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The latest on plans to improve the Formula 1 show
The latest on plans to improve the Formula 1 show
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Mar 2010   |  11:40 pm GMT  |  147 comments

Using super soft and hard tyres, the two extremes of the Bridgestone range, at every race – that is one of the proposals on the table to bring back the spectacle and improve overtaking in F1.

The start is the only chance to overtake (Darren Heath)

Currently the teams use tyres which are two steps apart, such as the soft and hard tyres here in Melbourne. But FIA race director Charlie Whiting’s suggestion of three steps between tyre compounds would mean drivers struggling to find a compromise between supersoft tyres, which might grain very quickly and last no more than 10 laps at some tracks and hard tyres, which will take time to get up to temperature at some tracks.

After a dull opening race in Bahrain, where the cars formed themselves into a high speed train after the opening lap, with little overtaking, last week’s technical working group meeting had a real sense of purpose about it. The principals have been discussing the dangers to the show of the ban on refuelling all winter, but now there is more urgency.

Everyone is agreed that it’s a real shame that the important steps weren’t taken before the season started to get the package right.

Another suggestion was to lower the rev limit to 17,000rpm and allow drivers a certain amount of time at 18,000rpm, which would be a bit like a push to pass button. Once the driver had used up his allocation at the higher level, the Electronic Control Unit would lock the engine at 17,000 rpm for the rest of the race.

Bridgestone are unlikely to go for the extreme tyres option, as they will not want the spectacle of their tyres shredding after a few laps and drivers criticising them. They would not be against the harder tyre option in principle, but logistically I’m told that the earliest they could change tyre options would be the Turkish Grand Prix as the tyres have already been specified, manufactured and are being shipped.

McLaren put forward an interesting idea which would avoid the problem of always having the grid in descending order, with fastest first. For qualifying cars would carry ballast based on their success in the season so far. Ballast is something F1 has avoided thus far, as it is more of a touring car measure, but it might work in qualifying.

The idea of two compulsory pit stops was again discussed, but several leading engineers believe that it would not make any difference to the show.

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Two mandatory pit stops? Extreme tyre selection? No thanks, post-2002 F1 is already WAY too gimmicky. They should get rid of the stupid two-compound rule (one of the things that made Australia so good wasn’t just the rain, but the fact that the use of rain tyres nullified this and introduced a bit of unpredictability).

The tyre supplier (although there REALLY needs to be more than one!) should bring their entire inventory and allow the teams to run what they want, when they want to run it. Three-stopper on super softs? No-stopper on super hards? And everything in between!

Standardisation and homogenisation in the technical rules, sporting rules and circuits leads to standardised and homogenised racing. You would think that would be a no-brainer.



I was at the Australian Grand Prix on all four days as it is in Australia. The Formula One teams practise for 4hrs before things get serious with qualifying, which was late on the 3rd day of action for us diehards. Meantime every other category got on with racing after short practise and qualifying sessions with no real impact on the expected order or quality of the racing.

I know F1 is far more complex, but I felt that 1 hours practise on Friday and another 1 hr session on Saturday was enough. To replace the other 2hrs of practise I thought two 1hr races, one starting in reverse championshop order and one starting in normal championship order, plus normal qualifying could all contribute to the starting position for Sunday’s race – based on best aggregate positions. Least that way the fans at the track get some racing from the F1 boys and builds the excitment heading into sundays race. The quick guys would have advantage over the slower guys (expect them to qualify higher and race better in the normal championship order race) and would still start close to the front on Sunday unless they didn’t do enough overtaking or crashed out of one of the earlier sessions. Obviously they’d need extra engines – but I think the world has reliable combustion engines down to an art and F1 is only saving costs on rebuilds.

Don’t think the narrow front tyre helps them overtake, least a wider front tyre counted the sensitivity to the larger front wings.

Anyway my 2 cents on improving the show.


Its simple. Bring back turbos with variable boost. Car behind can ramp up the boost to get passed car in front. Howver because of the increased fuel consumption you can’t just turn it up all the time so the drivers have to THINK about when to use it. Get rid of the diffuser completly or drastically reduce it. Get rid of the barge boards. Allow driver controlled ride height settings. Allow Large width slicks to give more mechanical grip and/or banked corners….but not silly. 1 point for each lap lead and an extra for the most laps lead. Like the idea above about giving points each time you pass. Single element rear wings with central support and remove the side supports aka indy car and while im on about indy car why dont the FIA tak a closer look at how the rear ends are designed on them i find odd that in indy you can travel literally inches away from the rear end of the car infront at speeds approaching 200mph and they have very little “Dirty Air” effect….theres got to be somthing there that F1 can learn from


James, I have a few of my own ideas for really spicing up the ‘show’ Perhaps these could also be forwarded to FOTA?

-Naked women (or men if you are that way inclined) dotted round the track to distract drivers.

-Fans given water balloons to chuck at the cars as they pass by to keep the drivers on their toes.(F1 branded of course)

-B*strd Button which shoots oil/chaff from the rear of the car (Only 5 deployments per race for safety reasons)

-Top 10 punch out-Drivers given 10 mins on the grid to knock 7 shades out of each other before race starts. (Will encourage more pitstops to mop up any bloody wounds & test drivers’ mettle)

-‘Ox-cart’ design wooden wheels and tyres for more sliding/overtaking (Also good preparation for when F1 has NO tyres in 2011 and will be racing on their wheel rims)

-Sabotage Points for teams who succesfully infiltrate rivals and can demonstrate tangible results on track (eg. potatoes wedged in exhaust pipes causing engine failure)

I’m sure that if these regs are adopted, things would certainly improve in terms of a show for the crowd. Failing that, just let F1 get on with it and provide hi-tech racing as it always has with the faster car/driver in front of the slower one.

Oh, and mandatory enemas for folks who repeatedly post on websites suggesting their genious ideas, and thinking the rest of us are interested in them!

Just my 2 Bob


Is all this “ballast” nonsense just being tabled as an emergency measure for this season, or are the grey little wannabe-marketing executives like Whitmarsh seriously thinking this is the future for F1?


1) 3 pedals and an h-pattern gearbox

2) Strip all aero appendages from the barge boards, sharkfins, wings an top of flaps on top of wings…just a single plane front and rear wing

3) tire war

4) bring back refeuliing and kers


Why don’t we just give the 3 new teams 5 minutes headstart and then let the rest of the grid chase after them? 8)


All the stuff they are suggesting is total crap.

NO mandatory pit stops. NO mandatory tire change.


These guys need to watch an Indycar race. The push to push doesn’t mean people “overtake on the straights” in Indycar and it DEFINATELY wouldn’t be like that in F1 because the aero keeps the cars further back into a corner.

The push to pass gives the guy behind a CHANCE to get side by side to go into the braking zone. It’s not a sure thing. It just gives him a chance, if he exits the previous corner well. Push to pass works well in Indycar.


The ECU thing is just KERS by another name only without the benefit of being able to market F1 as ‘green’. Not a bad idea but achieving it by making the cars slower for the most part (by lowering revs yet again) is unappealling.

Ballasting is a horrendous idea. Artificial nonsense.

Who on earth cares to watch a race decided by which driver is lumbered by the most excess weight? Shall we start making strikers carry ten kilo weights every time they score a goal?

At least they’ve realised more compulsory pit stops wouldn’t improve matters.

There are some small things they could do in the short term to make things better: getting rid of the Q3 tyre restriction, getting rid of the requirement to use both sets of tyres, and potentially relaxing the blue flags rule so the front runners have a tougher time getting through traffic.

But we all know the real solutions lie in the technical regulations – cutting back aero has to be top of the list.

They also need to put some thought into whether teams should be running with their cooling so critical they can’t follow other cars, as we saw in Bahrain.


more power, and less down force. Is it that hard to achieve?


The ballast in qualifying is gimmicky and silly. I don’t mind the extremes of two compounds idea – I don’t see why it would matter to bridgestone as people would use the soft for short period and to lay down their fastest possible laps (either at begining or end of a race) and then use the hards for the balance. OR they could just bring one dry compound to a race? And let the teams and drivers figure out how best to use them (as long as the tire isn’t too hard they would have to pit at least once).


All this tweaking seems to be missing the point. Again, look at other racing series; why is it that they can overtake?

The dirty air is a long term problem to be designed out in the regulations for next year. A simple solution, that can be safely implemented with the teams’ agreement immediately is this:

No blue flags.

There is no need for blue flags. If the leader is truly faster than the back-markers, then let him overtake them. It’ll spice up the action immensely, especially with the new teams finishing a number of laps down on the leaders at present.

It is a safe solution, easy to adopt and will immediately ensure that there is overtaking action AT THE FRONT.


Amen. Get rid of the blue flags. It’ll back the pack up, and in order to be a race winner you’ll have to be good at overtaking.

The blue flags were a reaction to a couple of controversies in the ’90s. I think it was David Coulthard holding someone (probably Schumacher) up to help Mika Hakkinen win. Have I remembered that right?

Anyway, they can always keep the blue flags in reserve for that sort of blatant cheating but a race winner should be able to pass back-markers without anyone’s help.

Steve Greenwood

Lets get one thing straight!

While most of us who are interested enough and feel strongly enough to contribute to this debate, enjoy the Constructors championship as much as the Drivers championship. Appreciating the innovative and at times pure genius of the F1 designers and engineers, we have to concede that to improve the “show” technology HAS to take a hit.

For the “show” to thrive and continue the huge TV audience has to be entertained and satisfied ergo cars have to overtake each other and there has to be close racing. If the masses turn off their TV’s advertisers leave budgets decrease blah blah blah.

I suggest that we should work towards increasing the braking area, reduce downforce, harder tyres and (I’m afraid)a step back to traditional discs and pads. Unless someone can prove to me otherwise, I can’t see how we’ll ever get any overtaking with todays incredibly short braking zones.

Yet again, another brilliant debate James.


I was watching some of the classic GPs on red button on BBC last night, and particularly enjoyed the 1990 race. What strikes me from that era is when watching the on-board footage the driver appears to be working so much harder at the wheel. Now I don’t know whether this is down to the camera positioning perhaps, but the onboard from Mansell was great to watch.

Lets face it guys, F1 is the technical pinnacle of motorsport, so for us to suggest stripping back innovation is, certainly for me, nostalgic wishful thinking. The days of missed gears and fluffed starts are long gone and we’ll have to accept. And let’s also not been blind to the fact that aero has always caused problems for the followwing car.

So what’s my suggestion? Well, I agree with some earlier comments that in fact we’ve got too many restrictions. Here’s my solution for what its worth:

1. Q3: the top 10 at the end of Q2 go out for a 1-lap qualy run in reverse order (10th to 1st). Any mistake is punished, and it will ramp up the pressure on what are supposed to be the best drivers in the world. And before we all say that screws Jenson – well, imagine if JB hits a nice clean lap, no mistakes, even if he’s 0.2s off absolute top speed, and then Hamilton runs wide in the final sector after being half a second up to that point? Would spice it up a little.

Also would be a great marketing idea – “let’s hand back to Martin and Jonathan for the 1-lap TOp 10 shootout”

2. Two tyre compounds at each race but a bigger gap between compounds to extend the performance gap. Then have no compulory pitstops. If the cars have a tank big enough to run the race (whoops, Virgin!) then if someone had poor Q3 they could fill the tank and try and be the tortoise that catches the hare. The key to it is tyres – in order for this to work, you need a full race on hard tyres to be roughly equivalent to a two or even three stop race on softs. And also don’t insist on using both compounds. Picture it now: Alonso drops it in Q3, decides to run the race on softs and needs to get past cars on the first lap to try and build a gap for later.

I know its not perfect, but F1 never has been. To make this work, no-stopping on hard must be about the same as two-stops on softs. And of course, circuit to circuit there will be variations, but there needs to be a way to encourage differing strategies that brings the cars to the same point by the end of the race. We all must recognise that overtaking is most exciting when it happens at the start and towards the end: what us fans love in the middle is working out the srategies, seeing someone being chased down and the race building towards an unpredictable climx.


Ballast is the worst idea for “racing”, just ahead of mandating strategy (e.g. mandating pitstops by running on both tyre compounds).

Just open up the tyre rules, let the drivers decide and that will produce good racing in itself by allowing some drivers to be the tortoise (hard tyres, smooth style) and others to be the hare (soft tyres, many pitstops).


I strongly agree with Bernie Ecclestone’s remarks recently that the teams should not be making the rules. What is needed is leadership from the top down. We need radical changes. If the teams agree to do something, chances are it’s probably not going to be a good idea because they are hedging their interests while trying to appear to be “thinking about the common good.

So whatever it is, it should be forced upon them.

By the way, if F1 ever starts using ballast, I will stop watching.



Much has been made of the cars. But do you not think some of the blame should be apportioned to the tracks? Let’s be honest the middle of the Bahrain track resembles a multi storey car park with all those tight twisting corners. And when was the last time you saw someone overtake in a multi storey car park? It’s no real surprise that the likes of Spa, Montreal, Albert Park, Silverstone and Monza consistently produce the best races.


Yes I do, the tracks are at least 50% of the problem


I don’t like the idea of this 17k RPM limit.

My idea instead is that you *remove* the rev limit in 7th gear, so that the car following, getting the slipstream, gets more momentum and is not hindered by the rev limiter.

It’s less artificial and ensures that the driver behind gets an advantage in straight line speed.


James, let’s reward drivers in the top 10 DURING the race for overtaking. Big time rewards – say 3 points for each top 10 car overtaken. There should be NO added points for overtaking during the 1st lap. Then we can sit back and enjoy wheel to wheel action!


This is extremely disappointing: they keep the obligatory pitstop, which could be easily done away with via a rule change and one of the proposals is to add a weight penalty, which effectively killed off touring car touring car championships.

Puzzling to me why tire options can’t be limited: just agree to use the hardest one and leave the other one alone. Give it to the new teams in extra testing sessions to get some mileage or for promotional events.

The whole areo debate (less wing induced grip) is completely absent, and so is widening the front tires (and the rear ones while you’re at it). This would be for next year at the earliest, but if a meaningfull future is sought for the sport this should be on the table as well.


Stupid; ridiculous; joke.

Wait 4 races, please.


Just let them do what they what with tyres and strategy.


When the teams have very tight constraints to work under they all come up with the same optimum solution. As they are all on the same strategy they all go the same speed and stop at the same time. Dull. The same would be true on the super soft/hard option. Every team would have to qualify on the soft or they would be too far back, nurse that tyre as far as it will go, nurse the hards for the rest of the race.

Let them do what they want, no carry over from quali, all four compounds available for each race. Pick your strategy and go racing.


Extreme differences in tyre compound will most likely force everyone onto the same strategy… so that won’t work.

And the ‘push to pass button’ idea will become the ‘push to defend’… so that won’t work either.

I am surprised that no one has seen a dull race before. If the teams are looking at improving the show, then I would suggest the first place to start is the TV coverage – because there was actually quite a lot happening in the back half of the field. The statistics show there was more overtaking in Bahrain than in the average GP over the past few years.

We do need to change the aerodynamics of the cars – and we also need to change the scoring system to one that does not make consistency so critical.

And we also need to look at circuit design. There is a reason why overtaking occurs at Brazil but not Barcelona

For quick fixes, why not just spray water onto the track 15 minutes before the start? Requires no changes to cars or tyres.

In the US, they have a way of dealing with dull races – they put out a full course caution (safety car)because someone has spotted some “debris on the track”. Of course F1 is well above such ‘fake’ measures isn’t it.



Love the RPM idea – especially with a limit set per race, not per lap. Ballast sounds terrible.


I have a solution which takes maclaren’s idea of ballast in qualifying to a less artificial level. As long as the fastest cars are at the front then no matter what tyres, fuel, aero they run the natural order of things in a dry race will be for the field to spread out and for me to doze off and crick my neck. The solution is simple and will cost nothing – run the cars that qualify in top ten in reverse championship order. So in Australia, provided Alonso qualified in the top ten he would start tenth, and so on. But doesn’t this make the last qualifying session redundant I hear you ask. Again the solution is simple – award points for the top ten quali positions.


Actually I like your idea. I have long thought about giving points for quali, and then reverse the grid for the race – but always got stuck on the problem of how stop people just flunking quali on purpose to get the best start position.

Your suggestion stops this problem- plus it means the guy on pole will not be hopelessly slow.

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