The last time Formula 1 introduced a major sporting regulation change in the two weeks leading up to the first race of the season, it didn’t go too well.
In 2016, F1 delivered a new qualifying package with an elimination format. Forecast to fail by engineers, the concept was quickly dropped after just two races and the old system was swiftly reinstated.
This developing story is hardly of the same scale as changing the qualifying format, but it is the prospect of a rather surprising change to the rules that is once again being added in winter’s 11th hour.
With Formula 1’s Strategy Group having recently approved an increase of next year’s fuel limit from 105kg to 110kg per race, the category is obviously moving away from being a fuel efficiency formula.
That’s ultimately a good thing. F1 is no longer able to compete against the likes of Formula E for being pioneers of the technological future. Having lost the high ground in that fight, it has to instead focus on becoming the most entertaining racing series on the planet instead of necessarily being the most technologically advanced one. Providing enough fuel to allow “drivers to use the engine at full power at all times” fits this mandate perfectly.
However, the news has reignited a debate on whether F1 should cut the half-measures and return to in-race refuelling. That would be a bad thing.
On Tuesday morning, the FIA announced that changes will be made to Formula 1’s technical regulations ahead of the 2019 season in order to promote more overtaking. At face value, this proposition is mouthwatering to fans who enjoyed the novelty of seeing Daniel Ricciardo tear from sixth to first in a frenetic 10 laps during the Chinese Grand Prix.
However, could an early step towards the new-look F1 of 2021 be a dangerous distraction that could ultimately devalue the art of overtaking?
Liberty made a bold statement of intent last night, removing Bernie Ecclestone – widely regarded as Mr.F1 – from a throne he had occupied for four decades. A seismic shift that I have been slightly sceptical of thus far.
However, Liberty has followed up yesterday’s bombshell with a number of lines that have had F1 fans grinning from ear to ear.
None more so than the announcement that Ross Brawn is to take up a role as Managing Director of F1. Sliced bread comes to mind…
Wowzers. Liberty have dropped their first bombshell in F1, as the group have ousted Bernie Ecclestone from his role as CEO of the sport.
The 86-year-old has been the sport’s circus-master since 1978, taking F1 into the modern era and turning a largely European audience into a global audience and in turn, building one of the world’s most recognisable brands.
Bernie’s influence on F1 has been hugely positive. Those that suggest that the current state of play and negativity within the paddock is Bernie’s doing are undoubtedly missing the bigger picture.
F1’s political war over qualifying looks set to be resolved, as the governing body seem poised to return to the 2015 format. Fans, media and the teams have been lobbying to scrap the much maligned elimination qualifying format after two hugely unsuccessful sessions in Australia and Bahrain. Despite two weeks of political gridlock, common sense has prevailed and it seems that Saturday’s will once again end in a crescendo.
After a month where a political power play has seen F1 qualifying beaten from pillar to post, it seems that a return to the popular 2015 format is now a prospect off the negotiating table. Instead, Sunday’s meeting of F1’s bigwigs saw a new aggregate qualifying proposition formulated as an alternative to the much maligned elimination format.
While it is yet to be voted upon, it has already added yet more fuel to F1’s latest controversy, with Sebastian Vettel stating “It’s a good idea if you want random things to happen, but Formula 1 should be about racing. It’s a s*** idea.”