Drivers ‘don’t understand the rules any more’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Carlos Sainz Jnr claims F1 drivers are struggling to understand how the rules of racing are being implemented.

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Some observations on the Mercedes radio chatter we’ve heard this year from @Phylyp:

F1 is a team sport, and Rosberg really puts the ‘team’ in team sport. His radio communications might not be against the rules, but they sure don’t win him any admirers.

In radio communications, I’ve noticed that both Mercedes drivers often refer to the other in a very neutral way – ‘the other car’, ‘my team mate’ rather than by name. Is this a psychological tactic of depersonalising the enemy? There are exceptions where they’ve used names (‘Nico hit me!’) but those tended to be more spontaneous radio calls.

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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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52 comments on “Drivers ‘don’t understand the rules any more’”

  1. Again, it could be raining outside, but if I can’t see out of the window, I’ll have a hard time knowing…

    Everyone who really knows the sport and follows it closely knows that what all the drivers did last Sunday was spectacular, as Wurz says. Some more spectacular than others.

    But the fact is that it doesn’t look like that. The way they show the sport is completely wrong, it simply distorts reality. What we see is a badly processed F1 race. How come those amateur videos of Kimi’s accident showed the speed and the weather conditions better than who knows how many million of dollars of TV equipment could?

    All camera angles are wrong, the T cam shows everything in slow motion. Why didn’t we get any of those fantastic onboard shots we saw previously, on Hamilton’s shoulder? F1 will never look like it’s improving if we are not presented with a proper broadcast that makes the best out of the staggering speed of the cars.

    Showing Mexico’s main straight from dead ahead will never, ever, show how fast the cars are going… and yet they broke the all time speed record! how can that be acceptable?

    1. @fer-no65 – the current camera angles keep the advertisements and sponsors’ logos in focus. Those cars are just a medium for said logos.

      Sarcasm aside, I agree with your sentiment – FOM should definitely telecast races with some camera angles similar to those fan videos to show the dramatic speed. I would suggest they replace those shots from cameras embedded inside the kerbs of some corners (i.e. the ground-level bugs-eye-view) with these shots.

      And while they’re at it, they should take a look at the audio mixing also. Those fan videos – most likely captured on a mobile phone – captured the sound of the cars very nicely. While not as soul-stirring and stimulating as the V8s and V10s, the sound of these engines in those videos was still exciting to a petrol-head, especially with the sharply rising and falling tone due to the Doppler effect.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        17th November 2016, 3:05

        The audio mixing is the responsibility of the broadcasters (for example: Sky). It’s their fault that after three years of these V6 engines they still have no idea how to make them sound appealing. In fact, they don’t even bother.

        If you watch a raw FOM feed with no commentary, the cars actually sound good. Amateur videos still capture the sound best, however. It was like that in the V8 era as well.

        1. Well if you’ve actually been to an F1 circuit, the hybrid engines do not sound good. They sound like put-put motorboats.

          Don’t even bother to disagree, over the last three years this has been stated by dozens of F1 racers and principals, by Max Mosely (who said it wouldn’t matter to television viewers), and by the FIA itself in its 2014 technical brief on the hybrid formula.

          Would you like for FOM to synthetically “enhance” the sound?

          1. @geeyore But that’s your opinion, shared by others of course, but there seems to be just as many who are fine with the sound. It’s subjective, so to each their own. To say ‘don’t even bother to disagree’ because some people don’t like it, is to try to conveniently sweep under the carpet the millions who think F1 has way bigger issues to solve, and are just as happy not having to wear ear protection, and are happy they can bring their kids to a race now, have a conversation about the race during the race, and can now hear things like the tires grasping for grip on the tarmac.

          2. They don’t sound exiting IRL, I agree.

            This year at Spa, when we walked into the circuit we heard the GP2 engines roling out of the pitch. Now that was quite an exciting sound! Then came the Posche Super Cup cars and as we were overlooking the exit Pouhon, we could hear the awesome sound of those cars coming around the hill and then downshifting hard for the right hander. Thát was awesome. So much so, that the F1 cars (and the fact that you couldn’t really ‘hear’ them coming untill they were in front of your face) were rather anticlimatic. Still the race was awesome to be at, especially since it had been a while for me, but man did I miss the roaring rocket monsters of old, bravely tamed by epic super stars dwarfing all the other support races in every sence. Facilities at Spa were still terrible as ever though! ;-)

          3. Michael Brown (@)
            17th November 2016, 17:36

            Don’t even bother to disagree

            What a disgraceful tactic. The cars sound better with no commentary. It’s not the FOM’s job to enhance the sound. It’s broadcasters like Sky who make the cars sound completely boring so we can hear David Croft mix up the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers

    2. Excellent point. F1 is an exciting sport let down completely by the coverage.

  2. Thank you for the COTD, Keith!

  3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    17th November 2016, 2:53

    Oh wow, so now not even the drivers understand F1? I guess no one understands F1 then.

    1. @tophercheese21 this is how I pictured drivers after reading Sainz’s comments

  4. Ron being ousted at Mclaren is going to be a good things for the team going forward.

    The term “has brought the team as far forward as possible” is typically used in football, and it is very relevant here. The cloud of Ron has been hanging over Mclaren for far too long now. Yes, no denying that his personal character and drive are the bedrock of Mclaren and what it is today. Without Ron in the last 30 odd years, they may not even be on the grid.

    The danger that the likes of Ron pose to a team is that you end living off your legacy. A bit like Ferrari have been since 2007. The post LDM era should have been an era of change, but this hasnt happend for various reasons. Mclaren on the other hand are nowhere near as complex a beast as Ferrari, but the legacy of Ron has been telling.

    With Ron out of the way, perhaps the likes of Jost Capito can implement his methods more freely? If Zak Brown chooses to accept the role that is offer, Mclaren would have a man who’s commercial acumen is unrivaled in F1. Brown’s arrival will certainly improve the state of Mclaren’s coffers, not to mention luring possible title sponsors. Mclaren is one of the best known automotive brands in the world, with their aspirations to become a relevant tech company as well, will be the perfect person to build on what Ron has built. Being the racer that he is, I tip Brown to choose the Mclaren role of Liberty.

    This will be a new era for Mclaren. I believe that they will get stronger and better. They have the technical capabilities, a strong driving roster, commercial appeal (if played correctly).

    Thanks for all the effort and memories Ron, all the best. Time to move on.

    1. Very nice viewpoint, @jaymenon10

    2. I don’t believe Mclaren’s problem has much to do with money, be it the race team or the automotive arm.
      I don’t see Zak Brown giving McLaren race wins, if Honda don’t sort out their engines, neither do I see any exotic car design coming from that angle. All the signs point to making more profit for the shareholders, and it may mean doing things with less passion.

    3. Spafrancorchamps
      17th November 2016, 7:19

      McLaren will probably be on top next season, due to Ron Dennis’ management. Damn, I really hope so. And I hope he’ll make it known then too!

  5. I think the outpouring of support for Dr. Aki Hintsa just goes to show how important the work is of the unsung heroes of F1. Rest in Peace.

    Also God bless all others working behind the scenes who rarely get the acknowledgement they deserve.

    1. Hinsta* apologies.

      1. Now I’m just confused, and feeling a bit stupid. I’ve seen both spellings. From all I’ve read though, he’d probably have a laugh.

        1. Hintsa is the correct one.

    2. There was similar respect and admiration for Dr. Sid Watkins a few years ago.

      I remember reading in one of Stephen Ambrose’s books (probably Band of Brothers) that while medics embedded in units during WWII were viewed normally or were even teased during training, once on the battlefield the same soldiers ended up respecting them greatly and speaking of them highly.

      On the spelling of his name, I think you got it right the first time around – his official website goes with Hintsa.

  6. Is no one going to comment on how stunning that Mazda is?

    1. Lol it is stunning, no question.

    2. Mazda make some seriously good-looking cars and don’t usually get much credit for it.

  7. I bagged Benson yesterday for the Hamilton puff-piece. I will so the opposite today.

    The Ronspeak “obituary” is a wnderful summation of the man who made McLaren.

  8. ColdFly F1 (@)
    17th November 2016, 6:27

    FOM even blocked the FIA from showing Max’ overtake which is part of the ‘overtake of the year’ poll!

    1. @coldfly That’s genuinely hilarious. I thought you were joking at first.

      Poor selection all round for the supposed best action of the year!

      1. Spafrancorchamps
        17th November 2016, 7:21

        The Rally Cross and F3 were really good though?

      2. Slightly early for a poll too, considering there’s still another race to go.

        1. In Abu Dhabi.

          The only fireworks I’m expecting is after the race is finished and when everyone comes up with a reason why Rosberg didn’t deserve the WC.

          1. Ugh… that track man. It looks stunning for sure, but it’s not a race track (eventhough it’s a purpose build race track, which is quite an achievement if you think about it). Also, it’s too late in the calender. F1 seasons shoudln’t going out on a track that virtually garuantees an anti-climax unless there’s mechanical faillures.

            I just don’t understand how you can start from scratch with a piece of land totally to yourself with litterally a blanc cheque budget to build a track on it, and then somehow still come up with a track that all but garuanties boring processions. Baffling.

        2. @wildfire15 As soon as that Fiesta went around those four other cars there really was nobody else who could ever contend for the overtake of the year award,…

          1. I agree entirely, but you never know. After all, how many people were ready to celebrate Clinton or Remain before the results came in?

  9. The current amount of races is already more than enough, so hopefully for the sake of the travelling teams it won’t increase. If they ever bring that idea on the table then I hope Ferrari blocks it by using it’s ‘veto’. The only thing I dislike about this change of ownership is exactly this idea, so in that regard F1 would have been better off with CVC or in the hands of some other European company.

    1. Jerejj – Many teams have opined that increasing the number of races will mean they have to spin up a second travelling garage team, as the demands on a single team are already quite high, due to which morale is low and attrition high. So I’m sure that this idea will meet with stiff opposition from the teams in general.

      Speaking selfishly as a viewer, I like more races across the year, and hate the period of downtime between seasons. Having said that, I totally understand the needs of teams to provide a semblance of work-life balance for their travelling staff.

      I’m not sure if further streamlining the order of races will make a difference – its been discussed before where all the American continent races could occur in close succession, similarly with a Middle East and far-East/Australian leg; instead of the current approach of sandwiching Canada between Monaco and other European races.

      1. The reason Canada is sandwiched between Monaco and the other European races is the climate as Montreal is too cold for F1 in October.

        1. Cheers, Jerejj, that makes sense.

        2. Anything after the 3rd weekend of September is too cold for Montreal. From 1981 and before F1 used to have the Canadian GP right after the Italian GP. They should reconsider doing that.

  10. I’m getting concerned that the sport s about to be taken over by media and marketing interests which to me will kill it faster than anything else.

    When the sport was at its most interesting was when “racers” and their technicians (who were also racers) were allowed to develop their cars to be as competitive as possible. People watched because the competition was great with multiple winners from multiple teams. Teams that fell behind a bit, worked hard on their engines, aero and chassis until they got back in the game.

    Now we’re looking at restrictive rules and marketing gurus who want to have more races ( who really wants more of the same) , shorter races (no thanks, I like seeing exhausted drivers), and all sorts of “innovations” designed for the ADHD like gen y who can’t concentrate on anything for longer than 10 minutes.

    All F1 needs is competition and to do that we need teams to be able to develop their cars rather than write off a whole season like they had to in 2014 and 2015 because half the field had PU’s that couldn’t hold a candle to the Benz PU and n means to do anything about it.

    It doesn’t need marketing gurus, it needs common sense, people like Ron Dennis and “characters” like Dan Ric, Alonso,Vettel and co to tell it like it is without their marketing minders gagging them.

    1. @dbradock Indeed, the let’s-get-the-ADHD-kids-watching ideas are slightly worrying, especially with American owners. Someone level-headed like Ross Brawn needs to be hired ASAP to plot out the course for the future. He even has lot’s of ideas for presentation as well. It would be a real shame if his services isn’t used and the knee-jerk marketing forces get the main say. There’s no need to change a winning formula. Convergence is the main point like you say.

    2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      17th November 2016, 9:49

      Your comment for me, is COTD.

    3. @dbradock – Unrestricted development would also require a more equitable distribution of prize money (at the very least) plus improved sponsorship across all teams, because the engine manufacturers will surely pass the cost of unrestricted powertrain development to their customers. While it might be tempting, allowing only those customers who can afford it to benefit from engine development will only widen the gap between the haves and have-nots.

      It may sound like an unclean approach, but if the media and marketing interests improve viewership and revenues, and if that improved profitability results in a proportion of it being pumped back into the sport, it might allow such unrestricted (or larger) development. Hope springs eternal.

      1. @phylp the problem with the unclean approach is that I have yet to see any of these types of business in the corporate world do anything other than pocket the profits and therein lies the problem.

        There already is room for a more equitable distribution of funds but that was allowed to be skewed to the “haves”. In terms of power train development, why not let the team’s develop their own software (which is a big chunk of the development) and other aspects of the PU’s – in other words the Manufacturers provide a “blank” like they do now and the team can elect to “tweak” it themselves. That ones up the possibilit of someone competing with a manufacturer.

        Pipe dream I know…. But something has to be done to generate competition – I’m a bit sick of knowing who will win at the end of testing before racing even starts.

        1. There’s a reason why they have been trying to limit development though, of course, which is to keep costs from escalating out of the reach of the smaller teams, and it seems that has only helped to a small degree anyway. Money distribution, sure, but I also think one has to draw the line in how much a smaller team gets fed anyway…F1 teams shouldn’t enter based on the amount they get, but also what they can contribute to the show…after all, they were the ones that wanted in and had to prove why they were worthy.

          Anyway, I am hopeful that they are already on the way to a ‘natural’ fix if the new cars can be raced more closely. I hope that the combination of the much better tires, and the added downforce coming from the floor and diffuser (ground effects), are greater than the added aero downforce, such that cars will be less negatively affected in dirty air, and the show will be much better.

        2. Good responses @dbradock and @Robbie 👍

          I have yet to see any of these types of business in the corporate world do anything other than pocket the profits

          Yes, I agree. Even when Ross Brawn was approached for suggestions, he was asked for improvements that could be applied right now, instead of a 3-5 year vision – which just goes to show the dividend-based mindset of the owners, and I don’t think Liberty will be very different from CVC in that regard.

          There’s a reason why they have been trying to limit development though, of course, which is to keep costs from escalating out of the reach of the smaller teams

          Here’s some thoughts that might allow the lower teams to better manage costs and improve their competitive edge:
          – Allow the lower teams to pool resources. Not anything IP related (like the wing/diffuser design), but something more mundane – but inescapable – such as cost of ownership/rental of wind tunnels and CFD server farms, and share these resources on a time-shared basis.
          – Maybe increase the CFD limits for aerodynamic modelling proportionate to the WCC position, for teams that are positions 6 and below.
          – Allow common manufacturers for components (e.g. the carbon-fibre bits), or even allow the bigger teams to manufacture components for the smaller teams (While there might be a worry about IP theft in such a scenario, if you look at the PC industry, rivals like AMD and Nvidia use common manufacturers like TSMC to produce their chips, so there is precedent; likewise Apple used its competitor Samsung’s manufacturing facilities).

          Someone with better knowledge of the setup of teams can chip in with the validity of these ideas, or even whether they are already in place.

  11. Geneva will be the place Liberty Media realized that in undemocratic self-centre group only a controversial CEO like Bernie who can lure them to agree on something progressive.

  12. How is this always and always repeated, year after year. Bernie said it, the drivers said, Max Mosley said it, TV commentators said it – and yet, fans still understand the sport without any problems. And it’s not only us, who have been watching for 20+ years. My girlfriend has watched a number of races this season and even though she’s not really into F1, she totally understand the rules by now. She knows that drivers have to use two different compounds in the dry, she knows that you can’t cross the white line on the pit exit and all that.

    The problem isn’t the rules, it’s the stewarts who are inconsistent as crazy.

    As always, I find it very disrespectful when people claim that the viewers sit in front of their TV and have no idea what’s going on. Apparently, we know more than some of the drivers.

    1. Think about it from a different perspective. It’s not you or me beeing to dumb to understand what’s going on. It’s just that it is annoying as hell period that what you are looking at, might or might not be what you get and you might not know until weeks later.

      This is because every move every driver makes at any point is subject a verbal diarea on what is allowed and what isn’t. The rules are unclear in formulation and inconsistantly interpreted by the race stewards and on top of that they keep changing dúring the season, which is unheard of in every other sport I know.

      F1 racing is overregulated to begin with imho and the only sport that I know of where the competitors effectively get to make up the rules (a garuantee for disaster as each has their own agenda ofcourse).

      1. It’s just that it is annoying as hell period that what you are looking at, might or might not be what you get and you might not know until weeks later.

        I always liked that. It adds to the drama. I remember being a kid and catching the news in the evening to see if there was some hope that Schumi got disqualified ;)

        The rules are unclear in formulation

        I’d have to disagree on this one, the sporting rules are quite clear. Even the technical rules these days seem to be watertight.

        inconsistantly interpreted by the race stewards and on top of that they keep changing dúring the season, which is unheard of in every other sport I know.

        You’re absolutely right, there needs to be more consistency and less changes. But, to be honest – Balestre made up rules on spot, too. Rules that favored one driver and disadvantaged another. This is nothing new.

        F1 racing is overregulated to begin with

        Preach to the choir, brother. No argue here. I’ve repeated this many times and I’ll do it again. We need:

        – Free choice of tires and tire manufacturer, anytime during the weekend without mandatory stops
        – Optional refueling
        – Abandonment of blue flags and the blue flag rule
        – Unlimited testing
        – Unlimited amounts of spare parts including engines with no penalties for changing
        – VSC only before the actual SC comes out
        – Standing start repeats if the race is red flagged or SC’d on the first lap

        Now I got carried away, I only wanted to list those things that would loosen regulation and I’ve listed my complete wishlist. Sorry.

  13. If they were to increase the number of races in the future it would almost certainly be the end of me watching every race because i’ve been getting kind of burnt out the past 2-3 races & cannot wait for the season to end.

    as the number of races has gone up over the years its started to feel less special, less of an event & more of a routine thing that simply happens every weekend or 2 & the more it’s started to feel like that i’ve actually found that as we get towards the end of the year rather than been excited about the next race i’ve actually found myself wishing the season was over.

    too much of something isn’t always good i guess.

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