Change is what drives the F1 show

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

So, the feel of the steer­ing was the only thing I didn’t like about my ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing a mod­ern grand prix car. I think mak­ing the wheels big­ger, and tting low­prole tyres, is ex­actly the right di­rec­tion to go in. It will cre­ate some chal­lenges for the en­gi­neers be­cause it will have a big ef­fect on car dy­nam­ics, and it may also cre­ate some op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ven­tion be­cause there will be a greater vol­ume of space on the in­side of the wheel in which to pack­age aero­dy­namic de­vices – if they’re al­lowed!

It’s also more rel­e­vant to the kind of wheels and tyres you see on cur­rent per­for­mance cars. They have 19-or 20-inch tyres and the rub­ber is al­most di­rectly against the me­tal. And, with less stress through the car­cass, there may be less degra­da­tion, so the tyre sup­plier can be a bit more ad­ven­tur­ous with the com­pound. Most of the cur­rent driv­ers I’ve spo­ken to say they would pre­fer more me­chan­i­cal grip, so I think it’s a very good idea.

There has been a lot of fuss about the re­moval of the in­ter­con­nected sus­pen­sion sys­tems that all the teams have been us­ing. Why do it in the mid­dle of the sea­son? Well, as Fer­rari’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor James Al­li­son said, it was a gen­tle warn­ing from the FIA that th­ese sys­tems were of uncer­tain le­gal­ity and would be banned in fu­ture. Then, when one team pub­licly an­nounced that they would take theirs off, ev­ery­body else had to fol­low. Though it seems sud­den, I’m 100 per cent in favour of any move that re­duces costs and helps smaller teams be­come more com­pet­i­tive – be­cause it makes for bet­ter rac­ing and gives young driv­ers the chance to demon­strate their ta­lent. Equal­is­ing per­for­mance will help the fu­ture of F1.

“I won­der if we can do more to get peo­ple through the gates or to stay tuned to the TV”

Peo­ple have asked what I think about the change to the Safety Car pro­ce­dure that’s com­ing next year, in which ac­tion will be­gin again from a stand­ing start in­stead of the cars al­ready rolling. For the spec­ta­tors – both track­side and watch­ing on TV – this is go­ing to add great ex­cite­ment and it will make the show even bet­ter. I like it. For the driv­ers there is more risk, and, de­pend­ing on how long the race has been go­ing, the pos­si­bil­ity that it may spoil their strat­egy. But it will even out over the course of a sea­son – peo­ple who have been dis­ad­van­taged by one restart may nd an ad­van­tage in an­other. When you as­sess the im­pact of any change you have to look at the pos­i­tives as well as the neg­a­tives. Max­imis­ing the im­pact of the show is im­por­tant be­cause sport is en­ter­tain­ment, and F1 com­petes for our at­ten­tion with other forms of en­ter­tain­ment. Some­times it needs to change to en­gage with the next gen­er­a­tion. For me, noth­ing can com­pare with a grand prix in terms of the spec­ta­cle, the sound and the smell. When you bring young peo­ple to a race – I brought my youngest daugh­ter to Sil­ver­stone – they be­come fans.

But we live in an in­for­ma­tion-rich age where young peo­ple have so many more dis­trac­tions, it’s harder for them to con­cen­trate on long sport­ing events. It’s good to see so many teams reach­ing out to en­gage fans via so­cial me­dia, but I won­der if we can do more to get peo­ple through the gates or to stay tuned to the TV. We should not be afraid of change.

Lo­tus tested 18-inch wheels for Pirelli in July: “cur­rent driv­ers say they would pre­fer more me­chan­i­cal grip, so I think it’s a good idea”

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