Why the changes to the F2/F3 weekend will be SO EASY to exploit
Fix this please, Bruno...
Racing is a sport; it is a competition between people to be the fastest and win the big shiny trophy at the end. It is also a championship; where the shiniest of the trophies doesn’t go to the team who have the fastest car per se; nor the best looking driver combo (It’s Porsche and don’t you dare argue); but those who score the most points.
Now it is important to remember one thing. The drivers who compete have one desire; to win. These are people who see the horrific atrocities such as the recent crash at Bahrain; and decide that putting their bodies and their lives at such risk is worth the shiny trophy and the money that comes along with it for making the car go vroom the most. Therefore it is important to keep these competitive urges in check. It is why Schumacher was disqualified from the 97’ drivers championship to make an example. It’s also the reason Fastest Lap points are only available to drivers in the top 10. This is because for a driver in 17th with no chance at points; it would be within your incentives to deliberately put a new set of tyres on, dropping to 20th and put in a Fastest Lap to get a point; because this point is worth a lot more than one’s pride in coming P11; because pride doesn’t win the constructor’s championship.
This is why F2 and F3’s recent changes have left me so confused? After all their change comes when there are perfect options in the form of FREC’s pretty good 2 qualifying sessions; race; flip grid; race; return to the qualifying results; race.
To explain Formula 2 and 3’s new format. Practice and Qualifying go as normal; but Saturday goes a bit Rich Energy. It begins with a Sprint Race based on a flipped top 10 of qualifying; then a second Sprint race with a flip of the first race’s top 10. Sunday returns to the usual results of qualifying for the sprint race.
Now here’s the elephant in the room. In F2, the top 10 flip but only the top 8score points on a Saturday. What seems to be the problem? You ask innocently. Well take driver A; let’s call them R.G.Nathan. Now say Mr Nathan is running in the F2 opening sprint race in P9; P8 is several seconds up the road and P10 is nearby. A lap is left to go. Mr Nathan realises something. They will score no point but start the later race in second; but were they to “fall offline” and drop into 10th; he starts the next race from pole without losing a point. And funnily enough our Nathan does that and gets to start on pole. Now this metaphor might seem far fetched but think for a second. The ability to do this gives the driver no punishment for cynically under-driving to seek much greater reward later.
Add into this equation the competitive nature of drivers as well as the fact a singular extra point gained in that second sprint race could be the difference between a superlicence and seat at the adults table of F1; or millions of dollars more paid out by our driver; their family and their ever demanding sponsors. We also know the cynical nature of motorsport is baked into the sport; every few weekend a team reaching Q3 will deliberately not run in Q3 despite potential for places at the grid just to save tyres; something that could easily be unsporting but an act accepted by the fan as part of competition. There is no guarantee the same would not happen. Could it even be policed; who are we to dispute or prove the tyres the driver had didn’t “feel like they were going off”.
Look; the weekend format is its own infuriating issue in its own right but that’s a subjective matter. This mistake is one of simple inability to proof read the rules that decide who goes on to the holy grail of top tier motorsport; and one that if not addressed soon will cause intense humiliation for the feeder series when they are inevitably exploited by cunning drivers.