Alonso: New rules are bad news for drivers

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The Independent Online

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa yesterday expressed their fears that competing in Formula One was becoming less about driving skill and more about button-pushing. The introduction of adjustable rear wings and the return of the KERS power boost system, among other changes, were bemoaned by the pair at Ferrari's annual winter retreat in the Italian Dolomites.

"Without realising it, we're losing the focus on driving," Alonso said, adding that "the cars become tougher to drive when you have to make all these changes from one turn to the next."

The most significant single change regards the rear wings. Under the new rules, once the drivers are two laps into the race, and provided certain other criteria are satisfied, a system of electronic adjustment is activated which allows drivers to change them from the cockpit. Massa said that the extra set of decisions drivers would have to make could limit their effectiveness.

"If you make the wrong choice and you have three cars behind you, you could fall from first to fourth in an instant," Massa said. "We have so many things to do on the steering wheel but we still need to drive the car. We can do it, but from a driver's point of view it's not fantastic. On every turn there are three or four buttons to press."

Another change is the switch of tyre suppliers; from the start of this season Pirelli has replaced Bridgestone as the sole supplier.

"The tyres are essentially the biggest change for 2011 because that alters our style of driving," Alonso said.

Alonso predicted a strong challenge from former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. The German was only ninth in 2010, his comeback season with Mercedes, but Alonso sees the seven-time world champion as a title contender.

"With five world champions on the track next season, if you ask me one name in January I've got to say Michael," Alonso said.