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?
Sustainability. Defined as the ability or capacity for something to be maintained, featuring an element of futurity. Having started in 1950, F1 has proved to be a sustainable concept for years, yet the GPDA’s shocking letter, directed at the sport’s governing body, has highlighted the questions beginning to emerge in regards to sustainability. Former F1 driver Bruno Senna has backed the letter and himself questioned how the sport, in its current state, can be considered as future-proof.
Just one day after the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) released a damning statement in regards to the political structure of the sport, F1 has found itself hamstrung once again. Following an anti-climatic and uninspiring qualifying session in Australia – which debuted the brand new for 2016 elimination format – teams, fans and drivers have lobbied for a change back to the 2015 rules. However, a lack of unanimity has stopped such a change from happening.
F1 is left with egg on its face once again, as Bahrain will play host to a decidedly below par qualifying event.
As social media was meant to be winding down following a fascinating second day of winter testing, Twitter was instead whipped up into a frenzy last night, as news of a radical and imminent change to the qualifying format broke. During a meeting of the F1 Commission, the teams have decided to overhaul the qualifying hour, introducing an elimination style session which is expected to be implemented for this season.
F1’s Strategy Group reconvened earlier this week and the six teams incorporated in the body certainly had a productive meeting, with a number of proposed changes for the 2017 season securing column inches on Fleet Street’s back pages. The most notable proposal will see refueling return after initially being axed at the end of 2009 – an announcement which has divided the sport’s fanbase. In addition, allowing the team’s to choose their own tyre compounds before the start of a race weekend and the introduction of higher revving engines, are both accompanying proposals. However, it is the aforementioned refueling return which has fueled current debate.