F1 striving to “get rid of predictability”

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Former Williams chief technical officer Pay Symonds, who is advising Formula One Management on possible changes to be made to F1 cars, says their goal is to make the racing less predictable.

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Should F1 drivers be ballasted up to the same weight?

The whole thing is absurd.

Maybe I can start a campaign to get Usain Bolt to wear lead boots so I can have a chance at beating him (I still think he would win of course!)

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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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35 comments on “F1 striving to “get rid of predictability””

  1. How lead boots are even an analogy here? Tall drivers are at a disadvantage, why not level the field – weight has nothing to do with driver’s skill.

    1. How big is the disadvantage really?

      Keith’s article did not say any numbers, but the benefit is only in terms of ballast placement within the car. My estimate is the maximum performance gain due to that is 2-3 hundredths max. After all, the bulk of the car+driver weight (610-615 kg) is placed in the same locations within each car. The last 10-15 kg (depending on weight difference between heaviest and lightest driver) is the only differential. That is just 2% of the overall weight.

      1. Horse racing runs a weight handicap system. The weights are calculated to provide a dead heat situation. It works quite well for the bookmakers.

        This could be done after qualifying. But we would need the car setups to be modified before the race as the additional weight would ruin tyres. Personally not for it as it punishes teams that have got it right. But it would close the gap.

        Touring cars also add a winners’ ballast. Which I agree with less as the winning car may have got there through idea situation and is punished the next race.

      2. Nico thinks that 1kg that he lost when stopped cycling helped him to win championship.


        I think that minimum driver weight (whit ballast on sensible place) is good thing. It will prevent unhealthy weight loss when team make car little heavy 😊

        1. That article from Rosberg is the most ridiculous load of nonsense i have ever read. After Suzuka, Lewis outqualified him for the next 4 races, and also won the next 4 races. Did his calf muscles grow back??

          1. No, Nico was simply exhausted (possibly not helped by giving up cycling…) at the effort needed to secure the title, and Lewis (who is better at optimising his energy across a full season’s span) therefore had no trouble running rings round him at that point.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      23rd January 2018, 11:18

      @theodorium – I’m still 50/50 on it…. You’re right – a driver’s height has nothing to do with his skill but F1 is a sport. In basketball, short players are at a disadvantage. Height has nothing to do with a player’s skill but that’s just how it is…. No-one is suggesting the shorter players wear stilts.

      1. @petebaldwin
        That sounds more like basketball’s problem, maybe they should look into forming height brackets if it’s that big of an issue (I have no clue about basketball).

        All the examples being thrown around over the last few days involve sports where physique plays a key role in performance, and there’s no easy fix because it’s either impossible or impractical to equalise advantages. F1 is different because apart from being reasonably fit and having a strong neck, the ‘athlete’s’ body is just a bag of meat to be carried around. The real differentiator between drivers is their brain and their ability to feel and control the car, for which being short or tall makes no difference, so why should short drivers get an advantage when it’s so simple to even the playing field?

  2. Renault wants customer teams to run its juniors (Autosport)

    Made slightly more amusing by the fact that Renault are currently running their customer’s junior.

    1. Lennard Mascini (@)
      23rd January 2018, 1:19

      Yeah, didn’t even realise that, but also just a ‘getting too big for their boots’ moment from Renault, who have the least points, wins, poles, fastest laps, podiums, constructors’ championships and drivers’ championships of all the teams running their engines… They are, although being the manufacturer team, undoubtedly the smallest of the 3 teams running Renault engines.

  3. Now I’m very curious to see what the new Toro Rosso looks like.
    We can all bet that the Mercedes is gonna be a minger though.

    1. The Mercedes was the 2nd best looking car last year (after the Torro Rosso) and the best looking car in 2014, 15 and 16 so why would it be minger?

      Unless you have a thing for phallic nosecones?

  4. Renault wants customer teams to run its juniors (Autosport)

    If that’s the case, they’re going to need more customers. Red Bull and McLaren have their own credible ambitions, which include beating the works Renault team, and are therefore unlikely to have any interest in helping Renault’s driver development program, unless it’s for the purpose of poaching a promising youngster for themselves.

    1. I imagine they’ll look to get one of the lower teams to take on their engines once they get more competitive, and I imagine if Renault start to fight for races, Red Bull and/or McLaren will be bunned off as Renault won’t want to supply engines to their competitors, then they’ll start supplying a lower team, maybe Haas if Ferrari start to give Sauber better treatment as they’re running their juniors.

  5. Charles Leclerc. Can’t wait to see him with the big boys. Very high expectation of him.

  6. Renault wants customer teams to run its juniors

    Christian Horner: “Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”

  7. There’s a mistake in the ”On this day in F1” paragraph. The event that is stated in that section of the round-up took place a year ago, not in 2016.
    – “We want to get rid of predictability. Over the last couple of decades, the worst times in racing have been when the result has been predictable.” – The few individual years over the last couple of decades weren’t any more predictable than 1988, for example.

    1. @jerejj, there is also the notable point that Brawn makes about wanting to focus the regulations on making the aerodynamics, engines and suspensions the three main performance differentiators. Given that it came at the same time as talking about wanting to find ways to cut costs and to push the teams closer together, it would seem to hint at Brawn wanting to make a wider range of components outside of those three elements standardised components.

      As to his comment about wanting to make the races less predictable, that would be something of a double edged sword to some. We saw how, back in 2012, there was a backlash against the sport when there was the perception that the sport had become “too random” as people objected to what they perceived to be arbitrary randomness in the sport – whether it really was that random is irrelevant, as the perception alone was damaging enough to eventually force changes to reduce that randomness.

      It is one thing to “want to get rid of predictability”, but quite another to do it in such a way that it does not end up feeling pretty much arbitrary to the fans as to who succeeds – they want it to feel like that driver or team has succeeded because they were quick witted enough and therefore earned it, not that they simply lucked out because somebody on high wanted to randomise the races.

      1. +1.

        Oh…and bring back on-track sprinklers, they never got out of the Bernie-drome.

    2. Just the fact that someone is talking about the TV audience having different requirements from the live audience is a good step, as they are the 99% majority who don’t really give a toss about the sound and the incessant nagging about it.

      1. My wife and kids would certainly agree.

  8. That comment from Brendon regarding not being famous is quite funny to me, a couple of weeks ago my mother, of all people, recognised him and Dan at a cafe in New Zealand, but she was too starstruck to ask for a picture!

  9. I’m not sure why they want to get rid of predictability, isn’t F1 a sport? The reason it can become predictable is when one team/driver combo nail it and everyone else is playing catch up. But ultimately, doesn’t that team/driver deserve the kudos for finding the magic formula for that season? Don’t go throwing in spectator pleasing junk, Formula E’s fanboost is exactly the kind of thing I don’t want in Formula 1. Hasn’t everyone else learned from Nascar and its attempt to be exciting to everyone? You can’t please everyone and Formula 1 is at its heart the pinnacle of motorsport because it is still the one sport that requires cars to be designed/developed and improved throughout a season, standardised components and fanboost will be things that will cause me to turn off

    1. @dragoll COTD material.

  10. Let’s see. The cars qualify, setting the grid from fastest to slowest. The teams aren’t allowed to change the cars after qualifying. During the race the rules pretty much force all teams on the same strategy. So why should there be an expectation that the cars will finish in an order other than what they qualified in?

    Simply allowing the teams to make significant changes to the cars after qualifying would increase the chances of a finishing order that’s different to the order in which they started.

    However without first addressing the ability of the cars to follow each other closely, the only solution will be more gimmicks.

    1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      23rd January 2018, 13:09

      @velocityboy the reason for parc ferme rules is that teams are forced to find a compromised race/qually set-up, so it actually encourages more variability, e.g. at Spa last year Mercedes took off wing to give themselves a better chance along the Kemmel straight, even though it slowed them down during qualifying. It’s a tactic which Force India has often used at tracks where overtaking is possible – risking qualifying position to benefit themselves in the race; and indeed Red Bull have been forced down this route due to their engine deficit.

      1. @thegrapeunwashed the point is, if you line the cars up fastest to slowest, don’t allow changes after qualifying and put the cars on the same race strategy, the cars are far more likely to finish in the same positions they started in. Teams putting compromised set-ups on the cars will affect the qualifying and race position, however if the track conditions remain the same between qualifying and the race, the car isn’t likely to finish in a position other than it qualified in. Compromised set-ups as you describe them can affect a finishing position from one race to another, but has little bearing on the predictability of the individual race.

        1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
          23rd January 2018, 13:42

          @velocityboy if you do allow set-up changes after qualifying the teams can set up the cars perfectly for both sessions, so I would argue the finishing order is even more likely to resemble the starting order. You’ve touched on weekends where the weather changes dramatically between qualifying and race, but even when that’s not the case, forcing teams to choose between optimising race pace or qualifying pace does promote (small, but not insignificant) variation.

  11. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    23rd January 2018, 12:55

    Here’s a suggestion to lower costs and dispense with penalties: a 1 engine per weekend rule (perhaps allowing for an old engine to be used in FP1). If a driver needs a second new engine, he (and the team) gets docked 50% of any points he earns, rounded down to avoid half points.

    There are several advantages to this: the main one is that a penalised driver will still run his normal race and no other drivers benefit from him being moved lower down the order. If you make it to the podium, you’ll still get the silverware.

    A second advantage is that each race will start on new engines which are built to last one weekend, meaning they will be cheaper to develop (shorter testing times) and raced to their maximum (i.e. no need to turn them down to save to them for the next races). Engines will still be turned down to save fuel, of course – but that’s to minimise race time, rather than maximise engine life.

    Engines built to last only to the chequered flag will be more prone to failure, as they used to be before the multi-race engine rules were introduced, so the unpredictability of races would also increase.

  12. I don’t know if it fits here, but it’s a nice and relaxed interview between Barrichello and Massa:

  13. F1 is tying itself in knots trying to decide if it a sport, show or entertainment. The powers that be are trying to create a mish mash of all 3, so as to give punters more bang for their buck. Unfortunately, it will all end in tears as they will shoot themselves in the foot sooner or later. You cannot go after one aspect, without compromising the other.

    Unfortunately, no other “sport” indulges in so much navel gazing in their attempt to kill the goose that lays the golden egg – just so they can secure more eggs.

    When Usain Bolt lines up at the blocks, it is predictable he will win. Of the almost 50 races he contested between 2013 and 2017, he lost only 2. How is that for predictability?

    1. Also, there seems to be some indecision as to the roles psuedopolitics and business should play in the melange…

  14. Formula One should leave the sport as a sport. Let the drivers be themselves and show some character, rather than the corporate PR drones they have become. Encourage some fisticuffs, let them party, be playboys and splash their hedonistic behaviour all over the tabloids.. That provide all the entertainment people need.

    Imagine if Lewis had decked Rosberg in Monaco 2015? Or even in Spain 2016? Imagine if Webber had told Red Bull and Christian Horner where to shove it with some expletives added for good measure after winning the 2010 British GP, rather than the meek “not bad for a Number Two driver’ …”?

    Imagine all that? Formula One will be one of the most entertaining sports. Trying to make (mostly) rich spoilt kids indulging in money burning, life threatening, adrenaline filled and vanity induced sport, into paragons of virtue and societal role models is madness.

  15. To make it unpredictable, make it a spec series. All the drivers start on the same tyre compounds with the same fuel loads and all pit on the same lap. Make the rules the same for everybody. Any penalty should mean going to the back of the pack, if the driver doesn’t like it, tell him he has the car and a good right foot. Make it a man’s sport again!

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