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The death of Real Racing ? 

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There are fools, damn fools and F1 decision makers.

F1 is now boringly processional so what do we do? Do we address the real impediments to overtaking? No, lets artificially alter the grid so that starting positions are a game of chance, with the weather as potentially the most important factor.

Its 1:15 pm on Saturday at Spa, the rain has been threatening all morning and only the Minardis have completed their qualifying when the sky opens and the rain buckets down. By 1:40 pm its been full wet conditions for 15 minutes and the fast cars are coming out. I suppose seeing an Alex Yoong on pole is going to excite someone, but not me. Thatís an extreme example but some element of that will apply at every race. Tyres are so sensitive to track temperature that differing cloud cover over the course of the hour will impact significantly on the outcome. When strategy gets overtaken by chance the sport suffers.

One chance to post a time becomes a lottery, giving an enormous advantage to established drivers, who know the tracks. Till now newer drivers could put a banker lap in then push the envelope, knowing that they have qualified. Under these rules who benefits? Only the slowest teams and the ones who get lucky. At the front the drivers need to be conservative, not risking an off track excursion which could see them starting at the back of the grid. The Minardis have nothing to lose, they were going to be back there anyway and an off wonít change that, but a high risk 10/10ths run might promote them if it succeeds.

Will this qualifying rule change make the racing more exciting? Yes, from time to time you will have a Ferrari carving through the tail end of the field to pick up points for coming 7th or 8th but if the Ferrari is the quickest car should a car (or driver) failure on one single lap on Saturday force it to start behind a Minardi? The powers that be seem to think so, but I donít.

The Real Race page was started to provide a forum for reviewing cars and drivers in as pure a competitive environment as possible. That environment has been taken away by these rule changes. Should it continue now that qualifying has been massively diluted? Iím not sure. While the opportunity for acerbic commentary has been increased the opportunity for measuring talent on a level playing field has been reduced.

As for the other rule changes, Iím no more enamoured of those than I am the qualifying changes. Points for 8th when typically only 10 or a dozen cars will finish? Good for the egoís of the middle runners I suppose but will it change the situation up front? No. We will still have Ferraris, Williamsí, and McLarens at the pointy end. Will it really change the situation down the back either? A little, there will be greater conservatism from the middle and tail enders, finishing, even laps down, will become more of an objective as attrition increases the possibility of gaining one or two points.

I have less of a problem with the notion of reducing the benefit of winning to a 2 point advantage versus 4, but I really donít believe the scoring system was broken, the changed character of the cars, the tracks and the tyres was the reason for overtaking dying and interest waning, not the scoring system.

Team orders? At least they were honest team orders before, now they will rely on subterfuge and playing with rev limits etc to accomplish the same result. Rubens will just have to suffer from the occasional loss of top end till he gets overtaken.

Testing? The proposed arrangement will be a farce. While ever the option exists to take two separate roads, teams will elect to follow the path that has the greatest advantage for them, further differentiating the haves from the have nots.

Tyres? Does this really mean that Bridgestone will dilute their efforts with Ferrari to ensure all teams have tyres specifically designed for their cars? Or that Minardi will get the same level of attention from Bibendum as Williams or McLaren? I think not!

F1 will survive these changes but will it profit from them? Time will tell, but The Quali-flyer may not be there to notice. I have not yet decided what road to take and responses to this commentary may impact on that decision but the sad fact is that 2002 will be remembered as the year that the real race was born and then died.

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