Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Driver Must Drive The Car Alone And Unaided

So as I write this there is no word on whether or not Nico Rosberg will be penalised for the pit-wall radio transmissions sent to him during the race. But Martin Brundle was frothing at the mouth over the prospect of penalties over something which he thought was stupid, "so because some driver hasn't memorised a manual the car is going to break" is about what he said.

I have no sympathy for that.

Firstly, you can't argue that knowing this stuff isn't part of a Formula One driver's job -- the regulations as they are today clearly make it part of the job.

Secondly, these drivers already have to know a ton of stuff -- tyre management, sporting regulations and procedures, all the car management procedures, how to talk to the media and sponsors -- a whole ton of stuff. These guys are paid a lot of money for what they do, expecting them to know how to drive the diagnostics system isn't exactly unreasonable.

Thirdly, you would think that with all the simulator work that the teams do they could run some scenarios to practice this kind of thing so that the drivers get used to dealing with the menu system while in the car and under pressure.

Finally, there's a lot of money in Formula One, surely if the menuing system is too complicated they could have someone make it simpler?

(There's also the issue that most of the rules are geared towards making failures more likely rather than less -- increasing attrition and "interest" in the proceedings. But that's a separate concern.)

I think that Mercedes will be penalised somehow. And there will be a lot of complaint.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Making Elimination Qualifying Work

So having watched this so-called "disaster" for Bahrain (and not thinking that it was terrible), I think I understand both what the intent of the plan was and why it doesn't work.

The intent of the plan is to draw out the tension of the session, where the number of eligible running cars is reduced as time goes on. The idea is that things get more and more frantic as the bar for continuing rises and rises.

There are two reasons why it doesn't work: the cars, and the sessions.

Firstly the cars. Modern F1 cars have evolved into these complicated science projects that are good for one thing -- running Grand Prix races. They are not suited to an elimination style qualification. The cars basically have one good timed lap in them, so we get the situation that we have had for the last two races: everyone boils out of the pits, sets one time, and that's it. There is practically no chance that a team could turn a car for a second timed run, and since for the first two sessions the number of cars being dropped is relatively small, for the vast majority of the runners there is absolutely zero point in even trying. Thus, empty track time. If you send a car with enough fuel for more than one timed run then you will be compromising both runs since you A) have to carry around the extra fuel for the extra timed run(s), and B) you have to go easier on your tires so that you don't root them out too early. Neither situation is conducive to setting a time which is ultimately competitive.

Secondly, the sessions. Since qualifying is still broken up into Q1, Q2, Q3, then for the majority of the field there simply is no incentive to even try to run a second time in the session -- the times are set, and moving from 10th to 8th means nothing in Q1.

So here's my idea for solving both problems:

A) Make the cars start on race-fuel (or some common, minimum fuel level; and B) run qualifying as a single session, with the elimination starting after 10 or 15 minutes.

Presto, everyone has to look after their tires; the cars get faster as the session winds down; everyone would have incentive to keep running to keep burning off the fuel load; changing to the softer tires would become a strategy as to when you'd do it; and setting times would always be relevant because the times are always live.

You'd also get an hour of on-track chaotic running which the media thinks the man-in-the-stands likes to watch.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

F92A Memory