Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Bahrain GP shows F1 must become more competitive – Brawn

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The Bahrain Grand Prix was like watching two different races at once, said F1’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn, who believes F1’s front runners are too far ahead.

“It’s a shame that we were pretty much watching two grands prix,” said Brawn. “One conducted in the absence of Red Bull was a battle between two teams, Ferrari and Mercedes, and then there was a race involving everybody else.

Ferrari, Albert Park, 2018
Liberty will not abolish Ferrari’s F1 prize money bonus in 2021
“Just six drivers completed the full 57 laps and the gap between third-placed Hamilton and fourth-placed Gasly there was a huge 55 seconds.

“However, the size of the performance gap is not surprising when you consider that out of last year’s 60 podium places, just one went to a driver not driving a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull – Lance Stroll, for Williams in Baku.”

Brawn proposed an extensive shake-up of how F1 is run to teams during the weekend including plans for a cost cap and a restructuring of how prize money is shared out. He said Sunday’s race result was “further proof that we need to do something.”

“It is one of the goals outlined in our vision for the Formula 1 of the future, which we presented to the teams and to the FIA last Friday in Bahrain,” he said.

“Along with the organising body, we want to work on achieving this to make this sport even more spectacular and appealing. Above all we need to do it for our biggest asset: the fans.”

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Keith Collantine
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38 comments on “Bahrain GP shows F1 must become more competitive – Brawn”

  1. I don’t really see it as being a great deal different than it has been for decades.

    There’s usually been two or three teams fighting at the front with a bunch more way off the pace having their own battles.

    Whenever that wasn’t the case, it was usually because some of the front runners slipped off the track (and got stuck in gravel) or they had mechanical failures.

    Maybe all Ross needs to do is encourage more fragile engines/drive trains and add more chances of DNF’s when leaving the track.

    1. So, not simpler, but rather more complicated engines then @dbradock? I approve! Yeah, not quite, but I do agree with what you are saying. When I started watching F1 in the early nineties, the qualifying difference between pole and the 4th place was often well over a second, and how often have we seen races where the lead car(s) was(/were) multiple laps ahead by they end, including during 2002-2004 when Brawn was working to make that possible. Sure, I did stop following F1 then for a while (though real life+Schumitired), but it was the glory-time for F1 in Germany where I now live.

    2. The solution to all of this is surprisingly simple and yet, won’t be implemented:

      F1 wants the teams to not spend too much money so the smaller teams can survive. This is completely unnecessary because whether the top teams spend 100 or 400 million per year, they are in a league of their own anyways.

      So stop with all the budgeting and let them use as many engines and components as they want, let them test every day if they want to.

      This way, we won’t have just one team dominating but two or three fighting for the championship because the other rich teams can play catchup. Also, this will push engine development and result in more DNFs, from which the smaller teams actually profit.

      1. I hear so many suggestions like this but it completely ignores the fact that if they had unlimited engines, etc. and unlimited testing, then the the bigger teams would run away with it even MORE! So, that’s not a a solution.

        Cost caps that are enforced by all means necessary: the ONLY solution that will possibly work. Now whether Liberty have fortitude to make this happen is the real question.

    3. The performance differences with the top teams vs the lesser teams, or the gaps, may have not changed over recent decades, but I think other things have. I think there is less of a sense that the drivers are performing great feats, with all the conservation that has to go on at once these days. Yes conservation is not new either, but so much extreme conservation of so many things at once gives us the impression the drivers are often just there to monitor what the pits are telling them to do.

      There is the fact that the audience has declined, not just for F1 but for other racing series and other sports. I imagine some of that is cost to attend or watch on TV, but also just so many well covered events globally that one’s attention gets waylaid. Not to mention a lot of people just want to be on their phones or tablets for many hours at a time, streaming more and more content than they could have even five years ago.

      So I think there is more urgency to change F1 quite a bit, in spite of it being like this for decades, as the audience has less and less patience for the predictability we have been witnessing in this Mercedes dominated era, just as it was RBR before that, and Ferrari before that. At some point F1 has always just naturally tried to throw a curve ball at a team to stop it’s domination. But I think there is more need now for F1 to become a more enthralling show than it has been for quite a while. That starts, imho, with dealing with the one common denominator for decades now that harms close racing, and prevents the real gladiator vs gladiator racing that we need to start to see, that being the dirty air effect.

  2. This is something I just don’t see as an issue; F1 has never been any different. In fact today the gap between the front and rear of the grid is far, far narrower than it was 20-25 years ago

    1. I think one of the key differences is reliability, though.

      Many drivers, no matter what team they drove for, would retire multiple times over the course of a season. Bullet proof cars were as good as non-existent.

      Unfortunately, this push for longer engine life and car parts has put that to bed, meaning the smaller teams stand a much lower chance of scoring a podium finish than they used to.

      1. The bulletproof part is also a consequence of better fabrication and better (computer-aided) engineering. You would see less DNFs even if they ran flat out.

        That being said, without limits on fuel consumption and power units F1 would be a much better sport.

    2. @celicadion23 F1 has been different. It has been able to get away with the gaps between teams in the past, with a much bigger audience and many sponsors around, giving one the impression that everything was fine and would be so forever. But F1 is different now in terms of the amount of teams struggling with no hope these days if they are not a factory team, with lack of sponsors, with a much smaller (albeit still large) audience, with drivers unable to perform perceived great feats while they are hampered by finicky tires, and conservation of everything all at once. No, BE’s money grab for CVC changed F1 at a time when a global recession hit, and that we are still experiencing, and that has changed the audience, the sponsors money availability, and peoples’ patience for a procession on the track.

  3. I agree that F1 has always been this way, but I think that’s a good driver for change. We need to sport to be able to support more than just 2 people that can win races. Whatever needs to happen should, to be stuck in the past because of ignorance won’t make for an interesting sport. I would love to see all the teams able to fight for victory.

  4. I feel starting on fuel tanks just exaggerates the gap. Because qualifying gaps aren’t huge at all.

    If we had fuel stops it could solve this issue and the one of pit stops being to short.

  5. Could probably start by not giving the best teams extra money just for turning up, what? oh.

    1. Yes because that’s entirely decided by Ross Brawn and Liberty isnt it?

    2. That’s a great suggestion Steven! Lets start there and move forward.

  6. Motivational speech would do no good for F1. Front wing will be a spec? As soon as next year? What?

    Why are Liberty so afraid to tell what they want? It’s getting really annoying.

    1. They’re not afraid of anything. They’ve just floated ideas for the teams to consider and are taking a carefully considered approach to a new F1 era. They want to do this right, and do this differently than BE ever did. I have all kinds of patience for that, with the understanding that Liberty has only just begun, and BE had 40 years to make F1 what it is today (although it’s the last 10 that have been the most harmful). I don’t know why anyone would be annoyed that someone is in place now to take over F1 for the better. It just can’t happen overnight, or all they’ll have done is to keep favouring the larger teams who can adapt to overnight changes the best. That is not what Liberty is about, thank goodness.

  7. Much more standardised parts are needed – front/rear wings especially. Yes, a minority of purists will hate it but would they rather just watch F1 die?

    A sport in this poor state simply can’t survive in this modern world or be attractive to manufacturers and sponsors.

    1. Well said

    2. When we get to the mid-season break, if and when, at which point
      there’s been no really tough competition all the way up and down
      the grid, that’s when the knives will come out and some very
      unfortunate heads might well roll. The infamous curse ‘may you
      live in interesting times’ could become very appropriate.

    3. I do not like standardisation. The only component I think should be standard is the electronics control box, simply because that is the only way for it to be transparent.
      I would like to see more freedom on energy recovery and storage.
      Simpler, narrower front wings.

      And how about bringing back more tyre companies. Obviously with restrictions on tyre development during the season.

  8. Same as it always been except for maybe 2009 and 2012 when the top teams couldn’t it together for various reasons.

  9. Just six drivers completed the full 57 laps and the gap between third-placed Hamilton and fourth-placed Gasly there was a huge 55 seconds.

    It’s just been 2 days (not even, in fact), so I should remember this, but weren’t the first 3 cars the only ones doing a one stop race? Accounting for around 25s for that second pit-stop, it’s still 30s, but not as extraordinary as the quote would have us believe.
    A further look into lap times might help shed some light into those 30s, but I don’t think it was anything so egregious.
    I actually thought it was a pretty compelling race all-round. Lots of battles for places, cars “out of place” from start to finish and some surprisingly good performances and results.
    I wouldn’t mind a few more “uncompetitive” races like this one.

    1. On the contrary, the fact the front runners only pitted once flatters the performance of the midfield teams. A two-stop strategy was theoretically faster (remember what Horner said); had the front-runners run two-stop strategies they likely would have been further ahead.

  10. Fuel flow and limits?
    Engines that are confabulated to integrate an electric motor, IC, and energy recovery- barely – by computer?
    Allow aero to be a money pit?

    The teams that are willing to spend more are who wins?

    *It’s not an accident*, it’s to keep the status quo involved. You don’t need to spend half a billion $ to put 1,000 hp into an F1 car, you only need to make the rules so that there are diminishing returns on design expenditure.

  11. 10 cars set a lap with 1 second of Bottas and all 18 to complete a lap within 1.8 second of Bottas. If Ricciardo and Verstappen completed a lap they would have done too. F1 has literally never been more competitive. The fastest driver of the 9th fastest team (again no Red Bull) was Leclerc who set a time 1.328s slower than Bottas. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2018/races/980/bahrain/fastest-laps.html

    Yeah the gap from 3rd to 4th was big but he neglects to mention that the guys expected to be 4th, 5th and 6th fastest all retired. There is a gap but its more that McLaren and Renault are not filling it as their budget tells us they should.

    Also we shouldn’t forget Australia. Bottas and Verstappen finished behind these apparently poor slow teams like McLaren and Renault (and if they hadn’t retired, Haas)

  12. 1st of all, Porsche gloating with their unrepresentative record in SPA, made an evo car that probably can’t make the mileage of an f1 car, worst of all their car pits for fuel more often than an f1 car. I think this is the 1st thing to address, an Endurance car is for all it’s endurance characteristics more of a sprint car than an f1 car. It’s not fair for fans and GP promoters to have f1 cars start GP’s with handicaps from other GP’s such as grid penalties, because f1 is more endurance than WEC. A race is a race! As we are racing there’s no point in winning, awarding drivers and scoring points for a single race when your car has to complete 7 race weekends.

  13. I think Ferrari is afraid to let go of their financially disjointed advantage. The smaller teams might be able to have more money for improvements, that can potentially improve the competition.
    Ferrari is like a spoiled child that doesn’t want to let anyone else play in their field, just in case they might get beaten.
    Then they do the typical childhood chant, “I will leave if you can’t play by my rules”.
    Why don’t they man up and accept some other challengers. Oh I forgot; Mercedes is giving them a hard time.
    Boo Hoo!

  14. The problem with the current super high tech emphasis in F1, esp on the cars themselves is that the relative lack of importance of pure driver skill and talent. This comes form many sources: the aero wake that makes it so difficult to overtake, the sheer complexity of the tech on the cars (how much the results are influenced by how well a driver can adjust the various parameters on the steering wheel during the race, etc., absurd amount of communication and telemetry during the race.

    When I thin back to the heroes of past eras in F1, it’s difficult to muster the same admiration and pasion for the drivers of toady for the simple reason that they aren’t the prime factor that they once were. It really hurts the sport. Of course, I have no illusions that F1 will make some of the changes needed to bring back the priority of driving skill over technology.

  15. I have been following F1 for a long time, but the races seem to become more and more boring and predictable.
    Can’t go flat out because of tires and fuel. Can’t pass because of aerodynamics. So that has to change.
    I don’t like refuelling like most people, so a bigger tank and no fuel restrictions? Yes but that makes the car heavier and slower, so what as long as they can go quicker later. No limit to tires, let me use whatever compound they want.
    Simplify the wings….
    It is not imp[ossible to safe F1 but it has to be done right.

  16. chris97 (@chrismichaelaoun)
    10th April 2018, 22:59

    Get Rid of FP1
    Make FP2 the new FP1 and 60 Mins.
    Make FP3 the new FP2 30 mins.

    That will shave off 2 hours of testing. Should spice it up a bit more on both Friday/Sat and Race day. Teams will have less time to get all data, and if they do, they will be rewarded with a fast car on race day.
    However, if they don’t, they will be off the pace potentially, spicing up racing.

    FIA/Brawn are ready to spice up race day, but they aren’t willing to test those ideas on Practice sessions.

    1. Really?

      So when/how do teams test. How do they develop their car if it starts the season off the pace for some reason.

      And what would I be paying for when I attend a race weekend. I’m there to see F1 cars, not endless meaningless “support” events on Friday & Saturday.

  17. Every major sport has dominant entities who win more often than not. Cannot think of many TOP LEVEL sports that don’ t have sn elite. These also change iver time, remember when it looked like Williams and McLaren would win forever, now look at the state of them.

  18. Altogether Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, and Ferrari received $512M (about 54%) of an available $940M for the 2016 season, so it is hardly surprising they win the majority of the races.

  19. The answer seems pretty obvious to me – cost cap and customer cars.

    Everyone seems to lose their mind about customer cars, but I really don’t see the issue. If it makes smaller teams more competitive, isn’t that a good thing???

    Just look at Haas this season. Some suggest that they are essentially a Ferrari customer car and they’re doing well. Clearly Haas has a damn good racing reputation and is not really under funded, but the results speak for themselves.

    1. @nick101 The problem with customer cars is that teams like Force India have invested millions on the facilities allowing them to design, Build & develop there own chassis. If you have a team that can buy a top car & start beating them then how is that fair on Force India?

      You could argue that Force India could go & buy a customer car of there own but again they have already invested heavily on there facilities allowing them to do it on there own. Additionally once one mid-field team goes the customer car route it’s likely everyone else will feel the need to do the same, Especially if they start been beaten on a regular basis by those that already are.

  20. Stokeydokey
    11th April 2018, 7:27

    I just don’t understand it. Is it not simple? Costs? A front wing made from carbon fibre is £180k, So front wings have to
    He made from fibre glass, reducing cost, reducing complexity and aero performance. A steering wheel cost £100k, get rid of all the silly buttons… remove complexity, remove the ability to amend brake balance, improve racing and reduce costs..

    Aero is the worst part of F1, it emphasises the budget differences and kills racing, but it is what the garage teams have over the manufacturers. Firstly… it’s a car so let’s get rid of any floor that isn’t a floor. It looks silly… and all the slots and wings and wings… let’s go old school…. no external parts that aren’t part of the shell that is milder in 3 sections… ooh and one more thing. They have to work in real rain..

  21. We now have experienced F1 race goers and pundits being highly entertained, ‘stunned’ even, by Lewis overtaking 3 x ‘League Two’ cars down the straight and into a corner. I think the answer is obviously reverse grids entertainment wise.
    Extra points could be awarded for each extra sitting duck the faster cars take in one corner to warrant the hype.
    Maybe these engine and gearbox penalties, when applied to the cars a league above will actually keep hold of the viewers in the meantime.

  22. The more they keep pushing this idea the better. Good solutions might not be clear yet, but you gotta start by changing mindsets and get the bigger teams on board with the notion that more competition is better for everyone, not worse. And saying that it’s been that way for decades is hardly a sound argument for anything – the whole point is that the way things have been done for decades has added up to unsustainable conditions.

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