Johansson: 'F1 has become an engineering race'

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Former Ferrari and McLaren Formula One driver Stefan Johansson thinks that putting too much emphasis on engineering has hurt the racing, while also blaming the layouts of modern tracks.

The Swede spent more than a decade (1980-1991) in the top flight and has since remained a keen observer of the sport. While he agrees that F1’s credentials as the pinnacle of motor racing entails relying on cutting-edge technology, Johansson feels current regulations are out of kilter.

“Unfortunately, F1 has become an engineering race,” he said in his latest blog entry. “It has always been about technology of course so someone’s always going to have an edge.

“But now engineering is at such a premium that if you get one thing wrong with design of your car, or it’s not fully optimized, there’s no way to recover quickly.

“It’s fascinating if you’re an engineer and also as a driver inside the sport to be part of this never ending development war, but it doesn’t make the racing compelling for the fans.”

Besides the growing influence of technology, Johansson also points the finger at modern F1 circuits for not spicing up the show.

“In a lot of ways it’s the same as it’s always been,” he commented while reviewing the 2015 campaign. “Out of the whole season you get maybe four races that are exciting, usually when something happens that’s unexpected – when weather conditions are weird or something else unpredictable influences the racing.

“But if things are as normal, i.e. racing on a [Hermann] Tilke-designed circuit with normal weather conditions, the races are mostly processional events.”

Although Johansson never became a grand prix winner in his 103 races (for 79 starts), the Swede did manage to secure 12 podiums at the top echelon. He has also enjoyed a successful sportscars career, which includes outright victory at the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche.

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