Hamilton pleas for a say in future of F1
Lewis Hamilton has pleaded with Formula One and the FIA to allow the drivers to help shape the future of the sport, saying he wants to have a major say in any changes in a bid to create a “legacy.”
The biggest talking point at Paul Ricard where about the rules, given Mercedes dominance of this season, the controversial penalty decision for Sebastian Vettel in Montreal, and the decision to push back the deadline for 2021 regulations until the 31st of October.
Hamilton was one of two drivers who attended the Paris summit aimed at breaking the deadlock over the regulation changes, where it was agreed to delay the sign-off.
But Hamilton insists, as a five-time world champion with 237 race starts and 79 wins, he can help the sport make progress, while also going into detail about several key topics. He said that:
- He has realised his “responsibility” and wants to help make “positive changes” to the sport – and doesn’t want to just be remembered as a “driver who won titles”
- Fans and journalists shouldn’t blame drivers for “boring” races as “we don’t write the rules”
- The FIA should make all decisions, after consulting drivers, and teams “shouldn’t be involved”
- The current 2021 vision is “nowhere near where it should be”
The Englishman took Mercedes eighth win of the year, as he cruised to victory at Paul Ricard. But has admitted he would like to be fighting for victories and that he understands why the fans are not enjoying it.
Adding “I empathise with the fans watching, I empathise with you guys coming every week. For a race like today, in my heart, I’ve just raced my heart out and I’ll continue to do the same thing but for you it might not be so exciting to watch. So I empathise with that.”
Speaking about the changes he said there are reasons for optimism, despite saying the people running F1 have been making “bad decisions” for “many, many years.”
Adding “They’ve extended the decision of making the rules. I think they need to because they’re nowhere near where it should be in my opinion and they’ve got to make some serious changes to the decisions that they’ve already made of how 2021 should be.
Ferrari may change philosophy to create more downforce
Ferrari is prepared to sacrifice straight line speed as it looks to change its aerodynamic philosophy to create more downforce. As expected, the Italian manufacturer proved to be no match for Mercedes, who continued to dominate this season.
The team brought a raft of upgrades to Paul Ricard, including an updated front wing, rear wing and brake ducts through qualifying and the race, but removed its new floor after Friday practice.
These were never intended to transform performance, rather setting the teams direction when it comes to the development of the car for the rest of the season.
Asked by Motorsport.com which direction Ferrari was heading development-wise, team principal Mattia Binotto said: “I think we are looking for, eventually, more downforce to the detriment of the speed. Even if the car will not be too efficient, [it will] give more downforce to get the tyres working.”
“That will be the direction to go. [In qualifying at Paul Ricard] we’ve seen how difficult to get the tyres working. That is something we are focused on.” Ferrari on paper has had a top speed advantage Mercedes, but has not got the aero package right allowing Mercedes to gain in the corners.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished third and fifth in France, which Binotto said was not a positive race but “not too bad as well considering initial expectations”.
He says they that the team cannot be happy until they are faster than there other competitors, Binotto knew that Paul Ricard was going to be difficult.
Lowe leaves Williams
Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe has formally left the team three months after being placed on leave ahead of the start of the season. The team also confirmed he is stepping down from the board of directors at Grove with immediate effect.
Lowe joined the team from Mercedes after masterminding three back to back titles, Williams hoped that he could lead them back to the front. However, over the past few years the former champions have struggled at the back of the grid.
Lowe said “”After a period of careful reflection, I have reached the decision that I will not return to work at Williams. I wish all my previous colleagues the very best to meet the challenges ahead, which I am sure they will do. I would especially like to thank the Williams fans who are so supportive.”
The teams 2019 season has seen them hit by delays in the manufacturing of the car, meaning they lost the first two-and-a-half days of testing. The former world champions are yet to score a point in the season’s first eight races.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams added: “We understand and respect the decision Paddy has reached and wish him well for the future.”
They have recently appointed their co-founder and former technical director Patrick Head to temporarily manage their technical operations.
McLaren needs “reality check” – Hill
Damon Hill believes a “reality check” has aided McLaren’s improved form, following their best result of the season at the French Grand Prix. The teams qualifying and race results at Paul Ricard were in stark contrast to last year, when they were eliminated in Q1 and finished outside the points.
Throughout the season there has been a noticeable trend of steady improvements which has allowed steady trend of improvement which has taken them to fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. He told Sky Sports, “They needed someone like Zak [Brown] and other new people to come in and say ‘listen, you need a reality check.”
“That was then, this is now’ and that seems to be what has happened in McLaren. They have come together, faced the real challenges as they are, and it’s showing results. It’s fantastic.”
Former Force India driver Paul di Resta added: “The big thing I’ve taken from McLaren is Zak’s built almost this family. He’s thanking the engineers, he’s thanking the drivers, but he’s more thanking the team for the work they are putting in back at base. That is what is paying off and the spirit will be lifted by that.”
Although the team muted their post-race celebrations following Lando Norris’s problems on the last lap, they head to the Styrian Mountains this weekend heartened by the consistency of the MCL34 across the Paul Ricard weekend.
Team boss Andreas Seidl added “We could also show in the race today that the pace was there. Very happy for the team back here and the track that we could carry the performance over the whole weekend.”
“We have since the beginning of the season that some cars are faster than other cars depending on tracks, so we’ll see how it goes in the next weeks.”
Masi open to rewriting some rules of conduct
F1 race director Michael Masi says he is open to the idea of rewriting some of the rules of conduct for 2020 if the drivers and team feel it would be a good thing to do.
Following the controversy caused by Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty at the Canadian Grand Prix for re-joining the track in an unsafe manner and pushing Lewis Hamilton off circuit has prompted calls for F1 to rethink how it deals with such incidents.
Many feel that F1 is now over-regulated and the spectacle is being ruined because drivers cannot race hard as they risk being punished by the stewards.
However, the sport faces a difficult situation, between allowing close battles on track, and stopping drivers from getting an unfair advantage. Asked by Motorsport.com about whether or not the interpretation of the re-joining the track rules had changed after Canada, Masi said: “We treat them [the rules] exactly the same.
“My view is we have got a rule book there, and the rule book is the one we have got for the entire 2019 season. I don’t think it would be wise in any sport to change anything mid-year. But is it something that you can look at, like with any rule book? Absolutely. I think we are always constantly evolving with everything.”
However, the sporting regulations cannot now be changed unless the teams give their unanimous support. But changes would also need tweaks to the International Sporting Code could also be quite hard to achieve, because they need to cover all sanctioned motor racing events so cannot be too specific to F1.
Masi added: “I think if all the teams agree with it, it is no different to any other set of regulations. But there is also the ISC that has provisions in it that are also used from a code of driving conduct side. That has its own process which isn’t just F1 specific, it is for the entire sport.”
Its something which will need looking at collectively and will be brought up at a future meeting of F1’s sporting working group.
Some teams push for change in tyre specification
Some teams are pushing for Pirelli to return to 2018 tyre specification in the latter part of this season, but they are unlikely to find enough support to push through a change.
Red Bull has been frustrated with this year’s thinner tyre tread which has helped Mercedes to win all seven races this season. At Paul Ricard the matter was discussed between the teams, any changes would require seven of the teams to agree.
However, that supermajority appears unlikely as some teams believe a mid season change would not be appropriate.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has made it clear that it would be unfair to penalise those who have optimised their cars around the 2019 tyres. He told Motorsport.com, “It’s pretty logical that the ones that will feel that they haven’t understood the tyre properly will try to trigger change in the tyre.”
“My sportsman approach is that I don’t think F1 should change the rules because some are doing better than others. I don’t mean in an arrogant way. But on the contrary, this is an unforgiving high-tech sport. We have given it a big push over the winter to get on top of our set-up issues, and understand how the tyres functioned last year.”
Wolff says that changing the rules is like introducing a balance of performance in a sport that was always about unforgiving excellence.
His Renault counterpart Cyril Abiteboul says that he believes that a sudden change of tyres will not mean that Mercedes dominance will suddenly go away.
Adding “I think it’s a deeper problem or situation that needs to be addressed, but I only believe in the evolution of F1 to properly address that situation rather than being reactive to a team that has only built a fantastic advantage. I guess we can always discuss for 2020.”
Masi doesn’t understand Perez penalty upset
F1 race director Michael Masi doesn’t understand why Sergio Perez was upset at the French Grand Prix over his lap one penalty for gaining positions by cutting a corner.
The Mexican was awarded a five-second penalty at Paul Ricard for having gained an advantage when he cut across the run-off areas at Turns 3 and 4 on the opening lap of the race. He argued that he had followed the correct procedure by going around the track limits bollard as the rules demanded.
But the FIA was unhappy because Perez re-joined ahead of cars that had been in front of him when he entered the corner and therefore was deemed to have gained a lasting advantage.
In Masi’s race notes, made it clear that even if drivers go around the track limits bollard, “the driver must only re-join the track when it is safe to do so and without gaining a lasting advantage.”
Asked by Motorsport.com after the race about the situation, Masi said that following the Monaco Grand Prix, drivers had asked the FIA to punish anyone who gained places in this way. Saying “The overriding point is that when someone re-joins, they must first re-join safely and two must not gain a lasting advantage.”
“In looking at the in-car [footage] particularly, when you look at Lance Stroll’s, who was immediately behind him, Sergio’s locked up, chosen to go to the left and bypass the bollard and has come out in front of [Alex] Albon and [Kevin] Magnussen.”
He said Monaco was part of the discussion, and that drivers requested that they need to be behind effectively who they entered the corner behind. He added that no instruction had been given to Perez to give the positions back because drivers had also requested that in the event of one of them gaining positions.