Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

F1 urged to let drivers loose on and off-track

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Formula One drivers should be freed from excessive regulations on their driving and encouraged to be themselves, according to F1 team bosses.

Asked during today’s FIA press conference about Bernie Ecclestone’s recent comments on livening up F1, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost argued the sport has become over-regulated.

“We should get rid of all these penalties and all this nonsense, if a driver touches another driver that he gets a penalty,” said Tost. “What we need is interesting races and if they crash into each other, they crash into each other. This is what people also want to see, F1 is also entertainment.”

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016
2016 Mexican Grand Prix practice pictures
“Currently we take too much care about all the safety issues. Formula One is dangerous, we know this, but currently at the race track if you look, nothing happens any more.”

The FIA issued its latest clarification on defensive driving last weekend, warning drivers against changing their racing line in braking zones.

Tost also argued the gap between the teams needs to be reduced. “Some friends said to me ‘I don’t watch F1 any more – you have the two Mercedes in front, if they don’t crash on the first lap the race is gone, I can sleep’. And this is absolutely wrong.”

“First of all we need to come up with parity between the different teams. The ideal case would be that two, three teams fight until the last race for the championship, constructors’ championship as well as drivers’ championship, not as in the last years where everything is decided a couple of races to go before the end.”

Manor racing director Dave Ryan pointed out it is within Ecclestone’s power to address the performance disparity between the teams.

“We do need close racing, for sure,” he said, “but if we had a fairer distribution of funds our cars would be closer together so that would be a start.”

Ryan also agreed with Tost’s views on the extent of regulation in F1 today. “The drivers are over-regulated on the track,” he said.

“Some of the recent decisions and points and reprimands personally I think is just too far. The drivers are discouraged from actually racing and some of the incidents I’ve seen that have been penalised I just don’t get, it’s just racing, and you’re not allowed to do it now.”

“The blue flag situation is also frustrating and I’m not so sure that the blue flag adds much to the racing. For sure it aids the lead car but it really disrupts the racing for the guys at the back.”

“Lewis gets criticised. Well, why?”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2016
Hamilton once felt he had to ‘act like a square’
Ryan also said F1 drivers should be “allowed to be themselves”.

“There’s not many drivers who aren’t more than the corporate figurehead of the company, they’re not allowed to express opinions or they’re discouraged from it,” he explained.

“And I can understand that part of it but it would be nice if we had a few more personalities. Like Lewis [Hamilton] gets criticised for what he does. Well, why? He’s just out there doing his thing. If we had a few more drivers doing that I think it adds to the sport.”

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 16 comments on “F1 urged to let drivers loose on and off-track”

    1. Makes too much sense, so it will never happen.

      1. Tost and Ryan should be fired for talking sense in a press conference. What are they thinking?????!

      2. Pretty much that yeah @pastaman

      3. But it’s not only the FIA, also a lot of F1 fans don’t want to offer safety for exciting races. Just follow the opions on different F1 sites. In most polls fans want to have the verstappen-rule and the halo, for safety reasons. So statements like Tost is making (“if they crash into each other, they crash into each other”) will probably trigger reactions about safety again.

        It’s time to make up our mind about this, because you can’t have both.

        1. @favamodo …’you can’t have both.’ I disagree. The ‘Verstappen rule,’ which is a name for it I dislike the more I hear it, is nothing new. There has always been a rule and an unwritten ethics about respecting other drivers on the track such that you don’t put the other guy in an impossible situation. All that has happened here recently is that a driver has taken some licence with this and they’ve all been reminded about a certain level of respect or a code of ethics that has existed for years.

          The halo is simply an added safety measure that will not affect anything other than to add safety, and will mean that for sure they can race harder and faster again knowing they are a little safer doing so.

          I remind you too that they are introducing faster cars that should be able to race more closely, and are going to try more standing starts than running starts on wet racedays.

          This is about reviews and penalties for every little touch, and I relate it also to using laser eyes to keep cars from going a millimetre over a line, which I think also adds to sterilization of the sport.

          Let’s see how the racing goes next year with a new chapter beginning. If the cars are racing more closely then perhaps one could suggest there will be more little contacts, and on one hand it would seem silly to change things to invite closeness and then continue to nitpick everything the drivers do and discourage the very thing they are trying to promote, that being said closer racing.

          1. Sorry should be @favomodo et al.

    2. You need tracks that have a natural deterrent if you want to minimise steward penalties.

      The more tarmac run off you have the more interferance you need from officialdom.

      Watching rich kids drive around and over painted lines is not enthralling viewing.

    3. Seems very different to what some drivers say. Maybe the team bosses shoud get in the cars :-)

    4. how about copying NASCAR and having a race for the championship thing in the last 6 races, with the top 6 driver points reset. My fear for 2017 is one team gets the new design perfect and dominates the first half of the season.

      1. if it isnt mercedes its ok

      2. F1 is about building and tuning the best car. In fact all sport is about doing it better than your competitors. Why do you find it strange when one team is better than the others? Somebody has to win but let’s get on their backs because they win. When and if another team starts winning, I look forward to being bored reading nonsense about that team dominating. I suggest you to stick playing with dice, they are totally random and should keep you occupied all season.

    5. Evil Homer (@)
      29th October 2016, 13:02

      People say Lewis is the best thing for F1 (well, except the Lewis haters) as he does promote the sport as he jets off over the world, usually the US and close proximity.

      While I agree he does just that I honestly believe Daniel Ricciardo is the best ambassador for F1 at the moment. Cheeky grin, always happy (save Monaco), talking in a poor Texan accent, him and Max face painting ……… and of course the Shoey! Dan is the man that just keeps giving, just happy to be doing his job as an F1 racer and I think the general public relates to him more so than Lewis. One takes his own jet home to Monaco while the other shares that cost with a few others drivers (Yes, being a little sarcastic LOL).

      Bring back characters like James Hunt, Graham Hill & the likes. That’s what people relate to, not some PR machine.

      So yes, let them loose off the track and maybe ease up on the sanctions on track as well, it cant hurt can it ?!

    6. Well, interesting topics in the press conference. There’s quite a bit to say about it.

      On performance spread in cars:
      The reality is that today’s championship is among the closest in history with regard to the difference between the fastest and slowest cars on the grid. We don’t see Mansell qualifying 0.8s clear of Patrese, with the next best car at 1.5s at least. We’re talking tenths and sometimes hundredths now. Of course financial reasons still play a big role in the performance of cars, but the predictability of races has two other very important causes.
      First there is increased reliability. A couple of decades ago a Sauber driver could dip into the points from time to time, because half the field ahead of him retired. Today 90% of the drivers finish the race, that’s up from 50% or so 30 years ago.
      Second there is the increased computing power. Teams can calculate and predict the running of the race in real-time. This allows them to manage very small gaps, over entire race distances if necessary. It eliminates the element of surprise or the capacity to improvise on the go. If we had no radio and no telemetry and the drivers were the only ones to take the decision after the lights are out, we would see different races.

      So when Tost and Ryan say “give us more money and things will be better”, they are wrong. Things might be better for STR and MRT, but the racing will still be same.

      On driver-conduct (on track):
      Last race Alonso wrestled his McLaren past Massa’s Williams. I thought it was nice battle. It was fair, hard and neither had the intention to run the other off-track. It was not that dissimilar of how Gilles and Rene conducted their business at Dijon. Still, if you scroll back through the messages on this very forum, you’ll see many F1 followers stating that Alonso should be penalised. All those people will probably wholeheartedly disagree with Tost’s comments.
      This is anyway a touchy subject to discuss with F1 fans. We don’t might a bit of dodging and weaving, an adventurous manouevre, maybe even a bit of wheel banging… as long as our favourite driver comes out on top. The moment he ends up in one of the last remaining gravel traps, perspectives quickly change. If a ruling favours a driver we support, then rules are fine; if he’s on the receiving end, then everything is overregulated. I know I’m cutting the corner a bit here, but this is the basis of many discussions on this board. Stewards cannot take a similar approach, they can only be strict, fair and consistent. And I think they’re mostly doing a decent job. Of course there are I couple of things I personally would ave done differently, but in general they get it right.
      So should driver conduct be regulated? Of course, we’re not talking about a demolition derby here. Grand Prix racing used to be a gentlemans sport and drivers were limited by the risk of injury and death. Now the interests are much higher and the sport is fairly safe. There is no other way then rules to ensure fair competion and civil conduct.

      On driver-conduct (off track):
      I like Jean Alesi as a driver. I don’t know him personally, never met him, don’t know about his personal life, but I always enjoyed him sliding around a race track. If I found out today he was wife-beating racist pedophile, would I enjoy his driving any less? For me the answer is no, but I realise I’m an a small minority with that. Today everything is perception and moral judgements are quick.
      If drivers were colourful characters of course the interest in general, the twittering, would increase. Also the damning moral judgments. I don’t mind if a driver chooses to participate in that game or not. I just want them to factual and open about what happened on the track and that’s it.

      1. I agree with most of what you say, but I believe that the reason that reliability is almost perfect these days is that the rules dictate that the engines must last for more than one races. When teams had an unlimited number of engines during the year, the manufacturers focused more on performance rather than reliability.

        I actually believe that the sinlge most important reason that has “sterilised” F1 is the reliability rules. In my opinion it is makes F1 look like an endurance championship.

        If you also consider that the main reason that they introduced these reliability rules was to reduce the overal costs, you can see that the money distribution issue is also very relevant when we ask why the races are dull.

    7. Interesting comments coming from the team managers in the press conference. When it comes to a Strategy Group meeting in an effort to change things, they go silent.

      1. yeah, I never got why it so difficult to discern between serious discussion and a press release for the sake of public relations. I have to think 90% of what ever it is that really matters in F1 isn’t really discussed openly by the TV heads or the faces at the track. The teams are too big, the money too much, the politics too thick to really break through that kind of culture.

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