Like it or not the advent of liberty Media acquiring the rights to Formula One is changing the sport forever. A larger calendar has been agreed, new circuits introduced and race promoters are selling out months before each GP weekend. Speaking to Italian publication Corriere Della Serra, ex Ferrari boss and F1 CEO, Stefano Dominicali, takes a swipe at F1 purists who resist change.
Having replaced the original American officials appointed at the take over from Ecclestone with the likes of Ross Brawn and Dominicali, Liberty Media have stacked the deck in their favour to bring about change.
Sprint races were introduced in 2021, but the purists didn’t like them. Partly because points were awarded towards the drivers’ and constructors’ championships and partly because having qualifying on Friday in place of FP2 rendered the Saturday morning practice session almost redundant.
Dominicali is adamant that ongoing change within F1 is equired.
Because you have to try, there are always plenty of reasons not to do so.”
“It is a principle of life. The purists always turn up their noses, but F1 has changed the way of qualifying dozens of times over the years.”
Some of these have been less than successful than others, the latest being the ill fated ‘elimination’ qualification trialed at the 2016 Australian and Bahrain GP’s
Designed to increase excitement and jeopardy together with more on track action, this format did completely the opposite. Lewis Hamilton claimed his pole in Melbourne with 4 minutes of the session remaining.
In fact changes to qualifying have been agreed for 2023. In revised regulations published by the FIA, drivers will be forced to use the hard tyre in Q1, the medium tyre in Q2 and the soft tyre in Q3.
The total number of sets of tyres available to each driver over the weekend will be cut from 13 to 11.
Dominicali is now championing a new format for the Formula One weekends. During the two Friday practice sessions points will be awarded and a reverse grid structure will see a Sprint race on Saturday morning.
Qualifying for the GP will take place as at present on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a requirement that cannot be postponed,” says Dominicali.
“I would like to see us always fighting for something that [has] worth [in] the title.
“We will address this issue in the next F1 Commission: the fans, the organisers, everyone wants that. The sprint race was just the first example, which can be improved.”
“In a normal weekend, consisting of free practice one and two on Friday, each session should put up for grabs either points, or a single qualifying lap – qualifying for a different, shorter Saturday race, instead of the third free practice, perhaps with the reverse grid mechanism,” Dominicali explained.
“We are putting a lot of things on the table. A lot of people will say no, but we have seen on some occasions the beauty [of mixed grids], more overtaking.
“We have a duty to try.”
One trade F1 can make with the teams to deliver more mixed up grids is to reduce the amount of grid drop penalties by increasing the number of allowable power unit components in exchange for these ideas.
Further by reducing practice, the teams will have less times to optimise their cars which in itself will see qualifying results more mixed.
Even the 2022 leading teams Red Bull and Ferrari have often not optimised their cars by the end of practice two on Friday. Then the data is crunched over night back at the factories and new set ups are revealed on Saturday morning, often delivering better balance and tyre wear for the cars.
For teams with less resources this will level the playing field somewhat, so inevitably it will be the bigger budget teams Dominicali will find the most resistant to the proposed changes.
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 13, 2022