10 place penalty

So this season and last Formula 1 engines are supposed to last two races. This decision has been made as a cost saving measure which is clearly in opposition to decisions of making the racing more enjoyable.

Max Mosley seems to have been obsessed with cutting costs in the last few years which is almost certainly admirable, as I mentioned in my post the other day
22 teams apply for 2008 entries
which can only be because sport has become cheaper. Especially as several of the teams applying are from people who used to be in the sport.

However Max has always suggested that he’s trying to advance cost saving and also entertainment in the sport. This can be evidenced by his plan for the new experimental wing that they are still talking about bringing in to F1 in the next couple of years. This new wing is supposed to make overtaking much much easier which clearly is going to add to the entertainment aspect of the sport. But designing a brand new and very complicated wing technology will cost the sport lots and lots of money.

But what’s happening with the two race rule for engines is clearly about cost and not about entertainment. The penalty for having your engine changed is that you have to go ten places back at the start of the next race from wherever you qualify. This is a huge penalty.

The thing about the ten place penalty is that I can see exactly why it was designed that way. It should be entertaining. In many ways it does cause entertainment. The penalty does something very exciting in that we have fast cars behind slow cars which means there will be more overtaking at the race. The problem last year, and starting again this year, is that we’re seeing a guy like Kimi trying to run his season with one arm tied behind his back. He’s blindingly quick (just ask Montoya how Kimi beat him in the first race of the year) and yet he didn’t win the championship last year.

Formula 1 is a team sport in many ways, but there are supposedly two championships: A driver’s and a constructors one as well. With the cars as they are these days basically the difference between the two has been diminished. And you could even be as brutal to suggest that it doesn’t matter if Kimi is faster on the track, part of being world champion in F1 is not only being fast but being smart and Alonso was smarter in picking Renault over McClaren.

The problem is that the people running the sport have heard the problems of the people watching the qualifying and said “we need to fix qualifying”, they’ve heard problems about the race and said “we need to fix the race”, but what we’ve not heard is the problems with the championship as a whole. The ten place penalty might make the race more exciting but devalues the championship I think.

I’m going to stop here without a solution because I think I need to lay out my views on qualifying before I can really decide what I think I want as an alternative. All I know at the moment is that the ten place penalty feels slightly artificial and definitely unfair.

About Alex Andronov

Alex Andronov is a writer who lives in the UK. He is currently working on 7 novels, 5 film scripts, 2 plays, 2 TV series, 1 history of the United States, 1 travelogue and trying to find some focus.
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