Strategy Group: Why nothing is better than something

2015 F1 season

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Is Formula One’s Strategy Group the solution to or the cause of the sport’s problems?

Today the controversial body will again attempt to chart a course for F1 to escape its present difficulties. Representatives of FOM, FIA and a selection of Bernie Ecclestone’s preferred teams – those who have been given the largest financial incentives to compete – are meeting to discuss F1’s future.

Bernie Ecclestone has repeatedly joked that the only thing they can ever agree on is when to hold the next meeting. But if the discussions really were that unproductive, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.


Because of the way the Strategy Group is formed, the two most pressing areas of concern are unlikely to be debated at all. The loss of one competitor last year – Caterham – and the continued vulnerability of F1’s smallest teams is unlikely to be seriously considered by a body which largely represents only the wealthiest competitors.

The distribution of F1’s revenues and prize money, which values on-track performance somewhat less highly than loyalty to Ecclestone, is also likely to remain off the table. This is fixed in contracts binding teams to the sport until 2020 (Red Bull’s recent threats to quit anyway notwithstanding).

Less significant points may also struggle to win support. Teams which wanted to be able to use a fifth engine without penalty this year are likely to be disappointed. Unsurprisingly, five races into the season, there are already some manufacturers who have a clear reliability advantage so making this concession is not in their interest.

And then there’s the question of the future direction of Formula One’s rules. Ecclestone has never disguised his contempt for the current engine formula – he’d made his mind up about them long before they hit the track. And no one will have been surprised by yesterday’s release of a letter from Ecclestone’s ally Ron Walker, the former Australian Grand Prix promoter, blaming the V6 turbos for causing fans to turn off in huge numbers (no evidence was offered to support the view; an F1 Fanatic poll last year indicated fan response has generally been more positive).

But the current engine formula has plenty of supporters on the Strategy Group – not least of which FIA president Jean Todt, who framed the current regulations, and Mercedes, who have won 20 or the 24 races since they came into force.


When the Strategy Group does not find itself incapable of taking action, its track record of introducing new rules isn’t great. The hated double points system F1 used last year, railroaded through at Ecclestone’s insistence in a desperate attempt to reverse F1’s falling television audience, is a case in point.

If anyone at the Strategy Group was beginning to doubt Ecclestone’s judgement of what 21st century sports fans want from motor racing, the kicking F1 got last year over double points can only have added to that impression

Perhaps it has also punctured faith in the view that throwing endless gimmicks at F1 will somehow make everything alright, and so we may be spared similar ‘Bernie brainwaves’ in the future such as success ballast, points for qualifying, reverse grids or track sprinklers.


At every turn the prospect for progress appears to be blocked. But if that is the case, it may not be a bad thing. Because there is one radical change Formula One hasn’t tried yet – and that is to stop changing the rules every five minutes.

Williams head of performance engineering Rob Smedley put the case for not making further changes very well during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

“In the main we should perhaps think about stopping tampering with it rather than thinking we’re going to create a new set of rules and that’s going to fix everything,” he said.

“Every time you create a new set of rules, you’ll usually find the people with the biggest resource or with the cleverest thinking, or the people who stopped working on the current generation of Formula One cars, come out with quite a big gap.”

“That’s what, when we talk about these boring races, that’s what we’re referring to isn’t it? A team dominating at the front – but a team dominates when we have radical rule changes. I think that we do have to seriously think about not changing anything.”

Smedley is right: History shows that when the technical rules stay stable, teams’ performance tend to converge, and that allows for more competitive and unpredictable racing. As the technology becomes more familiar, engine prices will begin to fall, easing the burden on F1’s struggling teams.

Formula One could do a lot worse than leave things as they are. If the Strategy Group fails to agree anything, that could be a lot better than them agreeing something.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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87 comments on “Strategy Group: Why nothing is better than something”

  1. Well i sincerely hope that you are totally wrong in all of this. on almos each and every forum there seems to be to be substantial support for a major shake up in areas of design and a distinct lack of freedom to innovate with engine derivatives. these ridiculous parameters for economy runs hand in hand with mickey mouse tyres designed to prevent all out racing are what is killing F1. listen to what david couthard has said as well as what mark webber has said and then maybe you’ll get an idea of what is wrong and what is slowly but inexorably stifling this great sport. a small point…one of this years standout rookies, carlos sainz, said after FP1 & 2 last friday, ‘these cars are not fast and the speed is disappointing. i have driven faster cars around this track’. says it all really.

    1. on almos each and every forum there seems to be to be substantial support for a major shake up in areas of design

      That’s because in general people who are unhappy rush online and moan endlessly and people who are happy don’t go online to praise things. So you will always see a bias online towards moaning. Seems you are part of that.

      1. which is fair enough, and proves that there is more moaning now, ie more people hate the current formula. i have read online comments on f1 since the internet appeared where i live, and i have noticed when f1 went to v8s, there was slight anger in the fan community, and when it swtiched to 1.6 v6 turbos, people did not know what to expect, then when we saw the realitity of it – slow and bad souinding, there was very big uproar. add to that the huge advantage of one manufacturer with severly limited testing for the others to catch up, i think the moaners have a point, dont you? the moaners obviously have a voice and a valid one, that is why the strategy group needs to talk about these issues. the moaners are everyday f1 fans. what is more important to f1, but not the fans, is the falling crowd numbers, and that is fans moaning without going online and complaining.

        1. Problem is, the moaning isn’t directed at the cause. It’s directed at the result of changes, letting others believe they need to change it again, causing more moaning!

          Everyone needs to take a step back and realize what’s causing the moaning.

        2. The thing is…this Formula with the V6 engine can be great. The cars can be made to go a lot faster if the regulations are slightly tweaked.

          All I want is F1 to be a category that is significantly faster than anything else out there, Im talking 2004-2005 levels of pace. How they achieve this, I dont care. If Juan Montoya’s lap record at Sepang can be broken by a car with 2.0 L 4 pot with 3 turbos, brilliant! And I want drivers to actually have to put in an effort. Its such a shame when a young chap like Nick Yelloly (with all due respect) can rock up and drive an F1 car say it wasnt a big deal!! He should be saying that it was an insane experience!

          1. I agree, its the loss of performance in the cars that have turned off SO many people. Former F1 fans are turning to the WEC, ELMS, DTM etc to get their racing. The 2004 level of performance was an amazing year, of course not only for Schumacher re-wrote every season record you could name, the performance of the cars from 1998 to 2008 were the fastest cars in F1…and no one died. People want the fast, powerful and agile cars with tires that can last an all out stint. When I watch some recorded races I have of 2004-2006 and see how much thats been lost from the cars, it really makes me angry because I loved F1 that much…now I’m a WEC fan, the racing and cars are great, there are many more bigger name drivers in the WEC, its looking like a F1 grid from a couple years ago…Gimmi Bruni who languished at Minardi is now the top GT-PRO in the world with 12 wins since 2012…bottom line is put back the performance to somewhere near 2004-2006. Until then, we just might seeing a beginning of the end of F1 as we know it…but with F1 the way it is now, I could care less…

      2. and another +100!

        1. and another +100

        2. Well, -200 then.

          It is in a mess, the tyres are awful, the cars are heavy and slow, very little physical challenge, and they sound crap.

          But saying this, here, is ‘moaning’.

          1. You also forgot to moan about how they can’t follow each other within 2 seconds. It is a broken formula at the moment- just facing the facts. WEC seems to have a good racing formula right now as does Indycar. The F1 formula just doesn’t encourage hard, close racing- it actually penalizes it. Put me in the moaners category if you must.

      3. petebaldwin (@)
        14th May 2015, 16:29

        Ok so I agree with the concept that moaners are always louder than people who are satisfied…

        Would be nice to clarify something though – you mention “people who are happy” and a bunch of people appear to have agreed with your comments so I assume they think the same…. Are you talking solely about the engines or are you referring to the sport as a whole because if anyone is happy with F1 as it is, I’d be very surprised!

    2. The thing is, after all the media massage that something has to be “fixed” with F1 from the likes of Luca, Flav (oh, my why do people even listen to him anymore), Bernie, Horner, etc and then from ex drivers trying to reinvent the wheel and telling us how drivers stopped liking the driving, people feel that action is needed.

      Its much the same as in politics, we have an incident, and suddenly the parliaments are discussing details of a single case/individual/… and coming up with new laws and measures to be seen to “do something”, while not doing anything but actually letting the people who do the real work do their work would be far more helpfull.

      The real issue that F1 is struggling with is the incredible cost of competition paired with an unsustainable distribution of the funds and unhealthy governance model.
      None of these things is improved by making everyone fork out more money for radical new things or old things, and they are unlikely to make the racing much more interesting.

    3. on almos each and every forum there seems to be to be substantial support for a major shake up in areas of design

      or people with a hidden agenda do it on purpose….if you don´t believe me just look at the various comments of Ecclestones and Red Bulls aficionados recently ….Horner, Marko (but only when he isn´t insulting his engine deliverer) Coulthard, Webber, Walker, Sainz, Briatore…so we have a bunch of constant whinos in the web who moan a lot to look like a majorita of fans. But if someone is arguing full-throated doesn´t mean he is right, as much as a loud engine doesn´t say much of its power.

      1. everyone seams to forget F1 has always taken time to adjust to new reg’s
        give it time, Merc can only develop their car/engine so far after that it is very fine tweets,
        slowly and surely the field will catch up.

  2. Whilst I still feel that little changes need to be made here and there with regards to the on-track side of things, I agree that a complete shake-up of the rules will only end up with what we saw last year, or what we saw at the start of 2009, or the start of 2006 – domination by one team. Is the so-called Strategy Group competent enough to come up with rule changes which are good for F1? The whole double points and standing safety car restarts farce says otherwise.

    I am in no way a fan of the way that the Strategy Group operates itself, nor am I a fan of much of the terrible ideas it comes up with, and I am certainly not a fan of having a select number of teams decide on what the rules should be for all of the teams.

    The fewer changes that they come up with, the better in my eyes.

    1. Yeah, fundamentally there’s not that much that needs to change. A few technical regulations that allow the cars to rev higher and reduce the drag, and maybe some more solid guidelines which set out to help protect the heritage circuits if they struggle financially. Also it should be less easy for people with enough money to build a track and host a grands prix, bad races and empty grand stands hurt the image of the sport too much. Maybe fans should have a say in the race calendar?

    2. Even better than no change would be the gradual undoing of the terrible gimmicks and a similarly gradual reduction in the straitjacket design rules. Let’s start byallowing decent tyres and letting the teams decide how to use them.

      Alternately, we should leave it to Bernie, I really want to see the sprinklers, and most of all the Wall of Fire.

  3. I hope they just do one thing: bring all the other teams into the group.

    1. Nah, get rid of them!

      Let the regulators regulate, and let the racers race to the regulations!

  4. I agree with not having a major shake up of the rules in the shott term. But loosening up the fuel flow rules and more lasting tyres (enter Michelin) are imho good for the sport.

    And for the more distant future something should be done about being able to ride in eachothers slipstream. Maybe re-introducing ground effect with simpler wings. More downforce, but less susceptible to the turbulence of the car in front while at the same time generating less turbulence.

    1. why the fuel should be an issue? this PU with those restrictions are getting more than 850bhp. Is it more fuel (or bhp for that matter) the answer? some people look with pink tint the “old good days” of senna racing mansell racing piquet racing prost… in 88 where the most powerful engine available was a whoping… 650bhp. So, is more power the secret? is more fuel? or is it less aero dependant and more freedom for the engineers the answer?

      1. @matiascasali, I vote for the latter.

  5. I think the Strategy Group should pay much more attention to the promotion of the sport. If reversed grids were the solution, then several other series, such as the WTCC, would be more popular than F1. F1 can be the most exciting and unpredictable sport in the world but if people do think that it is lame or do not know about it, then it is doomed.

    This has been the most exciting decade in the history of F1 with a lot of thrilling races, unpredictable results and close battles. If you cannot sell this product, then you cannot sell anything. “F1 is cool!” – people, who are not F1 fans or who follow the sport occasionally, should receive this message. Even if the last race was boring, even if one team is dominating, it is still cool. F1’s recent activities in the social media is a good example of how to deliver that message but much more could be done to tell the world how amazing F1 is.

    1. no, that is the thing, it is not cool anymore. cool was when it was massively faster then any other racing series, and when it had exotic high reving and loud engines, that made it a cool spectacle. now it is slightly faster then tin top WEC cars, and sounds like a generic local league superbike race series, but at lower decibles. f1 is not cool at the moment.

    2. Thanx Girts, good point. Look what they do with Formula E PR-wise, should even be easier to succeed with Formula 1? But obviously, the FIA is invisible……

      1. Blame the FIA for many its many failures, but promoting the sport is the responsibility of the Commercial Rights Holder , that’s Bernie, and he has mostly been to tight to do anything but what he has done has been terrible for F1, you can bet he was forced into the recent digital releases.

  6. The main problem now is simply that everyone find F1 simply boring.
    To fix it would be easy!

    1. A fairer revenue distribution so all teams have a chance to compete. Everyone understands that this is not the case at present so the excitement of competition is gone.

    2. More power to make the cars exiting to watch. So. get rid of the limitations on fuel flow. More power, more noise.

    3. Readress the downforce / mechanical grip equation. Limit the wings in size and to one element structures without slots and increase the width of the tires. This should be done to such an extent that DRS is not needed
    any more.

    1. The main problem now is simply that everyone find F1 simply boring.

      Who is “everyone”?

      1. Those who stop watching.

        1. im with you here. i think to spice up f1, they should make one of the races per year a endurance round, where either the teammates share a car, or the team enters 2 new drivers to pair their race drivers. in Australia in V8 Supercars, the endurance round of Bathurst is the most popular round of the year. WEC is gaining popularity. F1 should take a risk and do something exciting like an enduro race. The Mercedes engines could already do a 6 hour event, as they have lasted the first 5 races.

          1. Don’t forget the Wall of Fire and the sprinklers.

        2. Ah, ok, so you meant to write:

          “The main problem now is simply that every who stops watching find F1 simply boring.”

          Thanks for clarifying. :)

        3. Those who stop watching normally aren´t bothered by F1 anymore, so it shouldn´t care them if F1 is “boring” or not. But I guess you think of the people who tell us 100.000 times they how they are fed up with F1 and will consume WEC or MotoGP in the future….. :-D

      2. Come on now, you don’t need to do too much reading to see how many people are thoroughly teed off with F1 at present.

        There are a few brave souls who love it even now, but they are diminishing, and let’s remember, President Nixon’s approval rating after the Watergate scandal was 24%. Yes, one in four thought he was still doing a good job! That will always be the case, some will stick their heads in the sand and defend something no matter what.

        1. It’s rather arrogant for a person to assume that all F1 fans share their views. Unless “sven” has surveyed every single F1 aficionado on the planet, of course.

          Yes, lots of people find F1 boring (I can’t say this year has been all that great thus far), but *all* fans? I’m sure there’s one or two out there who find it spellbinding, still.

          1. @jules-winfield

            Well, fair enough, and I envy them really. Oh to be so easily pleased! I suspect many of therm though are quite new to F1 and certainly I expect many are TV-only fans.

          2. Sven said people, not fans, statistically he must be close to the truth or there would not be a problem, financial or otherwise, but beware trying to please all of the people all of the time.

        2. paulguitar, The only person who´s regularly complaining and whining about “the sound” in this community are you. So please accept that the stupid “sound discussion” is virtually over due to lack of participants. And please also accept that there are more fans online who do not share your one-dimension views about the future of our sport as you may imagine. Thank you.

          1. @megatron

            It is clearly not ‘only me’, and you don’t know what my views are about the future of the sport, whether they are ‘one-dimension’ or otherwise.

            There is a lot to improve, so perhaps consider quitting insulting others and try to contribute more positively?


    2. I agree with your first point Sven.

      But the rest? Sorry, but IMO it would be far more sensible to open up and start actually showing what great job the current technology is doing (before the new rules they used up to 150 kg of fuel for a race, now don’t even tank full 100kg for every race!) AND they have a higher top speed too.
      So, apart from the broken governance (teams deciding there own rules) and disfunctional financial structure, the thing that is most needed is a promotor that actually goes out and promotes the sport, in cooperation with the teams and the tracks.

    3. In my view only point 1 is relevant. When you have Williams receiving less in payouts for finishing 3rd than it would have if the pot were split evenly, then anyone behind them has zero chance of catching up to the lead on merit. “How fast do you want to spend,” is still the question in racing. If the funds were distributed fairly, then the field would close up substantially and the tail end would be more secure. Right now, only McLaren, RBR, and Ferrari have a legitimate basis in resources to challenge for wins. The fact that two of these have lost their way is the reason for the lack of good racing, at least in the form we have known for a generation.

      As for power, the cars have plenty of power. They are near historic peaks in power levels for F1.

      As for downforce, if you want to add DF without wings and associated turbulence, you need to add it under the cars. But F1 got rid of tunnels to slow the cars down, because it was hard to control this kind of development. Prototypes were making 3000lbs+ of rear downforce in the early 90s with the most primitive tunnel designs and simple wings; imagine what would happen with modern techniques. You can’t have everything. What we have now is a compromise for formula cars worked out over a generation. Everyone jumps and says, hey we need to do less wings and more tires, or tunnels and skinny tires, or big grooved tires, like it’s the first time it’s come up, and many of these things were tried in desperation and discarded in dismay long ago.

      If we want to get out of this “box,” we may need to reconceive the formula race car. This idea of open cockpit, open wheels answers only to nostalgia (although GP cars have in fact had fenders). And it brings with it serious limitations in terms of turbulence, safety, and other issues. We may need to move on from this.

      1. @dmw, I’m glad it was you who 1st. spoke this heresy, but it is absolutely true that the openwheeler configuration is far more anachronistic than any of my calls for better lasting tyres, smaller wings and no pit-stops, the open-wheeled single seater came about by the simple desire to reduce weight and drag, most easily achieved by removing the bodywork and mudguards, ironic that we now have drag inducing wings. It may well be time to re-think the concept if we want F1 to remain the pinnacle of motorsport.

        1. Michael Brown
          15th May 2015, 3:45

          Those are some very good points. If we were to go from a current car to, say, something that looks like the Red Bull X2010, I’m sure we’d get complaints about how it’s not F1. Well, then, what is F1? If F1 wants to be the pinnacle of motorsport, then it needs to realize that it can’t keep the same kind of car forever. Something’s going to catch up, and that’s exactly what WEC is doing.

  7. Robert McKay
    14th May 2015, 13:40

    The problem to me is that if the rules stay the same the competitive order stays the same.

    Over the last few years the only real significant jumbles to the competitive order have been when a major set of rule changes have happened and one or some teams have essentially forward planned for that period better than the rest. This is generally either because they were already doing crap and could afford to write off a season or even more and scrap development on their current car, or they were not competing for the championship in the season prior to the change so they didn’t have to stretch themselves too thin fighting on multiple fronts.

    The field might close up a bit with stable, consistent rules, but no real paradigm shift in the order changes without a paradigm shift in the rules. Which isn’t necessarily disastrous in itself but you’d not have seen the variety in WDC’s and WCC’s we have (and even that in itself isn’t great) if the rules didn’t change at least semi-regularly.

    Further, the teams are so highly professional and such good scientists and engineers that they optimise to the best solution they can do, in ever-quicker periods of time. Rule changes are, in the modern era, generally good for unpredictability for half to two-thirds of the first season introduced. After that, essentially it’s a solved formula, the order is more fixed, the unpredictability more limited.

    I’d argue that the teams actually need a constant and steady stream of rule changes to keep them continually off-balance, continually having to learn and adapt, stopping them effectively just slipping totally into a ranking by budget expenditure.

    This doesn’t mean changing the engine formula every 365 days, but I think every season there should be enough minor changes to the sporting regs – modifications to the quali set up, new tyre rules, etc. etc. that don’t fundamentally change the game but provide new things to factor in, and every, say, 6 seasons there should be a fairly substantial set of changes to the technical regulations of the day.

    The point would be that each set of rule changes would be signposted well in advance, not continually tinkered with and shaped by the teams up until the last minute and even after. This would give the teams time to anticipate and react to them and factor them into the working budget, whilst at the same time allowing different teams to try and do a better job from near-scratch as opposed to trying to optimise what near-optimised concept they have at the time. Continual minor changes in the sporting regs keeps things from stagnating too much in each block of stable seasons.

    Over and above, it needs the teams to be removed from the rule-making and rule-changing process, so that winning on-track is not done because you out-politicked a rival(s) over a rule change 3 years ago.

    My tuppence, others may disagree?

    1. Others may disagree, but I think you’re spot on. Without changes every now and then, teams would reach optimal performance and the amount of cash spent would be the only thing to influence the pecking order…

    2. You have a good point Robert but I think a look at the 3Lna/1.5Lfi era starting in 1966 is a good illustration of stable rules but changing fortunes in F1, although I am sure to be reminded by the spreadsheet keepers that there were lots of rule changes like moving the ashtray from the left side to the right, banning ashtrays before making them mandatory etc.

  8. I don’t see what’s wrong with sprinklers. How is it more artificial than anything else about racing within a set of rules that constrain and define everything? Cars that can’t carry anything and end up where they started, after all.

    And the fun we could have over when they get turned on and off…

    Anyway I’m glad to see Bernie being nice about Pirelli. I just wish he’d go for low-profile tyres.

    1. wouldnt this make the cars slower still?

      1. Wet races are a perfect illustration of why ‘make them faster’ isn’t a solution. There’s so much muddled thinking about it. They wanted an excess of toque over traction, which we now have, so from time to time a car gets out of shape on corner exit and becomes vulnerable to the car behind. Great! But what next? Oh. Fatter tyres baby. I mean, they’ll look dramatic and James Hunt, dude.

    2. And the fun we could have over when they get turned on and off…


      It’s true though.. it would be highly entertaining when suddenly in the middle of a corner sprinklers are turned on all over the circuit, maybe it would catch a few drivers out. I’m sure Pastor would wreck his car

    3. Indeed, I don’t really understand where people draw the line between “artificial” and “natural” racing… Purists might as well give up on f1 and go watch people run barefoot.

    4. Great, may I sign you up to my campaign for the wall of fire and watersplash?

  9. Tyres.
    just give us tyres that you can PUSH hard for 20 laps. By hard… I mean HARD on the limit! There are already enough variables and it’s one extra we don’t need.

    1. Yup- cut aero 10-20% by outlawing all those frou-frou elements on the wings, fatten the tires 20-30% and give the teams some compounds that can be hammered like the WEC Michelin tires. Bring commitment back to driving an F1 car. That stupid fuel flow limit wouldn’t be a bad drop either…

    2. The teams would take those, analise them and then advise their drivers to treat them with care, so that they can drive the whole race with them. Ta-da! Back to square one, i.e. the late Bridgestone years, when tyre deg simply wasn’t a factor. And races like this year’s Spanish GP would’ve been considered a bit of a thriller.

      1. Bridgestone era, blah blah yackety yack, the statisticians keep telling us that there was plenty of passing in that era despite retaining re-fueling and the tyres being compromised by grooves reducing the surface area and stability of the contact patch.

        1. @hohum
          Oh, I’m all for re-fueling. I honestly never understood why they banned it. Fire accidents, shmire accidents. I’ve seen far more loose wheels and otherwise dangerous situations in the pits due to the mere split-seconds in which the job has to be done nowadays than I have seen burning men in the past decade.

          Our misunderstandings don’t stop there. I mentioned the “Bridgestone era”, you’re talking about grooved tyres. The Bridgestone era I’m referring to spans from 2007 to 2011 (i.e. the seasons when they were the only tyre supplier; I like the rhyme), so 2 seasons with grooved tyres, and 3 with slicks. And my observation stems primarily from the latter phase, especially when the re-fueling ban and extremely durable slicks met. As I mentioned elsewhere, races back then tended to feature merry free-for-all overtaking in the opening laps, but as soon as the required tyre temperatures were reached, all chances of overtaking between cars whose speed was even remotely similar were dead. Abu Dhabi 2010 stands out in hindsight, but it was only the most famous of a string of races that featured mostly artificial one-stop strategies (with the tyres being changed at the first opportunity, i.e. during a Safety Car) and little to virtually no on-track overtaking.

          I don’t know what statisticians you’re referring to, and I can’t say I have any statistics prepared to prove the opposite right now, but I strongly feel that there’s been a very significant increase of on-track overtaking since the arrival of Pirelli.

          1. @nase

            Re-fueling killed both quali (‘fuel corrected’ times) and the races themselves as there was almost never any racing on the track, it was all done in the pits.

          2. @paulguitar
            I’ve had to look at your profile to make sure. If you’ve been following F1 since 1978, how can you say refuelling “killed” qualifying? After all, refuelling was allowed from 1994 to 2009, and only in half of these seasons (2002-2009) was qualifying affected by fuel loads (and from 2006 to 2009 “only” Q3 was affected). I think it also goes without saying that refuelling during qualifying and during races don’t necessarily have to be connected at all.

            I’ve seen both, races with and without refuelling, and I don’t think I could agree less. When refuelling was banned in 2010, qualifying didn’t suddenly get thrilling. Red Bull had the fastest car, so what we got was 15 Rebby poles in 19 races. The year after that, 18/19. Yawn. No possibility to leapfrog the faster teams by choosing a different strategy, just them being faster and that was it. This only improved when Pirelli entered the stage, and I think they’ve done a brilliant job as a remedy for many of the problems that arose when refuelling was taken out of the equation.

            Also, banning refuelling didn’t un-kill the races. They had been fairly strategical, or processional, ever since the introduction of the grooved tyres in 1998, with overtaking reaching relative lows when aerodynamic downforce peaked (roughly 2002-2005), and when Bridgestone started producing extremely durable, one-stoppable “concrete”, tyres (roughly 2009-2011). Racing back then pretty much amounted to following the car in front while trying to get them in the pits. Again, this has somewhat changed since Pirelli took over.

            Anyways, it looks like refuelling could be back in 2017, which is all I can ask for. Thank you, Strategy Group.

          3. @nase

            Yes, l I should have said the ‘fuel corrected’ quali was the what was a farce. You are right that it was only in those years, I am still so traumatized, I had forgotten the details……:)

            I am willing to be open-minded on the changes, hopefully they will indeed help towards the drivers pushing properly again.

            Can’t agree about the clown tyres though.

          4. @nase,well I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  10. Hedley Thorne
    14th May 2015, 15:19

    They need to sit down, watch a race from about 1998-2000 and note what is different to now. People used to gasp when the cars shot by, the sensation was incredible and the screaming noise elevated it above other categories of racing. On the TV it looked faster and braver, the tracks were awesome (think Hockenheim and Magny), the grandstands were rammed, it was all on BBC and the drivers found it physically demanding. The racing was good too. Not that it is terrible now, but that is only one element of the show.

    1. Or watch the German Grand Prix from 1973 at the Nurburgring. The full race is on You Tube. No commentary, just what you hear from the PA system and the noise of the cars and seeing them
      wrestled by the drivers.

    2. Robert McKay
      14th May 2015, 19:43

      But even back then I remember so much grumbling about the cars being skittish and the dirty air being such a problem and the new grooves in the slicks being horrid.

      If it was a golden age – 1998 in particular, and I’m not saying it wasn’t – it still had a level of bitching about it that “stuff was better back in the day”.

      1. See Sven above.

  11. F1 really needs better promotion from many F1 people as well as media people.
    Why not to pay more attention to introduce the beautiful stuff in F1 to the public?

  12. History shows that when the technical rules stay stable, teams’ performance tend to converge

    That’s only true when you have rules which are stable but which allow for technical innovation within that stability. It is not true when you have stable rules which act to lock in place one teams technical advantage by restricting the ability of the slower teams to innovate. And that’s the case we’re stuck with at present due to the restrictions on engine development.

    I can’t help suspecting that if it were some driver other than Hamilton racking up lots of poles, wins and titles there would be much more demand for change. Certainly during the years 2010-2013 there was constant clamor for rules changes … and that was in a situation where there was already no restriction in the rules on anybody competing with RB.

    1. Not just restrictions on engine developmentbut also on engine design which is so tight that it is a mystery as to how Renault could have got it so badly wrong on the 2nd attempt.

  13. At it’s core F1 is about the originality of it’s extreme cars (nowhere else we have machines like these). Engineers love to design them, drivers love to drive them and fans love to see them. As long as this stays, the “business” will survive ( with thriving and declining phases). Also, till it exists, everyone involved can pretend and argue over what this “sport” should be.

    1. I think this comment touchs a very interesting point. The problem is that engineers are complaining that they do not have freedom to design the cars as they want, drivers are complaining that they can’t push it as they want and fans are complaining that they are not as beatiful, impressive or loud as they want. If no one loves anything anymore how can it continue like so?

  14. F1 needs variety on the grid. That’s the sole reason for the rise of WEC. F1 is too restrictive.
    The dirty air/front grip issue needs to be fixed.Having watched the first five races, I get the feeling we’re in for some really boring races this season.

  15. RogerRichards
    14th May 2015, 19:04

    That’s the sole reason for the rise of WEC.

    @brianfrank302 In what way is the WEC rising?

    Its circuit attendance & TV figures are still as low as they were a few years ago.

  16. As much as I dislike *some* parts of the current F1, I have to say, a lot of people tend to over-react when the sport isn’t what it was when they started watching it.

    In WWE, which isn’t even a “sport”, in about 2005 people whined about the lost of the “The Rock, Stone Cold” era. Right now across forums people are missing the times when John Cena, Edge, Triple H, The Undertaker dominated the show.

    Or even in football, old folks would say football today isn’t as good as the Pele-Maradona era, or the Zidane-Figo era. I bet a kid growing today will whine to his kid about how football then won’t be as good as the Ronaldo-Messi current era.

    It’s not a coincidence that the majority of people here are remembering the 1980s , 1990s and 2000s F1 era. Even though there were fantastic races in the 1960s and the 1970s as well. It was when they started watching F1.

    In all honesty I know I guy who has just started watching F1 last year. For him, V6s turbos, tyres deg, and the fairly new tracks is what F1 *is*. I’m sure he will also whine when they decide to change to rules drastically again.

    There was no time without a boring race or some domination. There was no time without controversials about off-track activities.

    Now, there *are* problems that need solving. But not to the extreme that a lot of people describe as if the sport is dying. The sport is only dying *for them*. New fans will come like they always did and a lot will stay; I will still look forward to the next race in Monaco with great hopes!

    1. Sean (@spaceman1861)
      14th May 2015, 23:47

      To me his has a parallel with star wars and doctor who. Everybody who saw 4,5,6 seems to hate 1,2,3 but having seen 1,2,3 first, star wars to me is predominantly focus around those experiences. Same with doctor who as a trend people seem to like the first doctor the most. People don’t like change :P.

      I started watching f1 during the season red bull won their first championship. So v8s are normal to me I personally don’t mind the v6s but having been to the race in Melbourne the last year of the v8s i will never forget that sound and when f1 is mentioned that’s one of the first thing that comes to my mind. Along with “not bad for a number 2 driver” #zing. This wont change if we got to/back to v8/v10/v12/some other engine formula. F1 will always be compared to that first experience for me.

      Again, people don’t like change. But all it takes is an open mind.

  17. I am interested in the suggestion of technical changes for 2017.

    If these regulations stay the same past 2016, the order is going to be more or less the same as well. Like at the end of 2013, you get towards the end of a formula and it gets very predictable as the big teams can use their extra budget squeezing out that extra tiny bit of lap time.

    One thing that certainly needs fixing is the issue of cars not being able to follow each other. With these ever-more complicated front wings (and maybe the low noses have an effect?) the racing is suffering. Have a proper study by experts into how to improve the aero of these cars which allow them to follow each other but at the same time not pricing teams out of the sport. Loosen up the rules a bit though so the engineers can show their skill. As the engines get cheaper, allow more scope with the aero. The current rules are too restrictive.

    I’m repeating what DC has said a bit, but I agree with a lot of what he’s said. People say the races were boring in the early 2000s, but at least you knew the drivers really had to put a shift in to complete the race. Right now we’re getting boring races where the drivers haven’t had to break sweat as they haven’t been able to push because of the sensitive tyres, with lap times that are very slow compared to past years (excluding 2014). Less-sensitive tyres would be something to look at. Obviously I don’t want boring races either! That’s why a thorough study into changes should be undertaken which would hopefully improve the racing.

    I’m might get pelters for this, but I think increasing the sound isn’t a bad thing. Less noise hasn’t put me off attending races, but I can’t help the way I feel, having watched live races pre-2014, in that I would love more sound in F1. We have to keep these engines, I’m not against them. I just think adding more sound would make F1 a more spectacular sport to watch and, along with slashing tickets prices, would help to get more fans to the track.

    And hopefully we’d have these rules for a long time so we can have that stability, just less restrictive than we have now.

    Just my opinion. If you’ve read it, please be nice :)

    1. Good points, but, the sound thing ! we want F1 to be the pinnacle of technology but we don’t want the sound that comes with it, any increase in the sound will be another gimmick, a nod to the past.

  18. I think the two big problems are lack of Free to Air TV broadcasting, and lack of guaranteed racing coverage per team. Why should people pay to watch what they hear are boring races? On the other hand, if people hear it is free to watch the premier motor racing series, and especially if there is a re-broadcast of the race at amenable hours, then that will encourage them to at least have a look.
    Advertising can be a major source of income for the lower ranked teams, but by excluding them from “camera time” means potential advertisers are put off. Manor Racing is a prime example of this, they still have to suffer with being a “background shot” rather than being “in the foreground”, and still don’t seem to have a major advertiser.

  19. Bring back tyre wars, they fit right in with engine wars, body wars and driver wars. If tyres didn’t degrade so quickly in dirty air there would be more overtaking so DRS could go. I also don’t see a problem with limiting aero to prevent too much dirty air stopping overtaking.
    Why do we have to have pit stops? Track athletes don’t have to sit down and change shoes half way through a race.
    The winner should be the best driver in the best car with the best engine and using the best tyres.
    Make financial recompense fairer – no backroom deals for Bernie’s favourites – a straight points based system. Most money for first – nothing for last – this should be on a race by race basis – so over a season everyone should get some income.
    Ban pay drivers – get a drive on merit – each driver should have been in F1 already or in the top 3 in a feeder series – this would allow driver sponsorship deals to be involved but not be the major deciding factor.
    Limit expenditure to the income earned in previous season. New teams should get an average amount in year 1. this expenditure can be used to develop chassis. Tyre and engine manufacturers would have the same rules but averaged out dependent on number of teams using their engines or tyres. Careful accounting should ensure fairness.

    1. @lass321, good comments generally but I have to take exception to;

      Limit expenditure to the income earned in the previous season.

      1 bad season would guarantee a never ending downward spiral to bankruptcy.

  20. F1 is a sport and must be run as such. The egalitarian rubbish that has poisoned the sport for many years has to go. The owners (CVC) need to take less of a cut and teams should be given much more flexibility. You cannot hold teams back because another does not have the money to compete. let them spend and it will attract others. Who would want to enter a sport with such control. It is all about money and nobody will spend it knowing that with the current restrictions you are going to fail at $400m per year but you might not at $450/$500. No other series in any sport allows it but it happens in F1. Who has heard of Villa Avilla, VFL Fronlach, Lucchese or Kettering outside there own field but it does not stop spending by the major football teams. The same happens in every sport but F1 wants to be equal. It is rubbish full stop. A manufacturer will not want to see their marque rubbished by ridiculous rules but we see it all the time now in F1. Let them spend and let the weaker teams go. 4 engines per year save no money whatsoever as does the lack of testing. The sport has existed on research, development and testing, stop that and you stop the sport. Nobody will associate themselves with the constraints that exist and it won’t be long until the whole lot has gone. All teams should be able to choose engine size, tyres, budgets and testing. control car weight and physical size. Big V12/V10 will suit some tracks and vice versa with V6/V4 etc. Please don’t tell me that the current cars are better than they were. Where else do competitors refrain from eating and drinking to get a car down to weight. Is there any driver in F1 with underarm hair or does that weigh too much?

    1. You had me until you got to “engine size” but I could accept it with a fuel limit replacing a swept volume limit.

  21. Apparently they are talking about customer cars again. Sounds like they arrived there after failing to agree on anything else. Hopefully they were just a bit tired and needed some kind of outcome to take forward.

  22. Smedley is right: History shows that when the technical rules stay stable, teams’ performance tend to converge, and that allows for more competitive and unpredictable racing.

    Except it does not: Williams would have continued to run away with the mid-90s like they did if not for the extreme rule changes of 1994. Ferrari’s continous domination of the early 00s was only ended by the tyre rules of 2005 and those are just the examples I can think of off the back of my head.

    The sad thing is I fully agree with your general point, it would do F1 some good to settle down. However, arguing for that with “facts” that just aren’t such does not help anyone.

    1. like they did

      in 1992 and 1993.

  23. @keithcollantine said –

    But if the discussions really were that unproductive, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

    It’s about the only thing that will keep costs down and insure some stability.

  24. Dr Robert Jones
    15th May 2015, 22:11

    Don’t you feel deceived ? this is a steering group of interested parties who cannot agree to do anything but nothing ? Clearly this has nothing to do with strategy and is a real insult to professional strategy professionals who have spent years in business school to call themselves strategists.

    Step one hirer a steering group who have actually got business qualifications not a wedge in the door ???

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