5 Technical Changes That Would Spice Up Formula 1

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2014

5 Technical Changes That Would Spice Up Formula 1

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    Nico Rosberg at the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix.
    Nico Rosberg at the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix.Andre Penner/Associated Press

    Formula One underwent a revolution in its technical regulations for 2014.

    The most significant change was the introduction of hybrid V6 engines. Combined with a reduction in the aerodynamic grip available, the cars were faster in a straight line (although slower and more difficult to handle while cornering).

    All of this led to plenty of excellent racing from one end of the grid to the other. Unfortunately, Mercedes ran away with both the drivers' and constructors' championships, but overall, it was one of the most exciting seasons in terms of on-track action in recent memory.

    Now there is a debate about whether restrictions on engine development should be lifted or—gasp—the V8 gas guzzlers should be brought back to help curtail Mercedes' dominance.

    Would those knee-jerk reactions be good for the sport in the long run, though? Probably not.

    But F1 regulations are constantly changing, if only to keep pace with the latest developments produced by engineers playing with multimillion-dollar budgets.

    With that in mind, here are five technical changes F1 could make to spice up the sport.

Get Rid of the DRS

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Drag Reduction System (DRS) was introduced in 2011 to increase overtaking. It involves part of the rear wing opening to temporarily reduce downforce on a straightaway, allowing a trailing car to go faster.

    The amount of overtaking has certainly increased—in fact, it is now far too easy in many cases. The trailing driver simply pushes a button and flies past their helpless opponent.

    Former driver Eddie Irvine put it best when he said, per Atlas F1:

    Loads of overtaking is boring. It's like fishing. You go fishing and you catch a fish every 10 minutes and it's boring. But if you sit there all day and you catch a mega fish—and an overtaking manoeuvre now has to be mega, it isn't going to be easy—and you come back with stories that you caught a fish this size [indicates big fish] instead of 55 this size [indicates small fish].

    Getting rid of the DRS will put a spotlight on the high-quality passing manoeuvres that do still occur but can get lost in a sea of DRS-assisted passing. It will also force drivers to take chances that they might not if they are sitting back, waiting for an opportunity to make an easy pass with the DRS.

More Engine Development

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    The Mercedes engine dominated the sport in 2014.
    The Mercedes engine dominated the sport in 2014.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Yes, I just said removing the engine freeze would not be good for the sport in the long term, but this article is about spicing up the show, not building a sustainable future.

    It is unlikely that any engine manufacturers will be able to catch Mercedes in the few months of engine development before the 2015 season, but if that development were allowed to continue through next season, perhaps Renault, Ferrari or Honda could close the gap.

    Having more cars fighting at the front would certainly make for a better show, but at what cost?

    Again, this is not to advocate for a lift on the engine freeze—but if you want to spice up the sport right now, this is one way to do it.

Less Aerodynamic Grip

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    Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in a low-downforce configuration for the Italian Grand Prix.
    Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in a low-downforce configuration for the Italian Grand Prix.Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    The reduction in aerodynamic downforce available in 2014 (combined with the increase in torque from the new engines) made the cars more difficult for the drivers to control.

    A further reduction in the size of the front and rear wings would once again increase the reliance on mechanical grip and on the skill of the drivers. Yes, cornering speeds would be lowered again, but the excitement would be heightened as the challenge for the drivers would increase. 

    Also, with less disruption to the airflow, cars would be able to follow each other more closely. The 2014 season saw some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing in the past decade...more of that, please! 

More Tyre Testing

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    Pirelli has been the sole F1 tyre supplier since 2011.
    Pirelli has been the sole F1 tyre supplier since 2011.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    In 2013, Pirelli faced a ton of (mostly unfair) criticism for their fast-degrading tyres. Without the ability to run a full test program on current cars, the Italian supplier went more conservative in 2014.

    Why not find a way to allow Pirelli to regularly test their tyres on current spec cars and really let them push the envelope? If we take the last suggestion and reduce the downforce, the tyres are only going to become more important.

In-Race Refuelling

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    There are safety concerns with in-race refuelling, but it would definitely make the sport more interesting.
    There are safety concerns with in-race refuelling, but it would definitely make the sport more interesting.Clive Mason/Getty Images

    In-race refuelling was banned for 2010, and it certainly presents extra safety hazards. But, again, this piece is about spicing up the show, and a return to refuelling during pit stops would certainly do that.

    The current fuel limit could be kept, but it would be up to teams to figure out how to deploy that fuel. Adding another layer to the strategy battles, along with tyre choices, would give teams more options when it comes to their strategies and make the races more interesting.

    It would also slow down the pit stops again to a speed where fans could actually see some of what is happening. The current two-second stops are impressive, but the cars are gone again almost as soon as they have stopped.

    What technical changes would you make to F1? Let us know in the comments. And follow me on Twitter for updates when I publish new articles and for other (mostly) F1-related news and banter:

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