F1 Winter Break
A reminder of the latest rule changes and what they mean
A reminder of the latest rule changes and what they mean
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Feb 2010   |  8:00 pm GMT  |  245 comments

Many readers have been in touch asking for clarification of the latest changes to the sporting regulations. Last week the F1 Commission met to discuss the proposals to change some of the sporting regulations to improve the show this season, things which have been discussed for some time, even voted on before.

Many items were on the table including tyre usage, compulsory pit stops, overtaking lanes and extra points for pole and fastest lap.

A GP win is now worth 25 points

A GP win is now worth 25 points

Many were rejected, but the revision to the points system was approved so now the winner has a much bigger advantage over second place – 7 points – than before. The winner will receive 25 points and second place just 18 points. The system is closer to the one used in Moto GP than anything we have ever seen before in F1 and will make a nonsense of historical comparisons between drivers.

It will not take long for a driver like Sebastian Vettel, for example, to reach the points career points totals of drivers like Ayrton Senna or Nigel Mansell.

The commission decided against awarding a point for pole position on the sensible grounds that it might decide a world championship on a Saturday rather than on race day.

On the tyres it was agreed that the fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying.

“In order to introduce a further element of strategy, cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set, ” said the FIA statement.

In some cases this will mean used soft tyres, where the cars behind will be on hards. If a soft tyre is significantly faster in qualifying than the hard and yet is marginal on wear it will mean that the front runners will have to work out which is the better strategy, get grid position but pit relatively early, or qualify on the hards and take a late stop. Most engineers seem to feel that the tyres will be robust enough for most people to stop only once during races.

As last year we may see drivers doing multiple lap runs on hard tyres in qualifying.

But at some places the soft tyre will be the way to go. The big challenge here is going to be finding a compromise on set up, whereby the car is able quickly to warm up the front tyres for a single qualifying lap, but then not overly punish the tyres the next day in race conditions. That’s a tough balance to strike. Remember that with parc ferme conditions, no changes will be allowed to the set up of the cars between qualifying and race.

The Jerez test this week should give us a much better idea of how the cars look after the tyres as it is much tougher on tyres than Valencia. We should see the new medium and possibly harder compound tyres from Bridgestone this week.

There is also a reduction in the number of sets of tyres available to drivers over weekend – down from 14 to 11, of which 6 will be prime and 5 option. On Fridays drivers will have just three sets instead of four.

Although all three qualifying sessions will now be on low fuel, so far I haven’t seen anything from the FIA to the effect that nominated fuel weights will no longer be published after qualifying. If nothing changes, it will be very interesting because it will tell us which team has the best fuel consumption and we will quickly be able to work out figures.

We would also be able to work out over time when drivers have opted to run light, in other words deliberately “underfuel” because they plan to run lean for a period of the race or because they expect a safety car. Remember last season Felipe Massa was forced to run lean due to a refuelling problem and although he lost power and a few places, he nevertheless managed to get to the finish. You will see some of that this year and drivers gambling on safety cars somewhere like Montreal or Monaco, where safety cars are common.

The FIA has indicated that other measures to improve the racing are still under discussion.

The commission also agreed to ban double diffusers from 2011, on the grounds that they undermine efforts to improve overtaking.

Bernie Ecclestone this weekend publicly confirmed that teams are to be allowed to have three ‘no-shows’ at Grands Prix. It appears that these can be taken at any time so it is theoretically possible for a new team to miss the first three races of the season and start at Shanghai on April 18th. It also appears that this rule is not limited to the new teams, but if any of the established teams need to take that route it would be because they are in serious financial problems, as none of them would want to miss points scoring oportunities.

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As long as the points issue is settled, I can adjust the work pool accordingly.

Forcing pool participants to pick 8 drivers from 4 classes with more points avaialble could prove interesting. Not going over budget is the other stipulation.


istn supposed that FIA choose the 3 teams with a better plan to go racing. and now there is stefan who already has cars and money to go racing and fia rejected them for this guys that simply dont have the cash!


Just another Mosley legacy ❗


That was also the rationale of the $40M USD entry requirement that had been in place. (The actual figure may be different.) It was to keep the shoestring operations that weren't serious about a long term participation from giving F1 a poor image. It worked! Nobody came in after it was implemented. The number of teams were also restricted to artificially raise the value of a spot on the grid.


James, do you think that with the new qualifying rule we could have some weird situations, with all the top ten qualifiers waiting inside the pits for most of the qualify to save the tyres, and then they only go for one flying lap at all? I don't think that watching a track without cars for 10 minutes in a qualifying session does not help to "improve the show" (i hate this "show" thing)!


"So far I haven’t seen anything from the FIA to the effect that fuel weights will no longer be published after qualifying."

This is interesting, James. I do hope we get those weight figures published.

In 2009, the cars who qualified outside the Top 10 'declared' their car weight. Did the stewards have the power to check that the 'declared' weight of any given car was the 'actual' weight ? (ie, was any car that Qualified outside Q3 actually weighed in 2009? )


Oh yes they could be weighed at any time.


"...when drivers have opted to run light, in other words deliberately “underfuel” because they plan to run lean for a period of the race or because they expect a safety car."--Unfortunately, this makes for the most boring form of racing imaginable. Drivers and fans alike hate it.


...acctually I love it, the whole strategy thing is what makes the race worth watching and I for one would want re-fuelling back in.

The F1 world is split in two basic camps those that are purest racers, Driver and Machine against the world and those that love the technology and strategy that support the driver and machine and give him the tools to race against the world.

Those of us that want refuelling back probably sit in the second box. What is great is that we all get what we want because if the whole racing process.


Not necessarily -- provided some cars behind them are not underfueled, this adds opportunity for late-race overtaking. If Felipe Massa lost position last year trying to conserve fuel, imagine a driver trying to conserve fuel *and* tyres!


What you say about qualifying is interesting because I had assumed that we would now have a empty tanks-fastest car on pole situation in Q3. The prospect of cars still running on race fuel in Q3 is slightly disappointing and seems a bit pointless considering refuelling is banned.

The tyre situation is going to be interesting though. Just to clarify, will a driver have to use the same tyres for the whole of Q3? For example, if he does 2 runs, will he have to use the same set of tyres for both, or will he start the race on the tyres he finishes the session with?

That surely would lead to cars setting a fast 'sighter' lap, before coming in to change in order to finish the session with a gentle lap on a set of more optimal race tyres.


No they run low fuel in Q3.


And the wording from the FIA on tyres is "In order to introduce a further element of strategy, cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set."


Ah, but "cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set" is definitely different from "the fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying", which you initially wrote in your blog post above.


James - I am not sure you totally answered this question. And it is actually a very good one. Has the FIA considered this and is there a clear ruling?

Here it is again:

"Just to clarify, will a driver have to use the same tyres for the whole of Q3? For example, if he does 2 runs, will he have to use the same set of tyres for both, or will he start the race on the tyres he finishes the session with?

That surely would lead to cars setting a fast ’sighter’ lap, before coming in to change in order to finish the session with a gentle lap on a set of more optimal race tyres."


This will absolutely happen. I haven't read anything about not being able to change tires during Quali. And since all sessions are on low fuel, you can go out there, crack a fast lap, come in change, "try" again on race choice tires, finish the session and be done with it.

This will work. Since the cars will be heavy, surely you want to start the race on hardest rubber. And since you are light in quali surely you nearly always want to go for pole on softest rubber.

Only 30 days or so left and we'll finally answer all the questions - including likely appearance of a revised defuser for the first race. To bad Bahrain is first on the menu.


I understood it that they will have to use the tyres they set their fastest qualifying lap on... not the necessarily the last set they used in qualifying. Has that changed?


you mean 3 laps worth when you say low fuel?

as in an out lap, hot lap in lap fuel and that is it xhow may runs they want/need to do. similar to the 90's.

and thanks for the prompt delivery on this article, I wasnt sure if you would keep it back to closer to the season start or not.


I wonder if the championships are won before the last race, the winning team(s) will opt to stay at home? That would save them a few bob!


Well, according to a press release from the FIA today, teams aren't allowed to miss races - I've really lost track of what's going on


Surely the points they can get in the last race would translate to more prize winnings than the money saved by not racing?

Also, it's actually a chance for them to demonstrate how fast they can go, once all caution is thrown to the wind. viz. Alonso in late 2005!


Aside from the sponsor point - which is very valid. A top team with the title wrapped up early will still want to run in order to test development components for the following season.


No, the winners won't opt for that because their main source of income is their sponsors. Not racing would be undermining the sponsors but wasting the opportunity to promote them.

Anyway, this rule confirms that some of the new entrants have been poorly chosen by the FIA.


You're right about the sponsors but I don't agree that it shows the teams were poorly chosen, it instead (again) confirms that Mosley was right that the budget cap should be in place because these teams entered under the premise of that rule.

I say 'again' confirms he was right because the first time was when Honda pulled out. The second when BMW pulled out. The third when Toyota pulled out. The fourth when Renault all but pulled out. Manufacturers don't give a monkeys about F1, it's all just a marketing exercise and they pull out when it suites them. I for one think that proper independent teams should be given all the help possible to keep them going.


It would have helped them because they'd now be starting a championship under they same rules in which they applied for that place.

They didn't know until the budget cap was finally scrapped what was happening. It turned out that the teams agreed to drastically reduce costs, but it could have turned out (and would have if so many manufacturers weren't leaving or at risk at the time) that no budget reduction at all was agreed. The point is that the new teams didn't know until very late in the day and so couldn't plan properly because they didn't know whether they'd be able to afford to enter at all. This is not their fault or down to bad financial management; the rules changed after they entered.

Also, it's not really just about making the start of the season; the teams can miss any 3 Grands Prix, not just the first 3.


The budget cap is a red herring in relation to the question of being able to get a car to the grid at all. If some of the new teams can't get a car built for the start of the season, how would that have been different with a 40 million cap? If they had a 40 million budget they should be able to go racing even without a cap.


I agree with Mosley's vision that F1 can not rely on manufacturers and should favour independent teams such as Williams by using cost restrictions, thereby also helping manufacturers commit more easily to F1 programmes. For example, the testing restrictions have helped bring a more level-playing field in 2009. However, his problem has been Ferrari who did not want to renounce their financial advantage and for those such as Briatore who fought for a bigger share of FOM money. Overall, I think the FIA-FOTA fight has brought a lot of positives and a new era which will hopefully improve F1.


Nice lateral thinking... bu how will it save the winning teams a few bob? Money is primarily made through marketing minutes on TV. Not turning up could lose tremendous amounts of air time for a leading team, not to mention associate their current sponsors and partners with a negative 'no show' message. And that's before we talk about Bernie's mysterious 'points mean prizes' way of sharing out the TV money. No... a thoroughly bad idea for a leading team.


"The fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying"

Does this mean the same hardness of tyre or the actual set they were using for their run.


The tyres they did the time on


James, I thought that the car had to start the race on the tyres that it qualified on, not those which it finished Q3.

Thus if a driver does his fastest lap and then has a crack on different tyres but fails to better his time, he starts on the previous set - which he did his fastest lap on...?


But as Matt asks above, what if they change to and doa few laps on race-friendly (say on harder tires) after setting the fast times (say on softer tires) but before Q3 ends?


I expect the rule will be that "the driver must start the race with the set of tyres that he set his fastest lap in third qualifying" This will close the loophole.


What would happen in an instance where a driver damaged the set that he had just achived his best time with?


That's a good question. Would it be like in 2005 when they could change tyres on safety grounds? In which case I do hope a driver doesn't 'accidentally' damage his tyres right at the end of qualifying and then be able to put fresh tyres on for the race... say by 'accidentally' hitting a wall at Monaco...?


what if they make 2 runs, the first getting a fast lap and they change the tyres and do a ver slow lap to save those tyres and start the race with them


sorry about wrong typing

what if they make 2 runs, the first getting a fast lap and then change the tyres and do a very slow lap to save those tyres and start the race with them


Can they change tyres during Q3? Get a fast lap on one set, and change at the last moment to new rubber for the race.


Presumably then this means they can't change their tyres at all in Q3, effectively limiting them to one run when the tyres are at their best. So we are going to be treated to the spectacle of watching an empty track for 7 minutes, with everyone putting in one quick lap at the end of the session.


Was the point system used in 2009 introduced because the championship was decided too early when Ferrari were dominating the races?

The rationale was to allow avoid someone pulling ahead too far to be caught. They wanted to extend the championship battle deeper into the season.

I guess now to go back to the old way now?


Exactly. No-one is ever happy with the points system and forgets why it gets changed in the first place. Some time soon (as always happens) a team will totally dominate for 2 or 3 years and everyone will say, "the points system is ridiculous, they won the championship by round 12, let's close the gap between the points".


James why would the fuel weights be published after qualifying? My understanding was that Q3 would not take place on full tanks.


Yes but the point is teams had to nominate a fuel load. The cars who went out in Q1 and Q2 had to nominate fuel load. Just because this year they all have to run full tanks at the start doesn't mean that they will all have the same amount of fuel and the difference in weight could have a big bearing on the car's speed


which I take the rationale to mean is why fuel economy will suddenly become more important this year, the more fuel efficient engines (Renault I believe) will be able to carry less fuel for the race, and over a 60~ lap race will be quicker by x amount of seconds/laps =typical lap speed increase of so many 0.01 seconds.

Any idea realistically how much of an advantage a fuel efficient engine can translate to saved laptime during a race, 0.01-0.02? maybe slightly more?

all other things being equal.


The most widely accepted figure seems to be that an extra 10kg of fuel will save about 0.4 seconds per lap.


In an earlier thread I seem to remember it was 0.3sec/lap between the most efficient and the worst. That assumed that all other factors were equal, which of course they are not. I think there will be huge differences in tyre and brake wear and we may well see a tortoise and hare type race as we used to in the old days of no re-fuelling.


I am behind the new teams 100%, but I can't see the point of going through all the selection process if half of them aren't going to turn up because of a lack of funds. It does rather beg the question as to why some of the seemingly better financed options (prodrive) weren't selected. I thought part of the process of due diligence was to ensure that the new guys had the moeny, and were not going to go the way of Super Aguri, and laterly Honda.

It seems that either the process was flawed, or the teams lied about their budgets. If the later is the case, they shouldn't be allowed to compete.

On the subject of points, has anyone worked out a formula to allow us to compare the new points system and the old?


I'm a little dubious about the new points, for instance if there is one team that has a truly dominant car for the first handful of races, they'll be able to pull away with such a lead that they wont be able to be caught. For example we saw last year how Button gained a huge lead after the first five races. With the new points system it would have been even greater.

It is almost as though they decided to sacrifice the competition for the championship in order to make the individual races more exciting? Or am I interpreting this all wrong?


Henry, as shown by nuvolarifan the situation would be all but the same. Just a fine example of the FIA interfering without actually achieving.

It doesn't stop the excitment building though


The situation is not all but the same as @topless porridge pointed out you are not awarded points as a percentage of the total available.

All that his ratios show is that the spread of points on offer is almost identical this year as to last year.

What it fails to show is the ratio between positions;

2009 1st to 2nd = 20%; 2nd to 3rd = 25%

2010 1st to 2nd = 28%; 2nd to 3rd = 17%

That is the figure that matters and the reason for the change to encourage pushing for the win. Whether it works or whether a dominant team is able to wrap up the championship earlier in the season is yet to be proven.


Sadly, there is very little difference between the 2009 points system and the 2010 system. I have normalized the points given for each position into percentages. Here they are in order, place 1 through 10:

2009 points:

10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, 0

2009 percentage awarded based on total for race:

25.6, 20.5, 15.4, 12.8, 10.3, 7.7, 5.1, 2.6, 0, 0

2010 points:

25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1

2010 percentages (99 total pts):

25.3, 18.2, 15.2, 12.1, 10.2, 8.1, 5.1, 3.0, 2.0, 1.0.

You see, the winner actually gets slightly FEWER points as a percentage of the total offered for the race than last year. Excepting a reduction in the percentage of points awarded for second place, EVERY POSITION GETS THE SAME PERCENTAGE OF POINTS AS LAST YEAR. Now we add a pittance for pos 9 and 10.

Now, based on a total of 17 races, the percentage of total possible poins (170 in 2009, 425 in 2010) the percentage of total points available is exactly the same, except that pos2 now gets 4.3 % of what is available for the season rather than 4.7.

SO, we have EXACTLY THE SAME points scoring system as last year, except that it is far more complicated. Another FABULOUS IDEA by the FIA.

It should be as follows:

30, 20, 15, 11, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1




What you're not taking into account here is that drivers are awarded POINTS, not PERCENTAGES.

If, like last year, throughout the season we see drivers finishing all over the place, with some improving, some getting worse and some going up and down, it will mean much more to a driver to finish one place better in a given race. So if a middling driver (or team) makes a mid-season dramatic improvement and the front runner(s) don't, or start to go backwards a bit (as we saw last year), the extra points difference will matter.

I think!


OH, and of course, we can now no longer compare points historically in ANY WAY, even though there is no meaningful change in the number of points awarded unless you finish 2nd.


It's a nonsense to say that historical points comparisons are impossible now; it's not exactly difficult to normalise the points (e.g. if comparing Senna to Vettel then just normalise a win as 10 points, second as 8... etc. or whatever normalisation is decided upon). Sure this'll need to be agreed on by those keeping stats on it, and referred to by us fans, but seriously, how many people know without looking it up how many points every driver ever got.

After all, in the past we've had e.g. best 11 points scores counts, and even more complicated systems (1967 - 1980), and nobody has said up until now, oh we can't possibly compare Lauda's points to Clark's points to Schumacher's points - you just normalise the situation by counting them all.

In actual fact this will probably force a comprehensive normalisation rather than the rough one we've had up until now; e.g. until now in the points tally, a win in 1950 was worth the same as a 2nd place in 2008 - not exactly accurate. This large change will force this to be fixed and to be more accurate.

I don't agree with the new system - I think what we've had since 2003 has been good, but it isn't true that it makes a mockery of historical results.


I had no idea the ratios were so close.

Actually, your figures inspired me to try the comparison myself. Mostly the new figure per position is 2.5 times (sometimes a little more, sometimes less) the old score. So all we need to do is take a snaphost of the records now and for historical comparisons divide any points scored from 2010 by 2.5 to see how they stack up.

As I have said before; this won't improve the show greatly, and if it is about redistributing the wealth either pay on finishing positions down to 10 rather that points (same thing by a different name). It has just made everything more complicated that it needs to be.


It would be nice if they had a TV graphic fuel meter to replace last years KERS meter. Perhaps based on weight in tank. And possibly even an active Mpg readout. Some nice ways to show fans how green F1 is.

Question, will teams be required to start with a specific amount of fuel onboard? Or can they put what they think they'll require for the race.

Oh also Qualifying. Is it any fuel levels, or final 10 requiring race level fuels?


My understanding is that a team can put as much fuel as they wish and their car's tank allows at any time prior to the start of the race; only that no refueling is allowed during the race.

So if they go light but suddenly run out of fuel during the race, it's tough cookies to them.


The way I understand it is qualifying is low fuel all through; the teams can start the race with whatever amount of fuel they like - they can't add any more once the race has started though, so if they've underestimated it's tough luck


They can put any amount the wish in the tank at the start - even short fuel and end up pulling out, if they wish.

And qualy will be low fuel, not race levels.


I know a lot has been said of how 'running lean' can be used to extend fuel range etc. But I'm not so convinced. Take Massa last year (which btw I seem to recall was a fuel sensor problem) he basically lost waaaaay too much time per lap to make it viable (although he was probably 2/3 throttle short shifting). I would imagine most cars will set off with plenty of Gas and purposly run rich at certain parts of the race to get the fuel down to required levels. I expect when the safety car comes out we'll see the engines spluttering in a bid to get rid of fuel.


I'd be surprised if any teams put in an ounce of fuel over what they had decided as the bare minimum; weight makes such a difference they would be mad to add extra, it would slow them down and place extra wear on the tires, to what end?


Just does not make sense. 5% over is not going to add significantly to any area and if you do not have the option of turning the wick up down the straights now and again, you are going to get eaten up by someone that can.

Overtaking is going to be even more difficult for the top cars next season and again the main area is going to be pit stops. Coming out on new tyres will more than likely be an advantage or turning up the power when the car you have been following pits.

If you run with the bare minimum of fuel, you have no options tactically.


Quote Red Andy (above):

The most widely accepted figure seems to be that an extra 10kg of fuel will save about 0.4 seconds per lap.

I'm not saying that they will try and run lean throughout the race, but really doubt that they will load so much fuel that they will be wasting fuel - as Marc's first post implied.


Hello James just a clarification question. Does a car that qualifies in the top ten have to start the race on the tyres it finished qualifying on or the tyres that they did their best lap on? I hope its the latter as otherwise you would find a car doing its quick lap and then coming in and changing to the harder set to finish qualifying on.


You know, that's a great idea. 🙂

I really hope they do it. 🙂


And risk another guy staying on softs and posting a faster lap time.

Yep, that's part of the whole intrigue of this new rule.


I think you have a point there Adam, I would expect them all to do quali on softs but put primes on for the final lap. But again we are waiting for the definitive version of the sporting regs.


Just wondering if the fuel consumption will go up if it starts raining during a race, will they be able to come in to re-fuel if the consumption goes up because alot of runners won't finish the race? Or will the just select a 'wet' map?


I believe it goes down in the rain. The cars go slower, the revs are kept lower, they don't complete as much distance, and the engines run cooler. So the fuel used should be less as well.


They will use less fuel if a race becomes wet after it has started unless, they knew beforehand and gambled on it raining and put less in to start.


Fuel consumption goes down in the wet.


James, great round up, what happened to the extra point for the fastest lap, I thought this would bring a real extra strategy item if at the last race to win the championship a driver needed 26 points which meant the win and the fastest lap...

Also some years ago they talked about an Engine championship which would also be worth a thought encouraging suppliers to join the party at a technical level.

Also any news on the plans for the new tyre supplier next year... anyone threw in their hat yet... will it be welcome back Goodyear?


I think they are trying to persuade Bridgestone to stick around


Me thinks the word is 'grovelling'. If Bridgestone do walk it will be a real problem as no other company has the information needed, another one of Mosley's legacies ❗


James, and your thoughts on the point for the fastest lap?


A bit of a sideshow frankly.


Just for fun (and I separated it from my more serious question... what else could the win a point for... maybe with a little out of the box thinking....

Loudest coloured Helmet?

Highest Champagne fountain?

Largest number of spins in a wet race?

Prettiest Girlfriend?

Best Guitar riff at the Silverstone post race concert?

Come on guys... what have I missed


How about a 5 lap sprint race in which the driver have to use their everyday road car...


separate championship for most overtaking done?

points for best shunt?

running start for drivers from the pit lanes? so the cars are on the grid, the drivers all have to sprint from their pits to their cars then start!


great ideas, all improve 'the show' as they put it


Point for passing. Disqualification at the end of race for not passing at all...


You missed out the best "Jarno Trulli Handbags at Dawn Trackside Spat".


That's annoyingly sound reasoning for not having the point for pole position - I really liked that idea.

Re: the comparison of points to historical drivers, i'm sure it won't be long before most people and websites are tracking drivers' "new" and "classic" scores, to enable comparisons to continue.


What about drivers such as Barrichello and Schumi? They have so far bulit up their points using the 'Classic' system, and could add to them this season using the 'New' points scoring. If, as many are predicting, Schumi is pushing hard for the championship, he could potentially win 5 races, 5 2nds, and a handfull of others. this adds 215 points to his total points scored. Where would you class him?


The 'Championship decided on Saturday' problem could be solved with one addition to the rules:

"A driver will score 1 point for Pole Position, except in such cases where that point will decide the outcome of the World Championship". ie A championship can only be clinched in a race.


Nah - changing the rules on a race by race basis makes a mockery of it. You can't just change it for the purposes of exciting racing.

What if Driver A gets 15 points for 15 pole positions throughout the season, but Driver B was more consistent in the races and goes into the final race weekend 25 points ahead. He finally gets the pole. You cannot seriously deny him the point without it looking like a farce.


good point james.. the new points system will definitely undermine the numbers scored by previous drivers but i suppose in the end, an average F1 fan tends to remember race win numbers over points i would think.. great blog by the way! i read it everyday..


Thanks for the post James, informative as usual. I haven't yet made up my mind about the new points system for the very reason you mention. Surely it wouldve been better to bring back
half points. So that the same amount of places were awarding something. It takes away alot from the future history of the sport, I doubt it will harm it as such, but it's just such a shame.

Looking forward to this weeks tests, with redbull finally showing us what they have been delicately building. Only a month to go!!!!


A half point separation between all places would make the best competition.


James, you wrote, "On the tyres it was agreed that the fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying." I wonder if that's correct, because previously it was reported that it would have to be the tyres they set their fastest lap in Q3 on. I don't think the version you reported would make much sense, as teams could set their fastest time on softs and then switch to hards shortly before qualifying ends.

It seems that a point for fastest lap was rejected, too. Do you know on which grounds?

Thanks for the amazing blog.


I guess with the points system changing so radically, someone (james) will need to retrospectively recalculate the entire history of F1 results based on the new system, to ensure fairer historical comparison as per your example senna vs vettel


James, I actually do not get the point with changes of tyres. I always thought that the reason why there is not going to be refueling is to prevent overtaking during pit stops. Also drivers that can be gentle with tyres are going to benefit and will not have to change tyres. What is the point to not have refueling and still have pi stops?


Cost. The cost of paying for the refueling rigs and the transportation to the races falls to the teams. Bernie sends them a bill! Safety is also a mentioned reason, but in reality it boils down to money. The overtaking in the pits has also been mentioned. But then some former FIA office holders prefer watching a chess match to actual on-the-track wheel-to-wheel racing!?


Come on man, this was the way in the good old days. Drivers who were good on their tyres pitted less often; how do you think Prost ever beat Senna?


No, the refueling ban was a cost saving measure. Saving on the cost of transporting (now 26 sets) of rigs.


F1 could do itself a favour by describing tyres in a way casual fans can understand...Prime is the harder tyre, and Option is the softer one, right?

Do you think teams will drop out of races just to save the hassle of travelling to them? I'm thinking of Istanbul, maybe Japan or Korea too.


Not sure I agree with their reasons for not giving a point for pole; would winning the championship on a Saturday *really* spoil things?

Ok, if it had happened in Brazil and Button hadn't gone balls to the wall in the race, then perhaps so; but that's where the complaint about modern tracks comes in - they're not all like Interlagos and the race is usually a wind down period from the excitement of qualifying.

It'd also match up neatly with the rule for the top 10 - you can shoot it out for an extra point, but then you'll have to use your old tyres; perhaps it's just me, but it seems more artificial now.

As for the allowance to miss 3 races, I'm surprised it's for everyone - I'm sure they've thought it through (well...) but it'd certainly be a picture come Abu Dhabi if every place in the championship is settled, so everyone decides there's no point in lugging all their stuff over from Brazil and calls it a day

Nice new header for the site btw; the positioning of the twitter link's better too


doesnt someone (FOM maybe) hand out end of season cash based on points scored, not place finished? so still an incentive to score points in the last few races


That's a good point! (pun intended) The concorde agreement will have to be re-drafted now to take account of the different points for dosh dishing.


Hi James,

any idea why it's taken so long for the double diffuser ban to kick in? It was obvious last season that the loophole allowing them impacted on the 2009 regs changes to improve overtaking - why didn't they ban them for 2010?


yes, I was going to make the same point actually. I have a feeling it is something like, in 2009 the teams (some of them) were already writing off the season and concentrating on the 2010 car early on. So the reg change came too late to be put into place before the 2010 season. so 2011 instead.


so all the teams could spend an extra year developing technology which will be redundant, spending extra money and time on a package that would lead to no long term benefit!

on the flip side maybe precisely for that reason, regulation changes lead to exciting new designs that can give different teams an edge!


To ban double diffusers in 2010, would have been embarrassing for the FIA, coming so soon after the "fight" they put up to declare them legal in 2009.


Surely, with no refueling in the race.... qualifying will no longer have to be with the fuel load you intend to start with?

It will be near empty qualifying, no?

So publishing post-qualifying weights will be moot. It would merely confirm the cars were not cheating by being under weight, or that the teams miscalculated and carried more fuel than necessary to complete the qualifying laps.. It would certainly tell you nothing about how much fuel the teams need to complete a race?



Regarding the tyre, is it the tyre the drivers finished the qualifying with or the tyre used to set the fasted time in Q3?


The fastest 10 qualifiers will have to start the race on the tyres they finished qualifying.

Does this mean that a driver can set a quick time on soft tyres and then change to hard ones, go out for one more lap to finish Q3 and then start the race on the hard tyres?


Yes, but as the tracks usually get quicker, this will probably let people who stay on softs pass them. It's all strategy...



James - should a team be so far ahead in the Championship that they don't need to attend the final three races, they could simply take a week off. I don't imagine any of them would, with sponsor contracts etc., but it would be an interesting form of protest should a disagreement arise.

Also, do you see many teams, at either end of the pace spectrum, putting in there qualifying time and then returning to the pits to heavily adjust their setup to race trim? Thus avoiding parc ferme regulations?


*their qualifying time, not there. Sorry.


parc ferme is from start of Qual to end of Race.


"the fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying."

So it's not "start the race with the tyres you set your fastest time on" then?

Surely you'd then run the best quali tyre, but leave enough tijme to dive into the pits and put on the worse tyre. I still don't get this quali tyre thing.

P.S. was overtaking lanes seriously on the agenda??


yes but a vast majority of the time in 09 the last man across the line set the fastest time, if you cut your quali run short to swap tires your going to drop a bunch of grid spots, is it really worth it?


The new sporting regs do not seem to be on the FIA site yet.

Also I reiterate that as yet there is no change to the tech regs this year which prohibits wheel covers. (Although James has mentioned them being banned this year)

Hopefully they will ban the side air guides next year too, these may help airflow but look awful, like a couple of planks nailed on as an afterthought.

The total plan projected wing area needs to be reduced for next year too.


the technical regulations are well behind. they still include the beefed up KERS don't they!?

anyway, none of the cars at valencia or jerez have had wheel covers on


On the 'three free passes' rule - this seems to me to be a Bernie shot at a track or two. Since all the teams have it, then they could all in theory not turn up to the same race.......

Sounds fishy, which is unfortunately something we have come to expect!


That's not 2clueless by any chance? If so pls get in touch.


"Since all the teams have it, then they could all in theory not turn up to the same race……."

That's hilarious! Bernie could have the pit lane all to himself and his hangers on.


Interesting point about the "no shows". Could this provide FOTA with some real power over Bernie. The teams can simply not turn up en masse for 3 races without penalty.


Wow, interesting idea. I thought Williams were not a a FOTA team anymore though.

I bet the big teams have other clauses in their contracts to Bernie. I am sure that the FIA could always use that great catch all term "Bringing the Sport in to disrepute" in case FOTA decides to attempt any sort of mass action.

I bet the team's sponsor contracts would also have wording that would hurt the bigger teams more then the small ones if say, Mclaren misses a race.


there is a clause that if less than 8 teams turn up then the FOTA has to pay for tv revenue lost.


You are right that 16 cars is the magic (minimum) number


I reckon that emergency regulations will be brought in to abandon this idea, because there is scope for real skulduggery as hinted by Drewe above.


Allowing the "3 no shows" rule is really a step backwards in f1 if I'm honest.


I don't buy the idea that the points change will "make a nonsense of historical comparisons between drivers". The points system has changed multiple times since I have been watching F1. The thing that defines how good a driver is is where he finishes in the race. At the end of the race a position is awarded to the driver. After that the points he has gained are calculated based on the position. It's a simple formula that translates the position into points. It's a "points system". If you want to apply the 2010 points system to the 1964 season then you can. It's easy, you just look at the finishing positions and then assign the corresponding points. Another way to do it is ignore points and just count how many firsts, seconds and thirds a driver got.

It's hard to compare different eras for multiple reasons, but I don't see this change as making it impossible to compare the old with the new. It's no worse really than it was before.

I just want to see a good show. The close gap between the points has in the last number of years taken the championship down to some amazingly nail biting finishes. I'd like that to continue. If we swap that for more overtaking then I'm very happy with that. If however we don't get more overtaking, and I'm not sure we will, then maybe it wasn't such a crash hot idea to change it.


Wow. I had no idea the points system had changed so much so often. I just read this on ESPNF1.com:

"Is it true that Stirling Moss would have won the F1 world title in 1958 had the 2009 points system been in use? -Terry Bealson"

"It's actually not quite true. In 1958 Mike Hawthorn pipped Stirling Moss by one point, even though Hawthorn won only one race to Moss's five. Moss's problem was that his Vanwall was less reliable than Hawthorn's Ferrari, and Moss finished only one other race. Hawthorn kept finishing second - he had five runners-up spots that year, to Moss's one. The points system then went 8-6-4-3-2-1 (eight points for first, down to one for sixth, with an extra point for the fastest lap), added to which only a driver's best six results from the 11 races would count. Under that system Hawthorn finished with 42 points to Moss's 41. Using the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system in use in 2009, Hawthorn would still have finished top, with 50 points from his best six races (from a total of 60) while Moss would have had 48. Moss, however, would have won the title under the 9-6-4-3-2-1 system which was used between 1961 and 1990, as then his six best results would have brought him 42 points to Hawthorn's 39 (although Hawthorn would have had 45 overall, he would have had to discard two finishes that brought him six points). Moss would also have won using the proposed 2010 system (25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1) as he would have taken 118 points from his best six finishes, to Hawthorn's 115. The only driver apart from Hawthorn to win the world championship despite winning only one race in the season concerned was Keke Rosberg, in 1982."


I thought Massa just had a measurement problem and that he in fact had lots of fuel.



If we applied these rules to the last 3 years Championships, what would the results be?



I haven't done any calculations but I think in 07 Kimi would have still won, in 08 Massa would have won and in 09 Button would have won.


Do the calcs then. You can't make a statement like that and undermine it.


>>>"The commission decided against awarding a point for pole position on the sensible grounds that it might decide a world championship on a Saturday rather than on race day."

To spice it up, I believe there should be some incentive to get pole position. May be to alleviate the above concern, the point should be awarded only if the car finishes the race. If the car at pole position fails to finish the race, no points are awarded for securing pole on Saturday. Just a thought!

To keep this simple, if the pole sitter fails to finish, no one else gets the point (i.e., the runner up on Saturday won't get the point if pole sitter failed to finish the race)

Similarly, the fastest lap in the race should deserve a point.

Think about it - people don't do things unless there is an incentive for doing it!


I believe that they introduced an incentive for getting pole position a long time ago: starting in front, on the clean side of the grid.

I would have thought thats all the incentive you need. I have never heard of a driver not pushing for pole position because he was satisfied with driving for second or third on the grid.


Sometimes pole is not on the clean side of the grid, or there isn't a "clean" side, am I right?


I really don't think much of the new points system at all, as the maths becomes a little less strightforward in championship deciders. I'm old school - bring back the pre-91 system, complete with the concept of 'best 11 results' - that would make the top guys go for the win. I guess historical comparisons were out the window anyway, post 1990.

I recall Patrick Head mentioning the idea of an overtaking lane in the early nineties. It is without doubt the worst idea I've ever heard, so glad that one didn't get off the ground.

I'm hoping that most teams will do the full season, as the grid will be 30% bigger and that has to mean more action through the field. Should be great!


wasnt it best 6 from first 7 races, plus best 5 from last 6 races. wait no that was the 70s sorry.

the 80s they only counted 3/4 of the season.


Trent, not sure how you can complain about the 'less straightforward' points this year while mentioning the best 11 results system. That complicated matters no end trying to work out who was better off in the points once you hit the last few races - plus there was the year that the highest points scorer wasn't the World Champion.


Fair comment, I guess.

I would just hate to see F1 go down the road of, for example, V3 Supercars in Australia, where the champion had something like 3349 points. It's like pinball scoring and I don't think it favours understanding by the casual spectator. In that respect you're right - best 11 results was not simple!


V8 Supercars and NASCAR (especially NASCAR) hand out points like candy. There is an odd perception that this will solve all problems.

Personally, the best system F1 had was the 10-6-4-3-2-1. It was simple maths for a race winner (adding 9 is difficult for some people), it rewarded the win well compared to the other points getters and it was difficult to get points.


Why does F1 have to keep messing about with the rules?

The points system was fine as it was, now very average drivers will end up with a carear points total higher then the true great drivers.


Very disappointed about the total change in the points system. Its the end of an era I guess. On the plus side it means more drivers will be racing hard for 10th place to get the final point as opposed to just driving around in vain.


Hey James,

is there again this year the rule that forces the driver to use both soft and hard tyres during the race?


Stupid rule!

It would be better to let the guys with best tyre conservation run the whole race on one tyre if they wanted. Then there would be a situation where a Prost-alike could win by not stopping at all.

Tyre warmers are for outside surface only this year, so tyres will not be fully warmed through.


In saying this can they stop only once or did they make it a mandatory 2 stops.


Current rules say they must use both types of dry tyre unless it is or becomes a wet race. It does not say they can stop "only once". (As in I shall say this....)


So far, they can stop just once.


Nice blog James, I've really become stuck to it, but frankly, I can't see the points system posing a problem for historical comparisons. All you need to do is choose a standard for the positions in each race and apply it regardless of the particular points' system of the day. It is how it's done in any other field I expect?


keep in mind the season size has changed to

what do we have this year 18 races, 80s and 90s only 11 races scored points, in the 50s only half the season of 9 races scored.


James, do you know if there are more wet and intermediate tyres available over the race weekend to allow teams to do more running in wet weather on a Friday.


25.2 Quantity of tyres :

During the Event no driver may use more than fourteen sets of dry-weather tyres, four sets of intermediate tyres and three sets of wet-weather tyres.

No driver may use more than two sets of each specification of dry-weather tyre during P1 and P2.

25.4 Use of tyres :

a) Each nominated driver will be allocated four sets of dry-weather tyres, two of each specification, for use during P1 and P2. These are the only dry-weather tyres which may be used during these sessions and must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of P3.

If an additional driver is used (see Article 19.1(b) he must use the tyres allocated to the nominated driver he replaced.

b) Each nominated driver will be allocated ten further sets of dry-weather tyres, five of each specification, for use during the remainder of the Event. However, one set of each specification must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of the qualifying practice session and may not be used during the remainder of the Event.

So I think the answer was no!


As James points out I think it's a shame that the new scoring table makes it impossible to compare with past records. The old 10,6,4,3,2,1 would've done quite well as the 4 points separating first and second place would've been enough incentive for drivers to go for wins. Midfield drivers would also be spurred to push much harder with only six point scoring positions for grabs. (worked well enough before, why not now? - 2 wrongs don't make a right...) They could even reward 7th-10th places with corresponding cash prizes if revenue sharing is a genuine concern.



Just for clarification- does this mean that drivers have to use the same set of tyres throughout Q3?

Or can they set a lap on the optimum *qualifying* tyre, then quickly swap to the optimum *race* tyre before the session ends?



James, has a statistical analysis of safety car outings vs percentage of race covered ever been published? Are teams and drivers using historical data in order to gamble upon strategy re safety car windows etc.? Apart from the start is there a certain period in the race where a shunt is more likely? Do the drivers switch off under procession like conditions?


I will be answering these and other questions like them soon


I cannot understand why these genius of teams cannot solve a simple issue over points for pole. It would be great to see... and it would make life difficult for teams to just ignore as pole is not always worth it.

As for " The commission decided against awarding a point for pole position on the sensible grounds that it might decide a world championship on a Saturday rather than on race day"

That's easily fixed, get a point for each pole, BUT these added up points only count in case of a tie in the championships ( both drivers or teams) that way it would be impossible for teams to ignore as at the end of the season it could be all important....


But as you yourself said, pole itself is not always worth it - though now we're back to no refuelling, one reason for that is lessened. However, there may be circumstances where a team wins a race because they weren't gambling on lean fuelling, started lower on the grid, and the pole guy runs out of fuel....

Why shouold he then get what could subsequently be a decisive point for an ill conceived strategy?

Pole position is meaningless if not converted into a race result.


I thought it was clear in my reply. I agree that pole position should not be an outright decider... BUT if at the end of the season, instead of a 2nd position etc countback first, then this would put drivers AND teams ( as it would work for both) in a difficult position. If they decided to not bother about pole, at the end of the season, they might not be world champions based on the fact that early on they didn't try hard enough for pole.

Pole position is important - a true test of drivers outright speed, and it isn't recognised enough...

" where a team wins a race because they weren’t gambling on lean fuelling, started lower on the grid, and the pole guy runs out of fuel…. "

precisiely.... using a point for pole gives the teams a real dilema, igonoring 16 points to get a stratergy gain is a calculated gamble that is part of your tatics... it may backfire... it may not... its all about that choice..


"On the tyres it was agreed that the fastest ten qualifiers will start the race on the tyres with which they finished qualifying"

It is not that the top 10 qualifiers will start the race with the same set of tyre which they did the fastest lap??

Just hace that doubt... thanks for this reminder post.



Same query as several others James; Are drivers going to have to use the set of tires that they set their fastest lap on even though they may have used others in Q3? Or is it just the tires that they ended Q3 on? Or are they in fact only going to be allowed to use one set of tires in Q3?

Because it would presumably make sense to do a few runs on the hard, and more durable, tires and set a fastest lap and then right at the end of Q3 take a punt and do one run on the softs and if you set a new fastest time, great, if not you start on the hard's that you set your fastest time?!


As I understand it, it's the tyres which they set the time on. "In order to introduce a further element of strategy, cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set." (FIA)


No. The rules say "In order to introduce a further element of strategy, cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set."


So it's the tyres they set their best time.


Yes you're right Hrvoje, I think, well spotted!!

That could get an interesting administrative situation for the teams to put the right tyres back on. Especially if their best time got removed overnight by the stewards, they'd then have to work out on which tyres the second best time got set, etc.

Jeff in Melbourne

Excellent point. As drivers won't be burning off fuel during Q3, they could set their fastest times earlier in the session and then move onto their ideal tyres for the race for the last couple of minutes. This would ruin the drama and tension of the final moments of quali...

I say forget all these little rules that are designed to create false tension and strategy, they too easily create loopholes. Give everyone an equal strategy, or freedom to use their own ideal strategy, and may the best car driver combo win!


Do the teams still have to show how much fuel is in the car at the start of the race? That way we will find out what car has to have more fuel


think all the teams under FOTA will want to miss turkey, having no one in the grand stands will and have put the team off going.



James do the teams pay Bridgestone to supply the tyres??



Forgive me if this has already been raised (and answered), but might a car go out on soft tyres at the beginning of Q3 and set a fast time, then come in, change to hards and pretend to go for a quali lap? This way they get to set their time on soft tyres and startthe race on hards.



Yes, but they would miss out on the fastest time on the track which is at the end.


What if they set their fastest time (or end qualifying) on wets, and the race starts dry? Surely they made that an exception.

What if rain was predicted for Q3, and a predicted dry race, could teams not want to go through to Q3?

If nobody set a time in Q2, who would go through to Q3?


James, I really wanna cry. 🙁

They won't stop until it's dead...

Each time I hear or read the words "improving the show" I get a bit uncomfortable and some sadness comes over me. 🙁


Oh wow someone feels exactly the same as me!!


I don't enjoy this constant Showbiz [mod]. I must be getting old (28).

I dont know what is going on with the rules any more. I class myself as an avid fan aswell!.. So what does that say about a series when its not just the casual observer that's confused.

I tune in for plan and simple racing. I hope that fact isn't forgotten.


Hey James.

The extra point for fastest lap was rejected? This sounded like a good idea to me.


Not sure the point for pole problem is much of an issue. The championship has been decided on the Saturday previously. 1987 comes to mind when Mansell crashed on the Saturday in Japan and therefore couldn't race, handing the championship to Piquet.


The points seem okay, but what is this obsession with linking qualifying to the race? I was excited to hear we would get to see the actual fastest car/driver combination during qualifying. Now it is back to the endless and dodgy arguments about who was actually fastest.

I do think the inevitable outcome is going to be cars in front on soft tires holding up the cars behind after their tires degrade after 10 laps.


Good point Bob, and one that does worry me in terms of 'the show'.

The one thing that has remained constant in F1 in recent years is that overtaking is very difficult due the areodynamics of modern F1 cars. Track position is worth more than pure speed.

I guess the tempation of teams (especially ones with a fuel efficient engine) is to qualify on the softer tyres (and lets face it, the difference between the two was rarely that noticeable for most races)and get the best possible qualifying position. Then, come the opening stint of the race, we will see them holding up faster cars who are unable to pass due to the areo sensitivity. Not a recipie for good racing. Imagine the 'Trulli Train' at every race...zzzzzz.

The other option is that the teams do the logical thing and use the harder tyre for the longer, fuel heavy stint at the start and then the softer tyre for a sprint finish on low fuel.

On paper, a mix of these two strategies sounds like a great idea to improve the show, but the problem is that most teams (maybe all) will run the same strategy, the one the computer says is best and we will just see the the best car lead from pillar to post. The second best one second and so on.

The fundamental problem with F1 lies in the aerodynamic grip being too great. Until that is addressed any amount of tinkering with points, tyres and re-fuelling is simply fiddling while Rome burns. Why can't the best engineering brains in the world come up with a solution?

Perhaps because all these working groups in F1 are staffed by current F1 designers? Blinkered thinking and with all the money invested in aero programmes by their own teams they are hardly going to say, OK, lets have big fat tyres, small wings to put the stickers on and none of these trick floors and bodywork add-ons.



Great topic. "Is the fundamental problem with F1 lies in the aerodynamic grip being too great" or is it the turbulence created by this aero grip affecting other cars aero's? I have noticed with the new regulations that even with significantly lower levels of aero grip, it now requires less turbulence to affect that grip? A never ending circle that can only win when the aero gives a level of grip similar to the mechanical grip.

One design that does address this area is ground effect, out of favour since Senna's accident. But there could be scope here for some relaxation and ensuring tracks are smooth on the fast sections.

The real problem here is turbulence effecting a following cars aero, so why not define the rules as such and give the designers full reign. You may end up with something like individual wings positioned over the rear wheels, angled slightly to minimise disturbance to a following car.


Can you please elaborate on "no changes will be allowed to the set up of the cars between qualifying and race." So lets say if a car is very competitive, in Q3 it goes out in the first 5 minutes and produces the fastest time. It can then take the remainder of the qualifying time to adjust its set up for the race?



It;s the parc ferme rules, which have been in place for a few years now


I am comparing the point systems as percentages to see their real/respective values. This would be easier to visualize in columns. Still here goes. The new system gives postion one 25 pts. Hence 1st=100%, 2nd=72% (18pts), 3rd=60% (15pts), 4th=48% (12pts), 5th=40% (10pts), 6th=32% (8pts), 7th=24% (6pts), 8th=16% (4pts), 9th=8% (2pts), 10th = 4% (1pt).

Last year's system gave postion one 10 pts. Hence 1st=100%, 2nd=80% (8pts), 3rd=60% (6pts), 4th=50% (5pts), 5th=40% (4pts), 6th=30% (3pts), 7th=20% (2pts), 8th=10% (1pts)

The big loser is 2nd place: now 72%, last year 80%

3rd and 5th stay exactly the same as a percentage

4th and 6th are nearly the same

7th and especially 8th will do much better with the new system

Of course with the new system 9th and 10th are now in the points. Infinitely better.

The old system of 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points truly rewarded the winner. All other positions got smaller percentages than in last year's system and next year's system; 1st=100%, 2nd=67% (6pts), 3rd=44% (4pts), 4th=33% (3pts), 5th=22% (2pts), 6th=11% (1pts). I've eliminated decimals.

Would this have changed the results last year or when Lewis and Kimi won by one point. I don't know. I'll let someone else figure it out.

I enjoy the blog. Thank you.


Well said, it'd be great to see how the various champions would have changed over the years with the many different points systems that the rulers of F1 have imposed on F1.


Thanks, that's a really good way to look at it


Hi James,

What engines are used during pre season testing? I can find no mention in the regulations which state whether these engines are part of the 8 quota for the year; whether they are allowed a certain number above and beyond the 8?


So am I right in assuming that teams are allowed to run as many engines as they please during 15 days of testing however due to 'resource restriction' are only allowed 8 for 19 GP's, 19 qualifying sessions and 57 practice sessions?


With the no refueling does this mean we will see the cars hit the ground and sparks fly up like the old days?


That is a brilliant idea. Particularly on tracks like Singapore and Abu Dhabi where the track gets colder as the session continues.



All these rules aimed at improving the show should not be created at the expense of the best teams/drivers. Would you imagine Hussein Bolt being asked to run with his bare feet so that his opponents might be able to challenge him? I was very irritated by Ferrari/Schumacher dominance. But it was up to the teams to come up with cars that could challenge Ferrari and drivers to raise their game. As Eddie Irvine put it, they should have kept the rules as they were. Retrospectivelly it was much better then.


The real problem during Schumacher's was never letting his team-mate race him as McLaren allowed during their dominant days of Senna v Prost.

The sight of Rubens almost stopping when leading by some margin just so Schumacher could win was and remains for ever more disgusting and in my view any team boss that allows this just doesn't understand the sport of F1 (now who was the team boss? That's right the new FIA President, says it all doesn't it)?


With the 3 missed races rule, what's to stop a team like Mercedes or RedBull not showing up at the final race/races if the championship is decided before then?


To sum up unanswered questions from previous posters about Q3, the following are still open.

1. Can a team change tires during Q3 ?>

2. Can a team change setup during Q3 ?

If so it seems that best strategy is to have one or two runs in quali-mode and then have a gentle last lap before the buzzer in race-mode. That gentle last lap does not seem that intuitive to the casual spectator, but I guess the 'burning fuel' stage of the current mode was also a bit boring.

In case no changes are allowed, there is the risk of having an emptier track most of the time as people will conserve their tires ...


Hi James, I have a question: What if top ten in qualifiers will finished Q3 for example on slicks and then the next day will be rainy- they still have start the race on the same tires?


No that is a change of conditions and they would start on wets


Thanks James. I'm still not sure on a few things (as pointed out by other readers above, too):

Can a team change to harder tyres on their last qualifying run ready for the race?

What if they (seriously) flat-spot their tyres on the last run? Can they be changed on safety grounds and will this incur a penalty?

Can a team change their aero/ride hight setup after posting their fastest time ready for a high fuel load, then go and post another lap that will inevitably be slower and drive back to park ferme? I mean surely they can argue that their changes were made to try and get a faster quali lap but didn't work. I don't really see how it can be policed.

That wasn't a problem last season as your last flying lap would always be the fastest due to the fuel burning.


Yes, but see my reply to Simon Wilson.
As in 2005 they can change a damaged set but I believe it has to come from their allocation of used tyres
Yes but again they'd miss out on the track at its fastest.


James, on reading this I immediately had the same thoughts as Matt. Simply do your qualy laps early in the final session and then pop into the pits bang on a new set of optimal tyres and go off and do one lap to complete the session!



...except that the track is always at its fastest at the end of the session - by doing what you are suggesting you would end up several places lower on the grid. If you were fighting for the title you couldn't afford to risk it.


It very much depends on the difference in grip from the two compounds of tyre. if the teams believe the softer tyre early on in the session is quicker than hards later on in the session then this strategy is perfectly viable.

Last year we saw a drop off in times because the cars were also dropping in weight. This year we don't have that factor so this concept could be seen.

Either way I'd rather see everyone on the same tyre and low fuel duking it out. That's motor racing. All the attempts by the FIA to improve the show have failed, so surely it's time we just admit nothing really can be done, and enjoy the fastest cars on the planet get driven quickly by whoever can afford to pay to race them 😉


Yes but the regulations state that a driver participating in Q3 must start the race on the set of tyres that he set his grid time.

The only advantage to coming back into the pits and heading out again on dummy runs would be to adjust the set up of the car.

The problem with this is that you run the risk of qualifying lower down the order by not maximising the number of runs during qually; you then also have problems with what set up do you choose? One that maximises performance whilst the car is heavy? One that is a compromise between a heavy car and a car running on fumes or one that is more suited to running light - if its the latter then you would already be running this set up for qualy.

My gut feeling is that the majority of teams will opt for one stop strategies posting Q3 times on the option tyre and then using the prime as the car is lighter and quicker in the final 20 laps of the race.

With pit stops set to be cut to a total of around 16 seconds I can't see many teams running the risk of starting a race on used qually primes which would make it necessary to pit after roughly 15 laps - they would not be able to eek out enough time in those opening laps to negate the pit stop especially whilst the car is heavy.


Yes that is true, but we have seen occasions when that is not always true - even last year we saw that with race fuel - and it may give you a better overall race strategy, i.e. qualy on the best qualy tyres just leaving enough time to get in, change and do one slow lap on the best race tyres. As you are not having to do a 3 lap stint, out/timed/in this will be a much shorter time so overall may be better - I'm sure the strategy guys will be crunching the numbers as we speak. Are there any rules to say you have to do a complete timed lap on the tyres in the session? And also what happens with a wet qualy and dry race - what do the rules say for that?



As far as I can tell you wouldn't even have to do a slow lap on the race tyres. You could exit the pits with 1 second to go in Q3. So, if you play it well your last qualifying run on the softer tyres would come approx one slowish lap before the end of Q3.

This is not that bad - we need to take into account that the effect of "the fastest laps come at the very end of Q3" was increased in the last few seasons due to fuel burn-off, which is now gone. You'll do this fastest lap on minimum fuel even if it comes a little bit earlier. This means that at the worst the track becomes marginally faster because 10 cars did 1 more qualifiying lap each and layed down marginally more rubber. That can't make such a a big difference.


...It will not take long for a driver like Sebastian Vettel, for example, to reach the points career points totals of drivers like Ayrton Senna or Nigel Mansell....

Relax james we will find another method of comparing past and presnt drivers, for exemple we can use indexing system in which we divide the career points tally of a driver by the number of GP starts he has, with that we can always be sure of who is great and not.


I can't understand this continual idea that drivers aren't racing 'for the win' and that new systems have to be dreamt up to encourage them.

el chivato de medellin

Some of them do, but others run to conservative. It is a good idea not for the few, but for the others.


i know right. everyones just out for a nice quiet sunday drive.


James, I think you've missed another rule change : the teams have to give back a set of tyres after Friday practice, in order to guarantee all teams do some practice on Friday rather than staying in the pits the whole session. Could you confirm?

Also :

"If nothing changes, it will be very interesting because it will tell us which team has the best fuel consumption and we will quickly be able to work out figures."

I don't think it's very interesting, it's more interesting after the race, having the fuel loads "predicted" for you last year added nothing to the excitement, nothing. In fact it made it worse since we knew who was going to pit first. Also you will not be able to "quickly work out figures", since we can't ever be sure of what fuel mixtures the drivers are using or whether they'd be saving fuel.

"Remember last season Felipe Massa was forced to run lean due to a refuelling problem and although he lost power and a few places, he nevertheless managed to get to the finish. You will see some of that this year and drivers gambling on safety cars somewhere like Montreal or Monaco, where safety cars are common."

Hold on, wasn't this confirmed as a sensor issue rather than an actual refueling problem?


I'm pretty sure the teams had to hand back tyres on Friday last season too.

I agree, it'd probably be better to see the figures after the race - it gave reporters something to discuss before the race last season, but with alot of the races being so dull nowadays, some suspense would be nice.

I think you're right about it being a sensor issue, but the point still stands


This tyre rule is ill thought out and is artificially tinkering with the races. I agree with the Parc-Ferme rules with regard to set-up and engine changes e.t.c. but with this tyre rule an opportunity has been missed here to re-introduce Sunday morning warm-up. I am taking my 7 year old son to get his first experience of F1 in the flesh this year and have decide to take him on the Saturday rather than the Sunday as on the Sunday the ticket prices are getting too expensive and you only see the cars for 1 hour 30ish mins of the race. This coupled with the size of crowd means you don't get the chance to watch the cars at different points around the track without missing parts of the race. When they had Sunday morning warm-up you could watch from a couple of different places before taking root in your preferred viewing place for the race. At least on a Saturday you are seeing the cars twice and it gives you that opportunity to move around between 3rd Practice and quali to get views from different areas. Seems a little strange really that they don't want Sunday warm-up back it only needs an observer in each garage to make sure no set-up changes are made to the cars - The sponsers would be happy because if televised they get more exposure and the circuit would get more people in earlier - which means all the vendors on the circuit would do more business and for longer - which means Sivlerstone /BRDC could charge a little more for each pitch which means more coffers for them and British Motorsport in general - Am I missing something here or is it a litte too simplistic ?



You seem to be very dismissive of the idea that teams will break Q3 up into parts to first of all do a hot lap then another coasting around to allow optimal tires for the start of the race. I understand the point about the track improving as the session continues, but have you actually spoken to any teams about what they might do? We can all hypothesize but you have the access to ask the questions...

What the teams will tell you is another thing, but a response that they are considering it would be very telling, and whilst I don’t support the constant rule changing but this concern could be cleared up by an amendment to the rule (as already mentioned in replies from other readers of your blog) that drivers must start the race on the tires they use to set their fastest lap in Q3. This is an opportunity for FIA/ FOM to show that they are listening and responding to the concerns & questions of F1 fans beyond the annual survey.

Alternatively the rule could be dropped completely and we could be given the chance to see who genuinely is fastest on a Saturday afternoon, with no concerns about repercussions for the race. Although that in itself isn’t true in F1 given engine regulations.


To all those asking about which tyres should be used...

The comission's proposal is "... cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set."


So, the tyres which were used in their best lap must be used on the start.


Can you post that link in full please, the twitter version does not work on my system.

BTW Why doe we have to go to an enthusiast's site for the new regs? Just checked the FIA site, still no new regs shown as at 18:00 on 09/02/10.


Sorry it's working now it came up as an aspx on F1.com before.

However note that at the bottom it says "For Media Information Purposes - No Regulatory Value."

Frankly this is regulation by media, if the regs are to be changed then change them and publish, and then tell the press. At the moment they are using the equivalent of government leaks to test the water temperature. Note press releases are not regulations.

Come on Jean, get it organised properly, I know you're Italian, but please let's have some order.


Ok mea culpa


He's French...


Slightly tangential to the topic, but there is some talk by Todt of a future regulation restricting teams to one aero package for a whole season to bring down costs.

To me this would be the death knell for my f1 watching days... Its the last significant variable that the teams can work with.

Even if the teams were allowed 2 or 3 upgrades per season as compromise, this would probably use the same amount of r&d resources, but we'd have periods of the season where 1 team dominates.

any insight into the logic James? It seems poorly thought out to suggest such a regulation.


It was talked about last season, a FOTA initiative to have just two or three developments all season.


Great, so basically the outcome of the season is known after 3 or 4 races. Stupid.


God help us!


Is Bernie's statement about allowing teams to skip races the final, official word on the matter? Or will the FIA need to make changes to the sporting regulations to allow it?

I fear the reduced tyre allocations are just going to make the first half hour of each practice session even more boring.

The first safety car of the season should be interesting. Instead of trying to save fuel under the safety car, most drivers will be desperately trying to burn off as much as possible, to keep their fuel consumption up to normal race levels and avoid carrying excess fuel for the rest of the race.


If a car tries to use more fuel behind safety, surely this will harm tires and breaks. Maybe the teams will design a new special occasion fuel mixture setup to burn "fat" if safety car is deployed.


No, they won't.

It's better for them to continue saving fuel and then burn it off by using a powerful fuel mixture when the SC pulls in, rather than wasting it during the SC period, no?


If they have a more powerful fuel mixture, then why wouldn't they use that by default, and start with enough fuel to run it for the whole race?

Red Bull were complaining most of last season about their engine being 20bhp down on the best, I'd be surprised if many teams are going plan to run their engines below maximum power.


Let's look at two of the issues raised here differently, using game theory (I'm an economist, I can't help myself....)

1. Teams will not turn up to races en masse.

For all 13 teams to declare they are not turning up, at some point the situation must be that 12 teams have declared they will not show up, and one team is still to do so. At this point, the one remaining team has a huge incentive to turn up - they get 43 constructors points by default (with prize money attached to that), and 2 hours of airtime dedicated to them and their sponsors on every TV network with a deal with FOM (they have to show it - remember USA 2005?!).

So, bearing that in mind, when 11 teams have declared a no show, and 2 have yet to declare, what's the incentive for either of them to hand the other such a massive advantage? They will both show up, because of the incentive still being huge (although not as huge as if they are the only one turning up), and there's the added incentive that the other team might still no show.

Work back through the pack, and only once you start getting to the 3rd or 4th team to declare a no show are the incentives going to start becoming so marginal as to make a no show even slightly plausible.

In my view, no shows are very unlikely unless a team has no choice but to not race anyway, since sponsors will get very miffed...

2. Drivers will run a hot lap and then change to their race tyre so as to start on an optimal tyre.

Say all drivers expect this to happen. After the "hot laps", Nico Hulkenburg (for example) is in 10th. Assuming all other drivers are likely to go on hard tyres with 5 mins of the session remaining, what's his optimal strategy? Go on a soft, of course, and quite possibly jump right up the order.

Now, assuming the drivers and team strategists are alert to this possibility (and if they're not at Bahrain, I reckon they certainly will be by Australia!), can they afford to lose out to Hulkenburg? If they think he's the only one who's going to do it, does Liuzzi (who's hypothetically in 9th after the first "hot laps" in my example) then do the same thing, for the same reason as Hulkenburg? Of course he does. Once this effect has filtered down to 6th or 7th place, which it surely would, can Button (who's provisionally on pole, naturally) afford to let his potential pole slip to 4th, or 5th, for a tyre advantage? Probably not. And if Hamilton in 2nd, and Vettel in 3rd are thinking the same way, Button could even find himself in 10th after being the only driver to not have another shot on the softs.

In short, no top driver will actually have an incentive to do this tactical shift thing people are worried about. Potentially someone who's surprised to be in Q3 will, in the same way as one driver last season often ran on very heavy fuel with no chance of coming anywhere other than 10th - but in that case, he'll probably run on hards all session.

Oh, and one final point - get over this silly rubbish about comparing historic points differences. A comparison is meaningless anyway, since the quality of the opposition, the reliability of the cars, the challenge of the circuits etc changes so much season to season. Comparing points is for random stattos with nothing better to do - it doesn't provide any kind of insight into the relative merits of past and present drivers, regardless of the similarity or difference of the points system in use.


There are flaws to both your arguments:

1) Although the TV channels may show the race even if only one team entered (as you rightly say happened at Indy 05) that doesn't mean that people will watch it. Indy 05 is the perfect example - remember those spectators throwing beer cans onto the track as they left? Well those people had spent money to be there - those at home hadn't spent anything so you can bet a lot of people just switched off. Fundamentally I agree with your point though that they will turn up where possible because they'd have too much to lose. It wouldn't exactly do F1's image much good either - again, remember at Indy the teams were so desperate to race because of the damage to F1 (and therefore car sales) in N. America.

2) It isn't the last set of tyres they use in qualifying that they have to start the race in - it's the set they set their fastest time on. This makes they whole argument null and void. In fact it might even increase action in qualifying - say Hamilton is 5-tenths ahead and nobody else is coming close, but he flat-spotted a tyre he set the time on. He won't want to start the race on that tyre so may try to set a slightly faster time on a new set. If he fails it will in turn increase action in the race as cars behind him will be faster... etc. etc.


About your second point, you are assuming that those who switch do so quite early in the session, when in fact there is no reason to. You can do your last run on the softs so late that you just have time to do a not-too-slow lap back and switch to the hards in the last few seconds of Q3. This gives your hypothetical Hulkenberg only a very small advantage. Given that all Q3 runs are on low fuel, the difference is just that Hulkenberg's has the additional grip from the rubber of max 9 cars doing a lap.

I don't know who is correct and will be exciting to see, but I for one do not see such a clear-cut case as you do for the hypothetical Hulkenberg approach.


In 2009, obviously most pole positions were secured in the final lap of Q3 as fuel loads were burnt off. There won't be this factor in 2010, as all quali laps will be done on minimum fuel. Surely if the rule is "you start the race on the tyre on which you finished quali" it would still be beneficial to do a hot lap on softs then coe in and bolt a set of hards on for the race. Presumuably you wouldn't even need to go back out of the garage as long as they are on the car as the clock hits zero? On that basis you could still do your hot-lap on softs around 2 minutes before the end of the session, when the track is almost perfect.

It makes much more sense for the rule to read you start the race on the tyre on which you did your fastest quali time.


Your assumptions assume that the cars will be quiet close, this may well not be the case as I fully expect the leading teams to pull ahead after a year of leaning the new aero dynamics.

If say Hamilton and Vettel are clearly faster than those around then they may well chose to play the tyres as you suggest as if they didn't secure pole they'd be pretty close and have a better race car and race strategy.

The truth is I suspect there will be a pretty steep learning curve for the teams in the first few races but come Europe at the latest thy will all know how to play the game to their best advantage which by the way is unlikely to be the same down the field and I can certainly see some of the new ad lower teams going for Q3 glory for the extra publicity they'd get.

One thing I think the FIA need to bring in BEFORE the first race a a severe penalty should any team run out of fuel as this would surely bring F1 into disrepute if any team went for glory at the expense of the race itself ❗


Thanks for those interesting points


Here's a thought. I've heard that the lap times between a full and near empty tank could be as much as 3 seconds.

What's to stop a team starting the race with only 20laps of fuel, then withdrawing from the race on lap 19 claiming a technical problem?

This would allow them to lead the race for the those 19 laps and get a alot of TV time.

Great for a new new team needing sponsors.


Well, first they have to qualify in a top 5 and if they are that desperate, i doubt they are top 5 material.


Quick question on a rule that's not been talked about. Does James, or anyone else for that matter, think it would have been worth re-introducing the 107% rule this year?

Personally I do. There is the possibility of some truely rubbish teams, that will turn out to be a hazard to themselves and the guys that have to lap them six times.


I think that rule was a little mean and detrimental to F1, especially in the wake of the cancelled budget cap. After all, the new teams entered under the premise of the budget cap and then to their credit are still entering (hopefully all of them) even though that no longer exists. Therefore these teams are likely to be a long way behind, and struggle even more because of the lack of budget cap. If we also have the 107% rule then you may as well bury them because they'll never get any exposure and in turn very little sponsorship money.

I think a 107% rule makes the championship even more elitist - which is maybe what some people want. But remember some of these teams might turn out to be a Williams - an independent who won't jump as soon as they're not selling cars (e.g. Honda, BMW). And how many people are happy that Super Aguri left? If we bury them now they have no chance.


There may well be a case for it... personally I think it won't come in to play though. With the cars being so tightly regulated now, especially the engines, I don't think we'll see the kind of disparities we've seen in the past.


I for one am glad they rejected the idea of point(s) on Saturday, as it would be nothing more than a cheap gimmick. The whole reason why a grand prix weekend exists, its raison d'etre, its be all and end all, is for the race, and the race alone. That two hour tussle, of man versus man, the unpredictable move and counter-move.

Qualifying is just a means to and end, given that circuits aren’t wide enough to have 26 car side-by-side start grid. The idea that the championship is decided purely on the final result on Sunday must be sacrosanct if F1 is not to slowly lose what remains of its soul. Suggestions of points for pole, or for leading a lap, or fastest lap should be taken no more seriously than a point for best dressed driver. The fastest lap was worth a point between 1950-59 until it was dropped. Nothing would be gained by going back.

All that said, there’s nothing wrong with against-the-clock forms of racing; any dedicated petrol head will celebrate the existence of rallies or hill climbs just as they do a Grand Prix. It’s just that a Grand Prix isn’t an against-the-clock event, and trying to change the fundamental nature of a series is dangerous ground, no matter how good the intentions. Just look at the state of Rally, having been emasculated in the name of being ‘television friendly’.

I could write a similar response to the idea of shorter Grand Prix.


I disagree. Yes, the final championship result should ultimately reflect what happens on Sunday rather than what happens on Saturday. But the fact is that Saturday in Formula One means a lot in determining what happens on Sunday, much more than it does in mostly every other racing series in the world. Saturday for Formula One is also one of the most fun and exciting parts of the Grand Prix weekend as it's the epitome of what F1 is all about: drivers pushing to the limit to get the best lap times out of their cars. Given these factors, I think F1 should award a bonus point to the pole winner to spice things up even more in qualifying, and it wouldn't really have much of an impact on aggregate in determining the championship relative to the impact of Sunday (especially now since there is such a huge gap from first to second).

I also think there should be a bonus point awarded for setting fastest lap in the race, again reflecting the emphasis on lap times in the spirit and appeal of F1.

The wheel-to-wheel stuff on Sunday is mainly limited to the start, although it is certainly exciting when it rarely occurs on Sunday.


I agree with Paige. Usually I'm dead against the 'improving the show' thing but I think a point for pole and a point for fastest lap is a no-brainer.


Gas Mileage Racing: Almost as exciting to watch as solar cars 'racing' across the Outback.




On your discussion of tires, there's a rule change that I'm surprised no one is discussing but which should theoretically have a huge impact on the season, especially considering the rule change on tires that you've discussed in this entry:

The ban on wheel rim-heaters.

This is going to make getting the tires into the optimal operating temperature range much more difficult, which puts the impact of the tire usage rule into perspective. Theoretically, it could give an advantage to teams with aggressive designs that push the tires, as they can get heat into the tires quickly for a short run while, relative to last year, not punishing the tires as much over a long one. It could also hand an advantage to drivers who get heat into the tires more quickly than others, which should throw a nice wrinkle particularly into the driver duel at McLaren. (Hamilton heating the tires quickly, Button being easier on them.)


I have mentioned it a couple of times in the blog but not as eloquently.

Re Hamilton/Button it also goes that Button's last longer: but how far ahead will Hamilton be, if at all, when he pits for tyres.


If Button can't get heat into the tires, Hamilton will be at least as far ahead of him when he pits as Barrichello was when the Brawn was not acting optimally, if not moreso.

Hamilton's advantage in heating the tires will particularly come into play in qualifying. The major advantage that Barrichello enjoyed over Button in the second half of the year was in qualifying.


wow, this blog gets better every week - some great responses in this thread - trouble is finding the time to read it all!


Hi James,

Love the blog and the comments but please, please can you post a quick update that states the official Q3 tyre qualification ruling;

"In order to introduce a further element of strategy, cars having participated in Q3 must start the race on the same set of tyres with which their grid time was set."


The 3 hundred comments regarding the benefits for and against a hyperthetical situation which isn't even going to happen is killing me!

I can't count how many times people have clarified that it is the "tyres with which their grid time was set"


i don't get all the posters saying that Q3 drivers will set their hot lap on soft tyres and then change to hards to start the race - they will start on the same set of tyres used on their quickest lap. one thing that needs to be considered now is that they won't be 'fuel-restricted' in Q3 as they were before so i expect them to be out for the whole of the session, probably doing a long run on hards to see if they can set a quick time on them and so start on the prime as a good back-up, and then put the softs on to go for pole with the downside of starting on the options.

what needs to be addressed for this to work is a decent difference between the hard and soft tyre. also, for bridgestone to come up with a compound that doesn't just disintegrate into marbles.

personally, i think the mandatory pitstops is a disaster. now that refuelling is banned, we have lost the necessity to pit during the race, and it would have been great to see the hare (carefully looking after 1 set of tyres for the whole race) against the rabbit (2 or 3 stops going all out). the main point about banning refuelling was to avoid drivers overtaking in pitstops. as long as there are mandatory pitstops, this will keep happening!! another opportunity wasted.

one final thought. bernie is crazy about medals, why doesn't he give them out to who gets the fastest lap 🙂


I agree about the mandatory pitstops, but it is typical of the rulemakers of F1 - i.e. they sort out one problem and then replace it with another one. Removing refueling should prevent races from being a series of sprints where nobody is faster than anyone else. But they maintain the problem be ensuring everyone has to pit.

Just read Mansell's autobiog (which James co-wrote) to remember how exciting the rabbit and hare situation (as john g above mentions) was!

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