‘F1 closer to autonomous driving than Google’

Date published: August 25 2020

A new ‘cheating’ controversy could be about to erupt in F1 – this time over ERS

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko wants telemetry and radios banned in Formula 1 because everything is determined by engineers.

There’s no denying that technology has played an increasingly important role in Formula 1 over the last decade, with the V6 turbo-hybrid engines which were introduced in 2014 taking that up several notches.

And speaking of 2014, that was the year that Mercedes won their first Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship double, with Lewis Hamilton collecting his second Drivers’ title in the process.

Since then nobody has stopped the Silver Arrows who are now at six title-doubles whilst Hamilton is a six-time champ closing in on a record-equalling seventh World Championship.

“We do not currently have a drivers’ championship, we have an engineers’ championship,” Marko told Der Spiegel.

“It is not the technical product that should stand out, but the person. That is what interests and fascinates people.”

Marko added that whilst Hamilton’s talent can’t be questioned, “his enormous superiority results from a more powerful engine.”

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So how does Formula 1 go about making itself more of an individual Championship again, rather than one dominated by the machinery?

Well, Marko believes scrapping “radio traffic from the box to the driver” and telemetry would be a good starting place.

“In Formula 1 we are closer to autonomous driving than Google,” he added.

“Everything is determined by the engineers. And that’s the wrong way.”

One thing the FIA are doing is banning ‘qualifying modes’ which are used on the current generation of power units to provide a short-term power boost.

Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ is seen as the strongest asset in that department, and even though Hamilton said the FIA are “always trying to slow us down“, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested the ban on ‘quali modes’ could actually make them faster.

“If F1 were to ban in-season certain power unit modes, I think it will actually help us in the race,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“If you can avoid damaging your power unit in those few qualifying laps that you have available, in Q3 and then the odd lap in the race, the damage metrics goes down dramatically.

“So five laps of quali mode not being done gives us 25 laps of more performance in the race, and that is something we believe will give us more performance.

“You must take into effect that even if it may hurt us more in qualifying, which I’m not sure, and it’s a couple of tenths, then it will hurt all the others in the same way.

“But for us, we are always very marginal on what we can extract from the power unit, and if we were to be limited in qualifying modes then we will be stronger in the race.”

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