Start, Hungaroring, 2019

Brawn wants to test qualifying and race format changes in 2020

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn says he wants to test changes to the race weekend format during the 2020 season.

Brawn said next season would offer the best opportunity to evaluate changes to F1’s sporting regulations ahead of the major technical changes planned in 2021.

“I’d like to see in ’20 us try a few things,” he told Sky. “I think in ’20 we’ve got a stable platform in terms of the cars, things aren’t changing that much.

“I think ’20 could be a good opportunity, perhaps at one or two races, to try some variations. I don’t see any other way that we logically progress the race format.

“The basic race format is good but would a sprint race be interesting or some variation in qualifying be interesting? I think the teams are up for doing some variations during a Saturday to see if we can touch on a better solution.”

One of his goals is to make the race weekend more compact in order to reduce the amount of time teams spend at tracks and bring down their costs.

“We want the cars to run on a Friday but is there a way of shortening the weekend from an operational point of view for the teams? Because they all turn up on a Tuesday or even a Monday to get ready. If we could restrict that, if we had it tied to parc ferme, if we could control the amount of time a team is at a circuit then we could shorten the operational weekend for them and turn it into a three-day weekend.

“We remember when you would turn up on Thursday afternoon and everyone would get there, put the cars in the garage and go racing. Now they turn up two or three days earlier because they want to get everything ready.”

However Brawn recognises race promoters want to continue seeing cars running on all three days to maximise ticket sales.

“I think Friday is important for promoters, it starts the weekend off. But could we have two sessions on a Friday afternoon, for instance? Maybe slightly shorter sessions and that means the teams can prepare on a Friday morning.”

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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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  • 46 comments on “Brawn wants to test qualifying and race format changes in 2020”

    1. Please leave Qualifying alone Ross.
      It is working fine and is always at least as entertaining as the actual race.
      Often it is the best part of the entire weekend.

      1. I wouldnt mind if F1 adopts MotoGP style qualifying format which would put pressure on drivers and teams to set consitent through all FP sessions.

        1. But I would. It should be where it is now. Just ditch mandatory pit stop rule and fuel limits at all. Let drivers use tyre configurations whatever they want, even non-stop single compound configuration and let drivers race.

      2. @nullapax Seconded a hundred times over. I don’t understand this desire to mess with qualifying, it’s perfect as it is.

      3. +1. qualifying is so good now that they can only make it worse. maybe that’s the plan so the race becomes more interesting. hard to say, but rb’s racing accomplishments aside, he has not done much since taking up this new role. he’s almost a buffer btwn liberty & the teams.

    2. The weekend format is fine. Move on to other more important things.

      for the love of gawd

    3. *facepalm*
      With every “positive” initiative coming from them they have like 10, which are meant to finally kill F1.

      Hands off Race format and Qualifying!

      1. Every time they change qualifying, they make it worse. Only improvement I remember was getting rid of race fuel qualifying. The current system is fine. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Maybe they could test these new ideas with non-championship races so they wouldn’t ruin the actual races, and if they work, we can use them.

        1. Not a reply, don’t know why it put it as one.

        2. No, please, not “Non-championship races”. It just seems wrong. If a team goes to the effort of flying somewhere to put a car on the grid then they should be rewarded for it. Okay, there’s formal practice sessions, but a team isn’t obligated to turn up, and especially turn up with two cars.

    4. I’m sure somebody has suggested this before but would the fairest thing not be to have several non-championship rounds where they can test any new formats, with their own independent component quota? I reckon you could knock 3, 4, 5 rounds off the regular season and there wouldn’t be any uproar. And no updates could be introduced at these rounds either.

      1. Very much this. Ross even said it when he was few months into his current role, but radio silence on the topic ever since. I guess the board and/or Chase said no.

    5. There is nothing you can do to reduce the amount of time teams spend at a race track.
      The moment they have to unpack all those equipment, they have invested a great amount of time and effort.
      To have all that equipment sit there all day doing nothing doesn’t do anything for anyone. It doesn’t save any money or make team work less stressful.
      Perhaps they need to appreciate the psychology of motor racing. You build up towards an event, and just don’t appear on race day then disappear immediately afterwards.
      When teams were allowed to have spare cars, we didn’t have personnel working extra long hours just to rebuild a damaged car. Now the teams travel with enough spares to build one or two cars, but can’t arrive at the circuit with those spare cars fully built.
      A spare car could easily be driven by a third driver without fear of damaging the car of the full race driver. But all these have been altered with their engine and tyre rules.
      For me, the three day format is still ideal. Any intention to capture fickle minded viewers with only lead F1 round a disastrous bend.

      1. Very good point, Ooliver!

      2. OOliver, with regards to your comments about the spare car, bear in mind that the teams have to partially disassemble the cars before transporting them to the circuit, as that reduces the risk of the cars being damaged whilst in transit and also makes it easier to fit them into the typical truck or shipping container.

        The spare car was, therefore, usually assembled at the track by the same mechanics who would have to also assemble the usual two cars used by the main drivers. Don’t forget that, in order for the team to use that spare car, it had to first go through scruitineering – so what that meant in practise was that the work for the mechanics would be front loaded, with the mechanics having to build up three cars so they were ready to go through scruitineering at the start of the race weekend.

        Therefore, in reality having a third car wouldn’t make things easier for the mechanics – if anything, you’re making it worse for them by making them have to assemble three cars instead of two cars at the beginning of the race weekend.

        1. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful comments, anon. For me, the scariest thing of a change in qualifying is that all these changes (reversed grid, qualifying races and these qualifying races on tracks like Barcelona, Zandvoort, Budapest, Le Castellet, for Godsake not on Monaco) will destroy the sport and make it into a purely show. Just a show.

          1. Forgive me, please, as this my reply was intended to your other comment below in this article!

          2. @bulgarian

            F1 is a technical demonstration. Not really a sport. Half the grid don’t have the equipment to compete with the other half.

            1. I understand your point of view. But F1 is not a unique in this aspect. Do you follow bobsleigh? German equipment is from “another planet”, but it is still considered as a sport.

    6. Although the current qualifying format is good, it doesn’t make too much sense given the complains fans have about boring races. If you start the fastest cars at the front, the races are bound to become processions. Trying to mix-up the grid in a sensible way could, therefore, help the racing.

      A qualifying race on Saturday, for example, with the grid in reverse championship order would be helpful, imho. Wherever you finish that race is your starting position on Sunday.

      If we then skip Saturday practice and reduce Friday practice to one 90 minute session, we also limit the ability to collect data for the teams. The less they know, the more fun Sunday’s usually are. And to be frank, I’m not watching F1 to find out which group of anonymous statisticians ‘geeks’ the best out of their data for the most predictable outcomes.

      In fact, live data and car-to-pit telemetry should, for the most part, be banned like in every other (junior) series. Away with the dozens of analyst minions and their laptops in the trackside ‘bird’s nest’ and in the ‘Mission Control’ centers at the factory running 24hr simulations during a race weekend. Let the driving on track be the more decisive factor instead. This also, in addition to helping the racing, helps to reduce the (operational) costs and time restraints further.

      1. Sounds interesting but: While a partial reverse grid is used in BTCC and a full reverse grid in UK Stockcars, the latter is a full contact sport and the former an occasional contact/nudge sport (unofficially) but in F1 obviously there would be carnage, with the cars as delicate as fairy cakes, the slightest tap and something falls off creating a field of debris fro those behind to plough into. (It could look like American oval racing, perhaps that is the idea)

    7. georgeboole (@)
      30th August 2019, 13:14

      I m sorry but you can’t shorten the time the crew spends at venues.
      Let’s take the first race of the season as an example. Staff will fly from Europe to Australia on what day? They need to rest, get themselves together and thengo to work. Otherwise the race will be a demolition show.

      As to what should be tested?
      I don’t mind testing as long as it doesn’t effect the current chsmpionship and the test made is proved to be succesfull.
      I d love to see them try using different tires front and rear so that each team can adapt to the track.
      Just as they do in Moto GP and WRC

    8. Qualifying is great, fair, and its a really good TV product & it provides great excitement for fans on track. There is nothing wrong with it, so its kinda surprising to see them searching alternatives.
      The only thing that makes sense altering, is the tyre rules. Perhaps they can allow freedom in which tyres they start the race on Sunday. That means that every driver can start in whichever from the 3 compounds they want.
      So as it seems they want to try new things, but i wouldn’t be in favor of having one or two races being used as test sessions. It happened in 2016 with the elimination qualifying and didn’t work ideally.
      Some non championship races would be the best solution, where new formats are tested, but with 22 races scheduled its kinda impossible logistic and time wise(not to mention the human effect).

      1. Maybe force each driver to use all 3 compounds in a race? More flat out racing :)

    9. It’s like they have forgot the last time they tried to change the qualifying. It lasted 1 or 2 races before reverting back to the usual. If its not broke, leave it alone! There are far more important things to be worrying about than the weekend structure

    10. I think one of the main problems of testing formats for one or two races is that two races is not a meaningful sample to draw definitive conclusions from. Look at the last eight races we’ve had – four were dull as dishwater and four were absolute belters. There are a tonne of variables that determine how ‘entertaining’ a race is. The last time they saw one good race and decided to make all races like that was Canada 2010 – and that gave us around seven years of designed to degrade tyres, which had mixed results at best in terms of entertainment.

      That’s not to say they shouldn’t test different formats, but there are definitely dangers of drawing too many conclusions from them. I’d probably say I’d rather they test formats more in lower formulae, rather than experiment with F1 which is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport – although that may also be unpopular with fans of those formats.

    11. Now I haven’t watched Formula One since 2016. Even then it was always race replays because I an no longer committed to the sport as I once was. To that end, I also no longer have a sub to Race Fans, although I do pop on here from time to time to see if anything in the sport has improved to warrant a return to fandom.

      Anyway, to my point. I think either a huge shakeup is required, or leave as-is. If a huge shakeup is going to happen, then my vision would be something along the lines of :

      Friday:

      0600 – gates open
      0700-0830 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      0830-0930 F1 driver Autograph session – mandatory for all drivers.
      0930-1030 Formula W race 1
      1100-1130 Stunt drivers/riders performance.
      1200-1230 Mini Classics race
      1300-1500 F1 Free practice – laptime determines grid for Saturday sprint race
      1500-1600 Porsche Supercup
      1600-1700 GP3 race 1
      1700-1800 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      1900 – close

      Saturday :

      0600 – gates open
      0700-0830 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      0830-0930 F1 driver Autograph session – mandatory for all drivers.
      0930-1030 F1 Saturday sprint race
      1100-1200 GP3 race 2
      1230-1330 Formula W race 2
      1400-1500 F1 qualifying – single lap qualifying, similar to 2005.
      1530-1600 Radical SR8 race – retired & ex-F1 race drivers participating, with guest current F1 drivers optional
      1600-1700 GP2 race 1
      1700-1800 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      1900 – close

      Sunday :

      0600 – gates open
      0700-0830 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      0830-0930 F1 driver Autograph session – mandatory for all drivers.
      0930-1030 F1 Sunday warm up
      1100-1200 GP2 race 2
      1300-1600 F1 main race event + podium
      1600-1700 Track open for ticket holders to walk it.
      1700-late Party time

      Just my two pennies.

      TTFN.

    12. I have a brilliant idea for saving teams time spent at the circuits and money.

      How about having 18/19/20 races instead of 22/23/24. I’m surprised no one has thought of this!

      Seriously though leave the format alone. It’s not a major issue.

      1. Why not reduce it further to say 12 races? They could have 8 races in Europe and 4 fly away races. That would really reduce costs.

        The teams and F1 make money by racing. The more races the more money.

        1. Ah but it depends on the cost per race versus the earning per race.
          Presumably, though it has not been mentioned, in exchance for more races the team’s column 1 payments will increase pro-rata ie for 22 races the should get 10% extra this is very basic stuff and I am surprised it has not been mentioned. In fact with two of the extra race being fly aways the increase needs to be much greater than 10%

    13. When they put Ross in their team I thought, good! The days of Bernie’s crazy ideas and knee-jerk reactions to problems are over.

      But fastest lap bonus? Changes to the race weekend format in the shape of sprint races?

      You’re better than this, Ross. Neither weekend format isn’t nor the point system is he issue…

      This is utterly disappointing and doesn’t bode well for all the promised changes for 2021…

      1. I agree. I am getting worried that F1 can go horribly wrong with a change of qualifying. I would like to ask Mr. Keith Collantine, please create a poll where readers can vote what they think about a change in qualifying. Many polls have quite close results, but I believe this poll will show almost complete agreement that Ross Brawn’s idea is absolutely bad.

      2. @fer-no65, to be fair, there is actually a long history of formal proposals for qualifying to be scrapped and replaced with a qualifying race instead. Race organisers were already putting formal proposals to FISA in the early 1970s for replacing qualifying sessions with a sprint race to determine the grid order, so the idea has been floating around the sport for nearly 50 years.

        There are also examples of non-championship Grand Prix from the 1970s where they did have two races within the race weekend, where the first race acted as a qualifying race and set the grid order for the second race. To pick a few examples, the 1971 Argentinian Grand Prix, which was a demonstration event to prove the circuit could hold a full Grand Prix, was run over two heats with the first race setting the grid order for the second race, and the International Gold Cup also used a similar system as well.

        1. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful comments, anon. For me, the scariest thing of a change in qualifying is that all these changes (reversed grid, qualifying races and these qualifying races on tracks like Barcelona, Zandvoort, Budapest, Le Castellet, for Godsake not on Monaco) will destroy the sport and make it into a purely show. Just a show.

    14. I think it would be good to have couple of weekends during the season which have different schedule. Having couple of double race weekends for example would add nice variation and would work fine for some of the duller races. Use the firrst and second practice as double qualifying/testing sessions. Fastest time starts on pole and so forth. And then on saturday you have a short race, say 30% length and 30% points and on sunday 100% normal race with reverse grid from saturday race.

      I’m not against experimenting but at least the last two races of the season should follow the normal schedule to avoid gimmicky double points and unknown luck based ideas for the last races. But something like sochi? Do anything you want with it as far as I care.

      1. @socksolid and if you’re the race promoter, are you going to want them messing around with things for your race? If it goes horribly wrong, are you going to be the one with all the angry people and the one with the race the press labels a complete failure? Are you going to be the one to lose ticket sales because a session was removed?

        If the FIA or Liberty promoted a few races on their own, then they can do whatever they want with those race weekends, but I don’t think it would be right or fair to promoters to have their event become a Liberty experiment.

    15. A strictly 60-minute qualifying race (including red flag periods) in reverse championship order sounds a great Saturday fun. I would happily drop the current qualifying format for it.

      60 minutes, reverse championship order, no mandatory pitstops. The first one could either be classic qualifying format or reverse previous year’s constructors/drivers championship order.

      After 60 minutes, the order would be close to normal qualifying, but with those couple of extra, interesting pieces. I would also give a few points to the podium finishers.

    16. I have it, why not have the fans click a link and after a certain number of clicks, track side sprinklers will turn on, outputting a random amount of water volume for a random period of time.

    17. So, as none of the new toys are coming in until 2021, the 2020 season is the last old format one and likely to be much the same as this year, last year etc. May as well start fiddling with a few things in preparation for the big bang in ’21.

    18. Qualy is the best part of the weekend. If they want to do something different can’t they run it in a different series first? Last time they messed with Qualifying it was a disaster

    19. Don’t mess with qualifying, just get rid of the tyre rule and change the grid shape in order to increase unpredictablility.

    20. So basically we can’t consider 2020 a true championship season then because it’s maybe going to be full of gimmicks with different formats every few races which is neither fair or a true championship season & should they do that then the results will need an asterisk next to them in the record books.

      I’m also starting to just accept that the sport of F1 doesn’t exist anymore. It’s turning into ‘Formula show’ with the sporting integrity been tossed out the window in favor of artificial show elements aimed at the lowest common denominator.

      I still love F1, I still love this sport but i’m starting to detest what its been turned into & feel like i’m been driven away from it. The problem however is if I ditch F1 (Which I will do if they do this) there’s nowhere else to go because everything else has been watered down just as much as I detailed a few days back.

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