Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Vettel: FIA only consults drivers to “tick the box”

2018 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel wants the FIA to engage more actively with F1 drivers on how to improve the sport rather than just ‘ticking the box’.

During the Spanish Grand Prix weekend Vettel said it was “comical” the governing body was planning to reduce downforce levels for 2019 having increased them last season. FIA president Jean Todt defended the decision and responded to claims by drivers that they are not consulted on key decisions about the sport’s future.

“I do respect them and I know how busy they can be,” Todt told RaceFans and other media in a briefing. “But they have access and very often there is a meeting and they don’t come to a meeting.”

Todt pointed out there are positions open to drivers in several FIA commissions and that Felipe Massa was recently appointed president of the karting commission. “We are very happy welcoming and encouraging drivers to participate,” said Todt.

However Vettel is sceptical about whether drivers’ input is taken on board.

“In a way it’s good that we’re not making the rules because it’s not our job, we might not have enough of an idea. But on the other hand we’re driving the cars, if you want to talk about what the cars need I think it would be an interesting source to just ask us.

“We haven’t really been asked. If we have then it was more to tick that box. ‘Asked’ and ‘listened’ I think is two different things.”

Vettel suggested drivers would not be supportive of the plan to reduce downforce levels for the 2019 F1 season, which is being done to aid overtaking.

“I think it’s normal that everyone’s looking for their own interest. But those decisions… I think no driver appreciates the fact that the cars are getting slower.

“Slowed down by one-and-a-half seconds, does that really help? I think there are some changes you can do to the aero without making the cars slower, that would probably help overtaking.”

Lewis Hamilton called for drivers to have more input into circuit design having criticised the proposed Miami Grand Prix track layout. Todt said the race plans are still at an early stage and drivers will have an opportunity to contribute.

“At the moment we are talking about a race which is [does] not exist,” said Todt. “The commercial rights holder [is] discussing with potential promoters.

“At the moment the are trying to identify if it is possible and where it will be if it is possible. Then when they come, they will come with some drawings. Then our safety department will send somebody there to make an inspection to make some recommendations. So if the drivers have some comments they are more than welcome.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 43 comments on “Vettel: FIA only consults drivers to “tick the box””

    1. “Slowed down by one-and-a-half seconds, does that really help? I think there are some changes you can do to the aero without making the cars slower, that would probably help overtaking.”

      Really now.. maybe Vettel should give aerodynamicists a bit of his expertise on this. I’m sure the overtaking group can learn an incredible amount from Vettel’s expertise on the subject.

      Vettel has way too many issues with the FIA recently. I don’t think his input is particularly valuable when it comes to the 2019 aero regs. The end goal was to make overtaking easier and try to solve F1’s longest standing problem of dirty aero. It’s a step in the right direction for the sport, and if it costs drivers 1.5 seconds a lap.. it’s worth it.

      He needs to stop crying and start focusing on his driving before Hamilton sails away with this years championship as well.

      1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
        18th May 2018, 9:06

        @todfod I wanted to write a silly comment like “” but boy you were fast

        1. @m-bagattini

          Plenty of space here. Feel free to add ;)

      2. The end goal was to make overtaking easier and try to solve F1’s longest standing problem of dirty aero. It’s a step in the right direction for the sport, and if it costs drivers 1.5 seconds a lap.. it’s worth it.

        probably something said a lot exactly 10 years ago. The result was the BGP001.

        He needs to stop crying and start focusing on his driving before Hamilton sails away with this years championship as well.

        There’s a huge difference between ALO, HAM, VET, etc giving their opinions (often when asked) and them crying while not “focusing on his driving before Hamilton sails away with this years championship as well” (not ruling out that happening again, obviously (certainly not after Spain), but still)

        1. @todfod besides, after

          Lewis Hamilton called for drivers to have more input into circuit design having criticised the proposed Miami Grand Prix track layout. Todt said the race plans are still at an early stage and drivers will have an opportunity to contribute.

          , why not an equally silly

          He needs to stop crying and start focusing on his driving before Vettel becomes the 2nd winner of 2018 with a clean weekend?

        2. Hamilton is not sailing away relying on his own power and knowledge. Whole time somebody is pushing him..strongly..but Vettel is using his brain and intelect.
          Vettel is real winner. Do not panic.

        3. probably something said a lot exactly 10 years ago. The result was the BGP001.

          You’re never going to get there unless you try. Which is what they’re trying again. I see no point in criticising it.

          There’s a huge difference between ALO, HAM, VET, etc giving their opinions (often when asked) and them crying while not “focusing on his driving before Hamilton sails away with this years championship as well”

          There’s a difference between giving an opinion, and giving a half baked insight on something he thinks he knows better than the aerodynamicists and the FIA.

      3. uuhhmm over-reacting a bit no?

        1. @johnmilk

          Maybe. Just a little tired of his whinge binge since China. In China, he criticises the FIA of not deploying the safety car keeping in mind his track position, then he accused Pirelli of changing their tyre choices to suit his rivals. Then he continues to complain about the VSC procedure after losing position to Max. Then he whinges about the new regulations that are aimed at reducing dirty aero.

          He needs to stop his constant complaining and crying.

          1. I don’t consider SV’s input complaining. I consider it to be opinions, and observations, and thoughts. I can see though where some things come across as complaining when they are not. For example, he did not ‘accuse’ Pirelli of changing their tire choice to suit his rivals. If you read his comments from March about the pre-season testing, he said he suspected, by their behaviour in testing, Mercedes and RBR were trying to influence Pirelli, and he also said that is normal and often done and Ferrari did not feel the need as they were happy with the tires.

            In other words Ferrari might have also done the same had they thought they were having issues with the tires. For him to say ahead of Spain that the tires were changed due to Mercedes and RBR influencing Pirelli, is not an accusation, but an observation. For him to suggest the new tires should favour Mercedes and RBR only makes sense since they were the ones that lobbied Pirelli. At no point does he complain that something unfair went on. After the race there would have been nothing from the results that would have changed his opinion that Merc and RBR were right to try to influence Pirelli, but once he uniquely was able to confirm the difference in the post-race testing, he realized the tires did indeed help Ferrari too. And admitted it. And said it is up to Ferrari to figure out the tires better. All from observation without a complaint or an accusation anywhere to be found.

            1. For him to say ahead of Spain that the tires were changed due to Mercedes and RBR influencing Pirelli, is not an accusation, but an observation.

              @robbie

              Come on man.. there’s no reason for him to make that statement. It’s kind of obvious what he was insinuating wasn’t it? As you mentioned, he retracted his statement once he reviewed the data post Spanish GP. But his first instinct was to whinge and complain.

              What are your thoughts on his Safety car deployment and VSC objections? Do you think there was any validity there? Especially considering he was extremely pleased with the Safety car / VSC deployment in Australia?

            2. @todfod I think he was justified in making that statement, which was him saying expect Mercedes and RBR to be good here, and here’s why. Nothing wrong with that. If he made the observations and comments he did in March, why would he keep mum about that once the first re-surfaced track came up, at which Pirelli spoke of the difference in the tires. Quite a huge topic for the race regarding tires, so to expect SV to not follow up on his observations from March would be quite surprising. It is only your opinion or choice of interpretation, that he was whinging and complaining.

              Wrt safety cars and vsc’s, I think you are taking a bit of licence to suggest SV being pleased with the win in Australia that was largely due to a miscalculation on Merc’s part, was because he was pleased with the timing of the vsc. Had Merc not miscalculated, SV would likely not have won. With respect to the safety car timing, again, he would know that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose from said timing, and in this case he lost, so to expect him to just smile and be happy about it on behalf of himself and his team, would be folly. Many fans enjoy the lottery that can come from the timing of a safety car, especially when it is their driver that benefits, but name a driver that loses out from it, and is happy about that when it happens.

              Of course drivers are going to have complaints. All of them. There is so much at stake. But it is like you want to take everything he says as a complaint…every unique instance is the same and therefore everything he says is a complaint if it is not either utterly neutral, or utterly positive.

              You in your armchair, and SV in his Ferrari chair, are at polar opposites. Somehow you have boiled SV down to his input being of no particular use for the 2019 regs, and he thinks that is exactly the problem…that the very ones driving the cars don’t have their opinions taken seriously enough. Since SV is actually the one with everything on the line for himself and Ferrari, I am far more interested in hearing what he has to say. And yup…sometimes it’s a complaint…as with all drivers…to suggest it is all complaints and he is unqualified is to simply be biased against him. And who around here hasn’t complained about inconsistency in direction from F1? (even though I personally defend F1 and FIA quite a bit these days).

            3. @robbie

              Many fans enjoy the lottery that can come from the timing of a safety car, especially when it is their driver that benefits, but name a driver that loses out from it, and is happy about that when it happens.

              Drivers that question the FIA when they lose out on a position and completely ingnore the topic when they gain from the exact situation. I don’t see how you can justify this as anything else but pure hypocrisy.

              There is so much at stake. But it is like you want to take everything he says as a complaint…every unique instance is the same and therefore everything he says is a complaint if it is not either utterly neutral, or utterly positive.

              Come on man. I can say that you defend even the most blatant complaints and whinging by Vettel as a respectable opinion and misinterpretation by readers. You;’re pretending that no complaint has ever come out of Sebastian’s mouth.

              Somehow you have boiled SV down to his input being of no particular use for the 2019 regs, and he thinks that is exactly the problem…that the very ones driving the cars don’t have their opinions taken seriously enough.

              Yeah.. but does he know more about aero than aerodynamicists and the overtaking group. By suggesting there are other areas they should look at which won’t reduce lap time by still get the desired effect, is pretty much telling them they aren’t doing their jobs well enough.

            4. @todfod

              You’re never going to get there unless you try. Which is what they’re trying again. I see no point in criticising it.

              So you complain about drivers speaking their minds and not about yet another knee-jerk reaction the powers that be of F1 have come up with for next year because the problem potentially caused by a knee-jerk change in aero rules are clearly insignificant to some guy who hasn’t won a title in 4 years stating his opinion and is therefore not deserving of any critisism?

              Yeah.. but does he know more about aero than aerodynamicists and the overtaking group.

              …..again imagine saying that in 2008. They’re not infallible, certainly not in making a knee-jerk reaction. That and a non-knee jerk reaction is supposed to be prepared for 2021, by which time decisions should be a bit more….wise. Hopefully.

              Come on man. I can say that you attack even the most honest statements and answers by Vettel as some sinister, political scheme. You’re pretending that no single correct (and/or honest) sentence has ever come out of Sebastian’s mouth. You’re turning into being about as bad as those who would find about anything in a sentence to attack Hamilton.
              @todfod

            5. @todfod Yes every driver and team principle can be accused of hypocrisy. It’s human nature. The old ‘when the shoe is on the other foot’ syndrome. We’re all guilty of it. It’s the ‘shut up and drive’ attitude that I object to, like a driver can’t complain, philosophize, ponder out loud, discuss, opine, etc etc and be an incredible racer at the same time. Like if only he’d keep his ‘complaints’ to himself, he’d somehow be faster on the track.

              I think you are really stretching it to say he is telling them they aren’t doing their jobs well enough. For you to say that is telling me you just don’t like SV. Is he an aerodynamicist? No. To suggest though that nothing has rubbed off on him from his experiences in racing, particularly his winning years with Adrian Newey, is impossible to imagine, but that’s not even the point. He is questioning F1’s direction…the philosophy not the specifics, for 2019, as are many, because it counters what they have been doing since they re-introduced the pre-98 car dimensions. They wanted more downforce and speed, now they want to take something off that already, what gives? Why don’t you ask us drivers? That’s all he’s saying. Personally I have no issues for now with what they have proposed, because I think if they can reduce the wake that should help the product on the track, SV included.

              Nowhere other than from you is he professing to know more than an aerodynamicist. Just as nowhere did he accuse Pirelli nor Merc nor RBR of any wrongdoing, not in March and not last week. But some wish to see it that way by their own choice but not by any direct quotes from the man. It’s the unnecessary reading into what SV must mean, beyond what he has actually said, that I object to.

            6. @robbie

              Dude.. no point in discussing this. Every driver can raise an objection or voice his opinion but to question the FIA every week on some different issue or the other is called whinging. Maybe I don’t like SV, but I don’t think you can see past your affection for him either. So I don’t see the point in discussing it.

              @davidnotcoulthard
              I can accept a few honest statements.. but come on.. just count the number of times he’s questioned the FIA, Pirelli, etc. over the past few weekends. I’m surprised by the fact that you don’t find his Safety car issue, VSC issue, Pirelli issue and now aero regs a little excessive. None of them were positive comments.. they were just negative comments made on a weekly basis.

            7. @todfod And there’s the rub. The real whinging is unfairly saying he whinges every week. And it’s not an affection, just a sense of fairness and perspective. What is a little excessive is your reaction to things SV has said that you attribute incorrect nuance to, adding them all up and putting them in a neat little anti-SV box, ignoring that many others within and without F1 agree with him and have been saying similar things on at least some of his ‘issues’ (which are really everyone’s issues be they within F1 or be they fans).

            8. @robbie

              How many drivers agreed with Vettel on the Safety car deployment time? How many agreed on the VSC shorter line line that he was questioning? How many drivers complained about Pirelli changing their thread depth to suit other teams? How many drivers have questioned the FIA 4 times in 4 weeks?

            9. @todfod Much ado about nothing. You’re trying to create a storyline that doesn’t exist because you don’t like SV.

          2. Well, I see your point, but I wouldn’t consider everything he said is a complain.

            Every change made mid-season is stupid in my opinion, probably that’s where he failed when he raised the point about Pirelli, shouldn’t have pointed fingers (but he is finger boy, he finger boy doesn’t point his fingers, it’s counter-productive).

            The regulations he has a point though, and he was asked for his opinion.

    2. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      18th May 2018, 9:08

      @todfod I wanted to write a silly comment like insert someone’s comment about Vettel whining here but boy you were fast

      @keithcollantine as the site grows, I really think it’s time for a comments section overhaul ;)

      1. @m-bagattini +1 for the comments section :
        – Edit button.
        – Delete button.
        – More formatting option.

        1. @abdelilah @keithcollantine agreed in general, plus an easier way to notify the OP. One other thing that would be nice to have is a comment section like Reddit, where content can be up/down voted. I suppose this site runs on top of WordPress, so pluggable commenting systems should be available.

          1. I’m not a fan of comment voting, from my observation it seems to encourage people to just vote rather than respond and talk about things

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          18th May 2018, 20:32

          @abdelilah

          I think once you get used to not having an edit button, it makes you think more before posting anything, so I see the advantages. And for those who make big mistakes, they can take the pain! :D Or just correct themselves below. That is what I do. But I do personally think that having an editing button can make some people too relaxed and they and up saying something that they shouldn’t (knowing that they can delete it)

          So I for one actually like it the way it is.

    3. “I think it would be an interesting source to just ask us (drivers).”

      Nuff said. What are them drivers saying? Cars are impossible to follow, front wing washing out, downforce is completley gone

      Drivers like all end user just describe their exagerated experience.

    4. comments sections are the bane of a web site operators life. If you make it too easy to comment or open up too much in terms of buttons and html, spammers just exploit it.

      I think that this comment section is great considering that you can comment without creating an account and it appears to be spam free.

      Don´t change it.

    5. So @keithcollantine the way I read Jean Todts comments were that he will only listen to the drivers that are active on his FIA Commissions.
      Surely the input from drivers about F1 and rule changes shouldn’t depend on how happy Todt is with their level of participation in his little pet projects.

      1. @eoin16, or it could also be read as Todt saying that, if the drivers want to have their say on the regulations, then they would perhaps be better served if they met with them instead of simply making their complaints to the media instead.

        1. Sounds like SV is not talking about media speak, but rather, as he put it, there’s being asked and there’s being listened to. But this is old news though really, no? Isn’t it fairly common knowledge that while drivers are intimate with their own team’s efforts and each team wants all their drivers’ input they can get, as a body of drivers, they’re not consulted on the big decisions, but moreso the smaller safety issues. Case in point, what drivers would have ever voted for the kinds of tires they’ve been suffering with the F1/Pirelli mandate for them to be gadgets.

      2. @eoin16 I imagine the FIA’s answer to that would be that all the drivers have the opportunity to be on those commissions and the drivers on them are there to represent the interests of drivers in general, not just themselves.

        1. I’m not sure Seb is convinced that the drivers on the commissions get listened to either…

    6. “I think it’s normal that everyone’s looking for their own interest. But those decisions… I think no driver appreciates the fact that the cars are getting slower.
      “Slowed down by one-and-a-half seconds, does that really help? I think there are some changes you can do to the aero without making the cars slower, that would probably help overtaking.”
      – I couldn’t agree more with him. BTW, how exactly would the simplification of the front wing make the cars slower? Could someone elaborate a bit, LOL? It shouldn’t affect downforce-levels. Hopefully, the technical reg changes for 2021 would be that we could have both the lap times back in the 2017-18 levels as well as closer racing, i.e., cars that could achieve both similar lap times to 2017-18 as well as be significantly more race-able/following-friendly.

      1. Hi @jerejj! There are many people who will give you far more detailed explanations than I, but basically the 2019 front wing rules will simplify the wings and the work they do controlling airflow off the wing, around the tire and on downstream to the bargeboards, sidepods, rear wing and diffuser. The cumulative effect of this on overall car performance is expected to be about 1.5 secs.
        At least that was my understanding of it but I stand to be corrected :)

    7. I think it’s interesting it’s Vettel saying that, he has never been a strong racer that’s why he likes the dirty air. Now ask the master of the overtakes Daniel Ricciardo about this, and he will probably be happy to have more occasions to fight on track.
      IMO 1,5s isn’t a big deal, F1 will still be significantly faster than F2 and WEC

      1. @francorchamps17 Last weekend Ricciardo was asked about the 2019 changes & said pretty much the same thing Vettel has here.

        All the drivers in the press conference last weekend agreed with Vettel.

    8. I think that as a fan it’s easy to look at making the cars slower & think ‘If the racing is better it’s worth it’ or ‘It’s only 1.5 odd seconds’ & see no issue with it.

      However let’s not forget that the drivers are there to race yes but they also want to be pushed to there limits & challenged both physically & mentally.

      For most of the past decade both they (And many fans) complained quite often about the cars been too slow, Too relatively easy to drive, Not as challenging to drive & not pushing drivers to the limits as in the past with them getting out after a long race feeling like they had just done a short jog rather than a long marathon.

      Drivers were also pretty vocal in how much more challenging, Demanding & fun the 2017 regulation cars are to drive with Button saying something about how F1 cars finally felt like F1 again after his Monaco drive last year & how the 2017 cars were for the 1st time in ages a step in the right direction.

      Drivers opinions on this should matter because there the one’s driving the cars. 1.5 seconds may not seem a lot to us but that is something the drivers will feel & if results in them finding the cars more boring, less challenging & less fun to drive then that isn’t a positive in my view.

      1. @stefmeister I couldn’t agree more with you.

        1. I do agree too, but I would add that the way I see it, if indeed the cars do end up slower, which I think remains to be seen because we do not know what the teams can and will likely do to counter the new front wing look, the drivers should gain challenge in being able to follow more closely and make more passing attempts with confidence, if indeed wake is reduced to a significant enough degree.

          I think there are too many outstanding questions about how the teams will deal with the new changes for next year. And I will keep hammering away at this point too…what will the tires be like? Depending on what Pirelli does, that can have a massive effect on everything, and yet we have not heard a peep about what Pirelli might do for 2019, and I have the same questions about 2021.

    9. Todt told RaceFans and other media in a briefing. “But they have access…”

      The problem is right there. FIA think it’s about being beneficent enough to allow drivers ‘access’ to have their say – and then probably be ignored anyhow. Whereas it should be the complete opposite: FIA and F1’s management need to go to the drivers first and include them at every stage.

      Maybe there’s also a basic incompatibility between drivers and teams. Teams – the managers and engineers – want predictability, which means focusing on qualifying as best as possible and then ensuring no surprises in the race: so they tend to ‘like’ the fact other cars can’t overtake theirs, presuming they qualified ahead. If they’re down the grid, it’s still much better for overtaking to be made ‘predictable’ and ‘managable’ through race strategy than rely on the idiosyncracies of driver talent and performance on the day. Drivers on the other hand, well the ones worth listening to, like the challenge, unpredictability and possibility of using their own talent – which is precisely what fans mostly want to see. Making the cars more difficult to drive obviously appeals to those who think they can make the difference, whereas the teams would rather the car does most of the work. So basically it’s up to FIA to intercede – in favour of the drivers (and spectators) – or else the natural tendency is for the teams to dictate. Todt’s comment indicates this still isn’t happening.

      1. It doesn’t help that since it’s inception, the FIA has been designed to speak to entrants as its direct contact with competitors. That, in modern terminology, would be the team owners…

    10. Gee, some guys here are really going hard on Vettel. He may not be the best ever but he certainly works very hard and I am sure he does understand the dynamics of F1 cars rather well…

      And the drivers do actually know a lot about these cars. They drive them! Engineers look at the data. If it is good, then all is fine. The drivers don’t. They work on feeling. How the car behaves. I have read many times of how drivers were unhappy with a car chassis and then happy again after a change in chassis while the aerodynamicists and engineers can see no difference between the two while looking at the data.

      Give them a break guys. The drivers certainly know much more than us armchair drivers and aerodynamicists!

    11. Golf clap, Herr Vettel.

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