What are "gimmicks" in motor racing?

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    I don’t think that it’s right to put the WEC equivalency formula and the BTCC performance balancing into the same category because they’re very different things. The WEC equivalency was brought in as a result of a set of rules which gave a clear technological advantage to Le Mans Prototypes running turbodiesel engines. Hence for a very long time the only two manufacturers involved were Audi and Peugeot since they were the only ones prepared to put development money into making turbodiesel engines for racing at that level. The equivalency formula was a means of ensuring that petrol engines were able to compete fairly with diesel engines, with a similar level of development etc. A logical response to a problem which existed with the rules, and something which is tweaked occasionally to make sure it’s as fair as possible. But crucially unless there was a massive problem with the equivalency, they won’t change it during the season. So this year, Audi have dropped the ball a little bit and built a car which is shy of power compared to the Toyota and the Porsche, and they just have to live with it.

    What it isn’t, is what we have in BTCC, which is an artificial means of leveling the field so that poorly developed cars are put on equal terms with highly developed cars. Things like success ballast, adjustment of turbo boost pressure for individual teams, and so on, and all the nasty political wrangling that seems to go on now with people trying to get opposing teams pegged back. In other words, if you’re unable to build a competitive car, then you can lobby to have a boost, or to have the performance of everyone else pegged back to give you a helping hand. Which is something I disagree with. If you want all cars to be genuinely equal then you should make is a spec series. If you want there to be technical diversity, then you have to accept the possibility that not all cars are going to be able to compete at the same level.


    Abu Dhabi as a circuit!!


    My 2 cents worth on the list of gimmicks Keith provided.

    Standing restarts (F1 from 2015) – Unacceptable.
    Mandatory pit stops (F1, IndyCar, DTM, FR3.5, GP2) – Unacceptable. If you can run a race at a competitive pace without stopping, why shouldn’t you be allowed to?
    Mandatory ‘option’ tyres (F1, IndyCar, DTM, GP2, BTCC) – Unacceptable. Again, similar to mandatory pit stops. If you can make a particular tyre run better than the opposition, why should you be forced to use something else.
    “Designed to degrade” tyres (F1) – Tolerable. Tyres wear out, its a fact of life. But we did get a smidge extreme in early 2013.
    DRS – proximity-based (F1) – Unacceptable. Cars switching positions in a manner which makes it look like the defending car is driving through “sticky grass” on Forza 5 is not overtaking.
    DRS – time-based (FR3.5) – Unacceptable. See above.
    Reverse grids (GP2, GP3, WTCC) – Tolerable in lower categories and tin tops, but it has no place in F1.
    Random reverse grids (BTCC) – See above.
    Push-to-pass (IndyCar) – Unacceptable.
    Fanboost (Formula E) – Tolerable, but only because Formula E is new and it has been conceived with this in mind. If the FIA think of bringing there will be a massive outcry.
    DRS (F1, DTM, FR3.5) – Unacceptable. See above.
    Success ballast (BTCC, WTCC) – Acceptable. As @ajokay mentioned above, this and performance balancing is mainly aimed at keeping the manufacturers and drivers happy.
    Performance balancing (BTCC, WTCC, WEC) – Acceptable. See above.
    ‘Invisibris’ cautions (NASCAR) – Unacceptable. If there is no reason not to be racing, why not race?
    Double points for longer races (IndyCar, WEC) – Acceptable. I suppose it is fair to win more points in a 500 mile race than you do in a 300 miler.
    Double points for final race/s (F1) – Unacceptable. The season is a set number of races long, all the races should have the same weight. A win at the first race is no less valuable than a win at the final race.
    Chase for the Cup (NASCAR) – Tolerable. It is an Americanism. Golf has it and their other sports have play-offs at the end of the “regular season”, so why shouldn’t their motorsports? Not for European racing though.
    Qualifying handicaps (e.g. ‘top ten drivers start on tyres they qualified on’) (F1) – Unacceptable. If you are fast, why be punished for it?
    Allowing lapped cars to regain a lap under caution (F1, NASCAR, USC) – Acceptable, but the f1 rules need a rethink to speed up the process.


    Remarkably there are now rumours success ballast is being considered for F1. Obviously it’s already widely used in touring cars. Would it be acceptable in F1?

    I have to say I’m strongly against it. I don’t agree with handicapping the top performers. To my mind it’s another example of the integrity of the sport being sacrificed in the name of entertainment.


    I think the majority would be strongly against. I know I would be. It’d be the final straw for me if they bought this in.

    And @GeeMac – completely agree with everything bar the Formula E fanboost thing. Can’t get my head around that.


    Teams spend millions upon millions designing and developing their car. For them to then be punished for doing the best job completely goes against what Formula 1 is all about. Formula 1 needs to celebrate design genius too, not just make it all about the drivers. Colin Chapman, Gordon Murray and Adrian Newey deserve their place in Formula 1 folklore just as much as Fangio, Senna and Schumacher.


    The problem with F1 is the constant changes of rules. That’s one of the point why people don’t watch it; they do not understand it.

    As @GeeMac mentioned above as ‘qualifying handicap’, why would you handicap the team/driver that has done a better job? They don’t do that in football, and it’s the most popular sport over the globe.

    Fer no.65

    “Let’s build the best car we can, let’s spend millions researching new solutions so we can have an advantage over our competition that the FIA will diminish with ballast because that’s the right way to do for the field to be competitive”

    Yeah… that always work.

    Again. Why? why is this needed? if they don’t want the dominant car to win, why not saying: “ok, as Mercedes is winning too much, from now on the winner will be the first non-Mercedes to cross the finishing line”.

    After the races we’ve been having this feels so so out of times!

    OEL F1

    Success ballast goes against everything I stand for, just like reversed grids. Being punished for doing well is just so damn wrong I can not find words for it.


    I’m strongly against success ballasts, anywhere.

    Or reverse grids, of course. Though somehow, as another user posted on one of the articles, Flavio’s return to F1 was nonetheless an instant success.


    Rather than implement new rules to help keep cars equal, I’d much rather like to see rules to try and make the teams equal instead.

    How about, I don’t know, a budget cap, perhaps…?


    Success ballasts are not the worst thing that could be implemented. The rule works pretty well in the WTCC.

    For sure, it does not make sense to let teams spend gazillions of money to gain competitive advantage and then take part of this advantage away. But if the teams cannot agree on significant cost-cutting measures, let alone budget caps, then success ballasts at least let the smaller teams, who simply lack resources but are otherwise as good as Ferrari or McLaren, get some rewards, too.

    That said, I am not sure that the rule would always work in F1 and I do not think that F1 really needs it.

    As for the other “gimmicks”, it is complicated. I do not like most of them but I admit that racing sometimes benefits from them. For instance, the Bahrain Grand Prix would perhaps have not been as exciting without the DRS this year. Tricky tyres have sometimes contributed to good racing, too.

    However, there are red lines and things like double points, the new Chase format and Fanboost overstep them. I want races to be interesting but when I want to watch some funny nonsense, then I watch Penguins of Madagascar, not F1.


    Looks like Bernie is scrapping standing restarts. Not confirmed but he’s been quoted saying it.


    He also said medals were coming in 2009. Bernie’s statement on rule changes are worthless, wake me up when the FIA says so.


    Is the ballast Adrian Sutil? That might even things out.

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