- The Inside Line
More bang for your buckKate Walker June 20, 2014
- In Focus:
- Rule changes
Of all the proposals to come out of Wednesday's F1 Commission meeting, there are two that promise to deliver an improved spectacle without adding to the cost of going racing: a more relaxed approach to racing incidents by the stewards, and the introduction of standing Safety Car restarts.
Allowing the drivers to race each other without fear of being hit with a penalty for causing a collision made by simple human error should free up the drivers to do what they do best: race. Theoretically, on track battles will increase as the threat of punishment decreases, but there is a very big if in play: aero.
No matter what is done in sporting terms to increase the F1 show, if the teams are able to circumvent the 2014 technical regulations by using their guile to reclaim all of the downforce lost with the introduction of the vertical exhausts and other measures brought in to reduce the manipulation of exhaust gases - as is entirely possible, given the level of ingenuity within the paddock - then we will be back in a world where aerodynamic wake prevents much in the way of wheel-to-wheel racing and proper on-track battles.
What should shake up the racing is the proposal to bring in standing starts from the grid when racing resumes following a Safety Car. The present system, which sees the leader control the pace of the chasing pack, rarely leads to much change in position, and changes of leader on the restart are as rare as hen's teeth.
Under the 2015 proposals - which have yet to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council, whose next meeting takes place in Munich next week - Safety Car restarts will see cars line up on the grid for a full restart after the end of the Safety Car period. Lapped cars will still be given the opportunity to unlap themselves before racing resumes.
Given that some drivers are better than others at getting off the line, and a cold start creates the opportunity for that most tantalising of racing prospects (human error), standing starts make changes to the order far more likely.
What's really exciting, however, is the combination of the two aforementioned proposals: the lack of automatic steward inquiry should lead to a scenario whereby a Safety Car restart sees drivers fighting hard to gain advantage, secure in the knowledge that their attempts to pass those ahead will be viewed as on-track jostling for position, and not an instant need for some form of penalty.
Bring on the first Safety Car of the 2015 season!