💡 F1'24: Ideas to make F1 better (Part one)

1: New traditions, breaking some others and making merch cheaper

Everyone keeps telling me F1 is on the decline.

The dominance of one driver and the inability for others to match his ability in one of the most successful racing machines ever made is making people turn off, somehow. I am not sure I could disagree more. Whether you follow or disregard the guy at the front, you’ve still got 20 of the world’s best drivers, all at various stages of their lives and careers, bringing storylines and drama to a Super Bowl-level event 24 weekends a year across the world. A travelling circus that starts in Bahrain and finishes in Abu Dhabi, but takes in an expanded passport and over a hundred thousand air miles in between.

But, to me, Formula 1 can be better, and in the week after Miami and before Imola, I’d like to present some ideas to make the sport better. This is part one of an at least two-part series. 

If anyone from F1 is reading this, you’re welcome to any of these, and also we should chat. I am certain that other people will have thought of these ideas, but the sport would be better if one or some of these were implemented. Let’s begin with something I’ve nicked from golf.

Also, as a writer’s note, this is going to end up at 3000+ words, so I’m sending it out in two parts. 

🏆 THIS SPORT NEEDS MAJORS

Each race is a Super Bowl level event. But while F1 should aspire to be more than a Super Bowl, this is impossible to achieve. It should, however, be possible to elevate a small number of races each year to Super Bowl+, and I think four out of 24 is a good number to aspire to.

The four I would choose are Suzuka, Monaco, Silverstone and COTA. The UK because it’s where most of the teams are based, Monaco for its history and tradition, COTA as a nod to America, to set Texas apart from the other races in the USA and Canada, and also to offer some late-season drama. Suzuka is there for Japan’s history in F1 as the first Asian nation to host a race, its dedicated fans, the challenge of the Suzuka circuit and its popularity among the drivers.

I wouldn’t change the points system for these races (more on that later), but I would establish a separate major championship, and use these four races as a secondary trophy - obviously not the World Championship, or even on the same level, but as yet another subplot in a season full of them.

More buildup, more focus, more hype, more events, more everything as these races approach, and then the winner of each should be able to carry a small decal on their race suit and their car to indicate that they won a major. Establish a tradition for each race, similar to the Claret Jug or the Green Jacket. One idea I had toyed with was a trophy that slots together and only by winning all four majors, do you get the complete one.

Oh, and speaking of Monaco, the race needs a change. You can’t have a jewel in the crown event as a procession. It needs something different. 

🛞 THREE COMPOUND MONACO

Ok, this one isn’t all my idea, pundits and others far better connected than me have suggested this too - but it’s a good idea. Monaco is just different, it’s driven differently, its layout is different to modern-day tracks, it acts as a reminder of F1’s past - all champagne and motor oil - and despite the building works at Portier, has steadfastly refused sweeping change and reform.

For that reason, it’s on my bucket list to attend and as a stretch goal, work at the circuit on THE weekend. But it needs a fundamental change for it to work as an event. Two changes really, but I’ll get to the second in a minute.

At Qatar 2023, the pyramid kerbs used and the natural racing line meant that the tyres were dangerously close to blowing out. The FIA intervened, changing track limits at a couple of corners, and mandating that drivers could not do more than 20 laps on a single set of tyres. 

This precedent should be shifted over to Monaco as a permanent feature. All drivers should have to use all three dry-weather tyre compounds over the course of the 78 laps - you can do as many laps as you want, but you have to use all three compounds as long as the rain doesn’t fall.

A one-stop Monaco race is literally a footnote in any F1 history book, and the race, the location, the event deserves more, so adding another round of drama and strategy is the way forward. At a track where overtaking is not impossible but pretty close to it, beating another driver around the stops, or using an alternative tyre strategy might be the way to do it. 

The other change Monaco needs is to not be on the same day as the Indy 500. Two of the most prestigious events in motorsport, at the same time of year localised entirely on one spot on the calendar? Come on. I write this knowing full well that neither event will move. This is May, after all, and nothing will stop motor racing organisers shooting themselves in the foot.

📈 POINTS FOR EVERY FINISHER

This has been generating discussion among the sport’s decision makers and media for a while now, with the prevailing debate being whether points should also be awarded to 11th and 12th. Some people will see this as devaluing the scoring system, that you won’t need to work as hard to get on the board. 

I would go further, and say that some form of points should be awarded to all finishers of a race. 

When I was growing up, the points system was 10-6-4-3-2-1. I did not know this when I was playing Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP 2 (The Moon team wants you!) and thought I’d done well by finishing eighth.

The current system goes to 10th, and then countback (who has the higher result, or the most higher results) to separate a tie. Finishing an F1 race should matter, and to the smaller teams, finishing in 14th might represent an achievement. While all teams’ aspirations should remain higher than that, a new scoring system would demonstrate and reward consistency. 

Here’s one idea.

Keep the current 25-18-15-12-10-8-6 for the top seven, and then things get weird. 

Place

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8-9

10-11

12-13-14

15-16-17

18-19-20

Points

25

18

15

12

10

8

6

5

4

3

2

1

You still only get the fastest lap point for finishing in the top 10, and you don’t get any points for not finishing, or crashing on the last lap and “being classified” - no chequered flag, no points.

You’d still be using the countback system to split ties, but this would be a lot easier for fans to see at a glance who has the most points and therefore has been better over the season.

As an aside the first draft of this had an idea to do the championship by lowest average race finish, but DNFs skewed it all too much.

💸 STEP IN TO MAKE MERCH CHEAPER

Easy one, this.

I understand F1 and its teams are a business. I understand other sports charge high prices too and I understand that Formula 1 wants to market itself to a certain demographic, but £75 for a mini (1:43 scale) version of a car ? Are you sure?

The cheaper it is, the more accessible it is.

This feeling was exacerbated by seeing the food prices at the Miami Grand Prix. For just $400 (that’s not a typo) you can add one ounce of caviar to any dish.

For that price, I might have expected an ounce of something else instead. Again, I get this is not the US Masters with its legendarily cheap food prices, but $290 for fruit? I bought some fruit for dessert in a restaurant the other day (don’t ask) and it cost £8. I thought I was being ripped off then!

So here’s my initial ideas on how to improve F1… but what would you do? Part 2 to follow sometime after Monaco.

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