- Sir Stirling Moss on 2011
'Races have got to become more thrilling'Sir Stirling Moss July 6, 2010
A number of regulation changes are set to be introduced to Formula One next year. To improve the show, we have been promised moveable rear wings, the reintroduction of KERS and a more aggressive approach from the new tyre supplier Pirelli. In this month's exclusive ESPNF1 column Sir Stirling Moss gives his opinion on the major changes.
Moveable rear wings
This is a rather complicated rule but one that should improve the racing. The drivers will be able to close a slot gap in their rear wing if they get within a second of the car in front and that should allow a sufficient speed advantage on the straights to overtake. But there are a few things to take into consideration.
First of all they need to make sure that the wording of the rules is water tight. When you think how smart the engineers are, the FIA needs to make sure that we don't get anybody using the rule for an ulterior benefit. I assume it will all be very strictly controlled, but we've seen in the past that some teams can add two and two in the technical regulations and come up with five.
It's also going to be a bit complicated for fans that don't follow the sport that closely, especially because they are only allowed to use it at certain times. But on the other hand you have to ask, does that matter? If you spit on a cricket ball apparently it helps the bowler, I don't understand exactly why, but it doesn't harm my enjoyment of the sport. Anything that improves the race has to be good, and if we see even a tiny bit more overtaking next year as a result, I don't think we'll hear many people complaining. I do think that races have got to become more thrilling, we've got a brilliant qualifying format now, but all too often we are let down on race day.
From a driver's perspective I also like the idea. I find it fascinating how much a driver can control from the cockpit already in Formula One and the best ones know exactly what to change to get the most from it - I think that is all very good stuff, I really do. If I was driving today I would really enjoy all of that and I'm a little surprised that some of the drivers haven't welcomed the rear wing idea. For me, that would be fantastic and another way to attack my opponents.
Now, this is a regulation we are a bit more familiar with because they used it on the cars in 2009. I think it was a crying shame that we lost it this year but the good news is that plenty of teams have said they will reintroduce it in 2011. The reason I like it so much is because disc brakes, gearboxes and God knows what else have all been developed in motor sport and then found their way onto road cars with great success. The best place to develop anything for the road is in a race because of the intense competition. Therefore, if they get KERS working in Formula One, it's going to be a shortcut to get it working on road cars.
What's more, I'm certain that in 10 or 20 years' time every car in the world will have KERS in some shape or form. It has to a benefit to any car because once its installed it can actually save money and energy, it has the potential to be very big indeed. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for Formula One to prove it can still develop things for everyday use, because in recent years, as the emphasis has been on aerodynamics, less and less of the technology has been transferable.
First of all I have to say that it is good news that F1 is sticking with a single tyre supplier, because that means everybody is going to stay on a level playing field. We all remember Bridgestone working with Ferrari to dominate in the early 2000s, and it was the same in my day when Englebert joined Ferrari in the 1950s and in 1956 took seven victories and the world championship with Juan Manuel Fangio. If all the drivers are on the same tyres it makes it much easier to compare them and I've always thought that is a good thing. Even the best chassis or drivers can look average if the tyres aren't up to scratch, so it is important we have a good tyre manufacturer in place supplying all the teams.
But of course we can probably expect a change in the way the tyre works compared to the Bridgestones and that will benefit some teams over others. How they cope will depend on how well they can use their restricted testing over the winter. I know from experience that the driver can have a big impact on that side of things by being able to relay information back to the teams. Tyres are a bit of a black art and even with the technology they have nowadays, a driver can still communicate a lot of information about how they are performing. But of course the guys at the factory then have to take that information and come up with solutions to find a way around any shortfall there might be in the tyres.
So I think we can expect the teams with the most experience and resources to come out on top and, although they are relatively young, I now class Red Bull in the category alongside the likes of McLaren and Ferrari. To me the team isn't really Red Bull it is Adrian Newey; when I look at the name above the garage I see Newey because he is so influential there. He's a remarkable character and you only have to look at how he has got the rest of the paddock following his lead with the blown diffuser this year to realise how good he is. He has a remarkable vision for the car as a whole and will be able to adapt to any changes there may be with the tyres.
The other man to look out for is Michael Schumacher. I still think it was a big mistake that he came back, but that's not to say his levels of experience and ability won't be very useful over winter testing.
This is another rule that many of you will recognise and another welcome reintroduction as far as I'm concerned. What we've got to remember is that you don't need 24 cars to have a good race, you only need half a dozen if they're having a good go. The thrill of F1 is in the competition and if cars are that far off the pace, what are they adding to the show? If you haven't got the car and driver to compete on fairly good terms with the rest of the teams, then frankly I don't think there is much room for you.
What Sir Stirling would do
I think nearly anything is acceptable if it is going to make racing more interesting. But of course with every change that is made there are ramifications and one has to look at those very closely and get expert analysis from the people that are building the cars. Ultimately, I want the driver contribution to be increased, so the lap time reflects a little more of the driver's skill and a little less of the car's technology. At the moment it's rather like an automatic camera; you can't get a bad picture, whatever you do you can't mess it up. Whereas with a manual camera you set it up and your talent comes into it and that's what I'd like to see with cars. The other way to spice things up is to change the circuits and have more tracks like Montreal, where if you make a mistake you hit the wall. I believe the current drivers are good enough to keep it out the wall, but if they do get it wrong it should be punished. However, as I've said before, those days are probably gone.