The drivers' manifesto to fix Formula 1 for 2021

Leading Formula 1 drivers including multiple world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have outlined the changes they would like to see to improve grand prix racing's spectacle

The drivers' manifesto to fix Formula 1 for 2021

Last weekend Hamilton put pressure on the rulemakers after a French Grand Prix that lacked action, and criticised the progress being made with F1's planned 2021 overhaul.

F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn has since declared that drivers will be involved in the decision-making process in the future.

Ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, most drivers were asked to identify the key areas that require change.

Consider slower, simpler cars

F1's major change in 2017 created the fastest breed of cars in the championship's history.

However, Max Verstappen believes that while it's "great to set lap records" there is an argument for moving away from that.

"If we are only going one or two seconds slower but we can at least follow each other a bit closer, that would be great," he said.

"That's also not just purely car related, because I think also the tyres overheat too much and you start sliding too much.

"It's a combination of both the car, where we need to find a different way of creating the downforce but run closer to each other, and the tyres.

"And the differences between the engines are still too big, so [F1 could] close that up a little bit by making it not that complex.

"I understand we have to stay with hybrid engines but I think it can be done in a better way."

Tyres drivers can push on

Hamilton is one of many drivers who believes one of the most important factors will be tyres that drivers can push on instead of nursing to make a one-stop strategy work.

However, he highlighted the attempt to change F1's tyres mid-season, in a bid to end Mercedes' domination and theoretically improve the spectacle, as a poor choice of focus.

"Last year you had to manage the tyres to a temperature, which means you had to do more lifting and coasting, you had more blistering, it was a lot worse," he said.

"You couldn't do what I was able to do in the last race or even in Montreal where I was able to push behind Seb for all those laps.

"That's an example again of different teams pushing for different things for their own personal goals rather than for the sport's.

"We need to go more in the direction of the tyre that worked great in Montreal.

"If we can have more races where we can push the tyre longer, less degradation even [compared] to the Montreal tyre, I think would be a good step forward."

A radical car concept change

F1 has delayed finalising its technical regulations for 2021, and these rules will not be finalised until October.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg thinks a radical change of car concept is needed.

"The biggest subject is pinning down the aero regulations in the right way so that we can have good, close, clean racing," he said.

[F1 needs] cars that are much less sensitive and cars that produce much less wake and turbulence. How we do that is a different matter.

"They want less from the wings and more from the floor to produce grip that way.

"I feel it [following another car] is as bad as it's ever been to be honest. Especially if you get really close, maybe five tenths.

"If the guy in front of you has a wobble and makes a mistake, the sudden loss of grip you experience is sometimes drastic.

"You're just forced to get off the throttle or you're going to go off. It's really like taking the ground from below your feet."

Simpler racing rules

After his controversial penalty in Canada, Vettel described F1 as not being the same as when he 'fell in love' with it.

He has joked in the past that the best solution to fix the rulebook is to "burn it and start over" and reiterated, seriously, that simpler rules are necessary to improve racing.

"We have so many rules trying to put in writing basically what you can't put in writing," he said.

"It's just a bit of a mess.

"I can't think of any other sport where case-by-case things are exactly the same.

"I think it's always a bit different and particularly in our sport I think it's very difficult to put every possible outcome in writing and therefore nail down a rule for it.

"So simplify, and give them freedom to race each other. That's what I would like."

Eliminate DRS dependence

Lando Norris was part of the most entertaining fight in last weekend's French GP, when on the lap he was swamped by Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Hulkenberg.

Norris was battling a hydraulics problem in his McLaren and was forced off-track at the chicane by Ricciardo, costing him several places.

He said that was evidence that calls for the chicane to be removed were wrong, because it would have led to an "even more boring" race as "we wouldn't have seen the last-lap excitement".

"You'd just have one massive DRS zone which would be really easy to pass," he said.

"If you are racing someone, you want to be racing them, not just waiting for their tyres to drop off and then just passing them down the straight or something.

"You want to be having fun, side to side, who can brake later, who can nail the corner the best and stuff like that."

Take cues from the midfield

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez says F1 is not in "crisis" but believes some people are definitely losing interest.

He thinks the "incredible" midfield battle is something F1 needs to move to the front of the grid.

The 36 points Hamilton has in hand over team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the current title fight covers every driver from sixth-place Pierre Gasly to Romain Grosjean in 17th.

"The problem is more with the top teams, the difference that there is," said Perez.

"I think the whole pack has to be a lot closer together, give equal opportunity to everyone and have more teams capable of winning.

"The way you do that is by making the rules a bit more complex and not so much gap between teams."

Grosjean said drivers are the "only ones" who know "what's needed or not to have better racing, and a better feeling in the car".

He agreed that the field must be compressed, adding: "For the last 80 grands prix or so there's been maybe Perez once or twice on the podium.

"The rest has been either red, silver or blue."

shares
comments
Williams F1 pitstops proving "we're not a bunch of idiots" - Russell
Previous article

Williams F1 pitstops proving "we're not a bunch of idiots" - Russell

Next article

Return to 2018 Formula 1 tyres ruled out for now in key meeting

Return to 2018 Formula 1 tyres ruled out for now in key meeting
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022