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Crofty Blog – Singapore GP

Hooray for the weekend! Friday is finally here, time to have some fun peeps.

I don’t know what you have planned for the next couple of days, but with a first weekend off in 5 weeks I’ve got a long list that includes, in no particular order…

Some serious time on the new F1 2018 game – and the kids had better not fast forward over the bits where I speak! Which they tend to do on a regular basis, followed by much laughter.

Mowing the Lawn – dull I know but the grass needs cutting, so if it could stop raining for a while, it would be most appreciated.

A few hours with the headphones on catching up with a host of new releases. The brilliant ‘Living the Dream’ by Slash and Miles Kennedy needs some serious playing and I really haven’t had time to fully immerse myself in Parkway Drive’s ‘Reverence’ and that came out in May!

And on Sunday, its off to the Olympic Stadium full of hope and optimism that had better not be crushed by poor defending one again. Come on West Ham, time to show the world what we’re made of!

Yep, it’s a fine weekend ahead and it’s right to make the most of it, because there aren’t many non F1 weekends to enjoy these days it seems.

When I first started working in the sport, the season ran from mid March to mid October. 16 or 17 races a year. Now we start at about the same time but run much longer and next year, we finish on December 1st. At this rate, Santa Claus might want to swing by a race track with my Christmas pressies. We haven’t added any more races for next year, just made the season a little less hectic in the middle, but its inevitable that 2 or 3 will be added to the calendar in the next few years.

Miami for 2020 seems odds on. Vietnam is being strongly rumoured. Denmark has plans for a city race and Argentina is another possibility in the near future. Bring them on and whilst we’re at it, could we not find a way to return to South Africa as well? It’s a world championship and we should be racing on every continent. 24/25 races a season is what Liberty are after, but if we stick to the current format of a Grand Prix weekend, is that a schedule that will suit the fans or one that risks overkill, especially if we have a plethora of races like last weekends. It’s not often I criticise the entertainment on offer – believe it or not I do genuinely love the sport I’m lucky enough to commentate on – but that was nothing short of a pedestrian exercise in tyre management and sadly widely predicted amongst the strategists before hand.

On the subject of Singapore, I didn’t enjoy seeing 20 drivers cruising around the streets engaging in two hours of tyre management rather than racing in the way that I’m sure they’d prefer. As to a solution, it’s a tricky one. But you could argue that we should introduce a mandatory ‘minimum of 2 pit stops’ for each race, but that would wipe out some of the variations in strategy that give us exciting battles throughout the year. The introduction of the new Hypersoft tyre has seen lap records tumble and given us some brilliant qualifying laps on a Saturday, but it has had a detrimental effect on racing at some tracks. Maybe it’s time to use this as a qualifying tyre for the top 10 and leave it alone when it comes to the race. Or does it need a rule that states that all three compounds must be used at some point in the race and that the choice is up to each driver as to when that happens? Whilst we’re at it, let’s also take some of those sensors off the tyres and let the drivers make a judgement call on when they feel they need to pit. I’m fine with a team telling a driver that their tyre are dangerously close to failing them, but let’s try a race or two when the one in the cockpit says where and when its time to pit. It can’t make the racing worse.

But I digress, and not for the first time I’m sure. How do we keep the season alive if we add Grands Prix to the calendar? How does Formula 1 as a sport, ensure that the fans tune in, come to the race tracks and invest their time and passion to the levels that they are at present? These questions are being discussed at the top levels as I type away and have been discussed for some time now. If it’s true that ‘less is more’ how does Formula 1 avoid the scenario of ‘more is less’?

If the proposals for 2021 give us better racing, more dynamic racing cars – I love the look of the new concept cars that we saw images of during the Singapore weekend by the way – and following the introduction of the cost cap, more teams and more cars on the grid, then some of the worries reading overkill may well be avoided. The show, as it currently stands, won’t accommodate an expansion of the calendar but with a few tweaks along the way I don’t see why we shouldn’t have more races.

So here’s my top 5 minor alterations….

1. Change the format for a handful of the races. Why not have a couple of reverse races, where the driver last in the Championship starts on pole and so on?

2. If we are running a reverse Championship order race then there’s no point in holding qualifying that weekend. So let’s have a sprint race on the Saturday instead. If you want to attract a younger audience then put on something that relates more to their appetite. Surely that’s worth a try?

3. No practice Friday. There are some tracks where seemingly there are as many people sat in the Grandstands as bought Private Paradise, that non-Mercury Award winning album Jacques Villeneuve released 11 years ago. So let’s do away with the two practice sessions and in doing so increase the chances of the teams coping with the unexpected come Sunday and have the drivers appearing at a fan engagement instead.

4. Guest Drivers. This might be a little bit tricky to engineer but why not have drivers from other series in the world taking part as guests in some of the Grands Prix? It might need some investment from Liberty to either produce or buy in a car and the ability to run it over a weekend, but let’s see stars of Indy/Moto GP/Nascar or wherever up against our F1 heroes, who wouldn’t like to see that.

5. Mystery Tyres – Pirelli bring three compounds of tyres to a race, all have different stripes on the them, but nobody knows which compound is which. The teams have to work it out and then deal with it. Increase the chance of the unexpected and you never know, you might just enjoy the result.

Just a few things to think about ahead of the weekend. Whatever you’re doing I hope you enjoy it, and if you’re pining for some F1 action, don’t worry, this time next week we’ll be back on track.

Take care
Crofty

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