As we all know, Formula One is a sport defined by fine margins and a multitude of variables. But what if that wasn't the case? What if the results of races and seasons were instead determined by dice? That's the question I'm going to attempt to answer as I seek to rewrite the entire Formula One history books, using dice.
THE REASONS BEHIND IT
So why am I running Historical Formula Dice (which from now on will be referred to as HFD)? Well, there are two main reasons, and they relate to two areas of the sport I find the most intriguing – often more so than the races themselves.
Firstly is all the behind-the-scenes politics, decision making, and emotional warfare that dictate the direction of the sport just as much as the wheel-to-wheel action. This is an opportunity to replay all those transfer market decisions, rivalries, and back-room battles using a new set of variables and situations.
Second, Formula One is littered with “What If?” questions, and this could be my opportunity – depending on the rolls of the dice – to attempt to answer some of them. What if Schumacher squanders his big chance at Belgium '91? Or Kovaleinen records a string of victories for McLaren? What if Rindt/Villeneuve/Peterson/Senna etc hadn't been killed? What if Larrousse scored a shock victory in '94 that kept their creditors happy and allowed them to survive? The rolls of the dice will inevitably raise some of these types of questions, and require answers as accurately as I can reasonably provide.
But it won't be just me that comes up with the answers to these questions, because I want your help as well. I invite conversation, debate, and participation in decision making throughout this thread, and will take all comments and discussion on board before making a decision on the matter at hand.
DRIVER INJURIES & FATALITIES
Now you'll notice that I mentioned the passing of drivers in the above paragraph, and that's because one of the more pertinent “rules” of HFD is that there will be no serious injuries nor fatalities during a Formula One race weekend. That means any driver who was hurt or killed in real life during practice, qualifying or a race, will not be affected that weekend in HFD.
The reason for this is simple: deciding whether a driver lives or dies using dice is too morbid, and not in the spirit of what I'm trying to achieve here. It also has the side-effect of creating some of the “What If?” questions I described above.
Any deaths that occurred during other events – including Formula Two races, sportscar events, and private test sessions - will stand.
HOW IT WORKS
How an F1 race is replicated by dice is a question I spent a considerable amount of time mulling over, but in the end, I decided to keep it (relatively) simple, short and easy to follow. Therefore, each driver's entire race will be dictated by one dice roll, of three dice (with another die being rolled for qualifying first, which I will explain later).
The reasons for this simplicity are two-fold. First, I'm attempting to rewrite the entire F1 history books, that means going all the way back to 1950 and running over 70 seasons. The sheer amount of time it will take to do that if each race takes an hour or so to complete is far too overwhelming.
The other reason is that by removing in-race variables such as tyre wear, fuel loads, pit strategy, changeable weather conditions and traffic, I'm taking the human element – from both driver and team principal – out of the race as much as possible. This means that I don't have to try and get into the mindset of hundreds of different personalities, and allows the results of the races to be dictated solely by the dice themselves, which is the whole point of doing this.
With that cleared up, here's an explanation of how the rolls of the dice translate into a race result.
- Each driver rolls three dice to determine their race result: two d20s, and a d100 (which I know is technically two dice but you know what I mean).
- The first d20 dictates if a driver finishes the race, or retires from it. The number they must roll in order to finish is influenced by the total number of real life retirements in that year - as a percentage of race entries - and will be the same for each driver for every race that year (so for example, a higher number will be required in earlier years when retirements were much more common).
- Each driver has a “reliability modifier” which is added to, or subtracted from, their roll. This modifier is influenced by the number of retirements that driver and that constructor had during the course of that real life year.
- If the roll - once the modifier has been applied - is lower than the required score, that driver is deemed to have retired from the race, and the result of the d100 will dictate on which lap the driver retired, as a percentage of the total race distance.
- If a 1 is rolled on the reliability die, the driver retires on lap 1. If a 0 is rolled on the d100, the driver did not start the race.
- Should the driver pass the reliability check, the result of the other d20 is observed, as this dictates the driver's race performance.
- The “Performance Score” is obtained using the result of this d20, with modifiers applied according to where that driver and constructor finished in their respective championships in that real life year.
- Additional modifiers will be considered in exceptional circumstances whereby a driver or constructor's finishing position in their real life championship does not reasonably reflect their abilities.
- All finishing drivers will be ranked according to their Performance Scores. Any ties will be settled in favour of whichever driver(s) finished higher in the real life Driver's Championship for that year. Should there still be a tie, a roll-off will occur, with each driver rolling a d100 and the higher score taking the higher finishing position.
Finally, there is qualifying to consider:
- Each race weekend will be given a “Grid Influence Rating”. This is a number that reflects how important a driver's grid position is to the potential outcome of their race. For example, the 2022 Monaco GP will have a significantly higher GIR score than the 1950 Italian GP.
- Before the race, each driver rolls one d20, with the same performance-related modifiers being applied as in the race itself.
- Drivers qualify based on the result of this roll, with the same tiebreaker rules being applied as during the race.
- A driver's qualifying position will determine an extra modifier for their Performance Score during the race: the driver who qualified last has a modifier of 0, with each position ahead of them scoring an additional modifier of x, which is equal to the GIR score for that weekend.
Once you've stopped your head spinning from trying to follow the race rules, here are a few other tidbits to clear some things up.
- For the years when the Indianapolis 500 was part of the F1 calendar, it will not be run in HFD.
- No car-sharing is allowed.
- Drivers will only compete in races that they started in real life, unless there is sufficient reason for this to change.
- If a driver/team competes in a season that they did not compete in real life, then the modifier scores will be obtained using a combination of previous years' data, and common sense.
- Any race weekend with a GIR of 0 will not feature a qualifying session.
- The point scoring systems will be historically accurate (unless there is sufficient reason to change this).
- No points for fastest lap will be allocated.
As I progress through the seasons, I will try to keep things as historically sensible as is reasonably possible. Driver transfers, political decisions and all the other stuff mentioned above will be done in reaction to race results, but will be done so whilst considering what the likely scenario would be should this set of circumstances have occurred in real life.
To this end, I will not profess to getting everything “right”. There are far too many variables and possibilities in play that mean I can judge exactly what would have happened, and this brings about the constant, sizeable caveat that at the end of the day, I'm doing this as a bit of fun, and not to try and definitively answer any unanswerable, hypothetical questions.
Should you have any criticisms with anything I'm doing here, disagree with anything I've said or decision I've made, or otherwise have any other feedback for me, you are welcome to share these in this thread. However, please do so in a constructive manner. I would like this to be an enjoyable conversation about one strand of alternative F1 reality, not an acrimonious argument over the finer points of historically accurate questions that, at the end of the day, none of us will ever be able to answer with 100% certainty.
Right, with alllllll of that being said, let's pack up our wireless radio, jump in the Morris Minor, and head to an airfield in the middle of Britain – we have a new sport to watch!