Andreas Seidl, Silverstone, 2021

F1’s success ballast suggestion gets short shrift from McLaren’s Seidl

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl made it clear he wouldn’t support the introduction of success ballast to Formula 1.

Formula 1 has launched a global fan survey which asks for their views on a number of potential changes to the sport. Among the suggestions is the introduction of success ballast, which is widely used in series such as touring car racing to increase the weight carried by winning teams and drivers to aid their rivals.

Seidl said he welcomes the initiative to gauge fans’ attitudes towards the sport but emphasised his strong opposition to success ballast and performance equalising rules.

“I think it’s very important that Formula 1 and the teams are listening to the fans’ opinions,” he said, “because we’re in this sport not just to enjoy ourselves running around in circles we do it for our fans.

“When it comes to success ballast, I put in a lot of effort in my own career to make sure I end up in a championship where there’s no success ballast and no balance of performance so I’m very happy with what is in place now.”

Among the others changes suggested by F1 in the survey are reintroducing refuelling during races, requiring drivers to use three different tyre compounds per race, introducing reverse grid races, using the sprint qualifying format at every grand prix weekend and adding an extra race for third drivers.

Formula 1 is holding its second sprint qualifying race at Monza this weekend. The series’ CEO Stefano Domenicali said the first event at Silverstone received “overwhelmingly positive feedback”.

Seidl said Formula 1 will have to consider the responses of fans to all three sprint qualifying events before deciding whether to continue with the format next season.

“There’s a lot of analysis ongoing after this event on our side with different channels that we are using, all the different analysis we are running as a team and engagement we are having with our fans, and obviously F1 is doing the same which gets shared as well,” said Seidl when asked by RaceFans what fan feedback data F1 had shared.

“As far as I understand, and it’s the same from F1’s side, we do these three events now, we put it all together now, how it went, how it went also on different tracks and track characteristics and so on – because that could also make a difference how exciting actually a sprint race is as an original race – and how much is happening in this sprint, for example, on Saturday afternoon.

“Then I think we have to put that all together including the facts as well in terms of numbers and then go from there.”

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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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31 comments on “F1’s success ballast suggestion gets short shrift from McLaren’s Seidl”

  1. Is there any history of success ballast being used in single-seater racing? Seems to me that it’s more of a touring car/sportscar thing.

    1. @red-andy as far as I am aware, success ballast hasn’t been used in single seater racing.

    2. Maybe this is F1’s change to be a pioneer again? ;)

  2. When the mind has run short of ideas yet get paid to do a job we get this kind of solutions or more like a problem to a solution.

  3. I’d deffo switch off to success ballast. That’d be the final nail in the coffin.

  4. Wacky Races is an animated 1960’s television series from Hanna-Barbera about a group of eleven different cars racing against each other in various road rallies, with each driver hoping to win the title of the “World’s Wackiest Racer!”

    Dick Dastardly was the villain who always used tricks to try and win to sabotage the racing, even though he was already ahead in many of the races so cheating only made him lose.

    He would be proud of the idea of “success ballast” It belongs in a cartoon and not in a professional sport like F1. I won’t watch if this is introduced despite being a fan for 40 plus years.

    Reply moderated
  5. Is it April 1st already?

  6. If you are going down the route of success ballasts, and reservegrids the slippery slope will go through BoP straight to a spec series…

    Reply moderated
  7. Do hardcore F1 fans really answer these surveys? I don’t think so.

    It is the new netflix watchers that have been dominating these surveys. If F1 keeps listening to them then they will slowly but surely diminish the DNA of the sport.

    I really want them to remove this Sprint nonsense as well. Watching the cars go around for half an hour in the sprint boils my blood that there is no more to watch.

    1. Well make sure you fill out the survey, I just did and told them exactly what I thought of some of their proposals.

      Reply moderated
    2. I do, but I am not so sure they really take the results as is to influence their decisions. I would be surprised if many fans would rate the ideas like success ballast, running all 3 tires (mandatory) etc.

  8. Among the others changes suggested by F1 in the survey are reintroducing refuelling during races, requiring drivers to use three different tyre compounds per race, introducing reverse grid races, using the sprint qualifying format at every grand prix weekend and adding an extra race for third drivers.

    I did the survey earlier & voted strongly disagree to all of those suggestions.

    Were a couple of questions/options that did nothing but strengthen my concern regarding the direction Liberty want to take F1 in.

    But on the ones listed in this article specifically. Success ballast should be something that isn’t even up for consideration, I never liked refueling the last time so wouldn’t like to see it return, Forcing drivers to use all 3 tyre compounds would just limit strategy, Reverse grids of any sort are a red line for me & I don’t like the sprint format so would rather it be dropped completely rather than adopted everywhere. And an extra race for 3rd drivers, I just don’t really see the point.

    1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      10th September 2021, 15:58

      I wouldn’t mind refueling again, at least we’d be back to full speed sprint stints.
      No more driving to a delta.

    2. I think the 3rd drive race is the only one with some merit as it would allow rookies to gain experience and to be assessed by teams. However I think it might be an unnecessary strain on finances especially if teams have to build an extra chassis for them.
      I’d rather see a stipulation that every driver on the grid sits out one GP and is replaced by the reserve driver or rookie in that event. so in a 22 race season all drivers do 21 races and there are multiple opportunities for other drivers to have a shot through the season and be measured against established drivers.

      Alternatively I’d like them to leave things alone!

      Reply moderated
  9. I’ll repeat more briefly what I said earlier as it seemed to be rejected. Success Ballast belongs in a cartoon like Wacky Races and not in a professional sport lilke F1. As some have already said, this is the line for me too. I won’t watch if they introduce, this having been a fan for over 40 years of F1.

    1. Yeah if success ballast were introduced f1 would lose any resemblance to its past form. Could you imagine if 100lbs were dropped into the MP4/4 to make it equal with a Ligier? What are these people smoking?

      Maybe this is a tactic to get us to succumb to the sprint race non-race.

  10. I am enormously sceptical of all of these surveys as they are usually couched in a way that confirms a corporate direction regardless of the actual answer to the question.

    I.e. they have not asked if you watch sprint qualifying separately from regular qualifying so automatically, those that watch qualifying are positive towards sprint qualifying…

    if you are an occasional fan, they will weight your answer.

    Yes i’ve done the survey

  11. F1 know their audience is changing and they need to keep up with it, or they will inevitably lose a lot of money.
    Remember that that’s what F1 is for…. Money. ‘Sport’ is just a medium for extracting it.

    Argue and fight all you like, but F1 as you knew it and liked it is dead. A long time ago…

    1. But you also cannot alienate your existing audience or fully turn off those who may not want to see some of the more gimmicky ideas & do still see F1 as a sport.

      If you look at NASCAR as an example. They felt that they needed to change to follow the more casual audience which was/still is seen as the largest part of the TV audience. However in deciding to go down that route they ended up alienating a huge chunk of the existing fanbase, Many of which ended up walking away or at least partly disengaging from following the series & while they did see a decent uptick in the more casual audience many of them weren’t as engaged & didn’t stick around so NASCAR ended up with declining popularity & the more they did to cater to the casual fan the more unpopular the series as a whole became. The dilemma they subsequently ended up with is if they start scaling back some of the things they introduced to grab the casual fans they will turn them off but they have alienated many of the more dedicate fan so badly they won’t return quick enough to fill the void.

      Indycar also ended up in that situation with the ovals as the IRL started looking at NASCAR venues & NASCAR style pack racing to go after many of the same more casual viewer NASCAR were chasing. The result was that the more dedicated Indycar fan didn’t like that style of racing or the 1.5mile ‘cookie cutter’ tracks NASCAR has been running & the casual fan then got turned off when they started to move away from that style of racing which resulted in oval racing been viewed less favourably by both sides of the coin.

      You can’t simply go one way or the other, You need to retain a balance & you need to introduce changes gradually & in a way that doesn’t come across as insulting to the existing fanbase because fans of anything are the most loyal people in the world until they start to feel like your not listening to or insulting them & once they start to feel like that & you lose them they are much harder to win back.

      1. That’s exactly what F1 are doing, though – gradual change.

        DTM did the opposite to NASCAR but ultimately suffered the same fate. They gave the participants all the power, and then they left, as participants do – completely crippling the series.

        If F1 were all about the ‘new audience’ then they’d have forced reverse grids in already.
        They are in a difficult position – if they don’t change, they remain held back by their inferior on-track product. If they do change, they upset those who have an unhealthy fixation on tradition (whatever that means in F1) and end up pushing away future growth and sustainability.
        If you were in charge, what would you do? Adapt and move with the audience, or stagnate and die?
        Your old audience is more likely to come along the journey than the new audience is to become regulars if they don’t like what they see.

  12. Aren’t they too heavy already?

  13. I filled out the survey so I could get to the ballast question. Their were other just as stupid suggestions. I voted strongly disagree for all of them.

  14. Actually, this headline and article shows one of F1’s biggest issues – that the participants get too much power to decide what F1 should be.
    When they say ‘we welcome the fans opinions’ they only mean that when they match their own.

    Even the teams can’t agree on what they want, which results in so much compromise that any good idea is watered down to the point of being worthless – or even a negative feature.
    Ultimately – if the viewers aren’t happy, the teams and stakeholders won’t ever be happy either. There won’t be any money for them without sponsors, and there won’t be any sponsors without viewers….
    Satisfy the viewers, or there is no F1….

  15. THEY ASKED WHAT!?

    I wont use the language I’d like here as a response as it would be inappropriate but I’ll use the language they might understand:

    I will stop paying to watch the sport the same day they announce that.

  16. “Success ballast”? Yeah – it would have been so much better if they’d fitted Usain Bolt with lead shoes.

  17. I can cope with the sprint and watching qualifying on Friday I still find a bit strange but I can cope with that as well. Do I think the sprint caught the attention of those who don’t want to spend time watching F1? No. Younger people do not have shorter attention spans. The average 5 year old can spend hours on Roblox, the thing is some don’t want to spend time watching F1 unless they get hooked into it (I have seen some who do become fans at a young age). It’s either something you like or something you don’t like and thats OK but too much meddling wont make people who don’t like watching it watch. It will only annoy the fans you already have.

    Effectively we have a form of success ballast already with limiting CFD simulation and wind tunnel time. So success is already being penalised. For me thats not F1 because F1 has always been based on merit. When handicapping systems are introduced its not on merit anymore so for me its no longer F1.

    Adding success ballast or introducing reverse grid races are a step to far and a step to not renewing my Sky subscription. Thats something they need to consider as its not us getting F1 for free anymore and if we don’t like what we see then we stop paying for it.

  18. In my opinion it is important that F1 remains a simple contest of person and machine. Why the heck would we want to penalize performance of the best cars and drivers? I don’t see what this would achieve. Maybe they’ll start having 20 people on the podium and everyone gets a trophy.

  19. So how much ballast do you think they would have to add to the RB16B so that Mazepin could keep up in the Haas?

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