Lauda ‘crapped’ his pants; F1 needs more risk

When we covered the story of Kimi Raikkonen suggesting there should be some danger in Formula 1, we proposed that he was not suggesting that the sport purposefully make itself more dangerous but that they make the cars faster which always adds risk. Also, the cars should be more challenging the drive.

We discussed that on our recent podcast and now Mercedes boss Nikki Lauda—the Elderly F1 fan himself—has weighed in on Kimi’s side regarding the sport telling Bild:

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“There is too much control, too many rules and not enough characters.

“The most important thing is the cars must again be difficult to drive.

“When I switched from Formula 2 to Formula 1, I crapped in my pants.

“It must again be about real men driving, not young men who play only with the buttons on the steering wheel.

“Only drivers with the highest driving skills, and I emphasise driving skills, may be in Formula 1.

“We can not turn back the clock, but a driver must again have the car in his hands, not driving as now by pushing buttons.

“The highest limits and the risk factor have been lost.”

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The reality is, making the cars quicker would certainly help endeavors but not through constructs or gimmicks and that’s a very important point Lauda makes:

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“I’m not saying we should neglect safety, but at the moment if cars were faster then the thrill for both the drivers and the spectators would automatically increase. In that way, we have to go back.

“But any kind of manipulation is the worst thing you can do to a sport, and I mean artificial elements such as a reverse grid, or adding weight to cars, as Bernie Ecclestone has proposed.

“This must not happen.”

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As a fan, would you feel disappointed if F1 moved away from the technology of pushing buttons and went back to more traditional systems in order to make the cars challenging to drive?

There is precedent for this as active ride height, traction control and other current technology is banned. There is a fine line with fans as they expect F1 to the most advanced form of motorsport and they equate the series very strongly with technology but is there too much now? Would it betray its DNA if it banned other systems prevalent on our road cars?

Hat Tip: Bild

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Paul KieferJr

Cars parked themselves now. There’s also a push to invent and test cars that actually drive themselves now. Have we gone too far down that road also? If so, then the human race is doomed to extinction, so maybe we should pull back a bit as well.

jakobusvdl

Hi paul, I think self driving cars probably don’t mark the start of the doom of civilisation. Many of the technological changes since the start of the industrial revolution have seemed like they’d take away things that make our lives valid or enjoyable, but most of them have actually improved life for the majority

Paul KieferJr

If computers do everything, then what is the need for humans?

jakobusvdl

Weavers said the same thing when power looms were invented in the early 1800’s. The nature of work and society changed, and a period of massive prosperity and population growth ensued.
If we look at F1, in the 70’s big teams employed 10’s of people, today we hear that big teams employ 100’s of people, all because of technology (computers) ;-)

Rob

I agree completely – I grew up with F1 full of characters that answered questions without a PR puppeteers hand behind them. The cars were nasty, spitting animals and clearly just on the edge of hurling off the race track, with the driver the only thing standing in the way… well that’s what it felt like; I know it was never quite like that but as a fan it felt that way :-). Now it feels more like upper white collar measured responses full of PR speak and making sure they mention all the sponsors, thank the team and on… Read more »

JakobusVdL

Hi Rob, if F1 is about technology and technology is being used to overcome the limitations of the weakest link in the system, isn’t it inevitable that the drivers that thrive in that environment are more likely to be introverted technocrats rather than the extroverted buccaneers required to wrestle previous generations of F1 cars.
Perfect machines don’t provide very interesting races, so maybe there is scope for a ‘TVR /Viper with cut brake lines and skinny tyres’ full contact drivers series alongside a ‘no holds barred tech series’ with cars operated by teenage gamers via video link.

MIE

When Adrian Newey drew his concept F1 car, the thing that limited its potential was the need for driver to remain conscious in the corners. It would be entirely possible to build a car capable of pulling more G-force in the corners than a human can stand. There must be a limit to technology if we want to retain drivers in the cars. Also limiting the available technology or driver aids would help to reinforce that it is a drivers championship. The hard bit is writing the regulations that result in such a series without one or more teams finding… Read more »

peter riva

Excessive G forces? Not so… it would call for modifying the driver’s suit (think fighter planes).

jakobusvdl

We probably need to change the nature of the challenge in a radical way!
Move F1 away from motorcars, and move onto F1 sailing, jet boats, ice racing, some challenge where intrepid humans are required to master the developing technology, then move again in another 50 years when technology has made the human the weakest link.

Rob

Hey – Yeah I hear you but it has to be a balance – otherwise you simply remove the driver as that is the weakest link….. I think we have gone too far down the technocrat (as you put it) path and I want some real drivers back again that can actually race rather than measure how much rubber is left and balance lap times etc. Kimi and to a small extend lewis comes across as a couple of the last of the old drivers. I also want less PC crap from the teams and F1 itself. I’m even a… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Hi Rob, thanks for the response – its good to get a bit of discussion going. I’d argue that F1 has always been about applying the best available technology, and in the past that technology had limitations that required physical prowess and courage to overcome. The technology has evolved to the stage where those limitations have been reduced, despite all the great technologies that have been excluded (ground effects, cvt, traction control, gas turbines, activity suspension). I might agree that the racing isn’t always exciting (but I’d say that has long been the case) but I wouldn’t agree that the… Read more »

JakobusVdL

Hi Rob, if F1 is about technology and technology is being used to overcome the limitations of the weakest link in the system, isn’t it inevitable that the drivers that thrive in that environment are more likely to be introverted technocrats rather than the extroverted buccaneers required to wrestle previous generations of F1 cars.
Perfect machines don’t provide very interesting races, so maybe there is scope for a ‘TVR /Viper with cut brake lines and skinny tyres’ full contact drivers series alongside a ‘no holds barred tech series’ with cars operated by teenage gamers via video link.

peter riva

Want to see how F1 should be (again)? Watch aANY of the TT races on TV. The drivers, the commentators, the technology – it is ALL about the mechanics and the pilot(rider). The rest (talking heads, split screen commercials, girls waving banners, crowd pictures, celebrity interviews) can only be show BS.

runnah

Maybe he needs…

jakobusvdl

Available in Ferrari red?

Nigel

Why not go back to manual gearboxes?

Meine Postma

Very difficult to answer. I like that F1 pushes the tech-boundaries, but I also would like to see the best drivers of the world compete and the best driver win.

But a certain amount of risk if you get off track would be very welcome.
More speed would also be welcome, but more racing instead of enduring would be VERY welcome.

Don’t care about the show, care about racing.

I would also very welcome refueling so that strategy plays a bigger part again. But there seem to be loads of fans who hate that.

Junipero Mariano

A simple principle that works for me regarding the advance of technology is that the car (chassis, engine, and computer) should directly deliver as much horsepower or braking force as the driver wants…no matter how foolish the computer thinks the driver is being.

Steve

I think the sides of the track should be built up high, and surrounded by an electric fence – and then we drop Bernie in there……Running Man meets Death Race 2000. It’s 200 championship points if you hit him. At the next GP we start dropping politicians in. This is entertainment that money cant buy, and tell me you wouldn’t want to see that.

Let’s make this happen, lets bring F1 into the future and make it work for the common fan! Let’s cull out a few billionaires on this thing!!!!!! :D

GaryK

The fact that F1 cars are only marginally faster than GP2 cars on the same tracks speaks volumes to me. Also, I tend to agree with Adrian Newey on aero regulations and with others who argue that the power unit situation is a mess. F1 is never going to attract Leaf or Prius drivers. Finally, why not more ground effects and less aero for better racing?