Technical not working? Let’s try the sporting regs

What did I say back here at this editorial piece? I was slated for my comparison but I stand by it and now Mercedes boss Toto Wolff echoes my opinion on what F1 should be striving for moving forward…simplicity.

F1 tried it’s new qualifying format once again in Bahrain and it was met, once again, with serious discord from fans and F1 pundits alike. Wolff said:

“It’s very difficult to follow as to who is in and out, and we have a duty to simplify the sport rather than add complexity.

“It doesn’t mix up the field enough that would make the race more entertaining, so I hope we can have some reasonable discussions tomorrow.”

Wolff said that F1 would look like fools if they tried the new system again in China…too late. Most fans felt trying it in Bahrain was foolish enough after Australia’s debacle. They also felt somewhat betrayed as press reported that the teams met and decided to revert back to the old format for Bahrain only to be told that this wasn’t the case. Apparently the FIA didn’t offer that as an option to vote on last week but Wolff says it will be discussed on Sunday in Bahrain:

“When I spoke to Jean last week he said he wanted to approach things in a structured way,” said Wolff.

“He felt with Q1 and Q2 there was maybe something to learn, and therefore he wanted to go for the Melbourne format again, or the hybrid version to find out if it was all bad.

“If it was all bad then the most realistic scenario would be to go back to 2015 qualifying, and he said that to me.

“We’re not in a position anymore, after changing twice, to experiment for Shanghai. We would look like fools.

“Maybe there is a different format that could be interesting. He said a single-lap shootout for the last eight drivers, which could be interesting.

“But we need to properly assess it, and if we find all the data and information we collect make it look like an interesting format, we should implement it in the rules and race it next year, but in a structured way.”

Technical isn’t working, let’s tweak Sporting

My concern is simply this, it seems that the FIA are unable or unwilling to correct the issues F1 currently has through it’s technical regulations and as such, they have taken to changing and tweaking the sporting regulations to try to cure their ills.

After many years of engineers, designers, drivers and pundits suggesting that the best way to cure much of the on-track issues is through a reduction of aero and increase of mechanical grip with superior and larger tires, the sport has had many opportunities to make those changes and have failed to do so.

Instead they’ve made radical changes in the sake of sustainability and yet still left the reliance on aero and new hybrid electric power to keystones of their formula. Why do they ignore the elephant in the room? One reason is that it is less expensive to work with aero than it is major chassis and wheel size issues. Regardless, galactic engine changes to hybrid units is no less complicated or expensive.

The sport tried to usher in HD tires and DRS to help matters but in the end, they are now trying to tweak and change the sporting regulations in hopes it will do something e.g. new qualifying format. Unfortunately, that isn’t working and it is a bit patronizing when everyone, including fans at home, know what they want and what would be the best direction to go in to achieve it. Even if it comes up short, it can’t be any worse than the new hybrid systems that have bankrupted three teams and have three others on life support.

The new hybrid format with HD tires and DRS isn’t working so the sport needs to find a different direction. Not just tweak a few sporting regulations and hope that works. It needs a major overhaul and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone agrees.

It’s a critical time for F1 and I am not sure they will find it in their individual interests to do what needs to be done. The sport is now working from a democracy and that ‘s, itself, isn’t working either. Drastic changes may cost F1 manufacturer involvement but they are all looking at WEC right now anyway so continuing to experience death by a thousand wounds is not a good idea.