Illustrious paddock figure lambasts current state of Formula 1

Jo Ramirez opened up on the state of F1, having worked with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen during his career


Former McLaren team coordinator Jo Ramirez has expressed his disenchantment with the current state of Formula 1 ahead of the 2024 season.

Since Liberty Media took over F1 in 2017, the sport has changed rapidly, with a growing fanbase boosted by Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, helping sell out several Grand Prix in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

But off-track growth is coupled with an on-track status quo of Red Bull and Max Verstappen securing back-to-back drivers and constructors championships with relative ease in 2022 and 2023.

“I’m very disenchanted, it’s always been a sport, and in the coming years, [a] technology sport where we have a sport on Sundays and the rest of the time it’s just a race on technology,” explained Ramirez when asked exclusively by his thoughts on modern F1.

“The problem today is that they [Liberty Media] focus more on [being] entertaining, now Formula 1 has to be entertaining. 

“Well, before, we didn’t look so much [to] entertaining. Now, winning the world championship is the only thing that matters for all the teams. In my days, I used to love to win a Grand Prix. I mean, to win a Grand Prix is very, very difficult. 

“There are teams that have maybe been 10 years in the sport, and they’ve never won a Grand Prix. So, to me, winning the Grand Prix is a hell of an accomplishment, and I always used to celebrate every Grand Prix win [by] spraying champagne. 

“The mentality has changed, but anyway, I don’t like Grand Prix racing of today. I think the FIA have got far too many protagonists [involved] in the Grand Prix.

“Now, it’s kind of a big battle between FOM and the FIA, and the FIA made the rules, and the rules are in a way that they are very, very hard for the average person to understand, if you change this, if you change that you’re going to go some positions back on the grid and so on.

“There are times [when] people used to change so many things, ‘oh you have to go 20 positions back’, but there are only 20 cars [so] you’re going to be last whether you have one change or not, so anyway, it’s very difficult for the teams to understand that.”

Overcomplicated rules ‘the worst thing about the sport’

The current regulations introduced in 2022 were initially intended to cut costs and improve racing. However, with the new generation of F1 cars being heavier than their predecessors, weighing in at 798kg, up from 752kg of its predecessors, the quality of racing has suffered.

The increased weight, coupled with the cumbersome 18-inch tyres, have made the cars stiffer and heavier, making them less agile for drivers to race with.

To fix the weight problem, the FIA’s head of single-seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, revealed that the weight of the 2026 cars would decrease by around 40-50 kg with a move from 18-inch wheels to 16-inch also mooted.

“Probably the worst thing that upsets me more because I love racing. I still watch every single race I love it, it’s my life, and I enjoy it, but I don’t enjoy the rules,” said Ramirez.

“Don’t ask me now how heavy is a Formula 1 car is because I will just answer you not heavy enough or how long is an F1 car and I will just say very long or far too much.

“So it doesn’t interest me anymore. But the races I watch [them]. In my days, of course, I used to know the rules by memory, the little yellow book which has the rules where you have all the rules. I used to know it by memory that was my job, I had to do it. But nowadays, I don’t need to, it doesn’t interest me.”

Max Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 at the start of 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Lack of clarity with on-track stewarding hurting the racing

In 2022 and 2023, driving standards have come under the microscope in F1 to try and prevent drivers from gaining an advantage over their competitors.

However, post-race time penalties for track limit infringements have changed the outcome of race results several hours after the checkered flag has dropped. The penalty points system has also put several drivers at risk of missing a race if they accumulate 12 points on their superlicence.

Alpine‘s Pierre Gasly teetered on the brink of a race ban in 2023 after accumulating 10 penalty points during the 2022 season, meaning one more incident would see him forced to miss a race.

Fortunately for Gasly, he didn’t pick up any more penalty points in 2023 and avoided the indignity of becoming the first driver to receive a race ban since Romain Grosjean in 2012.

“The fact that now the FIA does not accept [a] racing incident, and we are talking about a racing car competition, there always a man that comes up front, and he doesn’t want to be overtaken, and a guy that is behind him wants to overtake him,” said Ramirez. “So eventually, there is going to be a crash. 

“But as far as the FIA know, there is going to be one that is culpable, and if it’s your fault, you’re going to have five seconds or 10 seconds added on or come in the pits in and out. 

“So anyway, all those rules and also they give you so many [penalty] points. If you have 10 or 12 points, you’re going to miss a race. All of these things I don’t know how to explain it, but to me [that] is [not] part of Formula 1 racing, it’s crazy.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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