Several topics still resonate after the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, the most trending of which is the controversy over Lewis Hamilton’s pit stops.
In this edition of Tech Draft, I tackle three, with one common denominator; does he risk the future of Formula 1?
There are three questions to answer after last weekend’s race in Istanbul Park:
Should Lewis Hamilton have questioned Mercedes’ original instruction to pit for a new set of midsize tires? Should Charles Leclerc have tried to finish the race without stopping? And finally, should Sebastian Vettel have taken slicks instead of Pirelli intermediaries at his pit stop?
My answer to all three is a resounding YES!
Anyone who knows me personally might be surprised by this, because as a purist with a heritage of conservative, empirical, and motorsport engineering, I generally have no hesitation in opposing F1’s transition from a sporting context to that of a function. Entertainment.
So, before I delve deeper into the questions I put forward in the introduction to this article, let me explain myself a bit.
Since I finished my motorsport career, there has been an internal conflict within me regarding how I feel about changing the goal into what was (for me and for many), and is probably always, primarily a sport that has been founded on passion and the pursuit of excellence, into a corporate entertainment business, based on the principle of appealing to a consumer base capable of delivering a value proposition to consumers. shareholders of this company.
Quite often I think long and hard about this, probably too much for my own good, but I generally come to the same conclusion, which is that although I recognize that I have little or no influence over the strategic direction of F1, there is one aspect of this strategic direction with which I do indeed agree, namely: the competitive diversity of F1 should be a priority.
To come back to the three questions which are at the base of this piece, their point is not of a critical nature… Not at all.
On the contrary, given my time on the dark side and my support for the Hollywood infection of F1, I have to admit that it’s people like Hamilton, Leclerc and Vettel who are willing to put risk aversion aside. to seek a better result, by putting their credibility in question, are those who offer this season the potential of this competitive diversity which seems important to me.
Too often, I and many others reflect on the history of F1 through tinted lenses of the color that provides us with memories in a way we choose to perceive them, as opposed to the way they happened. actually produced.
We overlook, in the glory days of the past, that when our heroes chased glory from the top step of the podium, it was the ultimate prize that mattered, and not necessarily a balanced risk-free strategy.
It is important for all of us to remember that the main intentional direction of F1 at all levels, is to increase financial returns for its shareholders by ensuring the commercial sustainability of its competing teams, through competitive diversity facilitated by performance convergence.
However, as domain performance converges, a competitor’s ability to win will need to become less risk averse. Risk-taking and obscure strategies will become more and more common in F1 in the future.
If anything in Istanbul, Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel and even Esteban Ocon were, at the very least, guilty of pursuing the only intention that F1 would prefer, which is the same intention that F1 thinks we, as we wish. also customers, which is a different winner as often as possible.
I have to admit I love the sound of that.