INSIGHT: 2015 FORMULA 1
fuel [up to 100kg/220lb], which makes
for a very heavy car. That takes less
physical effort because you are slower.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easier to drive.
“Before, it was a real physical workout,
because you were only putting maybe
50kg [110lb] of fuel in at each pit stop,
so the race was more of a sprint, plus the
tires were more consistent than they are
now. So you were pushing hard, lap after
lap, compared to what we do now. But it’s
still difficult to save the tires, and to do all
the work you need to do.”
Adds Force India’s Sergio Perez: “When
you hear comments about them being too
easy to drive, for sure they aren’t. It will
always be hard to get the maximum out of
the car, and the way we drive to get the
best out of them is still totally on the limit.
With the lack of rear downforce, it’s trickier.
The amount of torque that you have from
these power units is huge. The combination
of a very light rear end, quite low levels of
downforce and drag, and so much torque is
what makes them a challenge to drive. But,
for sure, they are less demanding physically
then when I drove in 2011-’ 12, so in that
McLaren-Honda reserve driver Kevin
Magnussen concedes that the current cars
do have shortcomings, but says they are
still a challenge when circumstances allow.
“Yes, you can argue that the cars aren’t
as fantastic to drive as they were, let’s say,
eight to 10 years ago,” he says. “But they
are still massively fast. Sure they can be
improved. Tires can be better, they can
sound better, and they can look better.
But they are still seriously fast racecars.
“I would prefer it if F1 cars were as
challenging in the race as they are in
qualifying, because these cars in qualifying
are mega. They’re really fast; they’re light
when the fuel is low; the tires are decent
when they’re new, and that’s when the
cars are really fun to drive. But in the race,
they’re too slow. It’s a big difference.”
The big difference being that, in race
trim, getting anywhere near ultimate
performance is superseded by the need to
manage parameters such as tires and fuel.
But other factors have also come into play
to change the way these cars are driven.
At the start of 2014, a reduction in
downforce, and specifically the outlawing
of blown diffusers, had a major impact.
One only has to recall Sebastian Vettel’s
continuing troubles with last year’s Red
Bull RB11 to see how major.
“In the past, we knew that when we
went on the power we picked up the
downforce,” says Perez. “But this has
changed, and now when you pick up the
power, you start to have some wheelspin,
instead of adding downforce to the car.
So, obviously, the driving style changes,
the characteristics change. But you still
need to be able to carry good speed
through the corners and get as good an
exit as possible, and that combination is
“It’s definitely a different driving style,”
adds Magnussen. “These cars, you prepare
for the exit a bit more, because you can’t
just go into the turn and put the power
down. You need to get the car rotated.”
Of six Mexicans to
have raced in F1,
Perez is the most
85 starts. Next up,
has 54 starts, and
is Mexico’s only
grand prix winner
(1967 South Africa
and 1970 Belgium).
(MAIN) Force India driver Sergio
Perez says that the latest Formula 1
cars are just as challenging to
extract the maximum performance
from, with more torque and less rear
downforce. (BELOW) Perez makes
contact with Pastor Maldonado
at the Hungaroring.