Start, Red Bull Ring, 2019

Little support for proposed ban on anti-stall and other ‘driver aids’

2019 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt’s proposal to ban ‘driver aids’ such as anti-stall systems has won little support from on Formula 1 drivers.

Max Verstappen, whose car went into anti-stall mode at the Red Bull Ring when the race started, said one consequence of a ban would be “we wouldn’t have had an exciting Austrian Grand Prix.”

Not having anti-stall systems would mean “you lose the car in the race”, he pointed out when asked by RaceFans.

“I think it’s always good to keep the car in action, isn’t it? A man has a bad start but at least he’s still running. It can happen to more cars in a pit stop or whatever. I think it would be a bit silly that you lose a car for that.”

His team mate Pierre Gasly said banning anti-stall would have little effect on races. “It’s the sort of thing that happens once maybe in a season or maybe sometimes never so I don’t think it will have a massive impact.”

In an exclusive interview for RaceFans last weekend, Todt also proposed doing away with teams’ virtual garages and limiting the extent of pit-to-car telemetry to increase the unpredictability in races. However Lewis Hamilton is sceptical that would have the desired effect.

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“I don’t necessarily think that’s going to make a big difference to racing,” he said. “I don’t think many of those are going to do much different.”

Charles Leclerc also said there was limited scope to reduce the exchange of information between teams and their drivers.

“I think we are quite limited in that the cars are so complex now that we also need to make them run, having the help of the engineers, in the background. Maybe [we can] reduce some information but I think we are limited into that, just by the complexity of the cars now.”

Hamilton has previously called for a reduction in the minimum weight of F1 cars, which Todt has proposed achieving by reintroducing in-race refuelling. Valtteri Bottas believes this could be a step forward.

“As long as the cars are lighter it’s always going to be better for everything,” he said. “For racing, tyres, everything so whatever can be done for the weight is always going to be a bonus and we’re going to enjoy it more, everyone’s going to enjoy it more.”

However Hamilton wants the sport’s rule makers to reduce the weight of the car itself. “The cars don’t need to be 730 kilos,” he said, “they just don’t need to be that heavy.

“They used to be 600 or something years and years ago. I spoke to my engineers and they said if they change the rules we can make it that weight. We just have to take some things off the car but we can make it lighter.”

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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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18 comments on “Little support for proposed ban on anti-stall and other ‘driver aids’”

  1. A lighter car better for tyres, and brakes definitely, but for racing, I doubt it. How would a lower minimum overall weight improve the quality of racing? The quality of racing is primarily influenced by the aero, not by overall car weight, though.

    ”I spoke to my engineers and they said if they change the rules we can make it that weight. We just have to take some things off the car but we can make it lighter”
    – How many things would have to be taken off then? 600 isn’t necessary, but something like 700 would already be an improvement, so I’d be happy with that figure.
    1. Reduce the number of PU elements. Maybe only MGU-K, and ERS along with the engine itself if possible to work unless it wouldn’t then be enough road-relevant anymore.
    2. Make the (MGU-K/ERS-associated) batteries lighter, which should at least be easier to achieve now than at the beginning of the hybrid era as the technology has evolved and matured since then.
    3. A lighter Halo, which also should be more achievable by then than it was at first when it came. One way or another, it should be possible to reduce the minimum overall car+driver weight back to at least around 700.

    1. Just don’t make them limousine long.

    2. Every rule change, weight is tacked on.

      The only good rule is driver+seat is at least 80kg to prevent tiny jockeys.
      The minimum weight is 740kg now; including the driver. While it was 550kg not too long ago.
      Even more shocking is that F1 is heavier than IndyCar nowadays (721-735kg).

      Small recap
      2004 600/605 kg
      2010 620 kg (bigger fuel tank/larger cars due to this)
      2011 640 kg
      2013 642 kg (heavier tires)
      2014 690 kg (hybrid tech)
      2015 702 kg (to help lesser funded teams)
      2017 722 kg (to help lesser funded teams, wider cars/tires)
      2018 733 kg (halo added)
      2019 740 kg (minimal driver+seat weight added)

      In the hybrid era alone, 50kg is added to the cars while PU’s must weigh at least 145 kg and the batteries also have a minimum weight to prevent spending wars on batteries. Defeats the purpose a bit if you want leading hybrid tech to be road relevant.

      1. To add to this, a nice article on F1 Technical about this:

  2. …Todt also proposed doing away with teams’ virtual garages and limiting the extent of pit-to-car telemetry to increase the unpredictability in races.

    I’m wondering if Todt actually wants to improve the range of cars with race winning potential. Currently the race winner is almost guaranteed to be a car from Red Bull, Mercedes, or Ferrari. I don’t see any changes in the technical rules, aerodynamic rules, minimum weight rules, or rules about virtual garages or information transfer and such like changing that, only the proposed Budget Cap rules will do it.
    It was only because of a driver error that those teams didn’t achieve a clean sweep of positions 1 to 6 in the race, which really is a failure in the quality of racing. Only four times out of the ten races this season did any of their cars finish outside of the top 10. This isn’t the fault of those teams, it is the fault of those that run F1, they were the ones that allowed this to happen. It is also their responsibility to fix the problem.

    1. I don’t think any of these with vested interests want change. Todt and Brawn especially. I would love to see the total banning of car to pit radio. The America’s Cup does it. A guy jumps off the boat with the computer and communication gear at the 10 minute gun and off they go. The cars will be made only as technical as the drivers can handle. I would love to see who has the best mental capacity as opposed to physical. This isn’t a physical sport and any of the drivers saying it is is BS. For that I watch cycling.

      1. As I recall there’s about 2 or 3 people that actually run an America’s Cup yacht. There’s much more room in a yacht than there is in an F1 car, I think some yachts even have duel controls. So you can’t really compare the complexity of driving an F1 car with an America’s Cup yacht.
        I disagree with your belief F1 isn’t physically demanding. Why do you think F1 drivers retire in their 30s and early 40s? Drivers need to weight lift with their head to strengthen their neck muscles. The pedals in the car aren’t like in a regular car, they require a lot of strength to operate. I suspect all the current F1 drivers have an above average IQ.

  3. Interesting how Leclerc seems to think the cars would remain complex if the rules mandated less pit to car communication. My two cents is completely ban pit to car radio. I don’t buy the “we need to communicate for safety sake” argument. I also think the teams should have to select their tire compounds several weeks before the race but can use any compound they want in the race. In this way teams may find themselves on a less than optimal tire (for example they chose to only use the medium compound) and will have to modify their strategy accordingly.

    1. ” I don’t buy the “we need to communicate for safety sake” argument. ”
      Until the inevitable crash that could have been avoided…

      1. @falken how many have there been in the past? How many have been narrowly avoided? The drivers know what’s going on with their cars and I’d imagine in the vast majority of cases will feel that something is wrong before it happens. We hear comments to that effect all the time with the pit to car radio where drivers indicate that something doesn’t feel right or sound right etc. Without pit to car radio to onus will be on the driver to stop the car or pit which is no different than it was in the past or with lesser racing series.

        1. The difference is the racer would keep going even if they think there might be an issue and end up having a big crash. You hear the engineers saying all the time “There’s a problem, you need to stop the car”

  4. Considering that the 2021 rule changes are supposed to the most significant update to the rules for 10 years or more and in effect designed to ‘save’ the sport, some key figures (not all), seem very resistant to major changes e.g. Todt. It’s almost like they don’t understand the seriousness of the situation and are hoping a few tweaks here and there will put everything right.

    To many observers though, both professional and casual, FIA, Liberty, etc have to get the 2021 changes right or F1 will probably just wither away and be superceded by series such as Formula E. Many people close to the sport e.g. most drivers, are saying the current cars are too heavy and refuelling is not the best way to deal with this issue. It seems like no one is really listening though to the people who probably know best. In the light of recent comments how can the FIA consider possibly increasing the minimum weight?!

    I just don’t understand what’s going on. Is it that the vested interests e.g those who already invested heavily in power unit design, are just too powerful to take on and the sport is worried it might lose them if anything too radical gets though?

    1. I got the statement from Todt much in the same way @phil-f1-21. Instead of really reacting to a call to look at how to get lower weight cars, Todt just says “do refuelling, it will make the cars lighter” Knowing that the teams are not up to the extra cost and safety risks that come with only a slight reduction of the cars.

      As someone pointed out when the article/interview was published, with refuelling you would probably only get down about 50 kg, since they only have 105 kg of fuel (maximum) in the cars at the start. And you would have to fit a fast fuelling nozzle which might have a weight of up to 3-10? kg in itself.

  5. Peppe (@turbopeppino)
    16th July 2019, 22:20

    Well the whole saga has been about reducing costs for an age now and he’s talking about reintroducing fueling during races? Like that is not going to cost a few quid… Did he get infected by a strain of the bernies?

    1. They want hybrid engines and they want lighter cars. You can only have one or the other. So they are desperate to do anything to get even little closer to that dream. Making the fuel tank smaller will not save a lot of weight in the car and putting 50kg fuel into the car instead of 100kg (the teams don’t want to put the full amount) doesn’t change the fact that these cars are still obese being 740kg when they are empty. Not to mention how refueling hurts the racing when the focus is on passing during the pitstops and not on the race track.

      Take out the hybrid road car junk and put a race engine in and you can easily get from 740 to 640kg. I’d guess the next power unit will disconnect the engine from the rear tires completely. Instead of propeling the car forward the petrol engine will just sit there and yawn at constant rpm charging the batteries while the electric motors take care of the car motion while being 90% computer controlled and 10% driver. Probably needs another 50 to 100kg to make it happen but we are way past the point of even pretending to care about the weight of the car. Fuel saving is all that matters. Good luck pirelli making tires that can survive those downforce levels and 940kg f1 car weights going through eau rouge at 5G.

      1. @socksolid bang on really.

  6. Anti-Stall removal is not a good idea IMO. As Verstappen says it’s better to keep the car in the race, it could instigate more safety cars and nullifying the first/second lap for stalled cars and most importantly, a stalled car on the grid is bleeding dangerous.

    Even if the car is going slow because of anti-stall it’s still safer than not moving and it can get out of the way fairly sharpish. I’m sure we’ve all seen what happens with a stationary lead car with the rest of the grid in full attack, it’s not pretty.

  7. @tdm half of the engines can re-start via the MGU-K though, so you wouldn’t really be losing the car from the race due to a stall.

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