Symonds: 2021 regulations helped by 2009 “mistakes”

F1 technical consultant Pat Symonds has said that he has remembered the mistakes he made in designing the 2009 regulations to ensure the new 2021 rules work as planned.

Symonds was part of the Overtaking Working Group set up by F1 to design the 2009 regulations overhaul, while at the same time being in charge of engineering for the Renault F1 team.

As well as Symonds, the OWG also included input from Rory Byrne and Paddy Lowe, who were still part of Ferrari and McLaren at the time.

Speaking at Autosport International on Thursday, Symonds said he has learnt from the mistakes the 2009 OWG made and has used his experience to avoid a repeat with the 2021 regulations:

“2009’s very interesting because…myself, Rory Byrne, Paddy Lowe and the late Charlie Whiting, we formed an Overtaking Working Group and looked at producing the regulations for 2009. But at the same time, I was trying to win races and win championships. And it’s quite interesting because we did leave loopholes in there.

“The great thing is, you do learn from your mistakes. I think it’s absolutely fundamental we had [an] independent group, because if you work in a team you’re paid to win races, you’re paid to exploit performance, you’re paid to find those loopholes in the rules. It’s really unfair to expect the teams to look above that and look at what’s good for the sport.”

Symonds added that the aerodynamic group behind the 2021 regulations is currently working to close off any loopholes with the 2021 regulations by trying to add downforce to a car in the same way a working F1 team would, and analysing what developments have a negative effect on the wake of the car.

Charlie Whiting: The man behind the button

Today, we woke up to the tragic news of the passing of FIA race director Charlie Whiting, aged 66. The sudden nature of his death has left those that know him shocked to the core, as well as those who saw him on F1’s world coverage. We at the Pit Crew Online would like to honour the legacy and nature of a man who kept F1 held together for over 30 years.

If there’s one word to be uttered about Charlie, is that oft-used one, ‘unique’ – but in this case, it’s a fitting description rather than a generic throwaway comment. He was a man both of principle and forgiveness, a finger that could wag if the need arose, but an arm around the shoulder if the moment required.

To say Charlie was well respected by the FIA, teams, staff and drivers is an understatement. He was as inseparable from the F1 circus as they were, and in some cases even more so. Charlie was able to command respect without seeking it. His diligence, humility and wise nature lent itself to the role of race director.

But he was also the glue that held races and rivalries together, a powerful arm inbetween sides but with a distinct human heart regulating his parity. He did it so well – the videoed briefings of the 2017 season in particular highlighted this. He was the air conditioner cooling the emotions of 20 men of intense flame. Charlie could articulate the law of the rulebook in such a way, that it never felt like a lecture but, rather, helpful advice.

Charlie also gained the respect of his peers with his humble rise to the role of race director. He would peek over fences, watching whatever motor races he could attend back in the 1960s, his unrequited admiration for racing driving his ambitions. By the 1970s, he was within the F1 paddock, working within the Hesketh and Brabham teams.

This is key to the makeup of Charlie’s apt way of handling things – he had the perspective not just of a director, but of a team staff member and an avid fan. Charlie never lost that sense of belonging of his childhood gaze upon the fastest machines, and his consideration for what the fans want to see coincided with his experience in a team infrastructure, finding a balance so many others were, and still are, unable to do to such an extent.

What we ought to remember Charlie as most, however, is a loving, attentive and passionate man who was able to enjoy the lighter side of his role in racing, and his life in general. Mark J. McArdle, the man behind the infamous Fake Charlie Whiting Twitter account, was taken to Charlie’s heart, and the two grew an incredibly close connection given Charlie’s commitments. He was always able to find the time, both within racing and outside of it.

And so we must say this: thank you Charlie. Thank you to the man who made sure red flag sessions were done by the books. Thank you to the man who could keep the drivers and teams calm before, and after, battle. Thank you to the man who kept the F1 circus rolling, for all those decades. Thank you to the man who could not be faulted for his dedication. And finally, thank you to the man behind the button – the credit to not just sport, but all those who knew him.

Rest in peace Charlie Whiting.



[Featured image – Wikimedia Commons]

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