I was lucky enough to get a hold of a radio presenter, broadcaster, Sky Sports Formula 1 commentator David Croft to talk about what he thought of the 2017 season, halo and 2021 regulations. Here’s what David had to say.
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What was your standout moment of 2017?
Racing-wise? Baku. Baku was immense, Baku was fantastic, Baku was just brilliant, it was nuts, wasn’t it? We all love a race like that from time to time. It just had a bit of everything, so Baku was really just superb. We had some great racing in 2017 and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was great to see someone take the challenge to Mercedes.
Sadly, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari together rather mucked up their opportunity and in the end, it was a comfortable victory for Lewis [Hamilton]. It was great to see someone take the fight to them, Mercedes had to raise their game even further and with Red Bull developing the way they did at the end of the season I think it really promises a lot for 2018.
With Ferrari already confirmed to have passed their crash test and set a launch date, could they be ahead of Mercedes at the start of the year?
That depends; did Ferrari switch off the development on its car earlier than Mercedes? Probably not. It’s one of those beautiful things about our sport before the first race you get all the speculation but no one really knows what’s exactly going on. Hamilton did admit at the end of the season that the testing performance of Ferrari did have Mercedes worried, they knew there was a solid fight coming up. Are they ahead? They might be ahead of where they are in terms of the development stage, whether or not it’s better than Mercedes and Red Bull, we don’t know yet. So I’d have to be a total genius to answer that one properly.
A compromise needs to be found, and it will but there will be lots of screaming and shouting before that can happen.
Are you expecting a rematch between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel?
Absolutely, but with an addition, you’ve got Hamilton versus Vettel but I also think you’ve got Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Red Bull have stated where they’ve gone wrong in recent years and Ricciardo said this at the start of last year: “We don’t start very well, we develop brilliantly”. I believe they’ve addressed that and understood why, I think they’ll be hitting the ground running, so I absolutely expect a rematch, but with additional players involved in the shape of the Red Bull drivers.
If McLaren can carry their chassis pace with the Renault power unit, do you think Fernando Alonso will sneak in there too?
I think Alonso will be an absolute nightmare this year for many other drivers. If it was just the engine holding McLaren back, there is no reason to think as Renault is a race-winning engine they can’t be fighting at the front of some of the races. Not all of them, but some, and I think Alonso is that driver when he knows he has got a chance, he gives it that little bit extra and he’ll find an extra couple of tenths. So yes, he could be a right pain to his competitors.
I don’t think he’ll be fighting for the championship but in some races, he could challenge those that are doing that. That could be another little sub-plot to the season, so I expect McLaren to be getting some podiums this year certainly.
How well do you think the halo will be received this season?
At first, I imagine, badly. I haven’t met people who really like it yet from fans to people from within Formula 1, but I think we all understand why we need something like the halo and now it’s there, you can’t run and hide from it. If there’s something that offers drivers protection then it’s only right the FIA look into it and incorporate it into single-seater cockpits because we want to see these guys racing hard, but we don’t want to see them get really hurt.
The days of drivers dying and getting hurt on a regular basis are thankfully long gone in Formula 1 and that is brilliant. There are of course other safety measures out there that people prefer the look of I’m sure, but when the FIA presented the evidence for the halo, you could see why they’ve gone down that route.
Do you think the FIA could’ve pushed their presentation they gave in Hungary to the audience in a better way to help the fans understand it?
It’s always good to get information out so people can understand the reasons why. The facts were presented to us so we could report on them. I would have liked to have seen it before, not to quell the debate but aid an intelligent one. People could still have their views, but they can have views with the facts presented to them rather than just having a view without understanding the whys and wherefores.
I think Alonso will be an absolute nightmare this year for many other drivers.
Do you dare make a prediction on who could win the title in 2018?
No, and I’m not going to either! [Laughs] I honestly do not care who wins the world championship as long as we get a good fight and a scrap that goes on for a very long time. That’s all I want to see as a Formula 1 fan – the most amount of drivers competing for a championship and for race wins and I think that’s what we need as a sport to see. Ross Brawn has agreed with this as well, he said “we need more variety” and hopefully this year we’ll get more of that.
Finally, in 2021, through working with the FIA and Ross Brawn’s development on new regulations, do you think Formula 1 will be in a better place?
I think the sport has people at the helm that see a vision for the future and see a direction and that’s not a bad thing. Every business, every sport needs to have a clear direction. Commercially and regulatory as well, so that can only be a good thing.
Harmony amongst the teams? I don’t think that’s going to happen overnight and obviously, if you want to change things in the way Ross Brawn and Liberty Media are proposing, then that’s going to suit some and not others. So are Ferrari going to walk away? No, I definitely don’t think they will. Are Mercedes going to be happy if the hybrid era as it were at the moment changes a little bit with new regulations in 2021? No, because they’ve invested in it and done very well. So you can understand why they’re not happy but we do need to see the variety and a compromise needs to be found, and it will but there will be lots of screaming and shouting before that can happen.