It’s a classic Formula 1 situation. For all the wrong reasons. But now we have resolution and it’s what the fans, teams, drivers and pretty much anyone other than Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt wanted. This has been one big battle in the war for dominance, supremacy and, in the end, control of Formula 1.
Ecclestone, as the commercial rights holder, is trying to essentially sell a product. That’s his job. Jean Todt is the FIA president. They’re job is to oversee and organize the sports rules, etc. You’d think the two would generally sing from the same hymn sheet, but alas, they fight like two spoilt toddlers.
So why were toys thrown out of the pram to begin with? Well, Bernie wanted a better show on track during the races. The FIA had already approved the three tyre compound rule. The main problem for the last 10-12 years has been the aerodynamic effect of following another car closely. The cars wings are designed to create downforce, they basically upside-down aeroplanes. They get tested in a wind tunnel in the factory to get baseline results, which they then check on track. Now the front wing becomes less effective when the airflow ahead of it is disrupted. This was particularly evident in 2015. So, how do you pass someone if you cant get close enough? There’s DRS, but that isn’t always a slam dunk, simply because sometimes the driver isnt close enough to start with. The alternative? Pit/tyre strategy!
This is where the 3 different compounds has been really effective because there has been quite a lot of variation in strategies, which we wouldn’t have seen with two compounds. Take Romain Grosjean in Bahrain. He ran Super-Soft, Super-Soft, Super-Soft and then Soft’s to the end. He ended up 5th, ahead of the two Williams car’s who ran the much slower medium compound tyres. TWICE!
So getting back on topic, F1 qualifying was changed to a knockout format, with a car eliminated every 90 seconds after a certain point in each of the 3 sessions. What this lead to was a top heavy session, cars not nearly on track enough and revolt from fans and teams alike.
After meetings and much posturing, we finally had action today with the teams letter stating they would vote against anything other than reverting to the format used from 2006 to 2015. It seems that sense was finally seen. Lets hope that this serves as a lesson that important decisions for the sport HAVE to be thought out and research properly. And that the views of the teams, drivers and fans are considered.