• Chris Kato

Formula 1's Bad Habit of Trying to Change Things That Don't Need to be Changed

Reversed grid qualifying, sprint races? Why is F1 hell bent on fixing things that don't need to be fixed?

As the old saying goes, if it aint broke, don't fix it! Or as the F1 bosses like to say, if it aint broke, let's fix it anyway! With the recent proposal of tweaking the Grand Prix weekend format, it highlights a recurring theme of Formula 1 putting time and money into changing things that are actually just fine the way they are. In this new proposal, Grand Prix Friday's would see a practice session followed by a qualifying session for Saturday's sprint race. The results of the Saturday sprint race would then form the grid for Sunday's race. F1 would like to trial this format at three Grand Prix weekends in 2021 and at the time of recording this video, there is broad support from all ten teams but no official decision as of yet. The three proposed locations would be at the Canadian Grand Prix, the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the Italian Grand Prix of course all predicated on those races actually happening this season Now let me just say that I'm not against a trial run of these proposed weekend changes. I think it's actually better to give it a test drive and see whether there are any actual positive or negative outcomes. Many of you would agree as well from our YouTube fan poll a few days ago... It would certainly be far better than just implementing a significant change without trailing it first, but do we really even need to be considering these changes?

The issue I have is that every few years, F1 tries to make changes in areas of the sport that aren't really the problem. Whether it is a regulation change or an adjustment to the qualifying format, they never really address the fundamental issues with modern F1 racing. Take the god awful change to qualifying back at the start of the 2016 season. I don't think anyone was complaining about the current qualifying format, yet F1 changed it anyway and it quickly became a colossal failure with fans and drivers alike. Now if we take the current qualifying format we have now, do any fans actually have a problem with it and want it changed? I think it is just fine and provides fans watching at home or at the track with a good show. One tweak I've suggested in past years would be to send out the remaining ten drivers in Q3 Individually so we can watch each driver's lap separately. I think it would add to the tension and drama of trying to see who can grab pole when other drivers have already set a benchmark. Even so, it's not a change that is necessary or would make a massive difference either way.

Many around the F1 world know the main problems with the current generation of racing. It's things like gaps in competition, expenses, lack of new teams, and difficulty following other cars. Thankfully, Formula 1 has put in a large effort to address these issues in the form of the 2022 technical and sporting regulations. Whether these new regulations will actually fix the issues of the sport, that is still yet to be determined but I think that is where the money and resources should be focused on. Although I'm curious to see how it would look, I don't think sprint races are going to be good for Formula 1 and we don't want it looking like a feeder series. If this were to become a permanent change for the future, I think it could pose a lot of issues. With added race mileage, you have to take into account more spare parts, wear on power unit components, and added costs with those two things mentioned. You also run the risks of getting the exact same on track results in which Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes do a clean sweep of qualifying and both races. And then how will they count sprint race victories in the record books? Will they be counted as a half victory or will we have to set up a completely new category for those statistics? Also good luck trying to explain this new format to new F1 fans who I'm sure are already confused enough with all the complexities that go into F1 racing. As a fan of this sport, I've attended six Grand Prix's in person and very much enjoyed the weekend format. I like being able to see F1 cars running around the track for hours on Friday and the tension and pressure of the one hour qualifying showdown on Saturday is very exciting to watch in person and on TV as well. It all builds up nicely to the big main event on Sunday which is the traditional race. Moving qualifying to a Friday also alienates a large portion of the audience that is still at work and unable to attend or watch the session live.

I would also like to add that even if the sprint races were to somehow shake up the grid, (which I highly doubt that it would) having the underdog teams regularly win those races wouldn't make the victories feel as special as they do when they happen out of nowhere. As I said, I wouldn't mind seeing this proposal in 2021 as a trial run but I have a feeling that this idea won't stick. F1 and FIA have stated that, "All teams recognized the major importance of engaging fans in new and innovative ways to ensure an even more exciting weekend format." Well if you guys want to ensure an exciting weekend format, it starts with leveling the playing field and offering a type of Formula that is competitive and unpredictable. It's not the session formats we get tired of, it's the same team dominating the rest of the grid for seven years that we'd like to see changed! This is just another example of the long list of F1 quick fixes that never actually address the core issues of the sport.

Well, that's it for me and my rant so I'm curious to know what you guys think of the proposed weekend format changes? Maybe I'm completely off base and you guys out there want to see this change? Let me know either way down in the comments below as it is a good topic up for debate.

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