Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018

Vettel frustrated by “short-sighted” criticism of F1 races

2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says the continued criticism of Formula 1 races is unjustified.

The Canadian Grand Prix winner said the sport needs to stop focusing on how exciting races are.

“Racing’s probably like this,” he said. “I don’t think it’s justified to criticise the racing, or criticise this race. I don’t know if it was boring.

“From my point of view, obviously, it’s still busy inside the car no matter where you are.

“But I don’t know why people today are so short-sighted. We had seven races this year, I think some were phenomenal, some were boring.

Next week the [soccer] World Cup is starting and I promise you that a lot of the games will not be exciting but still people will watch it [and] some games will be incredible. That’s what we always look forward to.”

F1 races “can’t just always continue to go up and get better” said Vettel. “I think we do our job inside the car and if we can race, we race. But obviously, we also do our job inside the car and try to avoid racing: disappear, stay in front, or not get overtaken.

“And then some races are just exciting and others are not.”

Valtteri Bottas echoed Vettel’s words during the post-race press conference.

“For sure, there will be good races, there’s no doubt. It’s just we’ve had a couple of races in a row where there is not many things happening. But this year already there have been races that have been amazing to watch. I’m sure it’s going to be on the way soon.”

However Bottas added he had to reduce his pace in the second half of the race in order to save fuel.

“For me it was at the second place all the time, all through the race. I think turns one and two was quite exciting with Max, that was good fun. But yeah, since then, for us, we really tried to push Ferrari in the first stint – but we just couldn’t match the pace.

“We used quite a bit of fuel in the first stint so had to save a lot at the end of the second stint so yeah, pretty stable race in that way, so not that much happening.”

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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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53 comments on “Vettel frustrated by “short-sighted” criticism of F1 races”

  1. Understand what he is saying. He won four WDC titles racing exactly like this

    1. Spot on Mr. Matijn.

    2. Vettel is as much an F1 fan as anyone on this site, I would not construe his words as self-benefiting.

    3. Seriously… he’s always shown concern for the show as a whole… remember how worried he was about the fate of F1 when he won 9 races in a row?

      Also, that comparison to the World Cup? Please. Of course there are boring matches in soccer, but every single World Cup has upsets, massive performances, surprises. The last 5 World Cups have been won by 5 different countries. Two of those were first time winners. So no Sebastian, that is a false equivalence.

  2. I do not think it is wrong to admit that a race was boring; overreaction and hastily drawn up short-term solutions for fundamental issues is the problem. I believe that there are simply not enough cars on the grid and the few remaining cars are too far apart from each other. The likelihood that the order of the cars in a race is roughly equal to their speed rankings (which obviously means no battles) is thus pretty significant and even 10 DRS zones would make no difference then. So yes, the Canadian GP was boring and while Vettel is right by saying that some races are boring and we should just deal with it, F1 has so far not done enough to decrease the number of these ‘snooze-fests’.

    1. @girts The number of cars on the grid isn’t the problem, but how they’re designed aerodynamically.

      1. @jerejj Aerodynamics is a well-known issue and the right solution would indeed improve the racing, too. From that point of view, the new 2017 rules were an obvious mistake – the sport should have gone in the opposite direction.

        But no aerodynamics will allow a Force India to fight a Ferrari – unless F1 is turned into a spec series. And at the moment there are not enough ‘Ferraris’ or ‘Force Indias’ in F1 to make sure that there are always good battles within the midfield or any other part of the grid. As Keith has put it several times – more cars in F1 equals more action on the track.

        1. @girts – All respect to @keithcollantine, but that conclusion just doesn’t follow. It may have made more sense under those regulations, though I tend to doubt it, but under the current ones it does not. All that would have happened in Montreal is that a few more cars would have been lapped, nothing more. The top 6 were set by pit times, and everyone else shook out with minimal passing.

          Saying that FI will never fight Ferrari outside of a spec series is both short sighted and biased to your own conclusion. This has already happened in 2009 at Spa, and it was a close fight. It was not a spec series but a regulations change that FI got right and Ferrari didn’t. I’m not advocating for regular, massive regulation changes, but it does show that something other than “a spec series” can make for close fights between large and small teams. That is the idea behind the budget cap and aero changes. Who knows if it will work, but I hope they (FIA, F1, teams) put in the time and effort to figure out a solution that can allow for more on-track fights.

          1. @hobo

            This has already happened in 2009 at Spa, and it was a close fight.

            You seem to suggest that a single race that happened 9 years ago proves that I am wrong and that FI could permanently be on the same level as the current top teams if only the technical regulations were different. Spa and Monza were obviously massive exceptions in 2009 as FI scored no points in any other race, while Ferrari were 4th in the championship. There will always be unconventional races where a particular team performs unexpectedly well because the circuit layout / weather / tyre selection / anything suits them but they are exceptions to the rule. If anything, the 2012 season is a better example of how small teams can occasionally take the fight to the big ones under certain conditions.

            Anyway, that was not my original point and I agree that 1) a budget cap would be very helpful (but I do not believe that it will be small enough and / or policed well enough if it gets approved at all) 2) there are other ways to improve F1, too.

          2. @girts – Not suggesting that, merely pointing out how the precise scenario you mentioned has already occurred without a spec series. And if anything 2009 in general shows how small teams can fight large teams. Again, this occurred because of a massive regs change and some smaller teams skirting the rules better than the larger teams. It is not a great example of how we can make things better long term, I grant you. My point was only that there are ways to make things better outside of making a spec series. Nothing more.

            If there had been a budget cap in 2009, it would be very reasonable to believe that the teams who got it wrong (Ferrari, McLaren) would have been much worse off. I’m not sure we necessarily want a situation where a bad design decision can destroy an entire season because it would cost too much to fix though. Sorry just thinking ‘out loud’ now.

          3. @hobo, a single data point from nine years ago seems to be a rather limited base upon which to build your argument though.

    2. It’s boring racing because of not having any parity between the teams with the exception of four teams. Add to that the fact that if you get the pole and are ahead after the first corner your chances of winning are extremely high. Everything is run out of the pit. The driver doesn’t have much say in anything. Just press the pedal to the metal and go. Automatic, auto everything! Make it interesting once again by bringing back standard shifting on the floor, smaller fuel cells so that they have to refuel and less tire options. The biggest problem is the bias toward the four main teams. I’m surprised that they haven’t started talking about driverless cars! Everything is run from the pits so why not have remote control devices that are handles by some 10 year olds sitting in a room off track. They would save a lot of money!

      1. @Arch, who is this mystery fourth team? Renault?

      2. @Arch Refuelling was detrimental to on-track overtaking.

      3. TeselOfSkylimits
        12th June 2018, 20:17

        Because any sort of electronic communication in pit-to-car direction is illegal since 1994, when 2 directional telemetry allowed teams to set cars up for every corner specifically. Including variable active suspension, traction control and ABS brakes, all three just as illegal today as 2 direction telemetry.

  3. Boring races happen. Not everything in life has to be super-ultra-hyper-thrilling.

  4. He actually has a fairly good point comparing it to the Football championship games; only 1 in 3 games or so will be truly entertaining to watch going on past editions. So why should we expect every F1 race to be?

    That said, there is nothing wrong with at least trying to make more races interesting through more overtaking possibilities, encouraging more diverse strategies or whatever.

    1. There’s a big difference between a team sport and a race that makes them pretty incomparable. I don’t think anyone really complains too much when a race is boring because one driver is truly faster than another, or races better. I mean really look at the Montreal comment sections and there isn’t really much complaining at all.

      Compared to Monaco however, where some drivers were clearly faster than another but were unable to race at all. Everyone was complaining and rightly so. It would be like watching a better football team that has more stamina, is better skilled, not being able to compete because they’re forced to compete in sandals.

    2. At least we don’t get to the end of the race and then say, “Oh look, we don’t have a winner, let’s race for another 10 minutes and see if someone can win … Oh No! We still don’t have a winner, let’s race for another 10 minutes to see if someone can win … Oh No! We still don’t have a winner! We’ll have to now run another Qualifying session to see who is the winner.”

  5. Vettel is 100% right, the only thing that is boring in F1 at the moment is the constant chorus of people (some of whom should know better) saying “that race was boring” whenever they are asked a question about the state of F1.

    Of the 7 races so far, every single one has been a great race to watch, but all for different reasons. You’ve had safety car curve balls, dominant wafts to victory, charges through the field to take wins, hobbled cars holding off faster ones to take the win, last lap heartbreak, strategic variations and one race that was an absolute free for all. The result of all this is that the three top teams are incredibly evenly matched, three different teams had a driver on the podium in Canada, the midfield is as unpredictable as I can remember it being in my 26 years of F1 fandom and there is a single point between two 4 time world champions in the title battle. What more do people want?

    If you want to see cars constantly changing position, if that is your sole definition of whether a race is “exciting”, then watch Nascar, Indycar, MotoGP, Formula E, F2, F3 or any number of tin top series. But if you want to watch the fastest cars on the planet being driven by the best drivers on the planet, watch F1. You’ll soon see that every Grand Prix is a nuanced masterpiece and every race has something going on. If you can’t see it, you don’t know where to look.

    1. @geemac – very nice summary of the 7 races thus far, I’d not seen all of them quite that way immediately after the race, but this comment did make me realize this.

      The result of all this is that the three top teams are incredibly evenly matched, three different teams had a driver on the podium in Canada, the midfield is as unpredictable

      We can also add that on single-lap qualifying pace, it has been quite open-ended between 2-3 teams at the top (with a few exceptions like Monaco), and the same down in the midfield as well.

    2. @geemac – I completely agree that the people pulling out the “Boring!!” signs every race are themselves boring and not helpful.

      But, saying that they are always wrong is just as stubborn, in my opinion. Sometimes races are boring to some people. One might argue that there was something really intriguing going on just below the surface, or just behind the leaders, or … But the other side to that is, if half the races every year are something where you have to dig and dig to find an interesting angle or anecdote, then that is not a great sales pitch for the product.

      I agree that the kneejerk reactions of calling every race boring are too much. And the calls for change every race, probably as well. But, imo, the powers that be (FIA, F1, teams, drivers) really need to find ways to make racing for position possible. I honestly do like this year much more than the dominate Merc years, or the Ferrari years, or the RBR years. Over the long haul of the season, I think people will appreciate the fight if it remains close. But there is nothing wrong with wanting a few more races to be actual fights as well. If the only fight is for pole, then (more) people will tune out and fans of the sport shouldn’t want that.

      1. But the other side to that is, if half the races every year are something where you have to dig and dig to find an interesting angle or anecdote, then that is not a great sales pitch for the product.

        I know what you mean, but to use yesterday’s race as an example, there were good battles at the end of the race for 2nd and 4th and there were a couple of other battles brewing that unfortunately didn’t come to much (in particular the lead battle after Bottas’ mistake). You don’t have to dig too far to find them.

        The issue for me is that people tend to look to the past with rose tinted glasses and say “god it was good back then”. People look back to 2010 as a great season, which it was, but a lot of the races that year were “boring” if you apply the 2018 test. People look back to the 70’s and 80’s and think Dijon 79 happened ever race…and it just didn’t. We have to accept that sometimes we have less exciting races…

        1. @geemac – Yep, agreed. It is easy to look back and only think of the highlights and forget that Monza was boring that year or Spa was this other year.

          I didn’t hate Canada this year, fwiw, but I can see how some probably found it interminable.

    3. @geemac ”one race that was an absolute free for all.”
      – Which race you’re referring? I can’t really figure it out.

        1. @geemac OK, now I get it. I couldn’t figure it out myself straightaway, LOL.

    4. Duncan Snowden
      11th June 2018, 16:23

      Well said. This wasn’t the most exciting race ever, but they can’t all be and I’ve seen much, much worse. Back in the refuelling days, most races were effectively over after the final round of pitstops. Some might argue that that’s the case right now, but back then they would all have been on the same tyre compound, and all of the same age within a lap or two, in cars that were similarly difficult to pass. At least nowadays we have some teams on different strategies, and we’ve seen some late-race battles and close finishes, if not yesterday.

      I predicted we’d have boring races when these regulations were announced, but honestly I’ve been pleasantly surprised over the last 18 months or so. It hasn’t been as bad as I expected. For a while I even thought I had completely misread the whole thing. I thought every race would be like yesterday’s.

  6. Mmm? There should be a distinction between the type of criticism. Unless he’s also calling himself short-sighted for his own complaints in Monaco… Like with any sport there’s a difference between one competitor blowing away another through sheer skill and excellence, or just a poor contest from all sides leading to a boring spectacle.

    Just saying it’s terrible one week, then stop complaining the next week… It’s not really enlightening. Drivers have a great platform to say a lot more. He could have really highlighted that the drivers were able to push a lot more than at Monaco and how he felt it was a much better race because of that, if that’s what he’s getting at.

    1. @skipgamer I think his criticism of Monaco was mainly from a driving perspective. Monaco being boring for the fans is a given.

      1. But Monaco wasn’t boring, it was exciting: Was Daniel going to win the race with his disabled car or not? It never occurred to me that it was boring until one of the drivers said it was.
        In part, this is where the job of the TV production team is important, because they’re the ones who tell you what’s happening and where. For example at this GP Leclerc driving the Sauber was trying to stay ahead of … I think it was Alonso. While Alonso did eventually pass him, this was a battle that went on for quite a while, which is really a credit to not just Leclerc, but to Sauber as well.

  7. Over the boring Canadian Grand Prix, I realized one fundamental difference between racing (F1 and others) and other sports. No other sport – cricket, tennis, football, basketball – give an advantage to the better player / team. Nadal doesn’t get to play with a larger racket nor do India get an additional 2 overs during any ODI. However, in racing, we have a concept of qualifying which is designed to give a large (if not decisive) advantage to the competitor with the best car-driver combination. If all car-driver combinations are going to arrange themselves in descending order of pace, they are bound to pull away from each other. Which will obviously result in lack of passing. So, here is my radical solution:

    Split the F1 calendar into 2 types of circuits: 1) not wide enough for 5 cars to be alongside each other on SF straight 2) wide enough for 5 cars to be alongside each other on SF straight.
    For type 1 circuits, continue with the current qualifying + race format.
    For type 2 circuits, conduct a bidding between teams on every circuit for slots on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th row. (4 rows of 5 cars each). This bidding won’t be with real money but with hypothetical points (e.g.: 2000 points given to each team equally). Teams will have to use this allocation wisely through the season and also between their 2 drivers. Bidding will be done after practice and before the race. Like regular bidding, the highest bidder will get choice of row and lowest bidders will have to settle for the back rows.
    For the race start, each row will start 3 seconds after the previous row. That is, row 2 will start after 3 seconds after row 1, row 3 will start 3 seconds after that and row 4 will start 3 seconds after that.

    This will add randomness to the starting grid which could lead to some overtaking. Also, the randomness won’t be truly random. There will be a strategy element to it which teams will have to play out across the entire season. There will be no difference between the well-financed teams and the poorly financed teams as they will all get the same number of hypothetical bidding points. Also, 3 seconds gap between the rows won’t necessarily spread out the grid too far.


    1. And people say DRS is a Gimmick!

      1. But this is different than DRS. DRS is an advantage you get simply because you are behind another driver. Here, you get the advantage (better starting position) because you chose to spend more bidding points. That decision will come back to bite you later in the season. So it is not a gimmick but a strategy.

        Unlike DRS where you take advantage of the button, overtake, sail ahead and never suffer anything for an unfair overtake. That is a gimmick.

    2. 2000 points given to each team equally

      Well at the very least points would have to be provided equally to each driver, not each team. Otherwise any team aiming for the WDC is obviously going to opt for a 2000/0 split between their drivers’ points. As for the rest, i’m sorry but its too radical and arbitrary for my tastes. I would sooner just adopt reverse grids based on WDC points if you want to ensure a lot of on track action but I’m not really in favour of that either.

    3. This isn’t exactly true @sumedh, as the points system in tennis carries over a full calendar year, which directly impacts seeding. Nadal doesn’t have the risk of facing top tier competitors until week 2 of a slam. That is an advantage. He has earned it, one can argue, by being good consistently. This seems like qualifying to me; whereas if every tournament was random seeding, I think the top players might have a few less wins. Other sports have some similarities, not all.

      I hope a budget cap can bring teams closer.

    4. This is not such a bad idea – after all, putting the fastest cars in front and then expecting the slower cars to pass them is not very wise if you really want to see more overtaking. Of course, it is not as simple as that but you get the idea. I think that your concept is less of a gimmick than reverse grids. As long as overtaking in the race is more than Vettel or Hamilton just pushing a button on the straight (ie. not made ridiculously easy), I am ready to consider your proposal :)

    5. Monaco will see some agressive bidding.

      Why not 20 cars, 20 races. Everyone starts at every grid position once. So as a driver you take every grid position once throughout the season. Lottery at the start of the season determines who when.

      1. The point of the bidding system is to get rid of the lottery. I think everyone agrees that lottery is a bad thing for the sport. Hence, the bidding system to decide the grid as bidding system would not be lottery, it would be strategy.

        Monaco will see some agressive bidding

        Exactly, and someone may decide to do a U-turn, not bid for Monaco at all and save points for other races. With the bidding model, the potential for teams using and abusing game theory, second guessing their opponents’ strategy is quite high which will add to the uncertainty and thrill for the viewers.

    6. The reason for Qualifying is partly (and in theory) to put the cars in an order that’s safest to start the race. The fact that Qualifying is about single lap speed and Starting is about acceleration does mean the order isn’t actually correct for the start of the race, but it is more or less correct from after the first corner. Some racing series don’t have a standing start, they have a rolling start, which would make starting the race more relevant to the Qualifying session. While there was a dramatic crash at the start of this race, I suspect it was completely avoidable.

  8. Vettel’s team mate Raikkonnen found the Candian GP to be “pretty boring” and I agree to an extent. But Vettel, leading the race, understandably has a differing view. Maybe after Monaco, the expectations from Montreal were high, certainly mine was with each team promising updates. I am still eager to see what Mercedes can extract more from its engine.
    What is exceptionally encouraging this year is the top cars are so close to one another – one small driver mistake, one setup error, one strategic error, one pitstop error can make or break a race.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    11th June 2018, 11:30

    Guess it’s easy for him to say, as he doesn’t have to watch it.

    And yes, some football matches will be boring. But in even the worst football match I’ve been to, there have been a dozen or more moments that made the fans stand up in anticipation and excitement. There’s always a feeling of ‘something might happen’… but that has been missing from a lot of grands prix over the last 20 years or so (this problem has been around for a while).

    1. Nothing would be boring if you pay me tens of million of dollars and ask me to travel to travel the world doing something i like.

    2. @neilosjames
      What amuses me the most is that there is people saying “this is what F1 is about”. Poor them, then.

      we are not asking for artificial overtaking, but yesterday they didn’t even tried. it was like Monaco again on a permanent circuit. The softest selection of tyres were more than enough for a single stopper. It shouldn’t be like that.

      if they couldn’t race each other on this track, i fear for the rest of the championship, as most of the remaining tracks are harder to overtake than this one.

  10. Somebody in F1 might watch the UFC event on the saturday before the race.
    That’s what the competition for young adults males audience looks like.

  11. Surprised to see it called “soccer” on a british website!

      1. @keithcollantine well, isn’t it? it’s core is… soccer is a very american way to call football! no one else calls it that way.

  12. It was boring. These year has seen mostly terrible races where nothing happens. Without the SC to shake things up a bit, the sad reality has come. F1 is unwatchable.

  13. Constant whining about excitement , engine noise and overtakes is boring. It’s a sport and hopefully it stays that way instead of becoming mostly entertainment.

  14. Yeah the race was boring, but so what? most of the races ive watched since the 80’s haven’t been that great. But when there are great races, you appreciate them more

  15. He doesn’t have to watch the bloody things!

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