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Teams sceptical of changing rules

NEWS STORY
12/05/2015

Teams admit to concern over radical overhaul of rules for 2017, insisting that racing under the current rules is good.

As ever the driving force behind the proposed rule shake-up is Bernie Ecclestone, never a fan of the new formula introduced only last year. His call for a return to the old V8 formula, or something similar, has effectively been thrown out, though he is still pushing for 1,000hp units and cars that are "more difficult to drive".

Speaking in Barcelona however, team representatives admit that they aren't so sure change is needed.

"I think that the sport needs to rethink a number of areas," admitted McLaren's Jonathan Neale. "Personally, I think it would be foolish to mess around with the immense amount of good work that has been done on the power units. Maybe some minor adjustments but it's a much more efficient package, it's got some great technology, it's still maturing in the sport and the price can come down if it's left to mature because just we're not putting in the same R&D costs.

"So I would leave that alone," her concluded. "But I would look for... we've spoken about that a step-change in aerodynamics, to make sure that these cars are difficult to drive and maintain that perform gap to the other junior series and Formula One remains an out and out race. We can still have the efficiency, we can still have many other attributes of the sport but I think it should just be a flat-out race."

"I agree," added Mercedes' Paddy Lowe, "above all we must maintain Formula One cars as the pinnacle of motorsport. That's the presentation that Formula One is and that's what maintains the show and the attractiveness to a global audience.

"Even amongst topics such as cost saving, which often comes up, above all we've got to maintain that show and that means the cars must be truly spectacular. But in terms of rule changes, I think it's not absolutely clear that we need to change the cars radically, that's something being discussed. Performance will increase anyway through normal development and we may arrive at the position we want to be through natural development.

"I think an interesting area is just in the sporting regulations. There are a lot of thing we can do that would improve the show without spending a huge amount of money changing the cars themselves. Changes to sporting regulations generally don't attach a lot of cost and can change the sport in subtle ways that improve the spectacle, improve the interest, improve the uncertainty, which is what you really want from race to race - that it's not absolutely clear who is going to win.

"We've been discussing ideas like the use of tyres, how tyres are allocated," Lowe revealed, "but I think we're actually on the lookout for people to come up with interesting ideas. But I still say in that context the sport, in my view, isn't in a bad shape. And I don't think we need to run around thinking we need to do drastic things."

"I think we should leave it alone," said Rob Smedley, echoing the views of his colleagues. "In the main we should perhaps think about stopping tampering with it rather than thinking we're going to create a new set of rules and that's going to fix everything.

"Every time you create a new set of rules, you'll usually find the people with the biggest resource or with the cleverest thinking, or the people who stopped working on the current generation of Formula One cars, come out with quite a big gap. That's what, when we talk about these boring races, that's what we're referring to isn't it? A team dominating at the front - but a team dominates when we have radical rule changes. I think that we do have to seriously think about not changing anything.

"Out front this year you've got Ferrari and Mercedes and that's making for some good races," he continued. "Behind us it's everybody in, isn't it? There's some good racing going on there. I agree with Paddy's sentiment, that there's lots of things we can do with the Sporting Regs, which aren't going to cost a great deal of money. We have to be responsible in how we spend.

"I've said this before. The average man on the street, the people who we're trying to drag into the circuits, or who we're trying to drag into viewing us on a Sunday afternoon, they don't care about spend: they just want to see racing. Even the technology, to a certain extent, is of less interest. So it's got to be the racing spectacle that we put at the forefront. By having a radical rule change you're not guaranteed to increase the racing spectacle - but what you are guaranteed to do is increase costs."

"I think people forget at the moment the racing's actually quite good," said Nick Chester of Lotus. "There are some very good battles up and down the whole grid and as the cars' performance is improving a lot - I think we're seeing two seconds improvement from last year - do we really need a huge change of regulation?

"A huge of regulation is going to open up the grid again, there'll be bigger differences between teams and obviously it's going to add a lot of cost, so I think we shouldn't forget that show's actually not bad at the moment."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by CrisBD, 16/05/2015 8:08

"They want better overtaking? More exciting races? Easy, just remove the ridiculous maximum flow rate rule. The total fuel for the race is a good idea, drivers need to finish the race. But the max flow rate is there simply to stop a car being a lot faster. Hello, a car needs to be faster to overtake! A car is a lot faster than someone limping back to the pits!

There's no reason for a maximum fuel flow restriction but pettifogging bureaucracy unwilling to abandon ridiculous - actually stupid - ideas which don't work.

I'm not a Red Bull fan, but taking Riccardo's win last year away from him shows how political F1 has become..."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Darvi, 14/05/2015 6:54

"Someone needs to findout why F1 is becomming irrelevant. You only need to look at the massive reduction in sponsorship across all the teams to see that marketeers think that F1 is no longer the great marketing platform that it once was. Ergo, you have to conclude that it is not the audience grabber that it once was. Unless someone at FOM/FIA wakes up to this and does some proper investigation, then it will continue to slide until it goes the same way as Indycar, i.e. a watered down version of what it once was. The audience feel univolved, marginalised and, increasingly, disinterested.

Bernie blames too many competing sports marketing opportunities, but football, MOTOGP, tenis, the Olympics sre all bucking this trend. Someone needs to take action. "

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3. Posted by Paul C, 14/05/2015 5:40

"End the geekfest that F1 has become. Racing and drivers first, "

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4. Posted by F1 Yank, 14/05/2015 0:31

"It will be a few years until everyone is able to "copy" the front runners. Renault's power unit is obviously suffering and causing major issues with those respective teams. McLaren/Honda has already made huge gains and it is only race #5 coming up. Here is a proposal to increase the fan base.
#1- Randomly flip the qualifying grid. (Not sure how this would go over. This would force many teams to sandbag.)
#2- At the end of the year the lower end teams get bonus development $$ like the NFL gets the first year draft picks.
(This would not be beneficial to the "best of the rest" teams that score points but are not good enough to challenge the front pack.)"

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5. Posted by Red Baron, 13/05/2015 4:59

"I can't understand the mentality of the teams/manufacturers, and why they're happy with the current formula, just for the sake of 'technology', even at the risk of alienating legions of fans who know that the bottom line is watching the best drivers in the fastest cars that sound like jet fighters... F1 in it's current state is like a Led Zeppelin reunion that sounds like Justin Bieber..."

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6. Posted by Mugmug, 12/05/2015 23:39

""@KoosOos,
Your wife is a mirror image of my wife, and I compliment her (and you) She is a real fan, the only difference is that my wife has been watching and going to the races for quite a few years longer, so she can see the difference between pre- DRS/ Hi tech hybrid / energy recovery and muted engine and the screaming beasts of the previous generation of cars. I have a feeling if your wife saw and heard the cars of yesterday, she would have the same opinion. I just feel that if you have to supplement a sport with gimmicks and artificial enhancers, like fuel flow sensors/ having to use 2 compounds of tires/ push to pass power boosters and having a "panel of experts" review EVERY contact between cars (these drivers are not machines), then the fundamentals need a complete review, and the sport is not "racing" anymore."

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7. Posted by gturner38, 12/05/2015 23:20

"@Mugmug

The fans obviously need to be considered, but they shouldn't be the only ones listened to by any stretch of the imagination. For starters, do we as fans really know what we want? We complain when it's too difficult to pass and the cars seem too easy to drive. They make it harder to get performance and increase passing, but we don't like the cars going slower as a result or having to drive at less than qualifying pace throughout the race. We want the cars to be high tech and have a lot of development then complain when someone gets it right and builds a gap over the field. Of course, there's always the element that feels it's more exciting if the drivers' safety is in jeopardy, and those fans cannot be listened to."

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8. Posted by Joop deBruin, 12/05/2015 21:40

"Leo, all while regulating the amount of fuel for a race. What's next, calculating molecules of tire wear? "

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9. Posted by RP, 12/05/2015 21:16

"There has been some "racing" going on and those who referred to previous dynasties have a point BUT Mercedes got a huge jump last year and Spain indicates they still have it, Ferrari's win notwithstanding. The biggest contributor to this situation is elimination of in-season testing. An artificial "mechanism" to allow Renault, Honda and Ferrari to catch up to Mercedes in the engine department isn't racing. Mercedes has performed last year and this one. A 40 second gap to Vettel demonstrates the performance gap isn't closing in any meaningful manner. Aero can't close a huge horsepower disadvantage. Eliminating testing, restricting engine development ensures we'll be watching at least two years of Mercedes dominance.
When Brawn got the blown diffuser going, it took much of the season for others to catch up but they did - testing, testing."

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10. Posted by C5, 12/05/2015 18:29

"So, reading the comments it appears that those who skipped to the end/feel asleep don't remember anything happening at the last race....

I actually *watched* the race, and I remember it as pretty good. Especially considering it was in Barcelona. I still remember the insomnia curing processions we always saw at Barcelona in the V10 and V8 eras, and this was nothing like that at all. But this race, stuff happened. Overtaking for points position, strategy, tires going off, and even a few pit incidents.

More to the point of the article: I'm not getting my hopes up, but I will say it's encouraging to hear the teams argue to finally stop fiddling with the rules and thus give the lesser teams a chance to also be in the game."

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11. Posted by Leo, 12/05/2015 16:17

"@Joop deBruin:

"Tell me, why is fuel flow regulated when the total amount of fuel is regulated to be the same across teams?"

It's basically an upper limit to (theoretical) amount of horsepower an engine can deliver. This prevents the manufactures from developping adventurous engine settings, where engines can deliver an insane amount of power for a very short time. I guess the rulemakers wanted to prevent special qualifying settings (where total fuel is free)."

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12. Posted by Joop deBruin, 12/05/2015 15:20

"Too many ridiculous regs.......Tell me, why is fuel flow regulated when the total amount of fuel is regulated to be the same across teams? Let the teams have some flexibility. If RB kicks up fuel flow & passes Merc, will they have enough fuel to finish the race? Will Ferrari wait out the battle and zoom to a win at the end? Same goes on mandatory tire type changes - too predictable! Say Ferrari has a killer soft tire setup & runs a four stop race at great speed, while Merc "play the turtle" by going slow and steady on mediums all the way. Would be a more interesting race! Sll of this "be good children and play alike" rubbish isn't motor sports, it's the stuff of schools where they make everyone feel good about themselves."

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13. Posted by Ro, 12/05/2015 14:26

"Something needs to be done as the current rules and regulations are driving fans away. Its just DULL. Certainly no racing involved. I taped the Spanish GP and finally watched it today. I skipped to the end just to see the flag fall. Im so glad I didnt go the "pay-per-view on SKY" route as it would have been a total waste of my money. Ive always said it, but there is more overtaking on a Scalectrix toy kit! We may as well have robots in the cars, or maybe still, the drivers sit in an air-conditioned room and drive the cars remotely! For once Bernie is right, bring the old engines back, get rid of all the Batman wings as none of the said are ever going to be seen on a road car"

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14. Posted by ape, 12/05/2015 13:44

"Mac's dominance was boring , Williams dominance was boring , Ferrari's dominance was boring.
Monaco is always utterly boring.
Sometimes in the past and sometimes now F1 is not boring. That is the way F1 is and always will be .."

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15. Posted by KoosOos, 12/05/2015 13:23

"@Mugmug

Here is a little story for you about my wife and then you can tell me if she is a fan or not. When i got married about 4 years ago my wife did not watch F1. She started watching it because i do not miss any races. As time went on she got wors then me. She follows every peace of news she can get on F1,follows ever test and race weekend. Her social live revolves around F1, but she never wanted to go to a race because it was to loud for her. Now she plans our holidays so we can go watch F1 race live. I ask her last week way she liked Lotus so much and she answered it is because the car is black and yes you can laugh i did. Tell me is she a fan or not because she loves the new F1."

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