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Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth Formula One drivers title in 2017 but says, despite enjoying the new cars, they made the racing worse and that something needs to be done about cars running off the course — and not paying a price.
One could quite easily forgive Hamilton for not caring about the quality of racing in 2017. More often than not, he was leading the field so why would it make any difference to him? The simple answer is that, when he isn’t able to pilot his Mercedes to pole on Saturday, he often struggled to make up places.
This is not a problem that was unique to Mercedes in 2017. With their astonishing power output, Mercedes’ focus on making the chassis as slippery as possible so that it stays at the front but, as a result, their cars have struggled in the turbulent air.
“They (the 2017 specifications) brought exactly what I expected — worse racing,” Hamilton told the BBC. “There’s some great qualities of it but we need to put better bits in. For example, following this year has been worse, naturally. They (Liberty Media) know the issues and I think they should utilize us (the drivers) and speak to us. Some of these guys — every guy, most likely — that’s on the board haven’t driven an F1 car and don’t know why it’s so hard to get past but they’re also very smart and know stuff we don’t.”
Lap records tumbled this year and a large part of this was due to the higher levels of downforce on the cars. This meant that mid-corner speeds were greatly increased — something that Hamilton said he enjoyed.
Track limits were contentious issue on in 2017 — most notably when Max Verstappen lost out on a podium finish for making a pass in Austin with all four wheels off the track. Hamilton is all for the re-introduction of gravel traps to Grand Prix venues.
“The FIA have done an amazing job, but they’ve really got to stop with these run-off areas,” continued Hamilton. “You shouldn’t be able to cut a corner like you see.
“What I love about the olden days — of course you don’t want to crash — if you go wide, you’ve got to lose time. But now you can approach a corner knowing that if you go in 5 percent too much you can go wide and come back on. I don’t love that.
“Other tracks I used to love were Oulton Park and Donington Park. Donington — the Old Hairpin was a nightmare. You have to come off the brakes and run the speed in, use the downforce. Then up the hill and the second right-hander before the back straight (Coppice). You can’t even see the white line. There is a white line and then gravel and the gravel sucks you off the track — oh man.
“Finding the limit there, that corner is way harder than all the corners in F1. That’s the sort of corner F1 is missing. If we had that back in F1, it would bring another level to the challenge.”