Brought to you by TJ13 Editor in Chief Andrew Huntley-Jacobs
The latest F1 strategy group meeting was trailed by none other than Christian Horner as ‘vital’ for the future of Formula One.
In a hugely surprising turn of events, Max Mosley was apparently invited to the meeting, though he declined, “believing that his presence would cause ructions,” according to correspondent Kevin Eason.
Such was the perceived desperation of the new F1 governance ability to agree on anything, the Times reported ‘a source’ stating, “The Strategy Group is clueless and there is nothing coming from the FIA, so why not hear what Max has to say?”
Even more surprising was that following the event, Christian Horner was nigh on positive about the outcome of the meeting. He described it as ‘productive’ and probably the best of these gatherings that he’d attended.
Yet despite the PR and buzz following last weeks F1 strategy group meeting in Biggin Hill, the reality is akin to a breakfast bucks fizz made with the champagne left open from the night before.
Christian Horner led us up the Grand old Dukes of York’s hill and now we are all being marched back down again as the details sink in of the latest ‘big F1 ideas’.
We were promised by the FIA who summarised the F1 strategy group meeting a proposal designed to put drivers “back in full control of the car.”
What we got was a semi-manual race start from the drivers, and less chit chat from the team radio o the way to the grid.
SKY’s interpretation of what they believed was proposed, was as follows: “A good – or relatively bad – start will, from next month onwards, be the result of skill and reaction rather than computer wizardry”.
Rob Smedley believes the new race start procedures in force from the Belgium GP onwards will change little. “I wouldn’t have thought it will have a big effect… no. The biggest thing people will do is it could mean they get it horribly wrong.
“I don’t think in the end it is going to make in the performance of the start a difference at all.
“Everybody’s performance may be downgraded slightly, as we won’t have the perfect clutch settings, but as an average it won’t make a big difference.”
So much for putting the drivers back in “full control of the car”.
Lewis Hamilton disagreed with Smedley. “At the moment we release the clutch, but the performance is really dictated from the team, they’ll tell you whether to go up and down on torque mode, and all those kinds of things.
“Sometimes they calculate it right, and sometimes they don’t, and then sometimes there are other problems, like the one I had in the last race [Austria].
“For me the best starts when I was back in F3. They were more fun back then, because I had the control. If they do it right, I think it could be good.”
Romain Grosjean is relaxed about the new regulations for Spa: “I don’t think it will change our life, and I don’t think it will change much for the show.”
Returning to the matter of race starts, Lewis Hamilton has of course suffered with his automated systems in 2015. Despite having 8 pole positions from 9 races in a year where overtaking is particularly tough, Hamilton has won just five races. He has been being beaten from the start line twice which has resulted in two of his four losses.
There was hope that the strategy group would deliver further bans on information from the pit wall to the driver on matters like tyre wear. Lewis Hamilton claimed he made the greatest tyre call of his career at Silverstone and this is what the fans want to see drivers doing more often.
At present there are scores of strategy analysts within each team – some based trackside and others back at the factory- who are making these calls along with other ‘advice’ to the driver. Decisions on current pace, differential settings and brake bias – are but a few of the areas where drivers could be forced into taking ownership.
Then maybe we would see the F1 driver ‘heroes’ regaining in ““full control of the car”.