Jump to content


[Pending]Case #17:Fans vs FIA - FIA rules & regulations reduce quality of racing

  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
16 replies to this topic

#1 baddog

  • Member

  • 23,029 posts
  • Joined: June 99

Posted 14 January 2002 - 02:08

Several members have brought forward to the court arguments that have a uniform background of dealing with the position of the FIA in the sport, and how its activities affect the fans of the sport. The court has chosen to bring these arguments together in a case known as Fans vs FIA, and to divide this case into three distinct subcases for which separate hearings will take place.

Subcase B : That the FIA Sporting and Technical Regulations serve, either by accident or design, to reduce the quality of racing in Formula One.

The judges residing on this trial are Baddog and David Martin.

For the purposes of this trial, the quality of racing is defined in terms of the gap in performance between the top teams and the average teams, and also by the amount of overtaking that is possible in dry conditions between cars of approximately equal performance.

This case shall examine whether the FIA Technical and Sporting Regulations are responsible for the current situation where there is very little overtaking in Formula One when compared to previous eras. It will also determine whether the technical regulations reinforce the hierarchy of top teams, preventing smaller teams from innovating to the top of the grid.

However, the prosecution cannot criticise a regulation when its clear intent and demonstrated outcome was to improve safety, unless of course they can discover an equivalent regulation that equally improves safety but does not reduce the quality of racing.

Firstly, the court seeks statistical or anecdotal evidence to determine whether the quality of racing has in fact deteriorated when compared to previous eras, and also whether safety has in fact been improved. These data are essential background material.

The court seeks claims made against particular FIA regulations, such as the introduction of refuelling, grooved tyres, or regarding the aerodynamics of the cars.

The court seeks information about the impact of technological changes, such as engine electronics or carbon brakes, upon the quality of racing in Formula One, and whether the FIA can or should regulate these inevitable improvements in technology.

The court seeks evidence on how changes in track design have deteriorated the quality of racing, in particular with regard to chicanes, and whether these changes have met the safety goals set out for them.

This case will open on 16 January, after which hearing will be open for 2 weeks (14 days). No later than 7 days after the end of the hearing, the judges will post their verdict.


#2 Beej

  • Member

  • 409 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 22 January 2002 - 16:27

I feel the FIA is guilty as charged in this case. Since the post 94 slowing down exercises over taking has become nearly extinct. The biggest of these is the swap to groved tyres. In this case they should have put some sort of downforce restriction on the cars i.e smaller wings, thicker plank and left slick tyres on the cars. This would mean that cars would not be as reliant on air flow, so could slipstream and then overtake.

#3 mtl'78

  • Member

  • 2,975 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 22 January 2002 - 20:48

I'll have a go at it.

I believe that this subcase can't be totally divorced from subcase C. I don't think the FIA purposely try and 'ruin' racing, so starting with that assumption, I find that it is in fact TV and the revenues drawn from it that have weakened the quality of the races.

Starting with refuelling...

Certainly, the start of every GP is dangerous. 22 cars are all within 100 meters or so of each other, and the danger of a crash is big. The reason refuelling was brought in was to lessen the risk of a fire in case of a crash at the start. If all the cars had enough fuel to finish the race, that danger would be much greater. However, since the introduction of the honeycomb fuel tank, with its own built-in firefighting system, I can't think of one crash that resulted in any kind of major fire. The honeycomb fuel tank was introduced before refuelling was, and offhand I can't remember any significant crash-related fire in that period.

So in my opinion the safety aspect of carrying less fuel is incontrevertible, it IS safer, but it seems to me that in this case Formula one was safe enough without refuelling, and in fact the only practical side-effect has been increased danger during pitstops, as was demonstrated by the Verstappen fire. I believe it's debatable wether a pit fire is more or less dangerous than one on the track at any rate.

How then has refuelling hurt the quality of races? Well that's a highly subjective proposition. Max Mosely has stated that pit stops add drama and intreague to the races and without them we would be bored. My opinion differs. Pit stops have turned F1 into a sprint series, essentially we have 3 races every other Sunday. Alain Prost is considered one of the very best Formula one drivers of all time. His skill was to be able to setup and drive his car to retain all of its speed throughout the race, and leave himself a 'reserve' of speed should he need it late in the race. the fact that you couldn't refuel, meant that you most likely didn't want to pit at all. That meant you had to conserve your tires to last the whole race. Nobody did this better than Prost. What was amazing was that he could keep up with the leaders while keeping his car fresh. In the last 20 laps while the others were beginning to struggle with their tyres Prost would be in a position to take advantage and he often did. His courage was to sacrifice outright pace for conservation, and rely on his computer-like ability to drive a car fast without upsetting it. On the other hand, there were drivers like Roseberg, Senna and Mansell, who were chargers, and their mentality was that when they brought the car home, it should be completely 'used up'. That they should have maximized its potential in every way. Where Prost's talent came in being fast without upsetting the car, their's came in being fast despite an upset car. Every other weekend you saw this difference of philosophy played out on the track.

I mentioned earlier that F1 is like a sprint series. Refuelling cuts the races into 3 parts. In the past few years, it was possible that some drivers would have different refuelling strategies, but because of the tyres this is no longer true (I'll adress that in the next section). Prost's advantage over the others is destroyed by this system. Fuelling a car for 22 laps or so means that conservation is pretty much out the window. The name of the game is pace.... Build a big enough gap until the pitstop and hope nothing goes wrong with the fuel pump. Doing 6 IN or OUT laps during a typical race just reinforces the disadvantage. It becomes very important to be quick on cold or worn tyres.

Finally, Why does refuelling persist? It's clear that I don't buy Mosely's defence, instead I believe the FIA and FOA have either by design or blind luck, discovered the TRUE benifit of pitstops. They represent a perfect opportunity to get a nice 15-second commercial for all of the cars' sponsors. It's perfect, 22 cars making (at least!) 2 pits each makes for 44 opportunities to give the sponsors quality airtime. I'm therefore convinced refuelling is here to stay, especially considering the fact that they can cover it with the cloak of safety.

I won't be nearly as as long with tyres or aerodynamics because they mostly are side-effects of refuelling. Tyres don't need to last more than 1/3 distance. Until mid-2000, they were sometimes hard enough to last half or even a full race-distance if need be. In 1998 Jacques Villeneuve went about 60 laps out of 78 without pitting, and then he did so only once his position was assured. His plan had been to make it to the end and he claimed that he had had enough fuel as well. But that was when Bridgestone was sole tyre supplier and did not need to make super-fast tyres for every track. The tyre war has destroyed this possibility. Grooved tyres wear out faster by defenition, but now that we have competition, the tyres are getting softer and softer and wearing out faster and faster. It's now become apparant that teams are wearing the grooves completely out, and we've all seen mechanics cutting fresh grooves into bald tyres.

The effect of grooved tyres is to flatter one type of driver and disadvantage another. From the limited amout of racing I've done I did discover one fact: Wider tyres make for more stability. Stability to me means a wider 'limit'. When you're at racing speed, you're stretching your tyres to their maximum petential. You can tell this by the tell-tale sound they make. It's a very light, constant screech. The car isn't sliding yet but it begins to feel a little light, and in fact it is sliding, but they are so small (millimeters or centimeters) that you (or at least I ) can't notice them. Now the cars I drove were pretty slow, but keeping the car in this state lap after lap was still very difficult. The gap between not going fast enough, being in that 'sweet spot', and going overboard was one small mistake away. There are derees of how far overboard you could go, and depending on your reflexes you could correct those mistakes without losing too much time.

That's what I mean when I talk about the 'limit'. As small as I considered the limit of my cars, it would be child's play for any F1 driver. Grooves have further reduced the limit, so that hard chargers like Villeneuve, Trulli or Wurz are disadvantaged to the racers who depend more on technique, like Schumacher or Montotya. On slicks the wider limit gives a driver like Villeneuve the opportunity to attack, overstep the car a bit, without losing too much time. It doesn't really disadvantage a technique-dependant driver, only in the sense that it removes his advantage with grooves. Slicks are faster and a driver able to hold grooves at the limit would be able to do it on slicks as well. Senna was the best example. Technique drivers are usually excellent rain drivers as well, or any low-grip situations (like grooves). So I'd say that is how racing is hurt by grooved tyres. It makes for only one way to race formula one cars. Racers like Mansell, who didn't have the technique of Senna or the vision of Prost could still make up for it with their unflappable confidence. Mansell was never the best driver on the grid but he had some of the best battles of his era.

The reason for grooves is safety. It is true that cornering speed is reduced, and let's face it, less overtaking means less opportunities for accidents. But what it does do is lower the driver's ability to recover from a mistake, as well as INCREASE the danger when an overtaking IS attempted. Side by side driving used to be pretty common in Formula one, but the reduced grip means that drivers are less confident, and the driver on the racing line almost always wins the battle after only one corner.

Aerodynamics are even more of a side effect. Within 3 years of having lost significant speed from the tyres, the teams have manage to more than make up for this with aerodynamics. The cars simply rely more on downforce than before. The effect of this is twofold. One the one hand, it becomes more important for a driver to have clear air, making it difficult to tail a car through corners, and the improvements is aerodynamics has reduced drag, eliminating slipstreaming. Now the straights are simply an engine contest. Slipstreaming used to be a kind of overtaking, now completely gone. Overtaking is now the only possible underbraking. When was the last time a car overtook another coming OUT of a turn? I can't even remember.

#4 Hotwheels

  • Member

  • 2,632 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 22 January 2002 - 22:50

As i am not in the least technical, i will attempt to answer this just through instances and real examples.

Overtaking has reduced - and we saw Monaco 2001, where DC could not overtake Bernoldi for 40 odd laps - though yes this track is tradionally not "overtaking" friendly. But at the same era -we saw 2 brillent overtaking moves - MH in Spa 2000 and JPM in Brazil 2001. So has overtaking reduced or have the balls of the current drivers?

The FIA has over the years reacted to incidents on the race tracks and made changes - mostly disguised under safety. We have had chicanes put up after Imola 1994 , have had tires changed from slicks to grooves, have had content of fuel changed , pit stop introduction, engine capacity reduced etc etc etc etc. After the latest series , ie 2001, the tethers attached to the tires have been reinforced to twice the weight - after Melbourne 2001. The point is - it is a dangerous sport and the FIA has done what it has felt will reduce the risks.

And of course the teams and technology has made up for all the changes , but the quality of a race has changed.

Here i would like to introduce a table i have compiled:

		3.0 V10			3.0 V10			3.0 V10	

Circuit	2001			2000			1999		


	IN KM / H			IN KM / H			IN KM / H		


MONZA	239.10	253.659	245.14	210.287	249.0	243.645	237.939	252.0	242.723

S.STONE	216.231	230.06	221.90	208.266	216.0	214.663	199.971	218.197	209.537

SPA	221.05	223.828	228.546	208.468	226.712	220.423	214.596	227.364	220.129

MONACO	146.882	156.683	152.75	144.072	152.652	148.729	143.865	150.486	147.354

		3.0 V10			3.5 V12 / V10 / V 8			3.5 V10	

Circuit	1996			1992			1990		


	IN KM / H			IN KM / H			IN KM / H		


MONZA	236.0	246.687	241.226	235.7	254.0	242.455	236.569	252.99	242.076

S.STONE	199.576	210.178	204.498	215.828	238.252	227.936	233.677	255.099	241.276

SPA	208.443	226.86	221.858	191.429	227.115	220.636	211.729	226.376	217.088

MONACO	124.014	149.097	140.611	140.329	150.711	146.827	138.097	147.34	141.838
I have taken 4 tracks - from a slow track to the fastest from 1990 to 2001 - a period which saw major changes in engine capacity , tires, and other regulations.

iN Monza, the average time in kmh of the winner of the race has ranged from 239.10 to 210.28. But it has in 5 of the 6 years (in a gap of 1990 to 2001)been 239 / 237 / 236 / 235/ 236 i.e 3 seconds ONLY. 2000 could be cause of the rain

IN Spa THE average speed of the pole car has ranged only from 226 kmp to 223 , again 3 sec only.

While in a track like Silverstone, the fastest lap has fallen from a high in 1990 with a 3.5 V10 engine of 241 kpm to 221 kpm in 2001 with a 3 v10 engine.

With this one may assume that over the last 11 years , from 3.5 V 12 engines and slicks to 3V10 engines and grooves, the time it take to complete the SAME TRACK has not shifted much - due to the innovation in other part of the car by the teams, NOR has the pole time in qualfying trim changed over 3 secs BUT the cars have slowed down.

As the cars have slowed down, the teams have adopted different ways to increase their lead- mainly with pit stop stategies. We have at current a 4 time WDC , and a all time race winner - with most or a lot of these races been won because of the pit stop.

This is due to changes in the FIA regulation, lack of wheel to wheel racing and limited overtaking manovears. This was again highlighed by Ferrari asking Barricheelo ON THE RADIO to move over for MS - and similar requests by Williams in 2001- which clearly show that overtaking is not very easy now.

#5 jpv

  • Member

  • 35 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 22 January 2002 - 23:01

Alas, once again, a flawed case; lets see, the case is:

That the FIA Sporting and Technical Regulations serve, either by accident or design, to reduce the quality of racing in Formula One.

The Court, however, further along states

Firstly, the court seeks statistical or anecdotal evidence to determine whether the quality of racing has in fact deteriorated when compared to previous eras, and also whether safety has in fact been improved. These data are essential background material.

So the Court has compromised the case in stating it and will eventually leave itself with no other choice than to acquit the FIA Sporting and Technical Regulations on the ground that no clear evidence will serve to prove that the quality of racing has in fact deteriorated.

And I do submit that the quality of racing has not deteriorated, it has changed. A few things past that are changes which, eventually, could be construed to be "deterioration of racing":

In the early fifties, grids were two, three and, sometimes, four cars abreast; very exciting drag races to the first corner and tons of jockeying for position. Now grids are staggered which in effect is quite close to the cars forming in line ...

In the fifities, cockpits were wide open and drivers were advised to wear 'loose and comfortable' clothing; you could see elbows flying and torsos swaying and the grim concentration on the drivers' faces. Now you can see a helmet and, in very special circumstances, maybe, the drivers' eyes will be visible.

In the late fifties formula one made a transition from front-engine to mid-engine configuration. Mid-engine cars were soon dominating the grids and ridiculing the remaining hold-outs ... this kind of technical revolution has happened quite a few times and I do not think it can be seen as 'deterioration of the quality of racing'.

The main innovations that could, eventually, be faulted with racing were less passing occurs have come solely from the participants, the constructors, that is, the teams themselves. Lets see: aerodynamics development came from the constructors in the early sixties, was banned and re-instated; increasing amounts of power came from the constructors (or their engine suppliers, which is the same thing); monocoque and carbon-fibre construction came from the constructors; carbon brakes came from the constructors; electronics (and that great fiend, traction control) came from the constructors; I do believe that the list goes on and on.

The two main reasons for the almost-demise of passing are aerodynamics (mtl'78 is right, slipstreaming is dead for all purpose and intent) and brakes. Grooved tyres have only required a different direction in aerodynamic development but they cannot be faulted for less passing.

The distance between top and teams and the rest is a function, mainly, of money. It has been said that nothing is impossible for engineers, it just may cost too much. And that is the current situation in formula one: small teams can never make up the gap to the top teams unless the secure large amounts of financing that they can only get if they win races which requires lots of money to do and the wheel keeps turning.

Getting to the point of the trial, it must be noted that sporting and technical regulations of the governing body can only do what law does in civil-law countries; that is, try to keep up with the situation in a practical, cost-efficient way. Case in point: the traction control fracass; even the FIA had to admit that the only reason for allowing TC is that it is currently impossible to police, making a prohibition unpractical for all purposes. Other cases that come to mind include ride height regulations in force after the (regulated) demise of skirts: enter hydro-pneumatic suspensions (or the era of the formula one low-rider).

Since regulations do not, cannot, anticipate technical developments, they limit themselves to follow in the steps of private citizens' (read Constructors') initiative. Given that regulations follow the facts instead of preceding them, regulations cannot, therefore, be faulted for the current quality of racing.

An additional thought: regulations could have an impact if they preceded the fact; lets say severely restricting engine power in order to ensure everyone has the same ponies, therefore closing up the grids and the racing, รก-la-CART.

Maybe the real question is: Do die-hard fans want the highest level of technical (mechanical, aerodynamical and driver) competition in formula one or do they want a look-alike series where every Tom, Dick and Joe has an equal shot at it on Sunday?


#6 Nomad

  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 22 January 2002 - 23:02

Some Statistics about the quality of racing over the years and a discussion of them


#7 Don Capps

Don Capps
  • Member

  • 5,933 posts
  • Joined: May 99

Posted 29 January 2002 - 21:16

I had intended to take a serious look at this "case" and perhaps draft a response or make a statement. However, I then read the case as it was laid out and decided that it was scarcely worth the bother. A previous participant in the discussion makes what I would consider an accurate statement in that the outline and ground rules of this case seem to lead to a foregone conclusion: FIA, Innocent.

The same person then concluded by asking this question:

Maybe the real question is: Do die-hard fans want the highest level of technical (mechanical, aerodynamical and driver) competition in formula one or do they want a look-alike series where every Tom, Dick and Joe has an equal shot at it on Sunday?

While I disagree with Mr. JPV's obvious sentiments that a "look-alike series" -- I can't tell the F1 cars apart now so I fail to see the point -- being by definition a "bad thing," perhaps [b]the real/b] question is technology and the problems of finding a balance between competition, safety, and entertainment.

Technology and Racing are not necessarily a good marriage.

I completely fail to see the excitement of F1 in its current state. I have come to embrace the Luddite side of the racing world more and more as time goes on. F1 has mutated to a state where the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA -- your attention should be directed at the WMSC and not the FIA, incidentially -- cannot control the mutations without creating new a mutation or the unanticipated consequences from the prior mutations. It becomes a vicious circle.

In the meanwhile, the term "racing" has become very relative. Since the cars seem to have great difficulty at times being able to share the same areas of the tracks together, processional events have come to be the norm. In general, an F1 race is a business event not a sporting event. Just ask all the "team principals" whether or not this is the case and I predict that the answers will be unanimous that F1 is a business first and a sport second.

Technology of the sort being used today does not make for good racing. Safety has been a wonderful canard for the WMSC, the FISA, and the CSI to use when they wished to hasten through changes to F1.

Those who love all the high technology smoke and mirrors are in love with the technology and not the racing.

My closing remarks are these: F1 is in a muddle since the inmates are now trying to run the asylum. The "quality" of racing is often poor, and what few bright spots there are usually result from factors outside the usual parameters. The increased use of "technology" seems to have an inverse effect on the sport and the quality of the racing. Unlike most, I think there is much to say for a series in which the technology is severely limited since it could produce a product called "racing" which seems in precious short supply. With the dollars involved and the collusion of the teams with the WMSC to promote their business interests which are so connected, don't hold your breath waiting for any changes to suit the fans. Then again, in my opinion, most so-called "fans" wouldn't know racing if it hit them in butt. Perhaps the real issue is why are so many watching something so sterile and so programmed and almost surreal?

#8 Ali_G

  • Member

  • 17,708 posts
  • Joined: August 00

Posted 30 January 2002 - 16:29

Just some technical points to prove that the FIA have reduced the quality of racing.

1. Back in 95 a series of rule changes came in. One on them was reducing the height at which the rear wing could be mounted. This was a knee jerk reaction to the death of Senna. This caused a fall in passing in 95. The problem is that with the wing being lower, the cars give off less drag. Less drag means that passing will be harder. Less drag means that the slipstream does not go as far back from the car in front as it used to.
2. 1998 and the Slimmer Chassis rules. A slimmer chassis will again give off less drag. Hence again less slipstream. Here is a URL to a whole thread that I did on the subject. http://www.atlasf1.c...=&threadid=9394
3. 1998 and the Grooved Tyres. Instead of reducing slipstream, in this case the FIA made it harder to pick it up. With the introduction of grooved tyres, the ratio of mechanical grip to aerodynamical grip fell. Depending on more aerodynamical grip, the cars could not get as close behind the other car as they would like. Again, here is a url to another thread I did on the subject. http://www.atlasf1.c...=&threadid=9285

I hope that this proves to the court, that in raw logic, the steps taken by the FIA in the build regulations did prevent passing from happening.


#9 jpv

  • Member

  • 35 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 30 January 2002 - 23:45

An interesting point has been brought to the fore of this discussion and --while it may not have a large bearing on the final result of the case-- I do think it merits some thoughts; the point is: Just exactly what is 'good' versus 'bad' quality racing?

In looking at the links so kindly provided by Nomad, one is to conclude that 'good', that is 'quality' racing is in fact 'close' racing. A brief review of the complaints submitted by most participants in this trial (who believe that the quality of racing has in fact decreased) would seem to indicate that there is agreement by all in this sense. So racing that is not so close is, in fact, deemed to be racing of a lower quality.

But then again, we have to wonder what is racing? According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary a race is a 'contest of speed between runners, ...'. If we are to have racing, we are to have a competition for speed. This speed may be measured in many different ways: elapsed time (drag racing), highest speed obtained (speed record attempts are, in fact, racing) and distance covered (endurance racing). The end result is that, in racing, various cars (for the purposes of our discussion, yachts they could also be) are pitted either individually, paired or collectively against each other so that one may in the end prove itself and its driver to the be the speediest.

So, I ask, if the purpose of racing is to have a contest of speed, may racing truly be seen to be worse if one competitor rises head and shoulders above the rest? I thought that was the whole purpose of racing. Now if what we want is entertainment ...

I wholly agree with Don Capps' appreciation in the sense that FIA (the WMSC) can only react to developments and has no possibility of anticipating the results. I also re-submit that this case is hung because of a poor outline and ground rules.

A final remark on 'look-alike series': they, in and of themselves, are not a bad thing. They are usually very entertaining and in fact form the stepping stones for drivers, teams, technicians and designers to Formula One. But that is not the philosophy of Formula One nor has it ever been.

#10 Amadeus

  • Member

  • 712 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 01 February 2002 - 13:54

Formula One is the self proclaimed pinnicle of motorsport. It's drivers earn the most, it's audience is the biggest and it's cars the most high tech.

It is not the fastest (CART and Drag Racing achieve higher speeds), the most testing of a range of driver skills (rally driver cover more types of terrain and conditions, CART involves ovals and street circuits) or neccasarily the most entertaining

Pick up the lastet copy of your favorite magazine. Now pick up Hamlet. The magazine will be more entertaining but Hamlet will be "better". That, for me is the crux of this case. The FIA have a responsibility to the fans to ensure that F1 stays as the Shakespere of racing, against the magazines (and damn fine novels!) of the other racing series. The question "Have the FIA reduce(d) the quality of racing in Formula One", framed in this context is have they prevented it being 'better' (not, I repeat less entertaining - as an ex-football manager said "If you want entertaining go watch the f****** clowns)?

As has been pointed out the FIA and the regulations can only follow where the teams lead. The FIA responsibility must always be to ask "how will this affect the "Quality" of F1".

Obviously driver deaths are very bad Quality. Any step in away from that is a step towards better Quality. But overtaking is good Quality, isn't it? Well, no - look at NASCAR - literally 100's of overtaking manouvers and an entire seasons worth wouldn't make up for Montoya mugging MS last season, or MH going three abreast to overtake MS and a backmarker. In other words, we want Quality overtaking, not a quantity of overtaking. Close racing is good Quality. But the best talent winning is also good Quality, so close racing (spec machines) can have negative Quality effects.

So where am I going with this? Basically down the route that to improve Quality you have to make trade offs - more overtaking (good) may equal less memorable overtaking (bad). In that context you must take each FIA decision and ask if, in isolation and the context of the time it improved the Quality of F1 (a slightly wider question than the Quality of racing, but that's another lengthy post)

- Banning the Tyrell 6 wheeler? Stifles Innovation, would have revolutionised the sport.Bad Quality.

- Refueling? Introduces more strategy. Prevents drivers on 'economy' runs. Leads to higher overall speeds, and difference between cars fuel loads can introduce overtaking opportunities. Does mitigate against certain driver styles, but more flamboyant talents should be helped. Overall? Good Quality

- Grooves & Emphasis on Aero tech. The intro of grooves and the aero rules have biased car grip more and more onto aero as opposed to mechanical grip. This makes cars harder to handle on the limit. This makes them harder to drive in extremis. This reduces driver confidence in car and hence risk taking. Therfore Bad Quality

- Traction control. Impossible to police. Everyone suspected everyone else of using it. Poor teams at obvious disadvantage. Does remove an element of driver control, but overall it's legalisation is Good Quality since it clarifies and levels the playing field.

Conclusion? That the FIA have made mistakes. However the teams will continue to make the law (eg tyre tech is moving grip bias back towards mechanical). Overall, while I have serious doubts about a number of elements in the FIA's overall direcection I do not accept that they have been guilty of deliberatly reducing the Quality of F1. If they are not deliberatly guilty, and took actions in the percieved best interests of F1 at the time of making those decisions then they are innocent.

#11 nrp

  • Member

  • 47 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 13 February 2002 - 16:59

As a submission of evidence to the Court, I would like to present an extract of Brian Lawrence's excellent overtaking statistics, as posted to rec.autos.sport.f1 and rec.autos.sport.f1.moderated in October 2001.

(Sorry for the slightly messy table, but I couldn't get it to look nice any other way.)

  • _______________2001__'00__'99__'98__'97
  • _======================================
  • _Australia_______18___13___41____7____3
  • _Malaysia________47___31___11___--___--
  • _Brazil__________26___22___27___13___32
  • _San_Marino______13____7___11____8____5
  • _Spain___________10____4____4___12___36
  • _Austria_________17___20___30___29___21
  • _Monaco___________6____2____5____4___29
  • _Canada__________13___14___14___10___22
  • _Europe___________7___28___33____6___11___<--_[In_97-98_the_Luxembourg_GP]
  • _France___________8___17___43___17____7
  • _British__________7____8___13___44____7
  • _Germany_________15___42___16___10___14
  • _Hungary__________5___10____7___11___28
  • _Belgium__________8___16___15___11___51
  • _Italy___________19___18___14___28____4
  • _USA_____________21___51____-____-____-
  • _Japan___________17____8____4___19____9
  • _[Argentine______--___--___--___11___39]
  • _--------------------------------------
  • ________________257__311__288__240__318
  • _Race_Avg._______15___18___18___15___20

Note: The 1997 figures were very kindly provided by Eric Arnett, who
used slightly different criteria.

These statistics do not take into account wet and dry races, but the overall trend is hopefully clear.

That trend is: the amount of overtaking appears to be decreasing over time.

The 1998 changes - narrow chassis and grooved tyres - appear to have reduced the amount of overtaking manouvres. Over the period 1998-2000, overtaking appeared to increase, as teams stretched the rules to the limit, and performances became closer.

In 2001, wing construction changed, with front wings raised and rear wings consisting of fewer elements. The FIA claimed these changes would produce increased competition, as cars would be able to follow each other more closely. However, the 2001 season produced the lowest overtaking per race average since 1998, and if Malaysia's race had been dry it would likely have been lower still.

Now, the claim before the Court is that the FIA's activities are producing lower quality racing. If one takes a definition of "racing" to mean "overtaking opportunities", then it seems from these statistics that the racing has deteriorated over the last few years.

However, if one defines "racing" as "closeness of cars on track," then someone else will have to come up with some statistics!

#12 imaginesix

  • Member

  • 5,336 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 14 February 2002 - 00:52

nrp's post has been very enlightening. I have investigated the performance differential of the cars over the past decade, and my findings are consistent with nrp's data.

Before presenting my analysis, I wish to point out that I take no stand regarding the argument presented by the court. I find it has been presented in a manner which is both vague and prejudicial.

Having said that, the information I have may be put to use by someone who finds validity in the case, and it supplements nrp's post, as (s)he requested "...if one defines "racing" as "closeness of cars on track," then someone else will have to come up with some statistics!"

This is an analysis of the average qualifying spread of the top 22 qualifiers over the last 10 years, as a percentage of the pole sitter's time. Every year, the gap between slowest and fastest decreases, except during a year when the rules have been changed.

1995 was a year of big change. The engine was limited to 3L, downforce was restricted, new bodywork shapes were enforced, and even the circuits were reconfigured. Accordingly, the average qualifying spread went from about 105% to 108.5% for the 22nd place driver, with the rest of the field spread out just as thinly.

The gap reduced after that, until 1998, when grooved tires and narrow tracks were prescribed in the regulations. That year, the spread increased from about 105% to 106%, and was followed by a few years of closer and closer racing.

Last year the spread grew back to 1998 levels again, as a tire war began, downforce was again reduced, engine materials were restricted, and electronic engine and gearbox controls were enabled.

nrp's data also supports the theme of rule changes having a direct and linear effect on the closeness of the racing, as defined by the number of passes which occurred over the years.

With this information in hand, I leave it to others to use it to argue in favor of, or against, the court's claims.

#13 unrepentant lurker

unrepentant lurker
  • Member

  • 347 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 14 February 2002 - 10:09

The case is very vague as a number of posters have already pointed out. There seem to be a number of charges to discuss. I will attempt to address them one at a time.

The following chart shows the difference between the polesitter, tenth position on the grid and twentieth (not always, sometimes there was less than 20). The difference is represented by a percentage, similar to imaginesix's chart. The chart shows the first race of every season. Thanks to baddog for hosting the web space.

Posted Image

For the purposes of this trial, the quality of racing is defined in terms of the gap in performance between the top teams and the average teams, and also by the amount of overtaking that is possible in dry conditions between cars of approximately equal performance.

Many people regard the 50s and 60s as the some of the best racing. Yet in terms of the gap in performance, it was huge - particularly in the 50s. Many people also like the turbo era, yet the same is true - top teams had a huge performance advantage. One thing the advantage allows is for a driver who has had a problem to make up a lot of time.

Both graphs show that in recent years ('97 onwards), the grids have been very close in performance comparison. Closer than any other era except the 70s. Yet this is the period that most people complain about. Statistics provided by nrp show very little overtaking during this time. I submit that the court's definition of quality of racing is flawed.

This case shall examine whether the FIA Technical and Sporting Regulations are responsible for the current situation where there is very little overtaking in Formula One when compared to previous eras. It will also determine whether the technical regulations reinforce the hierarchy of top teams, preventing smaller teams from innovating to the top of the grid.

Two seperate issues IMHO.

The main reason for the lack of passing is mostly down to the technical sophistication and preparation that go into a race nowadays. The teams have the ability to produce cars that will be very consistant for the entire race. Not only that, they are able to predict how it will change over the race distance. They also have a very good idea of what the competition is capable of, when they are going to pit, etc. The tires are very consistent. The tire war is pushing this even further than before. Several races this season, the teams went very late into the race before pitting. Monaco and Canada are both examples.

Gone are the days when the cars needed attention during the races. Running out of fuel or scrubing down your tires just don't happen anymore. Even Micheal "Tireslayer" Schumacher doesn't have issues anymore. Teams have several personnel that monitor the car and keep the driver informed, but normally the car either breaks or it doesn't.

In short, if you start the race with a .1 sec advantage over the guy behind you, then you are probably going to finish the race with a .1 sec advantage over the guy behind you. Special situations sometimes happen, if a driver spins or stalls or whatever. Most of the passing listed on nrp's chart can be down to this:

Malaysia 01 - both Ferrari's drop to dead last.
Malaysia 00 - Stop/Go penalty for Hakkinen
SM 01 - both Ferrari's qualify poorly
France 99 - several frontrunners qualified poorly
Austria 99 - Hakkinen spun into deadlast
Germany 00 - Barichello qualified poorly and the caped crusader and rain
USA 00 - Stop/Go for DC

Each one of those incidents resulted in 10 or 15 passes or more.

The Regulations contribute to this problem. Narrow cars and grooves mean that cars are slower in the corners but quicker on the straight. The lower weight due to refueling means quicker acceleration and shorter breaking. This is combined with natural advances that the teams normally make, ie better tires, better aero, more horsepower. The main problem that the drivers complain about is that the narrow car/grooves make the whole package very nervous/twitchy. The penalty for the smallest mistake is retirement. Most opt for the soft option then and wait for the pit stop.

WRT the Technical Regulations enforcing the hierarchy, I say it is false. The hierarchy enforces itself. The best drivers always gravitate to the top teams. The best engines end up on the best chassis. The sponsor with the most money ends up on the team that give them the best exposure. Out of the 680 world championship events, 549 have been won by only seven different teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus, Brabham, Bennetton, and Tyrrell). That's about 81%. The history books just aren't full of world beaters. It also goes back to the technical proficiency point. Entering F1 today requires a great deal of proficiency right from the start, something that was not true in the 60's or the 30's.

Edit = correction to image syntax

#14 Amadeus

  • Member

  • 712 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 14 February 2002 - 13:26

Excellent post from the Unrepentant Lurker.

I would just like to amplify some of his points a little:

- "Narrow cars and grooves mean that cars are slower in the corners but quicker on the straight."

A classic pre-requisite for overtaking is cars that are fast in a straight line and slow in the corners, because the braver/better driver should be able to carry more speed into the corner resulting in a passing opportunity. Cars that corner too quickly (in other words have a minimal performance differential between cornering/straight line) are harder to pass. The more relative speed you have to lose going into a corner the longer your braking distance, the greater the opportunity to be 'out-braked'. A rule to increase the differential between straight line and cornering speed should result in better quality racing. The fact it hasn't doensn't make the rule maker guilty.

- "The lower weight due to refueling means quicker acceleration and shorter breaking."

Shorter braking distances are not good, but better acceleration is, in racing quality terms. Likewise weight differences in cars mean that 'worse' cars can compete with 'better' cars on different fuel strategies - look at Arrows as a case in point. In general I believe that most of the on track overtaking that happens is fuel load driven. Surely this then is a good rule? Those who decry it and want refueling banned don't always see the carry through that all cars being of equal weight will show the true performance difference between a Ferrari and an Arrows, which will result in even more procesional racing. Definatly a high Quality rule.

- "This is combined with natural advances that the teams normally make, ie better tires, better aero, more horsepower."

So the FIA must legislate to attempt to close that gap. Sometimes the judgement calls are right, sometimes wrong. 20:20 hindsight is a gift they don't have.

- "The main problem that the drivers complain about is that the narrow car/grooves make the whole -package very nervous/twitchy"

A problem that should have been forseen but either wasn't, or the advantage of the slower speed in the corners/higher speed on straights was felt to outweigh the cost in drivability.

I return to my main point - those who wish to find the FIA guilty of reducing the Quality of racing need to proove culpability through negligence - wilful or otherwise- in so far as the rules that they have introduced have reduced the Quality of our sport. So far individual rules have been exposed as flawed, but the entire package seems consistant in it's sincere attempts to improve the racing (after all what governing body will deliberatly try to kill it's own sport!!)

#15 unrepentant lurker

unrepentant lurker
  • Member

  • 347 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 15 February 2002 - 08:51

I don't hold the FIA fully responsible, maybe only half responsible. I also don't think it was intentional.

About Amadeus' points.

Quiker acceleration out of corners - If a leader is out of a corner .5 seconds ahead of the follower - both cars with similar performance. The quicker he can accelerate means he will build up a larger distance (physical distance, not time) than with slower acceleration. The larger the physical gap, the harder it is to draw a tow.

Higher speed at the end of the straight - Once again the physical distance will be greater at 200 mph than at 180 mph. For an outbreaking manuever, the driver will require an even greater risk.

Quicker acceleration and higher speed also mean that the drivers will spend less time transitting a particular straight. If a the follower has a slight speed advantage, he will have less time to use it. The longer the period of time he has will increase his likelihood to draw a tow on the leader.

#16 nrp

  • Member

  • 47 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 15 February 2002 - 16:09

A couple of points to make:

- Due to the Technical Regulations, the aerodynamic model that each car must conform to means that there is turbulence behind the car. This impedes the aerodynamics of any car following closely behind, meaning the following car cannot go as quickly, and consequently cannot overtake the leading car. This damages the spectacle of the sport.

The FIA's changes in 2001 - increasing the height of the front wing, leading to reduced overall aerodynamic downforce at the front, meant that this hole in the air didn't have quite as much effect. In fact we almost saw some slipstreaming going on, even unintentionally.

For example, think of Verstappen and Montoya in Brazil. Maybe Verstappen, after being passed by Montoya, suddenly got a slipstreaming effect, so he was going faster than he expected, and therefore his usual braking point was not early enough, so he tail-ended Montoya.

In this case, tinkering with the Technical Regulations nearly helped the spectacle, but the engineers got round the limitations, and by season's end it was status quo.

- Refuelling. Someone, somewhere (I forget where, but I think it was in the first sub-part of this Case) pointed out that we'll never lose refuelling stops, because they form advertising breaks for the sponsors. On the other hand, refuelling has turned long, tactical races into a couple of sprints. This certainly looks like the FIA's regulations have damaged the spectacle of the sport.

One way around this might be to allow refuelling, but to limit the total amount of fuel which can be put into a car in the race session (empty the tanks after Sunday warm-up, then measure the amount of fuel loaded until the race is over). But we're not here in this forum to discuss possible avenues for the FIA to take, we're here to discuss whether the FIA's current measures are in the sport's favour ...

-- Neil

#17 Amadeus

  • Member

  • 712 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 18 February 2002 - 13:22

Maybe I am trying to re-frame the case while it is in progress, but I think if we are going to find the FIA 'guilty' of introducing "Sporting and Technical Regulations [that] serve, either by accident or design, to reduce the quality of racing in Formula One" we need to prove that there were better options available at the time that were ignored or that the FIA palpably made the wrong decisions on a regular basis. In essence this is a case where we are trying to determine the FIAs fitness to govern, thier competence if you like.

Therefore to argue about individual rules in isolation may miss the point (after all everyone makes a bad decision every now and again) - we need to look at the rules as a whole and the context in which those rules were intoduced. Then look at what viable alternatives the FIA had and ignored. If these viable alternatives regularly look to have been better than the routes the FIA took then we can find them guilty.

So, for example, we all hate the chicanes that blight modern circuits - detroy racing, bad rule, FIA are idiots who are ruining our sport. But the chicanes were introduced at a time of very high emotion (Prof Watkins "Given a choice of a Parabolica or a Senna, I know which I would rather have"). It is a legal cliche that "Hard cases make bad law" and here is an example of it - but at the time what choice did the FIA have? What other changes could they realistically make to the circuits to reduce speed? I cannot think of any viable alternatives, so a bad law that ruined racing suddenly starts to make some sense, especially when taken in the general context of other rule changes at the time (all aimed at the single goal of cutting cornering speed).

That kind of encapsulates my argument (and I never thought I would be arguing for the FIA!!) - we have the benifit of looking back from the comfort of our armchairs. They have to make decisions. They get some right (and there have been encouraging trends lately) and they get others wrong. But unless you can prove negligence or incompetance then there is no case to answer.