Changing Trends in Formula 1 – Engineers at the Wheel!

Siladitya DeyContributor IMay 2, 2008

The Formula 1 season is well underway. The beautiful venues, the varying challenges at each track, the people behind the scenes and in the limelight, the cars and the teams, and of course the F1 pilots themselves. But let's take a look at a new trend that affects the technical make-up of the sport that strikes me as special.

What I have in mind is the “team-lead pilot” relationship that is blossoming in a few teams nowadays and the way this is changing the face of Formula 1.

Of late, the F1 pilot is getting increasingly involved in technical activities, which were out-of-bounds for a racer until a few years ago when Michael Schumacher started the trend with Ferrari. As far as my memory takes me, Michael was the first racer to be directly involved in the technical development of the car.

Of course these things are never revealed to their fullest extent, but it is a safe extrapolation to make considering the fact that Ferrari continue to employ Michael for his services as a technical adviser and a tester despite having two very able pilots in their fold. Similarly, Dave Coulthard has been instrumental in giving direction to Red Bull Racing since their entry into Formula 1. Now it seems Alonso is being entrusted with a similar role at Renault F1.

The combination of Fernando and Flavio Briatore took Renault to F1 championship glory in 2006 and judging by the alacrity Alonso and Flavio generated on the former’s homecoming only means all is well. The strength of the Flavio - Fernando combine is already showing with Renault matching pace with the Ferrari’s after a drab start to the season.

This trend augurs well for the sport with a lot of teams looking at people who aren’t just thoroughbred racers but who can fit the multi-role required of them by the teams. This translates to the fact that teams nowadays are looking at technically creative race-winners, a formidable combination to have at the head of any F1 team.

It is almost evident then that the relationship between a pilot and his team is symbiotic and both parties want it to flourish for as long as possible. This explains why some pilots stay at their teams for such a long time, because they enjoy it and so does the team.

The above trend only augurs well for the sport as well as for the automotive industry as the stress is now primarily on the technical development rather than on a mere win in a race. This new view of Formula 1 centering its’ attention towards its’ original intended direction of enhancing technology in automotive’s is more than welcome. Three cheers to F1 Technology and its’ true champions!