FIA needs simple rules, not silly ones, to make F1 fun

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am

Sometimes you just wish that Formula One could have the simple rules of, say, football. Since the Football Association codified the game in the 19th century, not a great deal has changed. Granted, you can't barge the keeper into the net and claim a goal, and you can't pick up a back-pass anymore. But its blessed simplicity has made it the world game, played as the old cliche goes, with jumpers for goalposts.

Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and as such it's never going to be a mass participation thing. It's also never going to be as simple rules-wise. Perhaps it should be. However, there is so much cash and so many fine brains that you need an organisation like the FIA to keep a lid on the more outrageous moves by teams.

But only up to a point. Racing cars at this level may be complicated and governed by complex and dull technical regulations, but the rules of the racing shouldn't be. These are what make the sport attractive to the fans. And it's these rules the FIA can't seem to leave alone.

Bernie Ecclestone has recently proposed changing the points scoring system - again. You may remember for years the winner got 10 points and the second place got six points. But after Michael Schumacher ran away with the championship by 67 points in 2002, it was changed to 10 and eight points. The idea was to make it 'fairer'. In reality they wanted to neuter the best driver, and doctor the championship to make it closer, not a reflection of relative skills.

Now the powers that be are likely to change it back, to encourage drivers not to settle for second place. Why couldn't they leave well alone? (On this point, football isn't the best comparison, they changed points for a win from two to three. But at least it was a positive change promoting winning).

Qualifying is another subject filed under 'not to be fiddled with'. For decades, we were all happy with an hour of everyone on the track battling it out. Personally I couldn't see the problem, but the FIA couldn't help but put their oar in and bring in one shot qualifying. Dull for those of us watching in TV, even worse for those who had paid for a Saturday ticket to the circuit. No surprise then when it was scrapped. Sadly we are still left with an overly complicated system when going back to the original format would be so much easier.

The latest farce concerns tyres. The FIA decided this year there would be only one supplier, which happens to be Bridgestone. However it decreed that there would be two types of tyre which would have to be used in a race - a harder and a softer compound. In Melbourne a white spot was painted on the softer tyre so spectators could follow race strategy in the race.

The only problem was that once the car was racing, the spot couldn't be spotted, if you follow me. So now Bridgestone are painting a white line within one of the four grooves. With hundreds of sets of tyres to paint a Bridgestone spokesperson was obviously displaying a dry wit when he commented, 'It is time consuming to apply to the tyres.'

There are some rule changes to be applauded, such as next year's ban on traction control. Mind you this is the second time they've tried to outlaw the thing and even if it is successful there are dark rumours of stability control being introduced. This is a system used on family cars that would really negate driver skill and the frankly the point of racing.

Football's ruling body have come up with some pretty stupid ideas, such as dividing the game into quarters and making the goal bigger to allow more goals. Luckily, commonsense has always prevailed. Formula One, and the FIA, should take note.