Drivers are getting tired of having no voice in Formula One.
F1’s top drivers are calling for those in charge of the series to start paying attention to what they have to say when it comes to improving the sport.
A few days after defending champion Lewis Hamilton complained that nobody asked for their advice while putting together a track layout for the proposed race in Miami next year, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel expressed his frustration about the lack of involvement of the drivers in the decision-making process for upcoming aerodynamic changes aimed to improve overtaking.
“I think you should ask us what we need to overtake,” Vettel said after Saturday’s qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix. “I mean, we are drivers. Not to say that we know everything, we don’t anything about engineering the car, but we know how the cars feel, how to drive the cars. And their limitations to overtake. But we’re not really asked.”
F1 recently announced changes to the wings and brake ducts to make it easier for cars to follow each other, which theoretically should improve racing. The changes should make cars go a second and a half slower, however.
Vettel said it was “a bit comical” how F1 was going back and forth with its changes to try to make the series more exciting.
“In 2009, we went, ‘Let’s go less aerodynamics and better racing,’ and in fact I think it didn’t change too much,” Vettel said. “Then we said the cars are too slow, let’s put more aerodynamics and make them wider, more spectacular. And now we want to make them slower again. It’s a bit like cruising to America and changing direction 100 times.”
Hamilton wondered if it was the “same people, the same group, making the decision every time.”
“We should make the decisions,” the four-time champion said.
Jean Todt, president of motorsport’s governing body FIA, said Sunday he has always been open to hearing the drivers’ opinion and insisted the only goal is to improve the series.
“Any driver who wants to see me from the front of the grid to the back of the grid will be able to see me within 48 hours,” Todt said.
“I do respect (the drivers) and know how busy they can be. Unfortunately, very often there is a meeting and they don’t go,” he said. “I feel that if you understand something is getting wrong you should try to find a solution. We all say we want to have a better sport, to have a better show, so let’s do something.”
F1 is in its second year under the ownership of U.S.-based Liberty Media, which has also been instilling changes to try to further promote the series.
Hamilton on Thursday complained about the lack of input from the top drivers to design the Miami street track that is expected to debut next year.
“All the great golfers design golf courses, but no top racing drivers have ever designed a track,” he said. “If there is time and anyone wants to approach me or any of the drivers, I am sure we can give some good insight.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said that he knows his team was involved in the recent discussions about the new aerodynamic changes, but he was left mostly in the dark.
“I’m not trying to be funny, but I genuinely have no idea what they are doing or what they’ve changed or what they’ve decided,” Ricciardo said. “We shouldn’t have to ask, ‘Can you involve us?’ We should be involved because we are the ones driving. We are not engineers but in the end of the day we are the ones that know what’s going on in a racing situation, so fore sure, we should be, I guess, consulted about it. At least our opinions should be heard.”
He said part of the problem is that many times “a lot of us drivers might agree but we know our teams won’t agree.”
“That’s where it’s hard,” he said. “I think the racing and this side of stuff that we are involved first hand, we should be consulted at least.”