The effect of restrictions on F1

I don’t want to become an F1 commentator or a critic. But I love that sport and there’s a lot more to it than just ‘driving round the track a hundred times’ as some people say.

Felipe Massa hits Vitantonio Liuzzi
Felipe Massa hits Vitantonio Liuzzi

Last year, grace a la recession, the FIA (Federation Internationale d’Automobile) introduced some restrictions for teams and manufacturers a few of which have been mentioned here.

  1. Biggest of them all: No refueling. Teams would have to go the whole race on one fuel tank
  2. One set of Soft tyres need to be used during the race.
  3. One engine will have to last for two full races.
  4. Body of the car has to be slimmer and taller to increase overtaking but increasing drag and thereby reducing speed.
  5. No testing allowed in-season.
  6. Numerous budget caps and other cuts in spending were also introduce as also..
  7. Many restrictions on car improvements and modifications.

What was interesting to watch this year was that there were many new entrants to the F1 grid and this year there are 22 cars starting every race rather than the usual 20. Lowly teams like Force India who otherwise would never manage competing with the bigwigs have managed to get themselves among the top 10 in nearly every race. The gap between the leader and the last driver in qualifying has reduced two less than three seconds apart on an average! Overtaking has definitely been seen with many cars having these new ‘F-ducts’ that give them an extra boost of straight-line speed. So in a way the restrictions have been quite helpful for many teams. We’ve also seen some amazing strategies being applied by teams to win races. The FIA has also approved two new locations for racing – Korea and India. The former is doubtful but India is sure to see a race next year.

But here are the reasons they fail a bit, and here’s why:

  • F1 should really be the pinnacle of all motorsport technology – the fastest engines, the best aerodynamics and best electronic equipments for driving. Adding restrictions on spending doesn’t really let the best come out to be seen. E.g In one of the races, the max straightline speed was just about 290. But I tell you on the very same day, I saw 200cc MotoGP bikers going at 304. Bikes going faster than cars? Just awful!
  • If there are to be restrictions on tyres used, why is there only one manufacturer? Bridgestone tyres seem to become super slippery in the wet, and in the heat, they grain easily. The management needs to think over their tyre strategy.
  • Refueling had a big amount of suspense. Watching the pit crew members getting scuttled when the driver moved ahead too early, fire around the fueling hole, burning mirrors etc. There was a lot of drama when fuel had to be used. They took out a major element of drama from the race. It is like deleting a passionate moment from a chick-flick movie. It just ruins the excitement.
  • What else can I say? I just wait for the race to get over these days. Half way through the race its pretty clear who is going to win unless there is some technical snag or team stupidity (Vettel – Webber in Turkey). It gets pretty boring. And Mr. Steve Slater, I understand that the races are to a degree interesting, but comparing them to all of the previous year’s races, they are much more boring.

I’ll be writing an article very soon on the changes that F1 needs to introduce. See you soon!

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4 thoughts on “The effect of restrictions on F1

  1. I couldn’t disagree more about refuelling.

    What we really want to see in F1 is cars racing each other closely on track. The refuelling ban has helped encourage that.

    Teams can no longer use different fuel loads to ensure their cars are running in clean air away from other cars.

    It’s now much harder for drivers to avoid having to overtake other cars. That’s partly why we’ve just seen terrific races in Turkey and Canada.

    At Istanbul we had the top three covered by less than a second at times. That would never have happened under the refuelling ban. Eventually the pressure got to Red Bull and they cracked, making for a dramatic race.

    In Turkey, Vettel was sitting back expecting his strategy would win him the race. Until his team told him on the radio that no, he would actually have to overtake other cars to do that.

    And surely that’s what we really want to see in F1? Proper, wheel-to-wheel racing. Give me that over predictable refuelling strategy and drivers have their races ruined by faulty fuel rigs any day.

    • Hello Keith!
      Wow My special day.. you commented! I’ve been subscribing to your blog for over a year now.
      Great stuff!

      You’ve made a good counter argument all the same! And supported by good facts.

      Its true about the fact that now more than ever, the cars are running in to traffic and aren’t able to avoid each other and as I mentioned overtaking has definitely improved.

      I knew though that teams would bring their cars in to get them free of traffic. But, are you also saying that some were fuelled lighter or heavier so as to increase/decrease pit time and get them into a clean track ahead of them? If yes, then wow that’s amazing and yes the fuelling ban is then perfect.

      Running into back markers though I think that the FIA isn’t pretty strict on the blue flags and that ruins the game for some especially when there is a chase like we saw in the last race when Fernando Alonso was trying to get to Jenson Button. The back markers were busy sorting out issues amongst themselves too much to allow Fernando Alonso to get past. I think someone else also gained from the back markers I don’t recollect who it was.

      It adds that bit of ‘luck’ as I call it, into the game which I wish would be eliminated. You see, messing up the fuselage in the pits, putting on the wheel nut loose, banging your front wing on the rear of another, are all instances that happen because of driver error + team error. And these two are vital to any car’s performance and don;t come under ‘luck’. That’s just bad performances.

      Back markers create a sort of situation where no one can be blamed for getting stuck with them. That’s frustrating for me. Like, ‘get them out of the way and let racing go on’. Its possible to have a great strategy ruined because of them (I’m a big strategy fan). And refuelling I believe allowed for great strategy too. And what I’m seeing in the races so far is lack of strategy, drivers being told to push push push. Good racing but strategy is going out. The only variable to allow that is at ‘what point of time to pit’ in the races this year.

      I guess I could’ve written about all this in the post too. 😀
      Have a great week Keith!

      • You’re welcome!

        are you also saying that some were fuelled lighter or heavier so as to increase/decrease pit time and get them into a clean track ahead of them?

        Absolutely. It still happens without the refuelling ban although it’s much harder to do now because pit stops now tend to take a fixed amount of time because they aren’t waiting for the fuel to go in.

        Even so, generally, teams won’t bring their drivers in for fresh tyres until they know they won’t come out close behind another car. Canada was an exception because tyre degradations was so bad.

        Really the root of the problem is how difficult it is for one car to pass another. But I’d say allowing refuelling makes the problem worse, banning it makes it less severe.

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