According to former Williams tech boss Pat Symonds, F1’s 2017 regulations were introduced with the purpose of precluding young drivers such as Max Verstappen from racing in F1.
The formal narrative behind the sport’s big regulation overhaul this year underlined the need in improve the racing with higher downforce and mechanical grip leading to faster cars.
But Symonds claims the true reasons for change were to be found elsewhere.
“In my view, making cars faster by five seconds a lap has nothing to do with improving the show,” Symonds was quoted by French daily l’Equipe.
“The idea came from Bernie and it went through the Strategy Group. He felt insulted originally by the fact that a 17-year-old (Max Verstappen) could race in F1 and be successful.”
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Symonds believes that Ecclestone thought the new rules would effectively represent a barrier of entry to Grand Prix racing for teenage talent. But the approach hasn’t worked.
“They thought that if cars were five seconds faster, than they would be a lot more difficult to drive, especially for a young driver,” Symonds added.
“But the facts have proven the opposite. Personally I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a 17-year-old race in F1.
“If the sport wants to attract a younger audience, you need young drivers.”
Before pre-season got underway, many drivers believed the new-spec cars would be physically more demanding. While true, drivers have also prepared accordingly. to minimise the difficulties associated with increased downforce and mechanical grip.
It’s worth noting however that Lance Stroll appeared to struggle during pre-season testing in Barcelona, suffering several off-track excursions although it’s uncertain the cause of the mishaps was physical.
Still, Pat Symonds may be right, and Formula 1’s latest generation cars may also prove to be a handful for teenage talent over the course of a full race distance at certain venues.
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