Thought the Valencia race was rubbish? Don’t blame the track, blame the rules

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The cars did get close during the Valencia race - but only on the formation lap
The cars did get close during the Valencia race - but only on the formation lap

Valencia’s first F1 race was not a classic. Looking at the rate the race poll it seems most people thought it was as boring as the Bahrain, Spanish and French Grands Prix.

But let’s not jump to conclusions about the track. Circuit designer Hermann Tilke is not to blame for the paucity of action in yesterday’s race. F1 car design and the sporting regulations are responsible.

The GP2 races showed that single seater cars with less downforce and slick tyres were capable of racing wheel-to-wheel on the circuit. The sprint race featured some excellent, genuine battles for position.

F1 has been stuck with the same problem for years: the cars have become so dependent on their wings to generate downforce and grip they become hyper-sensitive to disturbed air from cars in front of them, and cannot get close enough to each other through corners.

The refuelling rules make matters worse, by encouraging the field to spread apart. As anyone who qualifies 11th or worse can use whatever fuel load they choose, all these cars tend to run with high fuel loads in the hope that a safety car deployment will play into their hands – as it did for Piquet Jnr at Hockenheim.

The top ten drivers qualify with their race fuel loads and board and – what do you know? – the cars with less fuel end up nearer the front. So when the race starts the lighter cars drive away from the heavier ones.

We end up with the field spreading apart because of the refuelling rules, and when cars do get close enough to each other they usually can’t pass each other because they are too aerodynamically sensitive.

This is why we fans approach every F1 weekend hoping for rain. It disrupts the grip levels, allows the cars to get close to each other, and can make refuelling strategies less important.

Next year the aerodynamics regulations are going to change, with wings being cut in size and slick tyres brought back. This looks like being a step in the right direction. (Driver-adjustable wings, as we’ve discussed, does not. And Vee’s got misgivings about what KERS will do to the competitivity of some teams).

However refuelling and race-fuel qualifying are set to say, which is a real shame, because they do nothing to make the racing more exciting and usually make it worse.

For years F1 has been looking to revised track design to encourage better racing. Has it really worked? I’d say not – the Bahrain Grand Prix this year was rubbish.

Blame the tracks for bad races? No. Blame the rules.

F1 2009 season

49 comments on “Thought the Valencia race was rubbish? Don’t blame the track, blame the rules”

  1. Shahriar Ahsan
    25th August 2008, 8:03

    Hmm… interesting facts…
    But why did the lighter cars cud not compete each other? They were on the same weight load! Thats a question to be asked…
    But yeah, i agree GP2 race was better than the F1

  2. Keith

    We need also not to blame the engineers car designers, but blame the rules!
    :-)

    Here in the blog discussions it became clear that the front wing is to high (by law) and hence to sensible to turbulence.(Turbulence remain ever very high in a f1 car, because it is an open wheel spider)

    The wider and lower front wing, that will be allowed next year will have more ground effect and break the hyper sensibility to turbulence that is only due, I suspect only to the FIA regulations and not to a perfect body aerodynamic

  3. very interesting observation about the effect of the refuelling strategy…

    personally, i find the fuel strategies very confusing..if somebody is faster than his team mate considerably..we don’t know whether its skill or just the fuel loads making the difference and hence sometimes we dont give credit where it is due…

    how about having all the cars qualify with race fuel load..right from q3…

  4. keith

    have you noticed the boring races ferrari seem to win.
    Again F1 has become so boring on few occaions due to turbulance and refuelling that us true f1 fans have to look for incentives like ‘Rain’ and ‘safety cars’ to make the race entertaining.

    An interesting fact. The last driver to get pole position before refuelling came in was Ayrton Senna Adelaide 1993.

  5. And the first guy to get pole with refuelling in it was Ayrton Senna Interlagos 1994.

    What should be more relevant is:

    The last guy to get pole position before race-fuel quali was Michael Schumacher Suzuka 2002.

    The first guy to get pole position with race-fuel quali was Michael Schumacher Melbourne 2003.

  6. I’m actually annoyed that the use of winglets etc has been banned as I quite looked forward to seeing what developments/tweaks each team brought to each race. However, I fully understand that this area holds no/little interest for others.

    As for quali-with-race-fuel, I agree that it should be scrapped, but I feel that in-race refuelling adds an extra strategic dimension that I find quite fascinating.

  7. If they aren’t going to ban race refuelling – then at least ban race fuel qualifying!

    Unless rain occurs, or next year’s rules – watch GP2 or Formula BMW for guaranteed action…

  8. I have an honest question that is not intended as flame bait – What makes a race with no refueling better? I admit to being new enough to F1 to have never seen a race without refueling. Having never seen one, my reaction is that banning refueling would make for more boring races than we have now. With no chance for strategy to shuffle things up, what prevents it from being even more of a procession than it is right now?

  9. I thought the race was great , especially enjoyed seeing Massa edging away from Hamilton , a few tenths a lap at a time , great stuff (but as Hamilton said , he had a cold and a sore neck , shame , poor guy , hope it just was not an excuse) . Has to be said , though , Massa and Ham. seem to be in a class of their own at the moment. While some truth exists in the fact that F1 cars are difficult to overtake another , it’s certainly not impossible , and we don’t want to get to a point where they overtake too much like in other series. Another thing to remember is that blocking is also a tactic and done deliberately – like Heikki was doing to Kimi for a long part of the race. It won’t work on all the tracks , but certainly did at Valencia . What I’m saying is , Heikki would slow slightly , then as Kimi got close , he would pull out a gap , thereby spoiling Kimi’s rhythm completely , all to keep Kimi from a chance of catching Hamilton later in the race.

  10. The oddest thing about Q3 fuel level, is that the teams need to made a “Sophia Choice” for wich car will go with less fuel,make the pole and probaly win the race. This is all that no one wants including the FIA laws…

    That is an over-interference inside the teams and drivers… “I believe we shot ourselves in both feet”. Jackie Stewart

  11. Absolutely agree Keith – get rid of race fuel qualy, aero winglets and then what about the engine freeze and rev limit? These 2 things are killing overtaking IMO. So many times on long straights you can hear them bouncing off the limiter while trying to slipstream another car.

    I think this new track is brilliant, but has been nutered by the pathetic technical regs we have in F1.

  12. “What makes a race with no refueling better?”

    It means that drivers all qualify and race with the same fuel level so everything is more even. It means that pole position means something. Watching Senna going out for a final qualifying lap was incredible because you knew that nothing could be done to the car to make it faster. It did not have an engine that had to be used for the race let alone the next race. It had no more fuel than it needed and he did not get pole because his group of statisticians guessed better than someone else’s group of statiticians what the optimum fuel load was.

    Once the race starts you get rid of all this nonsense about waiting for pit stops and finding an empty piece of track. If you are fourth and want to be third you have to go and take it from the guy in that position. It also gives you all sorts of different races. Look back at Gilles Villeneuve at Jarama in 1981. He had a Ferrari that was incredibly powerful but utter rubbish on the corners but he managed to win with four or five cars on his tail for the whole race. This was long before the Schumacher one blocking move was introduced. Nowadays in the same position he would be fifth at the first stop and disappear after that.

    The opposite example was Schumacher at Imola. I can’t remember the year but he went from 12th to 2nd and overtook one car on the road. That is not motor racing.

    Keith is right that the main problem that stops cars racing is the technical regs and despite the bull from the FIA this is a long way from being a new problem. Gilles Villeneuve used to complain about exactly the same thing. I guarantee next years ididotic regulations don’t make the huge difference that could be made. It is worth reading Gary Anderson’s assessment of them in the last issue of Autosport. Unimpressed is an understatement.

    However I think Valencia has problems. It has too many corners, too few memorable sections of track and the pit lane is a joke because of its width, its surface etc. Given all the hype it received I was expecting massively better than a non-descript track in an industrial estate which delivered a boring race. I watched around 6 hours of video over the course of the weekend and I doubt if I could identify more than four corners and two of them were the bridge. The last corner has the pit entry and then there is the blend line at the pit exit identifying a corner. Even Alonso said on Friday that he made a mistake because he was not on the section of track he thought he was.

  13. Although I totally agree with the “ban the race-fuel qualy”, I don’t agree with the “ban the refueling” thing. My suspicious is that baning refueling/changing tyres would end up in races where drivers take care of the tyres and fuel consumption more than anything, while by refueling and changing tyres they can go full-speed all the race if they want to. As a plus you get the extra spice of different strategies suiting different drivers: I don’t see Nick doing a four-pit stop strategy as Michel did in France, but I can see him wining with a one-stop and consistent race. So you are actually expanding the range of possible winers, not only those who can take care of the car’s health (not that that is not important, but it shouldn’t be all at every race).

    Actually if you look to the old CART, non-oval racing had a good deal of overtaking (not too much, not too little), even at street tracks very similar to Valencia. They had refueling, tyres changes, and (you guessed it) slick tires and very bad aerodynamical grip…

  14. If the new-for-2009 rules can’t fix the overtaking problems we might as well shut the damn series down.

    It’s one thing not being able to pass, but it’s quite another not being able to get within a second and a half of the guy in front.

    Banning refuelling would help, in terms of decreasing the field spread as Keith rightly points out. It’s arguable that it wouldn’t neccessarily improve anything – the drivers might want to try to pass, might try harder, probably more collisions – but if they’re still hampered by physics then there’s not much they can do.

    But what refuelling IS doing is to a certain extent masking the huge problem the aerodynamics face. People see that the positions change a bit, there’s a minor variable about when the leaders are all going to pit relative to each other, there’s a bit of drama with a botched stop, and they think they’ve seen a race, when really they haven’t. If we didn’t have refuelling then even if it didn’t automatically fix the problem, it would certainly highlight it much more clearly and make it much more of a priority for the FIA to get it fixed.

  15. The problem seems to be when all the things remain equal.

    We want variety. To see diferents things with equal chances for racers.

    If everybody have to make the refueling, thats the same problemn that if everybody dont´t make the refueling, That is boring. But we wil pay attebtion if the driver can choose or not, and thus suprise the others (or not).

    The boring thing is when evrything looks the same like Valencia corners as Steven Roy (12) said.

  16. This is the only Herman Tilke design I’ve ever liked. All of his other designs and “updates” of tracks are rubbish. He’s taken a great historic track in Hockenheim and ripped the bullocks right from under it.

    Herman Tilke should be banished from motorsport permanently. Period. The only reason he is still is because he’s BFFs with Bernie.

  17. Sorry Page.To tell you the truth I thing that Hockenheim was the only “amputation” that achieved a good result.

    The races there are good. Old Hockh was the easiest circuit. And there was not to much sense in those to long straights and chicanes. The older one with no chicanes, oK! that was really nice and classic, but the time perhaps made it obsolete,

  18. MarathonMan801
    25th August 2008, 21:19

    “The GP2 races showed that single seater cars with less downforce and slick tyres were capable of racing wheel-to-wheel on the circuit. The sprint race featured some excellent, genuine battles for position.”

    Well yes okay, Keith. But the main race was less than enthralling, wasn’t it? On the same track with the same conditions

  19. I think we all agree that the current spec F1 cars make overtaking a lot more difficult than for a GP2 car, or indeed just about any other class of vehicle. Personally don’t think that removal of winglets and re-addition of slicks next year is going to magically fix the problem.

    Firstly the winglets are not the main cause of the disturbed air flow produced behind an F1 car. The diffuser is the main source of the dirty air. But the diffuser is what allows the F1 cars to suck down onto the track at speed. They already took away ground effects quite rightly, imagine the speed of cornering in a modern F1 car if that was still there. But removing the diffuser would make them look like Formula Ford.

    Secondly the re-introduction of slicks is a mixed blessing. Most overtaking in F1 is executed in the braking zone, not by slip streaming at high speed. The slicks are going to reduce the braking distance of the cars, so reducing the window for drivers to out brake each other.

    As for KERS, well the big budget boys are going to make it work. The smaller ones won’t. One team will really nail it and romp home all season. Will this tell us who is the best driver though? Nah! Will we hate it? Yep!

    So what has changed? Well, F1 cars are a lot better at accelerating and braking these days, tyres are a lot stickier, and yes, the airflow behind them is turbulent. As the cars have got faster, the circuits haven’t grown to accomodate them. If you have a nice long straight followed by slow corner, you can generally expect to have a chance of some overtaking, but it has to be a straight long enough for a modern F1 car to get close inspite of the turbulence, so no 30° bends half way down them like Herman just put in the middle of Valencia’s start/finish straight, or the following car will lose grip and fall off the pace.

    Circuits that are blessed with long straights (a very slightly long sweeping curve will still work) with a following tight corner will work then. Much as I loved the uniqueness of the old Hockenheim, the first third of the new circuit is great because of the hairpin at the end of the long parabolika. Spa works; Les Combes at the end of Kemmel (which actually works as an even longer straight than it is due to the uphill gradient). Monza works; the long run from parabolica to variante rettifilio. You get the general idea.

    If you want more overtaking, no tyre changes. A much harder compound would be required for the 200 miles required of them. This would also in turn reduce the marbling of the track off the racing line for a longer proportion of the race – I agree that in this instance slicks would be a better option, as the grooved tyres have more edges to degrade over their lifespan.

    Steel brakes. Used in other single seater series where plenty of overtaking still happens. Increases the braking zone, thus the window of opportunity for underbraking.

    Just my thoughts, but Tilke really should be looking at what works in a circuit for modern F1 cars – he did a good job with Malaysia and Hockenheim. Valencia is a great location and works fine for other series, but he was meant to be designing it for F1, or perhaps I misunderstood that.

  20. I think that F1 cars overtaking is so difficult in most of the circuits but nothing compared with Valencia street one.
    It was chossen because of comercial reasons, but many of F1 fanatics just want to see car races!!

  21. The race at Valencia was disappointing as far as entertainment value was concerned, but I love the way the circuit has been built, and I can’t wait to see the 2009 spec cars race there.
    As you so pointed out Keith, Formula One still suffers due to its outdated rules, which the fans have wanted to see changed for years and years.
    I know its crazy, but I would love it if the drivers had to qualify on full fuel tanks, everybody with the exact amount of gasoline, and for it to be strictly enforced. Then we would sort the men from the boys.
    As you pointed out, the lighter cars always end up out front, but if they all had to start on the same fuel load, then all that would change.
    Could you imagine the spectacle of the entire field pitting at once, and the chaos it would cause, the spectacle.
    Watching one car outfront, with the second car seven seconds behind, and the third fifteen seconds behind that, does not get the old blood flowing.
    Infact, it can be down right boring!

  22. michael counsell
    26th August 2008, 8:07

    I don’t think that the opinions on this blog is a vald reson to write off driver adjustable wings. The general person who leves comments simply does not know enough to form a worthwhile opionion about a topic like this.

    The Bahrain grand prix wasn’t even that bad as there was actual overtaking for positions near the front of the race ie both Ferraris passing Kubica and Heidfeld passing Kovaleinen…

    The reasons Valencia was boring were that:

    1. It was too easy few drivers were making mistakes and were qualifying where they should do. Plus mistakes could not be capitalised on in a race. It was also so easy that no one crashed to bring out the “expected” safety car.

    2. The slow corners and shortish straights strung out the field.

    3. Due to there being no real medium to fast corners or complexes fuel load made very little difference so no fast car was ending up directly behind a slow car. Even pit strategy could rarely make the difference between a positions.

    On a plus side who was impressed at Nakajima’s pass on Barrichello?

  23. michael counsell
    26th August 2008, 8:16

    Another thing is that often in the GP2 race the car in front was often up to a second slower than the car chasing due to tyre degradation and how the setup/driver reacts to tyre degradation. This never really happened in the F1 race as the tyres held up remarkably well for the 1 stoppers let alone the the two stoppers.

  24. Michael, the thing about driver-adjustable wings is… if the guy behind does it, chances are the guy in front will do it too. It just adds an unneccessary complication. At least that’s how I see it.

    But you do make a good point about tyre degredation. I’m guessing Bridgestone has learned from their mistakes in earlier races.

  25. I watched about 30mins of the race. Every now and then I popped in to see what was happening.
    I spun through the recording later on and was seriously disappointed with the lack of action that I expected from a “street circuit”. Lewis even said it didn’t feel like a street circuit but more like he was “driving around a carpark”. Now that says something. It’s a typical new safe F1 circuit. There’s no danger as the cars grip too well with the aero. It’s all too easy for the drivers.

    The most memorable parts of the whole weekend was a drunk man trying to get on the circuit in practice and maybe 2 things happened in the race that I can recall that were slightly interesting. Massa & Sutil in the pits and Kimi’s engine went pop. Wow I feel thrilled.

    To improve the racing:
    Just get rid the front wings or seriously reduce the width of them. All the cars will struggle for front end grip and would have to rely on the tyres.
    So, let Bridgestone bring in softer tyres to compensate.

    I also would like race fuel qualifying banned too.
    Race refuelling really isn’t a requirement either, but I’ll accept it if the above methods are implemented first. One step at a time to see if we can get some on track action back.

    Well done Massa though. He seems to like these new smooth dry tracks.

  26. ogami musashi
    26th August 2008, 10:58

    @Keith

    You Ask for not jumping on conclusions too early, why don’t you do the same?
    Who said it was aerodynamics fault??

    All week end long drivers repeated this: “Overtaking will be difficult as there’s no grip off line”.
    For the exact same reason they said “You can lose a lot of time with small mistakes because there’s so little grip off line”.

    You blame aeros without knowing the actual flow field properties at that particular track.
    Cars ran with moderate wings trim meaning the turbulence was more moderate than a track like monaco.

    Tyres are to blame as much as aero, you’d be surprised to see how tyre’s grip curve changes with exterior variation are like the aerodynamics one.

    There can be a lot of explanations for the lack of overtaking.

    An obvious one, and that will make the transition to where i strongly disagree with you, is that F1 cars are aggressive cars. You have a lot of grip, so you need to be aggressive to be the fastest.
    GT cars that ran in valencia are another form of racing, the limit of grip is attained much more easily so there’s much more a question of control at the limit.
    That is, mistakes from drivers are frequent and then they allow for overtaking.

    My point is that racing is not unique, You don’t drive a rally car like a Sprint cup car, and an F1 car is not to be driven like the firsts.

    You ask for less downforce which, if taken to the extreme, results in less grip, but what precisely lacked there was grip..

    @Salty:

    “Firstly the winglets are not the main cause of the disturbed air flow produced behind an F1 car. The diffuser is the main source of the dirty air.”

    The diffuser AND the rear wing is the main source of turbulence.
    The diffuser itself poses no problems. This is when there’s a coupling with the rear wing that the wake structure become were problematic…But to tell the truth the wheels themselves are a problem when coupled with rear wing’s wake.

    As for the winglets, yes they are a problem, most of them create vortex direct to the rear wing, when those vortex leave the rear wing the add to the non linear wake structure.
    Reason is simple, they have very high lift coefficient to create vortices which means high strength vortex.

    They in addition when in a wake lose their efficiency very fast resulting in even more disturbance.


    But the diffuser is what allows the F1 cars to suck down onto the track at speed. They already took away ground effects quite rightly, imagine the speed of cornering in a modern F1 car if that was still there. But removing the diffuser would make them look like Formula Ford.”

    Diffuser is important but only a small part. It moves the center of pressure back so you need front wing to balance it, and the actual diffusers would not even work 50% of their capacity without the rear wing coupling.

    “Secondly the re-introduction of slicks is a mixed blessing. Most overtaking in F1 is executed in the braking zone, not by slip streaming at high speed. The slicks are going to reduce the braking distance of the cars, so reducing the window for drivers to out brake each other.”

    I don’t think most overtaking is done on braking in F1.
    F1 enjoys, on normal track conditions, the privilege of a lot of in corner overtaking because the grip is huge allowing for many firction circle position (I.E: combination of longitudinal and lateral accelerations).

    I’m not quite sure the braking distance will be reduced as terminal top speed will be higher.


    As for KERS, well the big budget boys are going to make it work. The smaller ones won’t. One team will really nail it and romp home all season. Will this tell us who is the best driver though? Nah! Will we hate it? Yep!”
    Kind of bit premature as many teams will buy it from magneti marelli.


    So what has changed? Well, F1 cars are a lot better at accelerating and braking these days, tyres are a lot stickier, and yes, the airflow behind them is turbulent.”

    The tyres are NOT stickier. The actual tyres are not only low grip compared to any other performance series (like GP2,formula nippon, A1 etc..)but they also exhibit quite strange behaviors (especially the graining one) and have a super narrow slip angle operating range meaning that any overshoot of slip angle result in an almost total loss of grip.

    All the grip from F1 cars comes from the downforce, that’s why the cars are tricky at low speed while being aggressive in high speed.


    As the cars have got faster, the circuits haven’t grown to accomodate them. If you have a nice long straight followed by slow corner, you can generally expect to have a chance of some overtaking, but it has to be a straight long enough for a modern F1 car to get close inspite of the turbulence, so no 30° bends half way down them like Herman just put in the middle of Valencia’s start/finish straight, or the following car will lose grip and fall off the pace.”

    I think this is not a logical argument. Car’s are faster now. They’re not on another planet either, as 1990 F1 cars were about 2 seconds from now.
    but the problem in your argument is that since cars corner faster the delta with top speed (but what is top speed??there’s no top speed in F1) is lower, thus the slipstream needed is actually lower than in another series.
    So i don’t see a problem here.
    A real problem concerning THAT situation of overtaking (i hope never to see a F1 with only slipstream and braking overtaking only) is the rev limiter imho.


    If you want more overtaking, no tyre changes. A much harder compound would be required for the 200 miles required of them. This would also in turn reduce the marbling of the track off the racing line for a longer proportion of the race”

    No, marbling has nothing to see with hardness of compound. You can grain a road tyre with ease.
    You don’t see it because road cars are driven far below their limit and everybody is taking different driving lines so marbles go away.

    In addition making harder tyres just make the situation even worse, you just put the cars even more into a low grip situation, works fine for some series aimed at that, not for F1 aimed at having aggressive driving styles.
    I think the problem is that you want a certain type of racing while preserving contradictory parameters.
    You want to have a modern F1 with speed, while taking elements of 60’s F1 which was typically a low grip formula.


    Steel brakes. Used in other single seater series where plenty of overtaking still happens. Increases the braking zone, thus the window of opportunity for underbraking.”

    They don’t, braking distance is vastly a question of tyre grip. As simple as that.
    And all major series with overtaking go to carbon brakes.
    Formula Nippon, GP2, A1GP, Le Mans Series..Carbon brakes are not a problem.

    Next year less downforce (=drag) and higher terminal speeds will garuanty braking zone to be okay.

  27. Ogami – there might well be no grip offline.

    But that doesn’t explain why cars can’t run within 1.5 to 2 seconds of each other. That’s aerodynamics.

    Clearly it IS a problem, or the FIA would not be rewriting the aero regs for next year, and would not have wasted all that time money and effort designing the defunct CDG wing.

    But going back to the grip offline – surely it should be possible to make a racetrack where the tarmac offline is considerably more grippy than the tarmac on the racing line, and thus giving some help to the driver trying to overtake?

  28. Ogami, I’m not ‘jumping to conclusions’ about aerodynamics. The FIA’s own Advisory Experts Group produced a report in 1999 that said overtaking would be improved if the FIA downforce levels were cut by 50% and increasing mechanical grip and drag by 10%. It’s taken ten years for Mosley to take their advice seriously.

    And, as Steven points out, people who know a sight more about the technology of it than I (Gary Anderson) have said the ’09 measures don’t go far enough to curb the effects of turbulence.

  29. ogami musashi
    26th August 2008, 12:56

    @Robert:


    Ogami – there might well be no grip offline.

    But that doesn’t explain why cars can’t run within 1.5 to 2 seconds of each other. That’s aerodynamics.”

    No i don’t think that’s aerodynamics. If it was the case, then in straight lines and/or spare grip conditions (when you have far more grip than needed to take the whole width of the track) the cars would have closed to each other, but it was not the case.

    I think it is more down to the simple fact that there’s no point in running into the gear box of somebody as you don’t have any opportunity to overtake.

    Second, F1 cars brake fast, it is really not a good idea to follow just behind the gear box if you’re not sure about the pace of the guy leading.


    Clearly it IS a problem, or the FIA would not be rewriting the aero regs for next year, and would not have wasted all that time money and effort designing the defunct CDG wing.”

    Don’t confuse things. There’s a problem with aerodynamics, but that doesn’t mean the problem here were aerodynamics.


    But going back to the grip offline – surely it should be possible to make a racetrack where the tarmac offline is considerably more grippy than the tarmac on the racing line, and thus giving some help to the driver trying to overtake?”

    Yes it is possible, but you don’t need that normally, it is simply that in valencia there was a lot of dust on the surface.
    This is also down to the tyre’s operating range which do not tolerate a lot running onto slippery surfaces.
    Under normal track circumstances, F1 cars have far less problems taking different lines, and to point in favour of the infamous “free width run off” areas, they do allow for more aggressive overtaking maneuvers, which here obviously you don’t have since there’re walls.

    @Keith:

    “Ogami, I’m not ‘jumping to conclusions’ about aerodynamics. The FIA’s own Advisory Experts Group produced a report in 1999 that said overtaking would be improved if the FIA downforce levels were cut by 50% and increasing mechanical grip and drag by 10%. It’s taken ten years for Mosley to take their advice seriously.”

    The first point is that this study being valid or not, you still jumping onto conclusions that the lack of overtaking, at valencia, during the weekend of 24-26 august 200 was down to aerodynamics.

    The second point is that this study means nothing. The same expert group just pointed the opposite in 2000’s saying high downforce low mechanical grip cars would ensure overtaking by making the cars difficult to handle..

    This same expert group issued the CDG wing without even having tested it just to find out the wing wouldn’t work.

    FIA is not a unified body, there’re many experts in there that have completely different opinions.


    And, as Steven points out, people who know a sight more about the technology of it than I (Gary Anderson) have said the ‘09 measures don’t go far enough to curb the effects of turbulence.”

    You could point me ross brawn saying a thing, i could point you to paddy lowe saying the other way.

    If there was a consensus, that is, if the problem was so simple that a unique way the solution, then believe me wings would have been banned since a long long time.

    The 09 regs are a first step, the reason being it is that physics (and especially race dynamics) are far from the high school level.

    Just to point you to my main point, you have no clue at all about what caused the problem.

    Aerodynamics may have their part but you don’t know this.

    That’s what i wanted to say.

  30. Ogami – So you think there was something different about the Valencia race than, say, Bahrain or Magny-Cours? What was that?

  31. Everyone since the early 80s has known that F1’s overtaking problems are caused by aerodynamics. It is not an opinion it is an acknowledged fact. Valencia’s only difference is that it has way too many corners.

    There is a famous quote by Gilles Villeneuve when he said that the problem with modern F1 cars is that you cannot follow a car through a corner because the front wing loses so much grip. If you cannot get close to the car through the corner you cannot get close enough on the straight to overtake. My solution would be to rip the wings off and throw them away. Gilles Villeneuve died 26 years ago.

    That is how long the problem has been known about. His answer to it was right then and it is right now. The wings which will be used next year are way more advanced and therefore more sensitive than anything that appeared on an early 80s Ferrari therefore they will have the same problem.

    The reason F1 won’t ban wings is because sponsors like them.

    Every circuit has a problem with offline grip because of marbles from the tyres. It doesn’t matter what you do with the surface of the track. Once it is covered in rubber it is gripless. As long as we have tyre stops we will have soft tyres. As long as we have soft tyres we will have marbles. The answer is painfully simple.

    Ogami if you have a statement by anyone contrary to Gary Anderson’s let us know about it. But there is not one by anyone that is contrary to it.

    I agree with Gilles that wings should be binned. However there is an answer that has the same effect as banning wings but giving the sponsors what they want. Have simple single element wings with the same profile along its width so that you have a simple chord and ban end plates. This would give the sponsors a nice smooth suface for their logo and we would have inefficient wings that wouldn’t ruin races. The other option is to use something that was introduced to F1 by Max’s team at the start of the 70s. The famous tea tray wing. Absolutely flat and perfect for sponsors.

    Next year front wings will be taken off in more accidents than we have seen for years because they will be extended to be in front of the wheels. This is also a very complex area aerodynamically so teams will spend a fortune trying to optimise it ruining both Max’s cost saving and environmentally friendly plans. So not only will they ruin races aerodynamically they will ruin them because peopl will have to pit to replacement.

    The sooner Max goes and we get someone with some intelligence writing rules and tech regs the better.

  32. “I think it is more down to the simple fact that there’s no point in running into the gear box of somebody as you don’t have any opportunity to overtake.”

    You’ll have to go some way to convince me that these drivers are admitting that they cannot overtake, and thus all dropping back by the same distance. Don’t believe it, sorry.

    “Don’t confuse things. There’s a problem with aerodynamics, but that doesn’t mean the problem here were aerodynamics.”

    Or maybe it does mean the problem here was aerodynamics. Or maybe, most likely, it means that the problem was a number of contributory factors, one of which was aerodynamics.

    “Just to point you to my main point, you have no clue at all about what caused the problem. Aerodynamics may have their part but you don’t know this.”

    Look, you may well be right. But like I say I think aero is at least a big part of the problem, even if it’s not the only problem. There’s plenty dust in Bahrain as well, but it still managed a bit more passing than Valencia.

    Other race series have aero problems too, but nothing like as bad as Formula 1’s, because their cars are not ridiculously overengineered.

    We’ve got to the stage where, unless something is done, we might as well employ a rally style “time-attack” format for GrandPrix racing, as unleashing them all at the same time is very often a waste of time.

  33. I really enjoyed both gp2 races, same story as pretty much every track this year, gp2 races are great, f1 average at best unless it rains

  34. ogami musashi
    26th August 2008, 16:47

    @keith:

    “Ogami – So you think there was something different about the Valencia race than, say, Bahrain or Magny-Cours? What was that?”

    Yes, first of all, the wings set up is totally different.

    Turbulence is largely due to the set up of the wings and underfloor.

    The dominating parameter is the lift coefficient. Because increasing wing’s AOA multiplies lift coefficient by as much as 6 or 7 you have almost corresponding turbulence strength.

    That means, while in canada you’re running with more downforce than in monaco with a lower wing set up(because you run at faster speed)you suffer significantly more at monaco from turbulences.

    In valencia, just as in bahrain you have a lot of parameters than enter in line.

    In valencia, being a street track on an harbour the offlines are full of dust, much more than in other tracks, and compared to those other tracks dust is not cleaned with wind gust as this is the case for open tracks.

    In bahrain you have more problems because it is a track with a downforce efficiency requirement, you need high lift coefficient but at the same time less drag. That makes the appendices critical.

    The next parameter are the lateral G’s required.
    For a given set up, with the same cornering speed, a track that asks for more G’s will make the car losing more distance to the leading ones if in the wake.
    The reason is that if you run at 250km/h with a given set up through a 2g’s turn you have a lot of spare grip. If you run at the same speed into a 4g’s turn you have far less thus any loss will have great effect.

    A series that shows it is IRL. The cars basically are full of downforce and they lose also a lot in the wake, but as they are in baked turn which requires far less grip, even when losing that they have enough to take the turn and slipstream.

    So there’s no permanent answer, no steady state. Cars are always under dynamic conditions and to tell you the truth many corners in F1 are not even taken at full speed, if the cars could accelerate faster they would take them even faster so they have spare grip.

    @steven

    “Everyone since the early 80s has known that F1’s overtaking problems are caused by aerodynamics. It is not an opinion it is an acknowledged fact”

    Again, in the topic,that means nothing. This is not because aerodynamics pose some problems that this time the lack of overtaking was from them.

    I don’t think a remark done in the 80’s has any relevance now with not only completely different aeros, but more completely different tracks, tyres, engines, regulations.

    Following your logic, since the levels of downforce when gilles drived the first aero cars were much less than even a GP2 car, a GP2 car would have more problems..this is not true of course.

    Aero do have some effects, and currently effects are bad, but that’s not because there are aerodynamics and wings, that a special case of turbulence.

    And again that doesn’t prove anything about the lack of overtaking in valencia. Pushing your logic again, we could not explain why in the recent GPs we had overtakings.

    “Ogami if you have a statement by anyone contrary to Gary Anderson’s let us know about it. But there is not one by anyone that is contrary to it.”

    Don’t mess with facts. You’re jumping from “ban all wings” to a person that offer basically the same ideas than the OWG for 09 regs bar the drag increase, which has proved being not the solution.
    (CART races with the handford device revealed to created even more turbulence).
    Nowhere Anderson says wings should be banned.

    You confuse the reduction in downforce offered to bring back more balance in the grip curve (which is a good idea) to the reduction in downforce in a prospect of banning it.

    Nobody in the technical section of FIA or F1 will tell you that aeros should be banned.
    That they are decreased yes, banned no. If they’re banned, the cars will go far slower.

    @Robert

    “You’ll have to go some way to convince me that these drivers are admitting that they cannot overtake, and thus all dropping back by the same distance. Don’t believe it, sorry”

    Well, i can’t convince you, but on repeated occasions drivers are stuck behind the others and even in a formula ford race you don’t run into the gear box of the other.

    You simply know where you can overtake and where you can’t.


    Or maybe it does mean the problem here was aerodynamics. Or maybe, most likely, it means that the problem was a number of contributory factors, one of which was aerodynamics.”

    For sure, aerodynamics can have played a role, for example by having less spare grip while following they couldn’t go offline.

    But you can’t tell “that’s aerodynamics fault” since offline wouldn’t have been so slippery you wouldn’t have needed that spare grip.


    Look, you may well be right. But like I say I think aero is at least a big part of the problem, even if it’s not the only problem. There’s plenty dust in Bahrain as well, but it still managed a bit more passing than Valencia.”

    In Bahrein i recall hearing drivers said they were stuck behind the other..but this time for an aerodynamics reasons: the lack of slipstream (due to requirement in aero efficiency) combined with turbulence slowed down the cars while following the other.

    The culprits were again the same: offline (track is so wide that nobody takes different lines) and aeros, this time aeros being the most important factor.


    Other race series have aero problems too, but nothing like as bad as Formula 1’s, because their cars are not ridiculously overengineered.”

    That’s not true, IRL cars have the same problems (but the effects are less due to requirements on lateral G’s, see my answer to keith in this post), CART and nascar were prone to that also.
    Nascar was a pioneer in turbulence research back in the 70’s, and CART showed that increasing drag was not a good solution with the handford device.
    In F1 those effects are just a consequence of regulations.
    Wings wouldn’t have been restricted in performance, vortex lift wouldn’t have been necessary.


    We’ve got to the stage where, unless something is done, we might as well employ a rally style “time-attack” format for GrandPrix racing, as unleashing them all at the same time is very often a waste of time”

    that’s a bit over-reacting in my opinion.

  35. In the wet race the problem is solved because it happens a strong grip invertion.

    In the dry there is no option to the grippy “in line”.

    In the wet the “in line” becames slippery because rubbered asphalt with water have less grip than the asphalt without glued rubber over it.
    And the rest of the track becames even more grippy because the dust and marbles are washed off.

    In a situation like this the driver that want to pass have all the lines in the track to pass, like Massa and Kubica in Japan 2007, when they even went in the “after the kerbs” asphalt without loosing grip.

    The wings are an action problem that works with the tyres reaction, wich are the other face of the problem.

    To say “Ban the wings” is almost the same thing as to say “Ban the gluying tyres” and use an almost “normal street rubber compound”. That could indeed be a better solution because the track will have something like the same grip in all points and hence more overtaking chances.

    Indeed that will give to the overtaking driver the same grip as to the overtooked one. Nowadays the overtaking one must do it with less grip.

  36. Sorry, what I wanted to say was:

    ….”And the rest of the track becames even more grippy, in relation to the “in line”, because the dust and marbles are washed off”

  37. ogami musashi
    26th August 2008, 19:24

    @brar

    Very true what you say.
    There’s an additional thing on wet races. first of all it is important to understand that those races become a kind of low grip races. that is most of the driving is focused on not losing either rear or front or both.

    This is fundamental to understand it if we want to tackle overtakings problem.

    F1 racing is not about going to the limit and keeping the car on track. The first goal of an F1 car (a modern one) is to push to the limit and in this area find grip.
    This is a bit hard to explain but a F1 cars rarely slides all for wheels because a F1 car is rarely into the adhesion limit.

    Thus the driver that overtakes is the one that find more grip than the other.

    On a low grip situation, the limit in attained easily, and thus the driver needs to constantly travel between just below friction limit and above it.
    Here the guy that overtakes is the one staying the most at the limit.
    Hence it relies on mistakes from the other.

    So not only the wet race morphs the track width with exterior parts being more grip but also the goal is totally different.

    Now another thing is that F1 cars are set up to run on dry conditions. Even with full wet tyres their chassis is still set up for dry conditions.
    The result is a leveling of the field. The superiority of some car is totally nullified because what caused their superiority only worked in dry conditions.

    So again, once may not compare wet race with dry race.

    Brar said it good, if you really want overtaking, then ban tyres also! As soon as you search for performance, you restrict the window of operation.

    For example if tyre had larger temperature of operation you would see more overtaking because as it is now any temperature variation causes a big loss of grip.

  38. michael counsell
    26th August 2008, 19:34

    I think one factor is that cars are running maybe within a couple of the car in front consistsently lap after lap. If a track is easy to drive such as the Valencia Street circuit and mistakes happen infrequently how can a gap of over a second be made up.

    Early in the GP2 feature race overtaking wasn’t happening, it was only later when drivers started running into trouble. The GP2 commentators were noticeably dissapointed with the lack of overtaking. At some tracks such as Bahrain or Hockenheim, one small mistake and slightly running wide can ruin the line through a corner, ruin the exit speed onto a long straight and make the driver in front a sitting duck. Similarly a mistake at Eau Rouge can lead to a hugely significant difference in exit speed onto the long straight.

    Overtaking can only occur if a faster driver is behinbd a slower driver and unless there is some mechanism for increasing the chances of that heppening, overtaking will be infrequent. Not allowing setup changes after the race, qualifying with race fuel, easy tracks to qualify at close to 100% effort, similar fuel strategies and tyres which do not noticeably lose performance all help ensure the driver in front is faster or at least equal in pace to the car behind.

    Journeyer this is not a a debate about the driver adjustable wings. Writing them off based on the opinions on a blog is pointless as no one understands them as you have just illustrated.

  39. “”
    We’ve got to the stage where, unless something is done, we might as well employ a rally style “time-attack” format for GrandPrix racing, as unleashing them all at the same time is very often a waste of time”

    that’s a bit over-reacting in my opinion.”

    Probably.

    It’s only because I’m frustrated at what is the greatest sport in the world squandering its advantages and frittering away its lead. What makes it great is increasingly not being shown.

    How many races like Valencia do we need to see before we shut the sport down as a washout? How many 0-0 games of football would people watch before giving up on it?

  40. ogami musashi
    26th August 2008, 20:52

    @Michael:

    I agree with you that you need challenge. Either the challenge of pushing to the limit, or the challenge of driving on this limit.

    I think we can broke down this to this one and only requirement:

    -Having locally and timely variations of grip between two drivers.

    After that we have some sub requirements that we can tweak:

    This variations should be from driver skill only/due to variations in exterior parameters?

    A lot of people will jump onto the first and then start to blame KERS, moveable wings etc..Only to talk about the period were refuel was banned which made..variations in lap time due to fuel comsumption, mass repartition and tyre wear etc..

    It is always to remember a race is never a driver only issue.

    That’s why it makes the proposals for more overtaking difficult.

    @Robert:

    i understand your point, i have not the same view than you of F1. I’m more sensible to the actual engineering/driving part rather than the racecraft.
    That said i’m frustrated when i see someone stuck behind someone for 20 laps.

    the solutions of next year should make a step forward.
    More is needed, but this is not as simple as “ban wings”.

  41. “i understand your point, i have not the same view than you of F1. I’m more sensible to the actual engineering/driving part rather than the racecraft.
    That said i’m frustrated when i see someone stuck behind someone for 20 laps.

    the solutions of next year should make a step forward.
    More is needed, but this is not as simple as “ban wings”.”

    I appreciate the engineering side. It’s one of the main things that lifts it above other series like IRL and A1GP and GP2. However pure engineering alone is a bit like just having a starter for dinner. I don’t think banning wings is required, but I do think the cars have gotten TOO complicated. They have become a bit too specialised – built for the idealised, theoretical, textbook situation of being the only car on track.

    Which is fine for quali, but can make race day a tad unspectacular. Sometimes (just sometimes) I catch highlights of the Formula BMW support series and wish the F1 cars were having as much fun.

  42. Rather than ban wings, can’t they just ban all of those ‘sticking out bits’. Since they are only there to assist downforce and thus genereate more, surely banning them will increase drag.

    And having slick tires next year would make up for some of the loss of grip.

  43. I’m still new to this ballgame, so I can’t offer nearly as much as most of you. However, I’ve been hearing the complaints about Tilke’s designs since I’ve picked up on F1, and indeed I believe it offers little variation to have all new circuits designed by one office. Indeed, other than the road course at Indy, what was the last new or significantly modified circuit to enter F1 that was not designed by Tilke?

    Hopefully the new regs will address some of the overtaking issues- if not, a great deal of fans are going to be turned off from the sport.

  44. mute, I believe those ‘sticking out bits’ (aka winglets) are banned for next year, leaving only the front and rear wings.

  45. Ogami.
    What you had said to me in (37)in other words:

    In normal touring sprint car race, with low grip, the drivers common problem is to avoid to much over-driving, above the adhesion limit and ending with “hot tyres”.

    In formula 1, with high grip, the driver common problem is to push to the grip limit, and if he don´t make it the tyres don´t achieve the right working temperature range.

    Let add that and quote Keith (that´s easier then my English)
    “F1 has been stuck with the same problem for years: the cars have become so dependent on their wings to generate downforce and grip they become hyper-sensitive to disturbed air from cars in front of them, and cannot get close enough to each other through corners”

    And when the back driver by same chance finally comes close, to overtake, he needs necessarily to go “off line” in the ungrippy area. Unfair.

    These is obvious, OK. Also these obvious things becomes worse until now. I agree with you that for the first time in 2009 f1 regulations are going a little bit to the right way.

  46. And I will like to add something more Ogami.
    In wet races or semi-wet races like Monaco this year there was the same problem. Kimi didn´t manage to achieve the tyre tenperature. Let´s say he was with “underdriving” problems.

  47. I think the problem here is more than just the tracks or the lack of overtaking. The real issue (in my opinion) is that modern F-1 lacks an identity. Because of its prominent status in the motor racing world, everyone has a different opinion of what it should be.

    Some people want it to be the fastest cars driven by the best drivers. Some people want to see lots of on track action while others want to see strategy. Some want to see cutting edge technology with the boundaries being pushed every race while others want to see road car relevant technologies. Some want to see less cost and more teams. Still others want to see the environmental agenda being furthered.

    Even the manfacturers/teams and sponsors have their own priorities. Assuming that the FIA is competent to do it, how do you expect it to draft a coherent set of regulations that would address all those interests? The reality is that there is no simple answer since all these aspects are inter-related.

    Every major (popular) racing series has been facing the issue recently. For example, NASCAR in the US has already decided what they will focus on (entertainment) while IndyCar is getting ready to do the same. At some point, FIA and FOM will have to figure out what the primary focus of F-1 should be. Then the solutions to the overtaking problem will be more apparent.

  48. ogami musashi
    28th August 2008, 10:17

    @Contraro

    Excellent point!

    FOTA and FIA seem to agree basically on the road relevance, that is unfortunately for me less engineering in some racing specific fields.

    As such, a future measure proposed for 2011 regs by the teams is the homologation (freeze) of their chassis for 3 years.

  49. The biggest problem in my opinion is the carisma loss.
    Like a chess play it seems we arrived to an end (losting the game to the computer), as those frightining freezing seems to point.
    I hope we dont´t

    F1 is spreading, achiving more money, arising in that places that have good drivers and shrinking beyond the people wich simply love it because it was a way to unknown levels of things like: security, performance, state of art and.

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