Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2016

F1 should consider shorter races – Button

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Jenson Button believes Formula 1 should contemplate reducing the length of grands prix to make the sport more attractive to younger viewers.

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  • 87 comments on “F1 should consider shorter races – Button”

    1. Well, F1 should try some of the V8SC formats: A certain amount of miles per weekend, varying them in a single race on Sunday, two same length on Sat-Sun, or even two Sat short races plus a longer Sun race.

      1. I can’t stand the v8 format which is one of the many reasons I don’t watch it.

        1. @selbbin I love to watch the Supercars, although I agree its many formats each weekend make it confusing.

      2. I don’t like this short race idea. Sprint races work fine well the field is balanced, that’s why they work well with spec series but in a series like F1 it will exacerbate even more the dominance of some teams once they will not need to run many strategies but race to the flag when the lights go out.

      3. I was at few WSR events back when it was owned by Renault. Formula Renault 3.5 races were way too short. Every time after the race you think – they could be more interesting, if would be twice longer. 1,5 – 2 hours is perfectly fine.

    2. Sorry Jenson, I have to disagree, attention spans are fine if the thing being paid attention to is exciting and suspenseful, remember what Harry Potter did for a generation of children whose attention spans were supposed to be too short for reading books. In some respects I see your point, all those processional laps extending tyre-life would go, likewise the pit-stops and chess-like strategies, then we might get the kind of racing we get when the safety car gets everybody on new tyres for the last 15 laps of the race, the kind of racing we love, the kind of racing where the only strategy is go as fast as possible and get ahead of the car(s) in front, but Jenson, we can have that in a 90 minute race if only the tyres were made to last a full race distance and pitstops were limited to damage repair and punctures.

      1. Unlimited fuel can make Formula 1 proper sprint races and leave fuel economy and stuff to WEC.

      2. @hohum

        and pitstops were limited to damage repair and punctures.

        I usually stay out of your crusade against the tyres, but wanting to sport to go back to (essentially) the dreadful ’05 tyre rules would be awful.

        Not only would it risk the repeat of the Indianapolis debacle, but if the lack of fuel strategy and DRS offering no chance of defence is bad now, imagine that combined with drivers being unable to defend on worn tyres for the entire final third of the race because they just happened to have had a bust-up with someone 10 laps earlier?

        1. @optimaximal, No, no, no, not 05, more like 65, or if you insist on having tyre management as a feature think the Prost/Senna era. Exactly what do you mean by a “bust-up”? if you mean a bit of a battle for position then proper tyres should not lose performance much at all, certainly not like these Pirellis, and the nature of the race would ensure that the entire field would be involved in battles for position and suffering similar wear-rates, that’s what we wan’t, isn’t it ?

          1. @hohum, and yet again with your focus on the early 1960’s, you persist in insisting that the sport should revert back to an era that is now closer to the outbreak of the First World War than it is to the modern era.

            1. @anon, it is the durability of the Pirelli tyres that is closer to WW1 performance than 21st. century technology will allow, it is a gimmick, it is a failure, and it is driving away fans looking for exciting racing.

        2. @optimaximal, Indy 05 !? That’s a huge stretch, it had nothing to do with tyres being durable enough to last the full race distance.

      3. @hohum

        What’s so bad with degrading tyres? It’s great and has produced some great races. If he had tyres going te whole distance with the same 2 by 2 field we have now, how boring and processional would those races be. There are bigger problems for F1, like Mercedes dominance and dirty air, which imo is a much bigger cause for concern. Degrading tyres are good, and only nostalgia critics hate them.

        1. Get rid of degrading tyres, keep 3 compounds of tyre have a mandatory minimum 2 pit stops and have it where all three compounds have to be used. Also have the tyres only being used for a certain amount of laps ie soft 10 laps and then a mandatory pit stop medium 15 laps then mandatory pit stop. This would really mix things up.

          1. I’ld like to see all rules on tyres gone. Use whatever tyre you want, at a anytime.

            1. I’m with you.

            2. watch it there son, you are thinking too far outside the square :) Switch back to your regularly scheduled programming before it’s too late.

        2. @lolzerbob these high degredation tyres have been simply awful & I fail to see how anyone could argue they have been good for the sport.

          watching drivers having to drive slowly & be challenged so little physically because of how far off the pace there been forced to drive has made the tyre deg era one of the worst i’ve ever had the misfortune of watching.

          most fans don’t like them, most the teams don’t like them & its become perfectly clear that none of the drivers like these awful high degredation tyres either. f1 has become the laughing stock of the motorsport world because of these high degredation tyres & its imperative that f1 goes back to proper racing tyres as soon as possible.

        3. @lolzerbob, I think it’s hard for fans who have never seen F1 without pitstops to understand the different dynamics but you must not make the mistake of assuming everything else will be the same as now only without tyre difference to mix up the order, it is the pitstop strategy that puts the drivers into open air to race on their own until hopefully they can run down another car limping around on worn tyres OR pass them in the pits, without those pitstops the RedBulls would be fighting with each other and the Ferraris (maybe MB) bringing Williams, FI, up into striking distance, so while the leader might get away (as in MotoGP) the fight for the podium and points would be a racelong battle not a last lap dash.

          ANON, I’m NOT calling for OLD TECHNOLOGY, I’m calling for reverting to the CLASSIC, gimmick free, format with which there was nothing wrong.

      4. Sorry Jenson. Short attentions spans are not something that should be encouraged. If one had to choose between the two, being able to concentrate for long periods is preferred. The sooner we start educating and stop pandering to weakness the better the human race will be. This is the same reasoning that have all films on TV ruined by a short ‘info/celeb/tat’ break in the middle of it.
        Spelling and grammar has gone out of the window due to this backward thinking. Why bother learning when the world will change for you.

    3. I’ve actually always wanted to see 2 sprint races on Sundays. GP2 has a great model IMO.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        30th October 2016, 9:49

        That’s not a Grand Prix; more like 2 Petit Prix. @tweak

        I don’t mind a second race during the weekend, as long as the 2nd is a Quali race on Saturday (or even Sunday).
        The Quali race can be raced on the the longest lasting tyre with equal/ample fuel for all teams, and tyres/fuel to allow for 30min or so of full on racing.

        1. Ahhh forgot they call it Grand Prix, guess there’s no changing it :(

    4. A lot of kids seem to appreciate Mo Farah as well. What about triathlons, JB? or anything to do with cycling – that seems to take for ever for anything to happen.

      My attention starts to wander after a few laps when the tedious early stops begin and the race engineers begin their usual 80 minutes or more of keeping the cars apart on the track, managing them into gaps and avoiding any sort of a race. Best bit of the Austin “race” by far was when Alonso caught Massa and Sainz, but that couldn’t last long as we were running out of laps.

    5. How important is the matter of fuel though? I tried to ask back when Raikkonen did an interview praising Shell for their efforts. I remember reading years ago some insight that the mixtures are tested and extremely limited in terms of development opportunity. It’s hard to tell how much of it is just advertisement.

      1. You have to watch the regulations like a hawk to know what’s legal and what’s not, once upon a time it had to be regular pump fuel, remember when there had to 1litre + in the tank for testing at races end.

        1. They still require the 1 liter in the tank don’t they? Wasn’t aware that had changed. I guess you’re right that it’d need quite some investigation into the regs.

          1. Tristan, Hohum is wrong (not for the first time) – the requirement for there to be one litre of fuel in the tank for sampling is still part of the regulations.

            1. Thats why still some cars stop in the track or at entry of pit… to keep that 1lt…

            2. ANON, true, I am often wrong on the details as I don’t watch the regulations like a hawk, it’s just that it has been so long since any car fell foul of that reg. that I assumed it had been dropped with the introduction of the fuel metering device, therefore I am an ass.

    6. What the hell is Button on about? It’s not like football is on the decline because it lasts 90 minutes…. roughly a Grand Prix.

      1. @selbbin
        True, but when you consider that there can be multiple matches going on at the same time, it is far easier to change the channel to a more entertaining game. You can’t really do that with Formula 1

        1. Yes you can. Theres often an entertaining footballgame at the same time as F1.

    7. A Grand Prix is an event, hence all the money and attention. Splitting it up into several races, or reducing the length, dilutes it as an event.

      The biggest single problem is the pay TV wall.

      1. The biggest single problem is the pay TV wall.

        Exactly right! I would have thought the lack of recognition Jenson gets when walking around shopping malls or the main shopping areas in countries where F1 races are locked away behind the Pay wall would have told him that. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knows within hours of arriving in a country whether F1 races are on Free to Air TV or not, even before he has had a chance to look at what is on the TV. He should know that if no one knows who he is then they probably don’t know who the corporates are that sponsor his car and pay his wages.
        One of the most basic facts about Pay TV is it restricts the viewing audience, and the more F1 charges for people to watch their races the less brand recognition there is.

      2. @selbbin When Jenson tries to watch the races next year and realises how hard it is he’ll no doubt realise what rubbish he was talking

        1. Tommy Scragend
          30th October 2016, 13:05

          Jenson can probably afford Sky ;-)

      3. @selbbin With the second problem being unfair revenues distribution that prevents closer competition.

    8. I really hope they don’t mess with the format of a Grand Prix. Qualifying at the beginning of the year should have taught them that some things don’t need tinkering with.

      The format of qualifying works, it builds to a crescendo and the current tyre scheme gets the cars on track. And the race format works. Sure not every race is a classic, but you can’t contrive a good race it just tends to happen through a perfect storm of circumstances.

      The length of the race isn’t the problem, a GP is an event for me. Or at least it should be because I do think we have too many now. Get it back down to 19 a year. I didn’t think I would say it but they have felt too frequent this year.

      1. I agree not every race can be a classic and you can’t manufacture a classic they just happen. I do think we have too many races 16-20 is fine for me any more and its overkill. Before when there was less races each one felt a bit more important and special.

    9. Button’s lost the plot. I’ve seen plenty of dull GP3 races, and they’re shorter than F1 races. On the flipside I’ve seen absolutely epic six hour races in the World Endurance Championship.

      1. He’s been throwing out a lot of ideas in the press lately, I think he’s just trying to get Liberty thinking.

      2. @craig-o Right that he lost the plot. Addictive racing is not related to race duration. Though for WEC not everyone have the time to stay in front of a screen all day long.

    10. ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – The race distance isn’t a problem. The only thing that really needs fixing or at least some alterations is the ‘aero dependence’ which makes following another car for a long time difficult.

    11. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      30th October 2016, 8:35

      Off topic but I’ve really enjoyed the grip issues teams have been having at Mexico, great to see the cars sliding and the drivers really having to work hard to test the limits. It seems to have closed up the grid or at least added some unpredictability. Just shows more downforce and tyres with extra grip is the last thing F1 needs (excitement wise).

    12. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      30th October 2016, 8:41

      You’re wrong JB.
      Many things last longer than F1, yet have more viewership (Basketball, Football, most Tennis matches etc. etc.). The race duration is not the issue… Like at all.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        30th October 2016, 10:09

        most popular sports globally:
        1. Soccer/Football 90+mins
        2. Cricket 4 days!
        3. Field Hockey 60mins
        4. Tennis 164mins (US Open 2014)
        5. Volleyball 60mins
        6. Table Tennis seriously! 6th most popular sport?
        7. Baseball almost 3hrs
        8. Golf 4+hours (4 days)
        =9 Basketball 48mins (but up to 110 matches/year Mr Button)
        =9 American Football 60mins

        1. Cricket – 5 Days

        2. One-day cricket is much more popular than Test cricket now though I think?

          1. @george

            One day cricket is still 6-8 hours. the shortest format which is T20 still takes 3-4 hours

        3. @coldfly
          There are other factors to popularity.
          For most of the sports you mentioned, everyone can play it, everyone can easily understand the rules, everyone can engae in those sports. Cricket is interesting, in my opinion it is only popular in the countries that were british colonial states, especially India (it can raise the nuber of fans easily in any sport).

          As for F1 the rules are hard to understand for a non fanatic, you can never hop into an F1 car and go pedal to the metal on the great historic circuits, it is harder to like a sport that is this detatched from everyday life.

          I think time is the least discriminant factor when it comes to popularity of a sport. It is more about how you can interact with the fans, make the tickets cheaper, increase the number of TV viewers by removing the paywall, make the GP weekend a family event, get the sport closer to the people.

        4. @coldfly, with regards to cricket, whilst a Test series might last up to five days, by far the most popular version of that sport is the short form Twenty20 format (the most valuable cricket series, the Indian Premier League, exclusively uses that format). Those games are far shorter – three hours at most – and it is a high speed version of the game that was created for TV audiences because there was a quite limited audience for the Test format.

          With regards to the comments about the length of the races, it’s not just in F1 that there have been calls for races to be shortened. Stephan Winkelmann, the head of Audi’s motorsport division, mentioned earlier this year that Audi were actively looking for opportunities in series which had shorter races because they also thought that the attention span of the average viewer had decreased. Whether they are right is another matter, but it shows that there is the perception within the wider world of motorsport that races are too long to hold the attention of the viewers

        5. You haven’t watched an American football game have you? They last anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. The game time has nothing to do with how long it actually takes to play the game. The same applies for basketball, where a game can easily last 3 hours.

          1. Indeed – NASCAR races are very long too, not that they’re avoiding the downward trend in viewing figures.

    13. It’s definitely not the length of the Grand Prix that’s the problem. I think it’s mostly all the knee jerk reactions that cause fans to become weary. No set plan for F1, I feel the same as Ross Brawn. Clear 3/5 and 10 year plans to slowly evolve the sport into the epic spectacle it deserves to be.
      I have been watching for 30 years and am a huge Hamilton fan, however I hope every race for a bit of a challenge from other teams but am left disappointed when the inevitable happpens.
      I feel the true cause of all this is that the cars are just to easy to drive. Senna at times couldn’t lift the trophy on the podium. It used to be gladiatorial that was the fascination to me.
      Remove power steering and slowly make drs less effective. I miss overtaking moves that were built up over 10 laps.
      I think I am also for engine stabilisation regs, though not sure how it would work maybe just allow natural stabilisation through stable rules. But I am sure Ross would sort that out.
      I do hope that Jenson isn’t going to be as irritating as Jackie Stewart in his retirement.

      1. The problem is the whole world has been conditioned to instant gratification. It’s an ADD society.
        While one team dominating may have been tolerable in years gone by, the boredom of knowing exactly who will win has grown old. People want to see competition for the front. At least in the ‘RBR years’ we had a mix of winning drivers throughout the year (for the majority or the time anyways).
        Now that we are FINALLY seeing some development and a *little* closer racing after watching one of two drivers run away with it – the rules are getting changed again.
        The problem isn’t the length of time of the races themselves, but the lack of competition and foresight of the powers that be. Although my eyes do tend to glaze over after 2 hours of watching LH or NR cruise to victory.

    14. Disagree completely with Button. There are so many things F1 needs to improve before it considers fiddling with the race weekend format: getting a larger and more competitive field, making it easier for new fans to discover the sport in a pay TV era, improving the quality of racing and circuits… all that stuff.

      Besides which if the cars are going to be over five seconds per lap quicker next year the races will be shorter anyway…

      1. My point exactly. Races are 300km long, if cars go faster, they will be shorter.

        And format is fine. Football has 90 minutes, and nobody wants to tweak that.

      2. @keithcollantine Maybe Button should look for a series that has shorter races then. It’s still ment to be a Grand Prix.

      3. @keithcollantine

        Agree. The problem with F1 is the pay wall TV, dirty air, Mercedes dominance and closer field and to an extent DRS. Get these things sorted and then they can concentrate on smaller issues like noisier engines, helmet designs etc

        1. @Kavin Kannan And of course, the Ferrari/Schumacher dominance of 2002 and 2004 wasn’t a problem despite only one driver winning races regularly as opposed to two (Hamilton and Rosberg). I’d say the number one problem and also the only real problem is the ‘dirty air/aero dependence’ thing.

    15. The Reverse retro by Sean Bull is a message that speaks loud and clear: The current liveries look so dull when compared to the real 1985 grid, which incidentally featured 17 teams, one of them being Haas.
      Having sorted helmets, this might be a natural follow-up for FIA’s rule writing department: No basic colour is allowed to be used by more than two teams as dominant (at least 43.71% of the car’s surface). When more than two teams desire to use a certain colour (camo medium gray, boring dark gray, dull silverish-gray), a shoot-out will be arranged before a season starts in the form of a sprint race.

      1. Why a sprint race shoot out?

        I’d support it if it were pistol dueling.

    16. I have some sympathy with his comment. I have been following F1 since the 60s although I no longer attend races. I always watch the race -and qualifying avoiding checking here (if I have recorded it) so as not to spoil the viewing by knowing the result. However I confess that after the start I often watch bits on fast forward during the middle of the race.
      I have many friends who are less committed about F1 who comment that they only ever watch the start and in some cases come back and watch the end. These are the people his comments were probably aimed at rather than the diehards on here who will watch the race, quail and all three practices.

    17. The rise in popularity of the WEC basically proves the average motorsport fan has no interest in shorter races. If the stuff is good we want more rather than less.

      1. @xtwl To be honest WEC is on it’s way down though now,

        1. @lolzerbob, @huhhii What was trying to say is that if the race is good it can go on. It’s because it’s boring people lose interest, not inherently because it is long. So the average motorsport fan does not really car about the length of its race as long as its a good race.

      2. @xtwl, just curious, whilst that is a frequently reiterated refrain, has anybody actually tracked the viewing figures for the WEC and other sportscar series over, say, the past decade in the same way that people track viewing figures for F1? Have those figures actually gone up by as much as we think they have?

      3. @xtwl

        average motorsport fan has no interest in shorter races

        Not true. Formula E is on a massive rise so I think there’s demand for short races amongst motorsport fans. Besides WEC is going down fast.

        I’d like to see F1 drivers doing some short races, but not as a part of official championship. I think it would be cool if during F1 weekend the whole F1 grid would drive equal machinery (could be touring cars, GP3, GP2, etc.) during a short sprint race. No championship points or anything meaningful to be given. Just an exhibition race. It would serve a fantastic proving ground to whole F1 grid so I believe we’d see some serious racing despite championship points not being a part of it. Or alternatively they could give points in a race format like that and crown one driver a champion of this format after season ends. As long as it doesn’t interfere too much with official F1 championship battle it would work really well I believe.
        Adding a format like that could potentially help GP weekend attendances as well.

        F1 races themselves aren’t too long and I don’t think any changes are need to be made there.

        1. @huhhii

          Not true. Formula E is on a massive rise

          Formula E is on a rise if your only looking at the interest from manufacturer’s, However from the standpoint of fans it actually lost a lot of viewers over it’s 2nd season (Both on TV & it’s online streaming platforms) & at many of the venues they were having to give tickets away for free to make the stands look fuller.

          1. @gt-racer
            Do you have any sources for those? It seems Formula E is getting a lot more coverage on Internet and on other medias too. Hard to believe the streaming numbers are diminishing.

    18. @xtwl I think you miss my point – he is probably not talking
      about the “average” fan but rather attracting a new generation of (audience) fans.

      1. Football has attracted plenty of fans but it is 90 minutes long.

      2. @salcrich No question JB says himself that most existing fans would likely disagree with his opinion on shorter races. I disagree with Button too. I think closer racing should help things a lot…improve the show and everything else should improve too, ideally. So the question I have for you is would you and your friends not be less inclined to fast forward mid-race if the show was more enthralling?

        I’m sure JB is right about shorter attention spans, just not about shortening races, so to me the alternative is to grab peoples’ attention more effectively for those few hours. The audience he’s talking about probably spends hours upon hours at a time on video games.

        1. Although the current, “6 foot 4 inches, 175-pound” lab-grown footballer formula has lost viewership from old timers. I guess tha kids these days are expecting athletes to be instagram champions and fashion advocates. So yeah, there’s something that needs to be offered to the younger audiences and it lays in the visual, the imagery. I really can’t point my finger at it… It’s more than the model girlfriend or the trendy haircut, If you gave the current teenagers an up-to-date Emmo or Hunt it’d still be too raw for them.

          Anyway, get off my lawn!

        2. @robbie in answer to your question – no I wouldn’t fast forward if the races were more interesting. You guessed right I stop and rewind as soon as something happens. I neither agree or disagree with Button but sometimes actually suspect that shorter races would force teams to “get on with it” and make the bits between start and finish more interesting.

    19. Its stupid. Shorter races… This is F1, the pinnacle, it should not be shorter. All the panic because people think the sport is in a downfall… Sure, some things could be better, but most of it is really good. The races 10, 20 or 30 yrs ago were not all spectacular either.

      Shorter races, reversed grids or sprint races are idiotic ideas that should not even be considered for F1.

    20. Button needs to decide which crowd he’s looking at targeting – there are people who like activities that are adrenaline pumping and quickly completed, while others prefer activities that run longer, but are well plotted out with a start – midgame – endgame structure.

      People have always decried the younger generations as having shorter attention spans. While it might be true in specific examples, it is also a overly-simplistic generalization.

      In all forms of entertainment and media, we have both forms: in movies, we have a multitude of action movies that give us 90 minutes of escapism, or we have a “movie” spread out across multiple episodes of a serial (e.g. Fargo). In novels, we have Dan Brown’s works, and we have the Hobbit. In cricket, we have Twenty-20 cricket, and we have test matches. I could go on, but the point is, all of these provide entertainment in their own way, irrespective of the length of the event.

      Formula 1 has an event that completes quickly and is very entertaining – its called qualifying. It also has the 90+ minute race that has a lot of strategy involved. Both can be very entertaining.

      Not every race can be like the 2012 Brazilian GP that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the race. But they can also be races like the 2013 Japanese GP, which started excitingly, switched into a tamer and strategic mid-game, and culminated in a race for the podium. Even mid-race, one could sense that we were building up to a great finale.

      Formula 1 has areas that are in need of improvement, areas that fans have been criticizing for years. It is these areas that are often the reasons for dull races – not the race duration – that fail to keep fans engaged. I, for one, do not see the length of a race as something in need of any correction or alteration.

      1. To clarify about my comment about qualifying being the ‘quick entertainment’ – it can be argued that qualifying is not a standalone event, per se, but a precursor to the main race. That is true. If it is desired to elevate qualification to the level of a standalone event, then one idea off the top of my head would be to award separate points based on qualification position (the points don’t add to the WDC or WCC, but tally for a separate WQC to rank all drivers across the year over one-lap performance). Then again, doing something along these lines will be like putting a Band-Aid on a burn victim – there are other areas that are probably in more need of attention.

    21. $400 million annual budget required to be at the sharp end of the grid, and Jensen thinks the problem is the races are too long. Wow.

    22. I like F1, because it’s this long. Not too short, not too long, just perfect. The only way to get F1 more viewers is get more talented young drivers in F1 and find a way to level out the field.
      At this moment I’m happy that Massa and Button are leaving, I’m pretty sure next year is going to be awesome.

    23. Mercedes team member robbed at gunpoint. The poor robber will be cut up into pieces by which ever cartel runs the city after the GP circus leaves for Brazil. That is Mexico for u.

    24. For all this talk about “young people with short attention spans” he forgot that by many those kind of change they can alienate many passionate fans. The problem is not the attention span but the lack of action, the race result is often predictable with Hamilton and Rosberg winning almost everything in the same car. Look at MotoGP, the championship might be long decided but we have had 9 different riders winning races (out of 17) and racing is often very interesting and the sport is in great condition.

      1. @michal2009b You nailed it.

        I feel sorry for Millennials in general. F1 doesn’t seem like a fit for them no matter what happens. But the predictability definitely exasperates the situation.

    25. Willem Cecchi (@)
      30th October 2016, 13:03

      A bit off topic, but with aerodynamics being bumped up for 2017, isn’t DRS going to have an even worse ‘drone past the others’ effect? No chance of defending.

      1. @willemcecchi I think that’s very likely considering that Whiting has already spoken of potentially making DRS more powerful next year to ‘cure’ overtaking problems:

    26. To be honest I’m getting tired of hearing F1 insiders saying this is wrong with the sport and that is wrong with the sport. Clearly F1 is losing it’s appeal but unless those within the sport are willing to do some research and make some tough and perhaps painful decisions it’s just noise.

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