INSIGHT: 2015 FORMULA 1
DRIVING THE NEW BREED
Current Formula 1 cars are slower than they used to be, and not as physically
demanding. But don’t think that makes them any less challenging, say the drivers...
s well as a cacophony of dissent over the
sound the current breed of turbo-hybrid
Formula 1 cars make (or don’t make…),
there’s been much debate about their
outright performance levels, the challenge
they present their drivers, and how they
compare for spectacle with the generation
of cars they superseded in 2014.
On overall pace, they are undeniably
slower than in 2004 (grand prix racing’s
fastest ever season) when F1 had 3-liter,
V10 engines, a tire war between
Bridgestone and Michelin, and refueling
that split races into three or four sprints
between pit stops. Comparing tracks with
relatively unchanged layouts, 2015 F1 cars
WORDS Adam Cooper MAIN IMAGE Charles Coates/LAT
are around 3 percent slower than in ’04.
Pure speed aside, there’s a perception
that drivers have too much of a helping
hand from technology, too much advice
from the pit wall, and aren’t being pushed
to the limit of their own abilities. That,
whisper it, F1 has become too easy…
The FIA has made it clear that it wants to
introduce changes, and we saw the first
signs last year, when an attempt was made
to cut back on pit-to-car driver coaching.
There was another step at this year’s
Belgian GP, where radio chatter related to
the start procedure was outlawed, and
drivers were not allowed to adjust their
minute change of circumstances, as had
been the case previously. More radio
restrictions have been announced for
next year, and longer term there will be
major changes to the cars for 2017 in an
attempt to increase speed and spectacle.
So are the current cars really easier to
drive than their predecessors? And if so,
what can be done to ramp up the challenge
for the drivers, and the spectacle for fans?
“I don’t think the car is easier to drive
compared to how it was before, or when I
started my career,” says Williams driver
Felipe Massa, who first raced in F1 in
2002. “The only thing that’s easier is the
physical side, because we start with high
The Brazilian is
the fourth most
on the current F1
grid, with 221
Alonso (245) and
(223) have more.