F1's new clampdown on race start technology has divided paddock opinion. On the one hand, some say it is a step in the right direction, as Bernie Ecclestone applauded the move away from the notion that the drivers of today are "trained monkeys in remote-controlled cars".
So from Sunday's Belgian grand prix, the drivers will be essentially alone with their clutch technology, unassisted by engineers on the formation lap and unable to constantly tweak the settings. "If they're looking for more variation and more showbiz, it is something that could work," former F1 driver Mark Webber told the Guardian, "to have the leaders or favourites have a poor start to the race and then there could be an interesting trend to watch them fight back."
The risk, however, is that something will go wrong. "The new rule will be exposed for the first three or four races," Webber admitted. "The worst nightmare is a stalled car." Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson, however, doubted that is going to happen, as the existing systems are equipped with anti-stall technology. "In the worst case, you pull the clutch lever in and try again," said the Swede. "So I don't think there will be accidents because of people stopping (on the grid)."
But Sebastian Vettel, now well known for his 'purist' views regarding F1 and motor racing, is not a supporter of the mid-season clampdown. "I can't quite understand what we want to achieve here," he is quoted by Speed Week. "Perhaps the starts will be a little messy, but I think that in formula one there are a lot of very clever people working. They will work out very quickly what to do. In two or three races at the most, we will see that nothing has changed," said the Ferrari driver.
However, the FIA is now determined to tighten its technology clampdowns, with car-to-pit telemetry set to be limited from 2016, as well as further measures limiting what the drivers can be told over the radio. Like Vettel, Fernando Alonso does not think much will actually change in practice.
"Yes we receive some information now on the radio about tyres, about fuel or other things but we are perfectly aware of what is happening in the car," he said. "If that information is not coming, it will come anyway by instinct and by the reactions of the car. So it's not a big change and probably it's welcome, all these changes, to have a little bit more to do in the car and feeling a little bit more important," Alonso added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing