McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Formula 1 needs to consider immediate rules tweaks to spice up the spectacle after new rules failed to deliver an exciting race in Bahrain. Whitmarsh admitted that the opening race of the season at Sakhir had lacked excitement as the sport adapted to the new regulations, including a ban on refueling. Most of the frontrunners stopped just once and many drivers, including Michael Schumacher, reported that it was difficult to follow rivals closely and therefore overtake.
Whitmarsh told the BBC that something needed to be done to change the dynamic of the racing – perhaps by revisiting a mandatory two pit stops rule or making tire compounds more on edge.
"We were one of three teams, that said we should have two mandatory pit stops because we were worried about [people] one-stopping.
"I think we have to re-examine that. But I think if we can now push on Bridgestone to have 'racier' tires, we need a super-soft tire that is really going to hurt if you take it to 20 laps. You shouldn't be able to do that with a super-soft tire and I think even the prime, if it's a struggle to get it to do half a race distance, then you force [the issue].
"The tires were much closer in the race than we expected and they determined the spectacle," he added. "There was no real serious degradation of the tires, we started the roll of pit stops because we were trying to get ahead of [Nico] Rosberg and everyone started to come in at that point.
"But otherwise, just based on tire degradation, we could have run to lap 25 or more on the super-soft tires. If you can do that on the softest tire, then the primes are just going to romp through for as long as you like."
Whitmarsh said that the teams were committed to making the sport exciting.
"I think we all are," he said. "Formula 1 has to be entertaining, people have to be switched on to what is going to happen in the race, if it's processional they are not going to be. Today was not the best show, we know that and we have all got to work together to improve it.
Whitmarsh added that it was a combination of factors that had contributed to the lack of overtaking in the second half of the race and that while he believed that the 2011 ban on double-diffusers would help, he was focused on the changes that could be made in the short term.
"I personally believe that more challenging tires will help the spectacle of the show," he said. "I also personally believe that we should have two stops mandated because we want to stop this. Today, if we had had a safety car on lap five, we'd have all piled in [to the pits] and we'd have all gone on the prime tire and run to lap 49 without a stop. That was a real danger. I think that the tires are allowing you to do that, I'm not trying to pass the blame [on to Bridgestone]. We are all in this together.
"We do need to look at mandating stops, we do need to look at the tires and make them more fragile, and we do need to work on making the cars capable of racing close together and easier to overtake. Unfortunately, the double diffuser, and we have all got them, has really worked against that in the last two years, we have gotten rid of it for next year but that is arguably a year too late. What can we do this year? It's got to be work with Bridgestone and potentially mandating more stops in the race."
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