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: | LAT Photographic

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

  1. Number 38 said on 28th November 2007, 21:40

    William Wilgus Says: The simplest and least expensive change would be to just eliminate the front & rear wings.
    nellyweb replies:
    Except William that you would then have to completely redesign the cars from the ground up.
    And I ask; “what’s wrong with that?”
    There are already MAJOR changes in place, fixed engine performance, banning TC, energy recovery, banning wings and adding thier associated changes while blended with other 2008 (and beyound) changes
    ….. NOW is the time to do it!

  2. Vertigo said on 28th November 2007, 21:49


  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th November 2007, 21:58

    I think the Overtaking Working Group’s Proposals are for 2009.

  4. William , I’m afraid there’s no way it makes sense to remove the front and rear wings from cars completely .If anything it would make the cars more dangerous to drive as they’d be a lot less stable at high speeds , which I don’t get the impression that the FIA want right now :)

    Having said that , I haven’t been reading Autosport of late but this all seems far more sensible then the many layers of wallpaper being applied to the wall to stop it from being damp when it really needs a new damp-proof course!I sometimes find it hard to belive the ways of the FIA for what is a worldwide governing body ,but the good news is that Max can’t be around forever.

  5. the one rear for a season may be a bit too much, but make it 2 – one low and one high downforce – that would already make a big difference

    in general these ideas are far far better than any of those FIA proposals, like the movable wings or CDG ..

    the only thing I am wondering – what areas would be left for the teams to improve the cars during the season if all of the above is impelemented – this is a question, not an objection

  6. AmericanTifosi said on 29th November 2007, 1:28

    I agree with everything execpt for the fixed rear-wing. This is such a fine example of why the FIA shouldn’t come up with major changes to the cars, let the designers or former designers do it.

  7. AmericanTifosi said on 29th November 2007, 1:30

    Wait, I’ve got a better idea, let’s just forcefully remove the FIA from power, that will improve the sport!

  8. All of those ideas are sensible, and it will necessarily be a complex undertaking (politically, if not technically) which is why I propose one single technical change that would take care of everything:

    Steel Brakes!


  9. Journeyer said on 29th November 2007, 3:11

    Safety-wise, that’s a very bad idea.

    I like Gary’s proposals, but I also like this guy’s thoughts:

    Don’t you?

  10. When these ideas of Anderson are implemented, F1 will no longer be F1. What’s the point in simplifying every part of an F1 car to make it “Overtaking Friendly”? I wouldn’t need such an overtaking/improved racing in F1. F1 is all about technology. F1 is about complexity. Standardizing anything in F1 is rubbish.

  11. powerline2007 said on 29th November 2007, 7:08

    Want to improve F1, seriously???

    1. Get rid of Max & Bernie;
    2. Have 2 F1 races in the US per year;
    3. Revamp, validate & clarify all F1 rules & regulations;

    Then, we may yet see F1 at its best.

  12. Nathan Jones said on 29th November 2007, 8:04

    with all of the money the FIA have, y dont they simply build some F1 cars and try all these differant aero idea’s out on the track!
    the windtunnel wont tell us all that much.
    maybe even try looking at when F1 became deprived of racing (mid 90’s) and look at what came onto the cars then (like bargeboards) and simply get rid of them!
    also, i think we should also look at the circuits!
    these new (late 90’s) euro autodrome circuits have to go!
    whatever happened to fast corners and long straights?
    most tracks these days r all 2nd-3rd gear corners following each other, so b lucky if bikes can race on them! let alone cars

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th November 2007, 9:00

    I’m intrigued by Sriram’s objection. I don’t think Anderson’s proposals go much further than current constraints on car development.

    There are already substantial constraints on the dimensions and positioning of things like wings, all Anderson’s proposal does is change those restrictions. In some cases, like the diffuser, he actually advocates making them bigger to generate more grip. He also encourages ditching the technological backwater that is grooved tyres.

    Here’s some more articles on banned F1 technologies.

  14. SIMPLIFY suspension wishbones, SIMPLIFY upper bodywork, SIMPLIFY brake ducts, BAN bargeboards – it’s the words SIMPLIFY and BAN that I’m deeply unhappy about. Keith is right about the fact that there’re already lots of things that have numerous constraints. And we simply don’t need even more of them. Honestly, removing barge boards, having standard everything (ECU, frozen engines, wings) sounds very bad for F1. Racing will be improved, yes. But, at the cost of F1 being no longer F1.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th November 2007, 11:37

    Jarno Trulli reckons he’s got the answer:

    Grooved tyres require a completely different driving style from that of any other racing car. It’s not a problem in F1’s technical characteristics, it’s a problem in the tyre… If there’s little overtaking in F1, a lot of that has to blamed on the tyres.

    If they’d also ban refuelling then it would be even better, because managing a car with 200 kilos of fuel on board under braking would be a great way to sort out the finer drivers from the rest.

    Probably the elimination of traction control has increased the problems and the wearing of the current tyres, but it would be nice if the slicks would come back. Can’t we do it earlier than 2009?

    Can’t argue with any of that!

    Autosport: Trulli eager for reintroduction of slicks (external)

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