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Does F1 need more change? A fan’s view
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Apr 2014   |  9:55 am GMT  |  229 comments

This weekend there has been a lot of talk about the 2014 rules and the possibility of making some changes, under pressure from Red Bull and Ferrari in particular.

We’ve had lots of comments, especially in light of the criticism voiced by Red Bull’s Adrian Newey on Friday, and here we post one of the most eloquent and well argued of them, to give a fan’s perspective and to give voice to the views of those who watch the sport week in week out.

Both Ferrari and Red Bull and their senior figures have been talking down the sport recently, as has its commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone; trying to shake the tree and make changes to things like the noise, the fuel flow meters and even the race distance, putting pressure on the FIA and current pace setters Mercedes.

FIA president Jean Todt will meet with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone today in Bahrain to discuss this, but he has already said that while he can sanction a raising of the decibel level of the engines, he will not approve any other changes to the rules, which were agreed some years ago by all the teams.

Here is the point of view on the talking points of the moment from one of our regulars, Ferggsa.

Noise
Do I like it? Yes. Is it essential to F1? I would say no, and besides it doesn’t seem like the V6s are mute anyway. Will it drive fans away from the track? No more so than expensive tickets.

Speed
Someone already proved speed is relative. If the car is doing 280kph or 320kph you can’t tell from trackside or on the TV screen. The new cars are faster on straights and slower in the corners than the previous ones; so what? The main thing is that they are driven to their full potential, [it doest matter] how fast they are actually going.

Race management
In the old days drivers had to manage tyres, fuel, engine, gearbox or the [cars] broke. Now they have to do it [because of] imposed conditions: degrading tyres, fuel limits. [However,] the end result is similar, otherwise it would be racing for one or two laps and then following each other for 50 laps – more so when cars speed is largely defined by a team’s budget.

I do think, regardless of strategic decisions, drivers should be able to push closer to the car’s limit.

Having less driveable cars, like these new ones seem to be, is one of the few elements that adds to the sport and the show.


Sport or Show?
The FIA’s toughest job is to regulate a sport that provides a good show. Some of us like the sport more, regardless of the show conditions, others want a better show, regardless of the fairness of it.

And on top that it has to do this by dealing with state-of-the-art technology, so who has the best solution? Todt, Bernie, Newey, Random, Goferet? Hell, not even James Allen has it.

Bernie
Like most dictators, Bernie was great when he started and he singlehandedly put a little-known, elite sport onto TV worldwide, but he should move over soon for the sport’s sake.


F1 bosses crying about 2014 rules
I find it hard to believe that Mr Todt decided on his own to change the rules and that Bernie, Luca et al had no idea what would happen.

There are tech committees, sporting committees, commercial committees and a now defunct FOCA which should have voiced opinions beforehand, not after three years of development and manufacturing.

Of course it is difficult to agree with your competitors, but if they don’t even try, then they have to live with whatever the rules say, however awkward they may be.

Red Bull
When RB started I was a big fan, I liked the spirit and the fact that they were giving the big boys a run for their money. They became successful on merit and I admire that, but in a few years they have become more arrogant and ruthless than the worst ever from Ferrari.

Threatening to quit, to leave Renault, to blast the present rules sounds to me like very poor spotsmanship, and even, a bad business decision, they might end up with Bernie cutting down on their money, Renault refusing to supply engines, FIA not listening to their opinions, and even fans not buying drinks.

DRS
I dont like artificial devices in principle, but given present aerodynamics, it is the least worst option to no passing at all, and having faster drivers held up by slower ones.

Besides, I think us fans have an idea where drivers just push a button and fly past, but there are many variables involved, and it is not that straightforward.

The second option is to cut even further on wings and allow for closer racing.

Circuits and filling the grandstands
Want more fans on track? Have cheap races close to larger fan bases. I can’t fly to Bahrain and pay for plane, hotel, plus tickets. Only affluent Europeans, Aussies and Japanese people can. The locals probably don’t go on track in India, Korea, etc because tickets are too expensive, not because they dont like F1.

Fans
Just like the teams, we do not agree on everything, so even with the mother of all polls someone suggested, there will always be different opinions.

The powers that be should listen, and we have become more vocal, but in the end they (the FIA) should decide what’s best.

Do you agree, or disagree with these points? Have your say in Comments section below

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1

I’m not just saying this to court you on your own website James, I agree with every single point.

2

I agree with all the points the poster you quoted made james pretty much exactly. the main one being you cant expect the teams who developed and got it right over the 3 years to be penalised because some bitter teams throw their toys after they have had their ass handed to them since melbourne and will continue to be fed it for the rest of the season 😀

3

Am I the only motor racing fan not to be shocked or surprised in the least with the sound of the 2014 F1 cars??? “We’ve” already heard the eerily quiet turbo diesel Audi R10 TDI Le Mans Prototype racing cars back in 2012, and the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro hybrid turbo diesel V6 racing cars of just last year. The 2014 F1 cars sound mightily similar to last years LMP hybrid racing cars albeit with a slightly louder turbo petrol engine rather than the quieter turbo diesel engine of the LMP’s! To me and I am sure to many other motor racing fans the sound of the 2014 F1 cars is a NULL issue. F1 and LMP motor racing is a showcase for automotive technology, driven by car manufacturers and racing car corporations, and I hope will always be. They both have nothing to do with what Bernie Ecclestone may want to see and hear, or what any motor racing fan may want to see and hear. We/Bernie don’t pay the F1/LMP teams financial bills guys, and our miserly F1 ticket price only goes to fatten Bernie Ecclestone’s pockets.

4

Safety car process – a simple improvement suggestion.

Rather than allowing lapped cars to pass through and un-lap themselves, simply require them to drive through the pits, while the safety car takes the lead lap snake ahead. This will reduce the number of safety car laps substantially, while not causing any undue risk.

5

Good piece and I agree with most of it. The bits I don’t would be knit picking and possibly unfair. My issue is still with the noise, although not so much on the TV, 3 races in and I’m getting used to them. The issue I have with the noise, is this has just switched my sport from something I watched on the TV, because I could only afford to go to a couple a year, max (you mention prices), but now, even though I can still comfortably afford to go to at least one, I won’t be. It’s now a TV only sport for me, and that does spoil it. Cotton Pickin Great TV this week though. Just wow!

6

Thanks to ferggsa for his views which show a different side from many we have already heard. I think F1 needs to have simple rules and I would address the two main problems as follows:

Aero – An overall downforce limit should be enforced at a set speed, say 500kgs at 100 mph. Whatever the limit is it should be based on an amount that is known to have produced exciting racing, perhaps the downforce that a late eighties car produced. No other restrictions should apply. At the end of a race the FIA should just put a car into a wind tunnel, run it up to the reference speed and measure the downforce. If it is no more than the allowed limit the car is legal. All of the teams will be able to meet this target easily so their development effort will go into streamlining and other benefits. Such reduced down force will eliminate the overtaking problem and make close racing the norm.

Engine – We don’t need the manufacturers! Racing engine companies exist and are quite capable of supplying F1. We have seen the likes of Ilmor, Judd, Hart and Cosworth at different times and these companies only exist to make racing engines not to sell road cars. Let F1 design an engine that is good for racing and commission one or more of these companies to build it. There is simply no need to put the interests of road car manufacturers above the interests of F1. As other posters have said there are already racing series driving road engine development, such as the endurance cars, so the world won’t be losing anything if F1 concentrates on racing. There really is room for everyone.

7
Clarks4WheelDrift

Good article and some quality comment arguments as usual.

I’d also add to the list:

Drivers PR speak:

The drivers need to be allowed to speak freely, show emotions and come over as if it’s not some patronising PR rubbish. Recent examples are ‘Kimi’s’ team statements and especially the nonsense from Ham and Ros in Malaysia with their I’d like to thank Petronas for providing us with such great fuel, no I’d like to thakn them more, well I love petronas more than this, actually I’d sleep with Petronas and I want to marry Petronas… or something like that.

Another, extremely minor, thing they could sort out is some better spraying stuff for Bahrain instead of the rosewater. Heck they’d be better off on the podium with a 2 litre bottle of coke and a pack of menthos mints to drop in it!

8

Hmm things I’d change about F1.

1. CVC – get out you bloodsucking leeches.

2. Unfair money distribution – give the small guys equal opportunity.

3. Microphones – put some in the car, in the kerbs, you want sound let’s grab what they have right now. It sounds ok, it is just not loud enough.

4. Bring back James in a more prominent role instead of some of the annoying people Sky and BBC have now.

5. Fire the stewards who think the psychotic Maldonaldo using his car as a missile is less of an offence than someone who forgot to put the wheel on Ricciardo’s car last week.

6. Send lapped cars to the back of the safety car queue or if you must let them unlap themselves, release them from the delta so they catch up in one lap rather than waiting years.

7. Have a broadcasted LOL session pointing fun at LdM and Horner each time they moan.

8. Tell Alonso that Kimi is faster just to hear the reaction. See if he moves over like Vettel did today.

9. Ask DC if Webber was REALLY that good given he did rubbish in the Red Bull vs a Vettel who for my money is not as good as Lewis or Alonso.

10. Tell all the people on TV that every rookie should not be compared to Lewis who had more mileage than most race drivers in testing.

11. Lower the ticket prices. And give proper access like NASCAR does. Let fans ask the drivers questions.

12. Get a proper cost cap in place so random rich guy can make a team and at least keep up. The elitist billionaire thing is annoying.

I think that is all.

9

Would I stop watching if Ferrari and Red Bull decided to say screw this we’re going home? Nope. Ferrari needs F1 more than F1 needs Ferrari. Where would Ferrari go to get the media coverage as they get in F1? Nowhere. Red Bull could go back to sponsoring X-Game type sports, but still wouldn’t get the media hype that they get from F1. Man up and get on with it. The fans don’t want to hear it.

10

Not a particularly insightful selection of opinion for the article, a bit to moderate. Today’s race at least indicated that F1 still has some balls. Let’s hope it’s not an anomaly

11

Yes – this was written up by someone who clearly does not get it… accepting DRS as the only solution to excess aero, tells me this is not a race fan at all… maybe a fixed-wrestling fan.

12

I LOVE it this year. I was at the track for the 3 days of the Australian GP and I loved the new sound. It is deep and strong. It seems to appeal more to the girls. Perhaps we like the maleness of the deep and strong sound and men prefer the more female shrieking sound!!! I must admit that the sound gets lost on the TV though. You need to be there to appreciate it. The only bad thing about this year so far is the terrible treatment Daniel Ricciardo has received, through no fault of his own! How can Maldonado only get a 5 grid penalty for what he did and DR received a 10 sec stop AND a 10 place grid penalty when it wasn’t even his fault? AND give him back those 18 points please FIA!!!!!!

13

LOVE the new noses, now instead of the guy behind flipping over twice, the guy in front gets flipped over twice, plus the guy in back is at risk of decapitation. GREAT improvement!

14

I don’t know how the Formula One still has the following it does; put simply, it is no longer a sport, and really hasn’t been one for the last decade at least. All it is now is a bunch of mobile advertising hoardings going around in circles for two hours.

I mean what are you all getting excited about? What is it that people like James Allen get paid to dissect in ridiculous amounts of detail? Are we watching cars that are at the very pinnacle of engineering and technological advancement? No.

Are we watching exciting, edge of the seat racing? Absolutely not. If you want that go down and watch a kart race at your local kart track. alternatively, if watching cars pass each other down a straight using DRS is your thing perhaps you should think about standing on a bridge over the M1 for two hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Are we watching gladiators risking their lives trying to tame am awesomely powerful and terrifying racing car? No. In light of the recent events regarding Michael Schumacher and Gerhard Berger, it appears an F1 driver is at greater risk skiing during his retirement than he is driving a modern F1 car.

What we are left with then is a bunch of rich, characterless pretty boys driving not particularly fast or challenging advertising hoardings around not particularly challenging and very bland Herman Tilke designed tracks. It is of no surprise then that some of the most passionate F1 fans today are now women, no doubt tuning in to drool over Nico Rosberg.

A Quarter of a century ago I tuned in to the BBC to watch my first Grand Prix and was instantly hooked. Watching real men race overpowered, low grip racing cars on a knife edge around beautiful, raw, classic motor racing circuits. Drivers like Mansell, Senna, Prost, Piquet and a young Michael Schumacher performing heroics in cars with manual gearboxes and round steering wheels, that did nothing other than steer! And it was all played out to the heady sound mix of V8s, V10s and V12 engines. Fundamentally the only rule regarding engines back then was that the engines couldn’t be any larger than 3.5 litres and had to be normally aspirated. The racing was real and genuinely exciting. If a driver was to get ahead in the race he had to force a pass, a real pass. He did this by either forcing the driver in front to make a mistake through a poor gear change perhaps, or by getting close enough in the preceding corner to pick up the slipstream on the straight, simply by being braver on the brakes. There was no pressing a ‘push to pass’ DRS button and sailing past in those days. Likewise there was no sitting back and waiting for the pit stops either,since there was no guarantee the driver would even make a pit stop because there was no silly artificial rule requiring each driver to use both compounds of tyre.

The sad truth is that the sport I loved has gone so far down this route, and has become so sanitized that I really don’t think it can be rescued. I remember thinking in 1997 that what the sport needed was a reduction in aero grip and an increase in mechanical grip, but instead the sport went the other way and introduced grooved tyres and narrower chassis for 1998. There followed numerous screw ups with qualifying formats, points systems, reduced engine capacities, first to feeble 2.4 V8s and now the even more pathetic ‘whisper’ hybrids. Yet the racing has only ever got progressively worse. When faced with the irrefutable truth that the sport was becoming a snooze fest, rather than reduce aero grip and increase mechanical grip, the powers that be thought it sensible to create fake drama and fake overtaking through DRS, KERS, silly tyre rules, increased use of the safety car to bunch up the fields late in the race and numerous other pathetic gimmickry. And alas, we are left with the non sport we have today.

I honestly think its too late for F1, but if a rival series were to start today I would like to see it built on the following principles.

1. A simple engine formula whereby each manufacturer could choose whichever route they wanted to go down with respect to cylinder number and configuration.

2. Large, sticky, slick tyres of various compounds, the choice of which is left entirely to the teams. If a driver wants to attempt to complete the entire race on one set of the hard compound tyres then they should be able to. Likewise another driver might choose to stop multiple times on faster, softer rubber.

3. Limit the grip available from aerodynamic wings, so that cars can follow closely to one another through the corners. Then the grip that is lost could be reclaimed through a form of ground effect.

4. Paddle shift semi automatic gearboxes should be banned. Instead all cars should have a three pedal setup and use a fully manual gearbox. This would increase driver involvement and increase the chance of mistakes, thus further increasing the chance of REAL overtaking.

5. Ban the use of telemetry and pits to car radio. If a team wishes to communicate with their driver it should be via pit-board only. This again would increase the possibility of error and so increase the drama.

6. Race on classic Grand Prix circuits and have nothing to do with Herman Tilke and his bland race tracks that look identical no matter where in the world he builds them. These tracks should also replace the endless Tarmac runoffs and replace them with old fashioned gravel traps. If a driver makes a mistake I want to see him punished by that mistake, not b some artificial stop go penalty but by being beeches in the gravel. Where is the test of skill if a driver can screw up a corner and just drive over the runoff and continue on his merry way??!

In the meantime, and until this happens you can find me down at the kart track racing my Rotax kart with like minded motor racing fans who actually want to race. I shall leave the Sunday afternoon, two hour advertising slot to the rest of you.

15

some people just wanna see the world [drivers] burn dont they 😀

I have a sport for you, bullfighting! 🙂

:rolleyes:

16

I have no interest in seeing drivers burn. I am old enough to remember Gerhard Berger’s terrifying inferno at Imola in ’89 and would never want to see that happen again.

However, what I do want to see are racing drivers doing something that makes me say, “wow, that is incredible, there is no way I could do that!”, and that I’m afraid to say hasn’t been the case in Formula One for a least a decade.

So no, whist I thank you for the suggestion, I shall not be turning to bullfighting.

The question you need to ask yourselves is what is sport? Why is it that we tune in every week to watch it? It is emotion. It is a vehicle for us to experience the highs and lows from the comfort of our own living rooms. I watched my beloved Chelsea mount a spectacular come back to reach the semi finals of the Champions League on Tuesday with a late late goal from Demba Ba. The elation I experienced was incredible. But that was only the latest in a long line of similar moments I have had the pleasure of witnessing with Chelsea over the past few years.

I used to experience similar moments with Formula 1 but I honestly can’t tell you the last time It moved me to anywhere near that level. Michael Schumacher and Jaques Villenueve at Jerez 1997 maybe????! Possibly a few of Montoya’s races,……maybe….. But we are going back at least a decade here.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

17

Thank you for writing that… couldn’t agree more…

Yes Bahrain was less boring then most recent F1 races, but it was as I predicted… just a few inter-team battles.

Formula 1 is an insult to race drivers, no doubt… advertising at its evil worst. Turning race driver into sheep…

18

What happened last season when MrE and FiA approved to twist the rules the RBR way is probably the main reason why the bulls and the reds want to change things once more. If yo let it happen once, why not twice?

Obviously, if the don’t change some regs, no team will be able to catch Merc; what Hamilton and Rosberg did right after the SC shows how beyond reach the silver arrows are….there’s no way a team will be able to improve 2-3 sec in the rest of the season….well maybe so but Merc will also improve so forget about 2014.

Congrats to Ross Brawn and the engineers who design those cars….during the last seasons I thought F1 has only one designer genius but now it seems there are a few more -not enough for all the teams, though. Sorry to see Macca and Ferrari down the mid-pack.

It’s interesting to see how the new rules has provided a playground for smaller budgets to get into the fight. Love to see The Force and Williams ahead of the usual suspects…..I think it is time for LdM to stop whinnying and shake things up within the team. The red ones don’t deserve the drivers they have

19

Make the engines louder (James do you actually see this being done by Barcelona now?) change these awful willy noses and scrap double points (sure Nico and Lewis won’t mind!) and F1 will be looking good long term

20
Paul du Maître

I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one that didn’t like the loudness of the V8s! The new V6s turbo sound much better to me, i like their lower pitch.

Am i also the only one thinking that the whole discussion about the loudness of the engines is immaterial for the people watching the races on the TV (99,9% of us…)?

21

Overall I like F1 2014 [as seen on TV]. Today’s race was super entertainment. Showing the sport can roll the dice and create conditions for a humdinger of a showdown. But it’s not always a given, we need the drivers to be on it and up for it. Regarding:

Noise: Luca di Montezemolo described the V8s as musical, that may be but soundtrack of the new power trains with growls, whizzes and pops is way more interesting.

Sport Versus Show: The parties nagging about sporting rules were involved in their creation it can only be sour grapes. The show has *improved* this year qualifying changes are testament to that and watching the drivers deal with snaps of oversteer is great too.

Speed: Looks fast. And it’s getting faster. Only going one way this.

Race Management: It’s good and better than the previous years. This year the drivers have to manage the whole package: tyres, fuel, energy and strategy. Nothing is dominating [yet].

22

To me we need to see our this year pans out. The only change I would do is increase the minimum weight, drivers should not have to do extreme diets.

And yes I do miss the V8 scream… but the change is in, we have had interesting races

23
roberto marquez

The only thing I would change is the fuel limit.Put 120 liters and let them run as fast as they can. No more aerodynamics help either.

24

Well written, but I can’t agree on the sound part. To me they are just too quiet.

Fuel, i would give them more than they need and reduce it every year, to a point, where they don’t have to drive at less than 100% because of it.

Ugly noses must go.

So to the question if I agree. I have to say… No I don’t.

25

Great to have a featured fan post, with good insights.

I’d agree that Newey is being curmudgeonly and little sour in his attacks on the new regs, and many ther points that have ben made by Ferggsa.

What is being missed here is that it’s the battle between the drivers that really counts. The circumstances that they find themselves in, be it new regs, new technology, the track, the weather conditions, set up, tyre managmemt, race incidents, race strategy etc, are all factors that every driver has to deal with every single race and ultimately of course makes every single race potentially fascinating.

Today was a prime example!

It is also worth remembering there in the good old bad old days of the Schumacher dominance, there was more excitement off-track in FIA headquarters than there was back on the circuit at times.

I did not believe that John Todd would’ve made such a good president of the FIA but I do now believe he’s a firm hand and is doing an excellent job.

Nor do I think that it’s time for Bernie to go. Quite the contrary, if he is to leave, the only burning of rubber will be as F1 goes scudding off-track and into the barriers.

There has been some suggestion that a successor will come from a retail background which of course is a joke. Despite Ecclestone’s astonishing business acumen, he is at heart an F1 man through and through, having driven, then managed and then promoted the sport to the heights it has reached today.

Anyone who thinks that Formula One is just another high-street business to be marketed to “customers” will have very short shrift in F1.

So all you fans out there, be careful what you wish for!

26

Today’s Bahrain race was one of the best races I have watched.

The Best was – No team orders. (Baby crying to move his team mate out of his way)

Not won by a single driver everytime and his team mate finishing somewhere down the grid.

27

“The Best was – No team orders. (Baby crying to move his team mate out of his way)”

You mean, other than Ricciardo crying for Vettel to be moved out of his way, and RB giving that order?

28

No matter what your personal favorites might be the jury should still be out. Based on this morning’s race in Bahrain, one would think that maybe nothing needs to change in the regulations at the moment in spite of the political lobbying. We had close racing within the entire field and between “team mates” as well — isn’t this what FIA and Bernie have been saying they want? This year the only real difference from last year is that a different group has done a better job than the rest.

Certainly there is some heavy engineering to be done. Exercising one’s design and development skills instead of jaw muscles might be more productive and less of a drag to the “public” observers.

Only one fan’s view, but why punish those who have made it work within the rules by legislating them out of the fruits of their labor? Can only give F-1 more of a negative persona and more negative baggage to drag around.

29

The only thing FIA could do to spice things up would be to ban Merc from the rest of the season. Since that’s not gonna happen, let’s enjoy the privilege to see how RBR, Force, Williams, Ferrari and Macca fighting to be the first of the big losers this season!!!!

30

Please no change, but continuity.

31

We dont need to change anything. The race today at Bahrain was the best I have seen in the last few seasons. If this season throws up some more races like this one its going to be a great year. Luca and Dieter can throw tantrums all they want but I think in the end we all have to give credit to Merc for the awesome job they have done.

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