Todt proposes new ban on “driver aids” targeting anti-stall, telemetry and virtual garages

2019 British Grand Prix

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FIA president Jean Todt has proposed a radical overhaul of the Formula 1 rules to ban what he calls “driver aids”.

Speaking in an exclusive interview for RaceFans, Todt outlined how he would ban innovations such as anti-stall, telemetry and virtual garages to increase unpredictability and create more entertaining races.

“We need to consider the list of all driver aids,” said Todt, naming the cars anti-stall devices as one example of an aid which assists the drivers.

“Why do we have that?” he asked. “We want more opportunities for a driver to make a mistake.” Eliminating anti-stall could create more problems for drivers at the start of races. “Like happened when Michael [Schumacher] probably lost the championship in ’98,” pointed out Todt, who ran Schumacher’s Ferrari team at the time.

Todt also highlighted the amount of data teams generate from the cars and the vast numbers of staff employed in the factories to problem real-time support during race weekends as examples of ‘aids’ for he drivers which increase the predictability of races.

“All that we should get rid of,” he said.

“We want races to be more unpredictable. If we want more unpredictability, we must get rid of telemetry. We must get rid of driver aids. We must get rid of 50 people in the factory waiting. It’s what we need.”

The FIA president has also recently spoken up in favour of reintroducing refuelling, which was previously banned at the end of 2009 to improve safety and reduce costs. He told RaceFans this will satisfy the drivers’ demand for lighter cars. Currently teams have to carry a full race fuel allocation of up to 110kg from the start of a grand prix.

“I said let’s consider if there is a complaint cars are too heavy,” said Todt. “If they are too heavy, let’s reintroduce refuelling.

“They say it’s expensive, and I say look at the motorhomes,” he added.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 30 comments on “Todt proposes new ban on “driver aids” targeting anti-stall, telemetry and virtual garages”

    1. I don’t see the point in banning anti-stall, if a driver gets the start so wrong that they go into anti-stall then they will still pay for their mistake by getting a slow start, the alternative of having a stationary car on the grid could mean someone else ends up paying for the mistake.

      1. James I agree and to your point we saw that 2 weeks ago when Max muddled his start BUT raced his way back to a victory.

      2. Yeah I don’t see how removing anti-stall leads to more excitement. You only need to look back at the last race, Verstappen would be out of the race at the start and Leclerc would have a comfortable win. Removing cars from track unnecessarily is not the answer. And as you said, drivers are already penalised sufficiently when they get an anti-stall at the start, but have an opportunity to fight back later. I don’t mind if they look at removing other driver aids to encourage more of an influence of driver skill and potentially more mistakes.

        Mr Todt, please drop this notion of bringing back refuelling. Sounds great in theory, doesn’t work in practice. We know from history that teams will just set their strategy early and passing will occur during pit windows with little incentive to risk on-track overtakes. If they manage to make it so the cars are much, much less sensitive to dirty air and able to follow and overtake more easily, then there would be more of an argument for refuelling, but it would also become unnecessary since there would be more action/entertainment on track anyway. And also, refuelling adds unnecessary costs and safety hazards in the pit lane. So I don’t see a future where refuelling adds anything positive to F1.

        1. @keithedin f1 needs less dirty air we know this, aero is a performance differenciator so teams don’t want that. horner said more wings are what fans wanted back in 2016, liar because more wings better RB.

          I don’t agree with you on refuelling though, horner does that because it cost poor teams more, 0.001%.

          In my view less wings and refuelling and no DRS, problem solved.
          Why, refuelling?
          -watch super formula.
          there will only be overtakes on the pits?
          -most overtakes are on the pits already, more crutial than ever before. Dangerous?
          -as if last year a mechanic wasnt ran over by a car, the worst injury I’ve witnessed in 20 years.
          it was banned for a reason?
          that reason is to end unpredictability, even wet races are boring now, you can’t fuel expecting rain.

    2. Anti-stall is a safety feature that reduces the risk of race start accidents, eg Austria 2019. It also keeps more cars on track and reduces time lost to safety cars and red flags in practice, qualifying and races.

      1. If you remove antistall, just mandate starter motors.

        1. Pretty sure the Ferrari at least can start on track with the hybrid system.

          1. The Red Bull always starts on the KERS system. If you watch the F1 tv onboard, the drivers start the car themselves everytime on the grid and in the pitbox. They don’t normally use the external starter.

      2. @fitzroyalty, and Austria originally dropped off the circuit because of the chaotic 1987 race, where there had to be three attempts at starting the race when poor starts during the previous two attempts to start that race caused massive pile ups – the narrowness of that circuit meant that, if somebody did stall, there was very little room for people to get past them.

        The idea of getting rid of anti-stall sounds like one of those ideas that will be thought of as a good idea right up until the point where it goes wrong and there is a massive pile up – at which point, there could be some rather “unpredictable” outcomes that Todt might rather not wish for.

        Equally, doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical for Todt to complain about the cars becoming heavier, and yet the FIA is itself often the party that is most responsible for pushing the weight limit up in the first place? We’ve had increases in the weight limit for changes to the tyres in the past, then we had the 26kg increase with the change to the rules in 2017 when they switched to the current 2m wide rule set.

        We then had another 6kg increase to accommodate the halo in 2018, whilst for this year we’ve had another 6kg increase because of the 80kg minimum weight requirement for the driver and seat. Meanwhile, I believe that the FIA has talked about increasing the minimum weight of the cars again when 18 inch rims are introduced, as the new wheels are expected to be heavier than the old 13 inch rims they replace.

        The majority of the weight increase in recent years has really been associated with the FIA pushing the minimum weight up to begin with, partially on safety grounds, but it looks as if the FIA have also been using it as a means of trying to keep the cars in check in terms of performance.

    3. Move over you old duffer!
      Hello? It’s 2019!

    4. We want races to be more unpredictable

      This has been the line they’ve been using for so long, and even Ecclestone knew the answer, bring sprinklers to the track! Forget about qualifying, reverse grids, random grids even! If they want to punish drivers for making mistakes then line every track with concrete walls, another Ecclestone classic.

      But unpredictability is not the solution to generating interest, closer racing is. Get the teams closer in spending and performance and get the cars performing better in dirty air.

      These ideas Todt is throwing about is the exact knee-jerking gimmicks F1 should be getting away from. FIA should focus on safety and governance, not how to make the races more entertaining.

      1. For all the fun that’s been had with the sprinkler idea – and even Bernie wasn’t serious – there’s something to be said for a track that is kept wet throughout the weekend rather than having sprinklers come on at random times.

    5. Anti-stall I don’t have an issue with, for reasons stated above. I totally agree about real-time telemetry though, it’s essentially a loophole to get around the maximum personnel at races. To be honest I think if they just outlawed sharing data back to the factory during races (hard to police I know) that would remove a big advantage the larger teams have. Obviously they wouldn’t be happy though, after setting up NASA-style missions controls :D.

    6. Michael Ward
      14th July 2019, 10:39

      No argument that anti-stall is a driver aid but it won’t improve the racing if it were removed. There would have been a good chance that Max would have stalled at the start of the Austrian GP, the field would have gone into safety cat or Virtual safety car for the opening laps while his car was removed from the grid.
      Without Max in that race it would have been rather dull, and whilst he did get aid from the anti-stall it certainly didn’t make for a good race start for him, I’d say anti-stall is an almost perfect driver aid, one that might prevent the extreme of a problem but doesn’t give a driver a performance advantage.

      The telemetry and virtual garages, I think removing them is “anti-F1”, at least in my opinion. Part ofd what makes F1 the “pinnacle of racing” is the teams’ almost obsessive attention to minute detail, this isn’t how I’d like to see F1 go forward.

      The truth is proposals like this are only here because the philosophy of the car design regulations are wrong. Too much reliance on sensitive aerodynamic devices, not enough on the more robust ones, and the mechanical grip being very secondary to aero grip.
      We hear a lot about “dirty air” and what generates it and what can be done to minimise it but we already know that a different mix of devices and technology can solve many of our issues.

      I’d propose a vast simplification to the front and rear wings, perhaps even a spec piece removing the entire development process that surrounds them, they’ll exist to trim the car but aren’t the main downforce generators.
      I’d allow much more under car freedom, no more requirement for flat floors or atleast a larger area under the cat that the teams can shape, balanced by the FIA to meet desired corner speeds for their safety standards.
      I’d allow active suspension, maybe team designed, maybe spec designed, probably a bit of both.
      Allowing a following car to ride a little lower has significant aerodynamic advantages and could potentially erase the aero disadvantages from following in disturbed air, their is a lot of potential in active suspension.
      I’d make F1 brakes less effective. Increasing the breaking area give drivers a larger part of the track to try an outbreak a rival, potentially opening up whole new overtaking locations that currently aren’t an option.

      We don’t need slower cars, or more “lottery” rules, we need cars that can run in dirty air and still perform at near peak performance.

    7. list the driver aids separating safety aids from actual driver aids. arrange the driver aids from most important to least important ( can have multiple lists) from the lists choose 2 to 5 that must be removed each season. and see how it plays out. re introduce refuelling( or not) reduce aero dependancy that restricts following cars.

    8. I do agree with removing the dozens of people sat in various mission controls. Surely that would also cut costs and help the smaller teams that don’t have the resources to throw at staff to process the data.

      1. I really doubt it would have that much of an impact considering they’re not competing with the smaller teams anyway.

        I’m not defending it, it’s definitely a grandiose practice, but F1 has bigger issues to tackle! Already overdue on 2021 regulations! Now is not the time to be throwing new spanners in the works when the teams can’t agree on what’s already on the table.

    9. Bring back REFUELLING! I like that idea, it was gone to make races more predictable.
      Disagree, go watch super formula!

    10. I used to take the idea that refueling was a heavy, expensive menace seriously. Then I realized that Indycar, a series with massive cost constraints compared to F1, has been refueling safely, on a budget, for decades. NASCAR does it with frikking GAS CANS. And I’m supposed to believe the most sophisticated motorsports teams in the world can’t get it right?

      Make the system gravity fed, and either let the FIA supply the rigs, or standardize everything except maybe the nozzle. Yes, it’ll mean no more 2.1 second pit stops, but it’ll improve both strategy and racing.

      1. Why would it improve the strategy?

        With the fuel stop limiting exactly how far the driver can go, you know pretty much instantly when they are going to pit again and therefore what strategy they have to be on. I can remember how, in most pit stops of that era, the commentators would usually be predicting what strategy a driver had to be on before they’d even left the pit lane, and usually predicting when their next stop would be when they were still on their outlap – and if the commentators were doing that, you can bet that the other teams were also doing that and pretty much instantly working out what their rivals were doing.

        In the vast majority of most races, refuelling reduced the strategic variety because it meant that a driver had to run a particular strategy and had to pit at set times of the race, and most teams almost always followed the same strategy because there was one obvious strategy to use.

        When you ask people what strategic variety it brought, you almost always end up getting the same handful of examples – usually Schumacher and the 2004 French Grand Prix. That, though, was really an exception to the norm – the only reason why it is remembered is precisely because it was so abnormal and because we did not get that sort of strategic variety.

        1. Added to the refuelling issue – as cars tended to become slower on pit stops it did not make sense to stop earlier than fuel load allowed (discarding exceptional circumstances like SC or weather change).

    11. I’m all with removing driver aids but anti-stall isn’t one of them. And so is telemetry, because imo F1 (and Motorsports in general) needs to accentuate the team factor.

      I think maybe removing the rev limiter or a more archaic shift light would be better. Reducing the power steering a bit too maybe. Can’t get much ideas…

      1. “I’m all with removing driver aids but anti-stall isn’t one of them.”
        I agree.

    12. *facepalm*

      Yeah, as I already told some time before – let’s switch to identical 200-300kmph go-karts and call it F1.

      It will be ridiculously dangerous, but “genuine” battle of driving skills…

      (ultimate sarcasm)

    13. 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. Slight changes in technical regulation year by year (with stable regulations, differences will naturally decrease). Smaller teams get the same PU (hardware, software, etc) as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences and decrease costs. The slower teams get more test days. 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.
      +I think we should introduce Plus Weight Per Championship Point system in short term (for example +20dkg/point, less or more. It means if a driver has got 10 championship 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.
      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 (more durable, more grip) D, more powerful and effective PUs (natural development) E, DRS? (open DRS time/race and drivers manage it) F, refuelling? (Cars can be faster and drivers could push harder during races but there would be less safety and maybe more ’overtaking during the pit stops’) G, narrower cars H, less weight I, use active (aero) elements (no DRS), variable suspension (etc.) to decrease the following car’s disadvantage in the corners
      3. Increasing the role of drivers: A, Racing should be a greater challenge for drivers mentally (own decision-making) and physically (more G forces until it is safe) as well during races. B, drivers make decisions on strategy and car settings C, less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons) D, minimum weight for drivers (for example 80kg with ballast less or more) E, push on the limit as long as possible, and save (fuel, tyres, PU etc.) as short as possible -> faster lap times during races F, reduce driver aids
      4. Better tracks: It would be a good thing if F1 valuated the tracks.
      Some important things for a good race tracks are:
      4.1. Safety
      4.2. Track lines (many possible places to overtake, slow and fast corners)
      4.3. Wide (much wider than the race cars) and long
      4.4. Smoothness and roughness of the track
      4.5. Space crash (wall, gravel, speed bump, kerbs, grass, asphalt) that punishes the drivers if they leave the track but safe so compromises
      4.6. Earlier racing experiences
      4.7. Opinions of drivers (about race tracks)
      (4.8. Maybe attractions around the tracks)

      + If F1 decision-makers want to fix 2021 rules until October (2019) they should talk each other every week or every race weekend.

    14. Refueling won’t make the cars lighter. The cars are 735kg with empty tanks that is too much and the only reason why the cars are heavy is the engines. Hybrid engines weigh over 80kg more than 3 liter v10s. Take the road car engines out and put race car engines in and the weight issue is solved.

    15. I’d be happy with all of this, except anti stall. That should stay, would hate to see drivers not race because of a error at the start.

    16. Finally – some sane thinking!
      I do hope Todt and Brown can make the difference.

      F1 should be a sport of the fastest, physically toughest and most talented drivers – not the best video gamers.

      1. “Best video gamers”

        Pretty sure nobody in the sports series has made it to the real thing…

    17. I don’t understand why we aren’t discussing more ground effect. Re-introducing Refuelling and/or banning the anti-stall system seems a bit pointless. Also, we introduced the HALO for more security of the drivers in OWR against so many experts’ opinions but then we would re-introduce refuelling?? Makes no sense! I completely agree with Ant Davidson that we don’t talk enough about the current generation ICE efficiency. Banning telemetry sounds a bit more interesting. We know that the amount of data teams collect is reducing race unpredictability. And reducing costs with less enginners salaries seems sensible. F1 needs to go back to a driver’s formula.

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