Hamilton unhappy with new F1 rules

Mercedes Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton of Britain is pictured during the annual 'Stars & Cars' event in Stuttgart, on Dec 12, 2015.
Mercedes Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton of Britain is pictured during the annual 'Stars & Cars' event in Stuttgart, on Dec 12, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Formula One's triple world champion Lewis Hamilton has condemned plans to introduce heavier cars next year and criticised rule-makers for failing to consult drivers.

A list of proposed bodywork changes for 2017 published by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Wednesday envisaged car weights increasing from 702kg to 722kg, including bigger tyres, which accounted for an estimated 5kg.

The measures are part of a package of sweeping changes aimed at livening up the sport with faster, louder, more challenging and wider cars.

"I don't agree with the changes that have been made over many years," Mercedes driver Hamilton told reporters after the third day of pre-season testing on Wednesday. "I think the drivers should be consulted more. We have a feeling in the car and what could be made better. We do know what does not feel good and what to improve."

He said cars were already too heavy and should be made substantially lighter as a means of making them go faster. He pointed out that when he entered the sport with McLaren in 2007, before the V6 turbo hybrid era, the cars weighed around 600kg.

The deadline on when agreement must be reached for changes to be implemented for the 2017 season was pushed back to April 30 by a meeting of the F1 strategy group and commission. But a new knockout format for qualifying will be introduced ahead of the season opener on March 20, and that has already divided opinion.

The first segment will last 16 minutes and after seven minutes the slowest driver will take no further part in the session. Every 90 seconds thereafter, the slowest driver will be knocked out until there are only 15 drivers left.

A 15-minute second segment follows a similar pattern with the slowest driver eliminated after six minutes and then a further driver knocked out at 90-second intervals.

The final segment will last 14 minutes with knockouts beginning after five minutes until the two final drivers are left to fight it out for pole position.

"I read (about the changes) very briefly and I didn't understand them," Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr lamented.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton unhappy with new F1 rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe