It is an unspoken law of the universe: when a racing series makes regulation changes, the drivers will react pretty negatively across the board. The same thing is currently happening with Formula One’s proposed regulation changes that will take effect in 2021, with championship-winning driver Lewis Hamilton being one of the most vocal of the critics.
If you need a refresher, the 2021 regulations call for some pretty sweeping changes to be made with the hope that it’ll inspire more competitive, closer racing. That comes in the form of aerodynamic standardization to create less dirty air behind a car, along with an increase in downforce via revised ground effects; reductions in driver aids like all the software systems that make driving a breeze; and just generally better-looking cars.
There’s also been talk of changing up race format, especially surrounding qualifying. That opens a whole other can of worms—and we asked how y’all felt about it. A lot of people expressed that they were totally fine with F1's qualifying format, since qualifying isn’t the problem with F1 anyway.
But Lewis Hamilton has taken it a step further. He’s not a fan of the regulation changes and has used this qualifying proposition to articulate why. Here’s a quote from Motorsport.com:
The fact they are trying to reverse grids and all that seems to me like an excuse for not doing a good enough job in the decision process.
Why are they making the cars heavier? There’s no reason, it’s not safer, it’s not better for racing.
My points are still the same. I’m still concerned. And I don’t think that’s going to change from what I’ve witnessed in the meeting.
F1 teams have also complained about the regulations being too prescriptive (which, honestly, isn’t all that shocking; we go through this same song and dance every time new regs are announced). But I was pretty surprised by Hamilton’s comments.
It’s worth noting that Hamilton’s career has been strongly impacted by previous regulation changes. He switched from dominant McLaren to Mercedes in 2013, just before the 2014 regulations introduced turbocharged V6 engines into the regs. Mercedes was all-in on developing turbo technology; it bet everything on those turbo regs. Four World Champion titles later, I’d say Hamilton made the right call.
But I don’t know if I agree with him in this case. In my eyes, the 2021 regulations sound like a good thing. I am freakin’ stoked to see what teams come up with as a result of new regs that sound like they’re going to make a difference in the quality of racing. I’d love to see cars able to follow each other more closely. I want drivers working hard behind the wheel. I can’t wait for all the technical deep-dives into how each team has sorted out their new ground effects. And I can’t wait to see the impact it has on the hierarchy of teams. I don’t think the decisions they’ve made in that regard are half-assed at all.
I agree that the qualifying format fiasco is kind of stupid. It’s like cutting open your knee and then slapping a band-aid on your elbow. Why change every variable when you can just focus on one and see how that plays out?
But maybe that’s just me and my fondness for spec series talking. That’s why I’m here scouring Jalopnik’s readers for their own thoughts. Are you with Hamilton in thinking the new regs are going to suck a big one? Or are you a little more optimistic?