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Does F1 need shorter, later races?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2012   |  8:23 am GMT  |  212 comments

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was in the Monza paddock on Saturday and spoke late in the afternoon on a number of subjects. One of them was the idea of refreshing the format of F1 Grands Prix, so they are shorter and start later in the day.

Currently a Grand Prix is 300 kilometres, which can take anything from 75 minutes to almost two hours in the case of Singapore. There have been calls in the past to make F1 races shorter or to split them into two events. Many casual fans who are interested but not hooked, often say that they watch the start then tune in later to see what happened. Would they stay to watch the whole race if it was on at the end of the day and lasted only an hour?

Races are largely timed to go off at 1pm UK time, 2pm European time, but Montezemolo says that scheduling them later in the afternoon would increase the potential audience. However this would move the schedule in the Far East, where F1 now has six races and sees the most growth potential, into the early hours of the morning.

However there is no doubt that the manjor TV companies would like the races to start later. I remember introducing one controller of ITV Sport to Sir Frank Williams and when Williams asked him what one thing would he like to change about F1 he said, “Move all the race start times to 5pm”.

Monzemolo is thinking about the younger audience,

“Looking at young people, the races are too long,” he said. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think that we have to look very carefully what we can do to improve the show of Formula One. I give you one example: one hour and a half for the young, it’s a long time. Maybe why don’t we do a test and we do two starts?

“I don’t think it’s good to race in July and August at two o’clock in the afternoon, when the people are at the sea and on vacation,” he added.

“If you look at a sport like soccer, they play six o’clock, seven o’clock, eight o’clock.”

“Maybe it is a mistake, but we have to think of something, we cannot stay always the same…we have to be innovative without losing the F1 DNA. Maybe it’s better to maintain the races as they are, or maybe it’s time to change.”

This is all part of the power struggle behind the scenes at the moment involving the FIA’s part in running the sport, with Bernie Ecclestone and the teams looking to take over the rule making and other areas of the sport, while the FIA are seeking a greater financial return on the sport it owns. I’ll post on that in more depth.

*What do you think? Should races be on later and run shorter?


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1

People being a bit narrow-minded here. We are all fairly dedicated F1 fans here, Luca is not talking to us but those that are yet to be converted.

Of course, longer races means more strategy possibilities. Personally, I think the format and timing is pretty good at the moment (for me!) But how many casual fans have you spoken to who have said that F1 is too long.

Like any sport, F1 is looking to expand its horizons in attempt to garner more views, more money and more sponsors. Just look at how much football has expanded. Besides, Luca’s suggestions are just that, suggestions. These discussions will continue and believe or not, F1 will develop and change.

2

I think Luca is nuts!

Ppl would watch F1 even less!

Making it shorter would completely de value it!

F1 would be a a gloryfied version of GP2!

as it is with current regs F1 already is a gloryfied version of GP2!

I mean F1 car never break and lap records anymore! the current generation of cars are probly the slowest fot the past 20yrs!

Even @ a place like monza F1 cars only manage to do like 340km/h!

MotoGP bikes reach those kind of speeds @ every 2nd or 3rd event! In a straight line a motoGP bike will blow and F1 car to dust!

Its actually very sad!

3

Actually, I think the races should be of varying distance. If anything, make them longer.

Minimum of 250 miles to maximum of 500 miles. I’ve always felt that for each chunk of the schedule, there should be a “set” of distances. For example, we have 18 races now, so the first six could be 250/250/300/250/300/500.

Obviously, there are a lot of combinations. You could set the season up so that the long races are at the beginning of the season, maybe put the 500 as the cap to each set; maybe make a 500 the final event of the year.

The point is, unless you make the races really short, like a 100 mile sprint race (and that would be very interesting, very USAC, get in, get out, quit fussin’ about and just run the race already), you don’t get the benefit of a shorter race.

Now that I think of it, 100 mile races may be the way to go! Hmmm… maybe make the minimum distance 100 miles and the max 500 miles and do those combinations for each chunk of the season.

4

And why would f1 want to kill off its entire existing fan base in the hope of attracting a small disinterested market (and one that has less spending power)???

I’m 27 and have attended 1.3 grand prix every year for the last 6 years! I would not be interested in traveling the world to watch a short race!

5

No way!!!!

How sad would that be, waiting all week to watch f1 and have it over in a flash?

How would there be any strategic plays? How can anyone play the long game in a short race?

It would be so dull to watch a short race where everyone played the same stratergy…

6

NO WAY, another stupid idea, just like Bernie’s medals idea

7

Later in the day, definitely. Shorter, no.

8

Certainly not!!

9

If the races were shorter and later, would the BBC highlights show be 20 minutes long, and at 2am?

10

Anyone ever consider the Monte is angling for the next F1 Supremo?

11

It’s a really daft suggestion. Next he’ll be saying Le Mans should be a 2 hour sprint race.

12

It would be playing a golf masters over 9 holes? It would be meaningless.

13

No Way !!!! Yesterdays race lasted 1 hour 19 minutes it flew by they should leave things alone .Would you want to sponsor a team or event when a race could last an hour or less i don’t think so and what’s the point of having cars reliable if races were to be shorter.

If they did make races shorter i would consider not watching anymore it could drive people away all for the casual viewers pleasure.

Up until the mid 90’s some European races did start after 2pm uk time.

Kind Regards

Andrew Barker

14

Bernie would never sanction shorter races because it would reduce the collateral with regards to TV rights – if the races lose a quarter/third in length, Sky wouldn’t get much more than the BBC highlights currently deliver OR the BBC Highlights would be ~30 minutes.

15

Not if the audience size grew! Raises the value surely?

I’m not saying it would, but that is the argument

Most of the diehards would watch anyway, but could they capture a large new contingent?

16

Must be the wine or the heat or both

17

I’m sure among typical casual fans he is referring to, “you can’t find a very famous name, one of those has to spend 400 Euros per person for a place on the grandstand at a GP (plus the expenses for the journey and the stay).”

Perhaps di Montezemolo no longer places value on “the history of this sport” that was created by “Ferrari, [and ] the big car manufacturers and teams.” I think Max Mosley had a good laugh about di Montezemolo’s comments.

If Luca di Montezemolo wants shorter races and two starts,

“Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call it Formula GP3?”

18

I think if F1 want to attrack more people and younger audience, first step would be to go back to free to air. I have been following it for 20 years now, but would probably never have discovered it, had I not switched to eurosport one sunday in 1994 (probably commercial brake on the other channel) and it was on.

I think this “new format” thing, is more of a way to increase profit margins for the stakeholders (by reducing cost), than anything else (greed).

19

I’ve really enjoyed watching the GP2 and GP3 races, both for the close racing and also the short format.

Pitstops used to be an essential part of strategy, which made a 2 hour F1 race like a game of chess, it was fascinating. Nowadays all the variables which made it interesting – different fuel strategies, tyre manufacturers, reliability issues – are gone, and F1 is a really long sprint race with pitsops which just serve to make the middle part of the race incomprehensible to casual viewers – who watches a sport when you have no idea who is in the lead?

20

How about this concept.The race for pole. Basically, all the cars line up on the grid on a Satuarday in the order that they finished the last race in. Therefore Hamilton would be 1st and Alonso 2nd. The race is 15 laps, the winner gets pole and his reward, 10 points, followed by new tyres.

This would make Satuarday qualifying very intersting because cars will be racing for their positions, it will dramatically change the grid on race day and make the casual fan more interested.

21

Very similar to the USAC method. That could work, but it would require F1 to examine practices outside of it’s own bubble, so unlikely.

22

I am definitely in the minority here, but I wouldn’t mind if the races were a bit shorter. With mechanical failure such a rarity these days (save Renault alternators) the distance doesn’t seem to be taxing on the engineering of a modern F1 car. I do not like seeing F1 cars run at 85% to preserve tires just so they can one-stop a 300km race. So if endurance is no longer a differentiator, why make the races so long? Shorten them up and let the cars go at 100% for the entire distance.

That or modify the regulations to allow the engineers to actually push the limits of material science so that endurance is once again a differentiator in F1 racing. Decrease dependance (and thereby spending) on aero and allow the teams much greater flexibility in engines, layouts and materials.

As for the start times, the global nature of the sport will dictate a time schedule that is no longer Euro-centric.

23

He’s out of touch. He needs to stick to being Ferrari’s press officer.

24

I must say we’re probably not the forum for this discussion, given everyone is in the “diehard fan” category. Of course we like what we see, otherwise we wouldn’t be watching F1, nor will we browse this web-site. But we’re a small minority of the F1 viewership.

I agree with di Montezemolo. F1 needs shorter races.

There are still far too many races when I fall asleep (being on the east coast of Australia, European F1 races start at 10pm) after a handful of laps when nothing actually happens and we’re all speculating about this “strategy” thing, waiting for the tyre strategy to materialise. If I was a casual F1 watcher I would’ve switched off the TV at that point and done something else with my time. This, I suspect, is what di Montezemolo might be getting at.

Casual viewers are VERY important to attract, because that’s where your new fan base comes from. Whilst maybe 25% of viewers are “diehard” (we love F1 to entertain us), the other 75% are casual viewers who have a huge number of choices about how they wish to be entertained. Understandably, di Montezemolo want to attract this 75%. Although it saddens me to think that you’d need to play with the format, the sport has to evolve and continue to attract fans. How else can F1 attract new “diehard fans” if they’re turned off at the casual viewer stage?

How about splitting the racing into 2 x 40 min sprints? Qualifying race? You can produce short-life tyres or have some kind of simple gimmick to ensure there’s action. (No, as a motorsport purist I don’t like that one bit either – but as entertainment I do)

As for start time … I know if the races were on 2pm Australian time, I would not watch it as I normally have better things to do at that time (eg family time or enjoying the sunshine). 6pm stands a far better chance.

25

Move it start at early evening, late afternoon yes.

But leave the distance as is. The real charm of F1 is watching the front runners being nervous at the end for reliability, tires (this season) safety cars, among other things. This is F1, not A1!

26

I have to profess complete bewilderment with this start time idea of Montezemolo’s, which seems to build/continue on from Ecclestone’s everlasting push to move the schedule further east. Both want to build up the European audience, and they want to do it by… moving it all out of Europe. This is just my perception, but if you want to build a fanbase then moving the entertainment away from the fans seems a rather odd way of doing it.

Also, Malaysia 2009.

27

Why should we cater to those who are only half interested?? Most of us are dedicated to F-1 in a big way and crave our race weekend fix. Its bad enough that there is so little testing and we have to go cold turkey for the ‘summer break’ which seems like an eternity. Its not our fault that Luca di Montezemolo gets bored or has to go to the restroom during the race. Most true F-1 fans would say that they want more races, at least the same length of time/distance, full testing brought back, and the return of our beloved V-10’s.

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