Sunday, 27 February 2011

Has Formula One Become Too Complicated?

Formula One drivers no longer have to simply drive their car. There is so much else they have to do at the same time.

For example, it is not considered unreasonable to expect a driver to use the KERS 'boost' button, the adjustable rear wing and to make other adjustments to the car on the same straight.

On occasions last season, Fernando Alonso was seen to operate his 'F-Duct' with his left hand and adjust some settings on his steering wheel with his right hand, effectively travelling at up to 200mph with no hands on the wheel!

Although F-Ducts are banned for 2011, the additional performance enhancers do raise a question of safety, as drivers should be fully focussed on the track ahead and the other drivers they share the track with. This has led some drivers to question the necessity of all the different driver assists.
After his first test session in the 2011 spec Williams, Rubens Barrichello commented:
"The only drawback from the day is that the number of buttons on the steering wheel can distract you from the driving"
"I don't think it's a danger, but I think it's a concern. In terms of execution, the additional controls are obviously necessary, but people have different steering wheels, so drivers may therefore be able to reach some buttons easier than others."
"The problem is you are taking your eye off the road. There is not a single straight where I don't press a button and change gear. In my role in the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) we will keep talking about this, but I think the FIA will let us practice a little more. I think the strong comments will come now but will lessen as people get used to things."

(For this story in full visit

Any drivers who struggle to utilise all the new tools at their disposal may find they miss out on valuable time, as Nico Rosberg explained:
"Sometimes its very complicated out there because my mind is concentrating on testing something, at the same time, I have someone shouting in my ear You forgot KERS, you forgot KERS!"
"Once you forget it, youre in a mess. Its quite confusing sometimes."

(For this story in full visit

To give you an idea of how much more technical the sport has become in recent years, here is a YouTube video - onboard with Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill in 1994.

For comparison, here is a 2011 Team Lotus steering wheel, which was loaned to BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey for a charity event (@jakehumphreyf1 on and this is from a team who don't have KERS!

Hopefully, with one more test still to go before the new season, the drivers will have enough time to become fully familiar with their cars.

Alternatively, F1 journalist James Allen has suggested that now is the time to really encourage teams to employ female drivers, due to their superior multi-tasking abilities! (To read his full article, visit

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