Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

“I could do three races in a row”: Hamilton wants F1 to be more challenging

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has reiterated his call for Formula 1 to become much more physically challenging, saying he could do up to three races in a row.

The Mercedes driver was asked for his views on plans to overhaul the sport in 2021. He said he would prefer a return to “V12, naturally aspirated engines” with “manual gearboxes”, but was particularly concerned to see F1 become “harder for the drivers”.

“Take away all these big run-off areas that you have everywhere,” said Hamilton. “You should not have steering assist or even if you do you’ve got to have it low – I like having it low so it’s harder for me.

“You should be just so physically exhausted after the race, it should be exhausting like a marathon. I could probably do two or three races in a row and Formula 1 should not be like that.”

The five-times champion said the reduced physical challenge of the sport makes it easier for drivers to enter at a younger age and stay in the sport longer.

“It’s a man’s sport and a lot of youngsters come in and it’s quite easy for them to get straight into it. But I do think it should be the most physically challenging and probably why a lot of us drivers are able to go for a long period of time is because we can handle it.”

Hamilton also added: “We need better tyres.” However he said past changes to the regulations have not successfully addressed F1’s need to cut costs and deliver better entertainment.

“If you look over the last 12 years and beyond that they always shift and change the regulations for the car, try to improve costs, try to improve overtaking and I think in general the decision have not been great in all of those years.

“Liberty [Media] has taken over now and you still have the same issue: People are not so excited, we still have that separation between all the top wealthier teams and the lower teams.”

He believes F1 needs to do more than revised the rules to introduce greater variety. “There’s more to it than just changing the regulations of the car,” he said. “That continues to be a fundamental issue.

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“But there’s also the entertainment aspect. If you look every weekend’s the same four days, 21 weekends in a year. And that format’s never changed. That’s also, the entertainment of it has to probably shift to suit different tracks. You’ve got Monaco which you can’t overtake, maybe have two races there – I don’t know what it is, I don’t have the answer for it but I think that element also needs to have a real look into because the fans are the reason that we’re able to continue to do what we do.

“Whilst there’s a lot of people here, there are races with not big attendance, the promotion is perhaps not always the best in some places. People do continue to comment that it’s boring because you have a period of time where Ferrari win for a period of time, McLaren win for a period of time, Mercedes, Red Bull… how you stop that, that is definitely part of the regulations. But I think on a more global scale there has to be changes outside of the regulations in my opinion. I think Ross and that are thinking about that for 2021.”

Hamilton believes he is in his best shape yet as a driver which he partly credit to his switch to a “plant-based” diet, which he believes people need better education about.

“I think probably the older you get the more you understand about the world and about yourself and about your health. A big step for me was when I decided to go to a plant-based diet, that really changed a huge amount for me and the positive impact that it’s had, mentally and physically.

“I just wish I did it a lot earlier. Unfortunately the education is pretty poor for kids at school and obviously parents probably aren’t educating their kids because they also don’t know of the positive effects it can have.”

He also said he has become more mentally resilient. “Not every day is easy, I still come across humps, but I feel every day I’m getting new tools to be able to handle and build and learn new things all the time. I’m definitely in the best place I’ve ever been but I think you’ve really seen that shift over the past years and I don’t think that’s every going to stop I think I’ll continue to learn and grow and improve.”

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Keith Collantine
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54 comments on ““I could do three races in a row”: Hamilton wants F1 to be more challenging”

  1. Become a marathoner or race dirt bikes then. Miss the days of Rosberg crushing a cigarette out with his foot on the grid and then climbing into his car. The point is everybody wants something different out of F1. If nobody is leading and everybody is deciding it is going to be the mess it is now.

  2. Again, since the cars were deliberately made several seconds faster by the technical reg changes preceding the ones made for this season, the cornering-speeds have been increasing and thus the G-forces, so the 2017-present cars should at least be harder to drive than all the previous V6 hybrid era cars or any of the V8-era cars. Furthermore, as I’ve pointed out before, the gearboxes technically have always been manual. A manual transmission is a manual transmission regardless of whether gear-shifting is performed by taking one hand off the steering wheel to move a level, or by simply flicking fingers against a paddle-shifter behind the steering wheel. The criteria of a manual transmission are fulfilled as long as to up and downshift, the person behind the wheel is required to do something him/herself for that to happen rather than just drive.

    I can agree with him on the tyres to an extent, but the rest of his suggestions, not that necessary to be done.

    1. I don’t think your definition of a manual transmission tallies with common usage. If controlled by paddles without a physical clutch control, it is semi-automatic. If a car only requires a piece of software to become fully automatic, then it can hardly be classed as a manual.

      1. Indeed. A manual has a driver-operated clutch, usually a clutch pedal.

    2. It’s a classic argument. Does speed make it harder, or does making the cars a handful make it harder? What makes the cars more exciting? And what produces better racing?

      Arguments on all sides for everything. Traction control and ABS made the cars faster but better handling. Some would argue this makes them easier, others harder. Some argue this makes racing better, others worse.

      Basically so many different arguments and nobody can agree.

      1. Higher speed means higher G-forces and that does make it physically harder than it used to be. However, power steering and crappy tires forcing you to go slower than the car is capable off (less cornering speed = less G force)

        Let’s combine some things and keep the bigger wings/ground effect, along with taking away power steering and engine/throttle mapping, which are essentially traction control.

  3. This is the same guy who b1tch3d and moaned about the schedule and number of races a year or two ago. God I will be glad when he’s gone.

    1. Why because you don’t like him??

      1. Correct, I don’t like him.

        1. Jason Blankenship, Lewis stole your girlfriend?

    2. @jblank Not sure how previous comments about the scheduling contradicts any quotes from this article. He’s simply reiterating the notion of quality over quantity.

      1. Ok, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that then, but when I read this the first thing I thought of was him bemoaning the back to back to back races, which he did.

        1. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that then

          Who cares.

          1. Apparently you did. Did I touch a nerve by talking bad about the golden child? So, so, not sorry.

          2. No, nobody wants to hear your tedious opinions about whether you like a driver or not. It’s not a teen chat room.

          3. @david-br except Noel, who literally asked

          4. Well then skip over my posts, problem solved.

        2. He means back to back as in 3 races on the same day (because just one race is too easy on him). Of course he doesn’t want races each weekend, something entirely different, because he won’t have time to live his lifestyle otherwise.

          1. @jblank

            Did I touch a nerve by talking bad about the golden child? So, so, not sorry.

            The ‘golden child’ clearly touches all sorts of uncomfortable nerves in yourself, perhaps you should just not bother commenting, we wouldn’t mind.

          2. No, I’ll comment as I see fit.

    3. Wah, wah, wah. Had max said this i think youd be lauding him as the F1 messiah. Everything Lewis said was eloquent, open and honest. Whats more… it agrees with the popular consesus on most of F1s current issues. Yet somehow…somehow…you find this offensive?
      Lewis is simply saying, just like many fans, that F1 needs a revamp. He says he doesnt have the answers but something has to change. WHERE can you draw offence exactly?

      1. Reading comprehension is poor with some of you. What I am criticizing him for isn’t what he’s advocating, it’s his hypocrisy. He whined about having too many back to backs and now is like, “yeah, I could do three in a row”.

        I actually agree *shock* with what he’s saying, but two weeks from now he just as easily could say things 180 degrees opposite. The guy is flaky, one day he’s for this, the next he’s against it.

        1. Maybe check your reading comprehension. He means get back in the car right after a race and do another one right away.

        2. I’m pretty sure that what he was saying was that modern F1 cars are so physically undemanding to drive that he would no problem, fitness wise, doing 3 races in a row…one after the other over a period of hours. A different subject entirely than his supposed issue with too many back to backs.

    4. Sonny Crockett
      7th June 2019, 12:02

      I’m curious to know how his comments fit with his post-Monaco quote from less than 2 weeks ago:

      “That was definitely the hardest race I’ve had…”

      If that was the hardest race Lewis has ever had, what mythical era is Lewis referring to where he was driving cars that are more difficult to pilot than the current batch?

      I like Lando Norris’s riposte. That guy might just be the next Lewis Hamilton!

      1. Exactly! He changes opinions like the wind changes direction.

        1. NeverElectric
          7th June 2019, 18:20

          He hasn’t asked for three races in a row. He’s said current cars are so easy to drive, looking at the physical effort involved in driving them, one could easily do three races in a row.
          When he complained about the hectic schedule of modern f1, his beef was all the PR activities and the like, not the time in the car. He even went on to skip some of the PR activities.
          Maybe if you’d read the article before responding….but hatred blinds, doesn’t it?

  4. Jon Newhouse
    6th June 2019, 17:58

    Staggering. You have the No. 1 driver, making a case for tougher, closer racing and all the comments can do is criticise him for it.

    1. I think you will find Hamilton is Libertys secret weapon. Every time the ground swell for tougher racing, no run offs, stick shift and V12s becomes too loud, Liberty wheel out Hamilton; knowing that half of the mob will suddenly change their opinion on the matter. The last time was three years ago where he said exactly the same thing; and the ground swell all but subsided.

  5. have you personally met lewis, Jason? that you can say you don’t like him? and for what? because he says or does things that don’t agree with you? then by that logic you don’t like a lot of people… I personally have never met the guy I neither like or dislike him. I enjoy his racing craft and the drama he brings sometimes. I also agree with him. the sport should not be easy for teenagers to come into the sport. less sensors, less driver aids, more driver centred.no engineers coaching drivers…its a mans sport not a kids game.

    1. No, he doesn’t make it to my neck of the woods very often. I dislike his attitude, I dislike that he’s part of the crew that always whines about how bad they are and how great Ferrari are, all the while lying to us. I dislike him winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and I dislike him being thought of as almost saint like by the FIA, as someone who never does any wrong.

      I agree with what he said as far as changes, but he has contradicted himself so often in the past I don’t know what to believe anymore. Two weeks from now he could just as soon do a 180 and say the opposite. He’s just an odd character.

      1. Odd character? Pot? Kettle? Black?

        1. So criticizing someone based off their hypocrisy and propensity for contradictions makes someone odd? That makes no sense.

      2. I concur @jblank

  6. The races would be more challenging if he had some mental fatigue added too. But the Mercedes is so far ahead that a challenge rarely happens.

    If the field was closer with intense battles every races he wouldn’t be able to do 3 races in a row

  7. For me LH is once again highlighting the main point I consider when we talk about ‘the greats.’ Yes LH is and will be amongst the greats. His numbers ensure that. But is he really performing a great feat? At least compared to the days when so much more was in the drivers control as LH pines for? And I don’t just mean LH but all the WDC’s in this era where drivers are moreso passengers monitoring systems and driving at speeds according to what the engineers tell them, and what the tires dictate, and with up to the second updating via radio at that. Umpteen settings on a steering wheel to help nurse a car or brakes etc if need be.

    I like LH’s sentiment in his quotes above, and thankfully we do know that Liberty and Brawn have spoken about more of a driver vs driver F1 again, and getting away from the engineer vs engineer F1 we’ve been having.

    1. @robbie There actually is a lot more for the drivers to control at the moment. He’s only saying that it isn’t physically demanding enough.

      Clearly in the seventies it was even worse because drivers were smoking even. So they were hardly athletes like the driers are now.

      Besides there is still are drivers better than others. It’s like for example the discussion what is more difficult. Snooker or pool. Cleary pool is easier since it’s not that hard to clear the table. Yet the top players will clear the table multiple times in a row.

      Drivers might be helped to nurse their tires better due to more data gathering, but you still have to bring the car home without crashing into other cars. Ask Vettel how difficult that is, even with the fastest car.

      1. @f1osaurus Hmm well you have chosen a few talking points to argue a few aspects, but I think there is much more to it than you make it sound.

        A lot more for the drivers to control? Yet that doesn’t seem to exhaust them. When I think of physically demanding I think of a driver and a steering wheel and a gear shifter and brakes. The rest is up to the driver to determine fuel consumption and tire consumption and adapt to changes in car behaviour throughout stints and the races. And still be mentally sharp in the remaining laps when exhaustion is setting in and the neck muscles are giving up.

        As to smoking…’they’ certainly didn’t all smoke, but for sure even some NHL hockey players smoked and likely many athlete in many sports back in the day. Training and knowledge in this area has come a long long way throughout the decades as I’m sure you are well aware.

        That comparisons can still be made amongst the drivers is irrelevant to the topic of how demanding the cars are to drive and what kind of a feat it is. That they still have to bring their cars home is greatly aided by engineers instructing the drivers how to do that whereas drivers such as Senna et al had to figure almost all this out on their own out on the track. No computer predictions for setups and race strategies beforehand either. Drivers in previous eras have had much more of the physical and mental workload on their shoulders than now.

        Of course LH, in his fastest and more complete WCC leading car out front in clean air, is going to have an easier time than drivers in lesser cars, but they’re all having it much easier than previous times.

      2. @robbie

        A lot more for the drivers to control? Yet that doesn’t seem to exhaust them.

        None of the things you mentioned was related to making F1 more exhausting. That was entirely my point.

  8. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    6th June 2019, 20:22

    Eliminate power steering. There you go, found you a solution.

    1. @panagiotism-papatheodorou You mean you missed the quote where Hamilton is saying that?

  9. I would like to see the return of tobacco/alcohol sponsorship money as long F1 get rid of ugly sunglasses and watches money.

  10. Watching the press conference, you can tell Lewis was in a good mood today.

  11. Reduce driver aids, make the races more physically demanding, remove DRS and the differences between the drivers would suddenly become much clearer. And Hamilton knows full well he’d be one of the ones to benefit.

  12. I’d love to see you wrestle a IndyCar around a street course with no power steering.

    1. Maybe thats what F1 needs? Be more like IndyCar. Soon F1 will be pointless so why not go back to basics and let it be more about the driver

  13. “V12, naturally aspirated engines” with “manual gearboxes”

    Mega! It can be a naturally aspirated hybrid V12, if it needs to be “modern”… and Gearbox can be 8 speed HPattern if some compromise is to be had.

    1. There is nothing “modern” about a naturally aspirated engine at all, hybrid or not.
      (twin) Turbocharged hybrids are simply the most efficient engine’s ever built to date. Even if they sound like a lawnmower.

  14. He is right, schools don’t teach how to eat responsibly, and maybe they should, doesn’t mean becoming vegetarian is the right diet for everybody, most likely it isn’t.

    On the other hand we were educated enough to understand V12s belong to the past (sounds odd to advocate for a vegetarian diet while asking for the thirsty V12s doesn’t it?). The problem isn’t the motors.

    Regulations and tyres he is right. I never saw anywhere in any category a tyre manufacturer making their own products bad on purpose. (Imagine in a decade people laughing, remember when F1 asked for bad tyres? Ahahah)

  15. Says the kid who has never not had a winning car…

    Try driving for the broken Williams team and then we’ll talk about multiple races!

    And I thought Button was the least deserving ‘champion’ – this joker is nearly matching him!

    1. Gulp! Now you’ve put your foot in it!

  16. hahaha!!! almost spat out my tea luckily i gulped it down…

  17. I think F1 should continue as it is, but a new series should open up to be the antithesis of Formula E. Big loud engines, classic circuits, get rid of almost all electronics. Then see who’s interested and if it succeeds and let F1 either lean towards one or another over time depending on what seems viable for the future.

    F1’s not going anywhere for now and can’t turn on a dime no matter what famous successful personality says what about it.

  18. Principles F1 should follow: 1. safety 2. close racing 3. world’s fastest cars 4. efficiency 5. optimizing 1-4 points. The most fans want to see close racing among the best drivers in the fastest cars. How can we solve it? This is, decision makers and engineers should work for. I think it is possible with compromises.
    Some possibilities we have to consider:
    1. Less differences between cars in lap times.
    Some teams are better in PU and others in aero but we need less differences in lap times. I think we should introduce Plus Weight Per Point system in short term (for example +20dkg/point, less or more. It means if a driver has 10 points he has to carry +2kg as a minimum weight for the car) because it is a simple, cheap, fast, effective solution to decrease dominance and differences and we don’t need unification or freeze development. Smaller teams get the same PU (hardware, software, etc) as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences and decrease costs. I think it would be ideal if cars are close to each other in lap times but some cars are faster in straight and others are faster in corners. The slower teams get more test days.
    2. Less dirty air and less sensitive cars for dirty air in corners but fast cars: more mechanical grip, less or same aero downforce, the sport needs make it easier for cars to follow each other closely during races
    A, simpler front wing and aero B, (more effective diffuser) C, better tyres D, more powerful and effective PUs (natural development) E, slight changes in technical regulation year by year (differences will naturally decrease) and more freedom in development until regulations allow F, DRS? (open DRS time/race and drivers manage it) G, refuelling? (Cars can be faster and drivers could push harder during races but there would be less safety and more ’overtaking during the pit stops’) H, narrower cars I, less weight J, use active aero elements (no DRS) to decrease the following car disadvantage in the corners
    3. Increasing the role of drivers: A, drivers make decisions on strategy B, less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons) C, minimum weight for drivers (for example 80kg with ballast less or more) but no limit for cars D, push on the limit as long as possible, and save (fuel, tyres, PU etc.) as short as possible -> faster lap times during races E, It should be more challenging to drive physically and mentally F, drivers manage ERS instead of a program (like they used KERS earlier) G, so more challenge mentally (drivers own strategy) and physically (more G force until it is safety) as well for drivers.
    4. Better tracks: It would be a good think if F1 valuated the tracks.

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