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Todt seeks to tighten up field

NEWS STORY
27/03/2017

After months of speculation, the naysayers were proved right.

Though the sport got a different winner in the shape of Sebastian Vettel, despite the best efforts of broadcasters and sections of the media, the majority of the race proved to be no more exciting than last year, or the year before.

While any armchair or barstool expert will tell you that what would improve the racing is more mechanical grip and less reliance on aero, the sport went ahead with its plans to improve both, because those in charge know best.

As a result, as was perfectly demonstrated when Lewis Hamilton, desperate to take on Sebastian Vettel after the pit stops, was caught behind Max Verstappen, unable to make a move on the youngster due to the lack of grip the Mercedes suffered whenever it got too close to the Red Bull.

After months of speculation our worst fears were realised.

Indeed, the new rules appear to have made the racing worse as the turbulence behind the Red Bull made things so difficult for the three-time world champion he was never able to get close enough to make use of the dreaded DRS.

Indeed, the man who caused Hamilton such problems got his own taste of it in the latter stages of the race when he was unable to make a mark on Kimi Raikkonen, even though the Finn showed little taste for a scrap. The Dutch teenager claims he struggled whenever he was even 2s behind the Ferrari.

On an afternoon when the amount of passes - of all varieties - could be counted on one hand, the field was spread out over two laps at the end.

Indeed, after just a few laps the race was as processional as its predecessors, and while admittedly quicker, seemed none the better for the raft of new rules this year. After all, did the cars look quicker, especially on TV.

Speaking before the race, Jean Todt admitted that he feared the new rules wouldn't have the desired effect, and that the field would be as spread out and the result as predictable as ever.

"I am very much looking forward to seeing the race, but a bit nervous," he told reporters, "because I think that it will be too much difference between the cars during the race. So we should hope that the gap is able to be tightened."

It wasn't.

"We dream of having the first ten cars in seven or eight tenths and at the moment it is not yet happening."

It wasn't

"You have a lot of reasons for that, but clearly it is too big a discrepancy between the small budgets and bigger budgets, and the playing field should be much closer."

It wasn't.

"They look great," he smiled. "Probably overtaking will not be easy as we would hope it would be.

It wasn't

"Everybody wanted cars more difficult to drive. Are they more difficult to drive? I understand they are. Are they quicker in the corners?"

They were... but then came the straights.

It would be wholly wrong to write off the season before it has really begun, especially after the result gave the sport the kick up the rear it so badly needed.

What is so wrong however, is the continued failure of F1's powers-that-be to get it right, while every armchair expert and barstool technical director knew exactly what the new rules would mean.

Appropriately the season opener saw the launch of a new fan survey with the aim of passing fans' opinions on to those very powers-that-be.

Of course, in the real world we know that those within Planet Psaddock couldn't give a flying whatever about what the fans might think.

Indeed, if the previous fan survey in 2015 had the desired effect and the views of the fans were heeded, why the need for a second just a couple of years later?

A sceptic might suggest it was more about marketing and email addresses.

Like the saying, widely attributed to Mark Twain, goes: "If voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by NS Biker, 29/03/2017 19:02

"One of the truly impressive aspects of F1 is the wealth of knowledgeable technical experts that are involved. They can identify what to do, when and why in a flash because they understand the controlling factors and implications. Last year the strategy key was the undercut, this year it was obviously not the same and yet Mercedes didn't get the message..... Hello.??
Same for aero and overtaking. Those in the know pointed this out right from the beginning and yet here we are.
We all know the process is not likely to change, at least in the near term.
Guess we need moveable Aero and Super-DRS. Give the drivers more to fiddle with.
There are comments out there on the physiological implications of the high G loads and vibrations. NASCAR went through this about 30 years ago and it was significant in that it lead to restrictor plate racing and the current speed limitations. Will be interesting to see what the F1 feedback is after 20 races.
"

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2. Posted by Stitch431, 28/03/2017 13:02

"Yes the cars look better, yes they give you a good feeling driving through a curve according to the drivers but NO!!! OVERTAKING HAS BECOME ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE :-((
To get a real good spectacle this CANNOT be solved by extending DRS (Dumm Racing Solution??) The lame compromise of these new rules were obvious to all who have a bit of a technical understanding, from the moment these rules were announced. Still everyone tried to sell the deal. TO GET CLOSE RACING YOU REDUCE AERODYNAMICS and everybody knew that up front. If these cars will not be adapted immediately, we will see boring, boring, boring races without overtaking action until the next rule change. Mind you the Push the button overtaking by DRS, I don not count as overtaking as it is simply passing by. Mr. Todt, you gave away the FIA's absolute power in exchange for a nice 45 million office (I did not forget and I read about it first in an article on this website with very good indeep information also into financial matters - Formual money by Mike Lawrence I believe). Thus the FIA is not in a position to adapt or create the rules needed for this sport to be saved anymore. I hope you are happy in your expensive office. I am definitely not impressed! Just in case you want to read/hear my personal opinion..."

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3. Posted by nonickname, 28/03/2017 12:06

"Hope you all watched MotoGP later in the day. Proper racing,proper drivers. When last did new F1 driver drive away from the rest of the field in a privateer entered car."

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4. Posted by SideGlance, 28/03/2017 11:16

"the answer is the engine and less aero, easy !

and i agree, the show was absolutely NO better, the sound the same dreadful sound, and on tv it just looked like the aspect ratio of my tv was wrong, wider but NOT better.

ferrari did a good job, glad to see close competition from at least 1 team but until engines are much closer and reliable, same ol, same ol 2014-16 racing & awful sound !!"

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5. Posted by nonickname, 28/03/2017 8:19

"On Todd only the lips smile."

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6. Posted by stoney, 28/03/2017 7:32

"Nice article! What was most worrying stat for me is Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were there or thereabouts, with then a full 1m 20s back to Massa and everyone else at least 1 lap down... It started to feel a bit like a GT race, with only these 6 cars in the top class, and everyone else having their own race."

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7. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 27/03/2017 21:01

"Time to employ child psychology. What do most enthusiast want? Less aero and more reliance on mechanical grip.

So - everyone - as many as possible - should complete the survey - or even send messages to the FIA - begging them for more wings and aerodynamic downforce - on the past evidence, there should be an almost immediate reaction to this to remove ALL wings and appendages.

Oh - sorry - I didn't realise that Mr. Toad was being serious."

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8. Posted by yakker, 27/03/2017 18:39

"Get a hacksaw to the wings."

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9. Posted by edllorca, 27/03/2017 16:05

"Todt is at his best when he is quiet and away. Sadly it's all downhill from there."

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