Driver Aids Clamp-Down Among Changes

Christian Horner called for Strategy Group productivity earlier in the week and in Wednesday’s meeting at Biggin Hill, Horner was seemingly granted his wish. The Strategy Group have announced a number of changes to the sport, some of which will have an impact on the current campaign. One of these “quick-fixes” will come in the form of reduced driver aids, largely centered around the electronic systems which help a driver launch the car at the start of a race. The FIA have stated that the changes have¬†“a particular emphasis on race starts” to ensure that drivers are “back in full control of the car”.

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Certainly, reducing the number of driver aids at the start of races would help to quell the argument that F1 drivers are no longer the cream of the crop – an argument which heavily detracts from the appeal of the sport. The heart of the issue was poignantly exemplified following the Austrian Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion that being uncomfortable with his car’s clutch map had ultimately cost him a race win. It is this type of headline which fuels F1’s vociferous critics.

Other changes proposed include greater freedom for team’s to choose which tyre compounds they run at a race weekend – a proposition which, despite being skeptical initially, Pirelli have agreed to support. In addition, 2016 should see the introduction of changes to the exhaust system in aid of increasing the engine noise, as well as an evaluation of the power unit development rules, which currently forecast a difficult future for the likes of Renault, Honda, or any other supplier hoping to enter the sport.

The statement also suggested that “several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated for introduction in 2016”.¬†According to Will Buxton, the new format under discussion would see FP3 replaced with qualifying for a Saturday sprint race which would set the grid for Sunday. A similar concept of Saturday and Sunday racing has been used to good effect in V8 Supercars and, of course, in GP2 and GP3. However, the concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind – 2012 was a fantastic season and that year did not require Saturday racing to manufacture excitement.

F1 could do with refinement and this latest Strategy Group meeting has proposed some interesting concepts. However, it is important that the sport does not convince itself that a major overhaul is required.

Image Credit: "And its GO GO GO"
By ph-stop (via Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
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