F1 once again is tweaking the rules, should we be surprised – no, should we be pleased – no. Interestingly its technically a return to an old idea of sorts and going back to standing restarts (like the start of the race) instead of rolling restarts (how they are currently after the safety car peels off into the pits).
The idea is that apparently F1’s current DRS fueled over taking spree’s haven’t been enough and the sport needs more craziness to attract those kids that love crashes and what not! Restarts have been deemed not to create enough changing of places currently so now the process has been lengthened once more from the current annoyance where the back markers slowly limp on past the safety car and have to get far enough out in front so we can restart again to stopping the whole thing and going again! So standing re-starts it is.
However they’re keeping the safety car for no other reason than its more advertising, before its insertion as a thing either yellows were waved or the race was simply stopped and everyone went back to the grid and then we re-started. Once again however F1 is playing with fire, it is beyond me why these gimmicks aren’t tested first on the GP2 or GP3 series to see if they have the desired effect or are just ridiculous. While they are nice things to win, if you lost out to some gimmick its not the be all and end all of your junior career as they’re mostly used as talent spotting exercises.
In my opinion F1 is missing the most obvious solution to its problems – DRS needs to work in reverse (DIS) as a sort of combination of the 2009 front wing solution and the current setup. If the car behind could add down force their car (IE increase the angle of the front and rear wings) when within 1 second of the car in front (and then shed it again on the straights) it would minimise the dirty air issue and help them look after their tyre’s better which are the current problems with trying to race wheel to wheel in down force ladened single seaters. While its technically artificial it removes the unfair aspect of the current DRS solution as if balanced correctly two identical cars going through a turn would have the same down force in the turn and the same drag on the straights whereas the current system relies on Tilke’s ridiculous miles long straights to nullify the loss of down force through the turn and then blast bast with far superior top speed. Additionally we’ve seen things like drivers tactically not overtaking in spots to then gain the DRS and go past easily, this system it makes no difference where you overtake in fact you can tun the system on constantly (drivers within one second could have it come on and they over ride it on the straights or vice-versa). It would bring back the art of meaningful defence and we wouldn’t be sat going, yawn another boring DRS pass as it would still be the drivers making the difference as they’d either have to pull a blinder and overtake in the corner (YES PLEASE!) or use the grip to better exit the corner and do an old fashioned slip streaming to make the pass. There is currently no skill in a DRS pass, the pass itself isn’t exciting its the pace that the driver is managing to achieve and how far he will get not can he overtake because the answer is almost always yes of course he can.
The standing starts were discussed and rubber stamped at the FIA Sport Conference this week and the other item of note was the failure once again to agree any meaningful cost reduction. Unsurprising seeing that only the 6 big teams sit on the strategy group that decide these rules. But the sport is once again spiralling out of control of the bills after a few years of managing to keep the lid on it (the engine freeze in 2008 did wonders to reduce budgets by almost half). This year saw new open engine development, in season testing galore and a whole new aero rules package that has created merry hell with the balance sheet. But once again the idea of a budget cap has fallen away with a reduction in wind tunnel hours (Will reduce running costs but you still have to build and maintain a tunnel!), in-season testing (which 2 days will be young driver days and will reduce costs) and 4 rather than 5 engines (pointless as any saving in constructing another engine will be hoovered up by development costs of making them last that long). This season should of been a great way to re-brand F1 for the modern age with technology that matters and spending money in R&D that will create something useful except everyone has moaned at the sound and the cost and its no wonder there’s not been sponsors jumping up and down to come on board alongside an ever reducing viewer ship thanks to the rise of pay TV.
We don’t need double points, standing restarts, fan vote turbo boosts, a race on the moon, sprinklers or what ever the next crack pot idea to fall out of Bernie’s brain is – the obvious simple answer and the best drivers in the world driving the best cars – job done go back to your yachts!