Drivers not expecting start changes to make a difference

Sebastian Vettel has said he does not understand why Formula 1 chiefs have tweaked the start rules the way they have, with most drivers doubting the spectacle will change much.

F1 teams are now banned from communicating information to help drivers manage the start of the race, with the men in the cockpit having to make adjustments themselves.

But with the tweaks having not led to any technical changes, drivers are sceptical that the simple procedural differences will change anything.

"I don't really get the point of what we are trying to achieve," said Vettel. "I don't think it will change much.

"Maybe it will be a bit chaotic on Sunday, and maybe the next Sunday, but there's a lot of smart people in F1. I think drivers should be capable of doing a lot of things. I think two or three races down the line nothing changes."

Just a memory test

Jenson Button said the only new challenge being presented to drivers was that they would have to memorise what steering wheel controls to change, rather than react to instructions.

"You have to have a memory basically," he said. "Normally we get told five seconds before we do something, but now we will have to remember it for 10 minutes. So I think we will cope."

When asked if he expected any variation in the starts, he said: "I don't think so, unless a driver has forgotten what he is supposed to do. The team aren't allowed to talk to us, we can say what we want to the team, which is great!"

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean agreed that there was unlikely to be dramatic differences in the starts thanks to the new rule, but did suggest there could be the odd 'surprise'.

"There is more limitation on what you can do than before; the clutch has to be set before we leave the garage, the torque switch needs to be in a good position and so on," he said.

"It's like going back to school because I'll have to remember a list of what to do before the start, but it will certainly create some surprises at the start.

"Before they were all average, there weren't any bad starts, but I don't think it's going to change the world. The procedure itself won't change much."

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg said he is expecting the starts to be significantly more difficult now.

"It's quite a big difference. The whole parade lap, if you go back to recent races and listen to radio communications it doesn't stop from when I leave the grid all the way to the start," Rosberg said.

"And even on the grid for the real start, it just doesn't stop. Now it's going to be absolute silence, and I still have to do all those things. I have to do a lot of procedures, which I need to remember, so that's going to be more difficult.

"And the start itself, that's going to be more difficult, because the clutch setting is fixed, and it's down to me to do a good start. I was in the simulator on Tuesday, practising doing the formation lap.

"You can imagine that being very exciting, in a simulator doing a formation lap! So I did that and put effort into that, and that was very useful."

Better next year

Button does think, however, that new restrictions coming into play for 2016, which will include a single clutch control, would be better.

"That is the thing that will change next year, and that is the area where it will become manual," he said. "Then it is down to the throttle and the clutch paddle trying to control the wheelspin.

"Now we don't control the first part of the start really – we hold the clutches in certain positions, so it drives off. Whether it wheelspins or under delivers is down to you.

"When you release the second paddle it is down to you and then you control the wheelspin. But you are already doing 50km/h."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Jenson Button , Sebastian Vettel , Romain Grosjean
Teams McLaren , Ferrari , Lotus F1 Team
Article type Breaking news