Drivers unhappy about proposed changes

The recent changes proposed to bring back closer racing to Formula One have met with doubtful reactions from some drivers. Team personnel were also divided in their reactions earlier in the week: Williams' technical director Patrick Head and...

The recent changes proposed to bring back closer racing to Formula One have met with doubtful reactions from some drivers. Team personnel were also divided in their reactions earlier in the week: Williams' technical director Patrick Head and McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh are opposed to the introduction of a weight ballast while Eddie Jordan thought it was a good idea.

In Thursday's press conference, McLaren's David Coulthard said that a weight penalty was against what F1 stands for: "I know that there have been speculative ideas, some of them a bit silly," the Scot replied when asked about the new proposals. "At the risk of giving a quick answer is that they need the thought that they probably require."

"But the knee-jerk reaction of putting in ballast and trying to handicap that have done a better job to improve the show, I don't think is right. I think it goes against what Formula One stands for which is a set of regulations of which the people with the cleverest minds and the best budgets do the best job."

Olivier Panis thinks that the sport does need some changes but it's not easy to say what steps should be taken: "Well, definitely I want to swap my car with Rubens but I don't think he want that," the BAR driver joked, about the suggestion of drivers swapping cars. "But after that, I feel that sure, we need something, but it's very complicated."

"No. I don't think so," Panis added on the subject of weights. "We need better ideas to be fair to everyone. I don't think ballast is the solution. Maybe it's a bit too quick to say that. Maybe it's the easy answer, the quicker one but for the future of Formula One, maybe it's not the best."

Jordan's Takuma Sato thinks ballast could make for more exciting racing but although a weight system works in some other series, it may not for F1: "Well, I think the ballast situation would make more exciting battles for those outside the circuit in a fairly spectacular way, but for me on the inside, it would be a slight problem because it's not the performance from the car and driver."

"If you look at touring cars and GT cars, it would be fine because the performance is due to the car's performance and you can see how much the weight affects it and Japanese GT has that regulation which works out OK for those battles, but in Formula One it would be different, because the drivers are affected more than that."

Rubens Barrichello was cautious, wanting to wait for any proposals to become more concrete: "I don't want to change cars with Olivier, that's for sure! You can be my guest sometime. To be honest, I don't want to comment too much because a lot of things have been said and I want to wait until they have really been proposed and we see what we're going to have because it's a bit too much up in the air right now...."

Mika Salo, who is having his final race with Toyota this weekend, said it seemed unfair to penalize any team just for doing a good job: "I agree with Rubens, I don't really know, it's not my position to start commenting about it. I also agree with David, that it's not fair if teams are doing a good job and they have worked and they have the best car and then someone puts weight on it to slow it down, it's not fair. And I'm not here next year, so that's another point."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Eddie Jordan , Mika Salo , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams McLaren , Williams , Jordan