Now we’ll find out if they can overtake…

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The Barcelona track is not known for producing great races
The Barcelona track is not known for producing great races

The Circuit de Catalunya will test more than just the drivers’ abilities this weekend – it will also give F1’s new ‘overtaking friendly’ cars their sternest challenge yet.

Much of the aerodynamic changes made to this year’s cars were made to make overtaking easier. So far it seems we’ve seen more wheel-to-wheels racing than in recent years.

But the Spanish Grand Prix has seen some of the dullest races of recent years. Will the new rules give us a race worth watching?

If the new F1 cars can overtake each other at the Circuit de Catalunya, then they should be able to do it pretty much anywhere.

The biggest obstacle to overtaking in F1 at the Spanish Grand Prix track has been that the cars have struggled to follow each other closely through the fast corners that precede the two longest straights: at Campsa, and onto the start/finish straight.

But this year that may be different. In theory, the changes to the front and rear wings of the cars should make it possible for them to follow each other more closely. That seems to have been the case so far.

Additionally, some cars will be able to use KERS to mount attacks on their rivals, particularly at Barcelona’s long start/finish straight, where the cars are flat-out for 1.1km.

I have a hunch we may be in for a pleasant surprise. I don’t necessarily think we’re going to see a classic race. But given what we’ve seen so far of how closely the cars can follow each – particularly at Sepang which also has a lot of long, fast corners – I think we could see a much better race than were used to in Spain this weekend.

That said, Sebastian Vettel’s remarks on trying to pass Jarno Trulli at Bahrain suggest we shouldn’t get our hopes up:

Generally compared to last year you are able to follow closer, but then you lose the grip more abruptly. All of a sudden you lose all the downforce, all the grip, from the front axle. So that makes it still difficult to pass someone.

How well do you think the new rules have worked in promoting overtaking? Do you think well see a better race at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend? Leave a comment below.

Circuit de Catalunya track map - click to enlarge
Circuit de Catalunya track map - click to enlarge