November 13 2015

Improving Formula One.

One of my many passions is motor sport, in particular Formula 1. Here I outline a few thoughts on improving the spectacle of the sport.

The Weekend Schedule

I will preface this with the fact I have been twice to Silverstone Formula 1 races. The last time I attended, Damon Hill was racing for Jordan-Mugen-Honda, and Michael Schumacher broke his legs flying into a tire wall. So this post is based on my "old" knowledge of the race weekend, and these days watching it on TV. This was also about the time I started to support McLaren, with Mika H�kkinen and David Coulthard as the current drivers.

When I first began watching F1, it was the early 90's. Each race weekend was spread out over 4 days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday and Friday comprised of practice sessions, Saturday was for qualifying and Sunday was set aside for the race.

With the current need to "save" engines, and the European tracks concerned over costs, I thought about ideas on how to best combat this.

I propose F1 is moved to a 2 day weekend (Sat/Sun), this would consist of 2 practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

As it stands the Friday sessions bare little impact on the Saturday/Sunday sessions, as conditions change from day to day. So the data a team gets on Friday will most likely be less valuable on Sunday.

There are benefits to a two day weekend, which are

  1. Tracks do not have to open on the Friday, which is the least busiest day, which should save money.
  2. Spectators get to see more of the cars on Saturday.
  3. Transporting the team between venues now allows 5 days which should relieve logistic stress. Thus enabling more frequent one week between races.
  4. Engines do less work for the entire weekend.
  5. On site vendor's now get all Fridays custom on Saturday, which means they can save a day on Friday.

Tires

Over the years formula one has used many configurations of tire shape, size, compound and manufacturers. I wont be going into the manufacturers, but more the format.

In the beginning (90's), teams had one type of dry tire, we now call them slicks (meaning completely devoid of any surface grooves). These would stick to the asphalt like glue.

However during the late 90's early 2000's F1 was deemed to fast and dangerous in corners. So the governing body decided to use "grooved" tires (3-4 slots around the tire) in an effort to slow them down.

Current F1 is regarded as the safest its ever been, so when slick tires were reintroduced it was intended to bring back some more speed (and funnily enough safety) into to the sport, as less grip is even more dangerous in corners, where all drivers are pushing no matter the grip level.

/assets/images/blog/f1tyres.jpg
Pirelli F1 tires, from left to right, Intermidiate, Full Wet, SuperSoft, Soft, Medium and Hard.

New Rules

Also introduced over the years, were a number of rather unusual rules in an attempt spice up the racing

Two compounds must be used during a race.

This requirement is to change tire types during the race, and was added as a "catch" up mechanic, where a car with the softer faster tires could, in theory, catch a car using the harder slower tires.

In reality all teams have now compensated for the differences in tire grip levels, so its become irrelevant as teams opt to do as least amount of time of the "worse" tire. But when all teams do this, the rule has no real impact.

Top 10 start the race with the tire they qualified on

Each driver that qualified in the top ten, were required on race day to start the race using the tire they qualified on. This started out by using the last session called Q3, this is where true pole position is decided. These days Q2 is the session that decides the tire the top ten start on.

The change from Q3 to Q2 was because a number of cars were not running in Q3 to save tire grip, and use the extra grip during the race. This gave a false grid and the spectacle of the sport was reduced.

I'm not sure why this rule was included, other than to help lower teams catch up.

D.R.S - Drag Reduction System

Current F1 cars are as slippery as a hot knife through butter, however while alone on the track a F1 car is a beauty to see, following a another car is a disappointing prospect.

So introduced was the D.R.S system, this enabled the driver to flip a little slot in the rear wing which "stalls" (no drag) the air , and effectively rendering it non existent.

While I see this a great idea for the race, I can see no reason at all to have it enabled in qualifying, a number of times I have seen cars trying to use D.R.S around a corner and losing control as the drag kicks back in.

Conclusion

So here are my ideas to help with current F1

  • Reduce the race weekend to two days. Two practice sessions, qualifying and the race
  • Let the drivers choose which tires they start on in the race.
  • Let them also choose if they want to change tire compound.
  • Remove D.R.S during qualifying.

Knowledge is Key

This whole post was based on my own knowledge and reasoning, so a few facts may be outdated. If so, just send me a message and I can update my own knowledge as well as the post.

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