Suggestion for weekend format change

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    I think most of the forum visiters now know about my new-found NASCAR obsession and maybe are a bit annoyed by it, but I think it has an element (well, a few, but this one in particular) which would be of good use in F1 as well.

    AFAIK, a NASCAR weekend format (expect for the Daytona 500) is practice-qualifying-practice-practice-race. I catched a line from the commentators in one of the 2012 races that some drivers starting from the back of the pack are surging through the field due to the huge setup improvement they found during P2 and P3. It made sense. The drivers had precious little time to find a base setup for qualifying, then nailed it for the race. Some succeeded, some went in the wrong direction in P2 and P3 after having a reasonably good foundation for Q.

    I think a weekend format change similar to that could have the potential to spice up F1 weekends as well. Now F1 drivers do all the preparation work before qualifying and they basically drive the race with the same setup. I am not saying we should revert to the Q-setup/race setup mode, but rather drivers should be given (1) a bit too little time to prepare for qualifying for a more varied grid, and (2) a chance to improve their setup for the race, thus changing the pecking order from qualifying to race.

    One can argue that there are still differences between relative qualifying and race paces, see Red Bull and Ferrari, but I think this would magnify these slight differences. Of course, the difference between the Q- and race pace of Ferrari is not slight, it is around .6-7 seconds, but even Gary Anderson admitted in a column that it is unusual these days. Smaller differences are normal.

    One huge pro for the system, I think, is that there are fewer overtakes in F1 still and thus the grid conserves positions more. Consequently, I think F1 needs the system more than NASCAR. Once again, one can say Vettel proved me wrong in Abu Dhabi, but that was unusual once again.

    What do you think?


    A very interesting idea. It’s always interesting when the performances of the cars are different in qualifying and the race, that ensures lots of overtaking and all kinds of events that spice up the race. It’s the second best thing that can happen to a race after raining.
    Abu Dhabi was such a succes mainly because Vettel had to start last and so he was forced to attack. Vettel starting last promoted other drivers to the front, who saw their chances at a good result – so a spectacular race is ensured.
    Changing the setup in practice after qualifying could have this kind of result – it would be interesting to see. But on one condition – qualifying must remain on saturday!


    Yep, that’s a problem – it is on Friday in NASCAR and it is difficult to imagine a qualifying and two practice sessions on Saturday. A practice-practice-qualifying-practice-race would still work, but that would leave too much time to nail the setup for qualifying.

    Or P1 on Friday morning/afternoon, Q on Saturday morning, P2 on Saturday afternoon, P3 on Sunday morning and race on Sunday afternoon.


    That’s not a bad idea. I’m not the biggest fan of Noah’s ark grids and this is a good way to mix up the grid in a fair and same-for-everybody way.


    I agree with you Atticus, it would be a decent weekend programme!


    Isn’t this something like the warm-up sessions 10 years ago?


    @benchuiii Similar in format, not in purpose. I believe warm-ups were only 30 mins long and were there just to ensure everything is working OK on the cars. It was scrapped as a few pit out laps for the grid are sufficient for that. I’m not entirely sure on the topic, but that’s what makes sense. The purpose of decidedly longer practice sessions between qualifying and race would be to tweak and nail setups not BEFORE, but AFTER qualifying, to make pecking order in the race more different from qualifying then nowadays.

    On the other hand, similar in format, because – after all – it’d still re-insert practice session(s) between qualifying and race.

    I’m glad I found an idea, which seemingly enjoys quite a bit initial support. If only this would be considered by the decision makers as well.


    The edit feature is not working for me, so here’s another point: having P3 on Sunday morning, as described above would also mean more running on Sunday, a larger timespan for the drivers to keep concentration up, more likelihood for little mistakes towards the end of the race, which would in turn provide more opportunities for last-gasp overtakes we all seem to like very much.


    There is a pretty big problem with that idea (at least in my opinion it is a problem).
    We are talking about Formula 1 here, this sport has the most flexible engineer in the world they can adopt to any rule in less than a season.

    So while you would expect them to scratch a base setup for qualy, and then improve it to the race, I think the teams would learn to set the cars up for qualy in an hour, and have a completely different setup for the race. As they wouldnt have to think about parcferme, the teams could run lower ride height (lower fuel, lighter car), stiffer suspensions (lower ride height), higher gearing (DRS is allowed everywhere), they could exploit their cars true qualy potential which is good, but here comes the sad part. As the teams know the results of qualifying before the race, they could plan their race and use the FP/FPs to set the car up for exactly that plan. For example if someone starts from the front row, in optimal conditions he couldnt use DRS in the race, so he wouldnt need that high topspeed (usual RBR strategy), or someone starts from the back of the pack, so they could set the car up for the highest possible speed on the straights, because he would have to gain most of his positions on track. So we would end up with a grid full of different setups, different strategies, and the whole race would be about who lucked into the best strategy. Yes, lucked, because the teams wouldnt know the other teams strategies, so they could mess up each others races badly.

    Of course, different setups and strategies are not bad, but on a 24 car grid I think it would be a mess, not racing.


    I think, that is actually a good idea.
    The Practice, Practice, qualifying, practice, race is probably the easiest format to convert to without ruining peoples weekends but I generally like the idea.
    It will give, a very modest but still slightly similar effect as the reverse grids without feeling fake. As its the same for anyone.
    The issues, that I can think off is that:
    A) If a driver crashes doing FP3 on Sunday morning, then he might have to sit over in the race if they can’t fix the car in time. While it would of cause be his own fault and therefore he would have to pay the price, it would still be a shame to one less driver on the grid. While the same mistake doing FP3 with the current format, can potentially lead to even more exciting races as the driver would have to start from the back.
    B) Right now we have a sort of similar effect. As the teams have to race the same car they qualify with, they are always making a compromise between race and qualifying pace.
    I guess that is, at least part of the reason why some teams have a relatively to the competition better qualifying pace then race pace, and vice versa.
    And your proposed format might change this trend and make the cars perform more consistently over the weekend as F1 teams have access to a load of simulator time to do setup work in. I don’t think that NASCAR teams have the same luxuries and therefore I think that they are changing their setups much more as they go then F1 teams do. Without having any evidence to back it up, it is just a guess. So maybe the new format will actually have to reverse effect. I don’t know.


    @mads Your A) point is a legitimate issue, I think. B) – not so much. I already touched on it, the format would only magnify the differences for it to have a larger effect. But A) is definitely a concern.

    As for @bag0, this could be an issue as well, I think one has to re-watch races where teams only had one dry FP session to set up the car for qualifying to sort of assess the risk of this scenario of increased adaptation.


    I don’t know if a change is necessary, but I like the idea.
    @bag0 I’m not sure I see the downside. what is the justification for parc ferme anyway? to save the inspectors the bother of having to inspect the cars again on sunday? compromising between race and qualifying pace on the set-up might be an interesting exercise, but i don’t see how makes the racing any better, and when the weather and track conditions change drastically between saturday and sunday, then everyone is hobbled. What’s the point of that? Setting the car up properly should take away some of the dependance on luck. Which is probably the other justification for the parc ferme rules.

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