F1 needs to be more competitive – Magnussen

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In the round-up: Kevin Magnussen says the gap between the big teams and the midfield has grown too large.

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Comment of the day

Halo looks likely to make driver weight – and therefore height – a bigger factor in 2018:

For me, the line is that allowing driver weights to make a significant difference makes the talent of the driver less important.

I want to see 20-plus of the most talented drivers in the world on the grid, not 20-plus of the lightest and best-sponsored drivers.

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On this day in F1

  • Trevor Taylor won the non-championship Natal Grand Prix at the Westmead circuit today in 1962, six seconds ahead of Jim Clark

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54 comments on “F1 needs to be more competitive – Magnussen”

  1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
    22nd December 2017, 0:32

    Re Magnussen: Or what if all of the teams sucked? Then it would seem like none of them sucked.

    1. He actually makes a pretty good point. The spread between the teams is still a little bit too much, but again with DRS it also means that if a driver gets ahead with an interesting strategy they can’t stick it out with great defensive driving anymore.

      1. The spread between teams is very small, compared to most Grand Prix seasons in the past. In Q1 the entire field is usually within 3 of 4% of the fastest time.

        I’ve mentioned this before in a topic about engine parity, but in 1987 the Tyrrell team competed with unblown engines against the turbo teams, lacking a couple of hundred horses. Still the drivers qualified on average just outside the top 10, albeit 5 to 10% of pole position. In the races the Tyrrell drivers were regular points scorers (top 6 only, remember).

        On pure speed the difference between the cars was much bigger in 1987, but even backmarker teams (teams twice as slow as the 2017 Saubers relatively speaking) were able to popup in the top 6 sometimes. So, what happened? Why was the result of every 2017 race more or less the same, while the cars were so much closer?

        In my view there are two main reasons:

        1. Increased availability of analytical and predictive tools combined with a strong rise of the level of professionalism.
        Teams run live simulations during the race, capture everything about the car and driver. The cars maybe closer but the deviation of the performance has decreased drastically. In 1987 a good driver having a good day on his favourite track could make quite some time. Nowadays everything is calculated, planned and predicted, so the difference between a driver or team having a good day and a bad day, has become very small. In 1987 an exceptional driver could overcome a gap of second or more, now it’s a few tenths maximum.

        2. Increased reliability of the cars.
        In the 80’s it was not uncommon at all for half the field to retire. And lack of reliability was spread pretty evenly over the teams, so it could happen to leaders just as well as to backmarkers. Today race reliability is well over 85% with the few retirements often due to midfield collisions. Part of point 1 is valid here as well: quality control for parts has become much better and teams have become very professional with (well trained) procedures for almost every occurance.

        Now to get what Magnussen asks for, you can do two things. Either make the cars so close that 1 and 2 become irrelevant or directly counteract 1 and 2.
        Closer cars would mean spec cars. F2 shows that it can work, but F1 is a constructor’s championship first, so spec cars go against its DNA (and will ultimately kill the championship).
        That leaves counteracting 1 and 2, which is probably easier said that done. You can’t force teams to unlearn stuff. So you’ll have to do it through (even more) regulations.
        Counteracting 1 could be done for instance by disallowing teams the use of any microprocessor during the race, other than the ones on the car. Also you have disallow pit-car communication other than the pit board, otherwise teams will find a way to run their analytical and predictive software on the car.
        Counteracting 2 could be done for instance by drastically reducing the minimum weight (while maintaining all safety regulations). That way teams may gamble on a performance advantage of lighter, more breakable parts. Success not guaranteed though.

        On the other hand, if all you want is entertaining races with some unpredicability, you can also focus elsewhere. Just write very restrictive regulations to make sure the spread between teams isn’t too big and then focus on strategic opportunities, such as a powerfull DRS or push-to-pass system, high degradation tyres, joker laps, reversed grids etc.

        1. Excellent analysis, Leo!

          Also, I think for #1 to work there should be standardized data communications car-to-wall. That way, the access to on-board sensors is restricted to after a session and there’d be no incentive to run rooms full of statisticians at the track and back at the factory because they’d have little to work with.

          Obviously, for sure.

      2. Defensive driving is great. DRS change of positions is just an anticlimatic let down. There was a chance to see two drivers try to beat each other, excitement to see whether the pass happens and the bravery of the pass or the controversy when it goes wrong. But instead of great battle the driver behind just pressed a button and moved up one position while the driver in front could only choose from which side he was overtaken.

      3. @john-h ”with DRS it also means that if a driver gets ahead with an interesting strategy they can’t stick it out with great defensive driving anymore.” – Wrong, Yes they can. Even with DRS, overtaking isn’t guaranteed 99% of the time these days.
        @socksolid ”DRS change of positions is just an anticlimatic let down” – Not every pass (far from it) followed by a usage of DRS is easy-looking, i.e., completed before the start of a braking zone for the approaching corner.

  2. Magnussen with Haas has little chance of a victory and maybe a bit of a chance to score some points but thats it. Your not going to dumb down Mercedes or Ferrari or RedBull meaning your only chance to score points or actually getting a victory is slim and more than likely no chance at all. Its not going to change either and l also thought the same for RedBull at one time. So Magnussen and Haas get some press but the reality says only a gift from the Gods will get him to the top of the podium.

    1. @TEDBELL +1.

    2. That’s exactly his frustration :p
      He doesn’t offer a solution either; just he “would love to have a bit more of a closer field”!

      1. He doesn’t need to offer a solution. That’s up to Liberty and Brawn and that is a work in progress. KM is saying what we are all saying, including Brawn.

        1. Agree with you, @robbie.
          I don’t understand the original comment though; it seems to be critical of Magnussen whilst repeating the point that Magnussen made.

  3. Re: CoTD, fully agree.

    I’ve long been a fan of the idea that was discussed in yesterday’s roundup, a minimum driver + seat weight. Not ridiculously high – 75kg would cover just about everyone, I think, and if anyone did fall outside it it’s unlikely they’d be a long way above that.

    Also said this yesterday but very late, so I’ll say it here too… I like to believe it’s something the GPDA might call for at some point, because I remember last time this was a big issue in the F1 news world (2014) there were questions about the welfare of the some of the bigger guys, like Sutil. Now all the drivers are members, it’d be nice if the lighter guys could support the heavy ones and work together to try to sort it out in the spirit of togetherness…

    1. @neilosjames I don’t know why it’s hard to find drivers weight data but here was from 2015:
      Alonso:68 – Valtteri:70 – Ericsson:71 – Grosjean:71 – Hamilton:66 – Rosberg:71 – Sergio:62 – Kimi:62 – Daniel:71 – Sainz:58 – Max:58 – Vettel:58 – Hulkenberg:70

      When Halo and its mounting need 15kg (9kg+6kg) and we got only 5kg additional weight in 2018, there will be no more weight ballast and drivers will be the ones that take all the consequences.

      If Williams estimation back in 2010 were correct, 1kg more weight gonna costs roughly 0.025s per lap, we need to start to use boxing style ‘Tale of the Tape’ to compare teammates.

      1. Yes and as mentioned the new weight is high up, the other weight that’s relatively high up on the car is the driver and the taller drivers, so really tight weight minimum more tall drivers equals no performance even before you turn a wheel.

        1. (continuing from yesterday) I understand that people who want to help less fortunate drivers, but where does such equalisation stop?
          Do you think in running a slimmer runner should have a ballast as well?

          1. Absolutely. Let’s say seat + driver has to weight 75kg. Then add ballast to the seat to reach that and you got fairer competition without drivers having to go to unhealthy diets.

          2. Not what he meant @spoutnik
            Maybe this is a better example. If i decide to be a jokey with my 80 kg, should the others use a ballast vest?

            I’ve mixed feelings about this if I’m honest.

          3. No, but I don’t think a runner should wear fireproof overalls and a helmet either, so…

            I’d say equalisation, or the levelling of the playing field, should stop at the point where it stops being sensible.

          4. @neilosjames, exactly my problem. Who determines what is sensible?

            other hypothetical (or not): should an extremely talented driver with limited use of his right arm due to an unfortunate accident be allowed to use some kind of assisted steering not available to other drivers?

          5. The people in charge would decide what’s sensible, same way they do in anything that requires rules and laws, and as they do at the moment. I think they’re capable of doing that without sliding down a slope into absurdity (eg, making everyone wear prosthetic giant feet because Driver B was disadvantaged by his size 16s).

            To your hypothetical, it’d depend on what the assistance actually was, and what it did. But generally speaking, I’d say that if the other drivers would also benefit from the use of such a device, it shouldn’t be allowed.

          6. if the other drivers would also benefit from the use of such a device, it shouldn’t be allowed.

            Other drivers would also benefit from a ‘device’ called ‘less ballast’; thus that should not be allowed ;)

          7. @johnmilk maybe the fia medical center should define a safe average weight for driver/seat and add ballast if needed? Though it may not be perfect it would lower the differences. There can be a lot of difference and heavier/taller drivers can go down until it being unhealthy and it could be a bit fairer. Or maybe just add 10 kg to the minimum weight?

  4. A lot has already been said about VES v RIC in 2018… even though RIC finished higher in the points, appeared numerous times in the ‘Top ten overtakes’ of the year, had a very clean year, VES seems to be on top by a huge margin in a lot of peoples views. My personal belief is that VES & RIC are more closely matched then people give RIC credit for. I would suggest his biggest downfall this year has been a sensitivity to the car setup, and not being able to ‘dial it in’ for Saturday. A lot of the comments regarding the points difference suggest that VES has had a lot of failures while running in front of his team mate. Which can be explained by the difficulty overtaking that a lot of the drivers have mentioned this year, and RIC’s difficulties in finding the right setup in the car. As far as outright pace, they are both tremendous talents, RIC has an older head on his shoulders, VES still finds ways to seemingly always find trouble. 2018 will be a cracker.

  5. Suck My Balls, Honey ;)

  6. Now they will not only save fuel but eating less.
    Our chassis is better!
    Our engine is more powerful!
    Our driver is anorexic!

  7. #BerieveInHonda

    1. @jerejj berieve because how could anyone still beLieve in Honda? ;)

      We joke on it but it’s actually pretty sad it didn’t worked with McLaren :(

      1. It didn’t worked out with McLaren but it turned out to be pretty hilarious

  8. The power of dreams, I guess.

    1. More like the power of nightmares, more like .

  9. Got to agree with Dan’s assessment of Red Bull’s chance for next year. They started the season a second per lap down on the Mercs and Ferraris, and gradually caught up at the end of the year to get within a 2-3 tenths of both teams. They probably gained anywhere between 0.5s to 0.8s a lap more in the development race as compared to both Merc and Ferrari. If they can start next season being down only 0.2s to 0.3s from the leading team, it’s entirely possible that they will have the quickest car mid season onwards. I would go as far as saying that they’ll definitely build a better car than Ferrari next year.

    Although, a lot of this will depend on the Renault engine’s gains. Renault needs to still find more 1 lap performance and sort it’s reliability out, then I think we’re on for a proper battle between the Mercs and Red Bull, which I think will be far more exciting than Merc vs Ferrari.

    1. Reliability is a killer.
      Vettel showed this season that a single DNF can ruin your title chances.

      1. Same with Hamilton last year. But for the engine failure in Malaysia, I suspect he would of been WDC instead of Rosberg. Nowadays with more reliable cars (compared to only a few years ago), a single failure can be disasterous to a drivers championship chances.

        1. You don’t suspect that, it’s what would’ve happened, the DNF cost him 28 points in the comparison with rosberg, he was 5 behind.

          In fact he was close enough that even if rosberg had had the same DNF in the same race (equality), even though he was further back, hamilton would’ve won the title.

    2. @todfod
      RBR woes at the start of the season were mainly due to the Ferrari query about their suspension system. It was rumored that under the 2017 RBR were the team that gained the most chassis wise. They have to redesign their car in a hurry at the start of the season as a result of that. In terms of aerodynamic development RBR were way behind Ferrari and Mercedes in terms of bringing updates this season, remember Mercedes have already a B-spec car in Melbourne and in Singapore RBR brought a similar barge board design to the one Ferrari brought several races before.
      The only reason that enabled RBR to be a serious contender to Ferrari and Mercedes in the second part of the season is that they introduced a new suspension system starting from Malaysia on Max Verstappen car which recreated the effect of the already banned suspension system. What a perfect timing since the head of the FIA technical department has already resigned.
      The legality of the new system is under discussion between teams and the FIA, Toto Wolf said that they’re looking at it after the Mexican GP.
      I don’t think this season RBR showed a better development rate than Ferrari and Mercedes, I think they have just found a a loophole in the regs and capitalized on it. It was the same case back in 2016 when their car was getting stronger race after race starting from the Russian GP despite the fact that Mercedes and Ferrari were bringing more aero updates and then it was discovered that it was all down to the clever suspension

      1. @tifoso1989, it was reportedly not just Red Bull that was hit by that ruling, since Mercedes were reported to have also been hit by the same ruling as well – that was part of the reason why the car had to be partially redesigned for the opening races.

        Furthermore, there was also a problem with Mercedes’s original 2017 spec gearbox, which was intended to be a lighter design than the 2016 spec design but ended up having to be delayed due to problems with reliability. It is also worth asking whether Mercedes was truly pushing that hard in the latter part of this season when it became apparent that both the WDC and WCC were falling into place – it is possible that at least some of that apparent reduction in the performance gap was down to Mercedes slowing down development on their 2017 car at an earlier stage than Red Bull were.

    3. @todford

      I would go as far as saying that they’ll definitely build a better car than Ferrari next year.

      Yeeeeesssss…Everyone was saying that last year as well!

      1. @asanator

        Agree. It was a bit of a surprise to be honest, but those are the surprises a fresh regulations change can get you. By the end of the year Red Bull was already on par, if not quicker than Ferrari, so I expect them to start next season stronger and finish ahead of the Ferrari.

    4. @todfod any reason why you are dismissing Ferrari? Or just playing favourites?

      a bit odd that comment of yours, since you’ve said in another thread that Ferrari didn’t won this year because of their driver, so surely the car shouldn’t be a problem, and it seems they are on the right track, especially considering 2018’s car will be an evolution of this one

      1. @johnmilk

        I think their driver line up was weaker than Mercedes, but I also predicted at the start of 2017 that they would lose the development race to Mercedes and Red Bull. Considering that 2018 car is just a development race of the 2017 season, I expect them to fall further behind Merc and Red Bull.

        Ferrari innovated on a few tricks in the 2016 off season, that have already been spotted by by competitors, so I expect Ferrari to lose a bit of that edge they had at the start of 2017. And yes, their driver line up isn’t as strong as the Mercs and Red Bulls, so I expect them to secure 3rd in the WCC in 2018.

        It’s not a fact. I don’t have a crystal ball. Just my prediction and opinion.

  10. @pez2k Re: Comment of the day. “I want to see 20-plus of the most talented drivers in the world on the grid, not 20-plus of the lightest and best-sponsored drivers.

    But you’ll never know that will you? You can only assume they’re the best, but you’ll never really know, ever. There’s always the back-street kid with bags of talent just waiting to be discovered, but he never is.

    The best drivers for F1 are those on the grid. For reasons of talent, wealth, height or weight they made it there against insuperable odds. 1 in 10 million? I don’t know but the odds are very much against every one of them, but they made it. That has to be worth something. In my experience poor drivers never last long however much cash they may bring.

    1. @baron – Oh yes, I’m aware it’s a very idealistic viewpoint and I appreciate it’ll never realistically happen, but my point in context to the comment I was replying to was defining where the line should be drawn in terms of equalising drivers and their performance. In that context, I support removing handicaps from drivers whether it be weight or financial backing so that they can be evaluated on simply how well they drive, but draw the line at introducing anything like traction control that starts to equalise talent.

  11. There is apparently a lot of frustration at Honda because why they fully accept that they haven’t done the best job they also feel that decisions made by McLaren early on that played into the problems were unfairly pushed back onto Honda.

    For instance Honda’s initial concept for there 2015 engine had to be thrown out because of McLaren’s insistence they go with that ‘size zero rear end’, That decision by McLaren put Honda in a situation where they had to scrap the initial design & very quickly come up with another one which is why there 2015 program ended up been so far behind schedule.

    That decision by Mclaren essentially wrote off the 1st 2 years of the partnership as the design direction Honda ended up been rushed down by McLaren’s decision ended up been the wrong way to have gone & saw those 1st 2 years essentially wasted.

    For 2017 McLaren moved away from the size zero concept & Honda were able to go back to something more like there original concept albeit essentially 3 years behind where it should have been. And through 2017 they have for the 1st time been making real gains in terms of both performance & reliability.

    1. I would like to see some evidence that the “size zero” concept was McLaren’s because I simply don’t buy it. It makes no logical sense for the chassis designer to dictate the PU form factor bearing in mind McLaren has already run with the Merc. I believe it was Honda, trying to pull a fast one and failing, so, evidence please. If someone can provide evidence I will accept it without question..

        1. I’m sorry, but that’s not evidence at all. It’s McLaren restating their preference for the size zero concept in their car at the time. And besides, are we to believe Honda, one of the biggest engine makers in the world, who were stumping up $100 million into McLaren’s coffers, would allow their junior partner to come with a size concept, they simple had to have known (unless they simply accepted their partners concept without investigating it’s requirements & their ability to power it to success) they could not produce a powerful enough hybrid engine for? This sounds like Honda trying to excuse their incompetence, for 3 years of failure.

  12. Those that hate how relatively uncompetitive the field is now in terms of the performance differential between teams at the front/mid-field would have hated it 15-20+ years ago because it’s far better now than it used to be.

    The top 3-4 teams having the performance advantage they do over the rest is the way it’s been for most of F1’s history, The only real difference now is with greater reliability there is less chance for those surprise results you used to get in races where a lot of front runners dropped out. And with things like mandatory pit stops & high-deg tyres there is no longer the real opportunity for a mid-field/backmarker team to try something like a non-stop race to get a surprise result.

    I also think there is the fact that even if a mid-field car does manage to get towards the front with DRS it’s much harder for them to stay there now than it used to be.

    1. A very sound analysis I think @stefmeister. People forget the effect that car reliability compared to 10/20 years ago has had on results.

      1. Agree for the most part although MS/Ferrari enjoyed incredible reliability too, albeit not having to make their engines and gearboxes last so many races as today.

        I think over the last 20+ years the common denominator remains that too much aero dependence, clean air dependence, is only good for cars when in clean air, obviously. We’ve had refuelling and not, one-stop races and three, better tires and worse, and yet cars are still too handcuffed behind other cars. The introduction of DRS proves that they know aero is the real enemy, yet is an enticing science that does get cars around a track quicker, and makes the cars look cool too.

        Tires can help but then when everyone is on generally the same tires/strategies it again comes back to dirty air. That said I do wish they would get away from tires that have such a ridiculously narrow optimum operating temp window. That has to hurt the lesser teams whose cars already don’t work as well, to also get the tires working…eg. Williams this year. They must get back toward tires that can be pushed more without harming them so much and ruining a stint, a strategy, a race.

        I see no other viable option for them but to do what they are, which is having bought the Manor chassis with which to study aero, with the goal being to keep speeds up but the negative affect from dirty air as minimal as possible. They’ve tried enough things not related to aero, but there has not really been the motivation, especially amongst the top teams under the BE regime, to really try to tackle the one nagging and most damaging issue…dirty air. There are many untried combinations of wing shapes and sizes, and floor and diffuser work for ground effects, that can make for less wake behind cars while the cars themselves are less hurt in dirty air. But the top teams can’t be trusted to come up with those things, it has to be mandated. The top teams would want to create more wake not less, for example. I think no one gets that more than Brawn.

  13. MAG is right- it makes no sense to watch F1 with 10 teams if 3 of them is 2 sec faster each lap!! Then make a F1 with 3 teams having 4 cars.. and call the rest F2…

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