#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 6th April 2015


A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

Time for an F1 revolution

Van der Garde speaks out

Time for an F1 revolution

TJ13 has long advocated a change to certain F1 events, with Monaco being the prime culprit.

The modern Formula One cars have such incredible acceleration that even when drivers make a mistake around the streets of the principality, it is not on the whole punitive. The driver in front predominantly retains their position.

In days of yore, this would have cost the errant pilot a place in the race.

Yes, we saw an audacious move by Hulkenberg on K-Mag in the 2014 Monaco event, as he swept up the inside of Portier. But these opportunities are few and far between.

For the F1 fraternity, no other event in motor sport serves up the same cocktail of speed, glamour and incomprehensible wealth as the historic race through the narrow streets of the tiny country perched on the Riviera.

Yet the dirty secret Monaco withholds is that it in reality, it is the most boring race on the planet.

“It’s a spectacle, it’s a part of the social calendar and it’s about glamour and the dolce vita,” commented James Allen, “but the truth of the matter is it rarely produces a great race.”

In nine of the past 11 years, the driver starting on pole position has gone on to win at Monaco. Corner one decides the outcome.

In contrast, the 2013 Indy 500 race featured a record 67 lead changes whilst first place that year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was still changing hands after seven hours and 100 laps,

Monaco is a symbol of Formula One’s on track problems.

Yet the dour occasion that takes place in Monte Carlo each year is in fact a challenge not only to the way this marquee event is run, but also to the format of each F1 weekend.

Finance is at the heart of all F1’s current woes and from a race promoters’ point of view, getting enough revenue to cover the Ecclestone hosting fee is vital. This requires getting the maximum of fans through the door all weekend.

Friday attendances at a Formula One weekend are typically very small when compared to Saturday where qualifying takes place and then race day on Sunday.

Pirelli’s commercial director, Paul Hembery is now calling for a shake up in he format for all Formula One weekends.

“I thought qualifying on Friday night was a good idea, so you can actually win something, and the promoters have something to sell,” Hembery tells The Guardian. “And maybe a sprint race on the Saturday, an extra product, so Saturday fans actually see a result and podium places.

“It’s not for us to tell people what should change, and how it should change, but change is needed.”

Pirelli are contracted to provide tyres for F1 until the end of the 2016 season, and naturally they are keen to know the long term plans of the sport.

“We’re anxious to understand what’s going to happen in 2017, when we will be looking at a new contract,” said Hembery. “We’d like to see what the plan is.

“We are in the entertainment business. Some people get ruffled by that idea, but if we don’t entertain people don’t watch us, and then the sponsors won’t come, and the cycle continues.

“The current business model is clearly not working for enough people. Change is needed and the current mechanism for change is very cumbersome and very slow. We’ve got too many people with different vested interests.

“Someone has got to put a marker in the ground and say this is it. We can’t spend another year going round in circles trying to find the big compromise.”

If promoters can sell qualifying on Friday and a sprint race on Saturday, this will then provide incremental funds for the race organisers to more ably fund the astronomic FOM hosting fees demanded of them.

Formula One must adapt. The current arrangements are an utter failure so something must change.


Van der Garde speaks out

Giedo van der Garde won a number of historic judgements against the Swiss based Sauber F1 team. He had paid the team’s wages in 2014 with an advance payment on his contract to drive for Sauber in 2015.

Yet the team’s finances were so mismanaged that team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was desperately fishing around for more cash.

“I should have gone to the team and said ‘Hello, I’m here to drive’,” van der Garde told the Dutch magazine Formule 1. “But then I went to the motorhome and nobody said anything.

“All those people I worked with before, ignored me. Nobody looks at you and you think to yourself ‘What’s going on?’

“I walked to (team manager) Beat (Zehnder) and he shoved me a race suit and shoes and said ‘Here’. I dressed in the garage to have the seat fitting, but the pedals were set up for (Marcus) Ericsson. Nothing could be changed. They didn’t adjust the foam – nothing. 

“I don’t know what the team told those guys, but if they are honest, they would acknowledge that they only received their salaries because of our early payment in 2014. And then suddenly we are the enemies, which is of course bullshit.”

Van der Garde understood the Sauber difficulties, but feels he should have been treated with more respect.

“I understand that they were worried their jobs were in jeopardy, but I think we deserved a little more credit,” he said.

“Only the engineers behaved normally, saying ‘If I was treated like that, I too would stand up for my rights’. It’s nice when you get respect like that, including from many drivers and team bosses.

“Sure, I’m out of the seat, my dream is gone, but I think it might change F1 now.

“I have spoken to Alexander Wurz, the chairman of the GPDA, and he is adamant that there should be better fairness in Formula One. I hope he succeeds, because this must never happen again.”


28 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 6th April 2015

  1. Not bad ideas from Pirelli but I very much doubt Bernie would want them unless it helps get him his 3 car teams plan in place. Guess you could run a 3-5 hour practise session in the morning on Friday, then Qualifying in the hour or so before dusk, then the sprint race on the Saturday, then a full length Grand Prix on the Sunday. It might mean Power Units blow up a bit more often and add a bit of drama to the racing.

    As for Monaco It needs rain to make it a halfway decent race, chances of cars going off and smacking the barriers increases then. Otherwise as soon as you know whose on pole, you pretty much know whose going to win the race, barring accidents, mechanical failures or being leap frogged somewhere on track.

    Sauber wise ? Bernie is ultimately responsible for the mess, pushing teams lower down the pegging order into doing some really shitty things to survive. In the end I expect teams will end up getting into serious legal trouble with suppliers and so on if they ignore contracts or delay payments. It’s only a matter of time before one of the more established teams goes to the wall and all the dirty secrets of F1 start spilling out.

  2. An ominous observation from GvdG:

    “Only the engineers behaved normally…”

    Surely this is an unequivocal sign that F1’s end times are near.

  3. Aussie V8’s uses a similar idea to what PH is suggesting and that model seems to work. They could also look to better market the preseason test as well.

    Again going back to the Aussie V8’s, at the end of their final preseason test, which they broadcast live and opened it up to the public, in which they had a one lap shoot out in which the winner was award a cash prize.

    Now i don’t know what state the Aussie series is in financially, but interms of promoting the sport, they seem to be doing a very good job of it. That’s something F1 can look at as an example.

    • If they really wanna jazz it up they should have mandatory 10 race contracts, with a no return to the same team until 10 races pass clause (like parking tickets)… also tyre cutters coming out the wheels, and a blue shell pickup for when RB/Merc get too far ahead.

    • The V8’s have used the multi-race format over a given weekend for a few years now with good success. Gives the fans more to see over the weekend. It does take the edge of things a bit though. With so many races, consistency over the season is far more important than straight race wins.

      A new thing this year is to not give the teams enough tyres to last a weekend so they pretty much have to pick a race to lose or qualify badly in, which is kinda dumb. Also there’s no way to make a front-left to right-rear tyre swap pitstop look elegant.

      One good thing is that whereas a DNF used to cruel your whole weekend, now it can save you a set of green tyres for the next race when some others are on used. Spices up the races a bit which can be boring on some circuits.

      The one-lap shootout thing the V8’s use (one car at a time, one hot lap in reverse order of an earlier top-ten quali) has a long history, probably beginning at Bathurst. It’s only used for a few big races a year.

      I believe the V8 series is in a good state financially, but there are a couple of big challenges ahead. Firstly, they’ ve just headed off to pay TV for 80% of races in 2015. I’m not sure how that will go.

      More seriously, within a couple of years, no one will be manufacturing a V8 sedan locally – which is the basis and history of the series. They recently opened the series up to non-local manufacturers who have created five-litre, V8, RWD versions of one of their (roughly) three-litre, V6, FWD volume cars in order to compete. Ford and Holden will sell and race imported cars within a couple of years.

      In truth the series has been a silhouette formula (like NASCAR) on and off for years. The local factory teams (Holden, in paricular) were very adept at jacking up an OEM windscreen wiper and building a nigh-on bespoke “production-based” race car underneath it. I think the OEM part of the cars these days are the door handles (seriously).

      • Please, please…. No, *not* the ‘one hot lap’ qualifying, with only one car on the track….. I’m old enough to remember F1 using that method and, dear God, was it boring ? To say nothing of the inequities occurring due to changing track conditions during the session…..

        And I remember the one hour ‘free for all’ that often resulted in no cars on the track for about 30 minutes then complete chaos over the last 10 minutes when all (as many as 24 !) cars were squabbling for track space.

        The current format may not please everyone but, IMHO, it’s about as fair and ‘good for TV’ as any system can be.

        • I’d had a thought about that the other week.

          How about going back to a one hour free for all, but splitting it in to either 3x 20 minute sections of 4x 15 minute sections. A driver has to set a time in each section which is within say 110% of the best in that section, or he is dropped three grid spots per section his misses out on.

          Forces cars to be out more, forces them to put in decent laps. As you mention, the big problem was getting the cars out early – this sorts that by making them do at least 3 / 4 runs.

          The current system isn’t ideal as Q3 is fairly tame with only 10 cars at most out there, having them all fighting for track space makes it more fun to watch.

        • I do agree with the current time frames of 18, 15 and 12 minutes for Q1, Q2 and Q3. Even as it is, too many teams wait for that last minute scramble.

        • I like the idea of one lap qualifying, but only it Q3. Keep Q1 and Q2 the way they are, and then do a top 10 shootout, just like in Aussie supercars. I think it could be very interesting.

      • I don’t mind the silhouette cars as long as they look like production models. Most auto manufacturers no longer have RWD sedans suitable for race car development. Overall, V8 Supercars is a great series. They got many things right, but the most important thing about this series is the race tracks. The great Australian racetracks induce the kind of racing that has lots of paint swapping and brawls, the way touring cars should be. If you put V8 cars on the traditional F1 tracks, they’d look quite boring.

    • F1 has historically refused to adopt models from other top racing series. What makes you think this will change while Bernie still has some control?

  4. “Formula One must adapt. The current arrangements are an utter failure so something must change.”

    Linux types have one unhealthy obsession: Keep it simple, stupid!

    So here’s a simpler concept: LOWER THE PRICES and DON’T PUSH TEAMS INTO BANKRUPTCY.

    Do that, and fancy solutions shan’t be necessary…

    • I think the prices are a reflection of the fees placed on the track owners/promoters by Bernie. I don’t believe that there’s a track that actually makes a profit (someone please correct me if i’m wrong).

      I must agree with the top story though… Monaco is quite a boring race. Maybe we need a super-soft and a super-super-soft (3 lap) tyre to mix it up a bit.

      • I quite like Monaco – you don’t get the passing but you do get to see drivers working hard.

        I’ll be very interested to see how Formula E do there – if they put on a show with a lot of passing then it will tell you it is the cars, not the track.

  5. How about this, assuming a 20-car field: 1) an earlier start for P1; 2) after P2 a “shootout” where, according to points, each driver gets 2 shots at a qualifying time – alone on the track. The times on Friday only lead to Saturday, where; 3) after P3, the bottom 7 cars from, Friday race for their positions. Any driver whose can do a top 10 time from Friday advances, otherwise, these times establish the bottom of the grid; 4) do the next 7 cars, time-wise from Friday to establish those positions. Again any driver whose time can match or exceed a top 5 time from Friday moves on;. 5) with the remaining 6 or 7 drivers, they get shots at qualifying establishing the top portion of the order.

    It wouldn’t be something radically outside the F1, “practice to qualifying” tradition but at the same time it’s enough of a shakeup to give much-needed added meaning to each on track day leading to the race.

    Changes, amendments, something different stemming to and from these thoughts are definitely welcome!

    • Let me make some adjustments. Based on 20 cars racing. Run P1 and P2 on Friday. Then Q in the mid/late afternoon. On Saturday, run P3. Then a short (15-20 laps) sprint race (for 1/2 points or 20 points for win to 1 point for last) setting positions based on P3 times. Sunday is actual race with support races inserted Friday between P1 and P2, and Saturday between P3 and sprint race and Sunday with support race(s) in mid morning. Something to see some competition every day.

  6. Nothing wrong with Monaco if you regard it as an exercise in total concentration. Blink and you hit something solid. Monaco is the one race of the year, when all the existing and potential sponsors come to a race. See and be seen. This is the place where teams can either start or close deal negotiations. F1 is desperately short of sponsors. Making teams rely on prize money is a all part of the total control plan of our friend Bernard, and his buddies at CVC.

  7. Monaco should have been dropped a long time ago, it is certainly one of the most boring races on the calendar.
    As for Formula1 in general, it is a pity the tracks and the teams cant come to some arrangement and bypass Bernie entirely. Maybe then there could be a fairer distribution of the money. Surely, if its possible to bribe one’s way out of a bribery charge it is possible to get rid of Bernie and CVC.

  8. You just have to see some on board laps in Monaco to appreciate what it’s about.
    I rather have Monaco than Bahrain or Abu Dahbi!

    I maintain my point that they should add the sound of breathing and Heartbeat during onboard shots. It would bring the astonishing skill and sportmanship required to even drive those cars in your home.

    • Great idea. Biometric readouts would be a fantastic addition alongside more comprehensive telemetry. Unfortunately it seems as if the current rights holder is dead set against allowing taking the sport to a higher level of engagement with its audience.

      • I think seeing a driver maintaining a heart rate of 100 bpm for 2 hr race on the onboard race would be awesome. Albeit while I sit on my couch at 50 bpm fat dumb and lazy.

        • Although I have to admit Bahrain last year I was on the edge of the couch and sometimes rolling on the floor.

  9. Until Bernie lowers the fees that are charged, Formula 1 won’t even be able to start to go in the direction it needs to so the sport can try and get healthy. Formula 1 needs race tracks for its show but it’s slowly getting to the point where nobody can afford to or wants to pay the fees to host the show. At some point, there won’t be any tracks that are willing to pay Bernie’s fees. It sickens me that the sport I adore will die this way. CVC is only involved to maximize ROI and I’m afraid Bernie’s ideas of 3 car teams etc will dilute the product so much it will be less than mediocre. The changes that need to happen for the long term health of Formula 1 won’t happen until Bernie is no longer with us and CVC isn’t involved in the sport because they are in the sport for the wrong reasons. Hopefully, Formula 1 still has a pulse when the above mentioned happens so that a racer or someone with a racer’s heart can rebuild Formula 1 and help it thrive.

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