Formula 1 is on the cusp of a major rule change. In 2022, a new car following vastly different aerodynamic principles will burst onto the race track. The new car brings with it budgetary restrictions and new regulations around fielding young drivers through the season.
The sport’s management is also hoping to run a raft of other changes next year, including an expanded schedule of sprint races, and is also plotting a series of “show and tell” events for teams to showcase their cars ahead of each race.
According to Motorsport.com, F1’s managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn, wants to open the door to the media at sessions where teams showcase setups to stewards and scrutineers ahead of the race.
Brawn is reported to have said:
“What we’re doing on a Friday is a big session for you guys [the media] to have a look at the cars and talk to the personnel.
“We’re pushing on with initiatives to get greater engagement and a greater insight into what’s happening.
“So next year, on a Friday morning, the cars will be presented to you. The teams will explain the changes they’ve made for that weekend and they’ll declare to the FIA the changes they’ve made.
“It will create another nuance and other interest in the sport, because the technical side of the sport is quite fascinating to a lot of fans.”
During next year’s 23-race season, the Friday morning sessions will see teams showcase the bodywork that they intend to run over a race weekend to the FIA. This will set the Reference Specification for the car, which it must match at various points over the grand prix weekend.
Now, Brawn is hoping to bring the media into such events to ask questions and get a look at the specs each team will run.
But F1 is a notoriously secretive sport. Teams protect any possible technical advantages behind smoke and mirrors to avoid dropping any hints to their rivals.
So, while they will be happy to divulge details to the FIA in order to compete in a race weekend, will they willingly do the same for the media? Personally, I can’t imagine someone like Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison offering aerodynamic insights that will then be published for all to see.
Also, who are these session for? The workings on an F1 car are notoriously complex, so will the average fan understand the impact slight tweaks to wing angles and widths could have over a weekend?
I devour F1 content at an impressive rate of knots, but would still be lost in any technical briefing. And I’m sure many of the sport’s viewers would feel the same.
Instead, such events could be used as ammunition by “traditional” F1 fans who currently look down on anyone without a masters in engineering and the enthusiasm to watch every practice session. They might one day say, “oh you can’t be a real fan if you don’t watch the technical scrutinizing sessions.” That sounds unbearable.
So while an explanation of each team’s new car at the start of the season would I’m sure be welcomed by many fans, one ahead of each race weekend might not be the best way to create exciting content that engages viewers.