Get unlimited access
You have 10 articles remaining to view this month.
Sebastian Vettel finds Formula 1’s flip-flopping over aerodynamics “a bit comical” now rulemakers have pushed through a change to reduce downforce levels for 2019.
Simpler front wings are the crux of a new aero regulation forced through at the last minute for next season, to make cars easier to follow and try to increase overtaking.
The high-downforce 2017 rules package created much faster grand prix cars after a period of reducing speeds that started with a bid to remove downforce in 2009.
“I find it a bit comical,” said Vettel. “In 2009 we went, ‘Let’s go less aerodynamics and better racing’ and so on. I think it didn’t change too much.
“Then we said, ‘The cars are too slow, let’s put more aerodynamics and make them wider, more spectacular’. And now we want to make them slower again.
“It’s a bit like cruising to America and changing direction 100 times.”
Vettel was agreeing with a comment made by Barcelona poleman Lewis Hamilton, who was sat alongside the Ferrari driver in the post-qualifying press conference at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton, whose Barcelona pole time is three seconds faster than last year’s on a resurfaced track, expressed frustration that the 2019 rules will result in cars that are 1.5 seconds slower and “pull us back”.
“We want to push the boundaries and the limits,” said Hamilton. “One of the exciting things this year has been that we are breaking records.
“It’s incredible the technology we have and what we’re doing with it.
“We should be at least as fast as we are this year but just making racing better.”
The two drivers were informed the changes are being made with the intention of improving overtaking.
Vettel replied: “I think you should ask us what we need to overtake.
“Not to say that we know everything, we don’t anything about engineering the car, but we know how the cars feel, how to drive the cars, and their limitations to overtake. But we’re not really asked.”
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo agreed with Vettel that drivers should be involved in the process in some way.
Magnussen said he was not even aware of the changes being made for 2019 before this weekend.
“It’s unnecessary to change the rules for next year,” he said. “It feels like something that could prove to not have the effect you were hoping for.
“You are taking a new concept of front wing with only two years to go until a whole new car.
“The last three races have been fantastic, so why not just let that go until [the 2021 rules reset], then use those two or three years to get it done properly?”
Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen said he did not mind the cars being slower “if it makes racing better”.
“For me it’s not about setting records everywhere,” he added. “It’s better to have a good race [rather than] being one and a half second than following each other.”