F1 race strategy guide

I was watching a nice video over at Formula 1 about race strategy after reading another article about an all-electric karting series Rob Smedley is leading.

What I found interesting is the bravado and language chosen for the electric karting series as well as the implied reality of words accompanying this video. The transition to aggressive, virtuous language and implied reality that suggests what fans will do leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The following narrative that accompanied this video is a good example:

“As Formula 1 becomes increasingly accessible and the depth of coverage grows ever more comprehensive, so the people sitting on the pit wall become more recognisable. Where once the roll call of familiar faces beyond the cockpit started and stopped with team principals and superstar designers, in modern F1, fans will now easily identify race engineers, sporting directors and team managers as key players in how a team’s race weekend unfolds. And yet the only figure likely to still be granted a degree of anonymity in the cast of pit wall characters is the one whose input can often shape the outcome the most – the trackside strategist.”

“Strategy is F1’s dark art and team strategists are its practitioners of the arcane, using mathematical models and probability matrices to plot the most logical route to the best possible finish for their cars.”

I’ve been watching Formula 1 since the 1970’s and I follow teams, team personnel, drivers, manufacturers, team marketing departments, sponsors and respective stock prices of each stakeholder. While this narrative and video may not have been meant for a fan like me, I find it in keeping with the current milieu of F1’s new marketing push and voice and it is off-putting to be honest.

Race strategy isn’t a dark art in F1. It has existed since the dawn of racing at some level and the only thing dark about it is when you get it wrong. The dark art of F1 is aerodynamics and engineering design. Strategy is a critical and paramount element to any racing program and the metrics can and will change but it isn’t a dark art.

The narrative also implies some new accessibility and video coverage that plumbs the depth of F1 like never before. There is some truth to that and I applaud F1 for its efforts on this front. Keep in mind that some teams like to keep their key people relatively low profile. You constantly crow about what genius some young person back at HQ is with strategy, they will get poached in no time. I wrote about Ruth (in a cheeky article) way back when and this was before this all-new accessibility and depth-plumbing content from F1.

The one thing this video does show is the amount of team personnel devoted to the race remotely and s we’ve argued before, you want F1 to be more seat-of-the-pants and exciting, remove the real-time data share back to HQ where 50-100 people are calling a race on top of the 50 people you have at the track. It is a good video and the race strategy people do a really good job of explaining it so from that standpoint I applaud F1 for sure. Well done with the content.

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