2017 rules will make drivers ‘love’ F1 cars again – Motorsport.com
The biggest boost to Formula 1’s popularity by the planned rules overhaul for 2017 will come not from better racing but from drivers falling in love with grand prix cars again, claims Toyota chief Pascal Vasselon.
The Frenchman, who was a leading technical figure in Toyota’s F1 programme and now works on its sportscar project, thinks that F1 has suffered because drivers are not thrilled by the cars.
He says that is in marked contrast to the World Endurance Championship, which is enjoying a rise in popularity – which he thinks is helped because drivers love competing in the cars.
“I think that the general lack of interest in F1 mainly comes from the lack of ‘love’ in F1 from the drivers themselves,” Vasselon told Motorsport.com.
“Most of the drivers don’t express their pleasure from being behind the wheels of these cars. This is what I feel, personally.
“The lack of interest from the drivers amplifies the lack of interest from the fans. If these new rules being back some fun for the drivers, this will translate in their comments and it may turn things around.”
Vasselon says that all he hears from sportscar drivers is how great WEC machinery is, and it’s that enthusiasm which is captured by fans.
“[F1] drivers who come to race endurance events say, ‘Wow. These cars are great. We can push them from the beginning to the end’.
“It’s the complete opposite from that they have to do in F1. That’s why I feel that the lack of interest in F1 comes from the comments of the drivers.
“It really strikes me to realise that the F1 drivers and their endurance colleagues don’t express the same feeling of having fun behind the wheel.”
Vasselon adds that the move to faster cars, with wider tyres and improved aerodynamic, is a dramatic U-turn from what the sport looked at several years ago.
“These new rules are almost in the opposite direction to those that governed F1 at the end of the 2000s when the objective was to slow down the cars and to help overtaking.
“It now seems that the people in charge are going in the reverse direction. It looks like a very stimulating challenge.
“I am not fully aware of all the details, but we’re talking about major evolutions in terms of aerodynamics and tyres. The laptimes will drop significantly, that’s a sure thing.”
Interview by Basile Davoine