Romain Grosjean, Haas, Interlagos, 2018

Grosjean: Unhelpful F1 mirrors like Christmas tree decorations

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In the round-up: Romain Grosjean says Formula 1 car mirrors are so little help they are like decorations.

What they say

Grosjean was cleared by the stewards after impeding Pierre Gasly during final practice:

My engineers forgot to tell me that Pierre was coming. The mirrors, they’re here for decoration. You can put them on the Christmas tree.

I ruined Pierre’s lap and I was sorry. We made contact, I didn’t know he was there. He was probably a bit angry. I went to apologise and chat about it.

It’s probably not the best quali preparation being at the stewards but they did a good job, they listened to every side and they understood all the problems and I was very pleased with the way the stewards handled the situation and understood the big picture about the tyres and overheating and the slow cool-down lap.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Has F1 done the right thing by mimicking IndyCar’s approach by givings its tyres the same names at every race?

I am a casual viewer of IndyCar, where there is the red soft and black hard tyre. I have no idea whether those two compounds differ from race to race or not and I do not care, either. Therefore, being consistent with tyre colours makes it much easier to follow happenings for a casual viewer. And for more interested fans, the information is available.

I also welcome the idea to reduce the number of available compounds to five.
Imre (@f1mre)

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Keith Collantine
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20 comments on “Grosjean: Unhelpful F1 mirrors like Christmas tree decorations”

  1. I agree with COTD. Even as a consistent viewer of F1, I only care about tyre compounds of drivers relative to other drivers. (E.g. Driver 1 on soft and Driver 2 on ultra soft is equivalent to Driver 1 on medium and Driver 2 on super soft) Race tyre performance differs so much from race to race anyway, so to me there is no pressing need to know exactly which compound Pirelli has brought to each event. So as far as this move goes, it won’t change my viewing experience (I wouldn’t bother finding out the tyre numbers but others could if interested) and it would make it simpler for casual viewers to just have 3 dry tyre markings that appear every week.

    1. I agree. I keep having to remind myself whether Formula One is super-, hyper- or ultra-complicated, and in which order…

      1. They made a mess of it this year by refusing to use Ultrasoft, super hard and ultrahard

    2. I agree as well. And I think F1 would do well to look beyond just borrowing tyre nomenclature from IndyCar, and take a hard look at some of the other reasons the red/black tyres work as well as they do in IndyCar to create strategic possibilities.

      1) Until recently, IndyCar banned running on the softer tyre during practice, so that the first laps drivers ran on them was in qualifying. Even now, I think cars are limited to one set of red tyres in practice. This increases the odds of a mixed-up grid as well as greatly limits the amount of data the teams can gather.

      2) Refueling in IndyCar means at least 2–3 stops are required, which creates a virtuous cycle of strategic possibilities where more pit stops means more opportunities open up for clean track, and more drivers then angle to be on the red tires at those times.

      3) And of course, Indy cars can run close enough together that the red tyres are actually useful for working your way up through the field. Obviously we’ll all be hoping future regulations will help F1 in this regard.

      With all the paddock talk about cutting down on practice time to spice up the show, I’d rather see F1 limit running on the softest compound(s) instead. It doesn’t make sense to try to make yourself more popular by giving less time on track to your paying customers.

      And though nobody seems to want to bring back refueling these days, as many people have commented here before, you could do something similar by requiring all teams to use all three sets of compounds during a race.

      1. Hi Mark – Quite agree… but there has always been an arrogance in F1 that, in considering itself the pinnacle of motor-racing, it doesn’t have to check what others are doing…
        And it’s not just F1 that does this… ;-)

    3. I thoroughly disagree. I dislike not knowing which tyres they are on. But hey, its made “easier” now right, so that must be good.

      To me it has only become harder to identify what tyres cars are on and I am sure that we will hear the Sky team complainging about how the simplification is not really simple at all next year. Then again, since it will be now completely locked behind a pay wall, who knows how many people will actually be watching (at least legally)

    4. My brother watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his first one for a while (he only watches when he visits my parents on a Grand Prix day). He understood the tyre system just fine… …until I noted that the medium tyre is the fifth-softest compound of seven.

      “How is that even possible? Medium compound should be the middle tyre, that is the definition!”

      Have to admit, he had a point…

  2. Are we watching F1 because of the tyres?
    All the tyre talk is just a distraction and should be no different from fuel. You either have enough of it or you don’t.

    1. It is a distraction but it is one that for a few people that I’m around and have discovered this thing called F1 the tires are already confusing for them with the colors and such. When I explain it to them they ask why does it have to be so difficult. It’s the one thing that a new viewer sees and it is discussed at length during a race so if you make it simple hard-medium-soft and a pair of wet weather tires that just rules out anything any more complicated than it needs to be.

  3. Agree with COTD, and nice to see the above comments as well that prefer simpler tyre names, and hopefully lesser talk about the tyres during the race.


    Racing Point Force India is throwing shade on Haas on the long-standing rumour/smear that the Haas car is a Ferrari design built by Dallara, while Haas only employs whiners, despite that being cleared by the FIA regulators as maximizing what is allowed by the regs. It’s a bit rich considering that RPFI themselves bought and runs (and now develops) cars that were designed and built by Force India.


    Grosjean’s complaint – he needs to also tell the same to the Haas designers/aero guys, they’re the ones who build mirrors as aero devices and to minimize aero impact, instead of the intended purpose of – you know – seeing what’s behind the car. I think for the 2019 season, the FIA needs to take a stance that “Sorry, didn’t see you mate” type of incidents/near-misses in FP/quali will be penalized much more harshly (financially + an in-race penalty). Until date, teams have been skating around the useless mirrors by warning their drivers from the pit wall. If they also fail in the latter, we’re just setting ourselves up for a big shunt.

    1. Sage comments… +++

  4. Grosjean has a point although if it isn’t easy to see from the mirrors combined that to not getting the information, then the best approach would be to simply stay away from the racing line as much as possible like I’ve pointed out before.
    – Haas, just let it go already.
    – Regarding the COTD: This is still, an unnecessary change in my view. I’ve never found the current approach complicated nor confusing at all. The only good thing is that at least we’re still going to get to know beforehand which specific compounds are going to be available for each race weekend.

  5. Great news for Ericsson. He can still become a drummer when ABBA starts touring again ;)

  6. Does anyone actually have a subscription to the Financial Times? I’m sure it’s an interesting article but can’t believe many on here have a subscription.

    I’ll comment on the quote though. Of course safety should be paramount for Tilke when taking responsibility, but that in no way has to lead to point and squirt scalextric tracks like Abu Dhabi with constant radius turns everywhere.

    1. I’m registered for free, you get several articles free per month (not sure whether 5 or 10) @john-h

  7. Interesting how humble and respectful Mr Grosjean can be when he is teetering on the brink of race bans.
    In fairness though quite a few drivers have said that the mirrors are pretty much useless.
    With modern technology I wonder how viable a rear mounted camera with a screen in cockpit (in the halo?) would be? The cam could also transmit footage to teams/viewers of course.

    Tyres? – I don’t care if you call them “Betty” – “George” – “Mr Sticky” or “Zangar the Destroyer!”
    I really think we need to sort out the aerodynamics for overtaking first – then the tyre compounds can be tweaked to enhance racing.

    1. My car has cameras to the side back and front which are the size of a small coin and blind spot monitoring which flashes an orange light in the mirror itself. The space and weight should not make these sort of add ons prohibitive in an F1 car. Interestingly the front and rear cameras can pick up other vehicles at a fair distance so even where closing speeds are substantial they would aid the slower driver. The real problem is installing a screen and the potential distraction. A possible solution is therefore to use cameras to spot the car and then flash a warning (in the mirror) in the same way as the blind spot monitoring ie use the cameras to enhance the mirrors in some way, or have a dual view mirror (half live, half camera view).

      1. I’m not sure why F1 helmets do not have HUD yet. That kind of peripheral vision information supplied to military jet pilots allows greater situational awareness through an interface that does not take eyes off the road. It’s been annoying and sometimes dangerous to see how much drivers use the wheel display. The tech is there to do so much more and yet make the driving less fiddly with the steering wheel screen. The mirrors could be dispensed with.

        Corvette started using an augmented reality rear view camera many years ago in GTLM that shows other cars approaching or behind with their relative speed, and could identify them as GTLM or other classes so they know whether to defend or not. Very neat piece of kit that was always cool to watch when they showed the in-car view, and which greatly enhanced their situational awareness and safety.

        Something like this, but using HUD with the data mirrored to the audience view would be brilliant. They could see flag info, warnings of slow cars ahead (like Sirotkin and Ham in Brazil), cars they are fighting around them, etc.

  8. @keithcollantine I just realised that it’s been a long while since I saw a caption competition. It’s always been something that gave this site charm. I miss it, any plans for any more?

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      26th November 2018, 11:20

      And stats and facts. Don’t forget the fan favourites amongst all the money talk and behind the scenes catering insight Keith. ;)

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