Formula One drivers will make more mistakes at the start because of new rules on how their clutches work, according to Marcus Ericsson.
From 2017 the regulations require clutch control to be linear which will make it harder for teams to optimise their tracks according to the grip available.
The Sauber driver predicted drivers will find it harder to make consistently good starts and make more mistakes.
“I believe it’s going to be more difficult just because now it’s impossible for the teams to help us out with the tricks we could do before to make it to be consistent with the starts,” he said. “Now it’s basically you have a linear clutch and that’s it, you just have to play with the throttle and your feel through your hands.”
Ericsson said his starts have improved with practice but hitting the sweet spot in the pressure of a live race will be a different matter.
“I found it very difficult at the beginning of the test to understand it and get a feel for it,” he said. “Then we’ve done a lot of starts and now I’m starting to really get the hang of it.”
“It’s definitely more inconsistent than it’s been before. I think there’s a lot bigger chance that the drivers will do mistakes just because you don’t have this system to rely on. Now it’s just purely down to your hand movement and your foot movement.”
“And especially when the pressure’s on in the race car as well it’s going to be easier to make a mistake and do a bad start. I believe we will see more people doing mistakes in the start.”
The margin for error is now “super-small” according to Ericsson. “It’s a fraction of a millimetre almost, it feels like..
“Before you could have a big plateau of where you could have the drop to where you could have a decent start. Now you don’t have that.”
“It’s really easy to over-release it or not release it enough. To be able to that with a good reaction and hit the right spot depending on what grip level you have on the grid, which is different from every track, every compound, everything, all these things make it really difficult to be consistent in your start performance.”
“So I think we will see someone make a great start, another guy make a poor start, and the next week it’s the other way around. I think it will be difficult to be very consistent. Which I think is what the aim was, to make it a bit difficult for us.”
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year