Brawn “doing a little consulting” for Liberty

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In the round-up: Ross Brawn reveals he has been talking to Liberty Media but they are not in a position to hire him yet.

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Double fault or incident under investigation?
Good perspective on the track limits debate from someone who watches those non-motorised sports I can’t be bothered with:

“Advantage” is a stupid basis for a rule, no matter how interpreted.

Let’s change tennis too then. The ball goes outside of the line, let the stewards decide if you gained an advantage as to whether you lose point. Or basketball, its now OK to dribble out of bounds if you don’t gain an advantage.

It doesn’t need to be “fair and just per case”, like in court. It is a sport. In American Football, holding is a ten yard penalty. Small hold, long hold, gaining advantage or not: Hold means ten yard penalty.

For racing, this could be “cede 1 position” or whatever. Even if you already lost a position. Whatever. Hard rule. Concrete penalty. This is how sports work.

Is racing a sport or not? Just have concrete, enforceable rules and enforce them.

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On this day in F1

On this day 25 years ago Ayrton Senna won the shortest race in F1 history. The 1991 Australian Grand Prix was abandoned due to heavy rain after just 14 laps:

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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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50 comments on “Brawn “doing a little consulting” for Liberty”

  1. The thing with hard, concrete rules is that powers that be don’t tend to like them, in anything from sports to politics. They like the rule that is open to interpretation, when they know they will have the last word on what the interpretation in a certain situation should be.
    Hard certain rules don’t leave them with any room for manipulating the situation for their own benefit, and they, knowing how much sway they have, they know that the chances are, the situation will most likely be manipulated in way they prefer.
    Where does that leave F1 with the ever-felt presence of FIA whenever the championship is close? You always tend to feel that the decision might have been different, had the actors been different, or the circumstances. It somehow always sways into the direction which favors the tightness of the championship fight.

    1. The problem with COTD concrete rule with racing cars is imagine a driver is all by him self say 20 seconds in front of the next position, makes a mistake all by him self an ends up off the track. Should he then have to pull over and wait for the guy behind to catch up?

      Silverstone would have been hilarious given how many drivers slipped off the track all by themselves. I think nearly every single driver went off track at some point.

      1. @theoddkiwi I’d rather have it “out of the track = out of the race”. IF you watch Spain 96, there were 17 retirements due to driver error, most of them drivers slipping of the road by themselves. And it felt right, the bad drivers went off first, only good drivers finished, only great drivers went fast.

      2. If that’s the RULE, than yes – slow down and give the position. Although a more sensible thing would be a Marin Brundle’s sin box idea. But that’s not the point. The point is that rules should be rules and not some subjective concept applied only half the time.

        1. So a penalty for every driver who puts all four wheels off the track regardless of the reason?

          Just think about how that will affect racing. Think Monaco for every track, lap times will drop as they will have to drive with a bigger margin for error. There will be hardly any passing in fear that you might accidentally end up off the track.

          Be careful what you wish for

          1. @theoddkiwi And we’re left with the drivers who can drive fast and stay on the track being most successful, isn’t that exactly what we want?

            The issue is getting the penalty right, as mentioned above having to give up a place if you make a small error when leading by 20s doesnt’ make sense. However, if the rule was that if you have another car within, say, 2s of you then you have to give up the place (unless it got past you because of your error), otherwise it’s a 3s penalty (at pitstop or added to time). The guy leading by 20s still has a penalty but whether it impacts on him depends on race strategy and how things pan out later in the race. The main thing being that all drivers are penalised equally regardless of the impact of their error.

            To me the risk with this system is not of unfair loss (it’s the driver’s primary job to keep the car on the track, if they fail in that then they deserve to lose out) but the risk of having lots of penalties to add on at the end of a race meaning that the final result looks nothing like the actual result on track. For example in a wet race (even worse on a drying track where someone takes the risk of going to slicks too early and is already losing chunks of time as it is without adding on loads of penalties). Perhaps the rules on a wet track need to be different. However, the drivers should be able to adapt (in exactly the same way they would if there were gravel traps around every corner) and penalties would become less common.

            The main impact of such strict rules would be much greater workload for the FIA in checking and enforcing this, however to me this seems like a much better use of FIA resources than listening in on everyone’s radio transmissions.

          2. That’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the rougher racers will simply barge people off track, knowing their victim will collect a penalty and they might not.

          3. So have the rule written so the stewards have the right to exempt a driver from the penalty if there is a compelling reason, rather than the current situation where they have the right to impose a penalty if the transgression is considered serious.

      3. The COTD’s proposed penalty is wrong, but the basic idea is unquestionably right: The only way to enforce rules fairly is to enforce them *all* of the time. Doesn’t matter if it seems unfair or bad luck to the guy who got caught out because he didn’t gain advantage — if he didn’t want to be caught, he should’ve been more careful not to break the rule in the first place.

        The best proposal for a fair penalty which I’ve seen yet is to have a section of track which is solely for the purpose of serving penalties. If you exceed the track limits, are considered to have held up a car lapping you, or some other minor infraction which doesn’t merit a full pitlane stop-and-go penalty, you have to take the penalty track on the very next time you pass it (and that piece of track is a bit longer, causing you to rejoin the circuit several seconds behind where you left it.)

        And we need to get rid of Whiting: He is at the center of every one of these scandals, and he refuses to do his job properly and enforce the rules. Instead, it is regularly Whiting who makes things worse and more ambiguous, stepping in at some circuits and saying “We’re going to ignore the track limits”, at others to say “We’re going to enforce the limits harshly”, and then at the rest saying nothing and making it total guesswork what the real track limits are. If he cannot quickly redevelop the sense of sporting fairness he has clearly lost, he needs to step aside and let someone else take the role.

        The very first thing I would propose for his replacement is an agreement that we *never* again say we’re going to let track limits be ignored at any corner on any circuit. If we feel the need to let cars go wider around a corner, we don’t ignore the track limits — we rent a machine, grind off the existing white line and paint a new one in the correct place.

        Sadly, Whiting can no longer see that, and prefers his role as an unimpartial arbiter who gets to jimmy the race results as he sees fit.

    2. In a similar line of idea and probably more fair, they could have a look at America cup racing. That’s boat racing but they have a very interesting way for penalties (explained here).

      basically, it forces boats which have a penalty to show down for a given amount of time relative to their competitor. F1 clearly has the technology and means to implement such system. We have the one rule for everybody (slow down of the equivalent of 2″ which seem a fair amount to me while staying off the racing line, you cannot defend since you broke the rule) and after the penalty is absorbed, it’s all on track racing (which is better than the 5″ added at the end of the race)

  2. On the article about opening up all team radio….

    FOM had plans to do that some years, The initial plan was to give all broadcasters access to all team radio to broadcast as they please just as they do with the in-car camera feeds. However this idea was apparently shot down by the teams who were not willing to agree to make everything available to everyone.
    The compromise ended up been to give FOM access to everything (And limit there use of the secrecy button which this year is now banned completely) & allow them to broadcast the bits & pieces that we get to hear on the broadcast. That ruling was also what led to FOM deciding to launch the pit lane channel so that they could include more snippets of radio traffic.

    I do however gather that there has been more recent discussion about opening up all the radio for use on the F1 app which will be getting a massive revamp for 2017 with live streaming of in-car cameras (Which there already beta testing) & FOM want to include live team radio as well, Just need the teams to agree & it’s looking like they will.

    1. @gt-racer Linking a couple of articles, and the COTD together then..

      If Ross Brawn were to get more involved in the sporting side of F1, he would want to break the precedent that the teams have to agree on a change to a rule for it to get implemented.

      Following on from the point in COTD about how rules are formed, in most sports the governing body determines the rules, not the teams or players. F1 is completely counter-intuitive. If the FIA want to make the rule about having open radios that can be broadcast to the world (even if motivated by commercial reasons), they should be able to implement that rule, regardless of whether teams approve of it or not.

      1. @tomcat17 The problem is that the FIA should not be doing things motivated by commercial reasons, the commercial rights are held by FOM and their job is to maximise the value of the commercial rights both for their own revenue and also that of the teams. If the commercial rights holder and teams can’t agree on an action which increases the value of their rights what’s that got to do with the FIA? The FIA makes the event rules and it’s FOM’s job to worry about how they make the most of that.

        For me the FIA shouldn’t be getting involved in team radio at all and never should have, other than as required in collecting evidence for investigations.

      2. If the FIA and FOM’s predecesors not attempted to take all non-F1 commercial rights in the late 1990s, it probably would be in the FIA’s gift to insist on all radios broadcast to the world. As it stands, the FIA can insist on all radio being open to them but can do nothing about its commercial exploitation, other than to tell the teams they cannot refuse FOM requests on commercial topics (something that is, indeed, required of F1 entrants).

        FOM have been working towards this for many years, though as they’ve expected more financial gain from other things (notably improving the image quality and increasing the quality of the premium product that pay TV gets).

  3. non-motorised sports I can’t be bothered with

    I love how much you like everything else besides motorsport :P everytime other sports are mentioned, you come up with something along those lines.

    1. I think it’s great that Keith’s dedicating his life to writing/talking about them then, it’s very important to follow our passions :)

    2. Keith’s love of non-motorized sports only seems to be exceeded by the amount of articles he writes about them 😏

    3. I heard that Keith used to follow cyclo-cross until Femke Van den Driessche was banned.

      1. Ah ah ah, never heard of her before, but the analogy with Keith’s preferences is quite funny. :D

      2. But cyclo-cross could become motorised. Van den Driessche was disqualified from finishing a race because a motorised cycle was found in the pit box she was using, and subsequently received a 6 year ban from the sport. This is really interesting, because in theory using a motorised cycle gives the rider of that cycle an advantage compared to other riders on non-motorised cycles, and some would say that this amounts to cheating.

  4. Seriously Brawn is so hired to oversee F1 and replace Bernie in a renamed role, it’s when not if… a little consulting hahahaa

    1. Looks like Brawn (and Liberty) are perfectly aware of the part where it says that the deal is not yet done @maciek. I am too convinced that Brawn is CURRENTLY only signed on to give ideas, formulate a strategy, prepare steps. But once the deal gets finalised, I doubt Bernie will want to be part of a “leadership structure” instead of being his own man in the job for long, and then we can see Brawn, possibly Zak Brown and a few others start working on making F1 a more solid enterprise to run the commercial side and work with the FIA to have a decent set of rules too.

      1. Maybe they are trying to forge a team including Bernie for now on the track/race/deals side of things and Brawn on the technical side. I can’t imagine Brawn wanting to do that side of what Bernie does. This will give Liberty a chance to get up to speed on the deal making end while Brawn can mange the technical direction. I agree Bernie may not like structure, but if he is still making money he probably will put up with it for a while. Likewise, Liberty may put up with Bernie long enough to discover where as many of the skeletons are buried as possible.

        1. Bernie won’t work with anyone – he’d have started long ago if he ever would. The main problem with retaining Bernie will be everyone will *want* to deal with him in the hope of maintaining any preferential deals he’s knocked together.

      2. @bascb If that is true then it would be slightly ironic given the reasons that Brawn left Mercedes are essentially the same as those you expect to cause Bernie to want out.

        1. It is, isn’t it @jerseyf1!

      3. @bascb I’m just going purely on the fundamental law of direct proportion of sheer volume of denials to probability that what is being denied is definitely going to happen ; )

  5. Whilst I think the COTD is right about needing more concrete rules with track limits and corner cutting, the comparison to regular sports is not really helpful in this case.

    Firstly, in all ball sports there is a single ball – a single “target” if you like that all players are trying to get their hands on – and the rules, for the most part, are about the ball itself. So that’s one ball for the umpires to keep track of, and generally speaking, anything that happens to the ball will be the fault of one person in particular. In racing, things are rarely that simple. If you go off the track, you can’t simply “move back ten yards” because there’s no reference point to move back from. Giving up a certain amount of time is hard, because it would require a complex automated system, that looks at the cars around you and has to decide how much to give up. Which cars does it use as reference points? What if the closest car is stopped or traveling very slowly due to a problem? Similarly with the giving up one position – that car could be anywhere from less than a second to half a minute behind. That’s hardly a fair and just way to administer penalties. What if two cars are close together and follow each other off the track – who gives back a position to who? Do they both give it to the next car behind or just race on? What if one of them only runs a little bit wide and the other cuts an entire corner? What if they are avoiding a potential accident or debris on the track? There are too many variables for a system like this to work fairly.

    If you want an actual example of where this type of “give up a certain amount of time” system fails, you only have to look at iRacing’s cut track system. Here, in a fully simulated environment, you would think this is the ideal case for dealing with track limits, but their solution is still far from perfect. It tries to calculate an amount of time to give up based on what you gained by cutting, but due to the large number of factors involved, it often behaves unpredictably and will often penalise one driver much more than another for what appears to be the same mistake. People don’t mind it too much in iRacing, because it’s only used on a few problem corners on each track, and it’s seen as the “lesser of two evils” (the other being having no system – obviously that would be chaos) in races that don’t have live officials. But still, it’s far from perfect, and if it the same algorithm was implemented in a high stakes, big bucks, professional sport like Formula One, I doubt it would last any longer than the dreadful new qualifying system trialled at the start of this year did, before it was removed over allegations of unfairness and/or bias.

    As far as solutions go for this problem, I would say that the best thing to do would be a combination of return routes (like at Turns 1-3 in Singapore, Turns 2-3 in Sochi, and also at Turn 4 at Phillip Island), and maybe also a Global Rallycross-style for a stop-and-go penalty (without the associated drive through pit lane required for a traditional stop-and-go). The exact logistics would need to be ironed out, but maybe something like 3 track limit violations gets you an automatic stop in the sin bin, also giving the stewards discretion to erase a violation if it was in avoidance of a crash or forced by another driver, and also the discretion to hand out a sin bin stop immediately for a more significant track cut.

    1. Forgot to add that a sin-bin type setup is already in use in America in the two bus stops at Daytona and Watkins Glen. At both chicanes, if a driver goes straight down the run-off road, they must come to a complete stop before resuming the race. Anything less than a complete stop and they get a drive-through.

    2. @vmaxmuffin
      I think you summed up the problems with automated punishment well. I’d add another one: Sometimes a driver ends up outside track limits due to an error of another driver. To use the basketball analogy, if you end up with the ball outside of the court because another player pushed you, it will be a faul called on that player, not your loss of a ball.
      I support the idea of obligatory return detour that slows down the driver or the sin bin. I think asking drivers to stop completely is a bit too much, but they do have the pit limiter button that could be used for slowing down in the designated area, at least they would get more mileage out of the system :-).
      But for the reasons outlined above it would also need a quick officiating, when race stewards would inform an innocent driver that no sin bin visit is necessary.

    3. @vmaxmuffin The video explaining Americas Cup rules posted above by @jeanrien explains exactly why it is not too complicated to legislate for. In the case of the Americas cup it is much more complex as the field of play is not even visible to the teams! This is also raced at high speed (granted not quite as high speed, but the ability to change speed or direction is significantly reduced on the water and it’s still fast enough to be extremely dangerous).

      In terms of “lesser of two evils” I still think a hard and fast set of rules is better than the inconsistency of the stewards and the ludicrous factors they take into account (or fail to take into account). If a driver suffers a penalty because of being pushed off then the stewards need to ensure that the discretionary penalty applied to the pusher is sufficient to allow for that.

      There are plenty of examples where the stewards can’t fully make up for loss caused by an infringement, for example if a driver is hit from behind and suffers a puncture, the offending driver perhaps should get a penalty but that doesn’t mean the hit driver doesn’t still suffer. Likewise if we consider that other than for safety reasons gravel traps were a much better way to go then overall the loss suffered by the innocent driver will still be much less than it could be if he were stuck in a gravel trap. So having a fixed penalty for a fixed infringement automatically applying still puts us in a better position that the one we are currently in.

  6. @keithcollantine – What is Ruth Buscombe’s Twitter post about? The preview does not show (it literally shows the textual URL:, and visiting her Twitter feed indicates it is by invite-only. Maybe you could put in a screenshot, or the actual text from the Tweet?


      Ruth is chastising Renault for their dreadful marketing campaign about Jolyon Palmer trying to shop like a woman or something. It’s sexist and Ruth is suggesting Renault get behind Wolff’s Dare to be Different campaign instead.

      (incidentally, Ruth’s post doesn’t show because she has protected her Twitter account)

      1. Thank you very much, @optimaximal 👍

  7. Two separate articles with comments from Carlos Sainz, and both of them are quite insightful and make for good reading.

    The one about drivers being unsure about limits is particularly telling – these are drivers who push the envelope to eke out those milliseconds of advantage, so while it might be easy to say “Stay within the rules or within the white lines”, they will not be pleased to see someone else stepping outside the boundaries, benefiting from it and not getting punished for it. The same applies to overtaking – I personally will hereafter have to wait for some seconds after a non-DRS overtake is executed to see if it triggers an investigation before considering the move a done deal.

  8. With modern track design and the difficulties in defining the track limit with physical impediments due to safety (and other) requirements, penalties for course cutting should, in my opinion, be severe.

    In saying this, I make a clear distinction between course cutting and the abuse of track limits, which in my opinion is a different problem to solve. I define the abuse of track limits as involving relatively small gains in time by running wide at corner exit. Policing track limits is a problem that needs addressing but is much more subtle and difficult to police than course cutting.

    Course cutting is a deliberate steering movement to avoid making a corner apex, typically to avoid losing a large amount of time after a mistake has been made or to gain an advantage in wheel-to-wheel combat. Gaining an advantage in wheel-to-wheel combat usually involves the leading car avoiding being overtaken by over-shooting the corner (Verstappen in Mexico) or pulling out of a compromised track position (Rosberg in Mexico). In many cases course cutting can be avoided completely (Perez in Mexico) however drivers often choose not to because of the leniency of the rules.

    The discussion around whether an advantage has been gained, or worse still, whether a ‘lasting advantage has been gained’ is absurd. Course cutting is deliberate, mostly avoidable and should be policed with zero tolerance and a severe penalty such as a drive-through. Each corner apex should have a coloured marker and driving inside of this marker should immediately trigger a penalty. Call it the ‘concrete wall rule’.

    Doing so would significantly reduce the practice of course cutting and ever so slightly increase the ‘risk v reward’ balance that the public want to see drivers wrestle with. All without compromising track safety.

    1. Didn’t they try this in Russia but abandoned it when during the second corner mash-up in one of the GP2 races, someone took out the bollard and they couldn’t enforce the rule?

    2. It’s still done in some corners, at some tracks. They don’t do it at all of them for various reasons.

  9. I would like to see much quicker decisions from the Stewards more than anything else. They seem to get things wrong about half the time anyway so why spend so long debating it? I watch the V8 Supercars and I reckon in that series they would have asked Max to give up the position before the end of the lap, plus their communication gets played out live so everyone hears it.
    Sometimes the decisions are contentious but that’s the nature of the sport, and they still do a better job much faster than Charlie & Co.

    1. they still do a better job much faster than Charlie & Co.

      Exactly right. There’s a simple answer to all of this and it’s just better stewarding, we don’t need a reworking of the already over-complicated rules and the sport. That the best drivers in the world are being stewarded in such a manner is embarrassing. It’s really not rocket science (although they probably have the budget and equipment to rival it.)

    2. the cars are slower so they have more time obviously :P

      1. Slower? The lap times this year are really fast, 7 seconds plus faster than the early 90s and not far off 2004 levels.

  10. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    3rd November 2016, 7:33

    Can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Rachel Brookes’ interview questions. She seems to ask dumb questions that can only lead to incredibly obvious answers.

    Will Buxton, now there’s a question asker!

  11. The FIA should try to regulate aspects of driving that are straight forward such as,
    1.Safety car infringements.
    2. Pitlane safety, ie speeding, cutting lines, etc
    3. Going off your line to crowd another vehicle. This is different from following the racing line and forcing another car off track.
    4. Failed overtaking attempts and impact with the car ahead, beyond a certain threshold of possibility, ie like an attempt from more than 2 car lengths behind.
    5. Brake testing
    6.Change of direction under braking.
    7. etc

    Even change of direction under braking they dont always get right. In Texas, Perez changed his line under braking, but Kvyat got the penalty.
    Whereas Vettle did a milder version, there was no contact, but he still got a penalty.

    There can be responsible wheel to wheel action, but the stewards are killing that. And they also have drivers they routinely persecute.

  12. i guess one thing COTD fails to take into account is that where you have rules (in any sport) people will create ways to exploit them. this is obviously common in many sports. the big difference in motorsport is the safety element and the way in which people might game the system.

    1. They do. That doesn’t excuse making it easier by making the regulations too wishy-washy to consistently enforce.

  13. Big plus 1 on the Nascar approach to use of the radios, it would be a massive step forward in the sport and certainly add to the enjoyment. This is one of the steps needed to keep this sport ..modern !

  14. Can’t they implement a rule for when a car leaves the race track it need to rejoin before the next corner. If not done the driver will get a 5sec penalty.

    Not sure it will work in all situation but i think it can help

  15. 3 of those 4 stewards couldn’t be more unfit to practise that job. It’s a hard job and it is the rulebook and the lobbying that ties the stewards hands yet that is no excuse to the favouritism that seems to be in play.

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