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This motor racing system would have a set hierarchical structure with a promotion and relegation system in place for finishing in certain positions in each championship. At the bottom level there would be local karting championships. There would be a fee to enter this, but there would be prize money, and successful drivers would at least make back the money they spend. Karts would be provided at the race meeting and randomly allocated, so there would be no need for people to spend money on their own karts. There would also be a set number of free places at this level available to drivers who achieve a certain standard in the arcade game – see separate section on this.
Those that finish in the top certain number in their local championship would then be promoted to the next level up. Exactly how many rungs there would be on the ladder isn’t determined now, but I will give an example of how it could work with a six-level system. Under this system the second level would also be karting but with more powerful machinery and also over a wider geographical area. At each higher level, there would be larger regions and fewer championships and competitors.
The third level would see a move into single-seater cars and the championships would probably be at a national level. Those that are promoted from that into the fourth level would be racing at international level, probably within a continent, again in more powerful cars.
Then there would be a fifth level, which would be one below the top step. The idea is that the cars at this level would be of the same specification as the cars at the top level so all drivers promoted to the top will already be up to speed, and will have proved themselves in the type of car they will be using at the top. There would be one or two fifth level championships running over the world. Then at the top level there would obviously be just the one championship.
In every championship, a set number of drivers would be promoted and a set number relegated, determined purely by position in the championship. No-one’s success would ever again be at the whims of team owners.
At each of the levels before the top, there would be two seasons per year. At the top level there would only be one season per year. Drivers who win promotion into the top level in the first half of the year would not compete in the top level until the next year but could carry on for another season at the second level so as to not get race rusty, although with promotion already guaranteed. By having two seasons a year below the top level, it means that drivers would be able to progress fairly quickly to the top if they have the skill to do so. If someone is promoted every time, then it will take them no more than three years to go from bottom to top.
At each level, all cars would be of the same specification. Drivers would be randomly allocated a car and a pit crew for each race meeting. Only very limited set-up changes would be allowed, and all would have to be openly declared so that no-one can gain a technical advantage. This is to put the emphasis on driver skill. Because there would be no manufacturers in competition with each other, costs would be kept down. This need not affect performance, as there would be no need to impose rules to keep speeds under control, which happens when you have teams competing against each other. This means that speed and safety levels could be kept at the same levels as in Formula One but at a fraction of the cost. Cars would also be designed with overtaking in mind, without the need for the gimmicks, such as DRS (Drag Reduction System), which allows the car behind to go faster at a certain point on the track, introduced into Formula One.
There would also be no need for pitstops under normal circumstances. Cars would be fuelled for the whole race, and tyres would be designed to last the race. This is to allow racing ability to be at the forefront. With no inter-team competition, there would be no need to sacrifice any reliability for a marginal gain in speed, so reliability should not be a determining factor. This would all put things back into the hands of the drivers. As in Formula One there would be a set weight that includes driver and car at all levels in the system.
If this system is set up as a rival to Formula One, could we realistically expect the top Formula One drivers to make the change? It would be unlikely to happen at first, but the system would create its own top drivers who would become household names in their own right. And all of the drivers at the top level would be there on merit alone, which should attract more talented new drivers to this system. No driver would ever be overlooked due to age, nationality, amount of money they can bring to a team, or any other irrelevant factor. This could potentially mean a higher standard of drivers than in Formula One.
Every season at the top level would have the same number of races, and the points system would not change (see separate section on points). This would mean that statistical comparisons could be made from year to year. The number of races in each season is be likely to be 16. It was the standard number in F1 for a number of years and I think it worked quite well. It is important to get the balance right - having too many races can devalue the importance of each individual race too much, making it harder to keep track of the whole season, and making it look like an endless series of races rather than a well-formed championship. A 16-round championship can also be neatly divided into halves and quarters.
At the lowest level of racing, the majority of drivers would have to pay a set fee, so funding this level shouldn’t be a problem.
There would be money generated from the arcade game and the computer game sales as well as sponsorship and television deals, so hopefully no drivers above the lowest level would need to pay for their racing. Only a minority of the drivers would be in levels above the karting system anyway.
Cars would be cheaper to run than normal racing cars of the same speed, due to the lack of inter-team competition. At each level there would only be one type of car, so there would be no need to spend a lot of money in trying to find a few tenths of a second per lap, or battle against performance-reducing regulations.
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