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The drivers' manifesto to fix Formula 1

Leading Formula 1 drivers including multiple world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have outlined the changes they would like to see to improve grand prix racing's spectacle.

The drivers' manifesto to fix Formula 1

Last weekend Hamilton put pressure on the rulemakers after a French Grand Prix that lacked action, and criticised the progress being made with F1's planned 2021 overhaul.

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F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn has since declared that drivers will be involved in the decision-making process in the future.

Ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, most drivers were asked to identify the key areas that require change.

Consider slower, simpler cars

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Photo by: Andy Hone / LAT Images

F1's major change in 2017 created the fastest breed of cars in the championship's history.

However, Max Verstappen believes that while it's "great to set lap records" there is an argument for moving away from that.

"If we are only going one or two seconds slower but we can at least follow each other a bit closer, that would be great," he said.

"That's also not just purely car related, because I think also the tyres overheat too much and you start sliding too much.

"It's a combination of both the car, where we need to find a different way of creating the downforce but run closer to each other, and the tyres.

"And the differences between the engines are still too big, so [F1 could] close that up a little bit by making it not that complex.

"I understand we have to stay with hybrid engines but I think it can be done in a better way."

Tyres drivers can push on

Worn tyres on the car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, after the race

Worn tyres on the car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, after the race

Photo by: Gareth Harford / Sutton Images

Hamilton is one of many drivers who believes one of the most important factors will be tyres that drivers can push on instead of nursing to make a one-stop strategy work.

However, he highlighted the attempt to change F1's tyres mid-season, in a bid to end Mercedes' domination and theoretically improve the spectacle, as a poor choice of focus.

"Last year you had to manage the tyres to a temperature, which means you had to do more lifting and coasting, you had more blistering, it was a lot worse," he said.

"You couldn't do what I was able to do in the last race or even in Montreal where I was able to push behind Seb for all those laps.

"That's an example again of different teams pushing for different things for their own personal goals rather than for the sport's.

"We need to go more in the direction of the tyre that worked great in Montreal.

"If we can have more races where we can push the tyre longer, less degradation even [compared] to the Montreal tyre, I think would be a good step forward."

A radical car concept change

2021 concept rendering

2021 concept rendering

Photo by: FIA

F1 has delayed finalising its technical regulations for 2021, and these rules will not be finalised until October.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg thinks a radical change of car concept is needed.

"The biggest subject is pinning down the aero regulations in the right way so that we can have good, close, clean racing," he said.

[F1 needs] cars that are much less sensitive and cars that produce much less wake and turbulence. How we do that is a different matter.

"They want less from the wings and more from the floor to produce grip that way.

"I feel it [following another car] is as bad as it's ever been to be honest. Especially if you get really close, maybe five tenths.

"If the guy in front of you has a wobble and makes a mistake, the sudden loss of grip you experience is sometimes drastic.

"You're just forced to get off the throttle or you're going to go off. It's really like taking the ground from below your feet."

Simpler racing rules

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Photo by: Steve Etherington / LAT Images

After his controversial penalty in Canada, Vettel described F1 as not being the same as when he 'fell in love' with it.

He has joked in the past that the best solution to fix the rulebook is to "burn it and start over" and reiterated, seriously, that simpler rules are necessary to improve racing.

"We have so many rules trying to put in writing basically what you can't put in writing," he said. "It's just a bit of a mess.

"I can't think of any other sport where case-by-case things are exactly the same.

"I think it's always a bit different and particularly in our sport I think it's very difficult to put every possible outcome in writing and therefore nail down a rule for it.

"So simplify, and give them freedom to race each other. That's what I would like."

Eliminate DRS dependence

Toro Rosso STR14, DRS detail

Toro Rosso STR14, DRS detail

Photo by: Erik Junius

Lando Norris was part of the most entertaining fight in last weekend's French GP, when on the lap he was swamped by Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Hulkenberg.

Norris was battling a hydraulics problem in his McLaren and was forced off-track at the chicane by Ricciardo, costing him several places.

He said that was evidence that calls for the chicane to be removed were wrong, because it would have led to an "even more boring" race as "we wouldn't have seen the last-lap excitement".

"You'd just have one massive DRS zone which would be really easy to pass," he said. "If you are racing someone, you want to be racing them, not just waiting for their tyres to drop off and then just passing them down the straight or something.

"You want to be having fun, side to side, who can brake later, who can nail the corner the best and stuff like that."

Take cues from the midfield

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing RB15, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C38, Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.19, and Nico Hulkenberg, Renault F1 Team R.S. 19, on the opening lap

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing RB15, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C38, Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.19, and Nico Hulkenberg, Renault F1 Team R.S. 19, on the opening lap

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez says F1 is not in "crisis" but believes some people are definitely losing interest.

He thinks the "incredible" midfield battle is something F1 needs to move to the front of the grid.

The 36 points Hamilton has in hand over team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the current title fight covers every driver from sixth-place Pierre Gasly to Romain Grosjean in 17th.

"The problem is more with the top teams, the difference that there is," said Perez.

"I think the whole pack has to be a lot closer together, give equal opportunity to everyone and have more teams capable of winning.

"The way you do that is by making the rules a bit more complex and not so much gap between teams."

Grosjean said drivers are the "only ones" who know "what's needed or not to have better racing, and a better feeling in the car".

He agreed that the field must be compressed, adding: "For the last 80 grands prix or so there's been maybe Perez once or twice on the podium. The rest has been either red, silver or blue."

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Series Formula 1
Author Scott Mitchell
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