The appearance of the Lotus F1 car on low profile tyres with 18 inch wheels seems to have been largely positive from the F1 community and from fans.
A Ferrari snap survey yesterday revealed that 70% of respondents liked the look of the wheels and tyres, there was little objection at the other end of the scale and some apathy in the middle.
Pirelli is aware that Michelin is lurking in the background, looking to get involved in F1 from 2017 onwards, while there are rumours that Bridgestone has also had some preliminary discussions with the FIA.
However the wider significance of the test yesterday was that it gave the rule makers, teams and other stakeholders a chance to learn, listen and review. This has to be considered a positive step and it is part of an important ongoing programme behind the scenes to re-imagine F1.
F1 cars have had many shapes and sizes over the years, from the front engined beauties like the Maserati 250F and the Ferrari Dino 246, to the rear engined cigar shaped cars of the 1960s, the wedges with wings in the 1970s, the early monocoques of the 1980s and then the derivatives from the 1990s onwards which have evolved to where we are now.
Behind the scenes there are studies and considerations on what F1 cars can look like for the future; leaving aside what the current rules may say, imagining what an F1 car should look like and then consider from there what the rules should be to achieve that.
Long-term, joined up thinking is precisely what F1 needs at the moment. This should also include a review of the way the sport is marketed, especially in newer markets like India, Asia and the USA, the way that supporting content is issued via digital, online and social media and so on.
The cars need to look sexy, the emphasis needs to be more on the drivers, rather the engineering; although F1 needs to remain the pinnacle of motorsport technology. And the visceral quality of seeing and hearing thrilling prototypes being wrestled with by the world’s best drivers needs to be front of mind in all future planning.
Battles like the Alonso vs Vettel duel at Silvestone should be the order of the day, rather than the exception.
Budgets need to be brought under control. If a cost cap is unattainable, there should at least be some controls on the R&D, construction and materials spending, which is where the greatest difference exists between the haves and have nots.
Pulling all this together is the key task for F1’s stakeholders and it is positive that rather than just deciding something short term, the low profile tyre test was a public study exercise.
Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo has called for a meeting of stakeholders, teams and some TV companies as well as innovators from outside the sport like Google and Apple. He proposed a meeting at Maranello the week before the Italian Grand Prix in September.