Start, Monte-Carlo, 2015 Monaco Grand Prix

FIA requesting all tracks to make safety upgrades for 2017 cars

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: All 20 tracks on the 2017 F1 calendar have been requested to make safety upgrades to accommodate the faster 2017-specification cars.

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Comment of the day

@Bookoi tackles the thorny subject of penalties:

We’ve had over-regulated racing in F1 so long now that everybody looks at incidents as if they are lawyers. ‘Now by the letter of the law, that was illegal and should be penalised etc etc…’. I do understand the logic in that, but I’m more concerned with whether those ‘laws’ should even be there in the first place. The answer is no, in my opinion.

Let them race and only get involved if somebody does something completely stupid. These guys are supposed to be the best racers in the world. Treat them as such.
@Bookoi

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  • 49 comments on “FIA requesting all tracks to make safety upgrades for 2017 cars”

    1. Couldn’t agree more with COTD. It’s such a shame that there are actually rules on how they can race. Which manoeuvres are legal and which ones are not. Basic things like shoving a car off track, weaving around, or cutting a car off completely, are obviously not okay, but the one-move rule is a prime example of something that is just unnecessary

      1. @strontium I agree, it would be great to see the FIA try the ‘hands off’ approach for a handful of races and see how it goes. Come down like a tonne of bricks if any drivers endanger the lives of others, other than that let them race, warts and all

        1. They tried partially hands-off for one race last year (Mexico). It was such a disaster they were obliged to backpedal before even reaching qualifying, let alone the race, and the end of the race showed they didn’t backpedal enough.

      2. @strontium It’s illogical to say it’s a shame there are rules and then list a lot which you think ought to be there.

        With a lot of fans I think despite the ‘let’em race’ tough talk, in the end it all boils down to the level of rules, and IMO they should be clear and strict. F1 should try to be a gentleman’s sport and not attract a rowdy hooligan lot that will cheer dirty or unsafe driving.

        1. @balue It’s not illogical, what I’m saying is essentially that the racing is over-regulated (a typical theme of F1). There have to be some rules, obviously, but there’s a difference between having rules to keep some basic standards and having rules which literally make overtakes as predictable (and as fun to watch) as a car passing a lorry on the motorway.

          Using a gentleman’s sport as an example, in tennis there are rules as to which lines they can play within, but you don’t see a tennis player penalised because they hit the ball with their backhand.

          In F1, the moment there is some aggressive defending, the drivers are straight on the radio complaining, because they know they can get the driver ahead to give the position, which is easier than trying to pass. If the rules weren’t as strict, the driver would have to try on track.

          1. Taking away rules (or interpreting them in as lax a manner as at present) tends to cause overtakes to be predictable as a car passing a lorry. At the moment, it only happens because of DRS or because someone has decided to collide into another driver and get away with it. All relaxing the rules would do at this point would mean is cause anarchy.

            The radio issue is because the rules are enforced in a vague and inconsistent manner, and the authorities have frequently shown that moaning is more productive than racing when it comes to overtaking. There is little trust that regulations will be followed by the authorities. None of this has much to do with how the rules are written, and if anything, they would argue for increased regulation (to remove loopholes and ambiguities) rather than less (which is apt to introduce them).

            Tennis has very strict, unambiguous regulations, something that F1 often lacks. Yes, umpires are challenged more often than in the past, but because their training is such that they consistently apply the rules they have, everyone understands why certain things happen the way they do, trust that the same actions will lead to the same consequences, and players know that good play is more likely to result in a good result than mediocre play plus rule-breaking or moaning (the opposite of the situation in F1, at least for the front half of the grid).

            1. @alianora-la-canta I too think the racing will improve with stricter and better enforced rules. Then the non-DRS passes will have to be done with proper and likely lengthy side by side action. Probably more tries too as it’s not as easy as when it’s just to bump others off.

      3. So what would you decide regarding a driver who decides the only way to avoid not being overtaken is by taking a short cut across the grass? Isn’t it a basic right in racing for a faster competitor to overtake a slower one? Surely the right approach would have been for a breach of the rules like that to have been dealt with immediately. It wasn’t, ending up with a competitor who could easily have finished in third place relegated to 5th through no fault of their own.

    2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      14th January 2017, 0:27

      I guess that, exactly because Bottas never “destroyed” Massa, he was given the seat at Mercedes.

      1. @omarr-pepper I think you are on the money sir.

      2. I think you are wrong there @omarr-pepper, @peartree. I think it might be more to do with Bottas being solid at working on the car. Remember they had Rosberg for a lot of that, for twinking the setup etc. Hamilton never really was that bothered about finding a “perfect” setup, he rather looked at getting his driving right to get the best laps out of the car available.

        Now I am not wanting to say that Hamilton is somehow bad at setting up his car. I am sure that he knows what he needs, and is perfectly able to tell the engineers that. But his strenth might just not be to fiddle with it until he gets it exactly right, something Bottas could well be more apt to than Wehrlein who seems to be more towards the same approach that Hamilton has.

        I also genuinly believe that they do not want to throw their protegé in a car next to Hamilton if they fear he will be out of his depth (and maybe prone to “toys out of the pram moments” on top!), because it could well wreack his career. Bottas career won’t be ruined if he fails to impress as much as his fans and he himself might hope. He will still be considered a “safe pair of hands”, and he seems to be more calm, so possibly somewhat easier to handle.

        1. @bascb Trevor Carlin disagrees.

          1. Yeah, and Berger too @peartree. But does that mean it fits what Mercedes see/know/want?

    3. Regarding COTD, In theory removing a lot of the rules surrounding the racing is logical but those rules are there for a reason.

      I was around F1 as many of the rules surrounding racing etiquette was been introduced & a lot of them were pushed for by the drivers who wanted to have an idea of what cars they would be racing would do. Before this you never knew if a car you were racing would weave around, Push you off the track, Drive you onto the grass, put you up against a wall or whatever & there were several accidents that occurred as a result of some of those things which in a post Imola 1994 world drivers, teams & the FIA wanted to avoid.
      Drivers wanted some level of predictable behavior & The FIA wanted better safety so they worked together to pen a basic set of rules of acceptability, Some of which were penned after a specific incident.

      If we look at the moving under braking rule that came in last year, That was done because drivers felt the unpredictability of cars moving under braking (A time when cars are most on edge & most sensitive) was dangerous & wanted clarification on what was/wasn’t allowed. They felt leaving things as they were would lead to a big accident because if one driver does it & gets away with it then others will start to see it as acceptable which increases the potential for disaster.

      Looking elsewhere they stopped enforcing a lot of the racing rules in the FIA F3 series a few years back until everyone started driving like idiots which forced them to put there foot down & be more harsh with the penalties. Same thing happened in Nascar when they freed up the racing rules & you suddenly had drivers wrecking each other at 200mph & when nothing was done it escalated to Kyle Busch putting someone head on into the wall under caution.

      You have to be careful, The rules are there for a reason & getting rid of them may seem like a great idea until you start seeing drivers drive like idiots & causing stupid wrecks at which point you have to bring some of the rules back.

      1. I totally agree. It’s all fair and well saying “they’re the best drivers, just let them get on with it”, but their competitiveness and pressure to perform mean they will take any advantage they can get away with. Then, after they cause a huge accident, they’ll say “Hey, there were no rules against it”.

        Having said that, I don’t think they should be enforced religiously by the stewards, common sense still comes first. The point is to have a guideline and a simple framework for punishments so decisions can be made quickly and transparently – “Did this guy break this rule?” “Yes” “OK, the punishment is X”.

      2. @gt-racer Just to clarify something, as your F1 knowledge is vast compared to many around here including myself, but wasn’t the moving under braking issue with Max just a clarification of an already existing rule? I was under the impression that drivers already knew that you were not to force another driver into an unreasonable maneuver while he was already committed under braking, and that when Max started pushing that envelope they clarified it for everyone, but didn’t have to create a new rule.

      3. Safety is very important, but it isn’t the only reason. Drivers and teams wanting more rules and therefore predictability of the behaviour of a driver being overtaken is also partly a consequence of the money in the sport, and the fine tuning of the cars. If you have flown nearly 100 staff half way around the world and invited high paying sponsors, you can expect to be less happy if your car’s race is ruined if a front wing is clipped and damaged while going for an overtake.

    4. Comment of the day is spot on, just let them race. Of course when someone does something unsporting or dangerous then there should be some kind of penalty for that. Of course, if the driver disputes that it was unsporting or dangerous someone would need to make a decision on that so it probably wouldn’t hurt to have principles they can follow so that what’s right and wrong has a consistent basis on which we can make a decision… oh flip, I just described rules!

      1. @philipgb
        Find someone who still has a copy of the driver regulations from British Touring Cars from the mid 80’s to late 90’s, copy and put an F1 sticker on them.
        Job done.

        And anyone complaining about back markers on the radio to be penalised by swapping seats with whoever is last in the championship at the next GP weekend (unless they run down the pit lane for a fist fight at the end of the race).

        1. If you have a copy of the MSA Sporting Regulations for that time period, you have the driving regulations for BTCC. (As a national series, BTCC used and still uses its respective national organiser’s regulations as the driving standard). Unfortunately, only the current (2017) edition appears to be on the internet.

    5. I’m still undecided on the Halo, it’s really bad looking, but if it’s got proven safety benefits, and could save lives, it’s hard to put aesthetics above that.
      I’ve always been of the opinion that we should make the cars as safe as possible (within practical limits), but I would much rather see them looking at alternatives, because there’s got to be something better looking than the Halo. I’d go for a fully enclosed cockpit myself, but even something like the aeroscreen type solution would be aesthetically better if they could make it work.

      1. That last sentence is exactly the clue though @beneboy. They are clearly certain that they can make the Halo work, so they are currently working hard to get it ready to be put on the car from 2018 onwards.

        But I think we can certainly expect them to look onwards as soon as that is prepared. They can get back to the aeroscreen and finetune it (and start looking for solutions to fogging up and dirt/water blurring the view as well as distortion) to introduce later.

        A fully closed cockpit is probably a step too far, both for fans and for what it would do to the cars and their aerodynamics. Just look at the bulge that sprung on the deltawing car when they made it a closed cockpit. With current tech I am unconvinced they could do a lot better than that one (also, if you go for less width, you’d have massive distortion)
        It is is nowhere near the good looking, sleek artists impressions made of closed cars.

    6. Bottas strikes me as one of those drivers (quite a few of them around) who needs a sniff of a result that he feels is worth racing for to perform at his best.

      So I think he’ll be far, far closer to Hamilton than many people seem to expect.

      1. I get that impression too @neilosjames

      2. Wouldn’t surprise me if you were right about that @neilosjames!

        1. I agree too. I understand what Berger is saying about bringing someone up within the youth programme, but I think him having that opinion is why he has said Wehrlien just needs a good car, and he doesn’t quite say the same about VB, when in fact I think VB will absolutely excel because of the car too. A driver is coloured by his car. Anybody would jump at the chance to have that seat…why?…because they all know that to win races you need a top 3 car and to win a WDC you need the Constructor winning car, almost always.

    7. Imho the problem is not the laws but the stewards. 2016 was so inconsistent that it was impossible to know what is actually allowed. Sometimes completely unavoidable and accidental incident gives you harsh penalties. Sometimes you can ram cars off the road and out of the race with 0 consequences. Looking at incidents there is no way to know how the stewards interpret it each time.

      1. Totally agree @socksolid. The rules have been put there to have guidelines to consult when unfair racing has taken place (so that fair racing can be promoted). The rules can still allow hard racing. It’s just how consistently they’re enforced that is the main problem.

      2. @socksolid, it is very easy to know how the stewards interpret each incident, if your name is Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen you can do just about anything without any penalty and if your name is Nico Rosberg you have to be a good little boy and all your manoeuvres must be 100% squeaky clean at all times. Fortunately for every driver this year, none of them are called Nico Rosberg so there will surely be some leeway at the very least.

      3. @socksolid Agree this is really the problem. The obvious solution would be to have fixed stewards. There are fixed positions for everything else in F1, and to not have for such a race and championship deciding part is unprofessional to the point of being almost negligent when it’s evident that temporary stewards have such varying standards and understanding.

        1. Unfortunately part-fixing the stewards (as in 2006-2008) made the problem worse. The fixed steward was seen as so biased towards whoever the FIA president favoured that week (and the FIA unable to disprove it) that the position had to be rotated again. This despite everyone agreeing at the start that the chosen steward (Tony Scott-Andrews) had up to that point been as good a candidate as any for such a role, and despite any evidence whatsoever that the permanent steward had made a single deliberately biased decision – the apparent bias was more likely due to inadvertent factors.

          Even if the exact right candidates for a fixed stewarding panel could be found, and they all had the free time and budget available to follow the world’s racing for expenses only (to avoid the perception of bias, stewards aren’t paid wages for their role), it would be unlikely to be accepted by a paddock that went through all this a decade ago.

          1. @alianora-la-canta I don’t recall that there was a fixed steward during that time, but can it really be compared to a full panel? And would it still be similar to the jumbled lot of today when the target is consistency? I highly doubt it.

            As for bias, there could be mechanisms in place to ensure it kept to a minimum (like for example scorecard checks to root out consistent odd voting within the group), but when the comparison is bias between a fixed and non-fixed panel, there is likely no real difference. And when it comes to steward bias, all stewards’ power rests with the race director since they will (as I understand it) only decide on incidents referred to them by him, so that is where the risk is mostly anyway.

            1. Tony Scott-Andrews was the permanent head steward from 2006-2008. It can be compared to a full panel in the sense that having a fixed full panel would be like having four fixed individual stewards. Even if their inadvertent biases pointed in four different directions, it wouldn’t necessarily cancel out (as there are more than 4 different possible loyalties in F1) and it wouldn’t prevent patterns (real or imagined) being interpreted as biases and thus souring paddock acceptance (whether that was a fair treatment or not).

              Stewards decide on issues referred to them by the race steward, the scrutineering team, protests from other teams or spotted by the stewards themselves (in the latter case, generally by automated signalling – for things like yellow flag infractions in qualifying – that spares the race director needing to say anything). In theory, they can self-refer incidents they spot themselves, but I am not aware of any example where this actually occurred. The race director – by design – has only a limited amount of power over stewards, and steward independence from the race director (and anyone else in FIA authority) is a requirement. (This was part of the reason the apparent correlation between permanent steward voting and the FIA president’s favourings of the week caused so much ire).

              Scorecard checks and the like rely on the rubric being trusted. Sadly, I’m not sure who could devise one that both the competitors and the FIA would trust and could not be subjected to loopholes.

      4. I saw a thought from, I think, Will Buxton on this that makes a lot of sense @socksolid, @3dom, @rob91, @balue after reading what Warwick mentions.

        It went with the idea that maybe the horribly inconsistent stewarding is in part BECAUSE the stewards dislike the overbearing rules for everything and the pressure that is there to then investigate and penalise every single incident that occurs. In other words, they might be far happier not to act, but know there is pressure to act, so they sometimes do what they think is right and don’t penalise, but other times they do not, and do as the rules require of them and hand out a penalty.

        That would neatly explain why they are so inconsistent.

    8. M.Schumacher story is an interesting one… Imagine what he could do if he was equally better than his dad like Max V. Is better than Jos…

      I guess we will see. These days spectacular F3 season leads to F1… Meanwhile GP2 leads to GT and Le Mans racing… Or maybe a McLaren seat in 3 years.

      Has he done enough to impress? I fail to be impressed, but Max did not impress me in F3 either, so maybe someone else should judge him.

      What do you guys think? Will little M.Sc. Impress with his F3 season? Does he have what it takes, to be on Verstappen level in 3-4 years?

      1. I doubt it. A big name has very little value until he starts showing some skills.

    9. Why should the FIA demand the tracks spend even more on top of the already exorbitant costs of hosting races, to make the tracks more safe when the FIA is making the cars less safe?

      And please don’t anyone tell me that going a lot faster around corners is not necessarily less safe because that is demonstrably not true.

      The rule changes for aero this year show that the FIA not only lacks leadership it also lacks intellect.

      1. Cars that go faster round corners by definition crash with more energy when they fall off. That is physics. Nothing in the regulations prevents the possibility of the cars falling off the track at the newly-increased cornering speeds. Circuits rarely over-engineer their venues because they know that the closer the grandstands can be to the corners, the better the spectator experience, and the safety features that are neither mandatory nor likely to affect spectator experience tend to be expensive (something venues don’t want when it comes to keeping a series that costs millions per year to host).

        The FIA is required to oblige necessary upgrades to circuits as part of the duties it carries as regulator. If it didn’t do this and things like it, it would be at risk of the European Commission breaking up the monopoly on motorsports in the case of an adverse investigation (remember the FIA is currently under investigation).

        What I don’t like is that they’re giving such short notice, and that it’s after the calendar is fixed. The FIA knew the cars would be getting faster months ago, if not years ago. They needed to be making these demands of circuits then – with the stick of making the races provisional on the 2017 calendar until the mandatory safety upgrades were made. They would then be able to not visit tracks that failed to make the necessary upgrades to keep F1-suitable because they would have lost their Grade 1 status. As it stands, the 2017 cars will either have to attend some tracks that aren’t upgraded (and of the 20, some are bound not to be upgradeable in time) or engage in a stand-off that will make everyone look ridiculous and endanger the FIA.

        1. I agree, it does seem strange that some of the tracks are still to be notified of the required upgrades, one would expect all the tracks to have been notified by now.

          1. How on earth can the whole purpose of the reg changes be to make the cars go several seconds a lap faster yet the FIA have only just realised that the circuits need to take into account the fact the cars will be much faster?

            Ridiculous state of affairs.

        2. Well said @alianora-la-canta, the timing seems off and rather late.

          From that article, I gather they did simulations to see what, with the data the teams supplied, would be needed at all tracks, and while that seems thorough and thoughtfull, and I get that that takes time, even if the teams already gave Pirelli initial data before the summer, so they could go and test tyres.

          However, from the mission-brief of making the cars 3-5s faster through grip and downforce, they could have started notifying tracks of the type and order of changes likely to be needed well in advance of fixing the calender, as you say. The delay seems unwise.

    10. I hope Mick can go out and get a Championship this year in F3. What a beautiful story that would be. Schumi’s fans need that.

    11. Re Manor – Will FOM and Bernie Ecclestone never learn? IIRC, when you join as a new team you have to fork out $10M to FOM but prize money only goes down to tenth and this is what scuppered Manor as they themselves admit.

      1) Drop the entry fee. 2) Drop the long term bonuses to teams like Ferrari and McLaren or make it so that every team can qualify provided they stay long enough and make it equal, not a disguised individual benefit. 3) Each team to get an $10M dividend if they complete the season. 4) On top of that comes the prize money but in order to be eligible, teams must have scored points in the CC.

      1. This link below is to an article that has a table of the team payouts for the 2015 season. As you can see, Marussia, the forerunner of Manor Racing, were given a payout of $10M. If you are correct in that Marussia had to pay $10M to FOM to be allowed to race for the 2015 season, then what it means is FOM either never collected the $10M fee to race, or they simply refunded it. All the other teams were given a minimum payout of $42.7M. It will be interesting to see what the payouts are for the 2016 season.
        http://www.totalsportek.com/f1/formula-1-prize-money/

        1. The $10 m paid to Marussia is because Marussia wasn’t eligible for Column 2 payments until it managed two top-10 positions within a three-year interval. By the time payments for this were paid at the end of 2015, the team had become Manor (thanks to payments being made after the season following the one in which they were earned). In 2015 and 2016, Manor received that $40-odd m payment from FOM that other teams received. If it is 11th in 2017, I believe it will gain nothing in 2018 (as I think the $10 m only applied to new teams until they entered Column 2 status), and if I am wrong, it would be the $10 m instead of the $40-odd million.

          The entry fee is a one-off payment given when a team starts racing, so Marussia (or rather its forerunner-that-got-renamed-before-it-did-an-F1-race Manor) paid $10 m in mid-2009 to be allowed on the grid in 2010. It wasn’t charged this by FOM in subsequent years, though all teams pay a fee to the FIA to race to cover the FIA’s equipment expenses (I believe the 2015 figure was $575,000, and it increases every so often, though not necessarily on an annual basis).

    12. “They are working hard, but the days when you can turn up with a new aero kit on the car and gain one second are finished.” from the Autosport McLaren article.

      Isn’t this an old quote? I remember hearing it mid-season. It definitely isn’t in line with the new regulations for 2017 where teams will definitely be making gains with their aero work throughout the season.

      1. I too was confused when I read that statement. First of all, there regulations on chassis design have changed, so it is entirely possible for you to show up with a new aero kit and gain a second on your competitors.

        I think Mclaren need to look back to the brawn team as an example of what can be achieved over the course of a regulation change. They are trying to sound proud by saying that they would be disappointed with 4th in the WCC, but in all honesty, they would probably be ecstatic and hail it as a season of ‘tremendous progress’.

    13. Fisichella turns 44 today, not 46. I only know cause I was born on the same day!

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