Welcome all to the very first Formula One Roundtable discussion, a series of discussions which shall be known as "The Chequered Flag Roundtable."
We have compiled the views of some of our top writers for our first topic.
If in the future you wish to be considered for a seat at the roundtable, then please contact Michael Griffin or Ben Auty and you shall be contacted in due course.
So, the very first in a long line of topics in this groundbreaking series is:
"If you could change one thing about Formula One, what would it be and why?"
Billy Sexton - POINTS SCORING SYSTEM
If there was one thing I could change in Formula One, it would be the points scoring system. I think that the Top 10 drivers in the race should receive points. This gives lower placed teams such as Honda, Toro Rosso and Force India a greater chance to score some points during the season.
Also, I think that points should be rewarded for being on pole position and also for setting the fastest lap during the race. This would make qualifying more exciting and race strategy more interesting.
Therefore, I would have the points system as follows: 12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 with an extra five points for pole position, and three points for the fastest lap. This would mean that should a driver have a ‘perfect’ race, he would score 20 points.
This may seem like too many points, but in 2008 we have only seen one ‘perfect’ race (Raikkonen in Spain) after nine races. This points system wouldn’t benefit one driver.
If this system were being used at present, Hamilton would have 70 points, Massa would have 75 points, and Raikkonen would have 90 points. Trailing by 15 points seems a lot, but this could be made up in one race weekend.
Steven Stones -TEAM ENTRY
I am very reluctant to write this, because there would be many things I can think of. What I have opted for, I haven't thought of a solution yet, but I am going to go with it and see what people think.
If there was one thing I could change, it would be to find a way to help privateer teams to enter Formula One and actually stand a chance of staying there. Formula One used to be dominated by privateers such as Brabham, Tyrrell, Williams, and others.
Indeed, this was a very different time. McLaren and Lotus were once privateers as well. I'm also aware that it's a new era now, and the corporate teams are the way forward. Still, Grand Prix racing needs privateers.
Right now, Williams and Force India are doing a great job of staying in contention with Vijay's team, showing amazing turns of pace and development and improving by four seconds over the Spyker team from last year. But this isn't enough.
I've thought about a lot of different solutions to the problem. Some have included the basic budget capping. Also, I thought maybe there could be a privateer class in Formula One.
However, this approach would mean creating divisions in Grand Prix racing, and this is what GP2 and other categories are for.
Perhaps I am just harking back to the old days too much, and the privateer days are gone? But with more privateers we may see more cars in the field, like we used to see in the 1990's.
Tight restrictions could ensure pace is kept high, as teams would have to conform to a certain lap time of the fastest qualifier again, like in the old days.
It's a difficult situation, and the solution is tricky. I'm sure the FIA and others are looking at this very aspect but seeing the demise of great Grand Prix teams such as Minardi, Jordan, Tyrrell and some of the others makes you wonder who will be next.
Sheiban Shakeri – Formula One Community Leader - GENERAL CHANGES
What I would most like to see change about F1 would be the way the race is run. Nothing radical like Flavio Briatore's GP2-style races, but the improvement of aerodynamics in order to make passing more viable.
Getting rid of traction control was an excellent start, but I think more needs to be done. Another thing that I'd like to see is making the races more open and inclusive.
Maybe allow a driver Q&A for the public and other things. Drivers aren't products, but I'm sure that a lot of people would like to see them as human beings rather than just faces on television.
Mark Andrew - CAR DESIGN
I would change the cars . I do think it’s exciting to see an "inferior" Formula One car come from the back of the field in the wet. Adrian Sutil at Monaco is my example.
However, I think every car should be made by their manufacturer, for example: Ferrari at Marranello and McLaren at Woking. Then, every car should be tested to make sure each and every car has exactly the same speed, aero, acceleration, grip, and top speed.
This is because at the moment with dry races and the raw pace that Ferrari, McLaren and BMW have, the rest of the field have such slim chances to score points, let alone podiums.
This, in turn, gets a driver the sack for "not being good enough," when clearly it’s the car that’s not good enough.
I believe this will make Formula One exciting again, and we would see exactly which drivers are the best on the grid.
This is because with drivers in Force India's, etc., we know they are good, but how good exactly?
Daniel Chalmers - BAN RE-FUELLING
I would be delighted if I didn't see the fuel hoses at pit stops anymore.
I have grown very tired of hearing a commentator say, "I think driver X may be carrying a bit more fuel than driver Z to skip ahead of him at the next pit stop."
Since re-fueling came back, the number of overtaking moves has gone down. More races (and positions) have been won on the pit wall rather than on the track.
If you are a second or two behind someone and you know you have more fuel than them, then there is no point trying to overtake them.
Take away this element, and the motivation to overtake on the track will increase. This will be the main way to get ahead again, rather than relying on fuel strategy.
Also, we would never have to see drivers qualifying on varying amount of race fuel again, as there would be no need for that with no in-race re-fueling. Pole positions would have full merit again and there would be no more fake pole positions.
Alex Levy - PIT LANE UNDER SAFETY CAR
The very one thing I would change this year in Formula One is the whole pit lane closure during safety car period.
I don't care about the new system that was experimented at Magny Cours, because this is just as unfair in my view.
Why is it a driver who needs new tyres or fuel to carry on is to be penalised as a result of a necessity to stop and go whilst the safety car is deployed, which is more often than not irrelevant to his actions?
Ryan Wood - PENALTY DECISIONS
I didn’t want to take anything away from what is already a great sport. However I had a few things racing around in my mind concerning this question: the aerodynamical winglets (gone in 2009), James Allen, current safety car rules.
Then it hit me. The one thing currently damaging the sport, from a viewer's perspective, is how races—and world championships—have been decided through unfair penalties.
I could write a small book of unjust penalties handed out in the past nine races, let alone the past 19 years...
So I’d really like to see Formula One governed by an impartial referee, who isn’t from the FIA. He would decide what and who deserves a penalty, how serious the offence was, whether it would warrant a grid drop, a race ban, or a fine.
This would make racing more fun and most of all, fair.
Long John Silver - SUSTAINABILITY
I would increase the sustainability of F1 no doubt, possible use of solar panels on the side pots, using photovoltaic cells to power the five lights on the starting grid (send a message that we are serious), greener fuels to power the engines, recycled tires...and a research development division for sustainability.
That is what I would change - make us more GREEN!
Ben Auty – Formula One Community Leader / Roundtable Co-Creator - CONSISTENCY
I think a big problem within F1 right now is a lack of consistency within the sport. You can scrap all of your conspiracy theories and stories of favoritism. These are just the raw facts in black and white.
I want to state that the FIA, the race stewards, Charlie Whiting and whoever else has the finger in the steaming pie at the time need to ensure that it is one rule for all, NOT, one rule for one and then one for another. That is not making a level playing field for our athletes.
Case 1: Let’s call a spade a spade. Whether it was controllable or not, Kimi Raikkonen took Adrian Sutil out of the race in Monaco. At the end of the day, Sutil took no further part in the race. The punishment for Ferrari after that incident was nothing.
Let’s keep calling a spade a spade. Whether it was controllable or not, Lewis Hamilton took Kimi Raikkonen out of the race at in Canada. At the end of the day, Raikkonen took no further part in the race. The punishment for McLaren after that was a 10-grid penalty in the next race.
Verdict: No consistency.
Case 2: Sebastian Vettel completed an overtaking pass on Heikki Kovalainen and to complete the move he had to cut a corner. Most would argue that the manoeuvre was completed, therefore, no advantage was gained from the corner being cut. The action taken against Vettel after this pass was nothing.
Lewis Hamilton completed an overtaking pass on Sebastian Vettel and in completing that pass he lost traction on the track. He had an option, counter the slide thus steering into the path of the overtaken Vettel or let the car correct and use the corner as a run off for safety? He used the run off rather than take himself and Vettel out of the race, risking another penalty.
Most would argue that Hamilton had made the pass and the corner was used for safety reasons, NOT to gain any kind of an advantage from the corner being cut. The action taken against Lewis was a drive-through penalty.
Verdict: No consistency.
If I could change one thing in F1, it would be the bigwigs keeping their decisions consistent.
I do not want to start a debate about which of these decisions are right or wrong; that's not the issue here. I am saying these examples are exactly the same, yet the outcomes were CLEARLY different.
Therefore, there is no consistency, and that's what we need to make the playing field level so everyone has the same chances to be successful.
Michael Griffin – Roundtable Co-Creator - POINT SCORING SYSTEM
If I could change one thing about Formula One, it would be the points system. It would involve a driver would receive two extra points for pole position and one extra point for the fastest lap.
I think that this would be a radical change, and would give a real meaning, of sorts, to getting the fastest lap.
I would also use this system, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. That’s right, if you finish in the top 10, you get at least a point.
This would help some of the smaller teams that get ninth and 10th places in high-attrition races.
It isn’t really that radical, but if this were implemented, it would mean that qualifying would have a genuine effect on the race and the world championship.
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