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Formula One's latest set of innovations: A stroke of genius or another set of useless gimmicks?

The state of Formula One is not what it used to be due to several additions to make the racing more "exciting" but failed. Spectacularly.

Feature 01 Mar 2016, 16:56 IST
This season now with 22 cars on the grid

During a meeting between the Formula One teams and the International Automotive Federation to discuss strategies to make the sport more exciting a number of interesting ideas were proposed. Some of these were the Halo concept (scheduled to be in force in 2017), which had the intention of preserving the safety of the driver, a brand new and revamped qualifying system (scheduled to be in effect this season) among other proposed ideas.

The Halo concept that was proposed by Mercedes meant that the driver’s face would be shielded from oncoming debris. A notable incident was Felipe Massa’s nearly career ending accident in Hungary 2009 where a spring from Rubens Barrichello’s car hit Massa in the helmet, knocking him unconscious and putting him out of action for almost half the season.

These efforts also were the reaction to IndyCAR driver Justin Wilson and Formula One driver Jules Bianchi’s fatal accidents. In the case of Bianchi, his Marussia speared into the back of and under a recovery vehicle that was sent to retrieve Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber.

The impact sent the popular Frenchman into a coma and left him fighting for his life for nearly a year before he lost the fight. In Wilson’s case, the nose cone of another car flew upwards and landed on top of Wilson’s head killing him instantly.

Ferrari argued that the driver was still exposed to debris falling from directly overhead, so they proposed a new concept called the Canopy concept. This concept provided all round protection for the driver. However, a personal observation shows that the Halo offers no protection from the elements and the driver will not only have to contend with having low visibility with his visor but the shield will also prove to be a hindrance.

The Canopy does not solve this problem either, and I highly doubt windshield wipers are a serious option considering the speeds that these cars can reach.

The immediate revamp is the qualifying format, until 2007 the drivers had a one lap system where the cars were sent out one by one for a warm-up lap, a flying lap and the in lap. Post-2007 all cars were given a chance to set qualifying laps within a time limit and afterwards the slowest cars would be eliminated until there was a top 10 shootout.

Won’t the new rule mix up the entire grid and provide unusual results?

This season now with 22 cars on the grid, in Q1 the slowest car after 7 minutes will be eliminated and after that, every 90 seconds the slowest car will be eliminated and the remaining progress into Q2. Then the same process happens again and the top 8 progress into Q3.

Yet again the same process of elimination until the final 2 drivers have a shootout for pole position. To be honest, when I first read it I couldn’t make head or tail of it. Took me at least 3 tries to really comprehend the whole thing.

The theory is that it will really mix up the entire grid and provide unusual results. The bad news is that this system won’t see the light of day until Round 5 in Barcelona because there will be a delay in recalibrating the timing system.

Yet another personal observation shows that there could be chances of the eliminated drivers baulking their fellow competitors who may be on a timed lap, thus incurring more penalties and trips to the headmaster’s office. It will be particularly tricky in street circuits like Monaco and the new Baku circuit.

But all this is just speculation until the FIA figure out how to work out the little kinks we won’t know whether it will work or not. But that’s enough technical talk racing season is almost upon us, can you hear it calling out to you? Roll On Australia!

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