the weight penalty would have dominated the performance equation and we would generally had at least two stops per race. The hard tyres still yielded a benefit in the early laps. If we had tyres that necessitated at least three stops to be the fastest way to the finish but required overtaking a two-stopping car then we may have had some hope of overtaking, but as you say the tyres were too hard for much of a performance differential. Kobayashi in Valencia and Webber and Kubica in Singapore are the only two that really come to mind.

        As the fuel tank contains the centre of gravity the real benefit of the adjustable front wing is when the car has one end wearing its tyres more quickly then the other – usually the rears.

        Also I don’t think double diffusers are a big deal in terms of the wake. The Renault was regarded as the worst car to follow and it had a single diffuser when this assessment was made and generally lacked performance, largely because the underbody wasn’t generating enough downforce.

        Chris Horner’s suggestion before the start of the season to have two mandatory stops would at least have brought the option of going soft-hard-soft rather than soft-soft-hard, which would normally be the quickest way to get track position after the second stop.

    2. Lockster says:

      Personally, I’d be happy for them to allow drivers to do any number of tyre stops and any combination of tyre compounds, including choosing not to do any stops at all!!

      If they then bring in Hard Tyres that could potentially “just” make it through the race if someone like Jenson drove around “on tip-toes” for the whole race, REALLY marginal…

      If there was enough of a speed difference between the hard and soft tyres, then it could bring fantastic racing, I always love when there is a huge speed differential between drivers (particularly when it is wet, and you have some drivers on wets and some drivers trying to survive on slicks) and you see one driver trying to avoid making a stop and get track position and a “time gap”, vs a driver that decides to stop for better, grippier tyres that is trying to catch and pass the driver that “stayed out”.

      Can you imagine the battle between a “Jenson” smooth-driving-style driver trying to make a single set of hard tyres last the whole race versus a “Lewis” type of driver (that is harder on their tyres but able to get more out of them) trying to use 2 (or 3) sets of soft tyres throughout the race to go like a bat out of hell and try to make up the time they lost in the tyre stops and pass the other driver.

      Imagine after the tyre stop with say 25 laps to go, seeing Jenson with a 20 sec lead but with Lewis catching Jenson at 1 sec a lap… very exciting I think!

      1. Martin says:

        The last time we really had that kind of tyre strategy would have been 1987. Unfortunately – in my opinion – F1 is unlikely to ever have the grunt to grip ratio as far in favour of the engine ever again. This would in my view increase overtaking and further discriminate between the drivers.

        On tyre wear, I think there is a understanding about Jenson and Lewis on tyre wear. As Martin Brundle says, a key job of an F1 driver is managing heat in the tyres. In certain circumstances Jenson’s smooth style helps with this.

        With Jenson’s driving style he is driving a longer distance than Lewis. Oversimplifying things, Jenson’s turns are more ‘U’ shaped to Lewis’s ‘V’. Jenson’s average speed will be higher, putting more load on the tyres as the downforce is greater on average. This greater load increases wear. Peter Windsor made the comment based on his access to Williams telemetry that Mansell would be faster than Piquet through quick corners and this increased his wear rate rather than any sliding. Lewis’ driving style can be aggressive in terms of sliding the back end into corners to achieve that V-shape, but it is rare that tyre wear is that big an issue.

        Finally, we will need next year’s aero rules for a 1 second gap to work. The performance differential isn’t big enough – we’d know that Lewis would get there, but it would be unlikely that he could pass.

  4. DC says:

    A great well thought out analysis.

    I would however list driver error as an interesting game changer this season. Mr Lucas mentions accidents as being peripheral, but looking at turkey and Korea for example and spa for that matter the driver errors made a huge difference and when driving on the limit should be considered a main part of the show. All the top drivers made errors. I can see his point of view, arguing that accidents are not the same as clean on track passing and are therefore peripheral but a lot of them are because passing was being attempted and as such the races were more exciting.

    I know a lot of the overtaking was due to cars out of position from rain and bad qualifying but the top guys did have a good go at one another on numerous occasions and this was very entertaining.

    In those races where errors were not made and and the tracks made passing difficult. Mr Lucas makes some very valid points. But looking at refueling and tyre compounds alone is not enough. It is also the circuit design at fault. I believe the FIA has finally realised this and agreed to engineer more open tracks for racing. Talking to the drivers might be a good place to start.

    1. For Sure says:

      ” I believe the FIA has finally realised this and agreed to engineer more open tracks for racing. Talking to the drivers might be a good place to start.”

      Finally is the word, isn’t it. I mean F1 has been around so many years and the fans have been complaining for so many years.
      One would think that F1 would have been more evolved to a point where drivers’ input in designing those circuits became part of F1 since 30 years ago.

      I hope f1 eventually reaches a point where championship contenders go wheel to wheel like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3tXJm9tYGM
      instead of “speed chess”

      1. Martin says:

        It would be nice, but it is interesting how it always this example.

        In 1979 there was relatively little downforce even with 1.5 generation ground effects and skirts. The tyres were nothing like as good as what they have now and there was a wide variation in engine performance.

        Given the regulation framework, my hopes are resting on the formation of the restrictions on the engines from 2013. There is the possibility of the cars cars potentially having almost constant power output (torque high at low revs and tailing off of high revs) due to airflow limits. This has the potential for lots of wheelspin out of slow corners. Greater underbody aero and smaller wings should help too.

  5. Michael says:

    Congratulations, you managed to list every single thing that made this season great.

    I’d rather have a season thrown into minor chaos with endless bouts of rain, safety cars, driver errors, etc, rather than the same old boring, processional races of the Schumacher era.

    Maybe fluk is a Schumacher fan….

  6. Anotherproblem says:

    I fear he is just hung up on the lack of fuel stops. How on earth did fuel strategy ever mean a race was more interesting? Sitting there for 1.5 hours only for the guy you forgot about to end up winning because of some good fuel call. Call it what you like, but that’s not racing. The rules as they stand now are far purer and allow for racing on track, where it is infinitely more interesting. The cars needing changing to allow them to follow closer, not the rules.

  7. James Williams says:

    Some people are hard to please. This guy is a fool. Nice try at making F1 sound boring. But it didn’t work.

  8. Gilles says:

    I think Flukie has a point, but his view seems to be a bit biased in my opinion. He comes across as part of the group of fans who enjoy F1 because of the strategic element. This strategy element stems from pitstops, which allow for varying strategies. In that sense, he is right: there is just one meaningless pitstop and hence just one opportunity to use it to your advantage. As only tires are changed, they’re shorter than they used to be and therefor the likelihood of overtaking is less than before.
    Personally, I enjoy F1 for the racing itself. We mustn’t forget that pitstops were introduced to inject some position changes into the race. That lead to ‘pitstop overtaking’ dscribed by Flukie, of which I am not a fan. Drivers should not wait for pitstops to try to overtake, they should do it on the track. Cars belong on the track, not in the pits; pitstops should be exceptional.
    F1 still has a problem with overtaking. In that respect, I see the sport moving in a better direction, whereby budget restraints and ‘semi-spec’ cars will keep performance within a certain range, whereby the driver can then hopefully again make the difference (Kobayashi & Hamilton for instance). This allows for more teams, cars ad drivers to fight for wins; we had six cars in 2010 capable of winning races, and on a given day maybe 8. This is unseen for years, where usually only 2 teams, or just 2 lead drivers were fighting it out. Great battles, but what about the rest of the grid ? In that sense, there has been progress.
    That said, the rear-wing adjustment will again introduce an artificial element into it. I am opposed to this, but at least they are accutely aware of where the problem is and I prefer ‘random’ peripheral events to given artificial ones.
    F1 has always been largely processional and will always be like that: the fastest drivers/cars qualify at the front of the grid. If they do their job properly, then barring mechanical failures they should finish there. In that sense, the peripherals have always interfered with the races. Nothing new there.
    I would like Flukie to point to a specific year or era which would come close to his ideal of F1 racing.
    My ideal world: slipstreaming and close racing. Make that possible and the rest will pretty much take care of itself.
    I voted ‘Brilliant’ because I’ve seen more interesting battles, more diversity, more drama, more winners than in any year in the 2 decades preceding it. I have to go back to 1982 to find an equally interesting season and that too had boring races.
    If the technical department at RedBull had been a bit more carefull with what they put on Seb’s car on Sunday, the season could have a bit a lot duller mind you.

  9. ipopic says:

    I disagree with the FlukieLucas opinion. He has some valid points but I think he is too quick to blame the refueling ban.
    I think it was a very good decision to ban refueling as now pitstops are more important. In previous seasons the speed of changing tyres by the pit crew wasn’t really that important as long as they did it in before the car is fully refueled. And most of the teams using uniform strategy (note that I say most, not all) has a completely different source – mandatory pit stops due to rule that forces teams to use both tyre compounds in the race and the rule which forces the top 10 drivers to start the race on tyre with which they qualified on.

    Scraping this two rules in addition to making tyres that under no circumstances can last 98% of the race would greatly improve racing. Already new no-refueling rules have spiced up the racing in the last part of the race as before you could just as well wave the checkered flag after last round of pit stops – in most races drivers would just go into engine-conservation mode and settle for whatever position they are currently sitting in.

    Just take a look at Canadian race, what made it so exciting was that tyres weren’t everlasting so we saw various tactics and the need for multiple stops for tyres which brought a completely different tactics regarding tyre usage. Kobayashi is great example of a driver taking advantage of a fresher tyre by gambling on a lighting-fast last stint (remember Valencia and two overtakes in last lap he did there). I wish we would see more drivers do this – especially as another challenge drivers faced this year was coping with different handling of the car under varying fuel loads during the race.

    Now, why are drivers so reluctant to try an overtaking move is completely different problem – my take is that in this age of corporate Formula 1 they are actively encouraged by teams not to risk it for more but settle for lower position.

  10. Nick says:

    I feel that some of the comments concerning a lack of ‘hot laps’ in 2010 are a bit unfair. In the days of re-fueling how many times did drivers, particularly near the sharp end of the grid really have hugely varying strategies? There was nearly always an ‘optimum’ strategy and given the advanced level of race simulations available to teams these days most cars pitted within 1 or 2 laps of each other anyway.

    Now this year teams at the front of the grid often did the same thing. Tyre stops would be made early on in the race and some teams would try to pit early and gain and ‘undercut’ advantage from the extra grip offered by the fresh tyres on whoever they were racing. Others left it maybe one or two laps longer in hope that the clean air would provide them with more of a benefit than the fresh tyre grip.

    I will concede that the art of making a 3 stop strategy faster than a two stop as Michael Schumacher did quite unbelievably in Hungary, has been lost, but personally I would rather see drivers being forced to overtake one another on track, wheel to wheel, as these rules were intended to promote. Rather than sitting behind the car in front for 15 laps not pushing what so ever safe in the knowledge that you had 3 laps of fuel on board and would therefore be nearly certain to leap frog the car in front during the pit stops.

  11. Eno The Wonderdog says:

    I have a problem with a lot of the arguments presented as the ‘best’ for Formula One.

    If you think a fast lap or section is important as a race strategy go watch Dragster Racing or Rallying.

    If you think Fuel Strategy is important perhaps the sports cars are the things for you.

    I believe – as I’m a Dog – I can point out that pretty much the “Golden Age” according to most forums I visit are the “Standard engine” days of the Cosworth V8.

    Yes Ferrari and Alfa Romeo used funner better sounding engines but the Cosworth was a de facto standard engine.

    Perhaps we should go back to the days when we loved Cosworth,allowed cars to generate under floor downforce and let the rest be made up by genii..

    Perhaps a standard “Cosworth” – no “Top driven” wings other than those specified and unlimited energy recovery hey??

    Ok that’s my idea..

    1. Martin says:

      Eno – if you remember the 70s – you’d be at least 200 now – or looked on YouTube, the cars were really slow then compared to what F3 cars do now in corners.

      The engines these days are pretty much within the tolerances of what Cosworth produced in those days. What has changed is the downforce level including the way it is produced and the tyres. Throwing the wings out and allowing ground effects should help. The sponsors wouldn’t like it much. Engines with aggressive throttle response should help too.

  12. Mattw says:

    2010 kept me on the edge of my seat, and bar Bahrain, I found it full of excitement and drama – and you cannot ask more than that.

    Was it a vintage year? Frankly it’s too early to tell. We need to move on a few more years ans see how we look back on it, but I think it will be remembered well.

    I have to disagree with FlukieLucas. I found the strategy element of the refuelling era very simplistic. 15-20 laps in you could see what everyone was doing, and the race was set. No body bothered overtaking, they would just wait for the fuel stops. That was boring. I hated races being decided in the pit lane rather than on the race track.

    This year, the ban on refuelling has lead to a definite increase on overtaking – the statistics bear that out. The drivers had to go out and race.

    The only problem was that Bridgestone supplied tyres which were too durable. When the ‘soft’ tyre can last the entire race without dropping off, it becomes a bit of a farce having ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ tyres at all. What we want to see is races like Spain 85, and we only had that in Canada this year.

    1. Paul L says:

      I’d be interested if you could share those statistics on overtaking – and how it’s increased this year. I’m not suggesting you’re wrong at all, but I’d be interested to know.

      But I don’t think it’s fair to say that the drivers didn’t bother passing and relied on fuel stops pre-2010. Certainly Lewis Hamilton would disagree with you. Though he was mighty in overtakes this year, especially early in the season, his passing penchant in 2007 and 2008 was just as high class.

    2. Hamish says:

      I couldn’t agree more regarding the predictability of fuel stops. I found it incredibly boring for more than a decade.

      But the thing is that there was plenty of strategy this year…we saw it in the last race – where I thought at the time RBR had done the right thing to bring Webber in, and Alonso followed.

      But also in Hungary, where Webber’s one early stop was enough. Anyone who saw the lap times that followed (consecutively) would acknowledge that the win in Hungary was all down to brilliant strategy, brilliant driving and a mistake by a rival.

      That was the stand out strategic race for me this year..and it didn’t require refueling…

      Given the variety of venues the Championship visits these days it will be impossible for tyres to perform the same at every track. At some places the softs will last less than 10 laps…at others they might last almost a full race distance….it’s all down to track surface and climate.

      The fact that there were accidents/mistakes tells us that the drivers at the front were on the ragged edge…just the way we all like it surely??

      I enjoyed this year almost more than any other since 1993.

    3. david says:

      totally agree.

    4. P Jaxon says:

      I’m with you. I despised races being decided in the pit lane rather than on the race track also. Hopefully Pirelli will produce a good ‘racing tyre’ for 2011.

    5. Ace says:

      I agree. I’ll base my opinion on how excited I was for the next race and this season kept that at an all time high.

      1. Carlos Eduardo Del Valle says:

        I heard Kubica in the Renalt podcast and he said that he prefered the old refueling times. On the other hand Pat Symonds told Auto Motor Sport that he thought the refueling thing was going too far. And he mentioned some statistics about a surge in overtaking this year.

        It’s something like McLaren vs Ferrari, or Brazil vs. Argentina. Heated discussions, lots of passion.

        And I’m for the NRAP (Never Refuel Again Party)

    6. Martin says:

      I presume you mean Spain 1986 where Senna didn’t stop and Mansell ran out of time to pass. I’ve just re-read the race in “Fifty Famous Motor Races”. It started as a fuel management race and Mansell went back early. He took the lead on lap 30. Late in the race he got a puncture. He stayed out too long before changing tyres. Mansell then had a huge edge. On the second last lap he took 3.8 seconds off Senna.

      On the basis of the report, a key thing was the moving of the start-finish line by 1 metre. Alan Henry bought the lie that this was enough of a difference. Unfortunately the winning margin was officially 0.014s, which as worked out at 93 cm, requiring Nigel to be doing twice the speed of Ayrton to win.

      In terms of time gaps, F1 is closer then it has ever been and qualifying has never mattered more. Because the cars are so even it does make it hard generate differences in strategy and performance to create passing opportunities.

    7. Ben G says:

      Agreed. No more refuelling please.

  13. Villa Ven Gore says:

    Without mechanical failures, accidents etc the season would have been the most boring in recent memory. Re-fuelling gave opportunities to change the race – we needed that as often as possible. Nicely written piece – thank you

    1. Trent says:

      You have your opinion, and if you ask enough people you’ll find someone who’ll say that 2009 was the most boring season, or 2008, or 1998 etc.

      We all have different opinions – personally I thought 2010 stacked up very well compared to many of the seasons I’ve seen since 1986.

      I was ecstatic that refuelling was banned, as the ludicrous procession in and out of the pitlane did nothing to excite me. The 2010 season proved the point for me. But then, I realise there are plenty of other opinions out there!

  14. Clay says:

    I think people are getting their hopes far to high with respect to the movable rear wing. This year saw the introduction of the adjustable front wing, and it offered no tangible increase in overtaking.

    One more thing. Everyone keeps talking about the need to increase overtaking. We actually had quite a bit of it this year, and too many people have this idea that it was all better “in the good old days”. What people forget is that some of those races in the good old days of the 1980′s were terribly boring, so its currently not as bad as many people make out.

  15. Dylan says:

    I think that contrary to your article the refueling ban was a great decision for F1. I noticed many times this season that a strategy call to bring a driver stuck behind another car in early was rewarded with track position. Back before the refueling ban the general rule was that the longer you stayed out on the track the better, as the car that pits first would not see the advantage of their fresh tyres, as they would have to carry a full stints worth of fuel while the car that they are racing against was blitzing around without the burden of more fuel. In 2010 it wasn’t so clear cut, as many times a car would pit and get new tyres and head out on the track and set personal bests and before you know it they had made up enough time on the track so that when the car that was ahead of them finally pitted, the car that was ahead would end up behind (unless the car ahead of them pitted the lap later… by that time though it may have already been too late)

    By my recollection if you think back to Abu Dhabi, the refueling ban could be responsible for the upset Vettel championship win in 2010. Webber’s pitstop for fresh tyres triggered alonso to also pit to cover webber. If the refueling ban was not in place, webber would have had the extra burden of a stint worth of fuel, and there is no way that ferrari would have been as worried as they were about webber.

    Also, the refueling ban added some unpredictability into the race. Before the ban there was not much point pitting for tyres if you still had 10 laps worth of fuel in the car as you had to refuel at the same time you would never see the benefit of running with a light car. If teams wanted to they could pull into the pits on lap 5 and swap over to a tyre different to everyone else, they were free to do so. I’m sure this freedom to choose tyre strategy unburdened by the requirement to refuel was a key factor in jenson button’s two wins early in the season.

  16. Christian says:

    Good comment, but I don’t agree. You are right that in races like Bahrain, ‘nothing happened’ but you could argue that this was also due to the peripherals, for example the heat that caused drivers to keep a certain distance to the guy running in front in order to not overheat the engine.
    In a ‘normal’ race you will have the fastest car from qualifying starting in front, the second-fastest behind that and so on…what exactly do you expect to happen? A Toro Rosso improving his pace by two seconds from Saturday to Sunday? Not gonna happen.
    The only thing that can happen is that one car is faster on race pace than on qualifying pace, then you’ll get races like Turkey. This would have been a totally boring race with refueling with definetely no overtaking attempts at the front. But I agree, in many cases it has been the periphals which have made the races exciting. But I don’t think there has ever been an F1 season in which this has not been the case.
    In my opinion, the mentality to play ‘High-speed chess’ has shown everything that was wrong with F1 in the previous years. While strategy should play a part, it is still supposed to be a race and not a strategy game. Even with this year’s rules, there still was enough room for strategy. Of course some of those backfired (like Red Bull in Canada) but there have also been examples which have been successful, like Sebastian Vettel’s last-lap pit stop at Monza and Kobayashi’s tyre strategy at Valencia and Suzuka. Under the old rules, none of this would have happened.
    (Sorry, just had to include Kobayashi ;) )

    1. Paul L says:

      The problem with saying, in my view, that it’s about the race and not the strategy game – is that the drivers were very much a part in making a strategy work. I don’t think it was a matter so much of finding the best lap to stop on given the conditions and elements, I think it was about whether the driver could make whatever strategy they were given work. Naturally there were better “pure strategies” than others, but if you recall somewhere like Hungary 1998, it was all about Ross Brawn allowing Schumacher to come into the game by pitting once more. Same with France 2004 with Schu’s four stops to edge Alonso and Renault.

  17. Doug says:

    I have long since thought this season has been vastly overhyped.

    The telling factor were the levels of excitement, anxiety and suspense as the red lights went out. For me, it completely lacked what we have had in previous seasons and the drivers were noticeably more cautious.

    That and the inveitability of a Red Bull double world championship. They should have wrapped it up long before they did and in truth the times where McLaren or Ferrari could actually compete were few and far between.

    Comparing this season to the recent 2007 & 2008 World Championships for example, this year completely lacked the massively exciting qualifying we had in those seasons, unpredictable race starts, different race strategies and two very similarly matched teams with the best drivers pushing each other all the way.

    Nobody really pushed Red Bull this year – they just seemed to like breaking down a lot.

    1. Hisham Akhtar says:

      “Nobody really pushed Red Bull this year – they just seemed to like breaking down a lot.”

      Haha nicely put.

  18. Phil Bishop says:

    at least this year all the accidents were peripheral and not contrived ;o)

    more seriously, the sport is far from perfect and the continuous tinkering with the rule book doesn’t seem to make it better. My interest is fading and next season will be the first in almost a decade that I do not attend a race. I just can not justify spending that much money on something that simply isn’t as good as it used to be.

    FlukieLucas makes some interesting points (as do some of the replies above) but in particular I agree that I miss the strategic options that refueling provided. The tyres are also of huge concern to me. I think the rule requiring a team to use a good and bad tyre is ridiculous. No other component has to be changed for something inferior so why are tyres? Teams should be given the chance to run whichever compound of tyres they like, trading increased grip with the need to change them more often. Combined with varying fuel loads that will cause interest through teams running different strategies (just as it use to)

    1. Hamish says:

      Couldn’t agree more re tyres…remember the old days when they used to run softs on the left and hards on the right? Now that was interesting stuff! Let the teams/drivers work it out for themselves!

  19. Maurice A says:

    I agree with Paul Lucas 100%. When I heard that re-fuelling would be out i was really disappointed and really hoped that the FIA would bring back re-fuelling.

    However, I do agree but the season was pretty good overall because mainly of the peripherals. I did notice we had more of that this season then the previous seasons. Always there were some races these season I wanted to rain because it would have been boring. Hungry perfect example.

    I miss the days of re-fuelling because not only what Paul mentioned but the level of pressure where something could go wrong with the fuel rig for example. I’m seriously hoping the Pirelli tyres cause a lot of degradation.

  20. Pete says:

    Many good points. I feel that many of the new tracks are extremely dull circuits with an emphasis on media facilities and corporate entertainment and not enough on the track e.g. challenging corners, too much run off. Unless it rains, you might as well watch the first few laps and then go and mow the lawn. So I agree that the peripherals are now the key to providing an interesting individual race.
    The only thing that kept things close this season from a championship point of view is the current crop of drivers and the relative advantage of the cars. Hamilton and Vettel are fast but prone to mistakes. Button and Webber tend to think on their feet better but lack that out and out speed. Alonso is probably the best driver but didn’t have the car for most of the season. Somehow it worked in our favour and went to the wire but I wouldn’t bank on it next year.

  21. Bob says:

    Some interesting points, I would agree. But I dont think that refuelling is the issue. I would like to see more pitstops, yes. I would like to see more strategy as a result, too. I would also like to see more wheel to wheel racing, and overtaking. I want to see a car with a deomstrable speed advantage be able to exploit this on track and gain position on track rather than in the pits. I think the majority of this would come from “better” tyres i.e tyres that optimise the spectacle, whereby a fresh set give a driver a distinct advantage such that differing driver styles influence tyre wear, and thus number of pit stops and thus strategy. Just my thoughts on the matter tho.

  22. David Ryan says:

    A very interesting and well-thought-out article, and thanks for sharing it. There are certainly problems with the racing as it currently stands as shown by the lack of overtaking and wheel-to-wheel action, as there have been for a few years now. However, I’m not sure bringing back refuelling will solve the problem – as Jake Borg says above, it sounds like a case of “grass is greener on the other side”. Tyre compound longevity, heavy fuel loads and circuit design all hinder the racing to some degree, but I remain surprised at how often the real elephant in the room in Formula One is overlooked; namely, that narrow-tracked, aerodynamically-focused single seaters which generate a large wake and have extremely effective brakes do not lend themselves to close racing or overtaking. Much as the teams may protest to the contrary, the cars are the real culprits in this situation as they have become so highly focused on a narrow set of operating parameters that they cannot work properly outside of it. Some circuits certainly need improvement and I would not dispute that, but there also needs to be a fundamental rethink of the entire design philosophy in Formula One to gain lasting improvement in this area.

    1. David says:

      Good post (I wrote a bit more down below).

      One thing I have never found: what are the main objection to the kind of fundamental shift you have outlined? Why does this elephant continue to snuffle around, unacknowledged by the Powers That Be?

      1. David Ryan says:

        Cost and time constraints would probably be the reasons cited, but it probably comes down to convenience at the end of the day – they’ve now accumulated so much data and knowledge based on this particular design approach that it’s not in their interests to have a dramatic shift. Changing the aerodynamic regulations significantly would require a rethink of suspension arrangement and geometry, gearbox design, camber, weight distribution and even chassis configuration to an extent well beyond what has been required thus far, even with the 2009 changes (which it has to be said weren’t as comprehensive as implied at the time). The bigger teams will be reluctant to push for changes as it threatens their position; the smaller teams will be reluctant because the costs could force them out of the sport; and the middle teams may be keen on it as a leveller but be more focused on closing the gap with what they know and be wary of making things worse for themselves. Ultimately, despite the high-octane nature of the sport F1 teams are quite conservative in outlook – witness the resistance to major regulation changes in the past and the FIA-FOTA split which almost resulted from it. That will have removed any impetus from the FIA to push harder for changes, and has thus resulted in detail changes and additions to the existing model (KERS, moveable wings etc.) without significantly altering the baseline. Indeed, the proposed engine changes are the only radical change I can recall, and even that is a throwback to the 1980s in some respects.

  23. kaoru says:

    For F1 enthusiasts like me and him re-fueling makes race fun by thinking of variant strategies during it but not everyone watching F1 likes what makes things complicating.

    The main problem is the current F1 machine heavily being dependent on aero grip hinders overtake rather than the re-fueling matter. Without cutting down on the significant amount of downforce, any other changes, for instance redesigning tracks or frail tyres, will never work out.

  24. Neil says:

    been watching f1 for many years, seems to be getting toned down each year,

    didnt seem to be as many accidents this year, maybe the cars as too easy to drive, but i think its due to the heavy fuel load they are carrying throughout the race, they are just pacing themselves

    Example, after alonso passed button in monza in the pits, he was told to save fuel, race over

    even if button had stayed in front, alonso most likely would have passed him as button didnt have the fuel to go flatout till the end of the race

    also some unnecessary safety cars throughout the year

    f1 is meant to be the best drivers in the fastest cars, on the limit every lap, lets bring refuelling back now

  25. Me says:

    To me, I would say an average follower of F1 (so not anorexic but also not ignorant), the pit/fuel strategy was also “peripheral” and boring to watch the last 15 years.

    95% of all cases it would be: Car in front is a bit faster because it’s lighter, makes a gap of 5 seconds to car behind him because the latter is heavier/slower. The one ahead pits earlier and comes out heavier/slower, the car behind him has more fuel so can do more laps and laps a second faster than the one who just pitted. After 5-6 laps he pits and comes out a second in front the other who was leading. Passing is near impossible, so stationary until the finish.

    Boring as they come.

    The seasons of the last 15 years also had as many safety cars, weather, mechanical issues, mistakes, etc as this season and they did not come close being as exciting as this season, indeed, one of the best seasons ever.

    So I reckon the entire argument is moot.

    1. Hamish says:

      Totally agree re the last 10-15 years and the excitement of this year. Everything was so predictable previously. Getting rid of refueling is the best thing that has happened in a long time in the sport.

  26. Steed says:

    Hmmm, very interesting argument. As a life long fan, it seems that the racing is becoming more and more predictable and, well, boring. As Flukie says, it is the extraneous events that now generate the excitement.

    I find myself increasingly attracted to qualifying to find the excitement that F1 can generate. Even practice is becoming more interesting than the race as we see new parts being tried out.

    I think this state of affairs is down to technology. As the cars become more perfect it becomes easier for drivers to extract the maximum, and the potential for ‘racing’ reduces.

    And of course, technology perfection comes from compliance with the rules. Rules that limit engines and gearboxes encourage engineers to remain within reliability tolerances, so less chance of failure due to pushing the limits.

    In all probability, the excitement of yesteryear was down to failure: by engineers, mechanics and drivers as they pushed past the boundaries, enabling only the most talented drivers to make up the difference.

    Is there an answer? Maybe there should be less rules. There is zero chance of a Gordon Murray ‘fan’ car (aptly named), within the current rule framework. Fewer rules means greater variation, and with that the possibility of greater entertainment.

    And within the confines of a budget cap, fewer rules would reward the brightest engineers. Lazy engineers throw money at the problem, clever engineers throw genius at it.

  27. simon j says:

    I was so looking forward to F1 getting rid of refuelling. For years i wanted to see cars overtaking on the track and not in the pitlane so i was all up for the ban on refuelling during the race. But its not really worked has it. Although the show off track has got better with the BBC coverage and all the ways you can follow F1 during the weekend, the on track show hasn’t changed. I’m not going to say i know how to spice up the show,(maybe having lewis hamilton in every car might help)it’s not up to me, im just a run of the mill F1 fan. But i do hope the new rules for 2011 will go some way to improving the spectacle of the sport that i love.

    1. Lilla My says:

      I would put Lewis Hamilton in 8 cars, Fernando Alonso in another 8 and Sebastian Vettel in the remaining 8 :). I think that only Hamiltons and Alonsos would make a great show, but Vettel can spice things up, because he’s less capable of overtaking clearly than the other two, so he would make it even more interesting.

    2. Paul L says:

      Simon, I was exactly the same. I loved F1 as it was pre-2010 but I was in favour of the change to ban refueling initially – simply because we would see a “true” performance comparison lap by lap (which admittedly gets a little muddied when you have variable fuel loads) and because Q3 would now be fine tuned for the delivery of the fastest lap possible rather than being effectively, the first part of the race.

      But, like you, I don’t feel that it’s worked out as I hoped. In fact, now I think I prefer Q3 to be the first part of the race even if someone can notch up a “fake pole” but fueling light because it made the race more interesting and less predictable (for me anyway).

    3. James D says:

      I’d say the worst thing about the current regulations is the mandatory tyre changes. I’ve argued for it before, but scrap the rule that says drivers have to make 1 stop in the race and allow them to attempt 0 stops if they want to. Some drivers might try 0, others 1. It would add some variety and with marginal tyres could be very exciting.

  28. Daniel Hoyes says:

    I agree that removing refuelling during the race was a bad idea, but a brilliant season of F1 has masked that fact for lots of reasons (not simply limited to “peripherals”).

    We can’t ignore the standard of driving, the fact that we had 5 top drivers all with a shout of the chamionship up to the last couple of races. These drivers were also in 3 teams that were incredibly evenly matched over the course of the season. Add to that the return of the most successful driver in history, and great battles all the way down the grid with the new teams providing quite a few talking points. We had a season where the championship leader NEVER won a race which led to the lead often changing hands. And we had a driver that hadn’t led all the way through the season steal it in the last race against all the odds to become the youngest ever world champion!

    And whilst I do agree with the points you’ve made, and especially agree that I would like to see refuelling return, I think the arguments about strategy are only typically made by the obsessed fan, and not the general viewer. Infact, the arguments sound a little like the sort of thing Schumacher fans would have said during his era of dominance to justify why they thought the races were interesting. The ONLY thing of interest during those years was the strategy and the art of the in/out laps. I would argue F1 today seems in much better shape to the average viewer…

  29. Stevo says:

    I find myself pretty much in agreement with the sentiments of the article. I wasn’t particularly in favour of the refuelling ban when it was initially announced as I really enjoyed watching slower cars defending against faster cars, 1 stoppers against 3 stoppers etc.

    However, I suspect that Bridgestone have had a fair part to play in the processional races this year. As was mentioned, the tyres they developed have been designed with durability rather than exciting racing. I think that Pirelli have an opportunity here to really get the fans of the sport onside. We need significant differences in the range of super soft to hard tyres in terms of pace/durability. For exmaple, a super soft tyre should be clearly the fastest tyre but should only last 10 – 15 laps. At the other end of the scale, the hard tyre should be clearly the slowest compound but should last the majority of the race distance (but not the entirety of it like we have seen this season). We wouldn’t then have uniform strategies where everyone is in stalemate and no one attacks. How can any driver be expected to gain places when he is constantly having to drive conservatively? If there was ever a phrase that I never want to hear again it would be a tie between “look after the tyres” and “conserve fuel”. Yes, F1 shouldn’t be about short sprints that disregard the skill of looking after the car but nor should it be about trundling around being unable to do anything about your position.

  30. Lilla My says:

    I absolutely agree with the point about the lack of refuelling. That was worrying me before the season and later on, it turned out to be true – one less factor (amount of fuel) taken into consideration when working out a strategy, made the strategies of all teams more or less the same, especially when the Bridgestone tyres turned out to work for such long distances, so even the ability to look after your tyres wasn’t that much important as anybody could actually make their tyres work for almost the whole race. Maybe next year’s Pirellis will be less durable, so it could spice things up. As the possibility of leapfrogging someone became much smaller, the Monza case showed that it still exists, so we shouldn’t be that sceptical about it. It’s there – only the teams/drivers must learn how to make it work.
    I wouldn’t call safety cars, accidents, weather etc. “peripherals”: they are an inevitable part of the sport. We may argue that these were the only factors that made races interesting this year, but they are also a great opportunity for the teams and drivers to show their abilities: if it starts to rain – many things start to depand on the strategic calls – when to use which tyres? It can prove whether the team/driver is “good” and open up a possibility for various decisions that can make you win/lose a race (like Button’s gamble in Australia). Rain is also the factor that magnitudes the part that the driver plays in the whole race – it proves what caliber of a driver he is and whether he can deliver, try some overtaking, drive better than the rest or not (e.g. Webber’s crash in Korea and Alonso’s in Spa, Hamilton’s great drive in Spa or Alonso’s in Korea). Even the mechanical failures, if they do not rule the driver out, can add up to the tension. Alonso’s drive with a broken clutch in Malaysia or Hamilton’s race without a third gear in Japan made it so much more entertaining.
    Yes – these are the factors that are not dependent on the drivers/teams themselves, so we shouldn’t count on them as the only provider of entertainment, but at the same time we all know that they will happen sooner or later (is it even mathematically possible that none of the cars will brake down at some point or that nobody will crash throughout the whole season? And can we imagine races in e.g. Malaysia or Spa without a rain? Especially in Malaysia with such a timing of the race, the rain is almost inevitable) and once they happen they are an excelent opportunity for the teams/drivers to show what they are made of and how they can use it on their advantage or at least minimise the negative effects.
    The problem of cars following each other in a dull procession does not lie, IMHO, in lack of refuelling. Of course it was much more interesting when different strategies where taken into consideration, but the true problem is lack of direct overtaking. When I talk to my friends who are not into F1, they say the same things – “what’s the point of watching cars circulating one after another? Nothing’s going on” – so I, just like FlukieLucas, try to explain them the meaning of the strategy, but they don’t buy it. And it was exactly the same last year. People who are not interested in F1, do not care if the strategy covers amount of fuel and choice of tyres or only tyres – they want to see direct fights and leapfrogging somebody in the pits or not leapfrogging him at all is more or less the same – it might be a little more interesting, because the order of the cars changed, but the procession on the track remains and it’s still the same “dull”. So, IMO, the problem lies in the tracks, such as Abu Dhabi, which are beautiful, but boring (especially that we can’t even count on the rain really in Emirates). This year it could have been such an epic and thrilling ending to the season, but it wasn’t and not because of the lack of refuelling, but because the track didn’t let Alonso, Webber and Hamilton really fight for the title more actively (though the “peripheral” safety car gave the teams opportunity to show how good they are in changing/working out new strategies and let to such an ending).

    And there was one more aspect to this season that made it interesting for me – and that wasn’t necessarily the races themselves but the competition. We had five drivers fighting almost till the very end and the leader of the WDC was changing so many times – the sole observation of the ever changing standings was entertaining!

  31. David Chubb says:

    I’d say that he’s wrong in every sense and that this season has been brilliant. All it missed was the nail biting finale we were hoping for. That could be solved by a little readjustment of the Abu Dhabi circuit i.e. losing the first chicane, speeding up the second corner in the second chicane. Making the last corner wider and sharper which will happen if the penultimate corner is made to be flat out and that area is wider. Tightening of the third corner would be fantastic so to add a challenge.

  32. Born 1950 says:

    Seems to me that Paul Lucas makes a very good case. He’s right; they have to make F1 less processional without, as he calls it, ‘a uniform strategy’.

    The solution is not ‘contrived overtaking’ as is planned — with adjustable rear wings and KERS — or with refuelling stops, but by producing cars with an excess of power over grip. This will promote sliding on bends and give the good drivers more opportunity to exhibit their supreme car control skills. Frankly, what’s the point of a corner that can be taken flat?

    The powers that be are rightly concerned that too much engine power is dangerous as it will just push up top speeds; which means that a reduction in downforce and drag must be the preferred option, to increase the tendency of cars to lose grip. This is in effect what happens now when there’s a wet race (go on, admit it, didn’t you rub your hands with excitement this year when we had a wet race — unless of course it was too wet?).

    To achieve this reduction in downforce — which I’ll call a car’s ‘raceability’ — there are a few things that can be done.

    1) The rear wing must be dramatically reduced in area. The rear wing kills the airflow for following cars and therefore makes overtaking more difficult.

    2) The front wings of the car currently are too wide and too far forward; they limit the ability of the cars to follow closely and are too easily knocked off. They must be reduced in size.

    Finally, following on from the above, I believe we would see the field more spread out and therefore lapping more likely. At the moment a leader overtaking a car that’s one lap down is pretty boring; why not make it more interesting? So…

    3) The blue flag rule should be dropped.

    I think those changes would dramatically alter the excitement of races, in a way — unlike the latest suggestions — that’s not artificial.

    What do others think?

    1. Luca says:

      in regard to point 1 – its the floors that cause the most aero imbalance comes from the floor rather than the wings. Part of this will be addressed with the ban on double defusers – happy to be corrected tho….

      also, rather than increase power (as its more about power delivery than raw power output), an easier way to manage the grip is via the tyres – create more marginal tyres to lessen the grip. Via tyres it would be cheaper for the teams.

      1. Born 1950 says:

        The inability to overtake when following a car has been going on for a lot longer than since 2009 when double diffusers first appeared. The floor is pretty neutral in terms of disturbance of the airflow. It’s those big rear wings — witness those rooster tails you see when it rains.

      2. Luca says:

        true but you get more down force from the floor of a car than the rear wing- even martin brundle commented on how much bigger the rooster tails are now with double diffusers.
        the air is worked a lot more by the defuser, with the up draft of rapid moving air leaving the defuser creating the aero wake that causes the following car more issue.

        large rear wings and complex defusers both create the wake, but the defuser is effects aero more – look at a Chaparral 2J for its full effect

  33. Paul H says:

    Good points and I largely agree but it depends on how you judge a season. From an intrigue point of view it was the best season for years. It wasn’t a great season for excitement though. By this I mean that the rule changes, number of drivers in contention, new teams, new tracks not ready, incidents etc. made for a season that kept the interest and offered a lot of permutations rather than the Schumacher era where you could largely guesstimate the way a race weekend would pan out weeks before the event. That was impossible this and a lot of surprises were thrown up over a weekend.

    On an excitement level, there were moments but on the whole it was a mediocre season. This is a result of a few factors: conservative fuel strategies in opening rounds, too many laps spent saving fuel, no refuelling removes a lot of different strategies, none of the new breed of tracks offer overtaking, tyres that are too uniform in use and the aerodynamics. We have the drivers who can make the moves, but until they have the tracks where it is possible, the cars that can run close together, the fuel to make it work and the tyres to provide the strategy choice, the drivers will not view the odds as good enough to risk the move. Even Hamilton was notable for not trying a move and backing out of a corner or two.

  34. Andy H says:

    Jake Borg and Chris Mellish seem to be spot on for my way of thinking.
    The ban on refuelling has been a good thing. The main problem this year was tyres, to have a tyre last a race distance is beyond belief, bridgestone have done an awful job.
    The tyre problem is closely followed by rubbish tracks, this has been covered all over the shop and the FIA has woken up at last.
    Next thing is dirty air. If you go back to ground effect cars the levels of grip would be totally stupid, in the day thats why they were banned, the engineers would have drivers passing out with g force. But maybe a mix of ground effect and wings could be the answer, that question is for the F1 engineers not armchair pundits or journalists to answer.
    Lastly can someone tell me for love of God what this bout of self rightousness with the engines is all about, I can fart louder than a 1600 4cyl turbo.Those people that think these car are going breath fire and fart thunder, like the old turbos, are very mistaken. If you want to become green sort the bloody calander out.
    While I’m on the soap box a few days testing after european GP’s here and there wouldnt go a miss either, bring new drivers on that sort of thing.
    Rant over, tat tar
    Andy

    1. Peter C says:

      Did you ever see & hear the 1500cc turbos in the eighties? Perhaps not, judging from your comments & maybe you just THINK that the change for 2013 is bound to be worse because it’s different.

      If you think you can fart louder than a twin turbo, seek urgent medical attention.

      1. Andy H says:

        Peter,
        You obviously do not know my diet dear fellow.
        Change is a very good thing, keeps engineers on their toes.
        Perhaps you could educate me as to the sound of an eighties turbo………….Unless I’m mistaken a turbo muffles the sound of an exhaust system and if unefficient pops, bangs and fires flames out the back due to unburnt fuel. I take it the FIA is after a green turbo engine, thus it will not waste a drop of fuel, bang goes the flame thrower.
        The FIA have decreed single turbos, correct me if I’m wrong. Twin turbos on a 4cyl that will make sense, twice the heat to get rid of, twice the weight and so on.
        My problem with the change for 2013 is not because its different, its because F1 is about noise that shakes yer bones. ANY fuel efficient 4cyl turbo will not make that noise. Patrick Head, Jackie Stewart, Martin Whitmarsh and many other knowledgable F1 people hold the same view.
        Peter, I look forward to your views on this.
        Thanks,
        Andy

  35. BenB says:

    Get rid of refuelling was a good thing. It very rarely shook up the order (schumi’s 4 stopper in france being a rare standout exception) the fastest car always won unless their team did something daft with the strategy (or their BMW engine grenaded).

  36. Irish con says:

    For me the biggest problem with this year was you knew on the Friday that redbull was going to start on the front row. Also there was only 3 great races this year in my opinion Australia china and Canada. Also I thought Bahrain both Spanish races Abu dhabi were downright bores. And no driver this year seriously improved there reputations other than rosberg and kubica. I think 06 07 and 08 were much better seasons in rafting and excitement terms. This year was redbulls to lose. 06 was Great battle and 07 and 08 was ferraris or mclarens to win

  37. Peter Hermann says:

    For me the last exciting season was 2008, it went down from then.

    I miss the refueling and the additional strategies; only FIA already screwed that with publishing the fuel loads in 2009. It already took away a lot of opportunity for speculations before the races and made it more boring.

    Now it got even more boring. If it weren’t for the ‘scandals’ and the endless bickering between the teams, i bet half of the viewers would have given up after the first few races!

    The more ‘hardcore’ F1 fans will still be watching but even they had some opportunities to fall asleep on the sofa during the races at times.

    Make it more unpredictable. Give the fans some things they can speculate on (like unknown fuel loads and more open tyre choices). Give the teams more possibilities to try something different from race to race.

    Otherwise, this is becoming more and more like wrestling with the ‘championship car’ being chosen from the beginning by conveniently overlooking ‘loopholes’. Oh wait- its not holes.

    Its openings.

  38. DK says:

    Why not having tyre wars again? I enjoyed watching Michelin vs Bridgestone a few years ago.

    1. James Allen says:

      Huge cost is the main reason. Tyre development means testing means money

  39. teamworkf1 says:

    F1 is dying. You better find another series or talk to Ron Dennis! **wink**

    Very simple.

  40. Dominic J says:

    Using the BBC “classic” races I’ve had my faith reaffirmed, that the past 2-3 years have had more overtaking than any year since about 1990.

    What built the “unpredictability” in those days (indeed, until parc fermé was brought in between qualifying and the race) was the unreliability of cars. When half or more of the top 6 contenders would fail to finish, then it gave 8-10 teams a realistic chance of points (meaning a top 6 finish).

    Driver mistakes were also more common, since manual gears required a lot of the driver’s attention – perhaps the flexi-wing/KERS situation will bring this back to an extent.

    I don’t understand why the fuel strategy cause of position change was better than the mechanical fault/weather/accident. In fact it was the most frustrating form of overtaking for fans (I once heard it described as the IVF of overtaking). So good riddance refuelling.

    Also, I note that “peripherals” came to the rescue in all but one race (Bahrain), which is a better haul than under refuelling (think Valenica 2008, any Imola race exccept 2005 and 2006 and many more besides).

    To me, it is the “peripherals” of driver error, mechanical malfunction, safety car, weather, etc that make the sport exciting. I’d never watch the hypothetical series where cars only raced “strategically” as described.

  41. Hmm… F1 has always been a roundy-roundy thing – what else can you expect from it? In rallying there’s much more fun as Kimi proved this year with his inumerous excursions off road and spectacular crashes. They race against the clock in the WRC, while in F1 they race wheel to wheel more often than not. It’s a question of taste/preferences I suppose. It’s been a decent season; some tracks have to be modified but other than that I don’t see any problems with F1. Less politics would be nice actually but it’s impossible I think.

  42. Ben Bailey says:

    I am very sorry but i have to disagree with what is a very well thought out essay by someone that im sure could tomorrow write an equally good peice explaining why this was the best season ever! I have been a fan of f1 since 1989 and have watched virtually every race since then.
    This seasons championship was the most exciting of any year i can remember. We had 9 changes of lead for the championship throughout the season with the 4 drivers battling it out to the last race and even then, the least likely result occurred and the guy who hadnt lead all season triumphed.
    I also disagree with the notion that we must have lots of passing to make exciting racing. If anything this leads to boring results as the faster car will always end up in front and not lead to edge of the seat races like the fianle when amazingly Alonso got stuck out of position.
    I also do not subscribe to refuelling being exciting. The variation in strategy was normally fairly minimal with the racing pretty pro forma in terms of working out the optimum pit stop lap resulting in the faster car always getting a period to get ahead because the faster car could always have carried more fuel in qualifing. Fastest car always won (of course omiting FlukieLusas idea of peripherals) and the championships were normally won by the faster driver in the faster car with some time to go in the championship. Boring season. anyone rember the schumi years…
    However this year we had 3 very closely matched teams in terms of results and some terific on track racing. Yes the peripherals played a part but im sorry, they are a part. They through in the variables that the drivers have to deal with, they are the changing tables on which this game is played!
    Track temperature, how much fuel a driver is givern at the start, which wing he has decided to run, whether the wind tunnel results correlate with the CFD are all peripharells and they make this sport so dynamic and so exciting.
    If you always want to watch the fastest driver in the fastest car win then rewatch the 2004 season with refuelling and come back and rave about how exciting that was.
    I for one love f1, warts and all. My interest does not wane from one race to another or season to season depending on the results. I love every minute of every race because on any given lap there are 24 drivers out there driving the most technologically advanced machines on the planet at unbelievable speed right on the limit and anything could happen at any time. It doesnt have to happen every second but when it does, boy is it exciting!

  43. nickname101 says:

    “2004 was dull for on
    track racing, despite refuelling, because of
    the dominance of Ferrari”
    I find it funny how you Brits glorify Mclaren and Williams when they dominate and laud their technical strength but when Ferrari dominate you accuse them of “dulling” f1. If all of you were objective f1 fans you would question why have Mclaren and co failed to match Ferrari by producing an equally competitive car during the years when the scudera dominate. One thing is for certain, all of Italy and Ferrari fans worldwide are never “dulled” by Ferrari is does well.

  44. Mario says:

    I can understand James writing an engaged analysis or an insightful article as F1 is a big part of his life, he makes a living out of that and so on, but how people who only get to see things on their TV sets, or perhaps go to a race once in a donkeys years, how do they grow to pay that much attention and develop interest in something as remote, as distant as F1 is hard to grasp for me.

  45. AP says:

    Interesting opinion James, but sounds like coming from a person who has only watched/appreciated F1 in the refueling years — in particular the “golden” years of Schumacher.

    There were interesting races before refueling, there were many interesting races this year: think of Hungary; it was based on “peripherals”, but would it have been so interesting if refueling was still allowed?

    Two other things that are rarely discussed are the following:
    1) durability of the tyres
    2) the effect of almost-perfect reliability on the show.

    1. rdw says:

      “Interesting opinion James, but sounds like coming from a person who has only watched/appreciated F1 in the refueling years — in particular the “golden” years of Schumacher.”

      That’s what it sounded like to me as well.

      I’ve watched every F1 race, bar 2, since 1983 so I’ve seen refueling come and go, active this and that come and go, V16′s-V12′s-V10′s-V8′s and turbo’s come and go, and the whole time I’ve heard the same complaints.

      In high school I used to argue with my best mates dad about how Senna was clearly the “best” driver ever while he claimed that I had no idea what F1 was even about as I didn’t see the glory days of Jim Clark. He, back then, saw F1 as having lost it’s “thing” that made it special.

      The thing is that F1 has ALWAYS been special for the very reason that it drives us to write about it with such clarity, consideration and passion as out essayist here. That’s why it’s special because we, the fans, care so much. The actual state of the rules is never really the point, hell they change them so often it doesn’t matter anyway.

      The future or relevance of F1 will never rely on whether refueling is allowed or continues to be disallowed or the construction and compound of the new Pirelli tyres or the amount of cylinders in the new engine regulations. The rules are the real “peripherals” and what constitutes good racing is subjective anyway.

      As long as people who we think are cool drive real fast in cars we would love to drive ourselves Formula 1 will be fine.

  46. New Mexico says:

    Agree completely. The racing simply wasn’t there. I’ve been a fan since Jimmy Clark and this is the first year I’ve turned off races because the only interesting thing that could happen would be by chance not skill.

  47. Forzaminardi says:

    It’s a well-written piece, but frankly I think he’s just being a bit miserable. F1, for as long as I can remember watching, has been in the grand scheme of things fairly predictable on a race-to-race basis, as indeed all sports are – the ‘best’ team/driver/competitor typically wins because, well, they’re the best. When refuelling was brought in ‘to spice up the show’, it didn’t take long for the teams to work out that by and large, one specific strategy was best, and so they all followed it, negating the ‘random factor’ theoretically brought in by refuelling. Son to last year and refuelling is banned ‘to spice up the show’ and the same thing happens – there’s one tyre strategy which is clearly better than the other. F1 has always been thus – frankly short of bringing in slightly ridiculous rules, the money, intelligence and technology applied to F1 will ultimately lead everyone sooner or later down to doing the same thing.

    As for the idea that it was only incidents like accidents, rain, safety cars and so on making races exciting, again hasn’t that always been the case? I think of the most exciting races I’ve seen, stuff like Barrichello winning at Silverstone, or Hamilton scooping the title from Massa at the last corner in Brazil, or Mika and Schuey wheel-to-wheel at Spa and well, mostly they haven’t come about purely as a result of a straightforward race. Far from dismissing these events as ‘incidental’, I’d say they were just part of a typical F1 race.

    I think even F1 fans are too critical of the sport. No, not every race is a thriller, but for the past 4 years we’ve had edge of the seat title battles and occassional great races. Just as not every Manchester United or Arsenal football game is a thriller, the excitement is in the championship battle, enlivened by the odd one-off thrilling match.

  48. TheCustomer says:

    Great article!

    I agree that refuelling made for a fascinating chess game – but more often than not, tv viewers were watching blindfolded. It was rare when tv directors figured out the chess moves as they unfolded, and allowed us to watch.

    In theory, no-refuelling should produce better racing. It should have drivers making choices – to *hare* through each set of tyres, and accept the time penalty of extra pit stops – or *tortoise* to make a harder set last longer. The true champions would be they guys who can make a soft set last longer. (Arise Sir Jenson!)

    In practice, Bridgestone had to make sure that the four compounds would all do the job – and were a few %age points too cautions. Hindsight’s wonderful; I suspect 2011 Bridgestones would be designed to be less robust, and improve the show, just as Pirelli are doing.

    But… there’s another thing going on here. The rules say that tyres have to be changed once.
    Why?
    Wouldn’t it be better to have a wider variety of strategies running – and if a slower qualifier chooses to start on a harder tyre, and run the full race distance on them, why not? Every so often, a Q3 regular gets caught out in Q1; wouldn’t it be better for everybody if teams had the choice to make one tyre set last?

    Apply that thinking elsewhere, and you’d find other ways to make the sport more entertaining. Instead of banning F ducts in favour of movable wings, why not have a rule that allows for ‘driver-operated reduction of downforce generated behind the rear axle line” and leave the teams to figure out the best way(s) to get that job done?

    Similarly, why is Kers restricted by power output? Internal combustion engines aren’t restricter that way: they’re effectively restricted by the input – fuel capacity. So why not restrict kers by system weight, since batteries seem to be the main load factor?

    So, yes, 2010 was a good year, but not every race threw up Canada’s uncertainty.
    To get that level of variation, in every race, is a big ask of Pirelli, so maybe the rules should be written (reduced!) to encourage creativity.
    & if the Input side were regulated (fuel, battery weight) to encourage the teams to maximise the Output, we could get road-car-relevant knowledge that reduced the energy footprint of using cars. And better races.
    Win win?

  49. jonrob says:

    The Bridgestones lasted much too long, what we need is tyres to last only half the race distance if coddled and a big grip advantage of the softs to last say 10 laps.
    Next year the rear flaps may prove inconsequential as far as overtaking is concerned but with failures, they could be devastating. (if say a flap failed to return as a corner is approached, an immediate oversteer situation is created)

  50. Steven says:

    I dont understand why people want refueling back. The ban on refueling, IMO, is the best rule change. We no longer have the days when a driver would just follow another one because he just had to wait for the pitstop to pass him on the pits. Drivers have to race one another now, the passing has to happen on the track, and thats what we want. Passing on the refueling WAS artificial. I dont watch F1 for the stategy, I watch for the on-track action.

    As far as more passing, there has been A LOT more passing this season than on recent seasons. Something I keep bringing up is the fact that we dont want more passing per se, but more battles were passing might occur. Where before you could have a car just following another the entire race, we now have battles, where cars have the opportunity to pass, and drivers make moves that dont always work, and thats exiting!!! Battles like Massa-alonzo-Hamilton in Australia, or even Schumaker-Barrichelo in Hungary, Petrov-Alonzo in abu dhabi. Thats what I want to see, NOT a driver waiting for the pitstop to pass the car infront. The drives HAVE to do the passing on the track now.

  51. David says:

    From David Ryan, above:
    ” the real elephant in the room in Formula One is overlooked; namely, that narrow-tracked, aerodynamically-focused single seaters which generate a large wake and have extremely effective brakes do not lend themselves to close racing or overtaking.”

    Amen. Create a regulations regime that places mechanical grip well in front of aero-grip: eliminate carbon brakes, and halve (or more) downforce possibilities through drastic reductions in wing size and diffuser technologies.

    I have wanted to see refueling go away for a long time; I’m still glad that it did. At the same time, however, mandatory tire stops should also go. Allow tire stops to be purely *optional*, and you will see drivers’ strengths come to fore: who’s best at moving quickly, setting up their car to work well heavy *and* late-race light, whilst keeping their tires in decent shape? Who’s able to go quickly enough to make optional tire stops work for them?

    I’m against artificial passing aids like movable wings and KERS. The presence of them is a frank admission that the other technological parameters work against passing.

  52. Andy says:

    I have to say I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree. To say there is no fuel strategy would be wrong; several times over the year we heard drivers being told to save fuel because teams tried to get away with the minimum fuel levels they could to save weight and increase performance early on in the race. Obviously it’s not the same as fuel stop strategy but it does have an effect on the racing.

    What F1 needs is flexibility within the rules. We saw how McLaren saw a loophole in the rules and came up with the F-duct, which allowed Lewis Hamilton to make many great overtaking manoeuvres in the first half of the season. However, once other teams also had F-ducts we did not see so much overtaking.

    1. Irish con says:

      Agree with u matey. The mclarens passed cars for fun at start of season because it could run more downforce and still have mighty good straight-line speed. I actually think f-duct was total reason it was harder to overtake towards end of season as cars didn’t have to pick between downforce and straight-line speed. I would have preferred the f- duct and blown and double diffuser banned and marginal tyres than next years gimmicky ps3 style rules

  53. Rich says:

    Nice, thoughtful analysis from Lukas. I am in agreement wi him being disappointed that this years rule changes did not lead to varying strategies. Hopefully the Pirelli rubber next year will be more conducive to is. However I cannot really see how it was that much better in with fuel stops. Remember, the qualifying fuel weights were published before the race so we already pretty much knew who was on what strategy, and generally the car pitting first would be the one to benefit.

    Lukas is rit to moaabout identikit strategies this season, but I still feel that banning refuelling is the correct decision long term. Bringing back low fuel qualifying and real pole positions is reason enough IMO.

    I found the 2010 season to be utterly fascinating and I have enjoyed F1 this year more than I can remember for a long while.

    I would challenge FlukieLukas: if 2010 was not the best season ever, which season was better?

  54. D says:

    I disagree with this theory in total. 2010 was an excellent season for on-track action, better than most previous seasons, including the peripherals. Here’s why:

    1. Refueling ban. Considering the different strategies was a mentally-stimulating process in past years, but it undoubtably took action to the pits rather than the track. We saw much more overtaking on-track this year than in recent years. Freed of their fuel pit windows, drivers had to act and react to each other. This is a different strategy that rewards good driving rather than good simulations.

    2. Tires. If F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, why shouldn’t tires demonstrate the best quality? If you can run the entire race on primes, you should be allowed. If you could run the whole race on options, you should have that option. That would improve the variations in strategy. Having highly durable tires (except in Canada) again forced drivers to do more work. (Looking forward to a future with forced tire changes removed!)

    3. Technology and Aero. Red Bull clearly had the best car all year, but it came at a price in reliability. Ferrari were the most reliable, and it kept them in the hunt when they were uncompetitive so much of the mid season. F-ducts, EBDs, flexible bodywork(?), all within the rules but stretching the limits of what the cars can do to eek out the best performance. This kept the season close, rather than last year’s dominance by Brawn.

    4. Great drivers. We have an awesome field of drivers this year. Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Kubica, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Weber, et al. With the refueling ban, we got to see more of the drivers’ capability. Hamilton’s never-ending ability to overtake. Same for Kobayashi. Schumi unable to adapt to the new tires (and I say lack of traction control). Kubica dragging his car to the front. Vettel making bad moves. Alonso afraid to make a move because he’s spent too many years with refueling! Strategy was still king, unfortunatly, because there isn’t enough incentive to overtake for most drivers. But Hamilton, Kubica, Kobayashi, Rosberg, and much of the midfield kept it interesting.

    5. Qualifying. It may not have been as close as it was with refueling, but again, drivers and cars stood out. The team battles were intense. Vettle v Webber. Hamilton v Button. Plus where would Alonso, Kubica, (Hulkenberg), be able to get? Back to driver skill, not how heavy the car was!

    6. Points. With all the above variables, plus the peripherals, we got 5 drivers in contention. The Championship leader never won a race! Sometimes it isn’t about overtaking–defending can be just as challenging and crucial. It’s great to see an overtake after a long defense, but sometimes the defender is just the better driver (maybe with a slower car). Think of Abu Dhabi or Schumi/Alguersuari multiple times. Brazil 08 was exciting because of the championship, not because of the driving. An exciting championship lends itself to exciting races.

    I say it’s probably the best season in at least 20 years. Thinking the old days were better is often just nostalgia. Every season has something great. This one had more of them.

    Looking ahead, I’d welcome the return of the OLD points system (10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1) to push people to go for it, not settle for 8th. Eliminate the mandatory tire change to free up strategies and bring in multiple suppliers. Ground effects may return to reduce the aero wake (but I do believe aero can still be revised and a great driver can make the moves). Unfreeze the engines with the new formula (but limit the costs!). Continue to restrict in-season testing, since it puts action into the race weekend. Take out all the artificial action! Let the teams innovate and the drivers drive! That’s what the old days offered. Reward the daring, not the conservative. And appreciate the peripherals for what they contribute. I’m very exited for ’11!

    1. Raul says:

      I totally agree!

      What people want? Nascar?

      This season had a lot of overtaking? I dont know if we had all that overtaking during the 90s, did we?

    2. Jonathan says:

      Pretty much agree with all you have said. I’ve not missed a race in 25 years and this was as compelling viewing as I can ever remember. Add in the fantastic tv/net coverage and great journalism…..can’t wait until next season perhaps in HD (fingers crossed).

  55. John says:

    It’s all about the tires. If you restrict the tire usage, you restrict the racing.

    1. Jonathan says:

      You are right, but also it’s about the braking distances. There is no room for error. Lengthen the braking distance and the margin for error is much more and you will see more over-taking.

      1. John says:

        Tires stop the car; they are afterall what contacts the ground – not the brakes

  56. GoFinn says:

    Thought is was a poor season with no real racing. The last race of the season was a travesty . . . simply impossible for cars to overtake.

    You have got to change 3 things to improve F1:

    (1) STOP putting the cars in speed order on a Saturday afternoon . . . . slower cars on Saturday aren’t going to overtake faster cars on Sunday. Start the cars in reverse championship order so that the faster guys have to fight their way into the points.

    (2) Create more than one racing line. This is the easiest thing in the world to do. All you need is a can of paint and on XX parts of a track you make two clear racing lines that drivers cannot cross and which every driver has to us at some part of the race. We already have this to some degree with the pit lane exits. Just extend the idea to other parts of the track.

    (3) Get rid of the astroturf that allows drivers to overrun corners. The skill is to keep the car on track, not to be able to run wide all the time.

    1. Jonathan says:

      (1) you will upset more fans than make happy. Qualifying/Racing has worked this way since day 1. change it at your peril.

      (2) I had a scalextric racing set when I was a kid..it was boring.

      (3) Astroturf is slower than the black stuff but avoids big accidents from occurring. You have to put SOMETHING on the edge of the track. What do you suggest?

      1. GoFinn says:

        (1) Think fans would like to see faster cars fighting from the back to get into the points. They should be capable of doing that (with the other tweaks I mentioned).

        (2) We have tracks with a single racing line that is easy to defend and so the races are insanely boring, and they have been for years. I’m not advocating entire tracks with dual lanes, but each track should have 5 or 6 dual lane areas that all drivers should have to use at least XX times during a race. This will force drivers to have to be more skilful rather than just lolling all over the track taking one simple route round.

        (3) Astroturf may be slower in itself, but the run-off allows cars to take an over all faster line through a given corner. Just leave grass on the edge of the track – if a driver hits it and spins off, it is their fault for not being able to drive on the black stuff alone.

    2. rdw says:

      You’re not actually serious are you?

  57. Bill Johnson says:

    The safety car is peripheral because it’s appearance is in no way guaranteed – much like rain.

    And as to how to proceed sans a safety car, check the cycles – they’ve been doing it for years. Stop race. Note intervals at last passage of start/finish. Restart race. Add intervals as necessary.

    What, you protest F1 fans can’t do math? How can cycle fans – their tech is so much lower (/sarc)

    OK, do it NASCAR style:
    Stop race. Start Race.
    Simple enough for you?

  58. Raul says:

    I couldnt disagree more!

    I DID had a lot more overtaking. Did you see kobayashi driving?

    Those happened because of the tire differences,or am I completely wrong?

    Barrichello over Schumacher in Hungary? IN HUNGARY! Can you believe it?

  59. Denny says:

    Lack of on track over taking is F-1′s drawback.
    Pitstop passing is no substitute, it’s not exciting. I don’t have any ideal rule changes or standards that might change this, but I’ve often wondered if . . .

    No team orders, no moving over for any competitor any team. Reasoning being the fast guys should have to pass these moving chicanes. The really good drivers will do it.

    One very hard tire compound only that offers little grip. Let driver control negoitate the corners.

    Smaller wings, front & rear. Take away areo advantages one team may have.

    Budget limitations to insure independants have a fair shake at wining. Ferrari came close to destroying F-1 with the break away series threat. I like Ferrari, but this let’s change the rules until Ferrari wins is ludicrist. If that’s their game, let them go.

    I’m sure there are those out there that have better ideas than myself, but F-1 is suppose to be entertainment. Follow the leader is not very exciting. Maybe all tracks need to have wet curves, after all the rain races are the most entertaining.

  60. spiral stairs says:

    First post here, thanks to James for a great blog. The initial post is an interesting and well presented argument, but I don’t fully agree with a lot of it, here are a few points.

    Strategic variability:

    I don’t really agree this is any worse than during refuelling. Sure, there were races where drivers would try different fuel strategies, but a lot of the time the frontrunners all ran a similar strategy, usually a pretty standard 2 stop strategy with roughly equal stints and all stops within a few laps with each other. This was all very predictable, and the FIA publishing the fuel weights last year even meant that anyone could work out how the strategy would pan out before the race even happened. The teams/drivers all roughly knew each others fuel weights regardless of this, so if a driver was heavier than the car behind they could pretty much cruise around knowing there was no chance of them being jumped at the stop.

    There have equally been races this year where everyone does the same thing, but I think its wrong to claim attempt to do anything different this year have ended in failure. There have been several occasions where drivers have run long opening stints on hard tyres (e.g Kobayashi Valencia, Kubica Abu Dhabi), we’ve had Webber going against the grain and making up places by pitting under the safety car in Singapore, or not pitting in Hungary; Vettel doing the whole race on softs in Monza, the Mercedes’ both made up places in Brazil (I think) by staying out longer on softs and plenty of others. I don’t see that these are any less strategically variable than drivers occasionally doing 1 or 3 stoppers in previous years.

    What really makes strategy this year an improvement for me this year is the fact that strategists have a lot more scope to change strategy in reaction to events in the race or to a drivers pace, e.g by leaving a car out as Red Bull did with Vettel at Monza. This simply couldn’t happen under refuelling – if a car has 20 laps of fuel on board, the driver has to stop after 20 laps. There is virtually no scope for highly paid strategists to earn their money by doing anything to alter this, as stopping early means a large weight penalty and is rarely beneficial. Without refuelling, they have to make split second decisions on whether to bring a car in or not, which can lead either to position gains (e.g the Vettel Monza example) or dire consequences, as seen for Ferrari in Abu Dhabi. To me this is potentially much more exciting than the rigidly determined refuelling strategy, and can only get better if Pirelli can make more variable tyres which lead to alternate possible strategies.

    In/out laps:

    I don’t see why this has disappeared with the loss of refuelling – if 2 drivers close together on track stop for tyres a lap apart, then both have to push to the limit on their respective in/out laps to try and jump the other. I’ve been watching the 2010 review dvd this weekend and there are several examples of drivers given radio messages to push hard when an opponent stops. Alonso/Button at Monza is an obvious one, but how about Vettel being told to ‘give it everything you’ve got’ in Abu Dhabi when Hamilton stopped, and producing a super quick in lap to edge ahead of Kobayashi and set himself up for an easy win? Or Hamilton jumping Rosberg in Bahrain, Hamilton on Vettel in Spain, Vettel on Hamilton in Turkey etc. I don’t think anyone can claim these drivers were just crusing around on their in-laps.

    Peripherals:

    A lot of people seem to be suggesting this season was only good due to peripheral factors, but I’d suggest this has pretty much always been the case. 2008 is regarded as a good year, but pretty much all of the best races involved incidental events, e.g rain (Silverstone, Monaco, Spa, Brazil) or incidents/safety cars (Canada, Germany, Australia). Go back and watch a ‘normal’ dry race like China from that year and for me its worse than anything from 2010 – everyone does the same 2 stop strategy and there are very few position changes. Go further back and its the same story – the most memorable races involve factors such as rain (e.g Monaco 96, Nurburgring 99). Its very rare that a normal dry race has the same level of excitement, however the recent exception to this is Canada this year. This is a race that couldn’t happen with refuelling, as the cars would be much lighter at the start so tyre wear would be less, and everyone would do the same pre-defined 2 stop strategy. If the powers that be want to improve the sport then Canada needs to be a model – don’t bring back refuelling but produce more variable, marginal tyres that provide scope for different strategies, and make it easier to overtake.

  61. pao says:

    I certainly think that this season has been on the whole an entertaining season, Bahrain and Abu-Dhabi being the bookending exceptions though tbh.

    It seems to me that F1 is in reality down to margins of error and this can be used to describe all of the factors mentioned in the original article and applied even to the rules and regulations of the sport. On the basis that Red Bull as the championship winning team had the best car then the other cars had a greater margin of mechanical and aero error.

    Refuelling as argued earlier by other posters did spice things up in previous years if only due to strategy and that was yet another margin for error.

    For a while the teams could only use one set of tyres for the race which meant tyres were ridiculously hard but when they were marginal and wearing out livened things up (sadly we had the Indianapolis fiasco).

    I hope I really do that Pirelli are mandated to produce tyres that are physically incapable of lasting more three quarters of the race, less may be even better. But then Pirelli like Bridgestone won’t want an image of producing tyres that don’t last – and so is an interesting contradiction.

    We don’t see much overtaking because of the aero situation, perhaps KERS and adjustable wings will help address that – only time will tell.

    Of course in my view the best margin for error is the drivers themselves, how many historical races were won or lost due to driver error or perfection of hitting a level where they are totally in the zone? The days of having a foot clutch and manual gear box are now long gone and we have to accept that in order that the sport can remain technically advanced.

    Perhaps then we need to consider making the cars so complicated that in order to get the best out of the car that the driver has to continually change things and so be distracted from driving the car in a traditional sense. We already have KERS, adjustable wings, adjustable diffs, engine mappings, why not add a Karaoke machine and make them sing as they drive and then change the wheels themselves when they come into the pits?

    I admit that my last points border on flippant and that is deliberately so as they are extremely ridiculous examples of driver activity to increase error but perhaps margins of error should be deliberately added into the rules and regulations.

    After all over the years in pretty much any sport the participants who make less errors over the course of tend to win.

  62. Andrew Woodruff says:

    That analysis is 100% spot on as far as I’m concerned. Great work!

    With the exceptions of (1) mid-race rain which is always fantastic (e.g. Spa 2008); and (2) on-track driver error amongst the front-runners (e.g. Turkey 2010), I have always considered the “peripherals” of a race to be an unwanted interference to the pure result. The worst offenders are mechanical failures, pitstop blunders, penalties from the stewards for petty offences, and safety cars as a result of driver error and squabbles down the field.

    The point is made very well that the formula now relies on these annoyances to spice up the races, and for me that has been a big turn off this year. I was almost glad the season ended when it did, because if I had heard Eddie Jordan talk about 2010 being the “best season ever” one more time, I think I would have had to buy a new television set!

    James – really great to know that you follow the comments made on your site so closely, and have earmarked the most astute contributors! Further, to pick out an issue like this, which is in essence critical of F1, and turn it into a full feature deserves a lot of respect. Nice one.

    1. James Allen says:

      Always listen closely to fan’s points of view and give them an airing here where I can. After all we were the ones who created the fans forum this year.

      1. leukocyte says:

        there was a memorable insight from Jock Clear at the fans’ forum which is very relevant to this discussion (and which possibly didn’t receive the attention it deserved) – namely that the overall standard of driving in F1 has risen to the point where overtaking is sometimes nearly impossible.

        In terms of relentless consistency lap to lap, as well as depth of talent at the highest level, the margins between drivers are very small and diminishing. Arguably there has not been such depth of driving talent in F1 in a generation or more.

        Combine this with very short braking distances, resilient tyres and increasing mechanical reliability, and it is no surprise that “peripheral” variables now dominate as the main source of variability in race outcomes.

        Regardless, 2010 was truly a season to remember.

  63. Paddy says:

    Maybe Pirelli should have three tyre componds for a race weekend. Two that can be used in Practice and Quali and the third only to be used in the race. Making it manditory each driver do two pit stops using all 3 specs of tyre. Maybe with a 10 lap minimum use for each set. It would increase both action in the pits and bring a little uncertainity to every race. Then no driver would be able to back off as they would have no idea what grip level they will have on one set of tyres.

  64. Rafael L says:

    I think 2010 was great.

    However, I definitely agree that it could have been so much better with fuel strategies coming into play.

    Love the line “F1 has manifested it’s own caricature”.

    Overall, very well written commentary. Honestly, 2011 could be another great year but the fact of the matter is any season, no matter how good, could most likely be made significantly better with refueling.

  65. GP says:

    Interesting piece. However, it’s a lot of the grass is greener…

    The single biggest complaint about F1 was always the lack of on-track passing because drivers were waiting for pit stops to pass instead of risking an on-track attempt. At least this is the complaint that really sticks out when this topic comes up. That, and today’s aerodynamics.

    Let’s not forget that refueling devalued qualifying. The driver/car combination sitting on pole was not necessarily the fastest. This year’s Q3 was a fantastic spectacle in itself.

    I believe that the single most significant rule change that would improve the show is to eliminate the tire rules. Let the teams decide what tire is best for their chassis. As pointed out by another poster above, teams are not forced to change to an inferior component other than tires. If I recall correctly, the only reason this was decided was to provide the tire supplier with more air time. Now, that’s what I call an artificial factor.

    All in all, I think this was a greet season. The best drivers were in the best teams (except for Kubica) and we had some great racing. The argument that if the Red Bull had been more reliable the season would have been boring is an hypothetical one. I doubt Red Bull will be able to build as fast a car along with rock solid reliability.

    As for next year’s moveable rear wing, I hope the system doesn’t fail in the middle of a race. I can see the uproar this would cause. It would be paradise for conspiracy theorists…

  66. Sossoliso says:

    The solution to making races a good spectacle wouldbe to add overhead sprinklers to all race tracks. The said sprinklers would then be controlled by an expert system with random variables to chose from. That should do it.

    It appears the banning of the double diffusers going forward has got fans salivating. Well, even with Double diffusers banned, I suspect 2011 cars will have at least the same downforce levels as 2010. Any team showing up next year with a car without at least 2010 downforce levels will look silly.

  67. Robbie says:

    My suggestions for F1;

    Ban Williams
    Ban HRT
    Ban Sauber

    and have reverse grids!

    1. James Allen says:

      Why ban those teams?

  68. Jonathan says:

    Crikey. People like this make me so tired. We just had one of the most watchable World Championships ever and it’s just not good enough is it?
    F1 fan fail.

  69. Snowy says:

    The absence of refuelling refuelled my interest and passion for F1. The premise that refuelling strategy spiced up F1 is entirely without foundation, all refuelling ever did was rob us of on track overtaking.

    I must add that overtaking is totally overrated and not the be all and end all. And ill conceived efforts(moveable rear wings)to make overtaking easier make me sick to my stomach. What we had this season was the most competitive season in many decades, it also had more overtaking on track than at any time since the 70s, it was patently clear that overtaking was not easy. Though Kobayashi overtaking Alonso in Valencia has got to be testament to just how fantastic F1 can be when you take away contrived mechanisms for changing the order of cars on track.

    Refuelling is dead! Long live F1!

  70. StallionGP F1 says:

    @ lucas the best part of your argument has to be the Vettel Alonso duel at singapore had it been a refuelling race vettel would have waited for him to pit and do a banzai lap which he could have gone faster. Also Raikkonen vs Massa in magny cours 2007 where raikkonen waited for massa to pit n put in qualifying laps to come out in front of him after his pitstops

    1. PaulL says:

      Yeah there are dozens of examples. I really liked Raikkonen at Malaysia 2008. He had just one lap to make the difference to Massa, who was by no means slow, and he did it.

  71. Neil Jenney says:

    I think this is a “Who’s your favorite Dr Who?” argument. I’m a lifelong F1 fan who’s never been passionate about refueling strategies. I’m glad that the endless off-track overtaking is over. Now if you want to pass on race day it must be done where I like to see it done. I’m willing to wait for the rule-makers to do their tweaking until overtaking can be achieved through driver skill. As an aside I think the movable rear wing is totally artificial and I’ll be surprised if it makes it to 2012. I think the biggest contributers to the predictability of the races in recent years are the teams. Why the teams? Reliability. In years past you never knew the result until the first six cars passed the chequered flag because it was likely that at least one of them would end their race in a cloud of smoke shy of the finish.

    I’m glad refueling is over. I did enjoy 2010 but don’t believe it was the best season ever. I’m glad KERS is back even if it does nothing for the racing. I really wish that fuel economy was a factor. And in case you were wondering, Tom Baker. Merry Christmas.

  72. Gavin says:

    Have been thinking this for a long time. Even after safety cars and in the wet there hasn’t been much overtaking, just crashes and optimism something will happen.

    Can’t blame those with a vested interest i.e. the BBC for telling use it’s been exciting, they want viewers.

  73. BMG says:

    Look I’m no engineer but I think it’s the opposite. Your tyre choice is governed by the amount of fuel can carry and when you plan to pit.

    Webber for instance would not have won in Hungry if he had to pit for fuel and from lap 15 to 43 was just so exciting.

    What the no refueling has done is allow for more flexibility in race strategies, making the races more unpredictable.

    I would like to see all 3 componds used in each race, soft mediam and hard. Then we would see an extra pit stop each race.

    1. Steven says:

      Then it wouldnt be a race, it would be 3 sprints.

  74. shortshighted says:

    To me, motoring racing is about drivers and cars. I don’t like things like enforced refuelling, tire change which attempt to turn F1 into a game of lottery for entertainment.

    The biggest problem is that all the tracks have been made during Max Mosley’s time too safe by adding chichanes everywhere to slow down the speed and also reducing the power and the speed of the cars down to make them so safe with large tires that all these take away the opportunities of overtaking on the track. Practically all the F1 drivers now manage to drive the comparatively easier circuits and their comparatively easier-to-drive cars almost as fast as the next one and the difference in their track times is so small. Only the newer teams, which were deprived of enough testing time to catch up with the big team in developing their cars, were significantly slower. A procession of cars is almost inevitable.

  75. Jonathan Lodge says:

    I have tried to read through a vast number of protracted comments and had to give up. Of the third I read only one mentioned the vastly improved reliability of the cars. None of them mentioned Bernie Ecclestone.

    Re-fuelling was the idea of Bernie – the man who manipulates and pulls strings behind the scenes like nobody else on earth does in any “sport”.

    Re-fuelling was introduced to manipulate racing. Whilst we had it many other “initiatives” were introduced that made a race result ever more reliant on re-fuelling. Alongside this Bernie has always worked to maximise his income – mostly from TV rights.

    It was to this end that we saw the 3 part qualifying sessions introduced. Surely this, more than anything else, has created the processions we now see. Combine this with engines that must last 3 races and it should be no surprise we see processions.

    This season has shown this better than any other. So much so that qualifying has become boring. The most exciting part of Q1 has been to see which of the established teams lucked out, Q2 was barely worth watching and Q3 was all about which Red Bull would lead the top 5 Championship contenders. Putting the fastest 10 cars into a fuel load contest last year was fascinating. 3 part quali was all about stretching TV coverage to the full hour rather than some of the old sessions where we might see no on track action in the first 30 minutes.

    The most exciting races are almost always those that see cars out of their expected positions. Current 3 part quali makes this most unlikely – yet also gives the possibility of the fastest lap being in Q1 or 2 and not getting pole. The previous, equally contrived, single lap quali was seen as unfair.

    We need to go back to sessions with as little intervention as possible. It seems we need to use the idea of any lap wins pole but with cars only allowed a set number of laps in each 20 minutes of the hour.

    Many comments condemn the current tyres. The problem is the almost inevitable result of a single tyre supplier. For exciting tyre issues we only need to look at motor bikes. 3 compounds on the same tyre and dramatic performance changes as the tyre wears.

    In the absence of reliability issues and tyre wars I believe we should do away with tyre warmers. This would go further along the way of money saving and increase the spectacle at the same time. It would be fascinating to watch the varied way cars and drivers treat tyres. A car would not automatically be faster after a pitstop – one car might take one lap whilst another might take 10 laps. Teams would not necessarily have any advantage of pitting within a lap of the car in front – strategy would be far harder and more of an art than a science – I think it would be great to see a situation where re-working a strategy call would take longer than the optimum window allowed.

  76. jonas says:

    I have to agree with Jonathan (comment 61) … a very well written comment from FlukieLucas but in my opinion it is full of the kind of arguments that cause all the constant tinkering with the rules each year nowadays and which ultimately get us nowhere. In my opinion, it is the characters involved that make or break a season, and the reason this season was so good in the eyes of many was because of the huge difference in character of the main drivers involved in the championship battle, plus the interest stories the length of the grid.
    The peripherals you talk about are there as a matter of fact in any form of motorsport, and to discuss how a season would unfold without them is the most ridiculous form of “what if”. If anything, adding refueling into the mix would create another artificial variable. Refueling was reintroduced to “spice the show up” after all.
    Your conclusions : “for credibility, top level of motorracing demands two things:”
    1.( the driver finding the limits of his car and finding the grip as it changes throughout the race,) I don’t doubt for a minute that this is still the case, unless you have a situation like Vettel in Singapore taking it easy. But this is an overtaking issue and if Vettel and Alonso were in their 1-2 position somewhere like Brazil, I suspect we would have seen a different race between the two of them.
    2. (the opportunity for drivers and teams to pass where on-track passing opportunities are limited.) can only mean “in the pits.” Personally, I would rather watch 2 drivers fight it out on the track for a whole race, knowing how hard it is to pass, than sit there thinking, “ah well, he’ll get him at the pit stop.”

  77. michael grievson says:

    Think no matter what changes are made you’d end up with the same issues because all strategies are run through super computers.

    Here’s an idea. Lets run a race without the drivers knowing timings or other peoples positions and let them decide when to pit. See what happens

    More of the racing needs to be in the hands of the drivers and not computers.

    Id also like to see all the circuits raced in reverse for a change. Could be interesting

  78. Marybeth says:

    “A FAN’S VIEW ON WHY F1 2010 WASN’T AS GREAT AS EVERYONE MAKES OUT”
    With F1’s best present day racer in WRC instead of F1 it simply cannot be “as great as everyone makes out”.

  79. Carlos Eduardo Del Valle says:

    I always found that in-lap out-lap leapfrogging etc very boring.I grew up watching Senna Prost Pique Mansell and there was no refueling strategy.

    I respect Paul’s point of view, but I find so amusing someone saying that used to get excited with in-lap out-lap leapfrogging stuff.

    For me, 2010 was a classic, and the lack of refueling was particularly important in setting things to be brilliant.

    There can be some Schu trauma well hidden here.

    1. PaulL says:

      Lol I am NOT a Schu fan! The first race I watched was Adelaide 94 and, rightly or wrongly, I passionately barracked against him for the next 13 years til he retired. But I can still appreciate his strengths and though I’m still not a fan, I can respect in one sense the man’s aggression and determination even though I think he has a default that invokes the will to cross the line of fair play.

  80. My Tuppence... says:

    Apart from tyre strategy, I completely disagree with Luke.

    What I tired and bored me to death was fuel strategy which led to a greater emphasis on pit-passing. It was all to easy to sit back, save fuel and wait for you stop. Hot laps in your pit window and pit passing is a skill I well and truly applaud but at the expense of seeing overtaking in the pits instead of the race track? No thank you.

    Where I do agree with is the uniform tyre strategy but that is because the rules are at fault in that it prohibits one to stay out on hard compound versus another on a 2 (or more) stopper.

    The main problem is, however, generating closer racing (but not necessarily greater overtaking) in a contemporary F1 car.

  81. My Tuppence... says:

    My apologies, I was, obviously, referring to Lucas.

    Sorry for calling you Luke!

  82. Nadeem says:

    Great season good passing where tracks allowed it.
    Tyres were the issue. No tyre should be able to last the whole race distance without a huge sacrifice (ie slower lap times).

  83. Andrew Woodruff says:

    I posted on this earlier (no. 55), but inspired by the issues raised in the original article I feel I want to say more!

    I would characterise 2010 as a very good and intriguing F1 season for three specific reasons, which I will come to. The main detractor for me, as has been presented superbly by Mr Lucas, is the interference of peripheral incidents that have (1) materially changed the course of the season; and (2) been interpreted and portrayed by some parts of the media as “making F1 exciting”. It is this propaganda, aimed at the casual Sunday viewer, that has taken the shine off it for me, and prevented a very good season from being a great one.

    Happily (and before I continue with my two cents), though the course of the season was heavily influenced by the peripherals, everything just about came full circle and we ended up with, in my view, the correct driver and constructor champions. That is maybe something to be explored further by the conspiracy theorists!

    Back to my two cents, and what made 2010 a very good season for me.

    1. Five drivers who all won races on merit (just about, Jenson) and were all in with a shout of the championship for so long. The pace of development and nature of different tracks meant that for a period in the middle of the season, the status of “best car to be in” switched between the teams almost every race.

    2. The Newey factor. As someone who is fascinated by the technical side of F1 (appreciating the results rather than understanding the inputs!) the brilliance and beauty of the RB6 at tracks like Spain, Turkey and Hungary would have made the season for me on its own.

    3. Vettel vs Webber. Not since Senna and Prost at McLaren has there been a situation within a team like we had at Redbull in 2010, and it was fascinating. The incident in Turkey (not a “peripheral” because it was between the leaders and caused by driver error) was dramatic and season-defining. Webber’s refusal to be the no. 2 after Silverstone was heroic, and I get the impression earned him a lot of respect both inside and outside the paddock, if not at Redbull. It was sad that by the end of the season the situation did appear to have got on top of him, and his rhetoric about the “emotional support” of the team rang true to me.

    A couple of final points to end with:

    - I would like to see refuelling back in F1 for exactly the reasons set out by Lucas. However, I would like to do away with the old rule of cars having to start the race on the fuel they ended Q3 with. This would mean that the do-or-die finale of 2010 qualifying could be retained, while reintroducing the “chess game” aspect of refuelling strategy. (I’m very happy to argue the toss with anyone about the potential race situations this could lead to!)

    - Everyone needs to understand that on-track overtaking has ALWAYS been a rarity in F1, which is precisely why it is so thrilling when it does happen. I remember a few years ago when people were half-seriously considering making the goals bigger in football, in the search for higher scorelines. That movement was quashed when some bright spark pointed out that going down such a path would lead to a situation as in basketball, where the event of scoring a basket is so unremarkable that they have to play music in the arena during game time!

  84. Intuitive says:

    I enjoyed the point of view the flukielukie put forward.

    I too felt a certain artifical nature to the racing this year. Fuel strategy was an essential element to the “chess match”. I’d also like to see them do away with the requirement to use both sets of tires. Forcing the teams to make a decision on compound before qualifying, and then requiring them to use that compound during the race added another variable that I miss.

    I’ve always enjoyed good wheel to wheel racing, but equally enjoyed the strategy of racing. Passing on track, although exciting, is not the only way to win a race. And I feel that is acceptable. It was interesting to second guess the decisions a team made based on tire choice and in-lap. How I miss that opportunity to make up time when the chaser pitted later then the leader, and pushed until their stop, hoping to outrun the he returning heavy car. Those were the moments that had me on the edge of my seat.

    There is unfortunatley the commerical reality. F1 is an expensive exercise. Teams need sponsors. Sponsors need value for money, which means they need both the largest TV audience. I accept that. But, as we take away the strategy away, and add “cheaper thrills” we may gain casual fans, but you will lose the more experienced one.

    For me, this season was a step backwards.

  85. Tony G says:

    Interesting argument. The problem with F1 at the moment is that the cars have become too easy to drive, I mean virtual automatic gearboxes both hands on the wheel at all times (now that the F duct has been banned) which f course leads to fewer mistakes being made and therefore less opportunity for overtaking. However some of the real problem lies in the circuits now, look at the good races this year and they occurred on the old style tracks like Spa Suzuka and Monza not the stupid go kart tracks of Abu Dhabi, Korea etc., the exception being Turkey where Tilke really has put together a grear track problem being that it is unlikely to be used too often given the economics of that event.

  86. cosicave says:

    Paul Lucas – has been firmly in the ‘pro-refuelling’ camp for a long time and has written this article to support his claim. However, I completely disagree with him, because he appears to have fundamentally missed the point.

    Earlier in his article, he suggests that re-fuelling made F1 more like a game of chess., but then he goes on to conclude…

    “I would argue that, for credibility, top level of motorracing demands two things: 1) the driver finding the limits of his car and finding the grip as it changes throughout the race, 2) the opportunity for drivers and teams to pass where on-track passing opportunities are limited. I would argue that the sport has changed in 2010 to fundamentally erode and these two essential tenets.”

    - which demonstrates his lack of understanding about the subtleties of race strategy when it becomes more focussed on the driver!

    My own conclusion in this: Motor-racing at the highest level is like a game of chess, but would you prefer to have the chess players in the driving seat or whole teams of them in the pits? We will always have pit crews of course, but re-fuelling made their role a far bigger one, and diminished that of the driver’s, since with refuelling there was more opportunity for crew to call the shots which influence the outcome of a race!

    I know what I prefer for sure: the more responsibility rests with the driver, the better…

    1. PaulL says:

      Hmm. See from my point of view races were seldom won or lost on having the best strategy from the team in the days of refueling. They were won or lost on how the driver-car combo made use of them. What happened was if you were a faster driver or possessed a faster car you could tinker with your race strategy to find an avenue to race the car in front and beat them by a small margin on an inlap or something. Overtaking on the track usually requires the car-driver combo to be significantly faster – over a second per lap, but is this viable for the majority of battles up the front, say between Massa and Alonso at Hockenheim?
      - so I’d reject your view that fuel strategy is team centered. I think it’s driver-car centered.

  87. Werner Berger says:

    It shows how much racing has degenerated since 1994 when they introduced refueling. Now people accept that there is no on track passing and try to get entertained by watching the cars stopping instead of racing each other.

    Refueling is a placebo, creating artificial action and preventing the solution of the underlying problem in the chassis rules for aerodynamic design. F1 can easily change back to aero configs that were producing excellent racing like 1978-1981 if the teams only wean themselves from excessive aerodynamic forces.

  88. Red5 says:

    Someone has already described 2010 as chess with wheels.

    Perhaps the FIA should relax rules rather than tightening them in order to give engineers the freedom to innovate.

    Give all the teams 50-80 liters of fuel and let them find the best way to get to the finish. Then why not knock off 1-2 seconds for each kg of fuel remaining at the end of the race.

    Taking to the logical extreme why not allocate fixed number of carbon credits to cover the whole season, including travel, race weekends and testing.

  89. Nick says:

    I wrote something similar myself not to long back: /2010/11/15/f1-2010-season-a-classic-or-over-rated/

  90. Joel says:

    Ironically I found this fans post quite boring

    1. PaulL says:

      Did you mate?

  91. I think there is some over-analysis here. Artificial excitement doesn’t exist; it was either exciting or it wasn’t. Most people thought this season was exciting (me included); the end.

  92. Neil says:

    Nonsense. The lack of fuel stops was not what caused the racing to be boring this year. It was all of this ridiculous “fuel saving” that went on.

    There should be a new rule created that all cars must carry the same amount of fuel and it should be more than enough to get all cars to the finish (regardless of their efficiency).

    That way, if a driver wants to push hard for any number of laps, they can.

  93. nda says:

    I think the final race in Abu Dhabi summed up the whole season.
    Lots of anticipation, excitement, multiple drivers with something to gain or prove. Yet ultimately, while we were all on the edges of our seats waiting for the moment to happen, it never did.

    Taken at a distance this has been a good season, but upon closer inspection it has been (for me at any rate) generally unsatisfying.

    The prospect of the movable rear wings is something I’m still undecided about, it still sounds too gimmicky.
    The more interesting thing for me is to see how adventurous Pirelli will be with their tyres, I’d happily forego the rear wing trickery for some tyre wizardry.

  94. Paul says:

    Is F1 unique amongst sports in having a proportion of its fanbase so frequently trying to establish what’s ‘wrong’ with it rather than focussing on what might be right? Why the fascination in isolating individual aspects for forensic examination rather than taking stock of everything as a whole?

    Saying that, it may be equally unique in having far greater scope to account for personal preference than many other sports. Obviously, one man’s ‘boring’ football match may be another man’s ‘best game of the season’, but I would argue that any individual Grand Prix is far more likely to decisively split opinion than any individual game of another sport.

    With more time, I’d love to write an essay on why I think Singapore was one of the best races of the 2010 season; the fact that others would disagree (quite vehemently, in some cases) is both one of the problems and one of the joys in engaging in a debate such as this.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of refuelling strategy and tyre performance (for the record, I’m quite glad refuelling has gone, and would probably prefer the removal of the ‘must use two compounds’ rule. Perhaps as a result, I fundamentally disagree with the author’s use of the phrase “universally standardise pitstop strategy”, but that’s a whole other essay right there. Suffice it to say that he conveniently seems to have forgotten the times people played the tyre stop strategy differently and gained from it), I’m both intrigued and slightly bemused at people’s desire to pick up on these so-called ‘peripherals’ and the part they play.

    Have they not always been part of the show? Do they not form part of the overall ‘package’ of what F1 is? I wasn’t aware that people “relied” on them for anything. Surely the fact that by their very nature they are variable means you cannot rely on them anyway?

    If 2010 is going to be picked apart and each race’s merit decided on how much something other than the direct input of a driver affects the ‘enjoyment’ of it, should we not go back and analyse every other season with equal rigour? I mean, what a disappointment that 1986 season finale was, eh? Bloody punctures.

    How do you define where these ‘peripherals’ start and end? So rain-affected races tend to be a bit more exciting. Is that a problem? Does it destroy the ‘purity’ of the racing? Shall we stop racing in the rain? Or in too high a temperature?

    The same with mechanical problems. What is the ‘correct’ way? Engines on the brink of performance, that could go bang at any time and with a new one every race (or for every session, even)? Or engines with a design life of a few races, where the management of their use then starts to play a part in how you tackle a Grand Prix? (And which can still go bang anyway).

    Perhaps I have got a little vehement myself here! It just strikes me as odd to go looking for issues where there aren’t really issues. By all means debate the merits of an adjustable rear wing, but don’t complain about variables that have been fundamental to F1 since the day it was created.

    Much of the joy I get from watching F1 is watching how these ordinary men (drivers AND engineers), who possess extraordinary abilities, deal with the remarkable array of variables that get thrown at them. That is ‘the package’, that is the sport, and that is F1. If you want to enjoy chess, go and enjoy chess. Me? I’ll take my motor racing how it comes, and if it’s equated to chess every once in a while, that’s absolutely fine.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t agree with your first point entirely. I think football fans criticise their sport a lot and rightly so. It’s gone nuts!

      1. My Tuppence... says:

        But that is more due to club ownership, governance, enforcement of the rules/regulations and accountability.

        In F1 the frequent criticism is that it is ‘boring’ and lacks entertainment, which is like saying football is boring to watch but that varies from things like who you support and who the opponents are. In F1 the variable that is at large to complain are the aerodynamics.

      2. Mario says:

        If the only thing you can do is to watch then that makes given sport boring. And that is a big problem with F1. Only a handful of people can experience it first hand. All the others are mere bystanders, or spectators, or sheep if you like.

        In case of football you know you can always grab a ball, gather some friends and you have a game. In case of surfing you can buy a cheap board on eBay, jump in the ocean and have some fun yourself. Same goes to endless other sports. In case of racing, however, it is not easy to participate, which is a shame really.

  95. Lee R says:

    I have only been watching F1 since about 1990/91, so not as long as some, and this for me was by far the best season, without question. I also think the run of great seasons (2005 – 2010) has been significantly better than any I’ve known.

    I do think F1 could be better though. I think re-fueling should remain banned and the action should be spiced up via the tyres. I think get rid of the two compounds, and have 1 tyre each weekend with 2 compounds to cover the whole season and them make the tyres slightly marginal and remove the need to do a madatory stop.. Then you should get either 0 stoppers, 1 stoppers or perhaps even 2 or 3 stoppers depending on the tyres.

    Keep the movable wings and KERS for next year and then I think you could have the right ingredients for an even better season

    1. Alasdair says:

      Aargh! Please: no more silly tyres rules!

      People watch racing to… watch racing. Not to see how well each team or driver copes with the ever increasingly complex tyre rules. We want to see how drivers can coax tyres for longevity (ala Button) or how they can fall back on natural instinct to keep going with worn tyres (ala Hamilton). The new rules for 2011 won’t add to the spectacle, only more powerful, less aerodynamically efficient cars will do this.

  96. Bill Johnson says:

    F1 is totally stuck.

    Lets see – you all make totally different cars, right? why not have a spec engine – well we do – we just waste millions having each team design it.

    Why worry about refueling? Why worry about what sort of fuel? This is high tech, right? Just give each team x ergs of energy to expend – get it to the road however you choose.

    I mean, who wants to watch a bunch of identical cars (painted differently) race around, all sounding alike? NASCAR fans, thats who.

    Just think of the fun if fuel, engines, tires, etc were free. Minimum weight, crash regs, run what you brung. Exciting? You wouldn’t know how to handicap the first races – now that’s exciting. And the highest of tech? how could it not be?

  97. dren says:

    There will always be gaps between cars because the cars are all different team to team. With qualifying there shouldn’t be much overtaking at all unless somebody screws up the start or has a very good launching car. Aerodynamic design of the cars may make it harder for one to overtake another, but it will not increase overtaking chances. Such is F1.

    1. dren says:

      Of course some cars may utilize the tires better than others, so chances may arise from that.

  98. Graham says:

    An interesting set of comments
    My two-pennorth worth from someone who has just notched up their 25th season of F1 – still a baby to some of you though ;o)
    Over that time there have been some great and dull races however when we look back to the past it is with rose tinted glasses and we only remember the ‘great’ races to back up our arguments. There were bad races in the 80′s.
    On the tyre scenario I don’t mind if one tyre will go the whole race it just needs to perform less well than the softer tyre – the last few years with Bridgestone as sole supplier there wasn’t enough time gap between the compounds and when there was the drivers moaned they were being made to look idiots – think it was Alonso but not 100%. So for me get rid of the ‘mandatory stop’. Looking back some of the best/most exciting races were when there was this different tyre situation e.g
    Silverstone 87 – Piquet on Hard Mansell one stop due to balance issues – The chase made it exciting – If Mansell had of come short and beena few seconds behind it would of still been a great race
    Monaco ’92 – Senna v Mansell – Mansell unable to pass but a fantastic last few laps
    And many more – often the chase is more exciting than the pass however whilst I agree with a lot of points raised losing mandatory tyre stops would be a big step in the right direction

  99. Jon says:

    There are many “standard or controlled” specs in F1 and I honestly think this movable wing thing is too Play Station. Each year on F1 is less and less REAL RACING. May I suggest:
    1.- If you like to standardize everything just make a standard “overtaking friendly” diffuser.
    2.- Every year is the same story, the New Circuit A lacks overtaking opportunities, and so is B and C. Is Tilke the only qualified man on the planet?

    Thanks

  100. G says:

    If refuelling is considered to be a catalyst for strategy and overtaking, then by all means bring it back, but couple t with much smaller fuel tanks to keep in line with the efficiency measures for the turbo engines. Would shake things up for the chassis designers a bit

    G

  101. pb says:

    I think the qualifying was more interesting than some of the races this year . Most of the races seem to be decided in qualifying only. At least the top 3-4 positions .

    1. Rich C says:

      Totally agree. The last few seconds of qualy were the only times I can recall the commentaters yelling.

  102. Tony says:

    How about a rule stating that each team MUST start one car on each compound, to be drawn by lot.

  103. Dominic says:

    I have been following F1 since the Sixties and have been to Silverstone and Brands hatch GP’s in the Seventies and then started again at Silverstone in the late 90’s early 00’s. I regularly look forward to watching on TV but nearly always end up disappointed with the quality of the racing and now prefer to watch the Moto GP.

    I agree that it is now the peripherals which tend to make a race more exciting but the use of refueling and tyre selection plus movable wings are contrived rules which are not working.

    F1 needs overtaking or the threat of overtaking to make exciting racing.

    I recall racing back in the eighties when cars were racing side by side for corner after corner using the whole width of the track (I think it was the French grand prix that I remember in particular where they were banging wheels for several laps)

    Exciting racing was achievable in the past with high power (turbos) and high downforce (ground effect with skirts) so why not now?

    I accept that brakes are now much improved with much reduced braking distances.

    However, I believe the problem now is not with power or downforce or brakes but is with the effective (usable) width of the track that is available. It is now so narrow that there are few opportunities to overtake.

    They used to use all of the width of the track for racing; many of the tracks were quite narrow but still allowed overtaking.

    Nowadays, even on purpose built tracks with wide sweeping curves, the usable width of track is just a narrow racing line where the grip is very high as it becomes “rubbered in”. The remainder of the track has “marbles”, tyre debris etc., provides very little grip and is therefore useless for overtaking.

    I believe the tyre envelope and material needs to be changed so that they get back to a situation where the change in grip levels across the width of the track is much less pronounced (ie less sticky rubber on the racing line and much less debris off it).

    We would be back to a situation where the entire track is available for racing and will present more opportunities for overtaking and, in my view a much more exciting spectacle.

    Am I missing a trick here? All the F1 brains, overtaking working groups, forum members etc. have not considered this as a problem.

    1. Graham says:

      Totally agree with Dominic – How often do we see a move like this anymore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp37Rl2J_fg&feature=related (James, hope you don’t mind)
      Grand Cojones ;o)

  104. Rich C says:

    I agree with the original article. Imho this season sucked.
    And the rule changes for next season do not hold much hope either. (Although at least the new engine specs gave me a laugh in that 3-Car Monte and I agree on something after all!)

    F1 is as much an engineering competition as a driving one and the rules need to be loosened for *all aspects of the cars so that they don’t *all look the same and perform the same and sound the same. Lets get some variation!

    ANd lets get a real engine! This spec little girlie-engine is pathetic!

  105. part time viewer says:

    to begine with i think it was a good year, mainly due to changable weather and drivers making silly mistakes.
    as for the cars needing more trye grip and less areo, answer me this why do we see more overtaking in the wet when tyre grip is alot less and areo similar?
    i do agee that the dirty air issue is a problem, bring back proper ground effect and less efficient wings, that should help.
    as for the idea of reducing the engine size how about giving the teams a set amount of fuel for the weekend and let them decide which route to go down.
    to many rules will not help, let the clever teams use thier brains in car design, F1 is suposed to be the pinicle of mototrsport, we already have plenty of spec series.

  106. Dan Smith says:

    The problem is fundamentally I disagree with FlukieLucas when he says refuelling strategy was interesting. It wasn’t.

    “In-laps, out-laps, and hot-laps are a lost art of racing this year” – man I don’t care about that stuff. The only reason why in and out laps were so important under refuelling was because overtaking was far too difficult. Make it so that overtaking is possible and f1 will be great. Imagine how fantastic Abu Dhabi would have been if Alonso had been able to barge his way past Petrov and Rosberg with Webber tracking him every step of the way.

  107. Steve Carney says:

    F1 has not manifested it’s own caricature, it has returned to real racing.
    Pitstop strategies are ok if you like the guys on the pitwall dictating how the races are run especially when you have brains like Ross Brawn making it look easy,but i would rather see the drivers on the track win the race.
    I for one am glad refueling is banned!

  108. Haydn Lowe says:

    I find myself in complete agreement with FlukieLucas. The excitement of five drivers entering the championship run-in more than piqued my passion for F1 this season, but looking at the racing itself I found myself emitting jaw-cracking yawns more often than any season I can remember. Had it not been for the fragility of the RB6 in the early stages, we would have been watching a 2002 or 2004 style annihilation of the opposition and there would have been very little talk of a ‘vintage’ season. I stand by my assertion, made following the regulation change banning in-race refuelling, that it would neuter the teams strategically; I remain convinced that in Abu Dhabi for example, Ferrari would have been able to deal with Petrov and Rosberg easily had there been refuelling strategies in play, and effectively lead to processional races. Sadly I was right.
    There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of F1, but I am under no illusions that 2010 was a vintage season, or that, unless the problems that the refuelling ban has caused are dealt with, there will be no return to the sort of genuine sporting contest which we have seen in the past. Hopefully marginal compounds from Pirelli will improve things next season, and then looking forward the move towards freeing engine development combined with a fuel limit, will see differing strategies return to the sport.

  109. Ronnie Stone says:

    Brilliantly said. let’s face it everyone…if Red Bull build the best car again in 2011, the season will run ‘the same’ as there’s no device that they won’t have, so the others, with their similar devices will be negated by the simple fact that there’s no strategey allowed now to get a slower car cunningly past a faster one. The drivers go into each practice and race with a computer prediction of where they will end up…what motivation is that every weekend, unless it rains?

  110. sender says:

    The conclusion is good, but the article is somehow one-sided. Everything is blamed on the lack of refueling. But that is not a valid argument.
    Tires, aerodynamics and circuits are also factors.
    Look at 2009 – was it more exciting with refuleing? The answer is NO.
    Before the season some people ciriticized the ban of refueling while others said that it will be good. There is other people who during the season said that ban of refueling did not make things more interesting but that going back to refueling will not change things dramaticaly. I tend to agree with this last opinion.
    I think that all depends how you make things happen. You need to make it work. F-1 just did not maximise the opportunities. I am surprised that so many chances and opportunities were wasted.
    Some may think that the WTCC championship this year lacked credibility (for various reasons), but there were a lot of exciting races. It was more interesting than F-1. In the end the WTCC championship battle turned out not so exciting but a lot of races were good. I also followed some of the bike championships (not Moto GP) and some of them were also more exciting than F-1.
    I also think that the tires ruined a lot this year. Before the season we were promised to have unpredictability and a lot of people were so hopeful. Almost nothing of it did come true.
    I hope that 2011 will be better but a lot depends on the teams. No one can blame only the FIA because teams also can do a lot to improve the show.

    All in all I would like to thank the author for this article and James for publishing it. Although I do not agree with everything it shows that some people can look at things differently and realisticaly.

  111. ACr says:

    Firstly, apologies if this has been covered, I couldn’t read all the comments.

    Secondly, hello. This is my first reply here. :)

    Anyway…

    Odd thinking in that analysis. To claim this season was only exciting because of peripheral events, then cite a peripheral procedure as the reason for past excitement is kinda weird to me. Fuel stops are peripheral in themselves. They were added to even out fuel weight when Ferrari insisted in running thirsty V12 when V10 and V8 were leaving them behind. (Of course soon after that, Ferrari went V10 anyway)

    IIRC, F1′s most recent boring period was when Ferrari and Schumacher were dominating, with fuel stops… So, how does matey’s theory work there? Only MS and Ferrari fans enjoyed that, and I know plenty who eventually got bored of such domination.

    F1 *is* boring at times. Well, it is boring if you also believe a football match score of 0-0 is also intrinsically boring. F1 can be boring because it is not a spec series and the people who make and drive the cars are so damned good at it.

    These new rules will make F1 for exciting for those with a WWE mentality. Flappy wings or and push to pass ideas are horribly artificial. They should have no place in F1. F1 is about, or should be about the fastest car and the fastest man with that car, and yes, it will often be boring. That’s kind of the whole point of F1. If that’s not what people want, then watch NASCAR, IRL, etc. Watch a driver orientated spec series. NOT F1.

    Ultimately, the question to fans is this: Why should the fastest car with the fastest driver not be on pole and then drive off in to the sunset? Why should a slower car and driver be artificially bunny hopped past a faster car and driver? If a team builds the best car, then it wins. That, ladies and gentlemen, is F1.

    If Mr Fast Package messes up and gets behind a slower car and cant over take, like Alonso behind Petrov, then that’s part of it too. Funny how Petrov keeping Alonso at bay is a problem when Senna keeping Mansel at bay in Monaco is somehow “genius” driving, and exciting. Hmm, limited memory or double standards?

    I’ve been reading this blog since it started, so obviously I value the articles and the community who reply, but I am surprised, no shocked, that both JA and his readers have fallen for such a misunderstanding of the sport. I am dismayed that the sport it’s self is falling in to the trap of the quick fix and is knee-jerking in to artificiality.

    Please don’t accept an X-Factor / WWE type F1, which is what we are heading too. Please accept a 0-0 draw!!!!!

  112. Mark Crooks says:

    Why doesn’t the FIA allow refueling but limit the maximum amount of fuel that can be distributed during a race and allow teams to decide on the size of the fuel tank in their car?

    That way a team can decide on a wide number of different strategies and which way they want to develop their car.

    For example design a car with a fuel tank large enough to fuel the car for the entire race. Or have a car with a smaller tank that is lighter and can run faster but has to stop more frequently. The smaller tank would also allow for better weight distribution for KERS and would also act as an encentive for engine manufacturers to design more fuel efficient engines.

    Instead the FIA seem obsessed with imposing icreasingly artificial rules to try an reach the same goal.

  113. Jon B says:

    I read on the BBC site that numerous changes are being made to the Formula for 2013. They are not changing the tyres because they want “cornering speeds remain high”.

    All the time F1 keeps high cornering speeds, the cars will have problems overtaking.

  114. Robert Powers says:

    Whenever they change the name to World Team Championship I will agree.1988 was not boring,you were still watching the best drivers on Earth.They almost never pitted in 1988,reduced boost meant lower temps on the rears,it was a question of not using up the fronts.Remember Hungary ’88?One of the best battles ever in F1,no pit stops at all,just superb driving.Drivers left to there own racing,no crutch available,other than one pit stop(or two at most),the teams only preparing the machines and letting the driver concentrate without constantly “encouraging” or “pestering” on the radio-just lap times,safety issues and pit schedule.I will not apologize for an active imagination,can only hope others can develop their brain.I do not need artificial entertainment,I NEED Formula One.

  115. Rishi says:

    Good article with some good points, definitely thought-provoking. Although there are some nuances to what is said (for example in the refuelling days you still had drivers pitting in the same window more often than not except this occured more often), I think an important reason is that despite most races (particularly from Monza onwards) being fairly soporific, they were crucial in helping determine the outcome of the championship battle. I think most fans don’t mind some given races being a bit dull provided the overall story of the championship is sufficiently exciting and compelling – as 2010 definitely was. By contrast, in 2004 there were some pretty good races but they made very little impact to the top of the championship standings so the consensus probably doesn’t look back on 2004 as a really good season for racing as a whole.

    Another reason 2010 is being seen as positively was perhaps the feel-good feeling generated by the relative lack of politics in the sport this year. The 2006-8 championships were all as intense and compelling (and in some cases more so) as this year’s but the persistently controversial decisions including those on mass dampers, Alonso’s Monza 2006 penalty, the ruling on McLaren over the 780-page dossier in 2007, plus the penalties on Lewis Hamilton at Spa and Fuji in 2008 left a bitter taste in the mouth to many fans. In some of these cases, the FiA may indeed have strong grounds to argue their decisions were necessary; however, that feeling of unnecessary or confusing interference (and in some cases injustice) didn’t go away and this is what rankled (different fans may have agreed – as indeed I did – with the FiA on some the above points but I suspect very few of us could see the logic – and I couldn’t – in all or even the majority of the above decisions).

    Again one could argue there were nuances to the above argument but I feel it largely holds. For example, the questions over the legality of the RB6 were kept remarkably away from the foreground of the battle, while the Ferrari team orders controversy was always a loophole of an awkward rule which was frustrating more than anything else.

  116. Xman says:

    James,

    I dont know why you have spent so much time and energy on this topic when it is clear that the 2010 season is down to the individuals perception and interpretation. Take any topic in the world and you will find people percieve it differently. Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. For those who feel that this season was not that good, then i wouldnt be suprised if you found everything in your lives to be ‘not that great’. End of story.

    1. James Allen says:

      I haven’t. I was just giving a fan a voice. He had a different point of view – one I don’t particularly agree with, but interesting nevertheless. You’ll find that most F1 sites lecture to their readers from the hight of their great wisdom. We were given two ears and one mouth and should use them in those proportions. I like to reflect different voices here

      1. Mark Crooks says:

        Well said.

        It is the off season and the topic certainly brought up an interesting discussion – 188 comments so far and counting.

      2. Mark Crooks says:

        BTW James – off topic

        I’m going to the Indy500 for the first time in 2011 and I’d love to see a current F1 car go round the speedway circuit at full throttle.

        Do you think you could persuade the RedBull team to put on a special show and do this for the Indy500 100th anniversary?

  117. Jon says:

    Couldn’t agree more with FlukieLucas. It annoyed me so much, that I’ve pretty much repressed these thoughts by now, but seeing this has brought them all back.

    Melbourne was the big moment for me when Hamilton and Webber went onto contrary strategies and after catching 2 secs per lap, couldn’t even get close enough to attempt an overtake. The tyres are partially to blame but also the aero changes, also the heavier cars and similar strategies. Combination of all factors really.. I don’t want to get into another big post listing them, I’ve just come to accept F1 for what it is. One step foward, two steps back in terms of regulations. Seasons like 2005 and 2006 are gone. Go back and watch a DRY 2006 Melbourne race, and compare it to the 2010 wet race in terms of overtaking and change of positions. To sum it up basically you used to watch the race until the second round of stops and then sort of wait for the race to end, but that period began at half race or even earlier sometimes in 2010. Unless there were outside factors influencing it.

    I still enjoyed the season but not from a racing standpoint, but more from a suspenseful who is going to win standpoint like it was a dramatic movie. The sporting aspect was a big letdown but oh well.

    FlukieLucas summed it up much better then I could have.

  118. StefMeister says:

    I loved the refueling ban & actually think it improved the racing rather than hurt it.

    While refueling was good for strategy, it wasn’t good for racing as it put strategy over the racing & often saw the races decided by the strategy guys running the race simulations in the pit lane on computers.

    I actually think that killed some races which would have been better without refueling.

    Take the 2004 French Gp, Schumacher ran a 4-stop strategy & while it was a good strategy, Having the 2 cars fighting for the win 10+ seconds apart running the strategies wasn’t exciting. I’d have rather seen them right together all race with the 2nd place car having to try & find a way past on the track.

    The only problem with the rules this year regarding pit-stops was how limited the tyre regulations were & unfortunately this isn’t changing for 2011.

    Making the top 10 start on the tyres they qualified on didnt work because there was a faster tyre which 99% of the time everyone in the top 10 ran.

    However my biggest problem is the mandatory tyre stop. It created the ‘safe’ strategy of start on soft’s, pit early which proberly 90%+ of the field took each race.

    With the banning of refueling they should have opened up tyre strategy like what we had prior to refueling coming back in 1994.

    Pre-94 teams had 4-5 tyre compounds avaliable & could run whatever tyre they wanted, whenever they wanted to during the races.

    They could start on the softer compounds & do 1 or 2 tyre stops, Start on soft’s & switch to medium/hard’s on a 1-stop or they could pick the hardest & run without stopping.

    This produced some brillinat & very unpredictable races Pre-94. Such as the 1990 French Gp where Ival Capelli didn’t stop at all while others did 1 or 2 tyre stops & he came within a few laps of winning untill Prost on fresher tyres managed to get him with about 3 laps left.

    If they opened up the tyre regulations to something like we had Pre-94 I guarantee we would see better, less predictable races with more varied tyre strategies between each team/driver.

    The tyre strategy we had Pre-94 was always more intresting, less predictable & produced better racing compared to the refueling strategy we had Post-94.

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