Start, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Teams concerned greater risk of crashes in qualifying races could increase costs

2020 F1 season

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Teams are concerned a plan to test qualifying races at a limited number of rounds in the 2020 F1 season could increase their costs at a time the sport is trying to save money.

A proposal to replace qualifying with a short race, which drivers start in reverse championship order, at up to three rounds next year is being considered. It requires the backing of all 10 teams to be approved for next season.

Among teams’ concerns about the plan are the potential implications of crash damage incurred during qualifying races, according to Racing Point CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

“We have to answer a lot of questions as to what happens in parc ferme and what happens if you crash in a qualifying race,” said Szafnauer. “We then have to carry more spares, who’s going to pay for it?”

“Engine mileage might be a little different [and] tyre usage,” he added.

Qualifying currently accounts for a large part of the teams’ race weekend tyre allocations. Front-running teams which reach Q3 can use five or more sets of new tyres. A qualifying race may only require a single set. However teams also have to account for potentially increased engine wear from running extra races.

“One of the things is to make sure that the races is as long as you would use up miles in qualifying,” Szafnauer added. “But even then, not everyone gets through to Q3, [so] it’s different.

“The risk of crashing in qualifying is a lot less than in a race. You’ve got a start – and the proposal was to start in reverse championship order.”

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Several drivers have strongly criticised the qualifying races plan. But Szafnauer sees potential in the reverse grid proposal.

“I think if you do if you go in reverse championship order the guy in front of you is only marginally slower than you. So you put the fastest guy at the back but the guys around him aren’t the slow guys anymore, like sometimes happens.

“[Today] if you get a penalty or if you screw up in qualifying you start at the end and then it’s fun to watch him go through the field. This isn’t going to be like that. So the fastest guy’s at the end, or the guy leading the championship, the guy probably in a car just like him is right in front of him and so on up the field.

“So I don’t know how that’s going to pan out after, whatever, 25 laps. It’ll be different.”

In order to increase the chances of a final proposal with has the unanimous backing of the teams being tabled, the FIA has asked them to help fine-tune the qualifying races concept.

“The FIA asked, said we don’t want to waste our time in answering all these questions if one of you is going to say ‘forget it’. Which kind of makes sense.

“So we all said ‘no, go ahead and answer the questions’ and after that we’ll vote. So it could happen. But we do need unanimity for that to happen in 2020 and it’s hard to get unanimity in Formula 1.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 34 comments on “Teams concerned greater risk of crashes in qualifying races could increase costs”

    1. But weren’t team bosses the ones in favour of qualifying races? Now they have started using their brains and realized it isn’t such a good idea after all

      Still a lot of very important yet unanswered questions regarding this proposal. It’ll increase costs, wear and put team members under even more stress. And all of this for a gimmick that won’t do any good

      1. Indeed. It’s not like this wasn’t the first thing that EVERYONE on this site said on the day they first mentioned they were even thinking of this plan.

        Evidently we are the only ones to actually think with our heads. Maybe we should all be in F1!

        1. Nah! They do not like common sense in F1, they prefer their very own entirely restricted and blinkered viewpoint, which now is seemingly tainted by the rubbish Ross is obliged to put to them.
          We had high hopes of Ross’s legendary abilities in strategy, management planning, but sadly he seems to have been in the USA too many times for too long! His brain has been Americanated (If they can make up words…..)

          We still wait to hear if the 10% additional races will get the teams 10% more money, as no doubt their cost will increase to the point where the necessary duplicated team sections mean far more than an extra 10% increase in costs.

    2. Speaking of risks during qualifying, we are going to have a wet qualifying session this Saturday at Suzuka. Heavy rain is forecast, with little chances of rain on sunday too.

      1. @webtel Suzuka is one of those venues (along with the likes of Spa, and Silverstone, for instance) where the weather can change quickly, so, therefore, better to not read thoroughly into the forecasts as we’re still nearly three days away from QLF, meaning that while the weather-forecast(s) at present show a relatively high chance of rain, it could still change by then, and turn out to be a dry-session after all. We shall wait and find out.

      2. Indeed! Is not Suzuka famous for it’s origami boats, of varying competence in the annual flooded pit lane competition?

    3. Risk of first corner incidents was one of the first things that came to my mind.
      Maybe I should be in charge of making the rules, seems I am a very smart person.

      1. @zomtec Same here since I’m (also) a person who bases decisions on common sense, i.e., uses a common-sense approach to everything to the greatest extent possible.

      2. @zomtec for FIA president… @jerejj for FOM MD?
        I’d be in favour.

        1. @john-h LOL. My post (presumably that of @zomtec as well) was supposed to be a light-hearted yoke anyway. The fact indeed is that I tend to look into things using the common-sense approach, but I doubt I’d be able to hold a role like that including a lot of responsibility.

      3. Maybe they will have to use rolling starts in the qualifying races on sat. Otherwise the teams will need 4 cars ready to go. IMO I think it is stupid but I’m like Schultz in Hogan’s hero’s. I know nothing.

    4. I will say it again, have a rolling start for the sprint race, in my mind that should bring down the risk of a first corner crash down a little bit. They will also not be fueled to the brim like in the normal race, which should make the start less tricky.

      1. C’mon guys, just say “no it’s a completely stupid idea” and let’s close this off.

        Clearly the teams aren’t as keen as Brawn told us – what we don’t know is what carrot/sticks are in play to “encourage” them to support it.

        1. Sorry @aliced was supposed to be a post in its own thread, not a reply to yours.

      2. @aliced Double file rolling starts tend to have a higher risk of contact in T1 because your approaching the 1st corner at higher speed. It would likely be even more risky with a reverse grid given the guys at the back will be a lot faster than those ahead of them creating a concertina effect.

        A few years ago Indycar tried to switch to standing starts to reduce the risks of lap 1 contact but ultimately the cars proved problematic to get off the line given how they weren’t designed to do standing starts. A lot of fans also weren’t in favor of standing starts so they reverted back to the traditional rolling starts. Indycar also tried double file rolling SC restarts (Something F1 is apparently considering) but also found there was a higher risk of contact on the 1st lap of the restart (Especially if you had faster guys further back in the pack) so switched back to single file.

    5. How about a weight handicap based on championship position?
      How about we hold a lottery to decide which driver gets which car?
      How about a random driver gets a blue shell button to engage the leaders anti-stall?
      How about the pit crews have the wear foam giant suits and rival team crews get to throw water soaked sponges at them while they are servicing the cars?
      We shouldn’t get too precious about what Formula 1 is, you know? It’s all about the show.

      1. Finally, someone speaking common sense.
        One point though… shouldn’t the number of water soaked sponges available to the teams be governed by fan likes/retweets?
        You’re welcome.

    6. :D How about greater show more overtaking provide for more income?

      Dumbasses.

      There are two paths here, make F1 a sport, equalize equipment and may the best driver win or make F1 a show, reverse grids, mandatory pitstops multiple anti competitive elements to keep faster cars slower for the benefit of more close racing.

      Teams want to maintain status quo. Least amount of change is best for them.

      Average viewer wants a good show to tune in. Average viewer is gone after the start and hardly watches quali.

      Diehard fanatic watches race with 2 overtakes and observers Leclerc in last seconds of quali like a hawk. Obsessing over each corner, wing tip, radio messages, timing screens, etc.

      Lewis had an awesome race in Sochi.

      Thing is diehard fan will watch the race anyway, average viewier that watches TV on a Sunday simply will not watch F1, why would they? Cars driving in circles holding station. They go and watch MotoGP.

      We are here all mostly diehard fans, thinking about sporting regulation, voicing our concerns, but in the end we don’t have a good show, and regulations still allow for unsporting fundations. Top teams have more performance from better and more funding and drivers in faster cars have an easier time winning races and titles.

      1. Here’s the thing, you want to equalize equipment, which is essentially making it a spec series. A lot of other fans are against that.

        1. Agree. No spec series. Send the cheap, slow teams to the back of the grid. Or, even better, send them to F2, Indy or FE. A Ferrari-powered Haas might even win a few FE races…

    7. They keep saying that the faster cars will make their way through the field easily like the do in current races.

      What everyone is forgetting is that slower midfield cars “let” them through in races at the moment because they’re playing the long game for points. That will be completely different when it’s for starting position.

      The other massive difference is that the faster cars won’t only have to overtake midfielders, they’ll have to overtake each other if they want a sniff of pole. Couple that with team orders (I can hear it now, “Alex, Max is coming up let him through and then defend hard”) and we’ll end up with aggressive tactics, wings being smashed and cars being wrecked.

      One or two fast cars starting at the back because of engine penalties is NOT a signal that starting all of them at the back will lead to a “great show”

      The sad thing is that Liberty/Brawn are not going to back away from this. Next we’ll be seeing “activation zones” and all sorts of gimmicks unless the teams put their foot on this sort of silliness now.

      1. @dbradock ‘They keep saying…’ Do they? Who is ‘they’? ‘Everyone is forgetting…’ Are they really?’ ‘Liberty/Brawn aren’t going to back away from this…’ Really? They will have to if they don’t have teams in unanimous support of the experiments. ‘Next we’ll be seeing…’

        I understand your absolute disdain for even the idea of experimenting, but you are not supporting your argument with anything other than pure rhetoric.

        All Brawn has said is the teams are unanimously in support of looking into possibly experimenting at 2 or 3 races next year. So they have a lot of details to work out and we don’t even know what the experiment might look like let along if they will actually all agree to a certain format and then agree to experiment with it. For all we know at this point this could be abandoned for lack of agreement on what a different form of quali might look like, let alone official unanimity to go ahead with experimenting. If they actually get to that point of unanimity then to me that means they will have figured out something that they are keen to experiment with which might bring us a more exciting qualifying. Or this will all go away and Brawn will be satisfied that he explored all avenues to improve quali and will be happy to accept that there is not enough enthusiasm and agreement to change it. He’d like to see fans reaction too, rather than just foist something upon them for a season without experimenting first.

    8. That’s a point actually – does the budget cap just cover development costs? Or the season as a whole? Because what happens if a team has a driver line-up that likes to completely bin the car at least once a weekend? Will they run out of “budget” for repairs? Or will every new wing net them a fine (counter productive, obviously) or more grid penalties?

    9. Make them do the qualifying race in Caterhams, then reverse the grid twice.

    10. I need more overtakes, I need more overtakes, give it to me, more overtakes, crashes, all the time, I need excitement, no subtlety, no need to watch things build slowly overtime, I need gimmicks, more more more, massive consumption, no need to sleep, think, reflect, just consume. I need more coffee.

    11. Crashes, engines, tyres, personnel… sure – none of these have been considered when “geniuses” came up with that atrocious idea.

      RIOT!

      1. They also haven’t considered that this won’t work at all tracks, “looking at you Monaco”, so we will need at least two qualifying formats for each season. Try explaining that to the casual viewer.

    12. Never mind !!! I switched from F1 to MotoGP long ago.

    13. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing this experiment next year for the few races if this goes through. I think its an idea worth trying out.

      I may like it or may not, but I think its good enough for a test of two-three races.

    14. Seb Vettel and I are having concerns about the potentially increased application of blue flags during qualifying races.
      Although we are having them in a different manner.

      Imo reverse grid races are way better at series where some contact and harder fight is more accepted and safe, like smaller TC’s. F1 and faster open wheel series are better with a bit more strict rule-set, and it’s hard to fit a reverse grid race’s blue flag policy into this set. Especially in the crytard world as an universe what we are having now.

    15. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      9th October 2019, 17:20

      How about just drawing sticks out of Eccelstones little claw?

    16. They won’t need many extra spares, as the risk-reward-balance will hardly incentivise any daring maneuvers. They’ll just circulate in line, everyone being surrounded by similar cars and having the same tyres of the same age. In some places, like obviously Monaco, there isn’t even a reason to go any kind of pace.

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