Sound, or rather the lack thereof, isn't the only thing causing viewers to turn off their televisions. A poll from the Grand Prix Drivers Association revealed that fans are finding the on-track action too boring. In an effort to rectify at least some of these problems, the F1 Strategy Group, comprised of a large number of powers-that-be in the sport, has come up with a pretty comprehensive set of recommendations to bring back interest and viewership.
Perhaps the most immediate change are concessions for first-year engine manufacturers that could offer Honda some much-needed assistance starting immediately. To help with the sound problem, a redesign of the cars' exhaust systems is being discussed, and penalties for power-unit problems are being revised. To hopefully bring out some more of each driver's raw talents, driver aids and communication will be reduced starting from the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix on August 23. Teams may soon have greater freedom when it comes to tire choice, and the cars themselves could be made to look more aggressive starting in 2017.
All of these recommendations and changes to the rulebook sound like steps in the right direction, just so long as they have the desired impact of making the actual on-track racing more exciting to watch. Before such recommendations are adopted, however, the F1 Commission and the FIA World Motor Sport Council must have their say.
The Strategy Group met yesterday in Biggin Hill, as planned, to follow up on the package of measures proposed at the last meeting and assess new directions for the future of Formula 1. It was a very constructive meeting, which led to approval of important decision and innovative evolutions.
Increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching received unanimous support and will be rapidly implemented, starting from this year's Belgian Grand Prix - with a particular emphasis on race starts – and in 2016. These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing races excitement and unpredictability.
Following the Austrian GP, an overhaul of the power unit penalties has been unanimously agreed and will be submitted to the F1 Commission via an express fax vote for an adoption at the World Motorsport Council in Mexico City next week, together with changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise for 2016.
Furthermore, it was agreed to allow an extra power unit per driver in the first year to any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season.
Mandate has been given to the FIA and FOM to propose a comprehensive set of measures for power unit development and cost of supply, including full review of the token system, increase in race fuel allowance, limits on the usage of engine dynamometers etc.
Increased freedom of choice for tyre compounds has been confirmed and the modalities are being finalised with Pirelli for 2016.
A new set of regulations aimed at achieving faster and more aggressive looking cars for 2017, to include wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce has been outlined and is currently being assessed by the teams.
Several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated by FIA and FOM for a 2016 introduction.