If you could change the rules governing Formula 1 in 2013, what would you change? Many of the F1 purists would like to keep the sport exactly as it is, others would like a dramatic overhaul
Formula 1 doesn’t have to change to survive, but it does have to change to stay popular. In the XBox age, Max Mosley’s quote that F1 should be appreciated like a game of chess with overtaking moves as rare but exquisite events, is even more laughable than it was when he first made it. Max made his remark in the late 1990s when he was still head of the FIA and didn’t much welcome lively debates. Even then chess wasn’t a big televised sport.
For the purists who maintain that F1 should stay the same and argue that football is still 11 players a side, 45 minutes each way, with the rules virtually unchanged, the genii is already out of the bottle. Qualifying is no longer held over two days, points are no longer awarded from 1st to 6th, refuelling has come and gone, even more qualifying formats have come and gone, we have a safety car and re-starts and 20 races a season not 8 or 10 or 16. What needs to happen now is for F1 to embrace more change. Here are ten points that could be adopted ranging from quick-fixes to a radical look at the GP weekend.
1. Award two points for pole position, three points for fastest lap. It happens in other formulae and could certainly spice up the end of races where cars that are out of the points take on a new set of tyres and make a dash for it.
2. Formalise a system where drivers accumulate penalty points for on-track transgressions that result in an automatic race ban. There is already a system in place that tallies up the reprimands - three and you get a grid penalty. This system should be extended and known as the ‘Grosjean-Maldonado’ Rule.
3. Ban podium interviews. Bernie has just told Luca Montezemolo (via Corriere della Sera) that he has a lot more ideas left. If this was one of them, then we don’t need to hear any more.
4. Identify the stewards before the race. In most sports the umpires and referees are highly visible and named. In F1 we get to know who the driver steward is for each race but unless you probe the FIA for the information they’re not particularly upfront about who the other stewards are. We need transparency.
5. To help the struggling teams, the constructor who finished bottom gets extra testing time and extra tyres through the course of the following season. The intention would be to help the bottom two or three teams with the one above getting slightly less help, and the one above them even less. But it could be applied progressively throughout the grid, so that the team that wins the championship has the least testing time of anyone.
6. Teams who opt to manipulate a grid, the way Ferrari did in Austin for the USGP, should be allowed to do so, but should pay a higher price. If they want to promote one driver, then the second car should be sent to the back of the grid.
7. In a similar way, teams will be allowed to use team orders a maximum of three times a year.On current form this isn’t going to hamper anyone, but it’s a safeguard for over-use.
8. Although DRS zones are constantly monitored and adjusted, they do make it incredibly easy for cars which are starting out of position - such as Vettel in Abu Dhabi - to make up places quickly. So, keep the DRS, but introduce a rule that limits it to 10 passes a race (excluding lapped cars). The DRS has taken a lot of the thinking out of overtaking. Limiting its use so that drivers have to weigh up the advantage of using it, adds a layer of complexity.
9. No blue flags any more. Leaders should have to pass backmarkers as though they were racing them. Backmarkers wouldn’t be allowed to block or deviate from the racing line, but they would be encourages to just carry on as they are. Quite often a backmarker who is being lapped and generously moves over for the leader, then gets overtaken by a lapped car that is following it.
10. Shorter grands prix. Fernando Alonso is a fan of shorter races and if some of the street circuits - such as Monaco and Singapore - were shortened, it wouldn’t be a great loss. Many friends who only watch the occasional race tell me (gleefully) that they’ll watch the start and the first three or four laps and then go off and do something else because it’s just too monotonous.
F1 should follow the GP2 format and have sprint races, maybe for half points. Qualify for the main race on Saturday, then on Saturday afternoon have a sprint race with a reverse order grid - the order being the drivers’ championship table in reverse. Thus starting the first sprint race in 2013 it would be Vettel and Alonso on the back row, ahead of them, Raikkonen and Hamilton - and so on.
The cars would go into Parc Ferme after the race allowing for an added layer of forward thinking needed by the teams. It would also give us two starts a weekend and not just one.
So, what rules would you bring in? The manifesto for a new (P)F1 starts below…