Button wants more physically challenging F1

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In the round-up: Jenson Button says older F1 drivers miss the more physicaly demanding cars they drove earlier in their careers.

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Traditional F1 sponsors should be concerned about Bernie Ecclestone’s reluctance to pursue a younger audience for F1:

Kids may not buy high end products, but it’s important to desire them.

If kids don’t know a Rolex or TAG and think the premium watch brand is Apple – that’s going to start eating away sales of Rolexes and TAGs no? “No, no, no mum, no one buys Rolexes any more – everyone’s onto these things now”.

I would have preferred to see F1 stay free-to-air but adopt a little more ‘ahem’ american advertising and social media coverage. Rolex Pole Position Lap, Mumm Podiums etc…

Keep that 600 million world wide figure and get some better dollars alongside it. But mostly what I don’t understand is his insistence on going for the ‘show’ – you either have a more purist sport that fans stump up cash to see or you chase massive numbers by engineering the entertainment a little.
Gavin Campbell

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58 comments on “Button wants more physically challenging F1”

  1. What a great photo of Jenson in that Williams BMW V10, brake discs glowing……….. How I miss that viscerally impressive era.

    1. You know i normally tend to agree on that era being pretty cool and all. But just this evening i actually rewatched an entire 2000 race and i gotta say…all this “there were fewer overtakes but of better quality” …….well actually, and i’m not even joking,….. there was not One.Single.overtake.on.Track.
      So be aware, there are some rose tinted glasses involved here and there….

      1. When I started watching f1 I was just mesmerized by the cars, couldn’t get enough of it. These cars don’t do me nothing, but the racing has been much more dynamic ever since Pirelli arrived.

        1. @peartree,
          I had a long break from watching F1 since Alonso 1st title. Restarted watching it after Brawn GP arrived. That was like a fairytale & was kinda impossible not to get hooked. And the Pirelli era, as you mention, probably has done more good than bad in my opinion.

          I can at east remember clearly since the year Jacques Villeneuve won the title(97) & it wasn’t really as dynamic as it is now. Yeah the cars were awe-inspiring, almost felt the brutality of it if you turned up the volume on TV. But the racing part was boring. And probably the biggest proof of it, few years ago my mother asked me why I’ve restarted watching cars following on another on a track, again & again…… that can’t be much fun. And she did confirm that I’ve been watching racing on TV for a lot longer than I believe!

          Having said that, we get attached to the sport we watch for various reasons. Where I live, F1 always been free on TV. Motorsports fill up airtime when the more popular sports aren’t live(mostly football & cricket). But there aren’t enough Motorsports fans around where I am. But internet’s been a blessing, for last half a decade I get to discuss & follow up on this sport with such ease.

          1. @praxis I’m on the same boat, same situation here. Watching f1 for ages, all by myself until I log in to f1fanatic. @matthijs that scream and the gearbox sound, visceral. I never got the chance of attending 2 races live but I’m fortunate to have seen cars testing and I can still remember standing at a braking point, absolutely surreal. It wasn’t that hard to get 3 sensible f1 fans in agreement, can we just “make the cars magical again without making the races dull and too artificial” It sounds simple.

        2. @peartree, you are so spot on. I started watching F1 intensely mid ’90. Back then I was in awe just watching and hearing the cars drive. Been to 2 races live, after the sheer shock of seeing the cars in action, the races were boring as hell.

          Today the cars don’t have the same magic. Must be said that I’m 20 years older now and the society changed with me (with social media and internet). But the races are much more entertaining in general. In the next years it will be a balancing act to make the cars magical again without making the races dull and too artificial. It will be challenging.

      2. @mrboerns Yeah but Button is talking about cars more physically challenging to drive, not about passing. At least when there was no passing in that race you watched, due to the format seeing them pass through pitting, they were still physically challenged. And the cars were faster than now I believe. I don’t think Button is calling for the return to that type of racing, and would probably prefer like everyone seems to now, to have less aero dependence for closer racing and actual passing on the track.

        1. As we only watch F1 and do not drive the cars how physical it is for the driver is something I cannot see or feel so makes no difference to me. The old on boards were great though as technology was way behind todays levels so they used to shake creating an illusion of increased speed. Bruno Senna did a faster lap in Monaco then Ayrton ever managed and Bruno was in a back of the grid HRT, yet the on board footage of Senna at Monaco was amazing, I put this down to the shaking camera that also used to break up every few seconds. Anyway if they are 5 seconds faster next year they will be more physical.

        2. You are exactly right. For me today’s races are more entertaining than mid to end nineties, where the cars were real beasts, but back then races were spoiled due to refuelling, no overtakes on track, etc. Right now we see more overtakes, but isn’t still quite right, most of the time a driver can hold the other not long enough, or the different tire performances makes everything looks more artificial. I’ve started watching f1 back in 85, and I recall one of the races, Hungary 87, where senna has the yellow lotus, he was able to hold first place from the ferraris, williams and mclarens, for about 30 laps, several drivers tried to pass him, and somehow he kept them at bay, you can see that they were almost overdriving the car, really battling on track. The overtakes were daring, on the limit. Eventually they managed to pass Senna, but to whatch their race craft was breathtaking. I miss this kind of races, with some adjustments, this might be achievable again.

      3. You should not write off entire season just based on one single race. You could have for example watched a 2010 bahrain gp or german gp and missed a great season.

    2. Good points everyone. I understand what you are saying, @mrboerns, I remember going to the 2006 British GP and I am not kidding, NOTHING happened on the track in that race, I mean, literally nothing! There were a couple of changes of position during fuel stops, which is not overtaking and so hardly exciting…… What saved that weekend was Lewis in the GP2, classic stuff.

      Having said that though, despite the fact that the F1 race was not really a ‘race’ at all, the cars were so mind-blowing that it was still an amazing experience. The sounds and smells would be in my mind for the next week. Contrast that with when I went to the Spanish GP in 2014. It was forgotten by the time I was on the plane, it was so viscerally underwhelming.

      So the races from the V10 era were indeed often dull processions, but they were at least ‘real’. I can’t credit Pirelli @peartree because what we see now is drivers often plodding around and unable to push, and to me that is unforgivable.

      1. Fuel flow limits and 100kg fuel for the race are also factors in not pushing every lap even if the tyre could do so?

        1. Fuel flow limit does nothing for pushing (it’s no different to rev limit on a nat asp). The 100kg max fuel is a minor issue at most on the majority of circuits, especially as teams would always put in too little fuel anyway.

          The main reason drivers don’t push is because it kills the tyres.

          1. No doubt the tyres limit things but if the tyres lasted and could be pushed I think the rules on fuel will limit the pace as you would run out of fuel with a 100kg/h fuel flow limit and 100kg to use, they would run out of fuel without having to look after the tyres in around 1 hour of running, the tyre deg masks the issue with the fuel rules and pushing every lap.

          2. I will repeat, the fuel flow limit does not hinder teams from pushing any more than a rev limit does. The fuel flow is a limit on how fast fuel can enter the engine, just as a rev limit is a limit on the amount of air which can enter the engine.

            The maximum fuel use limit may hinder teams at some tracks, though definitely not all.

    3. Apex Assassin
      22nd April 2016, 2:29

      Completely agree. Even when Ferrari controlled the series and won every race it was still better than this farce of a series we have today.

      One real pass in 2001 is better than all the DRS and push-to-pass overtakes in the v6 era.

  2. James Coulee
    21st April 2016, 1:00

    Ross Brown has been on the back of my mind through all this ordeal: currently unaffiliated with the teams, deeply knowledgeable about the sport, the technical aspects and the politics, he’d be the ideal person to redesign F1’s set of rules from the ground up and for the future. No more Bernie or teams shenanigans.

    1. While I do have some mixed feelings about ross I think there is one thing he could do really well in f1. There is one thing he could really bring into f1 and due to his knowledge and technical expertise he could make it work. I’m taking about real science based approach to solving the issues in f1 while at the same time using science to shoot down bad ideas.

      We could work towards making the cars follow and pass others without drs by really doing the aerodynamics research and work to get to know what works and what doesn’t. We could not only create technical rules which make it possible to make the racing more close but also create some kind of predictive and practical ruleset which also removes lot of the guesswork and unwanted consequences (double diffusers, ugly noses, boring engines). You would also have a person who really understands f1 and can’t be pushed towards technologically bad directions by the smooth talkers who can spin the jargon to make something sound good when in fact it is bad.

      This scientific approach could also be applied to all rule changes. Let bernie have his stupid ideas and then show him what kind of results it brings. We did not need to go australia to see the new qualifying fail. Had the people in charge done due diligence the results would have been known before there was even need to vote for the system. We really do live in a world where we can analyse all kinds of things with remarkable precision and really know reasons why different things happen. We don’t need to sit in dark rooms and throw stuff on the wall to see what sticks. We know bowling balls go through the wall, tennis balls bounce back and balls made of glue stick to the wall. It is bad for f1 that it refuses to use these tools and instead it focuses on these last minute knee jerk reactionary changes forced through by political games and powerplay.

      Under fia ross could bring back the technical working group to investigate old and new ideas in detail. He could research and complete the research in time for the next generation f1 cars. Had we had a person like ross leading this endeavour we would already have good ruleset to go for in 2017. At the moment we are still arguing over stupid and not important things. He would have data and technical expertise to show what works.

      If ross also had power he could force some of those changes through. Sadly I think for that reason alone it will not happen. The teams won’t allow it, ferrari and merc will fight to death to keep their new powers and top positions. Bernie likes the way he can force through his non sensical ideas and if there was ross there telling him everytime his ideas are stupid because they don’t work then obviously bernie would lose some of his power. In the end the best thing a person like ross brawn could do is to prevent bernie from doing anything with the rules. Even without any other changes that alone would make it worthwhile to have ross there. Keeping the teams in check and keeping the performance levels more balanced would only be a small bonus compared to that.

      1. Yes Ross v Bernie seems to be an argument of Science vs Mario Kart. I’ve said it before, I love Mario Kart but keep it on the Nintendo Bernie, don’t turn F1 into it.

        it feels like there’s been a real shift over the last few weeks as criticism of Bernie has become public and spokesmen such as drivers have felt more comfortable actually saying it. The sport is being compromised due to bad decisions and quite simply – he needs to go.

        I would love to see Ross back in the sport at a decision maker level. he has experience of the business side and more experience than most at a team and technical level.

      2. I think the sport needs two people at the helm.

        One who controls the sports tech regulations, which involve car regulations, circuit design approval, sporting regulations, etc. Ross Brawn is the perfect fit for this role. And as you mentioned, there wouldn’t be any Bernie style donkey ideas introduced. The quality of racing and sport would improve under Ross’ guidance.

        The 2nd role needs to be of the Commercial Rights Holder. The man who will take over most of Bernie’s job. Reworking on income distribution, circuit hosting costs, handling airing rights, overall marketing, etc. Bernie’s management of this side of the sport seems equally ghastly. If I lost 1/3rd of my audience within 7 years, I would have been fired and probably sued by my company, but, this doesn’t affect Bernie at all. Instead, Bernie would like to plummet the sport further by publicly berating it to the point that there are less than a dozen fans worldwide. I cannot think of a good person for this position so far. Horner would be decent at it, and honestly Flavio would do a great job if he didn’t have any connection to Bernie. Maybe they just need to hire someone from outside of Formula 1 to fix this sport’s fundamentals and get it on the right track

  3. The idea of reducing engine costs only means the money will be spent elsewhere, and as history tends to show, probably to the detriment of the sport.
    They used to spend all the money on multiple engines per weekend and spare cars, which at least the spectators could see and appreciate. Now all the money is spent on tiny aero bits which often have no real race-day benefit (as shown by drivers regularly doing fine with broken aero bits).

    1. Wrong😓. 3 engines per season is only going to increase the R&D costs for the PU suppliers which will see a cost increas for customers.

      Arguing about teams spending fortunes on tiny aero bits means you weren’t a spectator before 2009.

      And the main thing. No matter what the aero rules are, teams are going to spend a fortune on aero. Want to know why? Look up the basic principals of atmosphere on solid objects.

      Unless we race in space, teams will spend fortunes on aero, this is regardless if the even make “wings” illegal. Teams will still spend fortunes.

      The “best” thing we can do for the sake of the sport is have massive investment NOW to solve the problem of high aero downforce and minimal performance loss for following cars. The sooner we understand this problem and solve it, the sooner we will have fast, relevant, bleeding edge racing.

      Otherwise LMP1 will soon overtake F1. Especially if F1 “fans” (dinosaurs) have thier say.

      1. Wouldn’t it be good to bring back spare cars? I think the teams already bring so much spares to make one more car every race, cancel in season testing completely it will cut costs, and solve the not enought running in practice sessions by running 3cars, lower teams can sell the seat , and top team’s 3rd drivers becomes meaningful again. Or maybe even by ballot every weekend a team have to hand over the car to the pirelli driver for fp1, so pirelli can have their so wanted more testing in current cars on raceused circuits in actual race conditions, not like testing on a circuit in February, which holds the race on July

        1. Spare/T-cars are all good and fine but it doesn’t stack with the penalty system – who’s engine and gearbox has to sit in the car ready to go out at a moments notice? Does that mean the other driver cannot use the car?

          Pirelli using real cars for testing is all good until you end up in the situation where said team has to run that car and they get accused of running new parts and ‘learning’ about their car in an unfair situation.


          1. It can be only as a test-car, or you can always think about some rule, like u can chose not starting or take the spare car start from the back/pitlane + take a penalty next race. Or maybe if a Car dies on the parade lap, you can start the spare car from the pitlane only using your 3driver… i think that would be interesting, and a good reason to be the 3rd driver not like now with 95% chance siting the whole season in the garage.

      2. More than anything else. There will be more penalties and grid drops for extra engines used, which is annoying as it is anyways. I think they should just fix it at 5, and let the drivers race for pete’s sake instead of having to preserve engines as well. No further investment in making the engines more durable should keep engine manufacturers costs under check as well.

  4. I also got into F1 because the cars just fascinated me to no end. They were all different, you could see art in each build every year and in most cases every race weekend. As I continued to watch, they became less interesting and common to each other. Most notably the 2009 season to now. 2012, Abu Dahbi, Alonso in Ferrai couldn’t get the job done to get passed Kubica’s Lotus…Bernie didn’t like it and started ranting about pass through zones to (cheat) passed (supposed) slower drivers…which led to DRS the ultimate real life cheat button/system. These makes no sense to me, confusing and unnecessary rules changes. Seems most of the radical changes are of two different pots and it one or the other or get out. #1, proposed changes that more than half the teams can’t agree vs. #2, Bernie’s ideas so far from reality that you have no choice but to go with pot #1.

    Either way, when concerning rules changes, the overall philosophy seems to be geared on how to help the top 2 or 3 teams while stifling everyone at once (if that makes sense?). This seems to hurt to lower teams more than help. Seems to me it would be better to figure out how to help the lower teams. I say, open up the rules more, create a bigger “box” to work within, let everyone be creative.

    Furthermore, I agree with Jenson, but I think a step further can be taken, get Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey together as a separate component to build a set of rules that can stand the of time for 5-10 years.

    1. Poor phone editing…

    2. I think you meant Vitaly Petrov’s Lotus not Kubica

      1. Yes, thank you!

    3. opening up the rules only favors the rich.

      but you’re right, this is what F1 should do.

      IF teams are willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the sport, we shouldnt hold them back for teams like williams who refuse to spend more than 150.

      F1 will only move forward when we open the rules and allow the real money to flow. holding back ferrari and red bull to allow budgets like williams to compete is something NASCAR would do. after all, we’re better than those red neck 1 body spec series NASCAR fans arent we?

      1. F1 will move forward when they actually learn to communicate with each other and come to acceptable solutions for all parties involved. This is something that red-neck series NASCAR has figured out long ago.

        If F1 is truly better then NASCAR than the need to start acting like it. The whole recent debacle with qualifying shows us that they are not even close.

    4. Before we call DRS push to pass, is it worth pointing out that it existed before DRS, including KERS, the F-Duct and way back to the Active Suspension systems of the 90’s where the front of the car would squat down, raise the rear to increase diffuser volume and just motor past everyone?

      1. correct Optimaximal,
        until they come up with something better i am happy with DRS,
        when a top driver has a problem and looses half a lap or more to the front runners “you’re” (DRS Hatters) are quite happy to wait a few weeks to see him back up the front again? well i am not and DRS is part of why they can make that challenge rather than just sit back and cant be bothered.
        if it wasn’t for DRS the racing would be rubbish, Vettel Daniel Kimi all made it back into the points some of it due to DRS,
        just watch what you wish for.

        1. So you don’t mind fake passing? Seeing whether or not your driver can pass on merit, on the limit, on his skill with the car’s natural ability…this is not exciting too you? Is this because you feel your driver doesn’t deserve to be “held up” ever and should get a free bee even though he worked to get with a second? If the driver can’t finish the job then he doesn’t deserve the position. Why is this a hard concept to understand? Because Bernie says?

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        21st April 2016, 23:52

        I’d rather have something like KERS, because both the chasing and defending driver can use it whenever they want, as long as they have the charge.

        Get rid of DRS and introduce something like KERS, but more powerful.

        1. KERS/ERS is an excellent concept. Available to use by all drivers anytime they wish. They have to be smart about when to use, be it better lap times, to challenge a pass ot defend against a pass. That is still racing IMO and good used of technology.

  5. I’ve never felt the lack of passing was a bad thing, if I’m honest. If there was no passing, it meant the driver ahead is doing a better job, top of his game with a better car…that is F1. However, when a pass happened (before DRS) it was glorious and well a deserved celebration from the boys in the paddock in the next TV shot. It is the same in football, most results maybe 1-nil but that one score is meaningful because it’s hard…and a draw is just as meaningful and telling of how well both teams were on that day. Ratings seem to up for BPL with those results, yea?

    In the long run, if you want more meaningful passing, remove DRS, make the cars more dependant on mechanical grip and trim some of the downforce while creating more drag. Reduce the front wing to 2 elements (1 main plane and 1 adjustable flap) instead of allowing 5 or 6 planes with 2 other winglets. Make the bodies wider with bodywork required around most of the rear suspension (no winglets in front of the rear tires or wing posts near the side pod inlets). Then give them 1970s style slick tires, super wide in the back, daddy likes a fat booty!

    1. You bring up an important point about current F1 fans.

      Recent F1 fans seem to think the following driver is entitled to an overtaking move. this couldnt be a more imbecilic belief or misunderstanding of the premise or racing. For 100% of all racing history, the following driver has the DISADVANTAGE, this has ALWAYS included aero benefits, tire wear, etc.

      The following driver has always had to show bravado in the passing attempt and make it stick under circumstances beyond normal. When you hear fans crying about “dirty air” please replace your defintion of “fan” with, someone who doesnt understand racing.


      1. Well said

      2. @Jimmy Price I have to disagree.

        Slipstream will give the following car fuel advantage at equal speed, or speed advantage to catch up in straights, so not everything are disadvantages. In current F1 following close will destroy you tires because loss of downforce, but when aero was not so important (and tyres so weak) chasing a car could actually be better than leading.

        (And of course in other series more stock-like drafting is a key strategy)

    2. Really well said, couldn’t agree more.

  6. Three engines for one season? That is completely ridiculous. I wonder how many grid-penalties we will begin to see from 2018 onwards…

    I once read a story that during the 1983 French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit with its long 1.1 mile straight that Ferrari had blown no less than 8 engines during practice and qualifying- and Brabham had blown no less than 6 BMW engines for the 1982 French GP at the same circuit. Sure, F1 was cheaper and simpler then- but that was effectively when F1 was getting close to its peak, IMO.

    1. Its rather short sighted when they will then wonder why there are no cars on track for any of the practice sessions etc and crowds get even more bored.

    2. Was it cheaper though counting the time value of money? What was Ferrari’s budget in 1981 and today adjusted for inflation? I have know idea how to find the info but would be interesting. How much bigger as a percentage were top teams budgets then compared to the back of the grid. Little teams nowadays seem to have got too big for their boots and try to drag others down to their level. Gene Haas was recently quoted saying something along these lines.

  7. ColdFly F1 (@)
    21st April 2016, 6:14

    Good for Susie to speak up. But what a pity she decided to defend BE.
    She should have made her point with ‘dare to be different’ and leave it BE himself to come out and say he supports it.

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    21st April 2016, 8:40

    What do F1 fans and Prince Charles have in common I hear you ask? Our lives predominantly involve waiting for someone to die…

    1. That is a very unfortunate comment William. You can surely do better than that…

      1. I don’t mind a bit of gallows humour. The timing of it just adds to it.

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        21st April 2016, 13:38

        @baron – I am terribly sorry – I forgot that humour cannot entail anything remotely crass or topical, even if the punchline is an archaic, self-aggrandizing, absurd little man of whose personal politics make the absolutist Al-Saud monarchy look like Justin Trudeau.

        …and I’m not talking about Charlie…

        1. Sick burn bro

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      21st April 2016, 13:16

      Our first ‘Current Events Competition’ winner. @william-brierty

  9. I don’t relate much to the notion that F1 cars need to be physical to be challenging or watchable. I am much more interested and impressed with the mental load that goes into racing with managing the car and race which is much more demanding these days. It gives a whole new dimension to the sport and frankly elevates it more. It also means drivers can do more to influence the result than if it was just about who had the best car and maybe physical stamina. As they are all physically fit, it would not be the deciding factor and I wouldn’t care if it was anyway.

    1. Yeah me too @balue. The thing with cars that corner faster is they change speed less. That is a whole area of drama dulled down by more aero.

      The drivers may feel more heroic at 5g but I don’t think the spectacle is any more exciting than at 3.5. The drivers can spend hours on their side with weights on their heads in between races, but it’s not a factor for me either.

  10. Physical aspect to F1+ Quali rules to change again next year = Arm wrestles to form the grid?

  11. More physically challenging = faster cars in corners, faster lap times and less saving with fuel, tyres and PU during races. Faster lap times during races without (much) more turbulent air in order to cars can follow each other:
    – more mechanical grip/aero downforce rate. More mechanical grip and less or same aero downforce.
    – tyres with more grip (wider) and (more durable)
    – more powerful and effective PUs (natural development)
    – more fuel/race (or bring back refueling)
    If we want to see the best drivers do their best, F1 has to be more challenging physically and mentally as well. (Mentally) Drivers have to manage their race and make their own decisions and tacticts so we need less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons).

  12. Apex Assassin
    22nd April 2016, 2:30

    I like JB but has he completely gone off his nut?

    He’s not racing in F1 next year. He needs to shush now and let the real drivers speak.

  13. Button is a so contradictory. Is like he doesn’t know what he likes.
    On one article he says he wants fast cornering cars with more G forces and therefore more aero and more clued on the road(how else can you take a corner fast?). On the other he says that what excites him is not how fast the cars go etc but the fight side by side with others and that physically he does other things to get his kicks.
    Doesn’t he realize that one negates the other. To have more battles side by side you need slower cornering less physical cars that are more unstable and can’t take corners like on rails. Also why does he says that he cares about cars being physical on one and not really care because he does other things on the other?

    Does he have a split personality disorder?

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