Driver aids ban won't change much, fans warned

Formula 1 fans have been told not to expect a dramatic improvement to the spectacle when a driving aid ban comes in to force at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The F1 Strategy Group last week approved plans for drivers to be forced to conduct manual starts, as well as face a clampdown on radio information, as part of a push to make grand prix racing more excitement.

The FIA has since confirmed details of the restrictions, which will be enforced from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards. 

But not everyone believes that the changes will deliver as big a shake-up as some are hoping for.

No startline shuffle

Although the spectacular start to the British Grand Prix helped set-up the intriguing situation of Williams leading, the team's performance chief Rob Smedley does not think such variability will become the norm.

"I wouldn't have thought it will have a big effect, no," he explained. "The biggest thing people will do is it could mean they get it horribly wrong.

"I don't think in the end it is going to make in the performance of the start a difference at all.

"Everybody's performance may be downgraded slightly, as we won't have the perfect clutch settings, but as an average it won't make a big difference."

Drivers not convinced either

Romain Grosjean is also sceptical about the impact of the start changes.

"There is a procedure in F1 that you have to follow, and perhaps the only thing we can do is remove the last clutch and torque settings that we have," he explained.

"But we will just make the range a bit wider and follow the same procedure. Everything is done manually from us, we have to follow procedures, so I don't think it will massively change if I wasn't give the last torque/clutch setting for the start."

Grosjean also thought it would be impossible to make the clutch too basic, as that would likely lead to major mechanical problems.

"It will break things," he said: "If I do the same start I was doing in GP2, I think my clutch and gearbox will stay on the grid!"

Hamilton welcomes move

World champion Lewis Hamilton said he welcomes the move to have greater driver input in race starts.

"I guess it really depends how they go about doing it," said Hamilton when asked by Motorsport.com.

"I'm happy, the more control we get the better.

"At the moment we release the clutch, but the performance is really dictated from the team, they'll tell you whether to go up and down on torque mode, and all those kinds of things.

"Sometimes they calculate it right, and sometimes they don't, and then sometimes there are other problems, like the one I had in the last race [Austria].

"For me the best starts when I was back in F3. They were more fun back then, because I had the control. If they do it right, I think it could be good."

Ready for radio ban

Although plans to impose a radio ban were dropped last year after resistance from teams, Grosjean has echoed comments that F1 is more ready for it this time around.

"I think everyone has got a bit more clue about what is going on," he explained. "There are still some safety radio messages that we need to get, like with the brakes when they are getting too hot and you have to be careful.

"But I don't think it will change our life, and I don't think it will change much for the show."

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Series Formula 1
Article type Breaking news
Tags driver aids