Formula 1’s big, loud, dysfunctional
family has a hard time agreeing on
anything, so it’s hardly a surprise that the
ongoing efforts of F1’s Strategy Group –
tasked with generating ideas for how to
spice up the increasingly predictable
races – have been largely stalemated.
Among the changes bandied about for
2017 was a return to refueling, banned
since ’09. Several prominent drivers,
including Fernando Alonso, spoke up in
favor of the idea but, at a meeting ahead
chairman Sergio Marchionne to urge that
refueling remain on the table (sidebar).
The circular debate was another
example of the disputes over rules that
have kept the F1 paddock deeply
divided – and increasingly frustrated.
“Every team has its own agenda and is
going to fight its own corner,” lamented
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Bernie [Ecclestone] and Jean [Todt, FIA
president] need to get together and say,
‘This is what we want the product to be,
this is how it needs to be governed,’ and
then give us the entry form and see if we
want to enter or not.”
Ecclestone, F1’s chief executive,
indicated he too was wearying of the
“We should stop mucking around and
asking for opinions,” Ecclestone said.
“The problem is, we are running
something that is too democratic. At last
month’s Strategy Group meeting nothing
was decided – not even the date of the
Snapping at his engineers that he was being
made to “look like an amateur” during the
Canadian GP when asked to save fuel furthered
speculation about mercurial Spaniard Fernando
Alonso’s patience with McLaren-Honda...
Refueling’s the key to spicing up F1...or not, or maybe
tanks for the MeMoRies?
the next best thing
to real competition
Much of the push to change F1’s
status quo stems from the fact rival
teams appear further away than
ever from issuing a consistent
challenge to Mercedes-Benz.
Outside of Sebastian Vettel’s upset
win for Ferrari in Malaysia, Merc’s
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
have had it all their own way this
year. But in the best tradition of F1
melodrama, the team has still found
ways of keeping things interesting.
Mercedes’ pit stop strategy had
helped Vettel’s cause in Malaysia,
and the Silver Arrows brain trust
then really dropped the ball in
Monaco via an ill-timed pit stop that
handed an easy win for Hamilton to
Rosberg (ABOVE). Yet “disaster” for
Hamilton still meant a third place,
and he rebounded with a flawless
performance in Canada to head
home Rosberg again as Ferrari’s
mooted resurgence seemed to ebb.
If Mercedes now has its mulligans
out of the way, it looks to be a long
second half for the rest of the grid.
the lost boys
A year on from his breakthrough win
in Canada, Daniel Ricciardo finished a
lapped 13th for Red Bull. “I don’t think
we really know what we need right
now or where to find it,” he admitted.
primes the pump
A straight yes or no
on F1 refueling is too
Ferrari boss Sergio
have to find out the
impact of the
changes and what
a variety of other
changes are going
to have,” he insisted.
“Singularly, it may not
be the answer, but
combined with other
things it might be,
so I am totally open.”
F1 cars haven’t taken on fuel in
races since 2009... but is that
good or bad?
of the Canadian GP, team managers were
unanimously opposed. They cited safety
and cost concerns, but also pointed to a
study that showed overtaking actually
increased in 2010 following the ban on
refueling. The whole idea then seemed
set to disappear…only for Ferrari’s
“bernie and Jean need to get
together and say, ‘this is what
we want the product to be’”