Lewis Hamilton: Formula 1 broken and lacking direction

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By Andrew Benson

Lewis Hamilton has been testing his Mercedes in Barcelona

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1 is broken as it struggles to finalise rules for the next two years.

McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso added that indecision over qualifying regulations for 2016 is “sad”.

Hamilton was asked in a news conference if the sport was fundamentally broken, lacking direction or in rude health.

The British triple world champion said: “Probably the first two you suggested. I don’t want to say too much but I agree with those.”

He also later questioned the new ‘halo’ safety system that was trialled on Thursday’s penultimate day of winter testing in Barcelona.

The system is designed to protect drivers from impact and debris but Hamilton used social media to call it “the worst F1 modification in history”.

In the earlier news conference he added that he was “dying” to be able to drive a car from 30 years ago, which he said he finds much more appealing.

The 31-year-old sees no need to change the format of qualifying, a reference to attempts by F1’s bosses to introduce a new elimination-style system for this year.

Hamilton said: “It was fine, it was OK. Why confuse people even more?

“Even we don’t understand what is going on. Imagine how the people watching on TV can try to understand.”

Bernie Ecclestone said a new qualifying format would be delayed until the fifth race of the season

Timing system excuses labelled ‘pathetic’

The F1 Commission, the penultimate stage in F1’s legislative process, agreed last week to introduce a new qualifying system that would see the slowest car eliminated at 90-second intervals through three stages of qualifying.

But the following day F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who was keen on the new format, said he had been told there was not sufficient time to amend the sport’s timing system before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 18-20 March.

The teams – who were asked to analyse the new proposal to check it had no flaws – have proposed a revised system that retains the elimination format for the first two parts of qualifying but reverts to a straight fight between eight drivers for the top places on the grid. This is to be discussed at the FIA World Council on Friday.

Senior figures have also pushed back at Ecclestone, questioning why the timing software and television graphics cannot be amended in time.

One senior figure told BBC Sport the explanation given was “pathetic”.

Fernando Alonso is in favour of a return to a one-lap qualifying

We want simplicity in the rules – Alonso

Bosses have also had to extend a deadline to finalise new rules for 2017 aimed at making the cars faster and more dramatic-looking.

Spaniard Alonso, a two-time champion, said: “I am sad for the sport because it does not look right from the outside when in one week we change the qualifying format three times. Or we pretend to change. No one makes anything official.

“If I were a sportsman from another sport I will look at Formula 1 a little bit surprised about that.”

The 34-year-old added that there were “too many changes” and complained that “the complexity of the rules for the spectator is quite high”.

He said: “All my friends here in Spain want to switch on the television and watch battles, big cars, big tyres, big noise and enjoy the race like they do with other sports.”

He added: “We want simplicity in the rules. Even the one-lap format, super-pole that we did in 2005 was quite spectacular.

“Everyone had one-lap television coverage. It’s simple. You do one lap, you brake late, maybe you start 15th because you miss a corner. There is some adrenaline on that lap as well.”

 

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