F1 teams call for cool heads on rule changes

Posted on March 29, 2010


The F1 principals have said today it is too soon for any fundamental shake up to the F1 rules, as reported here.

With FOTA due to meet in Malaysia on Friday and criticism of Bahrain still ringing in their ears despite a cracking Australian Grand Prix, McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh, Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali and Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner have all repeated their belief it is too soon to draw conclusions or change the rules.

Whitmarsh said today: “I don’t think [Australia] was a one-off. In any season, if you throw safety cars, rain and difficult circumstances into any event, they are always great.

“In Bahrain, we didn’t think it was such an exciting start to the year, but we have demonstrated today that in the right circumstances we can do it. For anyone watching, it must have been tremendously exciting.”

In principle, he’s right – wildcard factors are always going to liven things up. Even Bahrain would have been exciting if it had rained and there was a safety car. Unfortunately in the desert and with vast run-off areas, that’s pretty unlikely and there are plenty more tracks on the calendar with similar issues.

The more practical issue is there simply is not much to be done mid-season. The teams are right to resist artificial means of increasing competition. The idea of forcing teams to take a second pit stop is both anti-competitive and unlikely to make much difference. There’s little change in the order with the current forced pitstop so why do it twice?

Equally it’s not a practical solution to return refuelling to the sport this year – the cars all have the big tanks in them and pitstops are not the way anyone wants to see cars pass each other anyway.

Bridgestone have the power to alter the tyres they bring to races after Turkey in late May and as a minimum I would like to see a bigger difference between the available compounds. Preferably they need to be made more marginal so drivers can’t run 50 laps on them. Jenson’s achievement on Sunday was great – but brilliant as it was, it was an endurance drive which is not, for me, what Formula One should be about.

The bigger question is what to do for 2011. The rules have to leave room for the teams to innovate and build a  faster car but equally they can’t allow the designers to create cars which are impossible to follow closely enough to pass. The f-duct seems to be a good example of this and is to be encouraged.

Freezing engine development saves money but it’s a key area in which teams could innovate to make their cars faster without making them un-passable if a quicker cars comes along. For me it means less aero but more mechanical grip but there are people much more expert commentators out there.

Decisions do need to be made quickly to make sure the teams can get started.

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