Tag Archives: motorsport

New F1 Licence Rules Could Rule Out Future Champs

The FIA World Motor Sport Council held their annual meeting in Mexico City last week and announced key changes to the way the Formula One Super Licence will be awarded. Incredibly the new criteria, had they always been in place, would have prevented all but one Formula One World Champion since 1997 from entering the sport when they did.

The changes, to be introduced at the start of next year, rank drivers’ achievements in lower categories using a points system. A driver must have enough points to apply for a Super Licence, the licence required to drive an F1 car during a Grand Prix Weekend. The proposal had been made earlier this year, but amid complaints of how certain categories were ranked, the FIA made some adjustments.

From next year onwards, in order to be granted a Super Licence, a driver is required to (among other things) have accumulated 40 points in the three previous years according to the points system below.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
FIA F2 40 40 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3
GP2 40 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2
F3 European 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1
WEC LMP1 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1
IndyCar 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1
FR3.5 35 25 20 15 10 7 5 3 2 1
GP3 30 20 15 10 7 5 3 2 1 0
Super Formula 25 20 15 10 7 5 3 2 1 0
WTCC 15 12 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 0
DTM 15 12 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 0
Indy Lights 15 12 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 0
National FIA F4 12 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 0 0
National F3 10 7 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
FR2.0 10 7 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
CIK-FIA Senior 5 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
  • The Formula E champion will be automatically awarded a Super Licence despite 2nd, 3rd, etc.  effectively meaning nothing

I decided to examine the points system and see how it would have affected the current F1 drivers. While it makes no difference now since they already have Super Licences, the list of drivers that would have been ruled out is surprising!

The changes were sparked by Toro Rosso’s signing of 17-year-old Max Verstappen, a boy with only one year experience racing cars. So I was expecting it to rule out a lot of younger drivers. But the list of drivers ruled out included race winners, and world champions! Of the current F1 grid, the following drivers had fewer than 40 points when they entered the sport:

Sebastian Vettel
Kimi Räikkönen
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
Felipe Massa
Daniel Ricciardo
Marcus Ericsson
Carlos Sainz Jr
Max Verstappen
Will Stevens

Looking back another two seasons and you can add Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi, Jean-Éric Vergne, André Lotterer, Max Chilton, and Giedo van der Garde to that list.

I could have gone on, but I decided to just focus on notable drivers from the past. Two legends of the sport, Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli would also have needed more experience before racing in F1. Most surprising, however, both Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen also fell short of the 40 points, even when you replace their achievements with today’s equivalent.

All in all, this means that the only world champion since 1997 who would have qualified under the new regulations is Lewis Hamilton. In fact he would have 88 points, and could have entered a year earlier.

This all begs the question, is the new system necessary? Some of the best drivers in the history of the sport are on the list. There have been very few bad, or dangerous drivers in the past. The only one I can think of in recent years is Yuji Ide, who was stripped of his Super Licence after only four races after numerous crashes. Amazingly, he would still have gotten a Super Licence under the new rules! So who are they trying to stop from entering the sport?

The points system does not just apply to Formula One. A similar licence for Formula E is being introduced next season which affects the current drivers! In order to be awarded an ‘e-Licence’, a driver must have 20 points in the previous three years, OR have taken part in three ePrix in the last season, OR have previously held a Super Licence.

By my calculations this means that six of the drivers from last season are not allowed to race next season! Don’t worry, Yuji you’ll be alright since you had a Super Licence in the past.

Oliver Turvey, Simona de Silvestro, Matthew Brabham, Marco Andretti, Katerine Legge, and Antonio Garcia will not be allowed eLicences next season under the new rules. Turvey and de Silvestro raced at the end of last season and may have expected to continue into next season. Turvey had two solid points finishes in London, yet according to the FIA he is now too inexperienced to race a Formula E car.



Circuit of Ireland: Day Three

Craig Breen took a 6.2 second victory over Kajetan Kajetanowicz at Circuit of Ireland after a tense battle which came down to the final stage. I decided to go to the end of the final stage to see the drivers, which allowed me to see Craig celebrate with his family.

With two stages left to go Breen held what looked to be a comfortable 20 second lead over Kajto, but an off on the second to last stage damaged his car and put the Polish rival back in contention. There were many anxious faces at the finish line as Craig Breen’s family paced back and forth listening to the radio for the final result. When the news came through that Breen won the rally the family were in tears, they know more than anyone how much this means to Craig.

Having learnt from yesterday, I planned my route carefully to see as much of the stages as possible and used Google Street view to make sure I would have a good vantage point at my chosen spot. My favourite spot was on stage 15. I was perched on top of a wall above the road. From there I could see the cars come over the hill, brake hard on the run down to the bottom of the valley, and power up the hill, passing beneath me as they slowed and did a handbrake turn through a sharp right.

So how do you follow a rally? The key is to plan. If you show up at the first corner you find, you could find a decent spot, but if you want to get the best view, a quick study of the route can tell you a lot. If you’re at the bottom of a hill, you won’t see as much as at the top, and if you really plan well, you can get really close to the cars as they pass!

I plan to write at least one more post about the rally. But for now, I’m off for a well deserved beer!


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Circuit of Ireland: Day One

Qualifying for the Circuit of Ireland took place today on a short 9km sprint up Whinney Hill. The rain held off which made my first experience as a rally spectator a lot easier!

With my car loaded and a hot cup of coffee, I set off early to give myself a chance to choose a vantage point. As well as warm clothes and a chair, perhaps the most essential part of a spectators luggage is a map. Knowing what roads are emergency access or poor viewing is important and the rally organisers did a great job displaying that.

The day started with a practice session, where drivers could test different setups to have a balanced car. I chose the exit of a sharp left turn at the top of the hill. I thought it would give me a chance to see cars slide through the corner -but what I got exceeded expectations!

There are a number of different cars competing this weekend, from the four wheel drive, winged ERC cars; to the smaller, front wheel drive ERC Junior cars, and many more in between. I hope to write a full post about this when the rally’s over, but you can clearly see the difference in car characteristics through the corner.

There was a break between practice and qualifying so I found myself a new spot to have a change of pace (pun intended). I made my way to the run up to the same left corner to see the cars at full speed before they hit the brakes. It was the fastest part of the stage and meant I got to see and hear the cars as they slammed on the brakes for the sharp left.

So it turns out you can park pretty close to the stage if you plan it right (I didn’t even need the bike) and since each stage is different, it’s difficult to find the right vantage point. But whether it’s at a sharp corner, or a long, fast section, you are sure to see the cars on the limit!

The first competitive stages get underway tomorrow, with Ireland’s Robbie Barrable on the road. My money’s on car #1 Craig Breen for the outright win, but it looks to be a close battle. I got to hang out with some of the drivers this evening and there’s a clear excitement from the Irish guys, particularly Breen -this is the win he’s itching for.

Check back tomorrow night to see how I got on chasing the drivers from stage to stage. So far, this has been a great experience! See below for some pictures from today!


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European Rally Stars Hit Irish Shores

The Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place this weekend, and for the second year running, the event will be part of the FIA European Rally Challenge (ERC). Top drivers from across Europe will join national rally stars – meaning a record 150 cars will compete through the Irish Countryside. I will be there, watching on from the roadside, and following the competitors from stage to stage.

This will be my first time ever following a major motorsport event live. I attended the Stormont Super Special Stage for Rally Ireland 2007, but following a full rally is a whole different ball (or should that be car?) game. Unlike a lot of sports, you can’t just sit in one spot for a whole rally and see everything. There are no big screens, no commentators, and if you want a seat you have to bring one!

Rallies consist of a series of stages run over a couple of days, typically a weekend. Each stage is a route along closed-off public roads. The competitors have a strict schedule to follow, and must drive the rally car along open public roads to get to each stage. Normally, three stages will be completed in the morning, and the afternoon will consist of the same three stages, only in the reverse direction. You still with me? Okay, apologies for the explanation, but I just wanted to illustrate to those unfamiliar to rallying why it is difficult to follow it live.

So how do you follow a rally? Well since I’ve never done this before, I’m probably not the right person to ask. I have a bicycle packed in my car, and a rucksack filled with warm clothes, snacks, and that all important seat – so I’m willing to find out. I’m hoping to post a summary at the end of each day, and hopefully by the time I’m eating Easter eggs, I’ll have no trouble answering that question.

The cars hit the roads tomorrow for practice and qualifying, before the competitive stages on Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow’s runs will be done on a single stage as many times as the drivers want, to find the best setup for the Irish roads. I’ll use it to suss out a few things, such as how close I can park, and how to find a good vantage point.

Check back Thursday night to see how I got on, but until then, have a look at the video below to see what the Circuit of Ireland Rally looks like.


The Love of Motorsport

“Racing, competing, is in my blood. It’s part of me, it’s part of my life; I’ve been doing it all my life. And it stands up before anything else.”

These are the words of the late Ayrton Senna during an interview before the 1989 Australian Grand Prix. This quote from the three-time Formula One World Champion illustrates why racing drivers risk their lives time and time again –it’s in their nature.

There are countless stories of racers who never give up. Just watch a MotoGP race and you’ll see riders who crash at high speed get straight to their feet to check if their bike can keep going. In other motorsports drivers such as Mika Häkkinen in 1995, Alex Zanardi in 2001, and Chris van der Drift in 2010 had near fatal accidents but recovered from their injuries to race again.

I have tried to start a blog for a long time now, but could never decide where to start. I love talking about Formula One, but seldom have the chance in everyday life. I’ve watched F1 more than any other motorsport, but recently all I can talk about are the negatives –pay drivers, ugly cars, pay tv, etc.

I’ve wondered, what is it that keeps me watching this sport that I speak so negatively of? No matter how many negatives I talk about, I still watch all the races, I still sit on the edge of my seat when I see the five red lights go out, I still get chills down my spine every time I see cars pass within inches of the Monaco barrier. It’s something that I can never get away from, it’s who I am, it’s part of me.

I am still thankful for my Formula One doubts. In recent years I have delved deeper into other forms of motorsport –Rallying, NASCAR, junior formulas, MotoGP, DTM, endurance racing, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. It has opened my mind up to a whole world beyond the Formula One paddock.

The more I explored, the more Ayrton Senna’s words made sense to me. Why should I complain about pay drivers (Drivers who bring big sponsorship deals to a team to secure a race seat)? It is a shame that highly talented racers can’t compete due to finances, but does that mean a pay driver is any less of a racer? No -they have still dedicated their whole lives to get to the top. They’ll still drive the car with three wheels or pick their bike up after a crash because they love racing.

The truth is, right now the sport needs pay drivers. Without them there might not be a sport. The cost of running an F1 team each year is massive and sponsorship deals are used to cover the cost. Teams like Marussia, Lotus, and Sauber who are struggling for results might not be competing if it weren’t for the money brought by their drivers. I shouldn’t be complaining -I should be thankful that the sport has found a way to keep going with people who love racing.

Now I should mention that this determination is not limited to motorsport –the same is true for a number of sports. From footballers getting horrible leg breaks and playing again the following season, to rugby players trying to play on after heavy tackles –they all do it for the same reason. Their love is for playing their sport.

My love is for motorsport, it’s something that I am passionate about and it makes sense that my first post is about why I am this way.

The pit wall is where the most important people in the team sit during a race. I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m not involved in any team, I hope the name doesn’t fool people. But a pit wall is something unique to motorsport. When people sit at the pit wall they look at monitors and over the wall to the track.

This blog is my view as a fan; as someone who is looking over the wall to watch the racing. This is Pit Wall View.