Australia’s last Formula 1 world champion Alan Jones believes a simplification of the sporting regulations is the answer to improving F1’s spectacle.
The sport enters into a new era at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix courtesy of sweeping regulation changes, designed to not only appeal to fans but drivers also.
The objective of ensuring the cars are the fastest than ever, more aesthetically pleasing and more challenging to drive has been achieved, but there are widespread fears this will come at a detriment to the quality of the racing.
Utilising increased aerodynamics has ramped up speeds, with Lewis Hamilton clocking a benchmark 1:23.620s in Friday practice at Albert Park, which surpassed last year’s corresponding best by 6.1 seconds.
However, the by-product of these record speeds could be fewer overtaking moves with the increased turbulent air created by the new specification cars set to make it harder for drivers to follow each other closely.
Jones, who won the F1 crown in 1980, is among those concerned, fearing the new regulations could create processional races.
The former Williams driver has welcomed the aesthetics of the new cars, but believes F1 should go back to basics by significantly reducing the use of aerodynamics int he future.
“I think overtaking will be a lot harder and I think the races will be a lot more processional,” Jones told Speedcafe.com.
“I think the cars probably look the best they have ever looked. In terms of aggressiveness with their appearances the cars are terrific.
“The jury is very much out for me as to whether the new rules will make better racing or not.
“It shouldn’t be hard for Formula 1 to get it right.
“The cars are probably going to be the most reliant on clear air than they have ever been.
“Why they just don’t go back to a single plane front wing and go back to half decent rear wing and rely on mechanical grip, I don’t know.
“I agree with the wider tyres to give them more mechanical grip but they should take the aerodynamics away.”
F1’s new owners Liberty Media are aware of the potential effect these new regulations may impact on the races.
The organisation’s new managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says action to improve the racing will be taken if required.
“If we see things this year that we don’t think are great for the sport, then we will be fighting our corner, and we will be fighting at every level,” said Brawn.
“You can rest assured that we will be working with the teams and working with the FIA to find solutions if we don’t feel the racing is as good as it should be.
“If you look at the configuration of the aerodynamics we have, we have cars with very complicated bodywork structures which create very sensitive flow regimes around the structures.
“It means as soon as they are disturbed by a car in front, they suffer.
“So can we come up with a set of regulations where we can still use the power of aerodynamics to give us the speed and spectacle of the cars, but in a more benign way so they can at least race each other more closely without it having an impact?
“That is my ambition, that is my objective.”
The Australian Grand Prix continues today with final practice scheduled for 1400 ahead of qualifying at 1700 local time.