On Friday Liberty Media’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn will reveal to teams how he intends to shake-up the sport in 2021.
Everything is on the table for the future of the sport beyond 2020: changes to how much money teams earn and can win, a total overhaul of the sporting and technical rules including a revised engine formula, new race weekend formats and more.
A revolution in the sport could be as little as three years away. Are F1 drivers excited, intrigued, indifferent? From the comments of six of them in Bahrain today, a mix of all three. Here’s what they had to say.
“We want the best for our sport”
Two years ago, in the wake of Formula One’s disastrous, short-lived flirtation with a new qualifying format, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wrote an open letter calling for a major overhaul in how the sport is run to “make it ﬁt and exciting for many years and generations to come”.
Since then the ownership of F1’s commercial rights has changed hands from CVC Capital Partners, who placed Bernie Ecclestone in charge, to Liberty Media. The 2021 season represents their first opportunity to make major changes. According to Sergio Perez, the GPDA intends to do “whatever we can do to help”.
I’m very interested in how the future will plan out in Formula One. Liberty has the future in their hands of Formula One. We’ve seen the past year that we’ve probably haven’t had the greatest show and the audience is going down so I hope with what thy come up they bring the sport more together and we bring a lot of fans back.
I think now the GPDA community is more united than ever. I hope that we can have our voice and we are speaking together. We definitely want the best for our sport. We want to be working together with Liberty to bring the sport closer to our fans.
We’re going to be quite strong, were going to be united as well. We really want to be working together with Formula One to improve the show, to bring the whole field a lot closer. More competition in Formula One I think is what the sport needs and all the drivers we are up for it, whatever we can do to help.
Kevin Magnussen, however, takes a very different view:
I enjoy most when I win. I don’t care about racing, if I can win that’s it. All the drivers, their feedback will be for their own best interests. None of us drivers care about making the show better, we want to win. We want what’s best for ourselves.
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“Fans don’t like to hear ‘save your engine'”
While accepting that drivers will inevitably have their own agendas, Max Verstappen believes there are some areas F1 can improve where they are likely to agree:
At the end of the day drivers will always speak in their own advantage. Mercedes, they don’t want to change anything. Other teams of course they want to change things. It’s very political and it’s very difficult. In some ways yes, but you cannot rely fully on drivers and teams because they will always speak in their own advantage.
But I think it’s very clear what needs to be changed is the overtaking because it’s not exciting at all at the moment. It’s mainly like qualifying and if something goes wrong in qualifying that’s it, your race you just follow and saving stuff.
I think also with three engines a year… I think fans in general they don’t like to hear things like ‘save your engine, slow down’. It needs to be flat-out racing. You should worry about ‘oh I need to save this engine because otherwise I might not make it to the end of the season’.
Of course I understand, with cost reduction and everything, they want to go that way. But with all the tricky engine developments and the engine in general being so complicated with all the parts, it makes no sense.
At the end of the day it’s not up to me to decide these kind of things but that’s feeling about it. I think that’s the biggest problem – the excitement and the overtaking’s not really happening at the moment.
But while Verstappen is unhappy with aspects of the engine formula, Brendon Hartley spoke up in favour of the importance of F1 as a technological laboratory:
I don’t know all the ins and outs of what’s going to be discussed tomorrow. I personally love the fact that we’re developing race cars that are so extremely efficient.
I think it’s not always relayed the the fans how fast we’re going versus how little fuel we use. If you just compare with 10 years ago the numbers are quite outstanding. I love this point of view.
I think one thing everyone agrees on is the cars are quite tricky to race alongside each other with such complex aerodynamics. I think that’s clear from Australia we struggled to get close to one another. From what I understand there’s a lot of discussions behind the scenes to improve this going forward that the cars can race closer together without being disturbed by the dirty air.
In terms of the complexity of the drive train I’m actually a big fan of this. It’s really interesting being a part of it as a driver. It’s quite amazing the performance we have from these cars with such a little amount of energy per lap. And I’m sure in the next years in road cars, as we’re already seeing, this is the proving ground, same as it was in LMP1, it’s a proving ground for new technologies. I think it’s great.
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“I doubt I’ll be here”
Some drivers are closer to the end of their career than others. Two of them offered very different takes on what the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting might mean for them:
In the end it’s not our decision, it’s up to them. It’s their business. They make plans and obviously take decisions they feel is correct. I don’t know what they’re doing now. I know very little about it and I’m not interested in it, so we’ll see tomorrow what they say. It’s in many years’ time anyhow. I doubt I’ll be here so it doesn’t really bother me.
It’s always good to wait to hear some of those and see the future of Formula One. For sure that could or could not have an impact on decisions we make in terms of length or whatever we end up doing in Formula One.
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2018 F1 season
- Honda’s jet division helped F1 engineers solve power unit problem
- McLaren Racing losses rise after Honda split
- Ricciardo: Baku “s***show” was Red Bull’s fault
- “Drive to Survive Episode 1: All to Play For” reviewed
- F1’s television and social media audiences rose last year