If I was Bernie – by @kiril_varbanov – my ideas for improving F1

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This is the first in a series of guest contributions which inspired my blog “if I was Bernie”.

First up is Kiril Varbanov (@kiril_varbanov) with views on potential changes to F1 to improve the quality of racing and overtaking (not necessarily the quantity).

I’ll be asking various contributors to put down a few thoughts over the coming weeks and months.

Be sure to check out Kiril on twitter. So over to you Kiril, and thanks for contributing….

In the next paragraphs I will be sharing my thoughts on couple of things that can improve Formula 1 races.

1. Less aerodynamic influence, more mechanical grip and engine focus

The 2014 regulations are heading there, fortunately…

We are going to witness smaller front wings, shallower rear wings, simple exhaust layout and less aero downforce. An enormous part of the focus shifts towards the powertrains, which in my opinion, is the right thing to do.

At the same time, in order to compensate for the loss of aero grip, more mechanical grip should be induced via tyres. The teams have resisted changes in tire width, so Pirelli will have to rely on compounds and constructions changes only.

The tyres will have to be “somewhere in the middle” – a balanced compromise between show, a bit of uncertainty, a few thrills and lots of grip, but the grip wont last forever.

This will very likely negate the need for artificial gimmicks like DRS. But there’s another needed step…

2. Track changes

Many of the current issues we are seeing are down to inherited or imposed track design and layout. On some of them, as fans know for sure, the overtaking is close to impossible.

When it comes to track design, however, there are certain rules that The FIA imposes, but at the same time some tracks are simply having not enough space to overtake. This is one of the reasons to introduce the DRS – a move widely disregarded by fans as a fair weapon.

Tracks are not something that can be changed with magic powder, it certainly takes time and money, but most of all it takes the will to change.

Mind you, some of those tracks are not used only for Formula 1, but other series, too, which could be beneficial for them.

3. More testing

It is absolutely ridiculous to have a series which is labeled “the Pinnacle of the motorsport” and which then discourages / limits testing.

We are seeing younger and younger drivers, who are somewhat unprepared for Formula 1, and we also see teams which struggle to match their simulators or in-factory machinery to those of the top teams.

Yet, the tests have to be limited, again, due to general cost control. While I understand that some teams are not comfortable with organizing a track event, history shows that a simulation only is not really the best choice.

More track testing would be beneficial for both engineers and drivers – an instrument that can certainly improve racing. I know I sound like Luca di Montezemolo, but it is just the case where we share common opinion.

At the same time, the budget cap is not a bad idea at all, because it will make teams much more efficient when it comes to spending – you can choose to invest $10 million in simulator or couple of track testing days.

4. Reintroduce a more relaxed environment

A couple of days ago I was looking at a picture of James Hunt eating some chicken, naked, sitting on his car.

Today, you cannot imagine such a thing – the whole Formula 1 environment is becoming more closed and sterile.

Drivers are being punished for some silly words or moves – a result of race adrenaline rush. Drivers are getting seemingly unneeded penalties for having a will to fight. Stewards, at the same time, are not always consistent when applying the rules, which lead to inevitable frustration.

I wholeheartedly think that if the environment is more open, everyone will contribute more towards a better racing spectacle.

This will also lead to a better fans engagement – a living example is Le Mans, where you can meet and talk with literally anyone….

Now that we’ve heard Kirils views, what do you think of the suggestions? And what would you change about F1 if you were Bernie?

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