Mercedes: tweaking rules ‘completely unrealistic’

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The 2014 version of Formula 1 has delivered two ho-hum races and one cracker. The sound of the cars, the lift-and-coast fuel mileage racing along with HD tires and new hybrid technology all have combined to make F1 greener but it’s also garnered a healthy amount of opprobrium—so much so that the series is contemplating possible tweaks to the regulations. Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe thinks the idea of tweaking rules is antithetical to what Formula 1 is all about telling AUTOSPORT’S Mr. Noble:

“There have been things talked about in the last few days that are just completely unrealistic, that I cannot even understand,” he said.

“The first suggestion was that we need 110kg of fuel. But has anybody realised that you cannot fit 110kg in these cars? So then they said, let’s make the races shorter.

“Can you imagine selling that concept to the public? It would be like we have decided that athletes are not fit enough these days, so the marathon is only going to be 25 miles rather than 26 miles.

“The messaging around that cannot be contemplated. I hope all of that can be put behind us and all this talk of ridiculous fuel saving or whatever stops.”

The idea that F1 can change regulations mid-stream is a complicated issue and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted as saying that any changes made cannot hurt Mercedes and the clear competitive advantage they currently enjoy—I’m paraphrasing here.

The new regulations have been a little challenging to follow for the average fan. Who is using what and how much are they using and when are they using it? Who is lifting and coasting to save fuel and is that an issue? Are the drivers really running at 50% or are they driving flat out? When does the ERS harvest energy and why do some drivers have more energy to use than others? It’s gets a little cloudy if you’re not watching the series with your abacus.

What the regulations have done is heightened what has been in F1 for years. Saving fuel is not a new concept especially since the series banned refueling. Even when they had refueling they would put the bare minimum in the car to keep the overall weight of the car low. So is the fuel mileage sensitivity a problem? Lowe doesn’t think so:

“The degree of fuel saving we had to run in Bahrain, despite the fact these guys were racing from beginning to end, was a completely normal level of fuel saving.

“Racing here last year we had a strategy last year that involved some fuel saving in the race because that is optimal. It was pretty much the same this time.

“I don’t know how it is for others. But if they are not finding it in the same place, then it means they haven’t got an efficient package. And this formula is about efficiency.

“That is the objective – and if you can deliver you can deliver a good result.”

If there are any tweaks to the formula in 2014, it may simply bee to address the sound of the cars but big changes will most likely not occur. On the other hand, if the series can keep producing racing such as last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, they may not have to change anything.

If they were to change anything, what do you think would be something achievable in 2014? Sound, more fuel, shorter races or something else? Check out Mr. Noble’s story because Paddy suggests that the FIA should get tougher on the teams, not easier. Next year, 95kgs of fuel flow would be his concept.

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