F1 racing 2011 style: Can you have too much of a good thing?
F1 racing 2011 style: Can you have too much of a good thing?
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Apr 2011   |  1:17 pm GMT  |  381 comments

There has been an interesting response from fans to the racing we saw yesterday in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button, who finished second having started fourth, described the race as “confusing” with 55 pit stops to take in plus countless overtakes to try to evaluate.

All action in Sepang (McLaren)

I said yesterday that it’s a bit like going into a sweet shop and eating half the stock, when you’ve only been used to getting a packet of Polos at best. Many fans consider this to be artificial racing, F1 on steroids in other words and didn’t find it entertaining.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, their thinking goes, but on balance I think that the new style of racing worked quite well and was genuinely entertaining.

First we need to accept that F1 has gone through many changes over the years; we had tyres that had to last throughout qualifying and the whole race in 2005, for example. It made for some fun races, but seemed unnatural.

There has been too much tinkering with the rules over the years, ostensibly with the goal of more overtaking, that much is clear. But taking an overview, you would have to say that the outcomes of the championships since 2004 have largely been unpredictable (except 2009) and that many fans would accept that there were some really good seasons, like 2007, 2008 and 2010. In detail however, many would argue that the actual racing during those years was lacking.

That part of the equation has been addressed by what we have now. The races are eventful and the action will appeal to new viewers and casual fans, even if the talk of DRS/KERS/degradation seems like goobledygook.

The tyres do no last long, so the drivers must either a) look after them or b) make more pit stops. Kamui Kobayashi did the former but still managed some stunning overtakes which quickened the blood.

It’s very important to recognise that the passes we saw yesterday were mainly due to the difference in the age and condition of the tyres on the cars. Of course we saw the DRS wing helping one driver to get alongside to attempt a pass and that is what it is intended to do.

And we also saw the difference between a car with KERS and one without in many of the overtakes, for example Webber being passed by Massa on lap 22. But Webber pitted at the end of that lap as his tyres were gone, whereas Massa’s had another five laps of life in them.

Another example was Hamilton’s pass on Petrov on lap 26, shortly after his second pit stop. This was an important pass in terms of not losing touch with Vettel. But Petrov’s tyres were 11 laps old. Would we rather that pass hadn’t happened or do we accept that the varying patterns of tyre stops will make such passes commonplace?

There are three drivers of more overtaking in other words and arguably we could do away with KERS and DRS and just have the short-life tyres and still have a great show.

It was unfortunate and rather contradictory in thee midst of all of this, that the great battle between Hamilton and Alonso ended up with both getting stewards’ penalties and even more unfortunate that the result was that Hamilton lost a place and Alonso didn’t, which doesn’t seem fair given the circumstances. It won’t stop them racing like that in future, because they are both racers, but it sends out a rather odd signal given that drivers seem to have been given a green light to pass by the rules.

One thing I’ve learned after a lifetime in motorsport and 22 years in F1 is that the cream will always rise to the top, whatever rules or conditions you run the events to. Surely it is better to have the emphasis on drivers using skill and judgement to manage their tyres and pounce on rivals when able to, while the team strategists have to think on their feet, rather than succumb to the dominance of aerodynamics over everything?

F1 is a hype driven sport, we see it all the time and we saw it in the other direction after last year’s awful race in Bahrain, for example. This year, like last year will settle into a pattern and we will have some thrilling races.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery took a rather defensive line after the race yesterday, in the face of some hyped up reaction to the orgy of overtaking and pitstops. He said that this was the blueprint they were asked to design tyres to and that if F1 doesn’t like it he can supply rock hard tyres which will do one stop races.

I think he and Pirelli are more confident now about their products than they were during Barcelona testing, when things were looking rather dicey at times. They have weathered the first two races and know two things; that with the harder tyre they trialled in practice and other potential compounds back at base, they can pretty much give F1 whatever it feels it wants and also that the teams are getting better at managing tyre wear and this will improve further as the season goes on.

“People don’t want to go back to a procession,” said Hembery after the race, “We have been asked to do something and we have tried to do it. I thought it was good for the show, but if people think it’s not right, we will change it. It’s hard for us, we are in the middle. Everyone needs to decide.

‘If I am going to be criticised for making the races more exciting, I don’t know what to say.”

A final note on this; ironically although we have all this action going on during the races, it looks like we could have a runaway world champion, so effectively it could well turn out to be the opposite of what we’ve had in recent years, which was great competitive seasons with average races.

Watch out for my full analysis of the Malaysian race strategy, with a deep dive into the key decisions which decided the outcome – The Strategy Report, brought to you by UBS, coming soon

Strategy Insights
Strategy Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I'd say, keep KERS and DRS but make the tires last the race distance. You CANNOT have both: Used tyres render DRS and KERS useless.

So: either get rid of (A) tyres OR (B) DRS/KERS.


I enjoyed the race but even after many years of watching had to think hard about positions and outcome.

If all the options are going to be kept (DRS, KERS, Degradable tyres) then we do need more graphics that tell the story. Even after years of watching and understanding the sport I did not see Jenson coming second and if that was an known oppertunity earler on then watching his race would have added more value.

However I have also watch some very boring races and I would rather have this race then a procession of champions.

Back in Schumi's day I remember that he left the line and the camera only showed him again crossing the line at the finish... even with Vettal in front the race was close enough and intriguing enough for there to be a possibility that he might be caught... which after all is what this game is about for all fans.

So we are basically there but I do agree if you want less confusion remove the DRS/KERS or Change the tyres but not both.

In my view I think the tyres provide more fun for the fans and challenges for the team+drivers to get right and Pirelli should be proud of what they have brought to the sport.

Michael Prestia

I missed the race because I am on Holidays in the US and other than Speed there is no F1 coverage. Does anyone know where I can watch a replay on the web?


You are absolutely right. It seems that this year they simply threw everything plus the kitchen sink at the problem. A bit like taking all known analgesics for a headache, all at the same time.

It was confusing because:

1. A 3-stop race means 66 pit stops in total. I found it impossible to keep track and know whose tires were older/newer at any part of the race. Add to this the variability in tyre wear between teams (and even within the same team). As James said, most overtaking took place because of the difference in tyre wear.

2. DRS is not the same for all teams. Some teams, apparently, enjoy a greater reduction in drag.

3. Reliability means that some teams have functioning KERS and/or DRS, some not. I fully accept that F1 is a technical sport and therefore getting the technology right is an intricate part of the process. However, this is the first time that an experimental technology is being trialed live, before our very eyes, during a "sporting" event.

4. The winner is no longer the fastest driver, but the one for whom the fewest amount of things go wrong. It is a very different premise.

All this to increase overtaking to bring in new fans to the sport. I do wonder, will the new fans ever get what's going on? Or do we simply expect them to enjoy watching random cars overtake each other randomly and get hooked?

As a final note. Does anyone know what effect KERS has had on fuel consumption? James, do you know?



1. A 3-stop race means 66 pit stops in total.


72 actually if all cars finish the race and do 3 stops. I did find it somewhat confusing, but just assuming that everyone would do three and counting from there gave a good enough view of who stood where.

What worries me more about the tires is the sheer amount of marbles that were visible on the track by the end of the race. I don't think we've ever seen it that bad on Sepang.

2. DRS is not the same for all teams. Some teams, apparently, enjoy a greater reduction in drag.

So? Plenty of things are better done by team X than team Y. That's the whole point of building the best car. If a certain part of F1 cars should be disallowed because it is 'different between teams', then you end up with a spec-series.

3. Reliability means that some teams have functioning KERS and/or DRS, some not. I fully accept that F1 is a technical sport and therefore getting the technology right is an intricate part of the process.

Correct. Blown diffusers, double-deck fusers, bending wings etc. are all experimental toys as well. Let the teams have their playtime with new things. And KERS is not THAT experimental any more, it was used before.

4. The winner is no longer the fastest driver, but the one for whom the fewest amount of things go wrong. It is a very different premise.

Vettel looked to be the fastest driver and had nothing go wrong. Car racing has always and will always be such.



And you don't find that confusing? Are you telling me that you always knew who was where in terms of tyre, DRS reliability and KERS reliability? Do you really mean that we need ALL those things to make the show better and that we have a better show today because of it?


Dunno wat races u have been watching... in both australia n malaysia the winner was the fastest driver on track n something did go wrong with his car (KERS in Sepang!)


Perhaps you are right. It is an added complication, though. His car wasn't the most reliable last year, either and still he won. Perhaps Jame's point that cream will always rise to the top is what we need to keep in perspective and then consider how many gimmics are need, in order to get more people to watch.


I'd say the other way round. Sure tyres have been made to degrade quickly and some might say that is artificial, however it's an advantage or disadvantage that everyone has.

I find DRS in particular a disappointing addition to F1. At least with Kers everyone can deploy it whenever they want (so long as they think strategically). With DRS the rules essentially give one driver an advantage over the other, this is overtaking with mechanical assistance rather than using the skill of the driver. If the FIA are going to tackle the issue of overtaking then why can't they do it in a way that doesn't compromise one driver over another?


I agree. With so many pitstops to change tyres, I find it difficult to keep track of the cars on the circuit. It is no longer driver's skill that is paramount but what state your tyres is in.


Keeping track is difficult but lets not forget Drivers have a lot of input into the state of the tyres during the race.

This is surely a drivers skill that will become more important.


I agree, Shortsighted, in fact less than halfway into the Oz race my interest waned because I was unable to keep in contact with any form of patern the race was taking or not taking, and neally switched off the TV. The last race held my interest better but I'm not sure why, it could be I'm getting used to it. One thing that p**s me off though was the effect the incredably long telephoto lens had on the racing. Eg., looking down the long straights you might see 4 cars but have no idea how close or how far apart they were from each other, also they seemed to be traveling at a walking pace! Otherwise there was plenty of action, which I enjoyed.


No swearing please - Mod

Conrad M. Sathirweth

I would say keep the tyres and get rid of the KERS and DRS because with the tyres it still requires skill and adds another dimension to the races, while with KERS and DRS it does not take any skill just pushing a button.


James, some of those chunks of rubber looked huge. Are any of these 'marbles' a danger to the drivers? I'm not suire that the term 'marbles' really fits anymore 🙂 How about 'nuggets'?


DiResta said that large 'marbles' were hitting his hands hard,and were quite painful.

Pirelli say they are going to ask other teams to see if they need to do something about it.

(Daily Telegraph)


Being in F1 is enough for any manufacturer to be noticed and the fact that the integral part of racing, the tires are being supplied by Pirelli will make enough people notice.


Pirelli have built tyres to the spec they were requested.

They had no problem in WRC building what were virtually indestructible tyres, which more or less ruled out the possibilty of punctures deciding a rally. Now have a look at what is happening with the new Michelin rally tyres ...


Being known for making destructo tyres will not make me want to buy them for my road car.


Sorry, one more if I may: How on earth can Pirelli expect positive maekting with chunks of its tyres strewn all over the track at the end of every GP. the Marbles were very visible indeed. Of primary importance ot the average tyre buyer is thier durability for goodness sake. It just doesn't add up as a markketing proposition to me....


You would have to be pretty stupid to think that your Pirelli tyres are going to fall apart while going up the M1, just because F1 cars destroy them.


Hence why they deserve plaudits for taking on what no other manufacturer would. But in the long term I think they will benefit as they get more praise for being a large factor in making the racing interesting. I can see them having to put some work in on the marbles though, somehow making them smaller so less of a safety issue if thrown up by a car.


It's still great marketing - being in F1 makes Pirelli a premium brand repeated for free hundreds of times every race weekend on media all over the world.


Yes I'm not sure we need ALL the gimmicks either. Loose KERS? It vastly expesnive when F1 is supposedly cutting costs and the environmental benefits are smoke and mirrors.

Well I for one have moved from the ‘DRS is the devil’ camp to the ‘I am not keen but will wait and see’ camp, after Sepang. But, I will wait and see until the season is over. How will DRS play out over the multitude of tracks, driver circumstances and championship situations? Overall, will it be a positive influence of the entertainment value of F1, contributing thrills quietly in the background or will it come the dominant mechanism for how one car passes another? Will it come to replace all other overtaking as drivers spend each lap ensuring they are within 1 second and not attempting to pass anywhere but on the straight? Only after this system has been pulled through the mangle of a full F1 season will we know whether it has enhanced or lessoned F1. Quite a turn around from me saying “the worst thing that could possibly happen is that DRS works and works well” a few weeks ago. Why? Because it feels as though it will allow faster cars to pass their slower fellows with relative ease but will not allow cars of the same performance level to glide past each other. It certainly is not going to allow slower cars to breeze past faster cars either. If this continues to be the case, I will be content for it will simply be facilitating what was meant to be in the first place – faster car overtakes slower car. Let’s have this vote again over the last weekend of the season, James and see where we are and what the story of DRS has been. I no longer want to, immediately and without trial, stake DRS through the heart – which is a big shift from my original position!

As for the Hamilton and Alonso penalties, I am disgusted. How long are we going to have to put up with Stewards’ wild inconsistency? It has been a particularly poor start to 2011, with Button being penalised but not Vetell for the exact same offense in Australia and Hamilton and Alonso given penalties for having a thrilling contest in Sepang? If Ferrari did not raise the issue until after the race then they were simply trying it on. If they really thought there was a problem they would have been on the radio to Charlie immediately. The stewards should have dismissed their concerns as the reactionary, defensive measure it was out of hand. Not that Alonso in any way deserved to be penalised either, he attempted an overtake and lost his wing – so what? (Ironically, if Hamilton had suffered a puncture at that point it might have actually been a benefit as he would have taken on new tyres and raced Alonso to the flag.) F1’s inclination and ability to shoot itself in the foot never ceases to amaze me. A great race weekend slightly burnt around the edges for many of us because the result was changed after the flag. Short of technical offences, the result should NEVER, EVER be changed after the flag – it’s plain, common sense. F1 Stewards are spoilt in that they have way to much time and information to support their decisions. They should be made to make on the spot calls like football referees not take 30 minutes to rewind the tape and compare humidity, air temperature, throttle trace, underwear colour and texture, star signs and Uri Geller before making a decision.

Oh, and let’s not have any of this ‘it’s ok because it all evens itself out’ rubbish, either – we should not be reliant on fate and the mystic balance of the universe for justice! The fact that Hamilton got away with murder last year when he overtook the safety car is totally, utterly and in all ways irrelevant.


2Short of technical offences, the result should NEVER, EVER be changed after the flag – it’s plain, common sense."

Button has now admitted that he was wrong in Melbourne and should have immediately surrendered the advantage that he gained from cutting a corner and using an escape road.

If a driver were to gain an advantage by performing such an action on the final lap of a race, are you suggesting that no penalty should be applied?


Many things are irrelevant, but it doesn't stop people from moaning ad infinitum about them.


How long before FIA paints a white line down the middle of the circuit with one lane reserved for overtaking only?


@Damian: You laugh, but as Bec alluded to, the Indy Racing League did just that last year.

A bit of background: I'm originally from Glasgow, and I was transplanted to the U.S. over a decade ago. For some reason, I've always enjoyed watching Indy races, even on Eurosport back when I lived there.

Anyway, overtaking in Indycar has been a problem in recent years. Perhaps not quite to the extent as it has been in F1, but it's definitely been worse than in the past.

Various aero regs were introduced last year to increase downforce on the ovals, and they appeared to work. However, road courses were still somewhat processional at times.

For the road courses, some bright spark had the idea of creating passing zones where the track was divided into two, with an inside and an outside line. The rule was that if you're not passing, you have to stay on the outside, even if you're being passed. Only the driver doing the passing can move to the inside.

The result was that the driver ahead basically had to cede their position every time someone got remotely close. The passing was completely fake and artificial, and we eventually ended up watching this:


It was a pitiful end to what was a pretty decent race.

At least F1 has the one move rule, and that seems to strike a pretty decent balance between allowing some level of defence and abolishing outright weaving.


And Bernie will add speed bumps and speed cameras. Maybe a pedestrian crossing or two... And then to really spice things up, he will include challenges like putting a bowl of water on the drivers lap and they will get seconds added to their time according to how much water got spilled... 😀


That's what they use in indycar, or whatever it's called this week.


Shush, Bernie will take the idea, call it the 'super duper lightspeed lane', add a few sprinklers and put it in place if you say it too loud!


P.s Out of those two choices, I'd say keep the tyres.


The FIA does have a tendency of changing too many things at the same time,with out seemingly thinking things through.

Take for example the rule about the top ten starting on the tyres they qualified on.It actually makes it strategically better to qualify 11th or 12th over 9th or 10th.So it penalizes the guys who did well to get into Q3 in the first place.


I agree.

Watching Webber passing Kobayashi and then failing to make it stick because of the DRS and KERS was just silly, whereas the tyre degradation started to bring back some of the tactical racing involved in the days of refuelling.

I really missed the tactical side of things last year when the tyres would just hold on for the whole race.


I'm not sure I agree there.

Watching Webber unable to pass Heidfeld because he did not have KERS was not in the spirit of racing.

On that occurence, the KERS of Heidfeld negated the effect of Webber's DRS.

I agree with Bernie KERS does not improve the racing and that being seen to be green and being green are two different things.

As for the tyres and DRS, they are the same for everyone. Whilst it might be seen as artificial, this is fine by me.

Let us remind that aerodynamics have made it impossible for the cars to follow each other's wake. Something had to be done.

I did reserve my judgment initially on the DRS as Melbourne wasn't exactly the sort of race we needed to assess this system, however, I am now convinced the DRS is a move in the right direction.

My only gripes with this is that it dictates drivers where to overtake on the circuit.

I am sure Webber refrained from overtaking Kobayashi on the back straight a second time when it was obvious he would be defenceless on the pit straight. Kudos to Alonso for trying to overtake Hamilton on all sort of places. Shame he collided into Lewis like a rookie.

I am worried grand prix organisers are going to charge more for the seats that are in the overtaking zone.


Webber could not pass Heidfield due to the fact that RedBull don't have a working KERS. Don't blame this on the FIA or KERS or DRS. The blame should be with RedBull.

That's my opinion on that.


Isn't it what was needed? Webber if he was faster would have pulled off from Koby. Also the KERS failing in his car isn't exactly the FIA's fault.

They have made sure that no place is for granted and has to be earned. DRS gives the trailing car a bit of assistance when coming up against the dirty air of the leader. It is not exactly a push to pass button and still needs drivers skill to make it stick.


I say give drivers complete freedom over tyre choice (no start the race on quali tyres) and give them a selection of hard tyres that can last a race but with less grip and soft tyres with lots of grip.

Then let them fight it out with equal cars. Either give them DRS everywhere or get rid of it. The race rules for DRS are as bad as success ballast and I doubt anyone would accept that in F1.


It is the FIA's fualt that cars have to have stupid things on them that hardly ever work.

In this day and age it's rare for cars just to retire because of small faults, yet maybe 10 years ago, but not now.

If the difference between one of the best drivers in the best car with better tyres being unable to pass a Sauber (6th best or so), only because of a technical thing 'to make the show interesting', then it is the FIA's fualt for allowing it on the cars.

Cars either have it or don't have it. They can't improve on it, or have small easier one, or develop it. It's either on or off and since it gives a few tenths of an advantage then as it is seen by your example, you HAVE to have it if you want to be competitive.

And if it doesn't work, or the DRS doesn't work then you may as well being Driver McHack Hack because as seen by Webber at the start you just get smashed down the straights or Alonso unable to pass due to a DWS failuer at the end.

IF they wanted to make the sport green then keep KERS, allow it to be developed anyway they want as long as it charges up only in car. Then just as with engines, make it that any customer team can buy the system from them for a set amount. That will stop much of the development but allow it to progress and if it did brake atleast it would be because of the development of it, not just because a bit of it has failed.


even more unfortunate that the result was that Hamilton lost a place and Alonso didn’t

???Am I detecting a degree of bias here James??? I hope not!

Alonso's pen was harsh, I don't recall any other drivers who lost bits of front wing getting 20s added to their times. Alonso's pen was having to stop again and driving 2/3rds of a lap with a dodgy front wing.

As Hamilton was about the only one guilty of weaving, ironically something he was warned of at the same race last year and something he admitted he'd be penalised over, it's difficult to disagree with that one.

I actually think (after looking at both incidents numerous times and from differing angles avaliable on the web) that Hamilton deserved his and Alonso did not. One was intentional and the other was most certainly not.


If Lewis gets a penalty for weaving, shouldn't the stewards review the first 10 seconds of the race which was Vettel sway 2-3 times to stay in front at the start? no one is going to penalize that little guy now, are they...


Hamilton's car was damaged by Alonso's shunt which probably compromised Hamilton's race.


No it was tyre management, or something about the long term tyre performance of the tyres on the McLaren which the team overlooked, as well as strategy that comprimised his race. The collision only made a bad day worse.


Martin Whitmarsh was perplexed as to why Hamilton chose to make a pit stop late in the race.

Where is this mention of damage to Hamilton's car?


It was quite clear on TV that the bottom of Hamilton's rear wing side panel had broken off on the side that Alonso hit (the bit with the slits). Whether this was during the incident with Alonso or shortly before, I couldn't say, but it was certainly missing afterwards.

Regarding the new racing style; I think DRS is a fake way of introducing overtaking. The most exiting overtakes at this race were the ones other than on the start finish straight.

Other forms of motor-sport have plenty of overtaking without a DRS. The difference? In the other events, over taking is possible due to mechanical grip being more important than aerodynamic grip. With the tyres we now have, and with less aero influence, we would have much more overtaking regardless of DRS. Having said that, it looks as though F1 has started to go in the right direction of reducing the reliance on aerodynamics. It appears cars can follow another car much more closely now, round the corners, than they could a couple or so years ago.

I say simplify the wings and the diffuser, add more mechanical grip, ensure cars can follow each other closely and enjoy the skill of the drivers.


Get of the grass,Allonso was much faster
then Hammi and one does not vear from
side to side to proctect your backside.
OK he is there to win, but not way he done it
Fernando got plenty last year by the stuwards
and they want to remaind him who run the


very funny Hamiltons race was compromised earlier Alonso crashing him did not do anything else.


Paul, James Allen has been anything BUT biased against Alonso in the past.


If you want blatant weaving, watch Vettel off the start, it was his movong around that I think gifted the positions to the Renaults. Kudos to the two Renault drivers for capitalising on it, but double standards by the stewards I feel.

Neither Alonso (no shadow of a doubt a racing incident and nothing more) nor Hamilton really deserved their penalties. If rules were interpreted that strictly all the time, virtually all the drivers would be in the stewards office at the end.

One more question - why did they take so long to mete out the punishment, it wasn't like they had any crashes of safetey car issues to deal with?


Schumacher was the biggest 'weaver' away from the grid, but never was penalised for it.

The stewards only seem interested in weaving in the race, however minimal.

There is more of it, also deliberate blocking at the start than any other time IMO, but no penalties.


On penalties awarded after the race


During the race, penalties are straightforward drivethrough stop&go etc. But after the race the penalties shouldn't be awarded in seconds but in terms of positions.

Last year, Hamilton overtook the safety car gained a huge advantage and had a worthless penalty, he lost nothing. On the contrary Schumacher had a penalty on Monaco's race which put him at the back of the field due to safety car so these penalties are inconsistent. With 20' you can loose nothing like Alonso did or 25 points in the worst case scenario.

If the stewards judged that Alonso deserved a penalty, which I thnik he didn't, they should award him enough time to loose him a position. That's the way penalties have to be awarded in my view


If Alonso didn't desreve one, I hardly think Hamilton did especiually Alonso's mis judge driving damaged Hamilton's car.


Probably none of them deserved the penalty, IMO.

As a side note: how did Alonso damage Lewis' car? I only saw his front wing hitting Hamilton's tyre, not causing a puncture.


Hamilton penalty JUSTIFIED Alonso's UNJUSTIFIED


On Twitter I posted that Hamilton waved on the start straight while defending against Hamilton. He did it last year against Petrov and afterwards Charlie Whiting in the drivers briefing after discussions decided that from now on waving is banned and will be punished. So Mr. Hamilton comes back to the same circuit and does the same thing which made Whiting decide to be stricter so well deserved penalty.

As for Alonso, if Hamilton has had a puncture as a consequence I would have been for a penalty against Alonso even if he lost his wing because he wrecked someone else's race but yesterday all he did is penalize himself with a slow lap on damaged wing plus an extra pitstop.


Hamilton waved at the start to defend against himself??? 😉

Like Peter C I'm not surprise by: Hamilton penalty JUSTIFIED Alonso’s UNJUSTIFIED and I knew it was you w/o even looking at your name.

For the record, my take is both penalties were UNJUSTIFIED. Hamilton's because Vettel and Massa seemed to be able to weave at will w/o penalty and Alonso, because it was 100% his own fault and affected nobody but himself.


BBC post race analysis by Martin Brundle could find nothing wrong with Hamilton's defend against Alonso. David Coulthard and his fellow pundits did not pick up an any weaving either.

The most obvious weaving was Vettel's on Hamilton at the start with three very clear changes of direction.


The well known Mclaren lover Eddie Jordan..

I'd love to hear the Spanish version of the event. The BBC said it was just a racing incident, although caused by Alonso, I doubt you'd get a reciprocal reaction in Spain.

When exactly was Hamilton supposed to of weaved? I've just looked on the F1 forum and couldn't find it.


I can't believe that BBC pundits find nothing wrong with Hamilton's defend against Alonso.

I bet that Sarah Holt finds Alonso was treated too leniently and the punishment for Hamilton was too harsh.

Obviously unbiased judges, I mean...


"Hamilton waved on the on the start straight"??? Who did he wave to, Charlie Whiting?

Anyway, when I saw "Hamilton penalty JUSTIFIED, Alonso's UNJUSTIFIED", my heart sank.

I knew who the author would be.


Hamilton was defending his line in the same way that we saw Massa defend his position against Button.

I'm sorry Jo but I think you see weaving only when it's Hamilton and not when it's a Ferrari driver.


Yep, now that Button has accepted responsibility for the incident in Melbourne the story has changed to "Massa weaved to keep Button behind".


I'm no fan of Alonso but I have to agree his penalty was harsh. We see a lot of drivers touch each other, damage bits of bodywork and not be penalised. The fact he and had to pit to change the front wing was surely punishment enough. That was a racing incident and nothing more. If this sets the precedent and every minor collision is going to result in a drive through, we are going to see a lot of drivers crawling through the pit-lane.


I just wonder what would stop Ferrari in the next races to file a complaint every time another car touches their cars or any others cars.

I would like to ask anyone who knows if Vettel got penalised last year when he hit JB in the sidepods..resulting in JB retiring from the race?


MISTER- Vettel was penalized in Spa for harpooning Button, he was lucky though because he could dodge across track and into the pit entrance to change wings , if he had slid a few meters further down the runoff and missed the pit entry he would have had to retire, as I remember in 2009 Buemi got a penalty for similarly trashing the nose of his car and limping around the track back to the pits (thats was in quali though).

Galapago555- for some reason there isnt an option to reply directly, so Im lumping yours in here too... Vettel's starting moves are know affectionately as chopping, or a single abrupt sideways motion to "fake out" the other driver and is essentially just a big block... not illegal but generally frowned upon by the overtaking driver. Other drivers do it too, just everyone remembers Vettel being the only one doing it since he was on pole so much last year.


"...if Vettel got penalised last year..."

And for his countless waving movements at the start of every race to defend his pole, once vs. Nano, once vs Lewis, once vs anyone that tried to overtake him before the first corner.

How is this called? Double standards?


No, I'm talking about the logic of it. Better to say they are both penalised one position, wouldn't it, if that were allowed. Seems weird to end up as it has


James, in some countries you receive a speeding ticket (for excessive speeding) that is proportional to your income; it is a fixed formula, rather than a fixed amount. This ensures that the penalty has the same net effect on everyone. This is the equivalent of being awarded a one-place drop.

Most countries award a fixed amount. This ensures that the punishment matches the indiscretion in absolute terms. This is consistent with most approaches to public order and with most sports (a penalty is a penalty and always executed from the same distance) and is, obviously, the path that the FIA have followed. I agree that the “Swiss” example above is probably fairer in this context.

What most comments above and below seems to miss is that this is the first year that this issue is written in the rules and it is therefore impossible for the stewards to ignore, once it has come to their attention. I would assume that it comes in the same spirit as all other technical changes aimed at facilitating overtaking. It probably also has a safety element involved, given that the approach speeds are now much higher, due to the introduction of the DRS


I guess it's fair insofar as they've effectively applied each with a retrospective drive thru'. The fact Alonso's position is unchanged is merely his good fortune on this occasion.

I think it's the right penalty, better than meddling with their starting grid slot next time round, or a meaningless fine.


Valencia last year springs to mind as a non-penalising penalty; maybe a more flexible system would help there.

The strange thing (to me) here is that whole both penalties are applicable according to the rules, the actual offences looked minor.

Fair enough if Alonso had knocked Ham out, but as it was he just crippled his own car. Was more really necessary?

Hams defensive moves looked pretty restrained - theres been much more robust defending this year already. Do you know if the penalty was because it came on top of prior warning, or were the stewards just in a particularly bad mood this weekend?


I think james meant that position penalties should be given after races where a drive through cannot be applied during. I don't think he meant that a driver should be penalised a place during a GP.

What is the point? The guy in the lead weaves a little, and is then told he will lose a position. Would he have to give it up there and then? unlikely, he could be miles ahead. Will he lose it after the race? Then what's the point of racing on and trying hard?

No, I think if a penalty has to be applied in the last howevermany laps the rules dictate for time penalties, it should be a grid drop at the next race, or a drive through after 5 laps of the next race.

By the way, I don't think either penalry was particularly fair. Yes Hamilton switched direction, but he was defending. As long as he does it safely (and it wasn't exactly dramatic) he should be allowed to do so. Alonso pulled out too late from behind Lewis, an avoidable accident maybe, but just a mistake.


Also any length time penalty can of course be given.


Here I do agree with **Paul** - probably Alonso didn't deserve the penalty, as he was just trying to overtake and it was a normal racing incident.

At the same time, I partially agree with James, meaning a time penalty may be totally unfair - if they wanted to penalise both in the same way, a position penalty should be the right one.

Memories from Valencia 2010 come to mind when you discuss how fair - and unfair - a time penalty could be. Same as from Monaco and Schuey overtaking under green flags and getting a 5 positions penalty that took him out of the point scoring positions.

A good point for the FIA to modify the Sporting Regulations, introducing the possibility for the Stewards to penalise race positions instead of adding time to driver's results.


"Painful memories also of Schumacher completing his time penalty in the pits at the 1998 Silverstone GP to “win” the race and FIA allowed that result to stand! One of FIA’s worst ever decisions."

And what is the FIA's worst decision ever - allowing a driver to re-enter a race after his car was lifted back on to the circuit by a crane (in clear contravention of the rules)?


No offence taken

I was just thinking on the incidents that I mentioned:
- in Valencia, after overtaking the SC, Lewis got a drive-through no-penalty that meant no real loss for him-;
- in Montecarlo, Schuey was punished with a 20 sec penalty that meant a 5 positions drop, as it happened in the very first lap after the SC deployment.

In Valencia the penalty was too lenient. In Monaco it was too harsh. Maybe a X-pos drop penalty could have been fairer.

And of course I will not even mention the Silverstone 2010 incident involving Fernando... 😉


Painful memories also of Schumacher completing his time penalty in the pits at the 1998 Silverstone GP to "win" the race and FIA allowed that result to stand! One of FIA's worst ever decisions.


Please don't take this as an insult, but penalizing driver with 1 possition is stupid. How can you ask for such thing?

What if the driver behind Alonso was 55 sec away? Why take that from Alonso? He earned that gap. As I understand the rules, the FIA set (for example) "drive-tru" penalty for 5, 6 or 8 race incidents, then they set "stop & go" for 3 or 4 other incidents, etc.

If the certain incident comes under the stop & go but still doesn't affect the driver's position in the race, why take that away from him?

Like Ben said above, what you are asking stewards to do is race fixing and not applying penalties.

Conrad M. Sathirweth

It was vice-versa in Valencia last year when Hamilton overtook the SC and the stewards took such a long time to make their decision Hamilton was able to not lose position, while even though Alonso did not have a penalty he lost out a lot.


Well, I think the 20 seconds is more or less standard penalty while position/points penalty is non-standard , so that is more or less the reason. Hamilton was just unfortunate in that case. By the way, actually the Hamilton penalty was for over aggressive defending (which preceded the overtake/collision incident as i understood), so it actually sends, a pro-overtaking message, which is canceled though by the Alonso penalty ...


That's a fair point James, if indeed they both deserved the penalty.

In my honest opinion though, when I saw Hamilton moving more than once down the straight, I immediately pointed out to my girlfriend that he would and should probably get a penalty for that.

However whilst it was Alonso's fault that he ran into the back of Lewis, it was just a racing accident and didn't deserve a penalty at all. His penalty of driving nearly a full lap with parts of his wing missing, then having to pit for a new one was penalty enough don't you think?

So on that basis I think it was right that Lewis lost a place and Alonso didn't.

I just hope the stewards don't go OTT when awarding penalties this year. We also seem to lacking consistency when you consider that Seb had all four wheels off the track in Australia when overtaking Jens.


@Mahmood, David Coulthard said in commentary that Alonso's car was understeering when he was behind Hamilton, therefore he wasn't fully in control of the situation. Hamilton was struggling for grip and was even slower out of turn 3 than on the previous lap, so misjudging the closing speed coupled with the loss of downforce on the Ferrari's front wing meant that contact was unavoidable.


@Mahmood Bello:

Agreed, I used to do karting and was always annoyed when I got punted from behind because drivers couldn't judge the speed I was slowing down too.

However occasionally accidents happen in racing. The fact is Alonso made a mistake because his speed was much greater than Lewis's coming out of that corner. It wasn't reckless and he didn't dive for a gap that wasn't there. He got caught out by the speed differential between Lewis and himself. It wasn't a mistake that deserved penalising. If this is going to happen in F1 then every driver is going to worry about getting too close to the car in front incase a misjudgement is made. Car racing and incidents go hand in hand. So long as it isn't reckless, it shouldn't be penalised. I thought that is why they got ex F1 drivers to be the stewards,


To me, racing incidents should happen when a driver has no control over the situation. But Alonso was in control. But he still decided to run into the back of Hamilton. Any person with a sense of speed should have left some breathing space in turn 3. It was pointless trying to over take him there.


While I think both penalties were unnecessary, there is no fault in logic at all. The stewards award the punishment the rules call for. In both cases the drivers were awarded drive through penalties - which when applied after the race result in a 20 second time addition.

Had Alonso received a drive through in the race, he would probably have still ended up where he did. The fact it didn't change his position doesn't come in to it.

You can't start arbitrarily start applying more severe penalties until you get the outcome you are looking for because then that would be race fixing. The stewards aren't there to decide the finishing order.


Agree! Very well said.

+1 to your last sentence!


To suggest that a penalty of one place should be awarded actually defies logic. If a driver breaks the rules (which I saw Hamilton do with my own eyes yesterday when Alonso was trying to pass. It wasn't quite as blatant as when he weaved in front of Petrov last year, but it happened) knowing they'll only lose one place rather than get what amounts to a drive-through penalty, then they'll do it knowing they'll only lose one place. Remember, Hamilton broke the rules in Valencia last year, yet he remained in second place after the penalty. The problem was the slow time taken to reach a decision because so many drivers were under investigation for going under the delta times under the safety car.

The penalty applied to Alonso made no sense since the collision had already cost him a shot at third place and did not really affect Hamilton. The penalty to Hamilton was entirely justified, and he admitted that he expected to be penalised after the race.


@Peter C

I guess he just said "once I was summoned by the stewards, I knew for sure that I was going to be penalised", or something similar.

I haven't read anything like "I was expecting for a penalty, I deserved it".


He said he expected a penalty after he had been called to the stewards.


When did Hamilton admit that?

What exact words did he use?

Just interested,as I'd not seen this reported anywhere.

Thanks (in anticipation)


I think what James is trying to point out is why give Alonso a 20 sec penalty if it has no implications what so ever i.e. losing a place...


why then, did they give lewis a drive-thru in valencia when he had already pulled out a more than sufficient gap for it to not matter? That penalty didn't affect the outcome either, and Im not trying to justify Alonso, the fact that a penalty doesnt affect the outcome is not a valid reason to not give it in the first place, on the contrary I think they should have penalized them right then and there, its not like they missed the shreds of Alonso's wing all of the track and there was not a single safety car or yellow flag distracting them at the momment. Post race penalties are stupid unless the infraction happens on the last 3 laps (because has to serve within 3 laps) and there is no time to enforce the penalty in the race. this was on lap 46 of 56 so they had around 15 minutes... ball.. stewards... dropped, big time


But it's not about penalising them a position, it's about applying the appropriate penalty. If Alonso is good enough to build up a 20+ sec gap then good on him. Remember Hamilton last year at Valencia? His drive-through did not effect him (but they should have applied it earlier). Also what about Webber in Nurburgring, if they penalised him a position then he wouldn't have had the chance to fight back and win the race.


Forgot to add, I like the tyres falling apart, it reminds me of F1 from years ago where tyre management and fuel management played a part in creating the ultimate driver, whilst qually showed who was quickest thanks to it's time trial nature.


It saddens me that the races are no longer about going flat out, but rather about conservation. Solution? Unban refueling.

In years gone past Jenson would have been told to attack Seb and win the race, sadly not anymore, this is not real racing.


Races haven't always been about going flat out. Ever heard of a guy called Prost?


I don't think there has ever been a time when drivers didn't have to conserve either fuel or tyres.

Conrad M. Sathirweth

Button was attacking Vettel, he cut about 10 secs out of Vettel's lead.


Completely agree, for me this has been the missing ingredient in f1 for quite a while. No amount of overtaking, strategy calls or pit stops between midfield teams can make up for a battle royal up front over the closing stages of a race. Yesterdays race is case in point, lots of action, no substance. The competition is missing and ultimately the sporting spectacle. Watching Vetel cruse into an unassailable lead, then turn the wick down and cruse to victory without breaking a sweat, week after week is a little hollow. Its about time we saw someone win a race instead of being gifted one.

I commend the FIA for trying, but at the minute were missing something they cant provide.


A slightly strange comment, it seems you are drawing parallels with the Malaysian GP and those over the last several years. I think the point is that this race was quite different in character to those over the last few years, so which type do you prefer?

Vettel's easy win was nothing to do with the new rules though. It's about a strong driver-car combo, with a clear advantage over the rest of the field. If we do have some close finishes this year, there's a chance we might even see some late overtaking for the lead - courtesy of the new rules.

Please don't bring back refuelling, it added nothing. 1994-2009 was the era of 'passing in the pitstops'.


Your right, passing in the pits wasn't good, and i do prefer the character of the new rules. My point was aimed more at the lack excitement from watching a car win without actually having to race, this is something the rules don't account for. Also lots of pitstops doesn't completely win me over when all the top teams are on the same strategy, they may as well be on a one stopper as fundamentally its the same race. And being completely pessimistic, the only thing KERS added to sundays race was to ruin Webbers day.

I enjoyed the Golf though!


It's nothing new. Tyre wear was arguably even more important in the 1970's and 80's and nobody was complaining back then.


There was no internet back then. People were complaining to their TVs.


For years everyone has been moaning that we don't see enough overtaking. Now we are seeing enough overtaking. It's great. I really can't wait for the rest of the season - imagine what races like Montreal and Spa are going to be like! Even Monaco will get really interesting.


Good call. This debate about how to get more overtaking has been raging since the mid 1990's at least, and the response from those in power has always been pathetically weak. Finally, after all this time, I feel some real measures have been put in place.

I had concerns too - Indycar after the Hanford device rendered overtaking meaningless. But that wasn't the case in Malaysia, the overtaking was still exciting, so I'm all for it!


Exactly. Let us run this season it's full course. We can always fine tune things for the next season, but first we must gather more info and decide what do we really want.

There are many more races to come. Let us see what will they be like. I believe things will settle down a bit in the near future as people and engineers will get better understanding.

Times are changing, people today want different things than they wanted some years ago. F1 is so popular these days it is a mainstream event. It is like with music, the mainstream is pop music being simple and catchy, written to please as many as possible. Then there is jazz written for the sake of art.

If you're into John Coltrane you're in trouble because here comes Lady Gaga.


What about if Lady Gaga does a Coltrane. That'll be very interesting.


That would be ideal. Funny enough it might just be the case, but that largely depends on people's readiness to accept what's coming. This cannot be if somewhere along the way the quality of racing is lost.

We want more entertainment but we do not want cheap stuff.

So it seems the hope lies with the teams, the engineers and drivers as they are the only ones who can give quality to the racing and make Gaga do a Coltrane.


Does this mean they are going to be stapling slices of bacon to the cars?


"Times are changing, people today want different things than they wanted some years ago."

That also explains why the general public do not want to see blatant team orders being used, especially when they see their favourite driver having to give up an almost certain win.


And they certainly don't want to hear a team manager spending over a year moaning about the front wing that a rival is using!


I think expecting Monaco to suddenly come alive with overtaking is a little optimistic to say the least; the 'most' you can expect is more incidents, caused by tyre wear, but I hope that that does not translate as accidents and injuries

Valencia, however, might for once actually be something worth staying awake for, perhaps, maybe.... No, probably not.


Does anyone else think we'd end up with closer, tighter racing if the regs were left alone for a few seasons? The top teams would eventually peak but the lower teams could continue to develop on what they'd been learning.


Add my yes to that.

The teams have major 2013 changes so lets leave next year exactly like this one...


Absolutely agree, it stops the leading teams putting their vast resources into the new regs and running away with the titles without too much hindrance. A period of stability allows the other teams chance to catch up and narrows the field providing more action. However, the powers that be are too busy providing gimmicks to try and entice in those who don't currently follow F1 but instead end up confusing most people who don't follow the sport closely (or at least thats the impression I get from friends and colleagues).


I agree also.

A little bit of stability in 2010 from 2009 and we had the best season ever.

Also look at 2007 where there was a little bit of stability from the previous years.

When you bring in massive changes, you get a bit of a shake up of the order like in 2009 with new aero, slicks and kers.

But i think we have too much going on this time, new tyres would have been enough, but overtaking has always been the issue over the years


Completely agree - let the midfield catch-up over the course of a few years then we'll REALLY see an exciting championship!


The race was great! The teams rarely have equal cars these days, so anything that will challenge the standard order and make the drivers and teams "work for it" has to be a good thing.

Do people all really want max fuel, no pit stops and a race to the line on hard tyres?

I'm amazed that people are complaining that there was too much overtaking. Stunned.

And confusing? They're supposed to be the best drivers in the world. Let it be confusing, let it be a challenge, and let's have a million variables if that's what it takes. Deal with it.


The drivers will complain no matter what happens.

Let an F1 driver start from pole and jump to a huge lead and they will complain about how difficult it is to lap backmarkers or maintain focus when they are all alone on the track.


The races will settle down as teams understand the tyres and strategy more anyway.

A nice thing about Malaysia was that there were quite a few overtakes into Turn 1, but also loads elsewhere on the track which worked out well.


And pleeeeeeeeease let's not change the rules just because Vettel has won the first 2 races. I still have nightmares about the Ferrari domination era.


I agree - dont change the rules - but they need to look at that front wing with some common sense.


The race underlined for me the unneeded nature of the DRS in particular. The tyres are a great improvement and I can really see the application of KERS - especially if the teams are given more freedom.

But DRS? It's a straight forward mechanical piece, so they aren't developing anything particularly innovative which might have a use elsewhere. And it's governed by silly rules to help one car sail past another.

Having different cars on different tyres throwing up different scenarios is fantastic - and it doesn't the need the other things packed around it.


That's funny I have yet to see anyone do anything as simple as "sail" past using the DRS... but I guess it is a popular scapegoat for those that will never be satisfied.
I had to wake up a 2am to watch the race and didn't need an ounce of caffeine to stay awake throughout, and at the end I was so pumped up I couldnt go back to sleep for almost an hour. The last 2 years I honestly would just midnight to watch quali and then sleep in Sunday and check who won on the computer. This year there are battles galore, Hamilton on Alonso, "insert driver" vs Kobayashi, webber on Massa, maybe it was a little too much of a good thing, but I am a fan.
Yeah I don't necessarily agree with the DRS and think KERS should be given more freedom while minimum weight and distribution go back to the way they were so we can get a good battle a la 2009 where you had mclaren and Ferrari with mediocre aero but a top notch KERS fighting for wins with RedBull and Brawn with brilliant aero and weight dist with no KERS. That's the one thing I don't like about the new regs, they force everyone to go in more or less the same direction.
Oh and you wanna see "all out" watch quali, the race is about the team, car (tires, fuel, engine, etc), and driver functioning in perfect harmony to come out on top on the last lap.
This is gonna be a good year


Yes, the last 5 minutes of Qualy used to be the best driving of the whole week.

But now maybe that's changed?


I'm not saying it wasn't exciting - I thought it was a great race. At most circuits the DRS will have an impact much more akin to Australia. But here in Malaysia and likely next weekend in China, with the huge long straights, it becomes a little silly.

I think we'd have had a very exciting race yesterday without the DRS. It steps over the line to being a bit contrived in a way the Pirelli tyres and KERS don't.


Hi James. This is slightly annoying for Alonso fans to hear this whole thing of Hamilton being given a penalty and it costing him and Alonso's penalty not costing him. We all know what happened in Valencia last year. Seems to be a case of double standards. Once he had lost his wing, it would have been easy for Alonso to give up and not fight to the flag. We would have been slow and the penalty would have affected him. But it didn't as he pushed hard to catch Massa and hence built a gap over Kobayashi.


If Lewis gets a penalty for weaving, shouldn’t the stewards review the first 10 seconds of the race which saw Vettel sway 2-3 times to stay in front at the start? no one is going to penalize that little guy now, are they…


Well I think now Alonso fans can stop whining about Valencia and how Hamilton gets away with everything (and everything else than Hamilton does) now that he HAS been penalised??


Even as a Hamilton fan I agree - you can also argue that if lewis hadn't weaved (although I still think his penalty was very harsh) Alonso would have got passed and the crash wouldn't have happened.


Mika Salo said that it was really dangerous move by Hamilton to block Alonso at that place. Just when Alonso was going to overtake him, Hamilton moved slightly to the right and it was enough to Alonso crash on him. Salo said that he doesn't understand why Alonso was punished.

And I must say I agree with Salo this time, altough I wouldn't given any penalties to anyone, for me it was racing at it's best but if you need a guilty one, then for sure 100% it was Hamilton with his agressive turn to the right, just when he was going to been overtaken by Alonso.

As a Webber fan I could only laugh when it happened 🙂

About the subject, it was really great race. At some point I felt it's slightly artificial. With all those KERS and moving wings. As we saw even when the wing doesn't work (Alonso), you can still overtake quite easily. But nevertheless, I liked it.


Well, my point is not about whether the penalty was justified or not. It was just that certain sections of the British media are annoying. Some are sensible. Points like Lewis was affected while Fernando didn't, shouldn't be sour grapes after Valencia 2010.


And the Spanish or Italian media are both a paragon of virtue when criticising McLaren?

Of course not!


Very good point - it all levels out in the end..


The stewards may have been doing a bit of 'levelling-out' with this actual decision. Wary of being accused of picking on Hamilton, they decided to penalise both drivers knowing it would have no affect on Alonso's result. I think the penalties were totally unnecessary. A warning for weaving was all that was needed.


I don't think it levels out in the end. It's like in football where people say at the end of the year it levels up while it doesn't.

If bad decisions are made stewards should discuss it and come up with a solution to avoid repeating the same mistake. To be fair to them though, their recent decisions are going in the right direction globally.


For me the DRS helps eliminate two problems which have hamstrung F1 in recent years:

1) Aerodynamics causing 'dirty' air in front of a following car. They effectively couldn't over-take unless the speed difference was massive.

2) Some track designs which had no natural over-taking places. Now there's guaranteed to be at least one.

It is artificial, but then so much of F1 already is. I'm all for it if the result is more entertaining races.


DRS does help with those two problems, but why settle for DRS instead of having car and circuit designs that allow proper racing. In the meantime, if it's considered necessary to give artificial assistance, why not use KERS to give the following car a 'boost'.


Agreed to all points.

Look, people can't have it all ways. We used to moan that there was no overtaking and this was caused by dirty air from aero parts. Now we have DRS and this doesn't change the fact that they can't get close through the corners but a faster car\driver can get close enough to use DRS on the straight and then this compensates for the dirty air through the corners. If the drivers could get right up close in the first place then races would look much the same as they do now with DRS as the following car would be right on the lead cars gear box heading onto the straight, get an awesome tow and just sail past.

I think it was a good race... The tyres are what we wanted, just like years ago.. Kers adds a variable and DRS gives more overtaking opportunities - It doesn't create easy passes unless there is another problem for the lead car.


Agree: especially your first point. In my opinion DRS does not really give an advantage to the overtaking car, what it does is remove some of the disadvantage of following a (slower) car. For years we have seen fast cars parking behind slow cars because of aero disruption. DRS increases the ability to capatalize on having a faster car rather than make for easy passes.



You are not wrong in the points/reasons you raise.

However there is one simple problem. Cars who race close together will simply be passing and re-passing eachother on the straight in turn. his unless one car is quicker in say the more downforce areas of a circuit but then you could argue that it is unfair that a car that goes well in a straight line loses out to a car which does the oposite!

As James mentioned in his blog, the tyres are pretty much sufficient and you get overtaking in places never seen before, which is great in my opinion.

The slipstream issue is one for design of difusers and can be changed through regulations if only the teams could ever agree


I totally agree. DRS shows that overbody aerodynamics have to drastically cut and allow teams 'free' design over the underbody. The cars and drivers at Sepang showed that there is too much downforce on the cars to allow the racing we all crave.


I liked the differing strategies shown by the teams throughout the race. It requires drivers to work in a different way at different times throughout the race which is a good way of the drivers showing a wide variety of skills. It has been shown that races can be completed with only a couple of stops, depending on the individual driving styles and the characteristics of the cars.

The DRS seems fairly good. While not guaranteeing a pass, it does allow a driver who's lapping at 1.5-2 seconds a lap quicker an easier route to pass (something that would have made the Abu Dhabi race more exciting last season). For me, the aerodynamics can make things artificial as slow cars can easily stay ahead of faster ones. Does anyone put it past the designers not to make their cars deliberately hard to pass by making the aerodynamic wake more disruptive to the following car?

KERS is something I'm less keen on but understand that it's there from a 'relevance' point of view. Harvesting potentially lost energy is a good thing but whether it improves the racing or not, I'm not sure. It's considerably more expensive to manufacture than a wing that flaps open but understand that these things have to start somewhere. Why they're limiting it as much as they are is a question I've never seen answered, however.

At the end of the day, though, different strategies will pan out and once every driver has made all of their stops, it all comes together in the end. Watching the live timing screens, which have always helped me understand each race as it happens, is now a near vital tool for me to see what's going on. To see the jump from 1:47 to 1:43 after the first set of stops for new rubber was interesting (to me, at least!) and enabled me to understand the individual strategies that the teams were running.

It's all artificial anyway, if you think about it. Banning active suspension was artificial. Having certain areas where a car cannot be developed into (e.g those ugly wings we saw a number of years back) is artificial.

One way or the other, I loved F1 before this and I still love it now.


Agree with you. For the time being let's not change anything unless there is a safety issue involved. Malaysia was absolutely brilliant.


"Why they’re limiting it (KERS) as much as they are is a question I’ve never seen answered, however".

Wasn't that insisted upon by Mercedes who were not prepared to develop a more powerful system just yet?

Robert Leon Felix

Tyres - So long as it's always a choice between 2 & 3 stops I'm happy.

DRS - Too early to say, Malaysia/China may not be truely reflective as the straights are so long. Need to stop the free 4 all in qualy pls.

KERS - A nice technical challenge, should keep the engineers happy. Once everyone has it working efficiently, it'll be nullified.

SPRINKLERS - No thanks ;-]

The overtakes were fun, almost as good as MotoGP/Moto2/125 races. Bit of fine tuning and it won't seem artificial at all.

Everything needs to be given time and we need to STOP CHANGING THE RULES.


well said.

My greatest fear now is that we have a knee jerk reaction and change again.

Let's just run with what we have and enjoy the show.


While the race itself was entertaining, the outcome was very predictable, as Vettel went from lights to flag with a rather comfortable lead. Even with dodgy KERS and DRS, the RB7 looks like it's in the same class as the MP4/4, FW15C and F2002.

Let's hope that the other teams can find a way to close the gap over the season...


Hi James,

The one thing that bugs me about the DRS situation is that (KERS maybe included too) was that it was introduced to enable overtaking and not make it a fake/easy passing move. But when you have failures on either one or both of the devices, it takes the edge off it being a level playing field.

The Pirelli situation I can get on board with as its the same for everyone, its up to the designers, engineers and above all the drivers to manage their tyres and make them work for them. As a variable and a way of 'creating' more on track action, I believe we would need the other two? We saw this with the Di-Resta and Rosberg fright around turns 5/6.

If the tracks allow and the cars can run close to each other either thanks to reduced aero or enhanced mechanical grip, with tyres being the major factor at the time, thats all we would need as fans to watch and understand. Without all the graphics and alike.

Bit of a ramble that makes no sense but its too hot and I am having a quite day at work!


I like the Di Resta operates and carries himself. When we first got to see Hamilton at a grand prix weekend, its was all about big star and how it would effect him and others around him. I think Di Resta is much more of a 'student' of motorsport, he talks well, relates information in a good way, isn't afrid to talk to journos on the grid and puts forward a great case for Friday driver moving up to race driver in a seasons time.


Great article as ever James, thank you.

My take on the over taking is this -

Although the overtaking was entertaining, i felt that the VALUE of an overtake / attempt to over take was less. I had the feeling that once a car was in the DRS window an overtake was inevitable.

Maybe the addition of DRS together with KERS and tires is a step to far.


I agree the value of a DRS overtake is diminished over a real overtake, but isn't it still better than seeing a fast car stuck behind a slow car for lap after lap? We still have real overtakes too, thanks go to Pirelli for that.


Love the new rules,

love the new tyres,

love the new season.

Well done Pirelli!

Please, FIA, don't change anything.

And, everybody else, please don't over-react - it's just two races!


I think that in general we (by which I mean the media, fans and other people with a vested interest in the sport) are too quick to voice an opinion. The new elements for this season need to be assessed across the full year before their value can be acurately assessed.

I think that the use of DRS was an interesting additional factor in Sunday's race, but as James points out above, you could have had as good a show with the tyres alone providing opportunities to overtake given people were running different tyres at different stages of their cycle at different times in the race.

The only negative I have to say about DRS is that its use in a single defined zone is a touch artificial - I would rather it was unrestricted in the sense that you can use it anywhere on the circuit, but only for a limited number of times per race. If you were allowed to use it for, say 60% of the number of laps (so a 60 lap race would allow 36 applications of DRS) that would provide an additional strategic element to the racing with some drivers using it to establish an early advantage and others saving it up for later in the race, while also ensuring that it cannot be used throughout.


Then the leaders could just save their DRS, so I don't think that would work. What we could have is a lap by lap position based allocation, Leader gets 2 seconds use per lap, Second place gets 4 seconds per lap, the HRT back in 24th gets 48 seconds per lap, it would result in a tighter group, less blue flags, less backmarkers messing with the leaders, and would be a tactical feast to see the leading cars pit, emerge in 14th (for example)and use 28 seconds of DRS through the field....


@Alex W

I'd like to see how Martin and DC go about getting the audience to understand that...

Yes the leaders would save their DRS, but then the fastest cars will be fastest regardless of what technical regulations we have.

DRS makes a measurable difference to ultimate laptime, so the only way to introduce a truly tactical element to it is to restrict the number of times it can be applied during a race.


Great idea!

But, make it 10% of the number of laps.


The one thing that I don't quite understand about the implementation of these new systems is why introduce BOTH KERS and DRS together?

If we had just one of these systems in place, I feel the confusion felt by any newcomers to the sport would be greatly reduced.

By having both, the sport has to contend with explaining that a car defending itself from another using DRS can use it's KERS, but DRS can only be used for a portion of the lap when 1 second behind another car, whereas KERS can be used whenever the driver likes, but you can use DRS whenever you like in qualifying, and the KERS re-sets itself after every lap, but you can use KERS in the wet, unlike DRS ect etc etc... you get my point.

Having the two separate systems just adds unwanted layers to an already complicated sport. KERS has it's place obviously with the idea of it being beneficial for future road car use. But for what future practical use is DRS?

F1 should get rid of the DRS system and stick with KERS. The concept of a 'boost button' is more accessible to the public and much easier to grasp; and all whilst displaying a clear message of the sport's importance to automotive technology. If drivers could deploy KERS, but only for a portion of the lap as DRS is currently used, I feel it'd give us a similar result, but with less confusion.

I can't help but feel they've just thrown everything at the wall to see what sticks.


KERS was introduced in 2009 and has always been allowed since then. It was only the teams who decided not to use it. Anyone could have run with it last year.

The FIA are only trying one new technology this year, along with a new tyre supplier.


Thanks for the history lesson – after following the sport for the past 15 years, I'm well aware of that point.

The FIA still have the power to ban/introduce/keep any rule or technology they like. It was general knowledge for a long time that the teams wanted to re-introduce KERS for 2011, so my point was that the FIA should have delayed the introduction of DRS.


"It’s very important to recognise that the passes we saw yesterday were mainly due to the difference in the age and condition of the tyres on the cars" - too flippin' right!!!!!

All these people banging on about DRS \ "artificial passes" are talking out of their posteriors, in my opinion.

Go back to the 50's and 60's - no aero, you could follow a car closely into and out of a corner, as it was all about mechanical grip and driver talent, slipstreaming on a straight and getting them into the braking zone.

Since aero has become the biggest factor (probably within the past 15 years or so), you cannot follow a car too closely into, through and out of a corner... so how are you supposed to slipstream to get into a position to pass? You can't!

So DRS gives a little bit more oomph, to bring a car into a position to ATTEMPT a pass. It does not guarantee a pass!

I was cynical about it pre-season; pleased by it's affect in Australia and even more so at Sepang.


I'm frankly stunned that people are complaining about the weekend's racing. I enjoyed the unpredictability, I enjoyed that faster cars could actually overtake. How often have we complained about fast guys being stuck behind slower ones? On the weekend the faster guys could overtake, and we're complaining about it?

I've been watching F1 since the 'glory days' of the late 80s when the racing was 'real', and I can tell you there were some real snoozefests back then. Refueling? That was artificial, introduced to spice things up. Everything about F1 is artificial to a greater or lesser degree, and if this is what artificiality brings to the game, then I'm all for it! How good was Kobayashi vs Schumacher, and Webber vs Massa, Hamilton against Alonso? If you're finding it hard to follow, maybe you're watching the wrong sport.


It is too early to make a judgement on the tires and DRS yet. We'll have to wait and see how the races pan out at Barcelona, Valencia and Abu Dhabi. Though Hungary was good last year due to a few unusual happenings in the pit lane and with Webber's scorching drive, we've seen some boring races there in the past. Too bad we won't be able to evaluate how the races would've been at Hockenheim and Bahrain this year.


I think most will say it's an improvement. But I'd imagine if they stuck laser guns on the cars and you got points for hitting rival's targets, most would think that's an improvement too. Let's hope this doesn't give them an idea though.

What I saw wasn't a race, it was a manufactured show.

F1 is losing a bit of it's integrity for me. I certainly didn't see many 'on-the-edge of my seat' overtakes. It was more like oval racing... but oval racing is a bit more honest about how it goes racing. Everything is just very very predictable.

This attempt at spicing up the racing works fantastically well in a series like BTCC. It suits the way it goes racing. BUT F1 is F1. Constantly changes. So who knows where the future lies.


I thought there were plenty 'edge-of-my-seat' passes. And the ones that weren't were from cars that were obviously faster, and would've been frustratingly bottled up behind slower ones without DRS. Imagine the finale last year if we'd had DRS. Alonso and Webber would've been able to pass Petrov, leading to a thrilling title challenge for three drivers, instead of the bore-fest we were subjected to. If the DRS helps level the playing field aerodynamics have tilted in favour of the leading car - meaning faster cars can actually pass slower ones - then it can only be good for F1 .


I think they need to make the compounds more extreme, particularly the harder tyre. There didn't seem to be much difference between the two tyre types yesterday to be honest, hamilton couldn't make two sets of hards last even half distance. The hard tyre should last approximately half distance but have a performance disadvantage of say 0.4 - 0.7 secs per lap. I remember this being the case around the '97 season, when there was a lot more variety in strategy.


Been watching F1 for some 20-odd years now and I can say that yesterday was a fun race, kept me engaged, watching where people were, how they positioned themselves, lap times.

Yes the tyres werent lasting long, but then it's up to the drivers to look after them and make use of what is available to them - as Pirelli said, if we had a rock hard tyre that lasted the distance they would be accused of playing it safe and making F1 boring.

Never been a fan of KERS but again, in tandem with DRS they at least gave drivers a chance to attack and take a position, they worked well yesterday, and the TV graphics helped people understand what was about to happen. People may say that is "atificial" - when really it was no more "artificial" than only a few years back when drivers would have just paced themselves and waited for the next round of pitstops to get ahead of someone.

Maybe the new rules need tweaking, something to allow a driver to com back after a DSR overtake, but it's OK for me so far. Lets give it until the first 6 races and then see how it can be improved.


Most of the overtaking came from the state of the tyres and how drivers decided to use them (push or hold up for a few laps), which to me is just perfect racing. We saw the odd DRS move which personally I think was fine as it just allowed a clearly faster car to get ahead after losing an equal amount of time stuck behind the car infront through fast corners and dirty air.

I really don't get how it was artificial giving it was just based around different strategies and the state that the tyres were. last year everyone was on the same strategy and it ruined the spectacle a lot; people need to remember that most of the races last year were pretty uneventful (Canada being the only dry one that came to mind). yesterday we had great battles between Michael and Koba, Koba and Webber, Webber and Massa and in the last few laps Michael and PDR. Drivers are really having to show their worth as these arent the perfect tyres we had last year and driver skill is more apparent than ever. Like James said, the creme always rises to the top and it will be proven over the season.


If everyone has KERS working then we can stop talking about KERS, it is the same as having a higher horsepower engine. same boat for all.

Only someone behind and close behind can use DRS, great. THey have to get there first and on some tracks there is almost no way past without a mistake so it is good. However isn't defending well a skill too. Petrov did an amazing job keeping Alonso at bay in the last race in 2010. Could he have held him with DRS? Is it a problem if he didn't?

My problem with it though, is it possible to defend someone using it. For some reason the renaults seemed to get away from Hamilton and Webber even when they had their DRS open but does letting another car within a second of you at a predetermined corner mean you deserve to lose your place?

One thing I did like about it was the times when the DRS didn't give a overtake but did put the following car right on the tail of the car in front and then we saw some true and expert overtaking on the following corners. Webber on Massa is a great example and Webber had the worse tyres.

So what am I saying? who knows. What I do know is the unknown of it all has me highly anticipating the next race and what it will bring


The reason Hamilton couldn't get past Heidfeld is because the clever German saved his Kers until Hammy could use DRS and boom... DRS no good. Excellent strategy by Heidfeld which I feel has been missed by most. On the graphics on screen coming in to the final corner Heidfeld had pretty much full kers to use and Hammy hardly had any... Heidfeld concentrated on getting a good exit, nailed his kers and hammy had no chance.

Armchair Critic

I quite like KERS and I do not really mind the DRS, but I am not keen on the quickly degrading tyres. To me they do not seem to be relevent to road cars.


Totally against artificial gimmicks in F1. DRS and/or KERS may end up faulty, and you look stupid on the track, because the circuit itself was designed with no overtaking in mind ? Should I embrace the motto "The current bad is still better than the worse situation before" ? I don't think so.

Note on marbles of tire floating around: both Petrov and Di Resta claimed that this was dangerous, and going out of the racing line is madness - should Pirelli do something about it ?


Malaysia is probably the best circuit for overtaking on the calander...


These tyres are dangerous!

Di Resta was hit by marbles and Petrovs accident was caused by the marbles on the track. Even a camera broke because it was hit by marbles. So it probably can hurt attendants to the race as well.

These marbles make it even harder to overtake, when you come outside the ideal line.

I don't have problems with KERS, because it can be used by everybody wherever on the track. Although I would have preferred a different usage, say x number of seconds for a race instead of a lap. Makes a driver think of when to use and when not to use.

I do have a big problem with DRS, because it gives an advantage to the driver who wants to overtake, leaving the one in front at a disadvantage.

I have been following Formula 1 for over 30 years and never ever was there a rule only for cars which were following other cars (and for just one part of the track). And we have seen great races in the past (before the Newey, Brawn era). It is a ridiculous rule.

I agree that cars are too dependent on aerodynamics and that must be addressed. But not with gimmicks like DRS. So I long for the ground-effect which is supposed to come back in 2013. This makes a car less vulnerable to aerodynamics, so cars can slipstream in corners.

Besides, last year with the Bridgestone tyres we have seen some great races due to the ban on refuelling.


Oh and the rule where you may only leave your line once is ridiculous as well. Formula 1 is not about overtaking, it is about fighting with your opponent. We have seen some great battles in the past (Senna/Mansell, Arnoux/Villeneuve and more), which are not possible today because of this rule.

I would rather have these fights without overtaking than making overtaking too easy because of this stupid rule.


I'm not really a big fan of DRS, but I liked the how to concept inadvertently became "push to stick close to the guy in front" in Australia compared to how it fulfilled it's true purpose of "push to pass" in Malaysia

I think in Malaysia the system was enabled in the wrong places, therefore making overtaking too easy in sections where overtaking was already a big possibility. In Australia, I think they were positioned perfectly: areas where it's not quite easy to overtake, but rather it allowed the following driver to make up the ground he had to sacrifice in order not to lose downforce in "dirty air", and line up the guy in front for a possible pass on the following corners. Maybe the FIA should have just enabled DRS on the straight prior to the last corner and/or after the double apex turns 7 & 8; although I've only ever enjoyed Sepang back in 2001 - I otherwise find the circuit too wide to ever notice anything!

As for the Hamilton and Alonso penalties - absolutely ridiculous! And as for Pirelli's fast tire wear: Pit-stops are near useless without refueling. I don't really miss it (refueling), but these chocolate-easy-wear tires are looking about as ridiculous and intrusive as Bernie's sprinkler idea!


Hi James

Good article, and very thought provoking, the ace in the pack will come once a team works out how to conserve / run their tyres for longer, red bull reverted to plan B during the race, with i assumed meant going from 2 to 3 stops.


I like KERS but think it is being used insufficiently, and do not like DRS at all when coupled with the strict "one defensive move" rule.

KERS is great as an innovation, but IMO should be used to supplement fuel, not deliver a lap-by-lap "power boost". Cars should be limited on fuel, similar to in MotoGP, and KERS freed-up so that cars can be run lighter or leaner depending on how good KERS is, which can be used for race strategy.

With DRS and "one defensive move only", which judging by Hamilton's penalty is interpreted very strictly, then not only does overtaking become too easy, but the lead driver cannot employ his defensive driving techniques to the full either.


Agree fully. If they are going to limit KERS in some way don't limit the performance. Put a weight limit on it and let the engineers pull as much power from that as they can.

Similar to how they strictly limit where on the car you can put aero but there is no limit on maximum downforce.




This is how Formula1 should be and how Formula1 has to be. The tyres shouldn't last so long and in Formula1 history that has been the trend for most of F1 history. As you pointed out James someone on fresher tires will overtake no matter what a struggling opponent.

The key to the orgy of overtakings and the swapping of positions till the end this year are those tires because till the last 5 laps you don't know who's going to be "over the cliff". Not only that but with so many marbles out there going a little off makes your life miserable so the driver has to be fast yet nursing his tires and has to keep on the clean line to avoid doing a PETROV. One thing I feard is to have overtaking made harder by those marbles but it proved wrong.

The only different voice came from Paul di Resta who complained from marbles hitting his hands. The poor boy was suffering. I hate those people complaining with such extraordinary tyres while the solution is easy by adding harder coating to the driver overalls.

So after so many rule changes, movable front and rear wings, KERS and so on... The solution to a better show came from the tires.



"The tyres shouldn’t last so long and in Formula1 history that has been the trend for most of F1 history."

actually thats wrong. for most of f1's history the tyres were durable enough to last an entire race distance.

even when we started to see tyre stops in the mid/late 80s the hardest compounds could go a full race non-stop & the softer compounds often only required a single stop.

tyres got softer/less durable when refueling came in for 1994 as the tyres no longer needed to last as long & the sprint racing refueling introduced required softer tyres which provided more speed over 20-25 laps.


Yes, the Pirelli tyres look very nice, and it was exactly what i asked for. I like KERS too, but not so sure about the DRS system, especially the part of the activation zone, thats what makes it look more artificial, and like a game. In the other sessions it seems normal, and its up to the driver to maximize the usage of it.

One thing that i was disappointed with was that the Stewarts seem to forbid any kind of overtaking action outside of the DRS zone (just in front of the grandstands, i wonder if it as something to do it...). I find ridiculous both penaltys to Alonso and to Hamilton, although i know that Hamilton weaved and its against the law, i don't think this law adds anything to good racing, and i doubt that we would see so much more accidents than we see right now (i remember Webber in Valencia flying without the driver in front weaving).

As a fan of Hamilton its a bit frustrating, because he is one of those who like a good battle and defending position is one of the many parts of the art of F1 driving, but ok, its the rules, i just don't understand why they take so long to make this decisions.

In the Alonso part, and i may say that i don't like him, especially now in Ferrari (although i think he is the best driver in actual F1), but the penalty was even more stupid. He was trying to get the overtaking done, he was much faster than Hamilton who was struggling with that tyres since he got out of the boxes, and even if he did't had broken his wing, i felt that he shouldn't have any further penalty. Its just racing, and he didn't did anything that messed up Hamiltons race, he was slow, and he stayed slow, till he changed his tyres.

So for me, i think i would take DRS out, or have it all the race, get rid of the weaving rule, and let the pilots do their best. Also i would bring back refuelling, adding more tactic to the game.


It's a good point. What if Alonso hadn't broken his wing? Would the stewards have handed out a penalty then?

Another driver "caused a collision" during the race but in that case they bumped tires, there was no damage and no penalty given.


Because Ferrari raised the question after the race. They complained about Hammi weaving which the FIA stewards didn't notice.


Artificial racing? When was racing ever pure and not artificial or controlled in some way by rules and regs? Given the level of technology it could be argued that it's all artificial. Look at the steering wheel and all the things the driver can change for engine mapping to control power delivery. I'm guessing those looking for pure racing want a steering wheel with nothing on it on than manufacturer logo, throttle, brake and gear change. I think the only way you could have a pure man against man race would be to leave the cars in park firm and have the drivers leg it around the track for the race. The race was interesting with some great fights through the field with the final result, baring a failure on Vettel's RB, being up in the air. Looking forward to China.


I meant parc ferme.....


It's interesting to read so many different views on what should or shouldn't be allowed in F1, be it Kers, DRS and even the Pirelli tyres.

Personally, I think yesterdays race was entertaining and was more of a test foe drivers. For once, you can say that drivers finished where they deserved to be, and not as in the past where a slower driver/car has effectively ruined a race because no-one could get by.

As for Kers and DRS, I think they are a good thing. These devices are an inevitable solution to the advancement in technology in F1, complex aerodynamics, carbon fibre brakes, electronically controlled gearboxes etc.

With steel brake discs, braking distances were significantly longer which allowed for easier overtaking into a corner, especially when brake fade occurred. Drivers used to miss the odd gear with mechanically operated gearboxes.

I am not knocking the the technical advancement at all, but I think there is far more to the overtaking problems of recent years than just the aero effect.

As for Pirelli, I think they should be congratulated.

The last thing F1 needs is to go back to the type of tyre that Bridgetone supplied.


Well James, the race was definitely predictable. Everyone and his/her dog knew that Vettel was going to win the race after the Q3 of qualifying.

I dont think too many people bother about who is going to finish second and yes there were a lot of overtaking and change in positions.

Just like the boring old Schumi - Ferrari days

Michael Grievson

I loved the race. The only thing that spoiled it was the penalties dished out to Lewis and Fernando. They weren't needed and as rightly pointed out on PF1 article the stewards are still massivley inconsistent




KERS should stay in F1 as a technological challenge and a tool which has advantages and disadvantages which makes it a really nice headache to the teams. RedBull is struggling but they could have chosen to go fully for the Renault unit. They didn't and they have to assume consequences. It doesn't change racing so much as we saw when it was 1st introduced.

I wonder if KERS was banned during start phase, how many teams would go that route. Not many I presume.

As for DRS, I have mixed feelings about it because with it you have to find a balance which is very hard to master. In Sepang DRS was too much in my view with some overtakes ridiculously easy. In Australia it helped gain an advantage but overtaking was still hard with it so I was happier with its effect on moves at Melbourne. But some argued there that it didn't help overtaking because some drivers get stuck behind others. The aim is not to make every overtaking move successful. The last thing we want is NASCAR with 1000 overtakes per lap.

Someone on this blog suggested yesterday that the use of DRS should be limited. You have 5 to 20 opportunities to use it to overtake depending on the circuit. 5 in Malaysia and 20 in Monaco for example. That will make drivers think about whether to use it or save it for later.

The most beautiful battle during the race was between Ham & Alonso because DRS was faulty so that's an argument against it.

In the end what makes the show what it is are the tyres and the close performance between the cars. DRS and KERS are not the main elements of the show, that's something I'm convinced of.


It occurred to me last night,that we in the UK got it relatively easy to keep up with the race,due to the BBC NOT having any advert breaks during the coverage.

Can you imagine how hard it would be with 2 min brakes every 10 to 20 mins.

Normally after the last pitstops not much used to happen,but now there's action from lights to flag.

The graphic I found most useful was the race order one at the bottom of the screen.Aswell as giving the running order it showed who's pitted and the relative gaps between cars.I found with this information I could relatively easily keep track of the race.

What worries me as a more hardcore fan,is that it did require concentration to keep track of what was going on.From a casual fan's viewpoint it was probably was more confusing.For instance take Lewis's race,one minute he was chasing down Seb for the lead next he was badly struggling for pace down in 5th or 6th.


I think you nailed it on the head - get rid of KERS and DRS and let the tyres be the chaotic factor. I wouldn't mind KERS if it was simply an energy regeneration system active all the time, like in a road car, but not the push the button overtake or defend system it is now. The DRS is a gimmick, plain and simple which has no relevance to road cars. I don't think the DRS or KERS have caused much in the way of additional overtakes as KERS seems to be used defensively anytime a car is followed. One of the other might work but not both. The tyres have made it impossible to predict who will be fast at any particular point of the race and I for one love it. I wish people would stop being grouchy towards Pirelli when they've simply done as they've been asked to, especially as many companies would refuse in case it damaged their image. Good work Pirelli!

But if it's all a case of Vettel doing one good lap to get pole then just having a brisk Sunday drive with nobody to challenge it will make all the talk of tyres, KERS, DRS, pitstops etc moot. With less regulation change maybe other teams will have the chance to catch up and provide more evenly paced cars. Imagine how much worse it would be with tyres that could last the whole race distance!


I too think Pirelli deserve a massive slap on the back.

Lest we forget no other tyre brand wanted to step up after Bridgestone gave up.

Goodyear was happy doing Nascar and Michelin was not interested in being a sole supplier.

So huge credit to Pirelli for producing the type tyres they where asked for in such short time and with litle testing.


There are some tracks it is really hard to pass, and malaysia isnt one of those. We'll see the advantage of kers and DRS there. Im thinking the likes of Abu dhabi, monaco, hungary. I doubt people will complain then.

But imo DRS being the major reason for the overtaking is wrong. The main reason was tyres. Alonso should have got past hamilton because of tyre deg...both had kers, neither DRS (alonsos didnt work at the time). Webber got past massa without KERS although he gained a bit from the DRS. Then there was the three abreast involving schmacher and hamilton totally due to tyres.

I do however think teams should be able to choose trom KERS OR DRS, but not both, as it would be much fairer for the lesser teams. The advantage of kers of course being that you can tactically use it wherever on track you wish.


Yesterday's race was excellent, and definitely an improvement.

I think the main issue that people have is that when there is so much going on on track it is very hard to keep track of everything. We have to know about KERS, DRS, two different tyre compounds, and tyres that change significantly in performance over the course of 10 laps. I've been watching the sport for a long time, and I was frequently unclear about the running order during yesterday's race.

Seems to me that the thing to look at now is presentation, rather than further tinkering with the rules. F1 has the on-track action it always wanted, now it just needs explain it clearly. When nothing's happening, it's easy to explain - uneventful races don't require many recaps and occasional running order in-screen visuals are sufficient to ensure that everyone knows what's going on, and both broadcasters and commentators have become accustomed this. However, when there's a lot of action, then it's harder for viewers to keep up - broadcasters need to adapt to this and work harder to convey the overall situation. Could the frequency of in-screen visuals that show the running order and tyre situation be increased? Right now there's a lot of in-screen speedometers and the little DRS and KERS icons, but not a lot of general race information. Commentators could also help by doing more verbal recaps.


It had a very slight feeling of being artificial. for me, I would say the rule of having to run both tyre options during the race has more of a artificial feeling than the DRS wing.

At least its something visual to look out for on the television. maybe when and how its used needs looking at, but for the time being I'm happy


I realise that F1 is a business and it has to accommodate a popular audience.

My problem is, from a purist perspective, there is precious little left to enjoy. A genuine purist is left alienated and patronized by the raft of post-2008 changes.

Let me address some individual points:
"Surely it is better to have the emphasis on drivers using skill and judgement to manage their tyres and pounce on rivals when able to ... rather than succumb to the dominance of aerodynamics over everything?"
The problem is, with the rules right now it's kind of like acknowledging a successful entrepreneur during Germany in WWII. The drivers may have the responsibility of input, but the driver who successfully manages his tyres can still have a so-so racing ability which I define to be a lot about speed, bravery, ability to make the car dance and do things that wow the person watching the TV screen. Racing excellence is not about diminishing the driver's speed resources and then finding the best economist. That tends to leave the door open for the investor who beats his rivals by burying his stash in the ground whilst the others buy risk capital in a struggling market. 
I'll put one thing on the table, I'm not a Hamilton fan. But yesterday his race was ruined apparently because he flat-spotted a set of softs in qualifying.. Seriously? 
It seems all of a sudden, we don't want chargers like your Mansells, Hamiltons, etc. We want fast-enough TLC givers - in the race anyhow because there's only so much speed to go around.
Aerodynamics may have made things less disparate between the competitors, and as such yes there were less on-track overtakes. But this, for me, created one of the great beauties of the sport - that being that races were sometimes decided on tenths of a second (eg Bahrain 2006). That was a fine race which kept you interested, but never relied upon the artificial effects of flash-in-the-pan tyres or aerodynamic snakes and ladder gimmicks. I hazard to say less was more!

"It was unfortunate and rather contradictory in thee midst of all of this, that the great battle between Hamilton and Alonso ended up with both getting stewards’ penalties and even more unfortunate that the result was that Hamilton lost a place and Alonso didn’t, which doesn’t seem fair given the circumstances."
- I disagree. I was one of the few who supported many of the stewards' decisions in 2008. I think the idea was to drive upward the standard of driving required. For too long we've had, for example, a fifth-wheel rule that says you can only move once to defend. But of course you can always block twice and claim you were "resuming the racing line" for the next corner.
What's happened since 2008 is the stewards have become more-or-less the toothless tiger. There's been numerous instances of blocking in qualifying where only a reprimand has been issued at a time when we've got new non-F1 standard teams (thus more mobile chicanes) riding the coat-tails of those who brought F1 to a high standard in the first place. I remember back at Spa 2008, the gap between the front teams and Force India (who failed to score a point albeit in 08) was around 1.5 seconds. I remember being utterly impressed with how far F1 had come since the days of Andrea Moda and LIFE.
Oh and I disagree also, there was nothing unfair about Alonso not losing a place whereas Hamilton did. The penalty was the same, it's not about positions lost. Alonso obeyed the SC rules at Valencia last year and had to effectively forfeit the championship, whereas the fellow who consciously chose to pass the SC had a free ride for 30 laps whilst race control deliberated on whether a spade was a spade. That's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

I think F1 is progressively appealing more to a gradually lower common denominator of popular audience - the type of crowd that likes to go to an event for the atmosphere and to see action out the corner of their eye.
One hoped in fact, F1 will avoid appealing to the equivalent of NASCAR wrecks in the future. I do wonder, if the sport could guarantee 100% safety, whether the new brand of F1 would aim towards more crashes, or maybe extend the harvester-style front wings beyond the front tyres so there is a higher chance of knocks, bringing about the chance factor of further stops.

Let me say finally, the reason I'm cool to watch F1 this year is because it's a natural hobby rather than a passion nowadays. The dollar-men and rule-makers ensured that enthusiasm put itself to bed.

Mind you, it's not all negative. Contrary to some, I think the 2013 engine formula sounds good. Martin Brundle and Coulthard are doing a great job in the commentary booth. I wondered how Martin would go commentating the start of a race, but he is actually really good I've found.
Likewise, this blog and the quality of other fan comments here are, I find, really interesting. There's still life, we just need some racing purists having more say-so.


I don't mind the tyre situation, though I wouldn't want any more pit stops.

KERS is okay but DRS, as it is, is just weird and confusing and not really addressing the real problem of aerodynamic grip.

I'm fed up with the stewards interfering in on track action, especially when natural justice has already resolved the issue. And there should be a statute of limitations on penalties. If you wait until after the race to protest about weaving, you shouldn't expect race-altering penalties to be applied. Lawyers have no place in sport.


i found the malaysian gp very "user unfriendly" to watch...

there is just too much information on the screen... they can seriously leave out the DRS and KERS graphics... have a special feed only to TV commentators so they can decide whether relevant. i find the graphics and KERS and DRS information simply distracting.

Also the pitstops... we want to see whether pitstops take 3 or 4 seconds.. not the time in the pitlane... that is simply a non information to me.. not exciting.

pit-car radio information is always good. keep that stuff.


I agree those graphics don't add any useful information really.

I don't care one bit if one driver takes a corner in 2nd or 3rd gear,all I want to know is he catching or losing time to the guy in front.


I think the graphics add value. Certainly good to see where on the track KERs (and DRS although currently at fixed location) are deployed by the drivers.

It would also be good to see which tyres are being used. DC commented that FOM are looking at bringing more information to the live feed to help fans better understand how the race is progressing.


Race Strategy


I know James that you write an article about race strategy but I think that this year the only race strategy is "are my tires in phase A, B or like Hamilton in phase Z". No more strategy anymore, no more looking for a car quick on qualifying : the main thing is to make the tires last long and be consistent. Once you're behind someone DRS is there to help. It's not always easy as the Renault proved in the 1st stint but still it's much easier than before where if you get stuck at the 1st stint your race is wrecked. Now you can recover and at some stage your opponent's tires will help you overtake him.

What's funny about it is that the teams work so hard on strategies, on looking at every detail to make that split second decision which will put ahead and all that has become useless because the tires and how your car and your drivers use them on that circuit at that temperature and neither you nor your driver know with enough accuracy what's going to happen to you let alone to your opponents.

Taking that into account, building a complex strategy based on many informations has become useless. In a way strategy has become easier because it is dictated by only one factor which the shape of your tires.

Last year, the teams waited for a clear gap to the midfield teams to pit. This year that doesn't matter anymore as we saw front runners coming out of the pits behind midfield cars but now overtaking them is easy. Midfielders are fundamentally slower on old tires and with the help of DRS the driver coming out of the pit will hardly wait more than a lap behind them.

The master strategist which Ferrari hired after Abu Dhabi fiasco is sadly worthless now Mr. Dominicali. You should've hired the master aerodynamisist that's what your really need now.


About Maclaren tyres, they cleared played in favour of Jenson style but not Hamilton, but in melbourne his tyres worked very well, if i remember right it lasted more than Jenson, maybe temperature related.

You are too hard of Ferrari, and i don't like Ferrari 😉

I think we should see a little more from them before taking too much conclusions, but i have to say that their car, because its too conservative seems the one with less room to big improvements.

I hope that both Maclaren and Ferrari can catch up the Vettel's Red Bull, or it will be a boring season (champion related). I think that we saw 4 or 5 laps of the leader in the first 2 races, the only activity is in the middle pack. The other RedBull isn't a big challenge at the moment, but we saw some good race pace from Webber, so i think that its only driver related.

Renaults look good, and i wonder if Kubica was there we could see a challenge to Vettels playground. I hope that he recovers quickly but stay out of Ferrari.

Was it just me or there was some overtaking that were made easy not just by DRS+Kers+Tyres but also by some drivers giving up the battle?


agree on everything. By the way I'm fan of FERRARI.

Quick Nick Rules

As someone remarked on another F1 blog - for all the people who say 'It's not like the good old days' well why don't we go back to drivers building their own cars and dying every fortnight?

F1 is all about progress and evolution, nothing stands still for long. The sport should be commended for trying new ideas to spice up the action and by handing more responsibility back to the driver - DRS may not have a lot to do with skill but both tyre management and KERS use can make a huge difference.

In this respect Hamilton did very poorly yesterday - compared with Heidfeld (Or 'HeidFIELD' as a certain square-jawed Scotsman likes to call him) his KERS use wasn't great - he had used most of it up by the last corner whereas Quick Nick was saving it to ensure maximum traction from the final corner.

Lewis also destroyed a set of tyres in Qualifying that ultimately ruined his race whereas Button and Quick Nick had conserved theirs and were thus able to pass him easily.

Pirelli should be commended for giving us tyres that wear out so quickly - apart from a genuine fight for the lead yesterday's race had pretty much everything. Anyone who isn't a fan of the new rules should watch last year's Malaysian GP and then try and say F1 was more entertaining then. It patently wasn't - there is barely any wheel to wheel action beyond the first dozen laps.

The new rules give the possibility of a fight to the very end of a grand prix - something we have not seen in dry conditions since the truly brilliant one tyre for the race rules of 05 - Imola, Nurburgring and Suzuka were all absolute cliffhangers that year, where you couldn't call the winner entering the final lap. As it should be!


I absolutely loved the race. If we took Seb's dominance out of consideration and imagined the race from second place onwards, it would have been one of the best races ever. I can't believe all the people complaining about the confusion and marbles and stuff.


I don't feel the need to criticize the DRS system because I feel that the car that has been overtaken has just as good a chance as re-overtaking the car that just passed. I enjoy the fact that the drivers are focused on making the pass and hitting their braking points rather than worrying about the invisible force of drag and just staying in line.

As for it being artificial, the only reason there are set rules about the DRS use is its brand new and they want to be safe with it. If they allowed unlimited use you know damn well someone would use it too early and spin out. What's worse? Slightly artificial rules or 4 safety cars per race and a half-dozen Webber-Valencia-type crashes.


I keep up my thinking that the show was too artificial, but I admit there are some positives.

The real issue is DRS. It's intended to fix flawed design of some tracks, but the effect is too strong causing much annoyance.

We could see the same pair of drivers could swap positions throu many laps. And Mark Webber no more needs to worry about failed start. This is not what was expected.

Besides, drivers should challenge their driving skills not their skills in synchronous pushing numerous buttons on their steering wheel.

However, there is more overtaking battles and this is positive - actually drivers should practice that part of racing. In this sense F1 is coming back the old days when overtakings where frequent.

So put it simple, take out DRS, fix some flawed tracks and all will be fine.


I find the notion of anything in F1 being unnatural quite funny. There's pretty much nothing natural about F1, except maybe for some of the food in the hospitality tents.

DRS only facilitates passing. It doesn't make slower cars catch faster cars, it only allows faster cars a better chance at actually making the pass. If the other car wasn't "meant" to get passed, he'll get the same help the next time around at the DRS zone.

KERS, if available to everyone, only adds a strategic element when drivers use the boost in different plases. Too many strategic elements might strain the casual observer, but for me it just adds another level of fun.

I for one enjoy more action on the track. The times when a car a second quicker over a lap could not get past a slower car in front is the antithesis to what we have no - and if my memory doesn't fail me, that antithesis wasn't much liked.

The goal of this sporting competition to me is for the fastest driver to win, or moe generally for faster drivers to finish ahead of slower drivers. Having significantly faster drivers stuck behind slower drivers not because of strategic driving by the slower drivers but the aero-dependency of the cars doesn't help the sporting competition.

The higher degredation of the tires is something that helps the strategic side a lot. Having clear tire/fueling choices like in the last years wasn't much of a strategic challenge for anyone. Now with more pit stops and higher degredation rates, the leeway for more exotic strategies has become bigger.


I'm not too bothered about DRS being "fake" or anything, but it bothers me that they made all the teams abandon the "F-duct" system they developed last year for something that does the same thing.

And I quite like the idea of KERS, but it should be with less restrictions. Like allow a maximum storage capacity, but free reign on how you deploy it, i.e. high power for short burst, or low power over a whole lap or something. The cars often spend over 60% of the lap on full throttle, which at Malaysia would be approx. 62secs (based on time alone) yet they can only use KERS for 6secs of that?

I still don't understand why they went away from re-fuelling, as that added to the strategy and the speed differences that they're trying to force on to cars with worn out tyres now. I hate the fact that the fastest race laps now are over 6 seconds slower than qualifying - it's like two different race series in one weekend.

I still enjoy watching F1, and I can see what they're trying to do, but it frustrates me more each year, especially when they say they want to cut costs but make significant changes to the rules every year which necessitates a completely new car to be designed and built.


I am saddened by the reaction to great racing we have had so far.

Refuelling was awful. No sooner was it was introduced in 1994 then we saw a massive fall in average passes per Grand Prix. Why overtake on the track when you can fuel save, then bang in some hot laps when your rival pits.

The average proper passes per Grand Prix are currently at 29 this season, that is the same level we saw 1990-1991. We weren't complaining about too much passing back then were we, and tyres would go off in those days too.

If F1 brings back refuelling I will switch off for the first time since 1991. I endured it 1994-2009 and now we finally see the back of it people cry for its return.

The Tyres, DRS and KERS are all contributing to reducing the massive advantage that the lead car in a battle enjoys due to dirty air. The result, much more chance of passing. But as proved yesterday, it is still not easy.

If anyone is listening. Leave F1 as it is until the changes coming up in 2013.

If Pirelli are listening. Congratulations, your tyres are making dry races worth watching again.



After two races, I am fine with the new regulations and in-car adjustable wing and KERS features.

I liked the line by M. Brundle (I think) during the broadcast where he says "the entire race car is engineered for overtaking". Meaning, that it may take some time to get accustomed to the new features but, indeed, brakes, gears, accelerator pedals and steering (Vitaly Petrov's recent excursion included!) are design elements to enable vehicle overtaking.

And how about 'Slick Nick' Heidfeld.

Now, on to China for race three!


Andrew C.


The Webber - Heidfeld clash at the end of the race was fantastic and something we couldn't have seen in the last few years. To see the transformation from Webber being faster to Heidfeld skipping away in only a few laps was surely not only more exciting in a superficial sense but demonstrated more driving skills from both drivers.


It seems to me that the new tyres have been very positive because they allow drivers with different styles to play to their own strengths. For example Hamilton has 2 or 3 tenths over Jenson in raw pace and Jenson has probably accepted that. The downside to that is that Hamilton punishes his tyres a bit harder and needs to stop more. Jenson was able to do an extra stint on the options and just a single stint on the primes which whilst not quite having the ultimate lap time of Hamilton, brought him into contention over a race distance. This is where the tyres have succeeded in my opinion. I found it fascinating to watch Hamilton wringing the cars neck to stay in contention whilst circumspection from Button gave him a net advantage.

The DRS was governed judiciously in Malaysia. Save for a few freakish examples where cars were out of phase on tyre strategy it only allowed the chasing car to pull alongside just as they got to the braking zone and canny defending could still prevent a pass from taking place. All the DRS did was take away some of the negative effect of being in another cars wake and only at one point on the track which is something we've all been craving for years. I guess the ultimate solution would be to return to the slipstreaming days of yore by banning big wings etc but I personally favour them over complex undertrays and skirts. My reason for this is simple. I am a fan of the science behind the support that makes the incredible performance of these cars possible. I do however, require the fruits of the labours of the Adrian Newey's of the F1 world to be on display rather than hidden underneath the car. I want to be able to notice the modifications from race to race and ponder how they're affecting the performance of the car rather than be oblivious because it's all hidden under the floor.

Also, its clear to me that to succeed in getting within a second of the Red Bulls performance these days you need to be able to indulge in a little plagiarism so if Adrian Newey was able to hide everything under the car the races would be very predictable I fear. So in summary, modern F1 had for years artificially prevented cars/drivers from attempting overtaking manoeuvres by permitting the development of aero devices that produce "dirty air". The DRS has partially addressed that issue and gone some way towards redressing the balance, this is a good thing!!

KERS is also necessary because in order to avoid becoming a dinosaur, F1 needs to have at least one eye on environmental issues and hybrid technology is a step in that direction. Like it or not it's in the technical regulations in a really big way from 2013 and the lessons learnt today will ensure it has a meaningful presence in the sport tomorrow. I am personally looking forward to the new engine regulations because the cars will be required to develop more of their power from KERS and use less petrol. This will mean that cars will hopefully carry significantly less fuel meaning they will be much lighter at the start of a race and the lap times should be more impressive. I personally feel at the moment cars look a bit sluggish and lumbering early in the race. In Malaysia the cars looked particularly ungainly through turns 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13 so I'll be keen to see the more nimble cars hit the track under the new regulations.


Exactly what I'd say if I could write better.

The balance is almost restored!


I think the new rules work just fine, and do not know what people are complaining about, especially Button , was he really confused to get second place, trough superior overall tire management strategy ?

I do admit to be a kind of cerebral guy that enjoys mental challenges, and it is very interesting to try and follow in real time and understand what is happening under the new rules, and understanding why some cars are slower than the others at certain parts of the race as strategy unfolds.

OK, so overtaking is easier now , and track position is less critical than it was before, but it still IS important, though tire management becomes much more of an issue.

I think the mental chess/ overall strategy dimension of formula1 may have increased this season, but it is only for the better.

And for the causal observer there are now more instant gratifications of many passes through a race, whats not to like ?


I don't think his result confused him, I think he meant it was hard working out where you were slotting into the running order as the strategies unfolded. His stategy probably indicated P2 as his best scenario if everything went to plan, but because so much was happening it was hard to be sure if it would, from the cockpit at least.


As always new technologies are interesting and we have to look that FOM and FOTA are looking always for better ways to improve the spectacle, but when you have a mix of tyres made to last little, Kers and DRS it´s a bit of too much and personally the magic a few years ago evn with a lack of overtaking was the strategies unfolding over the race, these days we know pretty much what´s going to be and the difference could be only a possible rain or calculations for an SC, i think the idea of tyres with faster degradation is good because it gives the drivers something to sort by themselves and we as spectators have the opportunity to see them maximizing their abilities, but having a movable wing to create an artificial pass without the other having the ability to defending properly is not good, also the use of this in qualy it isn´t good, considering KERS i find it good, if al teams had the same unit, therefore there will be more equality and the best drivers will prevail


One problem with so many pit stops is the TV director taking us away from the on track action - where a driver exits the pits is of more interest than the actual stop.


Suppose Mr Arty Director thinks it's dramatic.

Again a few years ago most action happened in the pits.

Perhaps a good idea would be a picture in picture view.


Is too much,tyre degradation is enough for great races,look at Mclaren's last race and will see the point.
Also Webber without kers gave us great entertainment.
It will be very interesting to see this in Monaco,how much blocking the stewards are going to allow when someone's tires are gone?


If it is a choice between the two, I would much rather have too much going on than too little. I myself enjoyed yesterday's race with a mix of overtaking and strategy. I think the DRS will get better following a few races, when the FIA have had a chance to analyse a number of races. At least now there should be a chance of some overtaking at Barcelona this year.


There will be a lot of passing this season, but unlikely between P1 and P2. Since Redbull will have a cleansweep of pole and P1 this whole year with huge margin, let alone the reliability issues.


At the start the drivers had a 22 meters wide piece of tarmac to race on. At the end, they only had 3 meter-ish of tarmac left. The rest was littered with pieces of tyres falling apart.

This is not only dangerous for the drivers if they leave the narrow clean racing line, but it is also very eco-unfriendly in a sport that wants to promote a 'greener' F1. Do they recycle the left-overs collected after the race ??

Being new to F1 I will never buy Pirelli tyres as they seem fall apart after a few laps. Can't they produce better tyres, without pieces falling off?


Pirelli were asked to make tyres behave this way.

If you are new to F1 then you won't know that F1 has been ruined for years by tyres that were too durable and by refuelling being allowed.


Artificial ? Without a doubt.

TOO artificial ? Depends if Race2 repeats itself over-and-over througout the season, time will tell.

I just hope that, in the final race of the year, CarB doesnt just simply follow the strategy of CarA for the entire race and then, on last-possible lap, deploy DRS in the "designated overtaking zone" to then take the win and the championship....

I mean, why would you want to lead in the last laps when the car behind has the advantage ?


The leader always has the choice of slowing down, popping into 2nd, if it is advantageous.


It seems that the moaners' voices are always louder than the contented. Judging by the survey results nearly 90% of people rate it as "good" or "good, but..." which sounds like a good result to me. I loved it.


No not too many overtakes, not too many pitstops.

Though it has to be said that the Formula1.com "live" timing was often well behind on the track positions for several minutes at a time, I hope they fix that.

It's much more like 20 years ago with tyre conservation and overall driver capability to the fore. The only fly in the ointment is a driver not being allowed to defend his position. No I don't mean shoving him off shumiesque style, which was always against the rules anyway, just normal prevention, as there was for many tens of years before the nanny rule came in. Ok since the great days, the cars have evolved to make following closely and slipstreaming, into a hazard rather than a benefit but do we really need a rule that says in effect "Now let Johnny have a turn in front, there's a good boy, else nanny will punish you"?


Good point on the live timing, although I think most of this was due to the number of pitstops, which really confuse the timing system. It would be much better if the timing system used a GPS system to determine location, rather than relying on the timing points on the circuit. That way you would be able to see a car in the pits dropping down the order as other cars passed it, whereas just now you don't get the true position until it has passed the end of the first sector on its out lap. They could still use the timing points to determine accurate times, and use the GPS as an addition to show a constantly updated position.


I really want them to leave the rules alone to let it settle down. It should be 'formula 1' not 'formula determined by media and twitter hype'.

I was confused by the race but I enjoyed it.

It is a little disappointing to see the cars so slow in race pace though even in the closing stages when low on fuel the cars are at least about 5% slower than they were in the v10 days. shame


With the amount of wear on the tyres and massive amount of debris off the racing line, you could almost imagine no one wanting to overtake towards the end of the race.


There was still overtaking going on at the end of the race. Schumacher getting Di Resta on the penultimate lap was a good one.


Yet they were still passing with a few laps to go.


I think the DRS has been a good addition. It aids overtaking without making it a guarantee. However there are a few things I'm not happy about:

-The weak tyres have mixed up the action, but Pirelli need to fix the issue of off-line marbles.

-I'm not sold on KERS. Its purpose is to give F1 some semblance of a "green" image, right? But teams have to dispose of the batteries after every race. That's not very "green", is it?

-Can we please return the wings to the sizes they were at pre-2009? The change in wing sizes was meant to make overtaking easier but it didn't help much, if at all. And with the DRS we don't need the goofy-looking, gigantic front wings anymore.


James, a while ago you had an article by an ex-Toyota engineer who said the solution to the overtaking issues in F1 was not aerodynamics but mechanical grip. The connsquences of the Montreal design brief to Pirelli and the resulting action in Malaysia would seem to bear this out. So have we seen the end of the FIA and teams proposing aero based solutions to the problem and will DRS etc be shortlived as a result?


There's got to be a simpler, more elegant way to pass someone. Instead of adding rules and technology to make it possible, maybe we should think about removing some. Less is more.


I'm not a big fan of the DRS, and I think Malaysia showed that it is unnecessary. I like the new Pirellis, as it has brought driving talent more to the forefront, I feel. Over the past 10 years drivers didn't need to manage their resources, and I felt this was a negative as it only rewarded single-lap pace. Others aspects of driving technique didn't matter. In previous eras drivers needed to be fast, but also manage the car so that their pace was optimum for the length of the Grand Prix. Indestructible Bridgestones and perfect mechanical reliability meant that those skills weren't really evident. Now, with the new Pirellis and the mileage requirements for parts, those aspects have come back. I like that, as it provides more of a challenge to the drivers in terms of their technique, and also challenges the teams technically. It is obvious that it is no longer difficult for an F1 team to build a car to last a weekend. By making parts have longer lives that challenge has returned (you can't run flat-out all the time). Together the teams and drivers now face more complex challenge, with a wider range of possibilities. That seems to be producing better on-track action, and I'm enjoying it. It seems to be a lot like mid-80s F1. I don't think the DRS is really making much of a contribution to that, and wouldn't mind seeing that eliminated.

Stephen Kellett

Keep the tyres. Tyre management is a driver skill.

KERS, keep or discard I don't care.

DRS - make usable anywhere on the lap, at any time and for any length of time. If you can't do that, get rid of it. Having it only when "we say so" makes it artificial and thus should be discarded. If you can have it the driver's discretion that is not artificial - thus should be kept.

I'd like to see a return of ground effect skirts and active suspension as well as all lap DRS.

Definitely keep the tyres. Adds a lot of unpredictability. Super durable tyres -> boring racing.


NOt sure if there would be a point to DRS if you can use it anywhere.

But your last statement is spot on. It's taken a awfully long time for that lesson to be learned, but we should be thankful it has at last.


It is a little bit early to judge the success of both systems combined with the new Pirelli tyres.

If we have another 4 way battle going into the last race I suggest that many fans will care less about the technology involved and hail another classic season of racing.

We'll have to wait and see whether the new 4-cylinder turbo changes the balance.


In answer to the question; No you cannot have too much of a good thing, in this instance.

We had KERS not working, or not fitted, DRS not working and tyres not working (as requested).

We had incidents, breakdowns and pit stop issues.

We also had one of the most exciting first corner starts in some while. Some brilliant duels, fantastic overtaking in the middle of the circiut, three cars, side by side, out braking each other into the last corner and more.

As well as all this we witnessed what was simply world class driving with wheel to wheel action and very few mistakes and contact.

I loved it.

Can we please leave it a little longer to see how this all goes?


+1 to that.


Well the greatest battle of the race was because chasing car had no DRS, so i say DRS only helped to get past easily and with no problems at all - and this is not what i expect to see when i watch F1.

Also, Malaysia has been pretty good race always, i wait for conclusions until they reach Monaco/Valencia/Barcelona/Hungaroring/Yet-another-borefest-track 😛


Fundamentally, the sport is broken. Until the basic issue of resources, financing, and testing are completely re evaluated and revamped, you are given the option of lesser evils... a couple of completely dominant teams or the same couple of dominant teams with the perception that other teams have a chance! I see no reason why the bottom 8 teams are restricted from testing. The current rules are entirely biased towards the resourced teams. The RRA is a complete sham! While the sport is supposed to be a showcase of the best engineering AND best drivers, we have been left with a sport that boring most of the time, has a slight pulse some of the time, and exciting once in a great while. My proposals to 'fix' F1 while maintaining its real spirit are the following:

1. Allow testing purely based on performance where the slower you are the more in seasion intesting you are allocated....Lesser teams don't have huge budgets, which will keep things in check

2. Restrict/expand the free practice times based on position in the championship times.

3. Allocate tires based on position in the championship ie slower teams get more sets of the faster tires

4. Restrict involment between manufacture teams and their parent companies...private teams have to make do with what they have, regardless of money, where as Manufacturer teams have access to resources that are NOT money specific


I have to say that your suggestions sound far more contrived and artificial than the DRS. The DRS is visible and simple to understand for all. Your suggestions would only be understood by those who had swallowed the rule book and the sporting code. If you want to see the fast boys having their wings clipped watch BTCC instead. F1 is the relentless pursuit of speed and the reward for its attainment is the freedom to use it on track. Always has been and hopefully always will be.


The elimination of the ability to improve puts all the impetus on teams resourced to be great Out of the Box (OTB). This means that Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault have a substantial initial advantage and McLaren/Red Bull/Williams an instituional advantage of having been around a very long time... I am suggesting making it possible for teams outside of that spectrum to be afforded the opportunity to catch up and then equalize.


The technical regulations have brought the teams closer together than they have been, possibly ever. Last year we had a 5-way shoot out for the title that lasted all year. The fact that red bull are only on their 7th car and are already on their way to a 2nd WCC and WDC is testament to this. The institutional advantage you speak of doesn't appear to be doing Williams much good unfortunately. That's because there is no such thing anymore.

One reason why Mclaren for example are able to compete is simply down to money. They don't simply rely on sponsors to get by, they have a road car company, there's Mclaren Applied Research Technologies to name a couple. They make parts for things that land on Mars too so as well as being well sponsored they generate plenty of their own income too. It's this strength in depth which helps them attract the blue chip sponsors so if teams want to compete they need to do the same. Williams have begun to do this with Williams Hybrid Power but they have some catching up to do with the likes of Mclaren.

The development race is a key interest of the sport and if you banned the top teams from doing it until everyone else has caught up they would quit and start a separate series. F1 one is a very serious and very expensive business and you should have this in mind before you choose to compete. If you equal cars watch GP2. All the design teams have the same rule book to work to so in F1 there will always be teams that are quicker than others not only due to money but due to good ideas. It is in the very DNA of the sport that this is dictated. This is why F1 is uniquely attractive.

Can you imagine Ferrari having to stay as they are now and run around in 3rd or 4th place all year just because the Virgin team are persisting with pure CFD design and can't get within 2 seconds of a Lotus never mind anything else? Luca Di Montezemelo would explode!

So, you can't get to the top in F1 overnight but it can be done. You've got to have the right business model and enough money and you can do it. Red Bull don't spend anywhere near as much as Ferrari and look at them.


Think that sepang is a very under valued and under rated track. In my eyes it's the best of tilkes tracks and it offers up 3 great spots to overtake at least. Also alonsoman Hamilton punishments were a joke. Two guys going hardcore at each other and they get punished afterwards. Disgraceful.


If you have been to Sepang it's even better!


I thought the race was fantastic. Lot's of action all over the circuit, not only the DRS zone. It would be interesting if the FIA would add another DRS zone somewhere where only the brave would dare turn it on.

One thing this race highlighted for me is the importance of tyre management during qualifying. Hamilton was really a sitting duck in most of the second part of the race as he didn't have as many tyres as others (since he destroyed a set in qualifying that couldnt be used in the race).

Can't wait till the next race. I have to say though, I do miss the days when drivers would go all out in the race and do a series of "quali laps" before refuelling. In those days, it wasn't uncommon for the fasted lap in a race to be quicker than a quali lap. This year, they are not even within 2-3 seconds.


I like all the new variables:

The new tyres create more scenarios where cars have relatively different performance levels during the race.

DRS allows a following driver to overcome the disadvantage of dirty air and have a crack at an overtake - it certainly does not make an overtake a foregone conclusion. I think they have got the balance just right.

I always liked KERS even in 2009. It has relevance to road cars and the driver's selective use of it again adds performance variables at different points on the circuit.

If I could improve things, these would be my suggestions:

1. Drivers free to choose which tyre (hard or soft) to use for the race, don't have to use both. Make the tyres slightly less fragile than they are currently. The hard should be good for a one or two stop race and the soft for a two or three stopper.

2. Allow DRS to be used by a following car anywhere on track - perhaps vary the amount the wing can open depending on the nature of the track.

3. Allow unlimited KERS. Energy can be recovered from any part of the car in any form and used as much as you like. This would hopefully divert engineers attention away from tiny aero improvements and force them to innovate in an area which is of geniune use to road cars. They should also 'unlock' the engines so development can happen there. If everything gets too fast the FIA can set limits on the amount of fuel allowed for the race. Let's keep the technical innovation rolling and just peg the speeds back with fuel limits.


I consider the new rules pretty confusing for the spectators.

I saw the race in TV and with more people, and it's now very confusing to try to explain the facts and upcoming actions to others, as you should take a notepad to write down all drivers' pitstops and tyres degradation in order to understando what is happening to someone which, for unfortunate reasons, has a gap of 5 seconds behind Button but who overtaked him five laps ago and made a favourable gap of 5 seconds. Of course, I'm refering to Alonso (and the same is applicable to other drivers), who overtaked Button and Kobayashi in the same lap in identical circumstances of tyre degradation and push to get a gap of five seconds, but some laps after that he was behind Button.

So we are always talking about car pace in qualifying and I suspect this year is more important tyre degradation and race pace than getting the pole. Of course, now RedBull is also the fastest in qualifying and race, but look at Ferrari. In normal circumstances one of his cars could be make a 2nd in this GP after a pretty bad sart (8 and 9 after the fist corner). So the most important race is getting missed by the spectator. It's more like a "against the clock" race than a fight for the position scheme.


There are just waay too many ppl here that will complain about it no matter what happens. We wanted more passing, we got it, so what the ...?

Its ALL artificial and its ALL not-green! Get over it!

You want 'au natural' get a horse!

You want 'green' stop racing.

The only problem I have with KERS and DRS (besides the awful names) is the stupid regulations about when and where and how much they can be used!

For Pete's sake - give the guys whatever, but then get the heck outa the way and let them race!


The fact is that in the last 10 laps and certainly last 5 laps it all shakesdown to the final sprint to the line and then we see how it all worked out for all the drivers left running.

As James said, cream rises to the top and if a little curdles from time to time, all well and good. One day there will be a leader on worn tires being chased down in the last few laps which will be very, very exciting, bring it on!!

Great website James.


Ok well with regard to the penalties I think both were really rather harsh. It's going to be interesting at the next few races to see if the teams lodge lots of blocking complaints.

With regard to the new "tech" this year, I have very mixed feelings.

I quite like the DRS, though think they could extend its use to more areas of the track.

KERS leaves me a little cold. I think at a time when F1 is looking to cut team costs the introduction of KERS is a bit odd. I also don't think it adds much as pretty much all the teams have it so it more or less cancels itself out.

The only factor is if it goes wrong for somebody during qualy / race leaving them likely sitting ducks. KERS just seems to add a rather pointless level of complexity.

Finally we have the tires. I strongly dislike these. In no way do I blame Pirelli as they have clearly stuck to the brief. I just feel that drivers are spending increasing amounts of time babysitting systems as opposed to flat out racing.

How often do we hear drivers being asked to switch engine modes to conserve fuel or protect the engine. And now drivers are having to watch their tires even before the race has started.

The days of drivers pushing, and putting in qualifying type laps mid race to catch others or build leads are over.

The current way is to take it easy and hope the guy in front of you screws his tires 1st. if I want to watch a load of blokes looking after tires I'll pop down Quickfit!


I love 'tyre deg' (as Paul Di Resta called it on Radio 5); it stirs up the race and creates overtaking moves.

I'm not keen on DRS as it's allowed at the moment. I'd give the driver complete control of it to use as he wishes -- as currently in practice and qualifying.

KERS is the future. Again I think it's slightly artificial -- like DRS -- the way it's permitted. I'd make it free for the cars to be designed to collect as much kinetic energy as possible and then allow the drivers to use it as they wish.

Lastly, if we want really exciting overtaking then we have to reduce overall aerodynamic down force, so we see the cars sliding around more.



As erudite an article as any you've written, but I would like this opportunity to present you a new perspective.

If KERS and DRS makes overtaking artificial, by the same logic, the same can be said of adjustable air/fuel mix, adjustable rear differential, adjustable brake bias and all the computers/ technological marvels that has been in the cars. All these, just to make the cars corner a little bit faster. And all these has been and will be synonymous with F1.

But take all these out, and it's just karting with a huge engine.

Karting is where racing is still at it's purest form, F1 was, but is not and can never be again.


KERS can be used by everybody wherever they want. Just as all the other adjustable marvels except for DRS.

DRS can only be used by the car behind, which gives that car an (imho) unfair advantage over the car in front, making F1 more a show than a sport.

All for the viewers, even an unfair competition.


I wouldn't say it is unfair competition. The key here is the 1 second rule. That may need tweaking.

The point of DRS is to get the car behind - which would be in dirty air and thus unable to move up anymore - into the slipstream and try for an overtake.

Not forgetting the driver behind has to get close in the first place. If so, then the car behind is in fact faster and should be overtaking if not for the dirty air caused by advance aerodynamics.

Of course drivers may exploit it, which is what Button suspects Petrov did. Apparently, Petrov lifted just before the 1 second zone/ marker when he shouldn't because they are on the same lap and Button was closing fast.


Some cars are faster in corners, some cars are faster on the straight. The whole problem with overtaking in Formula 1 is that cars cannot drive in each others slipstream in a corner.

That is not what DRS addresses, DRS addresses the speed at straights, which isn't the problem. It adds to the speed on the straight, therefore eliminating the advantage of faster cars on the straight, who are maybe not so fast in a corner (thus allowing a car to come within the one second barrier, but not having the ability anymore to drive away on the straight).

IMHO the design of a Formula One car must be altered to allow slipstreaming through corners again, by making a car less dependent on aerodynamics, for example with ground-effect and bigger tyres (like in the eighties)


Senna said karting was 'pure racing' no money involved no politics either.


James, it's wisdom to me. PURE RACING. Simple and honest.


Oh how I wish it was like that today James! You think F1 can get bad, just take a look at what we have to put up with at time!!!

Mind you, I'm getting a "get James Allen in a proper kart" vibe going down if you ever fancy a de-tox from F1 🙂


Just to add.

The reason for KERS/ DRS is because of the advancement in aerodynamics, it has made the wake of the car in front dirty. This makes the car behind labour to get into the vacuum for a slip stream slingshot. Overtaking suffers.

The problem is a product of technological advancement which another technological advancement is required to overcome. As the seasons go by, the more cats out of bags we the fans get to see. To me, that's F1 I am afraid.


Blame Adrian Newey. The RB7 is too much good and Vettel is in very good shape.

Last season he also had, by far and large, the best car, but he suffered with reliability problems. Without them the competition which lasted until the very last race would have been a very poor one.

Another fact, last season Webber looked inspired, always putting much pressure on his team mate. This time around he looks a bit miserable (like Ferrari by the way). And that doesn’t help.

These first two races could have been much better, but Adrian didn’t allow it. I hope I am wrong, otherwise this season could look like a walk in the park for Vettel.


This year Webber is the second driver (last year too) and they don´t want him to steal points from Vettel, they want the German to be the champion


>Pirelli’s Paul Hembery<

Good on ya, Pirelli, for taking a stand!


There was no need for any penalty.


My view is to keep the tyres as they are because this does add some variance to the race strategies and gives us overtaking. KERS is ok also but I'm not really fussed either way on that. None of these things are artificial because they are the same for everyone no matter where you are position wise.

I don't like the DRS too much because it makes the car behind faster just because it's behind (and only because it's behind) and that doesn't seem fair and so is artificial.

So, in short, tyres are better than last year, don't care about KERS, and get rid of DRS.


you also forget that the car behind has to be within 1 second to use it...so clearly the car behind would have to be a faster car in the first place to catch up to use DRS to overtake.

so your statement about 'makes the car behind faster just because its behind' is a bit false.


Indeed! Further to this, there is also the consideration that modern F1 machines cause stability problems for the pursuing car rendering an overtake almost impossible. The DRS is tuned to just about take enough of the "dirty air" impediment away to give the chase car a sniff of an overtake. Nothing more. The only time overtakes appeared easy were when the car behind was on brand new tyres and the car ahead was about to make a pit stop.


I thought it was fantastic race in Sepang. I never thought I'd ever be hoping for a completely dry race on the basis that it would be more exciting than if it rained, but that's exactly what happened yesterday. I agree with you James that the main reason for the amount of overtaking was due to the Pirelli tyres rather than the DRS. However the mixture of these two factors plus KERS seems to have totally transformed the spectacle, although judging things on one race alone is probably jumping the gun a little. However, if this type of racing continues, with lots of confusion and plenty of overtaking (even if one or two overtakes are a little easy), it beats a straightforward race with few pitstops and little overtaking every time in my opinion. What was just as exciting as the overtaking was the different phases of the race, with drivers slow one minute, and then quick the next. It was fascinating to see drivers like Button and Webber who looked out of contention early on coming on strong later in the race, and others like Hamilton fighting for the win one moment and the next going rapidly backwards. Hopefully we will get some close finishes this season, even yesterday you couldn't be sure if Heidfeld or Webber were going to take that final podium slot. If the races continue in this vein, then this could be a new exciting dawn for F1.


I certainly agree that 2008 and 2010 in particular were brilliant seasons. But in those seasons there were lots of wet races, which is why they were so good. The only racetracks that have consistently delivered good dry races in recent years are Interlagos and Montreal, with a couple other tracks sometimes delivering good dry races. But I definitely feel it's not enough to do nothing just because it rained a lot and the championships went to the wire.

Coming back to this season, having e.g. 3-4 pitstops does not bother me. Tactically it is considerably more interesting than the Bridgestone "park-the-bus" philosophy of a soft tyre that can do easily more than half the race distance.

Perhaps you could argue though that KERS, DRS and short-life tyres together are all too much. We might need a couple more races to tell.

My main gripe with DRS isn't that its there so much as it is the fact that the car in front has no defence. It's hardly surprising Hamilton felt the need for a bit of a weave, it's not exactly racing to just drive straight and let them blast by.

For what it's worth I enjoyed Malaysia. I think there's a strange amount of negativity floating about this season and a lot of people are just looking for a fight over Pirelli or DRS or whatever.

BUT...my suggestion, having waited a couple more races to see it shake out a bit more, might be to do one of two things.

(1) Allow each driver X number of DRS "presses" per lap, regardless of gap to car in fron or behind. Give it a slightly better tactical element, even it up between the two. If you've got a 60 lap race but only 25 presses, say, then it's not like two drivers will cancel each other out all the time by both using it. Sometimes they will, but that'll be fairer.

(2) Simply turn off DRS at venues where there's not normally a problem with getting reasonable racing and only save it for the venues that have really struggled to generate overtaking in recent seasons.

The obvious DRS races would jump out to me as Barcelona, Valencia, Hungary, Singapore, Abu Dhabi.

Just use it at the races where it really does need that extra kick and the tyres will do the rest at the other venues.


Just to quote myself

"The only racetracks that have consistently delivered good dry races in recent years are Interlagos and Montreal"

Melbourne's generally not bad either 🙂


I don't understand why everyone thinks that both DRS and KERS are just 'video game' button push, easy options. Everything I heard over the weekend suggested they were very difficult to get right and gain benefit from - firstly getting the technology to work well and secondly for the drivers to master.

The drivers have so much to contend with in a race like Malaysia that there's a lot that can go wrong before hooking up a perfect DRS/KERS assisted race. Also, DRS affects the balance of the car dramatically and also the gears set up. KERS has to be applied at optimum points as it builds the car's ability to increase in speed - it's not just a fuel injection.

All of these things and more (such as the different rules for quali and race) make using these tools an art and a skill which some drivers will be able to maximise and others not.

I think it's the combination of this with the tyre wear that makes for such an interesting race. I think it's just a culture shock for people who are used to a very set race evolution to have so much going on and not really know who's doing what where or how. In days gone by races wouldn't have been so predictable. Not knowing precisely WHY a driver has performed the way they have is not the end of the world. What's important is the result and all the action getting there.

I do think that commentators could probably do with some 'spotters' to watch for evolving race action. Cars are going to pop up out of nowhere with such varied tyre strategies. This is a good thing but, if the audience expects to be fully briefed in what happened (which is what they are used to) a bit of help for someone trying to follow 24 separate race strategies and all the ensuing incidents is almost a must.

I'd ignore the kneejerk negative reactions. Malaysia had extremes just like Melbourne did. Just like all the tracks do. It's a season long story and everyone knows it, really,



Oh and another thing with DRS, it seemed that clever racing drivers were already coming up with interesting ways of using it. If you can't get 1 second ahead in time but you think you have a good DRS/straight line speed, you can trick the car in front to overtake before the DRS zone and then repass as you are now the one behind.

I saw a tweet which suggested the two McLarens could have caught up to Vettel by using the DRS to slingshot each other forward, lap after lap. Hey, team orders are allowed now, right?!

Never, NEVER underestimate the ingenuity of F1 to take everything they are given and wring out the maximum benefit. That's part of the beauty of the sport. They will never just settle for second best.



I suggested that would happen a month ago on this very excellent site. It's logical and the reason why the DRS should be made available to the drivers at all times whatever position they're in.


The problem is that tyres have now become the single decisive factor in the races. Drivers have to contend with both the tyres' limited life span but also a limit on the number they can use over the weekend. So a flat-spotted set on Saturday can condemn you to being an also-ran at the end of the race irrespective of how well you drive.

The real issue is that teams/OWG/FIA utterly failed to address the central cause of the lack of overtaking which was (and is) the cars' inability to run in close company and allow slipstreaming. So now we have KERS and DRS which attempt to to deal with the symptoms rather than the root cause of overtaking paucity. I'm afraid the short-lived Pirelli tyres are just the same as KERS and DRS, they are simply a "Wacky Races"-type gimmick to mask aerodynamic issues and offer equally fake passing both on track and in (the massively-increased in number) pitstops (one of the reasons refuelling was abolished was supposedly to force more passing on the track!).

Driver skill must define the outcome of races not whose car is easiest on tyres or whoever has saved enough fresh tyres from Saturday...I want to see real genuine on-track F1 racing, not some contrived sham - it hacked me off on the BBC when comments were made about fans only wanting a certain kind of overtaking - I love F1 and do not want to see it diminished by cheap fakery - 8-lap tyres in F1 is to me a bit like wanting to see more goals in football so making them as wide as the pitch. A tyre-based lottery is not F1 in my book. The people who think it is must also think that Alonso and Hamilton being penalised made sense...

Patrick McLaughlin

Tyres are a huge positive !

Pirelli are to be commended on their efforts.

Remember how exciting the days of the tyre war were?

Tyres are the most natural way of creating a performance differential that is sufficient to allow an overtake. The different degradation rates lengthen the relative braking zones as the tyres degrade, aiding overtaking. Minding your tyres is a as much a skill as thrashing a car around the track.

I had begun to miss the tactical side of F1 so the return of strategy that comes with tyre degradation is most welcome.

I will reserve judgement on the DRS.

I think it has been a success insofar as allowing a driver to pull alongside to attempt an overtake but I dont think any of us want to see a car blast past on a straight in a Playstation type move.

I would ditch KERS.

Leave that to the World Rally Championship or Touring Car formula to take care of.

Formula 1, if looking to pursue Green Iniatives, should focus on fuel efficient engines. Real progress could be made in this area by the best engineers in the world.

I also think the rules should be left in place for quite a few seasons. The budget restrictions should allow the "smaller" teams to close the gap on the front runners. That would inevitably lead to more competitive racing.

The track layouts warrant an evaluation. This is probably the biggest issue yet to be addressed. (Realise there is a huge cost associated)

Why has Hermann Tilke got a monopoly on track design ? I still think it was a sin to tear up the old Hockenheim and plant trees on those majestic straights ! Circuits like Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Interlagos, Suzuka are sacrosanct. Monaco also, but for different reasons ! I would personally love to see an F1 car at Laguna Seca or Bathurst.

I ve been to the GP in Valencia (Great City!) and while it was enjoyable to visit pitlane, meet the drivers(great initiative by F1) and witness the cars in action up close, the racing would leave a lot to be desired(I knew what I was in for to be honest). I would not miss it if it was removed from the calendar. Abu Dahbi and Bahrain are also in this category.

I think changes to the circuits visted calendar would yield better racing !


It's a common theme to bash Tilke (deservedly at times), but I really think he got it right at Malaysia. That track seems to be generating great races most years, and the drivers seem to really enjoy it. It's matured well.

Patrick McLaughlin

In fairness to Tilke, Malaysia is a great circuit. Turkey has some redeeming features also.

My point is there should be a wider variety of circuit designers on the books.

Circuit improvements will bring about better racing.


We saw some great racing on Sunday.

Drivers finally being able to pass other drivers, to play out their own strategy, which was constantly changing due to the tyres.

I really hope the FIA ignore all the people going 'its fake'. It really isn't fake, it was real racing, and that was clear to see on Sunday.

The fact is that when a car used the DRS to overtake, the car behind couldn't then bounce back.....because it was a slower car.

Now finally, drivers who are faster at different phases during the race can play out their own strategies.

KERS however is pointless - if everyone can use it at the same time I don't see the point, as the driver infront can activate it to defend, so the net result is the same.

DRS however is fantastic, it makes up for the aerodynamic rules which make it difficult for another car to follow.

To Ben B: you say that DRS doesn't seem fair because the car behind is only faster because of it.........then how come we didn't see the car being overtaken come back and retake the place?

Almost all the overtaking moves was a faster car passing a slower car, using DRS, and moving on building a gap.

I think the only improvement they need to make (apart from just making the tyres from a really hard compound which give out way less but consistent grip that don't grain/fall off, making the cars slide) is with the tv graphics - it WAS confusing following the race, you simply lost track of the front runners pitting, what the gaps were, etc. They need to think of a way to inform the viewer with good information, to cope with the amount of pitstops now.


I still can't believe that we can't get the stationary pitstop times until the end of the pitlane. People want that info immediately.


I would guess, logically, the stop time is produced automatically by a computer deducting the time taken between the car passing the pit entry line and the pit exit line and then deducting, say, a calculated standard time needed for a car to travel the length of the pit lane at the regulation speed and brake to a halt and then accelerate back up to speed. It is therefore impossible for the stop time to be known before the car has crossed the pit exit line.


They used to do it - using sensors at the pitbox. In fact they must still do that, because if they do what you suggest there would be huge inaccuracies if the car fails to accelerate properly (wet track etc). So it's just a case of LG changing the way the data is displayed - not hard.


Great article James, as usual.

One question off the topic: when is the last time, before Kobayashi, we've seen a driver overtaking so oftenly, having so oftently great battles with other drivers in such a short time (less than 25 races)? I've been thinking it, can't find one. Anyone to suggest?


Hamilton? Montoya? Raikkonen?


Well said, shame we lost Montoya as it'd have been great to see him wheel to wheel against Hamilton.

Interesting (and clearly knowledgable) that you didn't mention Vettel (an area, in my view he lacks by a mile, I only hope McLaren and Ferrari close the car gap so all will see it)!


Raikonen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


First of all, I would not say this looks artificial. Anybody who could attest here, based on their experience of F1 in the 80s, early 90s, wasn't this how slipstreaming used to be?

I think if you could get rid of the marbles and the lack of rubber grip off the racing line, then it should really make for some excellent wheel-to-wheel racing, whereby drivers could drive side by side in a corner, using pure skill to defend / overtake their positions.

which makes me wonder, i would love to see how everything works when on a wet, green track, whereby the only difference which lies between a driver spinning off or keeping it on the island is his own skill.

anybody agrees?




For some time now I've advocated the use of 2 compounds of tyre. Not what we see today where the primes and options can be separated by only a few tenths a lap, but a soft and hard tyre with maybe 3 or 4 seconds a lap difference.

A hard tyre might last 30 or 40 laps or more and the soft would only last maybe 10 but would be extremely fast.

This would negate the need for artificial DRS or KERS and would be a much simpler formula for audiences to understand. The car's performance would therefore rely less on aerodynamic efficiency, swinging the balance back towards mechanical grip. It's no coincidence that the fastest cars of the last 20 years have been designed mostly by Adrian Newey (aero guru).

The resulting strategies would take us back to the days of refeuling and maybe (dare I say) the days of Nigel Mansell's epic pursuit of Nelson Piquet on new tyres, gaining 2 seconds a lap to ultimately overtake him with a couple of laps spare.


I think you'll find that Piquet was conserving fuel to get to the end of the race and Mansell had turned up the boost on his engine because he had more fuel left. Isn't that artificial racing?


We are talking about an era where there was very little telemetry and engine reliability was dreadful. Mansell could have easily run out of fuel (he did on the slowing down lap) or he could have cooked his engine.

We're talking about a strategy that the drivers and teams raced to without knowing what every system on the car was doing at the present time.

Yes, he was able to turn up his engine but if it blew up - game over. With KERS and DRS you can have as many hits as you like without much recourse.

But this is not the point, just an example.

The point is to race to a simple formula where mechanical grip takes a greater role in the overall performance of the car.


How about this . Teams can have KERS, DRS, QUICK BUT DURABLE tyres but only two at a time.Team principals to draw balls out of a bag to find out what they loose for that race.


We've been told to give the changes time before judging it. But I don't think we're ever given enough time! The rules r changing massively each year.

We got KERS for one year and then lost it, just when it was being mastered and looked good (obviously I know it's back again).

We get adjustable front wings, nobody mentioned how they effected anything and now they're gone.

And when we get revolutionary ideas they get banned! Double diffusers, f-duct, etc. As soon as there's a team who's found an advantage, they're stripped of them!

And now there's gonna b more massive changes 4 2013? Ridiculous!

This is y it is artificial, this is y it IS NOT F1! It's supposed to b the pinnacle of motorsport! What is supposed 2 make F1 unique is that it's the only open wheeled motorsport that u build ur own car. So y does every1 want 2 level the playing field? This is not F1! It's turning in2 GP1


One thing that concerned me was the tyres going off meant the tyres disintegrating at an alarming rate meaning moving offline could kill all the extra overtaking options because of the amount of debris. Is there no way for the tyres to have these properties but not turn into a black snowdrift?



I loved the extra action that the tyres, KERS unreliability and DRS created. Been waiting SO many years for this... its about time. Thank goodness for that. Finally F1 is the spectacle it should be!

I'm sure we'll find it calms down too as the teams all master the use of them. Most will all be on the same tyre strategy with the same performance boost from KERS leaving DRS our only hope of seeing a difference from the past processions, and even then only at tracks where it can make a difference.

As for Alonso/Hamilton... I'm English and I love and back my country, but I called Lewis on his weave as it happened and was surprised it took until after the race to get a penalty.

I'm not a fan of Alonso or Ferrari, but still don't understand what it was Fernando did wrong to get a penalty that he hadn't already inflicted on himself. He unintentionally knocked his own wing off causing no damage to anyone else... bizarre thing to get a penalty for. Is there any history of this being penalised in the past?


Ive been encouraged by the first two races, and I'm personally delighted with pirelli.

Not only have they delivered what they were asked to, but theyve batted off any negative driver comments.

I personally think the drs is a bit much, and think a limited number of kers boosts per race would be better.

Im encouraged by the possibilities of the Byrne/head formula in 2013, so in the meantime I'll accept drs.

Id rather have too much overtaking like the battle kobayashi and webber has yesterday.

As you said James, the best drivers still rise to the top. They just have "it".


entertaining, but the racing line should be the dark bit of track


One thing I'd like to see back is a pitstop timer for stationary time, not just the whole pitlane timer.