The RACER Mailbag, September 14

The RACER Mailbag, September 14

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, September 14

By , ,

Q: I figured I’d throw in my two cents on the Super License issue since so many people have some… questionable takes on the system. For starters, last week there was a letter that noted a bunch of F1 drivers who would not have qualified for a Super License had the current system been in place, but in reality about half of his list actually would have qualified quite easily.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’d like to point out that when you think about it, the IndyCar points allocation would actually be the best way to do things for series at that level. F2’s points allocation is, frankly, rather crazy and is causing a bloated driver market that’s costing good drivers potential race seats. Keep in mind that even Nikita Mazepin legitimately earned the necessary 40 points thanks to the overly generous F2 points allotment. (And that statement is the extent of the positive things one can say about Mazepin).

Brief aside, if one thinks the FIA screwed IndyCar with its points allocation, then one should take a look at Super Formula — a class that uses the same chassis as Formula 2, with changes that make it debatably faster than F2, and it gets less points than Formula 3. In fact, it gets less than Formula E — the points allocation for Super Formula is the same as the Formula Regional European Championship.

At least IndyCar’s champion automatically qualifies. The treatment Super Formula gets from the FIA is legitimately what people think IndyCar gets. IndyCar, Super Formula, and Formula 2 should all use IndyCar’s points allocation. There should, of course, be an exemption clause for special cases, and that exemption should specify that any driver that exceeds 30 points within the timeframe can earn an exemption via testing mileage — the closer to 40, the less mileage required to earn exemption.

Oh, and get rid of the idiotic “champion cannot race the subsequent season” rule in F3 and F2. The best way to keep talented drivers ready to go is to let them stay in the series, even as defending champion, if a higher seat is not quite ready for them. This would also be good for other prospective up and comers to be able to prove themselves against the reigning champion.

End rant.

PS: Fun fact — winning the NASCAR Cup championship awards 15 points. Three Cup titles in a row qualifies a driver for a Super License!


Naoki Yamamoto, Sacha Fenestraz and Tomoki Nojiri celebrate on the Super Formula podium at Motegi last weekend. You can tell by the smiles that nobody’s looped them in on the Super License scenario yet. Yasushi Ishihara/Motorsport Images

CM: That’s a fair point on Super Formula, but we tend to focus on IndyCar given the audience here! That said, I think you bringing Super Formula up helps me make the point that I don’t think F2, IndyCar and Super Formula should get the same points.

F2 is the right number of points as it’s mapped out as the clear feeder series to F1 and prepares drivers for it. But IndyCar and Super Formula are not feeder series, they are not junior categories, they are the top level in their respective countries and should be rewarded as such. You’re not racing against juniors trying to hone their craft on the way up, you’re racing against much more established and experienced drivers that build and spend a career in that category.

That’s why I also disagree with changing the F2/F3 champions rule. It’s not for drivers to sit in forever, it’s a junior category to move through. I hate it when the champion doesn’t get a seat in F1 or elsewhere but that’s more on the teams hiring them and the timing of the calendar (it should end earlier to make them part of the driver market — having a finale in Abu Dhabi for F2 means they’re often far too late to earn a seat).

I think the main issue I have is that some drivers have their paths blocked even if a team wants to sign them based on talent and potential. There’s no perfect route for anyone to follow, but if they impress an F1 team and that team wants them in a race seat then there should be an avenue open, so your exemption plan isn’t a bad one by any stretch. Drivers using that to buy a seat is going to be less of a concern with F1 in its current state, as teams don’t need to rely on pay drivers to survive anymore.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, 10 September, 2013

Q: I’m a good friend of Ralph (Mike) Frey, aka Ralph the Mouth. I’ve known Mike for 30 years at K-C and was introduced to you in Milwaukee many years ago. Is it true that you and Mike took his fleet car, I believe a boxy Malibu, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Bob Thibault

ROBIN MILLER: That would be true but, of course, I didn’t let him drive (he spun out on dry pavement at 30mph in 1968) and he screamed like a little girl as we went into Turn 3. A lot of people used to drive their passenger cars around IMS back in the day because there was no security, especially at night.