Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017

Vettel rejects calls for shorter races and double-header weekends

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel sees no need to shake up F1’s format by introducing more than one race per weekend or shortening grand prix distances.

Plans for a “a global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017” were announced last year but never appeared. Among the possibilities raised were a move to shorter grands prix and introducing double-header events.

However Vettel urged Formula One not to break with its long-established race format.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017
Chinese GP build-up in pictures
“When there was talk about the racing format, I think it would be quite bad to get rid of one race, one grand prix,” said the Ferrari driver.

“I think it would take away the highlight of the weekend by putting two races, for example, or make the race shorted because people say it’s too boring or lasts too long.”

“I think that’s a grand prix, that’s how it has always been, it has been even longer in the past if you look a long way back.”

“And it should remain a challenge. By making it shorter, more exciting whatsoever, I think it’s not a grand prix any more. I’m a bit sceptical to just change for the sake of change.”

Last month Lewis Hamilton said changes to F1’s race format are “definitely needed” and suggested introducing a “sprint race” at the Monaco Grand Prix. Formula One motorsport director Ross Brawn has said he would like to run a non-championship event to test potential changes to race weekends.

Following a processional opening round of 2017 in Australia, Formula One is already facing calls to make changes to aid overtaking. Vettel says the sport needs to be wary of changing too much and too often.

“It’s a difficult one,” he said. “I am very old-school on many things. I think that some things we shouldn’t change even if maybe the way people look at it now after one race or a couple of races they’d like to see a change.”

“I think it’s actually quite important to keep a certain framework consistent throughout time. “So I think every now and then it’s important to listen to people but I think this early it is always difficult to get a very clear picture. I think too much change, equally, is wrong.”

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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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  • 45 comments on “Vettel rejects calls for shorter races and double-header weekends”

    1. Finally someone from the paddock says it, thank you Seb!

      1. Agreed. Well said Vettel. The only thing that does definitely not need any tempering with is the race and quali format. It’s like the only thing working so well and also the best version of quali they’ve come up with. You should keep certain things constant not to mess with the dna of the sport. These talks about format changes seem to be about papering over some other cracks in other areas of racing rather than a genuine problem with racing format. It’s like DRS, it’s gimmicky, does not address the real problem, won’t necessarily make the racing more exciting even if there seems to be more action on the track.

    2. We need to cut the laps down. They are too many. And its less racing and more management. They should rename it to Formula Management. They should remove the mandatory tire change rule as well. Or maybe I’ve just moved past F1 and began to enjoy MotoGP a lot more now.

      1. Yeah less laps en less wheels!

        No I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the format., although a non-championship round is worth trying.

      2. That’s easy to fix: remove/ease the fuel limit.

        1. Jabbadap – probably leave the 100 kg/race fuel limit as-is, but remove the 100 kg/hr fuel flow limit. Let teams run a fuel-rich burn for stints if they wish.

      3. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        6th April 2017, 14:20

        That’s fine and dandy that you prefer Moto GP, F1 is fine the way it’s formats are.

      4. Lot less management this year mate. I disagree that there are too many laps, I think the current format is perfectly fine tbh.

    3. As always, Seb is a voice of reason. Any changes to the format of the race weekend should be considered very carefully. I’m all for mixing it up a bit, but the main event of the weekend should always be a Grand Prix lasting the lesser of 300kms/2hours.

      1. I filled out the Global survey nº2 and there were questions about what races should always be part of f1 and also format changes. The races although historic any race can become historic, this weekend shall become the 14th Chinese GP there are kids watching f1 that have always watched the Shanghai track. I think what is historic is the format, the format of f1. The races we all would like to have our home races forever on the calendar but as track layout changes are required it’s almost as if we aren’t that interested in the historic value of a long standing GP.

    4. something needs to be done to improve the ”races”,,,its getting stale.

      1. F1 has rarely been this entertaining.

      2. Something can be done. Just stop watching!

        I would even stop visiting sites like this; go ‘cold turkey’ :p

    5. Hear hear. The longer, traditional single race format is one of the things that I find most attractive about Formula One.

      Fully open to Ross Brawn’s idea of testing new formats in non-championship races however. I reckon a Time Trial or sprint race format could have a place in F1 provided it was event specific (for instance Monaco), and was used to compliment traditional race weekends.

      1. sometimes the old 1-hour qualifying was the best bit of the monaco weekend, so perhaps we could vary the qualifying sessions for different tracks. the current system is pretty good – it was the best overall solution to a variety of problems – but the sessions are a bit short for a meaningful battle to take place i.e. between the fastest.

        the non-championship races could be renamed as one off championships like the one-day classics in cycling. they could be geographically based, for example we could have the European Cup held at an old european circuit that doesn’t have a current slot on the F1 calendar. this would be way more marketable and attractive to attend/race than a “non-championship race” (which is basically an invitation to demure).

        in fact to take the cycling analogy further we could have the one-off races have a special focus, like street circuits, fast tracks (monza) or even artificially wet races (don’t kill me).

      2. Blastermaster
        6th April 2017, 18:03

        As for Monaco, for years there has been a lot of talk about the cars have
        outgrown the circuit etc….so how about having everyone scream around the track in high powered carts for a 10-15 lap, non championship sprint race on the Saturday morning before qualifying? Purely for the spectacle and bragging rites.
        Running order could be a random draw.
        We’d see a hell of a lot more action/passing than a normal Monaco GP & I can all but guarantee, the drivers will thoroughly embrace it.
        Obviously safety would be a concern(more tire barriers etc) but this is a minor adjustment.
        I think we’d all love to see these guys race together in, what is probably, the purest form of the sport any of them have had in years- even if it’s only one day a year.
        Just think about it….

    6. Seb is right. When will people understand that doing nothing produces the closest racing? Things were finally starting to get tighter at the end of last year and I don’t just mean at the front. It was getting closer across the whole grid. But in the so called name of “making it better”, they changed the rules and now we have a massive gap again. Outside the big 3, only Massa in the Williams was able to stave of the embarrassment of being lapped by the leaders in Melbourne.

      Leave it alone for a while you fools. The well established “Law of diminishing returns” will ensure closer racing after a few years. Make small changes if you must, but only to allow closer racing. But make them after thinking long and hard about the impact of those changes. And make 1 or 2 changes at a time, not massive changes like seen this year. All big changes do is make sure the better funded teams move out in front again.

      1. @mickharrold You have been found guilty of talking sense in the context of an online comments section where users communicate over the so called ‘Internet’. You are hereby reprimanded. Any further violation of the rules of the interenet will result in harsh reprecussions. We advise you keep to insulting your peers and demanding outragous and stupid measures against problems only you imagine to see.

        1. @mrboerns I would like to point out at this stage that my argument allows for 1 or 2 changes per season. Adding sprinklers to wet the course is only one change so should be allowed. There is still room in my argument for banana peels to be added as well for next season.

          However, I did say that all rule changes had to be well thought out as well. So after thinking for a while, I believe sprinklers are silly. Banana peels are cool though, but we need to be thoughtful about this. I think that they need to be dropped by drivers from their cars and can only be deployed in the DRS zones. They should also only be dropped by some drivers. We can do a fan vote before the race to decide who gets the banana peels.

          1. Intensify the exciting by making visor peel-offs from banana skins. Then drivers can’t be blamed for any dirty tricks. With poorer visibility, the front-runners will be less likely to peel away.

      2. @mickharrold Stability of rules does lead to less performance spread, which results in closer championships but not necessarily better racing. Remember we had the closest championships in modern history in the few years before the ’09 rules changes and yet the racing was almost uniformly processional.

        1. @mazdachris, I would agree that there does seem to be a conflation of the two, particularly when discussing previous seasons.

          I’ve seen some individuals say that the 2010 season had great racing, but quite a few of the reports which were written at the time showed that most people then thought that most of the individual races that season weren’t particularly exceptional.

          What we had was an unexpectedly tight title battle, but quite a few of the individual races themselves were fairly straightforward since it was usually relatively clear at the start which circuits favoured which particular car.

    7. There’s scope to improve the weekends from the perspective of the local promoter/track owners but that should all feed into the grand prix which should always be the blue ribbon event at each race week.

      If the cars were good at something else (I don’t think they are) then they could something limited, not a race but a competition of sorts. Support races are a start but I don’t think they necessarily link into the weekend as well, it’s not as if old drivers compete in them or that fans really know who the young guys are to watch. I don’t think you could get an F1 driver to spice up a support race due to their manufacturer commitments but if it could be done i’d instantly want to watch a WDC get a guest drive in a Formula 2 sprint race, it’d be a lot of fun and help promote that formula to F1 fans that wouldn’t normally watch it. Skills challenges would be fun, present opportunities to actually create some noise/smoke/excitement at a GP weekend and provide content fit for social media.

    8. How about adding a 2nd race (maybe sprint) to the weekend in identical cars, non-championship, just a bit of fun to see who’s the best driver outside of the best car. Each race venue could be in a different type of car, (go karts, touring cars, rallycross, Clio Cup , Porsche cup, Formula 3 etc) Could even make a 2nd championship, separate scoreboard, based on these races alone

      1. After Weirlein’s crash at ROC’s, this will never happen. Teams just can’t afford to lose a driver over a non points event. Kubica’s accident was the real wake-up call to team owners. Great idea in theory, but it won’t happen. I think however the way to spice up things is bring in exciting support races. Fans for life start as kids at races. Keep cars on track the entire weekend. That is the spectacle fans want most. Back in ’88 I had the pleasure to watch Ayrton win around the streets of Detroit. The weekend also had great support races with cars you wanted to see up close as well as on the track.

        Casual fans tend to forget, racing starts as a love of speed and the physics of man handling a beast on the limit. The “show” is merely the by-product. Personally I thought last weeks race was great. Love the new cars, minus the shark fin. I laughed out loud at the speed through the corners, it was truly mind blowing! 6G’s is nuts. No graph needed to see they were much faster. Awesome crazy fast!!! Now they need to fix the visceral side…ie the Sound. I have full confidence Ross is the man to lead F1 on technical side. Always respected that man.

        F1 cars need to be appreciated as the pinnacle of achievement, not on how often they pass each other. Completely unobtainable expectations are one of the sports most negative aspects. It is time to re-align expectations and enjoy F1 for what it is instead of what it can never be. Just my 2 cents from a racer who’s first big race was to watch Mario Andretti win the Indy 500 back in ’69.

    9. Vettel is very old-school. He doesn’t like the new engines, isn’t open to new formats.

      1. Do you like the current engine regulations?

    10. The 1.5 to 2 hour race time we get on a lot of Sundays is one of the things I love about F1. For me there’s something uniquely relaxing about settling into a race of that length; not too short and not too long. it’s a little bubble of time where thoughts can only stretch as far as those of speed, strategy and the drama of unexpected events! A perfect little window of calm in a usually busy week. I’m sure i’m not the only person to experience that little twinge of sadness every time the lap counter passes halfway!

      As much as I enjoy other racing formats, I can only hope the Grand Prix model will remain the principle way we go racing in F1 for a long time to come!

      1. Yeah having grown up with the same format for 35 years, it’s hard to imagine anything else.

        One reason I don’t actually like Monza is because it goes by too quickly!

    11. Yeah, ask one of the guys that made F1 boring, good plan

    12. Compared to an American NASCAR race, an F1 race is very short! In a NASCAR race, which is full of passing, lap times mean nothing because they are always erased when a safety car comes out. If you want passing, watch NASCAR. 90 minutes is perfect. It gives enough time for strategies to play out and anticipation at the end. Football (soccer in the US) is 90 minutes with huge anticipation and little or no scoring. Are football fans constantly complaining about the lack of goal scoring or the length of the game? Wasn’t the reward of seeing Vettel in the lead after pursuing Hamilton for so many laps in Melbourne worth the wait? Trading fast laps time and time again is my kind of excitement.

    13. Reasons for avoiding race format change:

      – Short races, no pit stops
      How many of us would like to see no more of Pit stop action.
      Many races from the previous years have had a twist in race leaders
      from the pits. Riccardo lost some races in the pits and even Hamilton.
      The excitement of something happening is so much more when there is
      at least a 1 stop.
      Cars can race throughout, but this is not the formula of F1.
      Williams and Redbull gets the car ready in 2.5 seconds. We will
      miss this.

      – Double header events, no excitement
      This one ruins that excitement we have when we watch the red lights
      go out and the adrenaline filled race begins. Seriously if a thief were
      to enter my house and put a gun to my head I still wouldn’t move an inch
      and will stay glued to the start. That’s how exciting the start of an F1
      race is.

      – Fine tuned DRS, no thank you
      Like many fans here have said, we prefer close racing and hard worked
      overtakes. no one likes highway passes. It looks so easy and makes F1 look
      amateur. Hard braking, hard close racing, this is what F1 needs.

      1. l’m not sure your points are satirical or not however if you genuinely like hard earned passes why the love for botched pit stops?

        1. @Fran

          Because strategy matters in F1, that is why we need pit stops,

          Estimating the weather, the track, putting on those wet tires or tuning up those wings can make or break a race win.

          In my opinion the combination of a great driver + a Team with a good strategical and quick thinking should win F1 races.

          And finally it shouldn’t be about the engines or the talent of a driver , a good fast pit crew or a Team principle. The whole team should work together with the right amount of each of those things and earn those wins. This is what F1 should be about and it won’t happen if we change the race format.

    14. I completely agree.

    15. 100%. I’ve said it before. If people can’t watch a 1 hour 30-50 min race then ignore them. We’ll end up with 22 minutes races if we start going that route. With a corny intro and an ad break half way through

    16. The biggest issue F1 has is making F1 more difficult and more expensive to watch. This was only ever going to lose them viewers on a massive scale. Sponsorship is worth less and less because less people see the event on TV. I love F1 and have watched it since I was around 5 years old, but I will NOT ever sign up to Sky to watch it. I do keep up with it as much as I can, but I’m not as motivated as I once was, because no matter how hard I try, I very often inadvertently find out the result before I get a chance to watch the highlights, meaning that if I miss them once I already know the result, it’s not such a big deal. Once it goes Sky exclusive, I won’t watch F1 at all.

      1. You expressed the problem very well. I admire your restraint. Where I live hardly anyone watches F1. We were one of the first countries where the F1 audience was considered an asset worth selling, so now mostly people loyally ignore F1. I can only assume F1 is happy. There are some exceptions, like me, but for the most part no one cares about F1 or what brands are associated with the sport.
        I watch the races via the internet, and yes, I pay because that is the legal way to watch them here and because the quality is better than if I watch it for free.

    17. I don’t see why such a race would need to be a non-championship race. The way I see it it would be better if there was one or two different races each season. If you look at endurance racing they have lemans which is a lot longer than some of the other races. Indycars have the indy500. And these concepts that are being suggested are not even new ones. Reversed grids and two shorter races per weekend instead of one have already been done in high level single seater racing. Gp2 and gp3 already do 2 races per weekend for example. We know how it works. And more importantly we have well tuned rulesets that we can use.

      The point is there are already rules that can be incorporated into f1 rules. There are already examples we can look at. I see no reason why these things should be tried in some special non-championship race. Just take 2 races per season and make them different. Make that their special thing. Pick those races which usually result in poor racing. Like sochi, hockenheim, singapore or redbull ring and try something different. The worst that can happen is that you get a boring weekend. Which on those circuits is pretty much guaranteed anyways unless it rains.

      Non-championship status should be for races which do not really fit well into f1. A race like that could be an oval race in america. Or race of champions type of thing with f1 drivers vs the world.

    18. When it comes to a GP weekend, I like the current format of the weekend and wouldn’t want to change it.
      I would however consider the idea that we may have reached (possibly even passed) saturation point with the number of GP weekends. So maybe make some of the less interesting circuit’s events plus a few events at new circuits into 2 or more short sprint races, time trials, or some other format as non-Championship events, festivals or as part of a cross promotion with another series.
      As @frood19 mentions, the old hour long quali at Monaco used to be great, so maybe a time trial event where the track is open for 60 minutes, fastest lap wins. Follow it up with a 30 minute sprint race with the grid in reverse championship order, pit lane closed unless you’re retiring. Call it the Monaco Cup or something.

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