How to improve the Formula One World Constructors' Championship

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How to improve the Formula One World Constructors' Championship
The Simon Racing Report's guide to improving the least interesting championship in F1
Jonathan Simon | January 5, 2018

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator
 

When was the last time you had celebrated a Formula One World Constructors' Championship victory? I’m hardly ecstatic about it – even less so than Mark Webber, especially when Christian Horner would rub it in his face on the team radio whenever Red Bull Racing would win a constructors title. Christian, we love you, but Mark never gave a damn. Apart from finding out who is the most successful team for a given season, the constructors’ championship is used to determine areas such as the entry fees (Appendix 7, Formula 1 Sporting Regulations), prize money and other minuscule details.

Now I know what you’re asking, didn’t you say you were going to write this column a few months ago? Well if Williams can delay their driver decision until January, I can exponentially do the same for this column. But regardless of that, here it is… The Simon Racing Report’s guide to improving the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship.

Penalty points replace grid penalties


Finally, an improvement to the sheer stupidity that grid penalties are starting to become. Whilst Liberty Media and Ross Brawn are already planning a reasonable fix for grid penalties, let’s now tie that in with a coinciding improvement with the spectacle of the constructors’ championship. This is one of the major on-track issues that currently needs to be addressed within Formula 1 – for some it ruins the spectacle. We should be penalising drivers places on the grid for racecraft errors, unsportsmanlike conduct, not team or car faults. Trying to reach a wider, newer audience in Formula 1 with 2.4 million place grid penalties a round does nothing to help ease the flow of the sport.
Quantum physics or F1 grid penalties, both incredibly difficult to explain to your kids. The absolute fuck up of a conversation this would create. What’s rougher, talking to your kids about sex or explaining why a Honda powered engine suffered 825 total grid penalties from 2015 to 2017?
The solution – penalise constructors’ championship points for every major grid penalty. Once a team reaches zero, apply fines or go to extreme lengths such as negative points, even at Honda’s expense. The only hesitation for negative points is the chaos this would cause with a McLaren Honda and soon to be, the 2018 McLaren Renault.
Reliability will have an ever increased factor in the constructors’ trophy and will be pivotal to the success of reliable or unreliable teams. Your fast car is your offence, reliability is your defence. You want to compete for titles, even at the risk of a little reliability. The NBA's greatest offences generally win titles but they're not always necessarily ranked the highest in defence. They're also not ranked last either. Think about it in baseball now, sometimes fielding and especially pitching can be your greatest success, but you won't get nowhere without hitting. If anything, the NFL has shown us with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2015 Denver Broncos, along with the NBA's 2004 Detroit Pistons, that defence can win titles.
McLaren's rapid MP4-20 and MP4-27 in 2005 and 2012 respectively should have claimed titles for Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton. With all the offence of a fast car, no defence and injuries of unreliability, they turned into the mid-2000's Mike D'Antoni/Steve Nash led Phoenix Suns. An engine failing could cost a team potential points gained but also leave no lead unprotected. For those unaware of the rule/article, here it is:
Article 23.3 b) Should a driver use more than the numbers set in Article 23.3 a) of any one of the elements during a Championship season, a grid place penalty will be imposed upon him at the first Event during which each additional element is used. Penalties will be applied according to the following table and will be cumulative:

The first time an additional element is used = Ten grid place penalty.

The next times an additional element is used = Five grid place penalty.
Here is a system I’ve created that could work with constructors’ points penalties accounted for:
The first time an additional element is used = Ten grid place penalty, and six constructors points penalised.

The next times an additional element is used = Five grid place penalty, and three constructors points penalised.
I say let teams go into negative points. Can’t get a reliable power unit to finish a race? Tough luck, drink a cup of shell oil and harden up.

Bonus points for fastest pit-stop


This is interesting and borderline silly, but with the emphasis, detail and money put into improving the performance of pit-stops, why not reward the team with the fastest pit-stop with one bonus constructors’ championship point.
This would apply to the first stop only for each car, preventing teams from pitting 15 times in the final 15 laps to potentially win a championship off of a quick pit-stop. It’s Formula 1 and everyone will be looking to take advantage of this, so we’ll need to implement some other house rules. Bonus points for a pit-stop would also only work so long as there is no refuelling involved. Teams would deliberately fuel short to win the bonus points at certain races and this would occur if you’re in no contention of scoring valuable points, if any at all. Most likely if you’re involved in a first lap incident or if you were a 2010 HRT driver.
If I gave out 25 points for each fastest pit stop, Williams and Mercedes are so good they would have the potential to win the constructors championship on pit-stops alone.
This measure would make 'box-ing' more interesting, more error prone, faster and certainly more entertaining.

Teams get a choice of garage position each race weekend


Pit-lane position is critical for a number of reasons. Ensuring you don’t lose time entering and exiting a pit-box can save crucial tenths of a second on pursuit to victory. If it’s a wet qualifying session, getting track position ahead of the green light for Q1 could save you 18 minutes of stress and angst. Picking a garage that’s ergonomically efficient for your team in the paddock, all these little things pile up in Formula 1.
So why not reward the previous year’s constructors’ standings with choice of garage position in order of finishing position? Mercedes could pick first, then Ferrari, etc. My only concern is that this would be more of a hindrance administering than it would be beneficial for the show. These little incentives pile up though and could incline teams to fight for critical positions in the championship, regardless if they are challenging for first or tenth.

Cost multiplier based on team spending


Would it be overcomplicated in introducing a cost multiplier into Formula 1? Based on how many points a team scores, along with the total amount spent from the previous season’s end of financial year, to the date of the final race/grand prix weekend of the current season. Yes there would be overlap, to prevent teams from overspending, or tanking their spending to benefit one season or another. The accountant will be FIA employed and approved – that’ll put an end to corruption... Probably not, but anyway.
Example: 1st July 2017 – 25th November 2018 (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) would be used to calculate the total costs per team used for the 2018 season.
Now the complicated part. The total of all teams in the championship is calculated, and let’s say Mercedes had accounted for 40% of the total budget of all teams, their adjusted constructors’ championship points would be 300 points * (1 - 0.40) = 180 points. If Haas scored 45 points and only used 5% of the total budget of all teams, this would be calculated as 45 points * (1 – 0.05) = 42.75 points
Let’s have a look at the constructors’ standings for 2015 and 2016, along with team budgets. Note that 2015 figures are in EUR and 2016 in GBP, but the calculations stay consistent. I’m not sure what time period these figures were calculated on, but they’ll do for now.
In terms of points with the cost multiplier, there is a difference in the scale and amount that each team has scored, but the rankings stay the same. No team climbs or drops in the standings at all. If we however based the constructors’ championship on a ‘cost per point basis’, look at how a team such as Force India would climb up the standings both years. Though the champion would still win based on the dominance of the amount of points they have scored – that’s the way it should be.
This is a much more effective way at calculating the points, a cheap team still wouldn’t win, but would be rewarded for being as well run as Force India. However teams who don’t score points would still struggle. It basically means if you splash the cash within reason, you win. However the balance is still there, rewarding teams who are wise with their money or in five years’ time, Bitcoin and Ripple. An alternative to the budget cap!

FIA / FOM mid-season test for teams in lower half of standings


The teams who finish in the bottom half of the constructors’ championship will be rewarded at a test session of their choice, whereby FOM fund up to 75% of money spent on the test, or a maximum of $3,000,000 for each team. $3,000,000 is a large guess, the FIA/FOM would come up with something better. For the bottom end of teams, this incentive would help limit expenses in a sport where the correlation to success and money is positive.
This looks like your typical knee surgery insurance scheme, think of it as a ‘heal and repair’ for those teams struggling at the bottom end of the budget pool.

Luxury Tax


I had to do some math on this hence the spreadsheet below. I promise it’s not as confusing as it looks, but I’ve mapped out an extremely basic luxury tax for the purposes of this column.
The tax threshold is 10% of the total budget – I chose this number randomly. I’ve calculated the total budget for all teams at the end of 2016 which is £1,720,000,000. Using the tax threshold of 10% stated earlier, if any team now exceeds this value, they must pay a set amount of tax based on the gap they are over 10%. In this case, four teams are over the 10% threshold which include Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren. We will set a fixed fee of £3,000,000 if over the tax threshold, and £1,000,000 per 1% over the threshold. Based on these calculations, you can see the amount of luxury tax paid by the four teams. These funds are then distributed evenly amongst remaining teams not under the tax threshold.
What does this have to do with the constructors’ championship? Not much. I was celebrating the idea as much as Felipe Massa’s family when he crossed the line to win the championship in 2008, only to stop celebrating, realising towards the end of my idea that it really didn’t have much to do with improving the constructors' championship spectacle at all.
However... We could finally see more teams pushing for excellence with a minimal budget. This is a great alternative to a budget cap and has been suggested before. Of course with a more advanced, calculated and researched method that is different from mine, the constructors’ championship could get interesting.
How embarrasing for McLaren... Paying luxury tax in a season where they finished 6th and only scored 76 points. The luxury tax helps promote improved organisation and team management skills. It's why Force India would be a title contender each season if they were on a similar budget to the big teams, such a well-run organisation. Someone suggested that they were the New England Patriots doppelganger, I truly think Force India are the San Antonio Spurs of Formula 1 whilst McLaren are slowly becoming the New York Knicks.

Time finished behind leader is now part of the Constructors' Championship


This is possibly the stupidest idea of the bunch, and at risk of ending this column like Lewis Hamilton’s 2007 season, I had to shoot the shot.
Let me explain with an example of course. After the first grand prix weekend concludes, Lewis Hamilton scores 25 points for a win, Sebastian Vettel in second place scores 18 points and finishes +7.675 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas finishes third with 15 points and +10.405 seconds, Kimi Räikkönen fourth with 12 points and +27.898 seconds.
Jolyon Palmer finishes 3 laps down.
Mercedes would lead the constructors’ championship with 40 points and 11 seconds, Ferrari is second with 30 points and 36 seconds. Points take precedence over time. So if two teams were tied on 30 points, whoever has the LEAST amount of time would lead. We also round ‘up’ the seconds off to the nearest integer, so Vettel’s final time would be 8 seconds, Bottas 11 seconds, Räikkönen 28 seconds.
Now what happens to Palmer who finishes three laps down? We set a baseline penalty of 30 seconds + (the fastest lap of the race * laps finished behind leader). If the fastest lap time of the event was 84 seconds (again, rounding up), Palmer’s total would be 30 + (84 * 3) = 282 seconds and 0 points for Renault’s total.
This would discourage teams from avoiding retirement during an event. For a DNF, it would be the same calculation. If you’re 56 laps behind, well get ready for a face full of seconds, minutes and hours on the constructors’ championship standings.
Think of it like Mario Party, your points are your stars, your seconds are your coins.
A little confusing, but definitely would make things more intriguing for the current constructors championship. The drivers’ championship wouldn’t be affected by this.
Nothing is worse than Bernie Ecclestone’s medal idea, or did I just top it?

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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

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