The drivers struggling to change Formula 1 need the support of the FIA, F1 itself and us.
F1 motorists stand up before the Spanish Grand Prix in 2019 Photo: Motorsport Images
Lewis Hamilton would not normally be so expressive of his feelings of the future of sport as he was after the French Formula 1 Grand Prix. He spoke as the postponement of the 2021 regulations from around now until October had apparently opened a late opportunity for change. But even though it is unlikely in the extreme, we will see something unexpected ̵
"It's really important for people to realize it's not the driver's fault," he said after the tedious race at Ricard. "This is a constant cycle of Formula 1 this year and year and year, even before I came to Formula 1, and that's because Bernie's way up and the decisions they made are still the same. Until this management structure changes, it will remain the same, in my opinion. "
He had been to a FIA World Motor Sports Council meeting – along with Nico Hülkenberg and Alex Wurz – representing the Grand Prix Drivers & # 39; Association . "I was really happy to be part of it," Hamilton said. "We were allowed to comment on something …. I gave my opinion on three main points: weight, aero and tire."
He is rather adamant that the direction F1 is gaining weight is wrong. Hybrid cars require so much hardware – battery, intercoolers, electric motors, plumbing, etc. – that they are up to 200 kg heavier than F1 cars 20 years ago. Seeing the current Mercedes along, says that a 1970s Brabham should be shocked at how much the cars have grown. The Mercedes W10 has a wheelbase about the same as a long wheelbase Ford Transit. This pure bulk is partly to meet hybrid intense technology and partly to generate aerodynamic performance. But it gives cars that are truck-like through slow corners, and, more importantly, the heaviest, most robust and most aerodynamically powerful F1 cars all the time.
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Then we put them on control tires that, surprisingly, can't cope. So we can have thick gauge tires that blister and must be run two or three seconds out of the pace or thin gauges that many teams cannot function properly. It may not be a Pirelli thing, but it can simply be what happens when you try to put as much strain through a tire of that size.
Which tells us that the whole car's concept is wrong. F1 has tied in knots through:
- Retained to car manufacturers who have defined the wrong engine formula
- Having a single tire supplier rather than tire competition
- The top teams become too large with too many resources, expanding the gap to the rest of The field and gives no hope to any team to break into that league.
In sports rules, it has done much the same through:
- Defines tracks by white lines and as a Consequences introduces
- Coded sporting sanctions with
- A system where the stewards – when they have decided to see an event – must apply the penalty if they feel that the wording has been broken.
These knots slowly strangle the life of F1. The new rules show a great promise of simulation of the aerodynamics. But there is a general feeling – pronounced by Hamilton and thereby carries a real power – that they are otherwise not sufficiently radical.
At least, F1 needs most of the sporting penalty system that is torn up and thrown away, replaced by a hard judge, one not afraid to use a black flag, where appropriate. It needs a lightweight and simple engine so the cars can be small and manoeuvrable so that the tires can work. It requires a wide range that helps provide competitive variation and better mechanical grip.
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The timing of a Hamilton-led campaign to get the drivers – traditionally sealed out by such discussions – comes into this small window of opportunity created by postponement of the regulations from now to October. It can be the only way to get F1 out of the stalemate, it's landed by the restrictive alliance between manufacturers, FIA, teams and Liberty.
A wild public support for the driver's position on this is perhaps the only thing that could get F1 to stop and think again at 59 minute of 11 th hour.