Other racing series has adopted bits and pieces from F1 in the years gone by but do they need to borrow some ideas from MotoGP?
Since a few years, F1 has tried to spice up the weekend and make it more attractive and exciting for the fans. Their latest gimmick is the sprint race weekend, where free practice and qualifying for the main Grand Prix on Sunday, is already done on Friday. For Saturday, F1 has chosen a stand-alone sprint race, with qualifying in the morning and a shortened race in the afternoon. Many fans are still not warming up to the sprint format and also a number of drivers aren’t really happy with it.
Since the idea isn’t measuring up to the expectations, F1 is now searching for another way to spice things up. Ideas like a reverse grid, a sim race with a prize or even a stand-alone sprint championship are on the table, but I’ve had an idea a long time ago, which never got considered (naturally).
Here’s my idea and it is almost the same as the (old) MotoGP format:
On Friday, FP1, as always, will be used for short runs to tweak the baseline set-up of the car BUT… lap times matter. For a full hour and a half, teams can set-up the car as they want but qualifying runs will be needed at some point as the fastest lap time will be taken into FP2. This way, a usually slower car can do a low-fuel run and set a Top 10 time, which makes it more exciting for the fans to watch. Also the weather conditions can play a part in it because, if it starts raining and the top teams haven’t set a fast time yet, it can make it more difficult for them in FP2.
During FP2, a one hour session, it’s all about fine-tuning the car for qualifying and the classification of FP1 will be used as a starting point for FP2. This means that teams and drivers need to be at their A-game as their position on the timing screen can drop if they don’t set a fast enough time. On the other hand, if a driver during FP1 had trouble with rain or set-up issues, they have a chance to make up places by setting a better lap time. Like in qualifying, a driver with an overall great time can feel safe, but if others do a better lap time on a rubbered track, that driver needs to go out again to improve his time.
This should be more fun and exciting for the fans to watch as well. At the end of the Friday sessions, we have a classification of 20 drivers and their combined times. The 10 fastest times, don’t have to start Qualifying 1 and are straight through to the second part of qualifying. The slowest 10 times will start Q1 on the Saturday afternoon. On Saturday, the morning starts with FP3 and other than FP1 and FP2, the lap times don’t matter. All drivers will get one hour to do their long-runs in order to prepare for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The reason to do the long runs on Saturday morning instead of Friday afternoon, is the fact that the track and air temperature will probably be slightly different to the temperature on the Sunday afternoon, which gives it a slight off-set of what to expect.
It results in a tiny bit of guess work, which makes it also a bit more exciting and unpredictable. The Saturday afternoon is the time for qualifying. Instead of the current Q1, Q2 and Q3, I’m thinking of a session in two parts. Q1 will last 25 minutes and has the 10 cars that had the slowest combined time on the Friday. Of those 10 cars, the fastest two will go through to Q2, which makes Q1 pretty exciting as the slowest car on Friday, can have an awesome Q1 session and is still able to go for a great qualifying result. After Q1 is finished, positions 13 to 20 are set for the Grand Prix on Sunday. Between Q1 and Q2 will be a 10 minute break, not only to get 13 to 20 back in the garage, but also to get the fastest 2 of Q1 ready for Q2.
Then Q2 will also last 25 minutes to give 12 cars the chance to have a few runs to set their fastest time. After Q2, the Top 12 is set and so is the (provisional) grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The reason to have two separate sessions for qualifying and have the sessions last 25 minutes is to eliminate the chance of impeding, which is a big issue at times. As for the tyres, I would stay with the allocated amount that the supplier delivered BUT, I would give the teams free choice on what to use in which session. If they run out new tyres by the time the race starts, that’s their own fault. They can use softs for the Q1 session or go with two sets of medium during FP2, it’s all up to the teams. I would like the tyre supplier to keep the fans updated with what the teams have used during the weekend and which sets are still available for the race.
This way the fans can also speculate on what could be possible. On Sunday afternoon, the race will be as always, same time, same length. Difference is, even though the grid might have been shuffled up a bit, the teams have no accurate data about long runs as they have been done in different temperature conditions. So there you have it. My idea on what an exciting weekend might look like. For teams, for drivers but especially, for the fans.
I’m old school and didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old format because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But… if the way forward is to make a change in the weekend format, then why not make a change for the better to spice up the show, without adding gimmicks like the sprint race, where nobody really asked for.
The opinion has been written by MsportXtra
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