F1 strategy group claims success, but delivers little

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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”.

28 responses to “F1 strategy group claims success, but delivers little

  1. Allow the pitfall/garages/team bases to collect the data from practices, qualifying, and the race but nobody can look at it until after the grand prix is over. The screens would have to be dark. The only time that they could be on is if a sensor on the car indicated that there was an emergency with the car. The radio traffic would be minimized because the engineers, etc. wouldn’t need to talk to the driver except to tell him to box or if their was a problem on the car.

    • I still believe that a standard transmitter unit should be in place with a race mode which disables all, but directly related safety information transmitted to the pits. All other information will be recorded for upload after the race.
      That ends coded messages; that reduces the number of people analyzing real-time data. Any help the driver needs will have to be articulated to the pit via voice.

  2. looking at the sauber steering wheel reminds me of the scene in Airplane where Striker looks across an endless control panel….kinda understand how Pastor lost it while fiddling with the many knobs on his way during practice (eh, no it doesn’t really, but you know what I mean).

    I can’t help but feel that regulations could be defined that would make certain parameters fixed during the race – eliminating the dazzling display of control options and allowing the driver to concentrate on just driving?

    More torque, less buttons!!

    But then, if I’m hoping for sensible ideas to come from the strategy group, it looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

  3. This whole argument about drivers should be made to work harder and have more control over their cars is with no outside assistantance is getting boring and pedantic.

    These cars currently have far less driver aids than what we saw in the early to late 00’s. They banned TC, LC, mass dampers, McLaren’s vector steering technology with their 3rd pedal and all other forms of gimos and gadgets. Why should F1 be different to any other top level sport? Why are people so against change and the technological advances made in society?

    Every single aspect of the sport has changed, from the cars to how fit drivers are now. This is the 21st century and the cars should reflect that, not go back to the bygone era.

    Tennis, cricket and football for years have refused to embrace technology, but now that they have, has it changed the competitive pecking order of their respective sport? No it hasn’t. Athletes in those sports have benefited from using modern technological methods.

    It still comes down to who does the better job behind the scenes and can bring that out when it’s time to compete, it’s the same for F1.

    Let them race dam it!!

    • Not fully agreed. Footballs kept getting better and better, for the players not the keepers. Just as tennis rackets kept becoming lighter and stronger. The only technologies they refused are those who made cheating harder.

      • Sure the changes has not been good for goalkeepers given the amount of time and research it takes to make the perfect football.

        But the goalkeepers as well as the outfield players have seen their equipment improved. Better gloves (water resistant and stickier), lighter yet stronger and more durable boots.

        Each of those sports refused to accept technologies such as Hawkeye (tennis) Goal-line and DRS (decision review system in cricket) technology, all because they faired it would take away some of the human element in terms of decision making.

        Now it has been widely accepted, the sport is still the same.

    • Hi Fortis,

      I’m not against technology, but don’t you think this might just ultimately lead to Google or Samsung winning the World Drivers Championship in the not too distant future (after all it would be appealing for teams to remove the most inconsistent part, the nut behind the wheel 😀 ). Find it hard to get to excited for cheering on either as opposed to say a nice showdown between Vettel/Hamilton/Alonso in the final round of a championship.

      With regards to tech changing the pecking order, F1 is unique in that tech always defines the pecking order (whoever has built the best car within the regs), so for that point I’d agree, the best engineered car will rise to the top whatever tech is allowed, no change there.

      I suppose for me I was attracted to the sport by seeing drivers struggle to manage cars that looked impossible to handle, and looking like they were doing something that was out of my reach, with the top drivers seeming superhuman. I’ve lost that sensation watching the current breed I’m afraid, it all seems far to smooth. I would have the impression that the current cars are easier to drive approaching their outright limit (approaching not on) – and that results in a smaller differential that the drivers talent can bring to bear (or is that an unfair view?)

      Anyway, just my thoughts as a fan anyway.

    • Let them race, but don’t keep a technology just because it’s been invented. Preset, push-button launch sequences are all well and good, but they’ve taken away too much of the unpredictability of the sport. Too many known knowns, and not nearly enough known unknowns, if you take my meaning.
      Otherwise we’d never have outlawed the two-way telemetry of a decade ago, which made it technically possible to drive the cars from the pits. (Although I wonder what fantastic driverless cars we’d have now if F1 had gone down that route…)

      • This is only a topic of discussion solely because of the increased broadcasting of pit to car radio communications by FOM…who owns FOM again?… Followed by Christian Horner and his never ending campaign to illicit changes within the sport that would benefit Redbull.

        Why was there no calls for drivers to be in full control of their cars when Webber was taking Copse corner with his foot nailed to the floor in 2013? Something that none of the current cars can do.

        Each team has 4 power units to last the season along with gearboxes that has to do 6 races before they can be changed, if it was left up to the drivers, they’d break one every race weekend.

        It’s only predictable because one team did a better job, had Renault and Ferrari not screwed up so badly, I doubt there would be such a big issue.

    • I thought Formula 1 racing was supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, with innovation, development and breaking new ground all the time. Surely anything that can make the cars go faster and to help the driver should be allowed.
      But it seems the ruling body wants to restrict everything as much as possible. Why don’t they go back to the “good old days” then? There should be a man in front of each car waving a red flag to warn of its approach. However, Mercedes would probably employ Usain Bolt, or Mo Farah, so the FIA would deem this an unfair advantage, and other teams would whine, and insist each flag waver had to have only 1 leg.

    • Fortis, to me, it’s not so much about making the driver work harder or take technology away, but more about making the driver responsible for getting the most out of the car during the race, and not a bunch of analysts crunching data.

      • To be honest….looking at that steering wheel, taking away all the “aids” would make the car easier to drive. Can you imagine having to deal with all those controls while driving your road car? It would be a nightmare.

      • Exactly Bill. Right now, the drivers seem a little like the engineers’ puppets instead of being allowed to drive the car as they see fit. Let the drivers figure it out on their own.

    • “Why are people so against change and the technological advances made in society?”

      Because they make things more boring. Why would we want that in sports? More boring sports? That just leads to less people watching and caring about the sports.

  4. Keep the V6s, dump the MGK/MGU nonsense, manual gearboxes, no e-diffs. Done.

  5. Upon pontificating on all matters F1 with a particular bias of my cognitive active-thought function on “full driver BDSM-esque control”, my dirty mind travelled to distant memories of Michael the maker of shoes; in particular, career – the first…

    I recall, and painfully so, the often terrible Grand Prix starts that he’d make the Tsifosi suffer, so much so that the “Schumacher chop” – a tactic to neutralise the advantage from a rival’s decent start – became so prevelant and aggressive in starting angle that it was given its aforemention name. ‘Twas given a label, my dear friends, a label! The one-move-to-defend rule was being exploited with gay abandon by one of the greatest drivers of all time.

    I recall many grand starts from a West McLaren Mercedes, be it David or Mika, and the need for them to subsequently lift as Michael placed them into a “crash or lift” position. Check mate, so to speak… and the rules allowed for it, nay, the rules actually, in a perverse way, we’re responsible for its propagation by virtue of approving it; endorsing it; making it the vogue grid launch procedure.

    Over time the entire grid adopted such Teutonic tactics, which could be seen at every Grand Prix start in the early-mid 2000’s. At the start of a Grand Prix, the camera angel was oft a long way down the road, looking back at the grid, relatively level with the cars. One would then see the lights transition from Ruby to Emerald and within a heartbeat, two distinct, straight lines of cars would immediately skew and converge to the absolute atomic centre of the track in perfect concert. It could have been a synchronised Olympic event. It was a perfect shuffle of cards, using F1 cars.

    Occasionally a random and confident driver might head up the outside, estimating that they’d be best served executing an unhindered start and giving up the FiA-endorsed right to violently chop/defend position off the line, so as to not suffer the adjacent car cutting them off in Templar like fashion. But that wasn’t the norm…

    “Halt! Why doth the village idiot taketh us to thiseth god-forsaken place of the early 2000’s, whence the dragon Schumacher would bloweth hiseth Crimson fire upon all n’ sundry from the start line? Doth this simply be a jape from this rump-fed rats bane? Prithee, make thyne answer good and true…”, I hear ye sayeth.

    I take your mind’s eye here, fellow reader, because it’s an example of how a rule in Formula One rarely reflects the underlying intention, and often said rule mutates to something entirely different in practice. In particular that of sporting directives, as opposed to technical regulations.

    This rule… well, what it’s supposed to do will most likely bear little resemblance to what it will eventually result in.

    What it won’t do is cause more starting / launch crashes than we already have, on average, over a season. In my view – from someone who has raced open wheelers to an F3 National level – racing drivers will adapt quickly and there’s enough time off the launch for immediate reflexes to kick in. To be clear, we will still have the Romain Grosjean / Lewis Hamilton Spa 2012 type risk, and related crashes; but those are not launch (or lack thereof) related crashes.

    A technical way around it, they shall find. A sporting mutation, shall develop. An intended purpose, shall not see the light of day. And on we march…

  6. OK either the driver comes alone, prepares his own car, changes his own tires, fixes his own engines, etc, or the BLOODY TEAM IS PART OF THE SHOW. Teamwork is shown at all levels of non-individual sports, why does it need to be different in F1?

    Want to improve the show? Give them skinny street tires that still grip at high slip angles. Slower? Yes, but also sideways…

  7. Rather off topic BUT vis-à-vis this site, the one bit of technology that would improve the F1 experience for many hereabouts is the addition of an ‘edit’ button so that we can get back to our comments and correct them if – like me – frequent fat finger trouble is followed by near-dyslexic proof reading of our initial contributions.

    Please, dear Judge, pretty please…….

  8. How brain dead was the team owner(s) who invited Mosley to the meeting? More arse licking from Williams? All of the money troubles the lower teams have are down to him. He ensured Ferrari was sorted and left the rest to fend for themselves.
    Until there’s a proper shareout of the income, and that means cutting the money Bernie, CVC and the rest skim off the top, F1 will struggle.

  9. Tennis has suffered greatly due to advancements in racket and string technology. Well over half the women on the tour cannot use a proper continental grip to hit a forehand volley. So-called all time great men’s player Rafael Nadal cannot hit a forehand volley using a proper continental grip.

    Thanks to bullying by the tennis media and former pro tennis commentators, fans are now led to believe that great tennis is the ability to run from sideline to sideline while at the baseline and flick back shots at improbable angles using what amount do cricket strokes.

    As a result, only half the tennis court is used for strategy. Well-angled slice backhands from the baseline are almost nonexistent today. There are only two men today who can effectively chip a backhand return of serve and approach the net afterward. It is equally rare to see a player take a ground stroke landing between the service line and the baseline, hit an approach shot, and come to net. The women’s side is even more woeful.

    In fact, the last great tennis match at Wimbledon was played between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras 2001. It was the last time we saw two players with the ability to serve and volley or stay at the baseline with equal acumen. Unless racket and string technology is curtailed it may be the last time we see that type of all court tennis.

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