A man with a damn good F1 idea?

‘My make-up may be flaking – but my smile still stays on.’


There are two big debates in Formula One at present. The first is over sustainability and how to ensure the midfield teams can survive and even thrive more.

The second is how to stop the decline in Formula One’s viewing public – both at the races and on TV. Unusually in the Piranha club, there appears to be a consensus that by Improving “The Show”, the latter can be achieved.

The reality is that that solving the underlying problem in debate #1 would go some way to solving problem #2. Further, hiding the sport behind pay walls may be great for the treasurers of CVC and the teams, but this too is a significant contributory factor to the declining of F1’s biggest audience, which watch the events on TV.

So all other proposed solutions appear to be tinkering in the margins – or fiddling while Rome burns.

The irony behind this saying is that instruments resembling any kind of violin didn’t appear until the 16th century, whilst of course the emperor Nero – who is accused of occupying himself with unimportant matters during the zenith of a crisis – presided over the great fire of Rome in 65AD.

All this means that the ‘F1 school of bright ideas’ regularly goes into production overload, as Headmaster Bernie demands solutions to problems he in fact created.

We’ve had a litany of proposals on how to ‘spice up the show’ over the past year. Sprinkler systems to make dry races wet, standing restarts following a safety car period, double points in the final race of the season, bring back the V8’s – to name but a few of the Damascus road moments that have come and gone with little or no effect.

So far the whole debate has been more “hey diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle”, than of Nero-esque stature.

Well now we have a new – or newish contender – and it comes from one who mostly plays second fiddle in the Force India family, to the increasingly desperate Bob Fernley.

Sporting director Otmar Szafnauer is reported by AMuS to suggest, that the teams should choose the two Pirelli dry compounds they wish to use for each Grand Prix weekend.

The softly spoken Romanian even has an eye to logistics and cost. “If the teams inform Pirelli of their choice, say with a lead time of four weeks, which combinations they want for each Grand Prix to, the tyres can be produced in time be AND It doesn’t cost more”.

Is Otmar onto a winner here? He even includes an idea to keep the suspense high for both competitors and fans alike. “The choices are then kept secret [by Pirelli] until the Thursday before the race. So then this becomes a topic everyone will be talking about as early as Thursday.”

Pirelli is struggling to find ways to force teams to run different tyre strategies. Which indeed does create more interest during F1 races. TJ13 has consistently argued Pirelli are too conservative in their tyre selection and Szafnauer proposal eliminates this control by the Italian tyre manufacturer.

The detail of how this would play out presents us with a plethora of complex scenarios, and it may go some way to fill the ’empty spaces’ and ‘abandoned places’.

But in principle the concept seems sound. Or does it?



31 responses to “A man with a damn good F1 idea?

  1. I’ve been peddling this idea for years now. The only reason I think it’s not happenings is that the teams are afraid of messing it up and having one less thing to blame it on.

  2. All that has been being done to spice-up the show ( KERS, DRS, Tyre Changes, etc, ) have just proved to be desperate artificial attempts that don’t work.
    I do not know whether it would help or not, but considering the enormous amount of money that F1 generates, it could embark on a project to build its own engines and, therefore, not to depend on the big manufacturers that see F1 only as a way to expose their brands. This way, small teams would have access to a good engine at the lowest reasonable price, allowing them to devote more funds on other areas of the car. At present, small teams, apart from being deprived of a pretty portion of their budgets, are really funding the big manufacturers.

    • Until Bernie and CVC are out of the picture, F1 won’t change. In fact I fully expect it will crash and burn, with Red Bull or others picking up the pieces on the cheap and rebuilding the sport from the ground up.

      Bernie would likely turn that engine idea into a way of making even more money i.e. escalating costs for engines as a team scores points, wins races or championships. The smaller teams are indirectly funding the development of hybrid technology that will probably end up in road cars in one form or another.

  3. There is nothing wrong with the show in F1! It’s sport, some races are exciting, some are so so, some are boring. It’s the same in any other sport, yet only in F1 it has become almost an obsession to look for more spectacle. All this does is distract people from solving the real problems of F1: marketing and the distribution of funds. Viewership decreases because of the former, and the sport will sooner or later collapse because of the latter. The decreasing TV ratings in Germany are a good example for the lack of marketing. They were incredibly high during the Schumi years, because Schumi had an insane marketing maschine behind him. In essence, Willy Weber was doing the job Bernie refuses to do. He promoted Schumacher, and with him, he promoted F1. It didn’t matter that a lot of the races were processessions, or that Schumi and Ferrari dominated the sport without competition, people still watched in large numbers. Right now we have another hugely successful German driver, but he values his privacy more that additional income and is not interested in stardom it appears. Therefore, he is not marketed to the extend Schumacher was and since nobody else is doing any marketing of F1 in Germany, the number of viewers constantly declines. I’m not going into the distribution of funds thing again, because that horse has been beaten to death, but if more and more teams go out of business, it doesn’t matter what tyres the reamining three or four are going to race on, the show will still be ruined.

  4. I like it, his idea might work, but eventually the teams will opt for near identical choices. At last then there will be no more blaming Pirelli for doing their job and calling it ‘conservative’.

    • Exactly, they will develop individual software to analyze the situation and after three races they all will choose the same options.

  5. Just came here to say I told you so, as I too have made the exact same suggestion in the past. Teams should be given fuel, tyre etc budget and then be allowed to bring whatever they want to whatever event they choose, so long as they don’t exceed their season total.

    Would make life much more entertaining for us.

    • Team’s would continue to pick different options depending on car characteristics – easy on the tyre cars go softer… Tyre eaters harder…

      • Hmmm… Can’t believe that you wouldn’t remember the specifics of a comment I made more than a year ago, but similar to CV I was proposing a set number of each specification for the whole year so X hard, Y medium, Z soft and C super. But at the end of the season all the tyres would be used and there would be no leftovers.

        Likewise fuel, wanna run 110 kg, fine but you’re going to have to do one race on 90 kg.

        This would let midfielders target races with extra resources where they felt they could do well, and leave open the possibility one of the big teams would cock it up and be trundling around 1-2 seconds slower than normal.

        • Likewise fuel, wanna run 110 kg, fine but you’re going to have to do one race on 90…

          Or five on 98kg, which one or two would manage quite easily.
          It’s potentially a lot more interesting than the not uninteresting tyre idea.

          • LOL try to keep the maths simple in case Spanners is reading!

            But it would give teams a lot more strategic flexibility than they currently have which would be nice for those who appreciate it.

          • You could see a mid-field team selecting the super soft and medium tyre for Barcelona, in a bid to get pole… Knowing they will still get a P6,7,8,9 regardless…

  6. All the teams will choose the fastest tyres and do more stops, or always use the fastest tyres for qually then the next step down for the race and either drive like the clappers and make extra stops or take pole and drive slow enough to save tyres and still win. Following closely to the car in front seems even harder this year, so it would just become a tyre preservation series due to the difficulty to follow, which would mean that the finishing order would be decided by where you qualify on a Saturday.
    Plus if a team make the wrong tyre choice, they would face a horrendous weekend. At least if everyone else has the same tyres to play with as you, you stand a flighting chance of being competitive.

    What I do think Pirelli should be doing, is putting a step between compounds, like soft/hard and medium/super soft, or even super soft/hard. Also make the teams choose 1 compound to qualify on and 1 to race on. The other teams will only know what their rivals are doing when the 1st set of tyres are bolted on the cars for their 1st run in Q1. Then the teams can choose whether to try and qualify high and hope for the best, or sacrifice some grid spots to be able to make up positions during the race, running a quicker tyre.

    Another idea would be to simply tell the teams that they must use all 4 compounds 10 times over a 20 race season, they can take them in any combination they want, but it’s still 2 compounds per race weekend, but the teams have totally free reign as to when, where and in what combination to use. This would be kept secret as suggested until the Thursday morning. I think this would make things more interesting, and stop a team building their car around a certain pair of compounds and requesting them at every race, they are forced to use all the compounds equally across the season but in any combination they choose.

  7. I am sorry but I don’t think this idea of selecting tyres in secret is going to work. With the amount of money at stake in this sport it is certain someone at Pirelli would be willing to sell the information of tyre choice to whomsoever paid a good price.
    Am I correct in thinking that all the tyres, used or unused, from each race are destroyed after the race. (I seem to remember reading it somewhere.) The reason being that it was expensive to ship them to the next venue. If that is not the case, then it would be possible, but expensive, to bring all the different tyres to each race, and then the teams could decide and nominate their choices on the thursday.

    • The teams would nominate the tyres 4 weeks in advance of each race. Pirelli can then manufacture to order….

      The selections are kept secret until the Thursday before the race…

      Also it doesn’t matter if a Pirelli employee reveals who has picked what as the decisions are locked in once made…

      • Sorry, I didn’t think it through. 🙂
        By the way, what is the average time difference between each compound of tyre on a circuit and how many laps, on average, does each type of tyre last? Both if driven flat out and in tyre saving mode. I realise a lot depends on which car they are on and the driver involved.
        Do you think this would favour one team more than the others?

        • It shouldn’t favour one team ahead of another – it will level the playing field somewhat because the top teams will simply get it wrong at times.

          We’ve seen how Ferrari have realised the temperature differences from FP2 to the race in Bahrain meant they could run the medium tyre more successfully – despite their race simulation.

          So if a team gets it wrong, they will be on the back foot all weekend.

          Also smaller teams can go for glory qualifying runs – In Barcelona Pirelli have selected the medium and hard compounds. Were Williams or Lotus to run the soft or super soft tyre, they could be 2-3 seconds quicker on the one lap shootout, than a Merc playing it safe for the race on the medium tyre.

          It would certainly prevent the Mercedes first stint trundle strategy we are seeing at present.

          Teams would have to extract the maximum from the tyre they are on – to ensure not falling behind others using different stragetgies

      • If the team’s tyre choices are locked 4 weeks before the race, why bother keeping it secret?
        The more I look at these suggestions, the more I realise that we’re seen stupid idea being heaped upon stupid idea. The tyre nonsense started when Mosley decided that a car was only allowed one set in a race. That failed. Then we had 2 sets per race, followed by 2 joking sets. They failed too. Amazingly, this madness has spread to other types of racing, so the BTCC is forcing teams to use totally useless soft tyres that don’t last more than a couple of laps.
        The FIA needs a right hard kick in the cream crackers, to knock some sense into them.

    • Hembery has confirmed previously that ALL tyres, used and unused are indeed destroyed after each race.

      • Never understood the rationale behind destroying *unused* tires. Why not reuse them on a different GP? Surely tires don’t have a single weekend expiration date…. I’ve seen meat take longer than that to go stale…

    • That’s why Michelin is better. In any class they compete in they take home the used tires and research them to develop an even better tire.

  8. an excellent idea. the ridiculous rule that the top ten should use the tyre they did their best lap on in quali2 is dumb. i fully support the idea. a third party supplier should never ever have the ability to influence a race outcome. currently pirelli could do that if it was so inclined. i hope that this new idea is adopted.

  9. I could have sworn that was a statue of Freddie but wasn’t sure until clicking on the article.

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