Edison James is a barrister, freelance writer and blogger who lives in West London. In addition to a very strong passion for motor racing, he also has a love for sailing. He recently sailed across the Atlantic from Martinique to Le Harve as part of a four-man crew. We asked Edison to share his thoughts on what he would do differently if he ran Formula 1. This is what he wrote.
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In the last fourteen years, we have had the end of the dominance of Ferrari to be shortly replaced by the domination of Red Bull and now the total domination of Mercedes Benz. Prior to that, it was McLaren and Williams. Engine manufacturers have now become the only game in town. The restrictions on winter testing, wind tunnel time and development, etc. has led to a stalemate in terms of where the sport is heading. In my recent book “Formula 1: R*evolution”, I have set out a radical way to possibly prevent Formula 1 from slowly moving backwards from being a global sport second only to football in terms of a global audience into becoming a niche sport only viewed by die-hard petrol heads or those with enough money to be unconcerned about paying out for pay per view.
If I ran Formula 1, I would radically change the format by having the contracted pairs of drivers rotate through the 10 teams over 10 Grands Prix after the opening race of the season. Each team would start the season with their contracted driver line up. For example, the two Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Bottas, would for the season’s first Grand Prix be driving for their own team, but for the second Grand Prix, for example, they could drive for Williams. After that, they would be driving for different teams for the next 9 races. Each Grand Prix over the first 11 races would always be a minimum of two weeks apart from each other in order to give the drivers time to get to know the rudiments of the team and the set-up of the car and its characteristics before the Grand Prix weekend.
If I ran Formula 1, I would radically change the format by having the contracted pairs of drivers rotate through the 10 teams over 10 Grands Prix after the opening race of the season.
This whole process of the drivers’ selection for the teams would be designed, administered, and monitored by the FIA. The teams and drivers would be nominated in a randomised way, very similar to the FA football Cup selection. This process would be conducted in the full glare of the world media, to prevent the accusation of manipulation and favouritism of certain teams to gain an advantage.
With regards to safety, I would propose new mandatory simulation sessions for each driver with their assigned team before each Grand Prix weekend. The FIA could also introduce two orientation periods for the Grand Prix weekends, including partially reduced speeds for FP1, 2, 3, and the first qualifying session for example. For the purpose of safety, these procedures would be put in place to help the drivers adapt to their temporary cars and teams.
On the subject of the bespoke made to measure drivers’ seats, there is no reason why the exact dimensions of each driver could not be shared before the beginning of the season, at the time of the drivers and teams’ selection. In terms of confidentiality, the drivers’ contracts will have to be revised to take account of this new format. They will need to include very robust non-disclosure agreements. To avoid drivers and teams deliberately under-performing, the FIA will need to appoint a team of monitoring personnel who could be their eyes and ears on the ground.
Providing that the FIA help with funding to the teams to cover the additional costs that the introduction of the new format will create, there could be a lot of upside for the smaller teams with greater points generation and subsequent revenue share. This ground-breaking shake-up would bring back a higher level of excitement, drama, and unpredictability to Formula 1 without compromising on safety or the cutting-edge technological development of the sport.