Formula One tweaked!
October 28, 2002 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Formula One tweaked! The Formula One Commission met earlier today at what was touted as the most important meeting (PDF) in the last 20 years to discuss ways to rescue Formula One. The biggest outcome was to have single qualifying laps on Fridays and Saturdays, the historic Spa circuit was dropped from the calendar due to tobacco advertising restrictions. [More inside]
posted by riffola (17 comments total)
From (Regisration or cookie waving registration required)
Formula 1 qualifying will take the form of a single lap run in 2003 – the most radical decision taken following Monday's F1 meeting. A session on Friday will determine the order in which the cars take to the track.

Next season will also see a change to the F1 points scoring system with points awarded to the top eight in 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 order.

Team orders 'that affect overall race results' will be outlawed, although there has been no word yet on how this will be implemented.

An interesting restriction on testing has been announced, which allows teams who agree with the FIA to test for 10 days or less during the season being granted two additional hours of running on the Friday of a GP. This proposal will only take place if three or more teams sign up to the agreement.

As predicted, the tyre manufacturers – currently Michelin and Bridgestone – will be allowed to supply each team with two different compounds at each race, rather than two compounds for all their teams as is currently the case.

And finally, the Belgian GP has been stripped of its place on the 2003 calendar. No race will take its place, leaving just 16 rounds next year.
posted by riffola at 10:11 AM on October 28, 2002

The biggest change to my eyes is that now second place is worth 80% of a win instead of 60%, which is a big difference, and now teams have somewhat more of a reason to stay in the race instead of just retiring.

Me, I'd like to see some big changes that the teams have to cope with... say, tell them that in 2005 or 2007 they have to run electrically-driven cars with turbine powerplants.

Or put the drivers external, run the cars with radio/VR links, and let them corner at 10g.

Or just have them stop and chug a beer every 5 laps. Whatever.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on October 28, 2002

What's odd is that qualifying was one of the most interesting sessions during the weekend, and changing that doesn't make sense. Also with the new scoring system, there is a possibility that someone could win the championship without winning a single race. Why would Montoya or R. Schumacher risk a second place and attempt to pass Michael for first? It's just two points, it's not worth the risk. Also if say a Ferrari driver wins (10 points) and the other Ferrari DNFs, but a Williams driver comes in second (8 points), and the other Williams finishes higher than sixth, they score more than Ferrari in the Constructor's Championship, which is stupid.
posted by riffola at 10:44 AM on October 28, 2002

I agree with riffola re: qualifying. That's almost always the most exciting part of the weekend and always quite a rush to see two drivers swap fastest lap times. Why ruin something that didn't need changing?
posted by gyc at 11:00 AM on October 28, 2002

Uggh. The qualifying changes are baffling.

running order on Friday to follow Championship (previous year at first race), with Championship leader going out first, 2nd in Championship running second, and so on

Yeah, like there isn't any turn-over among drivers. McNish, Salo, and Irvine will likely not compete next year, so you already have 6 exceptions to the rule. Two days of qualifying is just bizarre. It's what I hate the most about the revised qualifying in CART. You need a scorecard to keep up with all the permutations of provisional pole.

Speaking of CART, there are rumors that Bernie Ecclestone might be buying a majority stake in the CART series in order to create a "minor league" feeder series for F1 drivers. Anyone that saw the CART race in Australia last night will agree that the series either needs to be reshaped, or left to die under the weight of the IRL.

Regarding the changes to the point structure, I think it's good. In two to three years, it could mean a lot more money for the second tier teams like Jordan, Sauber and Renault. I think this will equalize the economic factors a good deal, and eventually provide more competition. It probably won't effect the driver's title too much, but we may see an upset in the constructors race.
posted by machaus at 11:33 AM on October 28, 2002

Also with the new scoring system, there is a possibility that someone could win the championship without winning a single race. Why would Montoya or R. Schumacher risk a second place and attempt to pass Michael for first?

I think that scenario is possible, but under the current system, nobody other than Michael has even been in contention by mid-season. If this lets a few more drivers have even a remote shot at the title by the time France rolls around, I'm for it. And in your Constructor's example, I see your point, but frankly, I'd argue 2nd and 5th should get more than 1st and a DNF. How can you reward 50% attrition?

I'm guessing the idea behind qualifying is hope that the top drivers have an occasional "off" lap, and we get to watch Michael slice through the pack from mid-grid. It could be fun, but I agree they're ruining one of the best parts of the weekend...

To me the real crime here is losing Spa. I'm almost ready to turn in my F1 fan credentials...

And machaus, check out this week's installment of ITV's Mole column for some interesting conjecture on the future of F1 and CART.
posted by jalexei at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2002

I kind of like the changes. Maybe 10 points to 8 is a bit close...but overall the points have more significance and is a move in the right direction. As to qualifying, it's more fair this way. Why should there be more than 1 car on the circuit at the same time? I've seen too many cases where an attempt was ruined because another car was in the way. Let them focus on fastest times. Perhaps a 3 hour session on one day would have been better but I prefer it this way than how it was before.
posted by GilbertZ at 12:37 PM on October 28, 2002

It's a shit decision, the only goal was to fuck Ferrari, but Ferrari will kick everybody's ass next year, too

Spa was the most interesting circuit, it's a crime against the sport
posted by matteo at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2002

If someone asked me to name one F1 driver who would only need 1 lap to pull an amazingly quick qualifying lap out of his ass, I'd say it was Michael Schumacher.

All of Juan Montoya's polls this year came fromgreat runs at the very last minute, after he had several laps to get used to the track. And the same can be said of Rubens as well. Michael is good right from the start.

I actuall ylike CART's 2 day qualifying, since it gives fans in the stands something to watch on Friday afternoon, but I don't think it works for F1, which is more dependent on television revenue than CART.

The problem with the single-lap qualifying, is that if I'm a fan of just one particular driver, I can now check when he's supposed to run, watch something else until he comes on, and then tune in for 2 mionutes at the end to see who wins. This can't be good for ratings.

As for CART, I think a lot of its problems are overblown. It still draws 3 times as much as IRL (this includes the Indy 500), its television ratings are very similar, and the exodus of the big-spending teams and manufacturers to the IRL will give the little guys a chance to show what they're capable of. Meanwhile, Tony George's vision of a low-cost series with American drivers is going to be put to bed by the same people who've been hurting CART for the last few years.

It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out, but I'm a little apprehensive of these particular rule changes. And I'll miss SPA, though traction control has taken much of the excitement out of the Eau Rouge corner, I'm afraid.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2002

I know I'd certainly watch more F1 if the results weren't predetermined like they have been for the past two or three seasons. Any changes in the rules that equalizes the teams would be okay with me.

I'd also like to see CART become more of a feeder league for F1 (or at least a drawing closer of the two, perhaps a couple events where they share the weekend on the track). However, right now with SPEED channel having much of the US rights for broadcasting the races, I'm not watching much CART either.
posted by IndigoSkye at 3:02 PM on October 28, 2002

IndigoSkye: You are aware of Speed on Demand, available on which offers streaming video of the races usually a week or so after the event. Not as good as TV, but it will do.
posted by gyc at 3:49 PM on October 28, 2002

there are rumors that Bernie Ecclestone might be buying a majority stake in the CART series in order to create a "minor league" feeder series for F1 drivers

I have seen the same report in the news here in Australia, but do not have a link for it. It was reported as more of a "done deal" here, though, as part of the reporting for the recent CART round here and with a view to possibly including a round of the F1 championship on the Gold Coast.

Certainly F1 needs some changes - I still consider it to be the pinnacle of motorsport, belonging at the very top of the tree, but it has become so BORING beyond the first couple of laps that that is all I watch now. The changes to qualifying and limited testing are great ideas that will help to level the playing field somewhat. The premier motorsport category here uses similar restrictions on testing times and it works well. They use a modification of the proposed F1 qualifying, with open qualifying for one day, then a "shootout" for the top 10 pole positions, with one lap per car with a clear circuit.

One of the big problems with F1 is that there is no pathway to get there - you jump straight something like Formula Holden or F3 to the big league. CART could fill that role admirably, if the whole thing is handled with due care (lots of fragile egos at stake here).
posted by dg at 7:28 PM on October 28, 2002

The results for the past few years have been predetermined because Michael and Ferrari are working hard to reach and stay at the top. A superstar driver in the best or second best car on the grid is bound to make the races predictable. But as Bernie says we were lucky to have 5 back to back years where the championship went down the to wire (or almost down to the wire), but historically it isn't so.

You need a scorecard to keep up with all the permutations of provisional pole.
On Fridays the driver who leads the championship will be the first to go out for his qualifying lap, followed by the person who is second in the championship. Only at Australia (the season opener), will the championship order from 2002 be used.
On Saturdays the person who is the fasted on Friday will go out last, following the person who was the second fastest on Friday.
posted by riffola at 9:37 PM on October 28, 2002

Er that should be fastest not fasted.
posted by riffola at 9:39 PM on October 28, 2002

the team orders ruling is stupid - i agree with martin brundle in that its better to see team orders enforced in plain view of everyone rather than teams manufacturing slow pit stops etc..
posted by carfilhiot at 1:07 AM on October 29, 2002

Much as I love F1, the real thrills are, as far as I'm concerned, in MotoGP. Watching the riders fight tooth and nail for position, often overtaking each other two or three times in a single lap, has me quite literally on the edge of my seat.

If F1 could somehow capture even a fraction of this, everyone would be happier.
posted by Nick Jordan at 1:23 AM on October 29, 2002

That is precisely the problem with F1 - still plenty of speed, technology at its finest etc, but the whole process of the actual race has become so clinical and boring. If things went wrong more often, or if drivers were prepared (and allowed) to race harder instead of being forced to conserve machinery or observe team orders, the races would be more watchable and interesting. Perhaps changes to the points system rewarding the higher minor placings more would help motivate drivers and teams to try harder instead of playing a points game.

I know that working the points system is seen as important to ensure the best possible placing, therefore keeping sponsors happy etc, but what happened to the will to win that these drivers would have displayed to get to the level they are at? Instead of settling for second place because they need the points, it would be much more exciting to see the car running second pull out the stops to try and close with the leader and so on down the field.
posted by dg at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2002

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