A formula for Formula 1

Not all would know that I am a keen follower of Formula 1 car racing.  That goes back many years starting in the 70s when I went from Strasbourg to Hockenheim to attend the German Grand Prix there. As the cycles of life turned I ended up living close to Hockenheim in Heidelberg and renewed the contact with the sport. Over the years I have had the pleasure of attending the GPs in Melbourne, Silverstone, Monaco and Singapore so I watch with interest the evolution of the sport.

At the moment, with viewing drifting down apparently, the promoters feel the  need to shake things up and attract viewers for the qualifying day (and eventually the practice sessions) to make it an exciting weekend that culminates with the race itself. For those that are not close to F1, a qualifying session defines the order of the cars on the grid with the fastest cars at the front. The order of the cars is decided by the lap times in a special qualifying hour on the day before the race itself.

The promoters decided to  try to get things a bit more mixed up as last year qualifying produced the same sequence of cars that were fastest at almost every GP They produced an idea to alter the process that is too complicated to describe correctly in a paragraph, but basically the aim was to have  one car eliminated every 90 secs instead of having three 10+ minutes where cars were eliminated at the end of each stint and the order defined by their lap times.

The new system was tried in Australia and was a disaster.  Everybody said it was rubbish as the contest for positions never materialised, the last session ended four minutes before the allocated time, and the outcome was the same old same old. Team leaders agreed (unusual) to revert to the old system…but  10 days later that decision was overturned in the sort of back room dealing that highlighted the lack of transparency of the sport.

So there will be no “shake up” of the grid and unless things change when the experiment is repeated in Bahrain next week the qualifying process will bring no extra excitement.

In the absence of a clear plan for the future I have outlined below my own suggestion. It has new elements and could make everybody get engaged. It covers the practice and the qualifying and has a new mini race.

In this plan

  1. The final grid is decided by computer making random selection. That will shake things up. See below in step 4 for a variation on this . Note that in horse racing the draw for the starting positions is standard and adds advantages and disadvantages that are part of that sport.
  2. Because of the process of computer selection, the qualifying session becomes irrelevant .So it will be replaced by a new 10 lap mini race  with no pit stops, with 1 car per team driven by the reserve drivers. That will showcase new talent. The scores (or perhaps 1/3)from this race will go to the constructors championship and a title will be given to the best driver at the end of the season
  3. The Practice will also be integrated into the new plan as the combined placing scores from P1,P2 and P3 will define the grid placings for the mini race. {An alternative would be to allow the best scores from 2 of the practice sessions-or randomly select one sessions for the ranking}
  4. The Practice sessions could also be used to give a ranking that could be converted into a score that would alter the random selection for the race proper. For example a car drawn 15th but that had been the top of the Practice sessions could get a 10 place advantage, second in the practice 9 place advantage etc.

Well those are my suggestions and I think they would change the inevitable grid ranking, add value to the Practice sessions (where frequently a car that is performing well does not convert that into the qualifying session), highlight reserve talent and new drivers and provide the fans with 2 different races (like Cricket tests and T20)


One thought on “A formula for Formula 1

  1. Goslik Schepers

    I never knew you were an F1 fan. I was gutted as I had to MC my dad’s 80th birthday party in Melbourne over the weekend. Oh well I guess he does take precedence over the race …. just!
    I liked the grid reversal races that the touring cars and/or V8s used to do. You can then tally two shorter races, without any intervention on the cars between races. This way the first session is as expected with the fastest cars at the front with nothing to do but maintain aero around corners, but the second stage (when the cars are tired and ‘run in’) would require more strategy around passing etc. Finally, I wonder if the cars could get some kind of bonus point for passing on track, rather than in the pits!

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