Todt focuses on reliability but is that enough?

I was reading an article over at Sky Sports about FIA president Jean Todt and the regulation changes. It was interesting, as most conversations with Todt are, in regards to Vettel and the changes he sees coming.

With respect to Sebastian Vettel, who said he may stop F1 is the regulation changes aren’t good, Jean Todt said:

“I must say I should be jealous,” said Todt. “I think it’s fantastic Sebastian Vettel, a four-times world champion – what is he? 32, 33? – he is saying ‘depending on the rules I may stop’? I think it is a privilege a lot of people would love to have…”

When queried as to if Vettel should have kept his thoughts to himself, Todt said:

“I will let you make your own interpretation of what I have said,”

It is an honor to drive for a Formula 1 team but it isn’t as if Sebastian didn’t work his tail off to get there and hasn’t produced since being there. Same for most of the top drivers as well as the midfield pilots. They know it’s a privilege but at some point they have to still love F1 and when/if that stops, then they choose to move on. I offer Fernando Alonso as an example.

What I find more concerning is his comments on what needs fixing in F1. He seems oddly adrift of the details between many elements that all contribute to the current situation in F1.

“We need to create more unpredictability,” explains the FIA president. “I was just mentioning to Chase, if you take the top five in the drivers’ classification, after nine races they all have 100 percent reliability in terms of finishing every race.

“The cars are too reliable. So if we want to be more unpredictable we must have cars that are less reliable. In a way we make things too perfect.”

This lends itself to the notion of the 3-engine rule for 2019 and the thinking behind fewer engines, less reliability and the penalties that would follow. If the rumors are correct and they will stay with the current engine regulations, then reliability will be even greater for the next five years. So moving from three to two or one engine per season is going to prompt grid penalties and that’s fun and exciting?

I’m not suggesting that’s the decision they would make but I am trying to show the futility of engine limitations as a construct to create less reliability. The engine limit was initially suggested as a cost-cutting measure and I’m curious if making an engine that will last a half-dozen races is actually less expensive at all.

Reliability isn’t, in my mind, the biggest issue to fixing F1. There are a host of other issues that all combine to make F1 what it currently is. In defense of Todt, I agree that reliability is part of the equation but I hope he is focused on all of the elements such as DRS, HD tires, aerodynamics, and yes, the hybrid engines. They need to shake the series up and unfortunately I am not sure he or F1 is willing to take the risk and impact the revenue stream…the question is, will the revenue stream continue to be there if they don’t radically change the series?

Hat Tip: Sky Sports

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