Good ideas on how to improve racing in F1

Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, Interlagos, 2007 | HondaRacingF1.comIn an excellent article in last week’s Autosport (November 22nd) former Jordan and Stewart designer Gary Anderson tackles the question of how to improve racing – and overtaking – in Formula 1.

It’s a brilliant technical mini-study that I strongly encourage you to read – here’s a brief outline of his suggestions.

Anderson starts things off on the right footing by looking at how F1 cars can be helped to race more closely to each other. He ignores gimmicky, artificial ideas aimed only at increasing overtaking, such as power boost buttons.

Instead Anderson looks at why F1 cars cannot run close to one another and points to three problems: loss of rear wing downforce, turbulent air reducing the ‘ram’ effect of a following car’s engine, reducing engine power; and reduced front wing and bargeboard assembly downforce.

To remedy this he proposes the following:

Bring back slicks increasing mechanical grip at turn-in.

Lower and reduce the size of the front wing to make it less effective and less sensitive to the wake of another car. Also make it a fixed specification for the duration of the season.

Simplify suspension wishbones so they no longer have an aerodynamic function, reducing the negative effect of following another car.

Simplify brake ducts so they no longer have an aerodynamic function, reducing the negative effect of following another car.

Ban aerodynamic covers on wheels to marginally increase drag, thereby allowing another car to follow more closely

Ban bargeboards cutting downforce and reducing the negative effect of following another car.

Simplifying upper bodywork cutting downforce and reducing the negative effect of following another car.

Increase the size of the diffuser to give the driver back some of the lost grip but in a form that will not be significantly reduced as one car follows another.

Make the rear wing a fixed specification for the duration of the season to make it less than optimal at unusual tracks like Monte-Carlo (where a high downforce setup is needed) and Monza (where a low downforce setup is needed).

Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Imola, 2006 | LAT PhotographicIt seems like a sensible, rational, well thought-out set of proposals that I’ve hardly done justice to here – do go out and buy the magazine. Hopefully the FIA’s aerodynamics working group will come up with something along these lines.

(The only part I’m not convinced of is the idea of having fixed wing specifications for an entire season. What if one team deliberately ran a high downforce wing all year, finished last most of the time but won Monte-Carlo by seven laps?)

Does something like this stand a chance of getting implemented? I doubt it.

In 1999 Max Mosley ignored a report by the by the FIA Advisory Experts Group that urged similar measures – cutting downforce levels by 50% and increasing mechanical grip and drag by 10%. Since then downforce levels have only increased.

In recent years we have heard some patently ridiculously suggestions for how to improve racing in F1 – such as the criminally ugly ‘Centreline Downwash Generating Wing’.

Presently the overtaking working group are arguing in favour of some watered-down versions of these proposals but seem to have overlooked the basic problem that if you give a driver more downforce it robs the driver trying to pass him of the same. Their ideas to increase rear wing height and introduced driver-operated moveable wings seem counter productive.

What is needed is precisely the kind of intelligent, rational, clear ideas that Anderson has put together. It’s time the FIA tapped into this kind of thinking.

Photos: HondaRacingF1.com | LAT Photographic

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41 comments on Good ideas on how to improve racing in F1

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  1. This won’t happen for one simple reason – it wasn’t Max who thought of it!

    Or that’s how it appears from the outside at least – if Max thinks something is right then it is right, if someone else thinks of something better then he will argue against it on prinicple even if secretly he does know it really is better.

    We have to find some longterm solutions rather than the current trend of papering over the cracks by implementing rule changes which are going to be circumvented by any decent designer in a few months.

    Running fixed front wings is an interesting idea, as currently teams must spend a lot of time and money coming up with new designs every few races. Hopefully this would not only increase the chances of overtaking, it would make the car less stable at tracks where the wing was less than optimal thereby encouraging more lock-ups and dodgy cornering ability.

    It’s time to go Max, time to go. Can’t someone mount some kind of coup?

  2. The fixed wing specification means teams have to decide which races to go for and which to races to take a performance hit. If teams go for different setups you could see different teams competing at the front during the year, which would everything a lot more exciting. I don’t think there is any real risk of a team sacrificing a whole year just to possibly get 10-18 points at Monaco. But even if a team decided it had no chances whatsoever in any race at any points (what’s it doing in F1 then anyway?) and went for winning Monaco, so what? Monaco is pretty boring anyway, it can give a lower classed team a chance at being in the spotlight briefly. But I see it could be a problem.
    This could easily be fixed though by giving each track a classification as high or low downforce and teams choosing 2 fixed specifications for the year. All teams will then have a high downforce spec for the extreme tracks such as Monaco, and use the other one for the other tracks.

  3. I think by fixed wing he means the design is fixed – but that the downforce levels are still adjustable within the paramaters allowed by that design. So varying levels of downforce to suit the track will still be possible – just not to the extent possible now when wings are designed for the track.

  4. Andrew said on 28th November 2007, 12:59

    I’m sure Monaco would be improved by limiting down force through the use of a season long spec wing but I fear Monza would require any skill to drive at all.

  5. Based on every statement from Max Mosley that I have read in the past year, I have one conclusion: Max Mosley hates motor racing.

  6. Robert McKay said on 28th November 2007, 14:37

    “What is needed is precisely the kind of intelligent, rational, clear ideas that Anderson has put together. It’s time the FIA tapped into this kind of thinking.”

    The FIA associate itself with intelligent, rational, clear thinking? Are you mad?! :-D

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th November 2007, 14:38

    Just optimistic…

  8. Journeyer said on 28th November 2007, 14:58

    Well, there was an attempted coup back in 2004, I think, to get rid of Max. So what did he do? Just before it happened, he announced his retirement. But as the FIA was packed by pro-Max forces (packed by Max himself), they begged him to stay. And almost all of these pro-Max forces are still in power today, in different auto clubs worldwide.

  9. Get rid of max we say – majority that is – but we arent ferrari or ferrari supplied teams who as a group would have to be onboard to manage a coup – these suggestions to allow passing are too sensible – with minimal cost – designers put out of work? – would be easier for teams like prodrive to design a car too.
    and have you heard the latest little bernie says that the fia should not have got involved in the ferrarri /mcclaren case and that mcclaren may have points taken in 2008 – seems like that is decided then!! – who is incharge of this circus

  10. Very rational, intelligent, and easy-to-implement ideas from Gary Anderson. We need that kind of rational thinking in the FIA so that Formula One can get back to the proper racing again.

    These changes, if implemented correctly so that teams would have great difficulty working around the rules, are so much better than these half-baked ideas to increase overtaking. Ideas such as the CDG Wing, the push-to-pass button, and the standard issue chassis. None of these ideas fit into Formula One, Gary Anderson’s ideas however, do.

  11. Vertigo said on 28th November 2007, 16:39

    We won’t have Max for long now, apparently he will probably go in 2009. The question is – who will replace him? The problem could end up being that Max grooms his own successor to follow his ways – the ways of ignoring simple, rational ideas like Gary Anderson has proposed.

  12. William Wilgus said on 28th November 2007, 17:10

    The simplest and least expensive change would be to just eliminate the front & rear wings—what I’ve been saying for over a year now.

  13. nellyweb said on 28th November 2007, 18:40

    Except William that you would then have to completely redesign the cars from the ground up.

  14. Dave M said on 28th November 2007, 20:30

    The Autosport article was one of the best I’ve read all year. I’m now praying that the powers that be will take some notice of it. But I just can’t see that happening :(

  15. Wesley said on 28th November 2007, 21:36

    I like the idea of slicks,less body aerodynamics smaller ADJUSTABLE front wing and TWO seperate rear wings to be alternated according to the track.But,with less downforce than now.The boost button wouldn’t be needed.

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