Mario Andretti on F1

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Philip Heck, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. Philip Heck

    Philip Heck


    German car journal "auto motor und sport" published a very interesting interview with former F1 world champion Mario Andretti in which they discussed the current state of F1 and the differences to IndyCar.

    I translated it for your enjoyment:

    Is F1 as bad as people say it is?

    Andretti: F1 is a great product. They keep their integrity because they hang on to the technical aspect. That is F1's trademark. That's why fans love F1. Motorsports are expensive, sometimes it may run wild. That's why you need to adjust the sport from time to time. And I mean adjust, not changing everything just for changes sake. No series is perfect. There's no magic formula. Just don't try to re-invent the wehhl. That would be the worst thing to do.

    Does the same apply to IndyCar?

    Andretti: Here thy made exactly that mistake. They became unfaithful, renounced their roots and introduced things that don't fit the series. That's my personal battle with the IndyCar management. They don't know the product because they come from a whole different world. How can you end a season at the end of august? F1 goes on till the end of november. For IndyCar fans there's now a huge hole in winter where nobody talks about the series at all. Insane.

    IndyCar argues that they want to avoid clashes with the NFL season.

    Andretti: Oh god, what a load of bs. They talk about sinking TV-rates? I wouldn't even say anything if they were incredibly high during June or July. But even then they are quite low. You always have to compete with other sports.

    Is there nothing F1 could learn from IndyCar?

    Andretti: More like the other way around. I see nothing that F1 should adopt from Indycar. Everybody talks about the dominance of Mercedes, that they would ruin the sport. I think that is exactly what produces great stories. Everbody is watching for Ferrari to close the gap now. The GPs in Hungary and Singapore have shown it: Mercedes can't afford even the tiniest of errors now. Ferrari and Vettel are such a strong combination that they can profit from any mishap of Mercedes. I, as fan, love that.

    In the USA teams that are too successfull get pulled back. Is that the better system?

    Andretti: The problem with IndyCar is a completely different one. As soon as they decided to make this a spec series the return to a different approach became impossible. The series became uninteresting for sponsors. The manufacturers left. Nobody has the money to build their own car anymore. You would need Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler to step in full time to make something happen. But that's highly unlikely.

    Wasn't the Aero-Kit a step in the right direction?

    Andretti: Essentially, yes. But they introduced it the wrong way. They only entrusted Honda and Chevrolet with it. That split the grid into two halves. Just like during a tyre war. We knwo what that means: Every weekend somebody gets the wrong kind of tyres. Or the wrong Aero-Kit. YOu can basically stay at home then. This mistake should not have been made even if it gets closer during the second half of the season. Chevrolet was just too dominating at the beginning.

    How should they have done it then?

    Andretti: The initial idea was good. Every team was supposed to build their own Aero-Kit, within some restrictions. But nobody would have been allowed to keep his solution exclusively. If for example Penske would have had the best Kit then everybody else could've just bought it for let's say $75,000 and improve on it on their own. This would have for one prevented teams from spending insane amounts of money on the development of the kits, as they would've had to sell it at a loss. Also it wouldn't have split the grid in two. There would've been competition between all the teams.

    Are the Aero-Kits a problem on ovals? There have been a lot of accidents without warning this year.

    Andretti: I don't agree. Serge Karam for example touched the inner barrier at Pocono. No wonder he crashed. The same happened to me once. I wanted to pass my son Michael on the inside, he didn't see me and hit the concrete. On these Superspeedways the slightest error gets punished. That's something the younger, more inexperienced drivers need to learn. 'Respect the ovals, they bite back'. Old veteran's rule.

    Justin WIlson died because he was hit in the head by debris. Do open-wheel cars need some kind of cockpit protection?

    Andretti: That was a series of unfortunate events, the same as with Massa. Wilson was the seventh or eighth driver to pass Karams wreck and the nose was still dancing around the track. That's something that happenes once every hundred years. You can't really protect yourself against something like that. Should cockpits be enclosed? That's something the drivers need to decide. They shoudl think hard about it though as that could bring new problems with it. Motosports will never be 100% save. Maybe there should be a string connecting the nose to the chassis with a quick release fastener for changing the nose at pit stops.

    One problem in F1 is the financial imbalance. Isn't IndyCar taking better care of the smaller teams?

    Andretti: The problems starts with everbody building their own car in F1. That's why there's a Mercedes and there's a Manor and the Manor knows he will never win. In IndyCar that's different. There, even the team of Dale Coyne could win. The price for taht is that all the cars look essentially the same. It would be wrong to take away the technical aspect from F1 because of that. It needs that as a trademark. Maybe you should try to control the costs somehow. In America the people can live with a spec series because the people have, sadly, been educated that way.

    What about the drivers?

    Andretti: Not that bad. IndyCar has some great young drivers and the older ones are still fast enough to keep up. A good mixture, I'd say.

    In F1 drivers get remotely controlled. Is that a good thing?

    Andretti: That's very easy to solve. Get rid of the telemetry or the pit radio. That's what I like about the MotoGP. The guy on the bike is on his own. If the lights go green he has to tame the beast without any help from the pit wall, without pit stops. Pure racing like in the old days. Somebody needs to put up a stop sign here. The curse is all the technology available. If you permit everything, it will be used. If the team knows everything about the car they will tell the driver how to best drive it. The drivers would be all for getting the control over their vehicle back. I think it's ridiculous. If the brake balance or the tyre temperature is off then the driver has got to feel that himself. He dosn't need a nanny for that.

    So this is something F1 should change?

    Andretti: Definitely. Out with all the stuff that makes driving easier or stuff where the driver actually needs help from the outside. Why does nobody want traction control? Because the driver is supposed to be the traction control. The less comfort for the drivers the better.

    Is overtaking in IndyCar easier?

    Andretti: Yes. That's just because of the concept. The flat underbody in F1 emphasizes the importance of the wings and of the diffusor too much. They can be disturbed more easily. IndyCars have two tunnels on the bottom. That makes the cars more forgiving in dirty air. It's still not easy. All the drivers are saying that the cars are harder to handle in traffic since the introduction of the Aero-Kits.

    What do you think of DRS or Push-to-Pass?

    Andretti: I support it. At those speeds and short braking distances it will get harder to overtake. You have to give drivers a bit of help there. They still have to plan their maneuvers even with those systems. DRS is only allowed at specific locations, push-to-pass is limited to about 10 or 15 times a race. During my time there were a lot of start-finish victories. And often with a gap of around 30 seconds or more. Also you need overtaking these days. In our days the people were content with seeing a car on track. That was enough. On the Nordschleife every 9 minutes a few cars came by. In between you had a beer and waited. Unthinkable for todays audiences. They want to see action all the time. One thing has to be made clear to them though: They can't expect every race to be one for the history books. It's in the nature of the sport that there are boring and thrilling races.

    The double-pints rule made Scott Dixon champion. Montoya thinks it is unfair. What do you think?

    Andretti: Everybody is happy except Montoya. The guy in 2nd, 3rd of 4th is happy about the chance that this system provides him with. You can call it hubbub if you like but the suspense is kept alive until the very end. Nobody talked about Dixon before the finale. It was all about Montoya versus Rahal. In that light the title decision was a real surprise. Montoya and Rahal lost because they were involved in accidents. Dixon on the other hand drove a fabulous race. For me he's the best driver on the grid, fast everywhere, very intelligent, incerdibly consistent. For over a decade he has been up there at the front. He's a worthy champion in my book.

    F1 races more and more on tracks that are super modern but not very spectacular. Isn't the IndyCar way of keeping the traditional tracks better?

    Andretti: I like opulence of the F1 tracks. Compared to IndyCar that's the Taj Mahal. Motorsports are show. It's not that I don't like Mid-Ohio but the track really needs better infrastructure. The Taj Mahal in F1 means investments into the sport and that's great.

    Indy500 and the Monaco GP are the respective series' highlights. Which one is your favourite?

    Andretti: Every sport needs a highlight. It's always great if you can look forward to something. Both tracks actually have one thing in common: the history. What makes Indy so special? Its 100 year long history. It's not the best track and maybe not the best race but it's Indy. With its list of winners Indy is its own standard to which you as a driver compare yourself. Monte Carlo is similar. The track is unique and has never been altered much. And how would you? You would have to move the Casino for example. Then there's the glamour sorrounding this race. Maybe SIngapore is the better one but it will never reach Monte Carlo. What do we learn from that: Uphold your traditions. Don't change these races, you will only destroy the legend.

    For 2017 F1 wants to introduce cars that look and are more aggressive. Do you like that?

    Andretti: Sure, why not? That won't take anything away from F1. The teams build completely new cars every year anyway. I think in some parts F1 should become a bit more modern though. For example 18" wheels. No street car on this planet uses the kind of balloon tyre F1 is using. Then again I think IndyCar would need a face-lift more badly to make them look better.

    Author: Michael Schmidt Date: 03/10/2015 Picture: xpb Source: auto motor und sport
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  2. Yapci


    Mmmm no thanks. No street car on this planet is an openwheeler (formula Ford right:thumbsup:)
  3. Darth


    A few nice comments from a great driver. The part of his commends that I want
    to emphasize on the most though is this:
    F1 has always been like this. People appear from time to time claiming that F1 has become
    boring and that they would like the good old days back. But, if you pick a random race from
    lets say the 90s or the 80s it may the most boring thing one has ever seen. Or what about
    the early 2000s. Even in 07 and 08, 2 of my favourite seasons, you can find a bunch of
    boring races. I'd say F1 right now is as exciting as it has ever been and I can't wait for next season.
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