Overtaking: Back to the drawing board

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Follow the leader: Racing has not improved much this year
Follow the leader: Racing has not improved much this year

F1 has been grappling with the problem of how to get the cars to race more closely for several years.

For 2009, the FIA’s Overtaking Working Group proposed a radical solution involving lower, wider front wings and higher, narrower rear wings. It made the cars wretchedly unattractive but, they reckoned, it should allow them to follow more closely.

Unfortunately it hasn’t worked. We now have cars that are heinously ugly – and still can’t overtake. Why hasn’t it worked and what should be done about it?

After the first few races of the season the changes got a cautious thumbs-up after we’d seen some genuinely exciting and close racing.

Since then we’ve seen several races where drivers have once again complained of being unable to get close enough to the car in front to be able to pass. There will likely be many competing explanations for why this is the case, so let’s explore some of them:


Until a few races ago the debate over the lack of overtaking was centred around whether particular drivers just aren’t very good at overtaking. Suspicion particularly fell on Sebastian Vettel, who spent much of the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix stuck behind slower cars.

But since then we have seen more evidence of how cars with significant performance advantages over their rivals simply can’t make a pass. Here’s Jenson Button’s lap times as he caught Nico Rosberg at Silverstone towards the end of the British Grand Prix:

Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, Britisah Grand Prix 2009 (click to enlarge)
Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, Britisah Grand Prix 2009 (click to enlarge)

Having been lapping over two seconds quicker, as Button got closer to Rosberg their lap times gradually converged to the point where Button was hardly gaining at all.


I think one of the main reasons we saw more overtaking in the first few races of the season was that more cars were using KERS.

Renault, BMW, Ferrari and McLaren were using the system to make lightning-quick starts and overtake otherwise quicker rivals. We even saw non-KERS-equipped cars struggling past those that had the boost button.

But as more teams have rejected the technology, the opportunity for racing with it has decreased.

It may have been branded a ‘failure’, with the teams planning to abandon it next year, but it did make a difference as far as overtaking is concerned.


Felipe Massa reckons the FIA ruling making ‘double decker’ diffusers legal which he feels harmed the work of the OWG:

Just as was planned by the FIA, the cars did produce less downforce. But with the decision to allow the double diffusers, this plan was turned upside down.

It is always valuable to get the insight of a driver into matters like this, but we cannot ignore the fact that Massa’s team Ferrari were especially vocal in criticising the double-diffuser ruling and were among those not to use the innovation in the early races of the season.

Other racing series such as Champ Car successfully used cars which relied heavily on downforce generated by diffusers instead of wings to allow cars to race quickly and closely. The rationale was that it made the cars less sensitive when following the disturbed air of a leading car.

In his pre-season technical preview on this site, John Beamer criticised the 2009 regulations for substantially reducing the size of the diffusers, arguing that larger diffusers could create better racing:

The diffuser and floor generate downforce but create little turbulence. Given that the FIA?s aim is to reduce the size of the wake then a powerful diffuser in conjunction with, say, a less cambered and more shallow rear wing is a must.

Read more: How the F1 rules changes for 2009 are meant to improve racing (part 3/3)


Is it down to the circuits?

The opening races were at venues often thought of as ‘overtaking-friendly’, like Sepang and Bahrain. But the Circuit de Catalunya, Monte-Carlo and Silverstone are seen as trickier places to make a pass.

I’m not really convinced by this argument. Yes, some tracks are harder to pass on than others – Monaco, for example, is always going to be exceptionally difficult.

But to my mind the fundamental problem is the cars still can’t get close enough to each other in the first place, and that is down to the technical rules.

What else?

Whatever the cause of F1’s overtaking problem is, the 2009-spec aerodynamics has not solved it. In a poll here earlier this week the modern F1 cars were voted among the most unattractive ever seen in the sport.

If we are going to be stuck with cars that can’t overtake each other, can we at least have ones that look good?

More on overtaking in F1

151 comments on “Overtaking: Back to the drawing board”

  1. Gilles Villenueve had a idea and Steven Roy posted it back on this site on:
    Here’s a quote from Steven’s post:

    The idea that overtaking didn’t happen in the past is wrong. Up until ground effect came into being at the end of the 70s it was not uncommon for the number of changes of leader in a race to be well into double figures. There was a website that logged the changes of leader at the start line of every GP. At Monza there were regularly 30+ changes of leader at the start line. Multiply that by moves elsewhere and changes of other positions and you get an awful lot of overtaking. I really must try and find that site again. There is a reason why people rave about those Monza slipstreamers. Overtaking at other tracks may not have been as easy but it happened regularly.

    There is a famous quote by Gilles Villeneuve which debunks the myth that the lack of overtaking is a recent phenomenon. He said something like ‘The trouble with modern race cars is that the front wing is so sensitive that if you get too close behind another car in a corner you lose grip and the car understeers. As a result you lose contact with the car and cannot slipstream it down th straight and overtake into the following corner.’ Max and co have consistently over the past 20 years put out the story that overtaking has become more difficult in the last 5 years but before that it was OK so a minor tweak here and there will sort it. Gilles died in 1982. The problem has been around for a very long time. His solution was to take the wings and throw them away. Don’t modify them bin them. He wanted to fit 5 litre normally aspirated engines and big wide slick tyres. Increase the mechanical grip and reduce the aero. 26 years on and we are still going in the opposite direction.

    I have to agree with him, or I’d like to see it tried. You get close racing in saloon racing as they have little aero dependency.

    1. hmm very interesting… it certainly makes sense, though I doubt they would go as far as throwing the wings out.. but maybe something else can be done

    2. He knew it , you and I know it, we all know it. But that doesnt mean that’s the way F1 wants to go.

      F1 in its modern sense is primarily a technical competition. But to keep costs down and racing close there are lots of rules and extra complications. Thats what makes F1 so popular with makes nowadays. And with fans too. racing is closer, theres makes teams, and its all very technologically advanced; currnet car’s performance is n majority aero based. Take off those wings away and all the “world summum of technology”, F1-as-the-makes(FOTA)-want-it aura is gone. And technological competition has for long be just as much part of the game as driver-to-driver. Colin chapman is a revered hero because he came up with things all the time, only for the mto be banned when he became to fast or the tec to be adopted by the rest as well.

      SO as much as it would help overtaking, it would be the end F1 as we know it. It is what both the FIA and the FOTA are completely opposed to. Its just not gonna happen.

      1. IMHO, aeropackage is the main reason for current lack of overtaking but just because mechanical options have been more less equalized.

        Give mechanical freedom to the teams (restrictions on consumption and durability, only) and probably we will see more competition.

        The only good thing KERS has demonstrated is 80hp more is enough for not being suffering behind other car.

        1. I say they should just make the aero close to GP2.

          A month or so ago, I heard the FIA was planning to make the F1 slicks even smaller next year to slow cars down for ‘safety reasons’, all that would do is mad the cars even more aero dependent.

    3. PinballLes
      3rd July 2009, 4:07

      Those thoughts seem to make sense. The argument in the past has been that it’s the dirty air coming off the leading car, and the thought has been to clean up the dirty air coming off the leading car. But taking the bits of the trailing car that cannot handle the dirty air from the leading car make a lot of sense.

      Maybe the answer is to move the position of the front wing, maybe higher off the ground, above the top of the dirty air from the leading car? Maybe this could enable closer racing, or at the very least weird looking cars.

      1. Been There..Done That

        Tea Tray March


      2. BTW This was Mosley’s Team :)

    4. Hell$torm.
      3rd July 2009, 5:23

      make the front wing narrower and the rear wing wider, get rid of KERS then we will have proper racing and good looking cars. the thing is qualifing puts the fastest cars at the front so they just drive away from the rest of the feild.

      sound stupid but how bout bonus pionts for the amount of passing maneuvers you make that would make the racing alot better and encourage drivers to take risks

  2. The answer to this problem escapes me, as well. Other racing disciplines manage to follow quite closely and overtake. I know most F1 people look down on IRL, but perhaps a look at their aero setup may be in order, as they manage to run nose-to-tail at 200mph. Not saying copy them, but have a look for anything that might apply to F1 and help solve the overtaking problem.

  3. The lowing of the rev limit to 18000 RPM can’t have helped either. A few times this year drivers have been complaining of bouncing off the limiter before the end of the straight, which negates the advantage of the slipstream…

    1. That’s really more of a gearing issue than a rev-limit issue though.

      1. no it isn’t

        1. Agreed what is the point of pulling out of the slipstream of the car in front if when you are about to pull ahead the rev limiter comes on.

          Just get rid of the rev limit and maybe allow a boost from the engine. It uses a bit more fuel, but then the driver is supposed to be able to manage things like tyres, fuel and gearboxes.

  4. Yeah, i had this concern when watching the last race. where it turned into a processional one.

    it was completely boring, and it’s very frustrating when a very fast car gets stuck behind a slow one and doesnt even have the chance to overtake.

    other than the aero package, we should also consider Tyre difference. if they all raced on the same exact tyres, it would be one less variable, and having to put up with fragile tyres keeps drivers driving relatively conservative and not attemting to push on for an overtake, rather they wait for the pits…

    it’s a hard nut to crack I’m sure, but reduced aerodynamics overall wont hurt the racing, but then it wont have F1.

    1. I agree with the Tyres. The teams shouldn’t have to use both types in a race. If a certain type of tire is best for that particular circuit then that is the only one that should be used. The tires should also be made to last as long as possible.

  5. Eddie Irvine
    2nd July 2009, 12:50

    We need powerful engines in order to increase top speed. This will lead to bigger breaking distance and as a resault a lot more overtaking.
    I know a v10 engine would be a lot more expensive, but if they keep the engine rules stable without changing their rev limits every year or their approximately life in grand prixs the cost will be reduced for sure.

    1. This will lead to bigger breaking distance and as a resault a lot more overtaking.

      hmm good point…

    2. I’ve been saying this for quite some time.

      Definitely agreed! Good point!

      1. Someone had suggested the use of steel brakes instead of carbon fibre ones. That would cause the braking distance to double, it is assumed.

  6. “F1 has been grappling with the problem of how to get the cars to race more closely for several years.”

    And im my opinion, this year they solved it.

    I think we are mixing two concepts here. I watched Silverstone following alonso in the mid-field. He passed Hamilton, Hamilton passed him. He tried to pass Heidfeld something like 10 times, and while he could not pass, he got parallel to him several times (and more than parallel, buy the Renault is dreadful at braking). Whenever he made a small mistake, somebody behind him was close enough to pass him. All of this in aero-heavy silverstone.
    So I have to conclude that the new F1 cars can indeed run closer to each other than they used to.
    From running very close to passing, that is a different story, but these cars get close and they slipstream well (and would do even better without the rev limit).
    In that sense, the OWG got it right, but they won’t make the cars harder and narrower so they can push each other to pass.

    1. If KERS was made mandatory for all teams this year, and if double diffuser was not allowed for this year, I think that would have solved the problem.

      Additionally i think the weight of the cars (with the driver in it, minus the fuel) must be the same for all teams and drivers in order for this to work.

      1. I would actually argue that KERS has prevented passing as much as it has enabled passing. I get the impression from the earlier races in particular when you could see someone like piquet holding up barichello by defensively using KERS (and making a good show of it!)

        1. yes at the moment that is true because not all cars have KERS and Barichello doesn’t have KERS. But if they “all” had KERS maybe things would be different..

          1. KERS will only allow overtaking if it is allowed to be an open system which teams develop freely.

  7. When I first heard about KERS I thought it was destined to be a great equalizer when it came to passing. Also, KERS would not only create more parity on the track, but also serve as an example of a regenerative technology that would, at least in intent, address the real world issue of alternate-energy creation.

    As the season progressed it became obvious that this was to become an optional technology with teams picking and choosing whether to use KERS or not. In my opinion if KERS were mandated on all cars and for all races the overtaking problem would be less of an issue than it is now.

    1. good point. Also for that to work, the double diffuser would have had to be removed or made mandatory for all cars. As I posted above, also the weight must be same for all cars with the driver in it (Minus fuel) of course

  8. James Brickles
    2nd July 2009, 12:59

    To be honest, I think overtaking has improved and to an extent, the new rules have worked. Its only improved from the midfield down the the lower end of the grid.

    I think these double decker diffusers are to blame because we saw Alonso and Heidfeld have their battle and Alonso was able to get alongside the BMW (Non DDD). Then we saw Button struggling to even follow Rosberg (DDD).

    1. I agree.

    2. ALL the cars have a DDD now, including BMW. and as covered above the affect of a diffuser on the cars wake is extremely minimal. Its the aggresive design of the wings that cause wake issues and stop the cars following each other closely…

    3. Its true that the wake of a DDD is greater than an oldskool diff, but this doesnt affect the effectivity of the diff of the car behind. If modern cars were allowed to have some ground effect on the front end rather than wings, there would be no problem with the wake at all.
      Basic rule of thumb: everything that is underneath the car is not affected by airflow disturbances. Everything that is standing or hanging in free air is.

      Therefore, all cars have more downforce at the rear and with the DDD regardless of whether theyre following closely or not. But when following a DDD, you have less front downforce than when following an oldskool diff.

      If teams were allowed to apply an unlimited number of aerofoils they could negate this effect, but that number, and the space in which they can be placed, is limited in order to limit downforce, increase safety and reduce costs.

      1. According to my instructors, long ago, the job of a diffuser is to produce a Laminar (smooth) flow. Therefore the diffuser needs to be made bigger, not smaller or removed.

        If you look at the designs of wind tunnels the area between the fan(s) and the working area, is to smooth the air flow and is often called the diffuser. You cannot research the air flow over cars, aircraft etc if the air is turbulent before it reaches the test object.

  9. If you could use KERS for a decent amount of time, say 15 seconds worth per lap, then it would be worth having. Plus because it allowed you to overtake, everyone would want it.

  10. Don’t all the teams, except maybe Toro Tosso, have a version of the Double Decker Diffuser by now?

    Alonso was able to get so close to Heidfeld at SIlverstone because Heidfeld’s front wing was broken BMW told him to come in and get it changed because he was losing so much performance but he said it could wait till the first stop as his car was still quick enough were it mattered to keep Alonso behind him.

  11. perhaps they should make f1 cars more narrow?

    1. I think they already made them narro, besides that would look ugly, furthermore if they make any more narrow well then why dont they just go and race motorbikes! – what they actually need to do is remove that ridiculous front wing so cars can touch wheel to wheel if necessary. Make stable rules that apply equally to all teams, and make all cars have the same weight distribution with the driver in it (minus the fuel)

  12. The DDD and a big fat angle on the rear wing generate turbulence. The rear wing is the biggest culprit here. The diffuser alone generates little turbulence, the wing lots, together loads.

    Overtaking has reduced in line with aerodynamic loads going up… the cars are closer today because aero loads have reduced over the top of the car, they may have gained it all back in the Diffuser but it hasn’t stopped the cars being closer this year.

    We need to go further still in reducing aero over the car. We want to return to wing dimensions of 2008 and then reduce the number of planes and the angle range. The Champ Car references are correct, small wings is the future… Champ Car has witnessed some fantastic scraps, not just on ovals but road courses as well.

    Please note: the comments above are not from an aerodynamic specialist but from a casual Formula 1 viewer and should be flamed as such… or, when proved right, commended ;-)

    1. Yes but Champ car wings for road course vs superspeedways are radically different. When they run high speed ovals the fronts are very small and are there to trim the car. The rear wing is also very flat as they are running 200mph constantly and not changing speed more than 10mph from corner to straight. Road courses you see the same big front wing with high angle rears to generate more downforce at lower speeds.
      I dont disagree that wingw could make a difference as well as other items such as no rev limit.
      If you want to see the sport get better with over taking, quit constantly meddle with the rules.
      Give them a 3.5 litre engine, no rev limit,no max number of cylinders, no minimum number of races on the engine.
      Give the teams options on the aero packages they can run, such as ground effect-no front wings and limited rear wing surface area. No ground effects- then it opens up to more aero options and a toal flat bottom on the car.
      Give them a lot of leeway on tire sizes. if the team wants wider rears and front then let them have it. That way some teams may be able to equals aero issues with more grip mechanically.
      Take away the refeuling as has already been settled, but allow tire changes without tire warmers anywhere in the paddock, if it is freezing out then it is the drivers responsibility to make the adjustments. Also allow the drivers all the tires they want of whatever compound is available for the race.
      With different options teams can then develope the car as the year goes by, and hopefully the racing would be better.
      The best drivers will still be at the top and maybe it would come back to the drivers as much as the car.
      Once the rules are agreed to they shuld be locked for a period of at least 5 years to help the teams control cost in this fashion. If they have a reliable engine/tansmission package after the first year they dont have to spend millions developing in that area. If the tire compounds for a given track are known and dont change from year to year then they can tailor the setup as the already have data to support the setup and tehy save time and money again.
      The US doesnt have some of the problems with their sport administration for some obvious and some less obvious reasons. Obvious is Max and the FIA, Less obvious is the sanctioning body isnt changing the rules every year or every week. The racing may not be as good but you dont read about the organizers of the sport in the press everyday, which is the way it should be.

      1. Once the rules are agreed to they shuld be locked for a period of at least 5 years to help the teams control cost in this fashion.

        True, at least for a reasonable period of time while some teams who may be struggling could catch up. It would also prevent the extra cost in design and manufacturing of new components every year.

        But I agree with some of your statements regarding allowing the drivers to chose whatever tyre compound they like. However, enabling the teams too much leeway could mean that teams with more money could have a bit more of an advantage…

        1. yes, but it has always been this way and always will. This just allows some extra ways of developing more competitive racing.

          1. What you say Martin makes a lot of sense. But since when does FIA make sense?

    2. I used to watch ChampCar in the late ’90’s early 2000’s. At that time, the cars were varried between several different chassis, engines, & tires, but the racing was close on the road courses. I think that was down to the ChampCar rules allowing ground effect tunnels under the cars. The venturi tunnels aren’t affected by turbulence. This is something that F1 banned decades ago, but I think they should reconsider. This time they should regulate the dimensions of the tunnels and maybe the profile so it doesn’t become a money sink. This might help, but please don’t bring the boring part of Champ Car: regulated fuel tank size. That left many races with a procession of cars that couldn’t race because they were so low on fuel. The race distance was almost doable in 2 stops, so most teams would try to push it and hope for a yellow flag.

      1. Main reason for banning was that it made cars corner dangerously fast. Dangerously, because the huge downforce pushed the springs down completely with no suspension left. This made the cars bounce around rather much, and extremely tricky to handle. It also meant that, whilst bouncing, the cars could bottom out, interrupting the airflow underneath the car and thus instantly cancelling out all downforce, quite often with horrific consequences.

        Colin Chapman thought of a way around this, by an advanced system that fixed the bottom of the car directly to the wheels, and rather suspended the rest of the car on this. But the other teams quickly protested it, claiming primarily it would ruin the championship and consequently it got banned

        Nowadays, car suspension is much more advanced and these problems wouldnt necessarily reoccur. The main reason the FIA has frightened away from allowing ground effect again is another. It would be like opening pandora’s box, and no-one knows what would come out of it in terms of car design, speeds, safety etc. For the same reasons, the teams (or at least most of them) will vehemently oppose any such move: they stand to lose from it, as its costs big money to develop, and all their current understanding of the car is thrown right out of the window. And who might come out on top?

        Because no-one has worked with ground effect on an f1 budget or tec level for nearly 3 decades, no-one can tell what would happen, what kind of rules would give what effect, unless u standardize it. Anyone?

        So, to all parties involved ground effect is a passed station. Even though it is the most likely solution to the problem WITHOUT downgrading the hi-tech character of the sport, teams and regulator will prefer complex artificial aero rules with little effect over a one-stop solution to the problem. ‘no radical changes, please’

  13. Interesting quote in Autosport from A1GP manager John Travis:

    While the old car was generally disliked for its looks and lack of sophistication, there were few complaints about the quality of racing it produced.

    With greater emphasis placed on aerodynamic performance on the Ferrari car, it was feared that the racing would suffer from the age-old problem of turbulent air from the leading car disturbing the performance of the one chasing. But Travis’s experience working with Lola and Penske in “proper” Champ Car as he refers to it, had given him an insight in how to counter-act these pitfalls.

    “We were given information about where F1 was going to go, but I’m afraid I disagreed with what they’ve done,” he states. “I don’t think it’s the right way to go. We went back to wide-track and slick tyres. We wanted to produce at least 50 per cent of the downforce from the underwing, because for me that is the less sensitive part of the car to the turbulent wake. Our front wing philosophy followed what we’d done in Champ Car with Penske in terms of wing position and endplate design. We looked at the turbulent wake and we tried to incorporate that philosophy into this car. We didn’t have time to investigate lots of solutions, so we went with what we knew worked.”

    Of course there’s more to overtaking than just being able to run close to the car in front. At tracks like Taupo and Brands Hatch, it’s very hard for open-wheel racers to pass – the layout just doesn’t lend itself to it. But at venues like Kyalami and the new Algarve track in Portugal, the A1 races were as entertaining and action-packed as ever.

  14. jinthehouse
    2nd July 2009, 13:39

    Smaller brakes mean longer braking zones!!!!!

    1. Smaller brakes would just mean they wouldnt work as efficiently. Decreasing the grip of the tires is the real limiting factor in braking.

  15. Mostly the diffusers I guess – why not go back to the more restricted aero rules that Ross Brawn suggested last year?

    I also suspect some drivers are being “managed” too much by team bosses and race engineers: encouraged to wait for the pit stops, and given strategies where target lap times are more important than track position.

    at Barcelona, Vettel said he gave up trying to follow another car closely because he was sliding around and wearing his tyres out…what’s wrong with wearing your tyres out? Hopefully the refuelling ban will help.

    Max Mosley once threatened (as a negotiating tool) to ban pit-to-car radio – maybe not such a bad idea to send the drivers out and let them get on with it!

    …and bring on a race at the Algarve track.

    1. Indeed. The removal of refuelling next season will definitely help with this.

      Looking back on it, I think publishing the amount of fuel in the cars is not a good idea (although I’m usually in favour of giving fans more info) because if you know for sure the guy in front is pitting 2 laps before you, what’s the point of risking it?

      Just stay behind, and pump in a couple of laps on low fuel when he goes in.

  16. Leahonard_e
    2nd July 2009, 14:00

    I think the reason we saw more overtaking in the first races could be a mix of many teams running KERS, and a new set of regulations. That means the field is not even yet, and that’s why we see McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault struggling in the midfield.
    Also (please correct me if I’m wrong), regulations were done in order to achieve “closer” racing, which was believed to lead to more overtaking, but it hasn’t.

  17. I actually agree with Massa on this one.

    If it wasn’t for the incompetence of the FIA to get the regulations in line with the OWG recommendations, I’m sure the nonDDD cars would be much easier to ‘race’ with.

  18. oh come on keith… u really think the cars are uglier than last year!? I like them to be honest.

    1. They are utterly UGLY!

      1. Hang on Brawn while I fetch the nurse! This year’s cars are monumentally ugly.

        1. I actually quite like the RB5, R29 and BrawnGp 01 cars. The MP4 24 looks good in the flesh too, something nice about bright orange and glossy silver!

    2. I agree, the cars look fine. At the very least, it’s a huge improvement over the 2007 and 2008 cars.

  19. The A1gp example is pretty bad as they’re all using the same spec car, only having freedom in their setup. It’s fun, but it’s not F1.

    Looking back on it, I think publishing the amount of fuel in the cars is not a good idea (although I’m usually in favour of giving fans more info) because if you know for sure the guy in front is pitting 2 laps before you, what’s the point of risking it?

    That mostly, but I also miss the surprise when any driver pits. I’d have enjoyed the Silverstone race much more if I saw Vettel coming into the pits later than anyone in the top 10 after being on pole, as I’m sure nobody would have expected it. Providing more and better information to viewers is great, but if it undermines a very important part of the suspense it’s wasted, especially now that the season is progressing in a rather boring way. Of course, next year we won’t have this problem, although I do hope qualifying will still have 3 stages – all on low fuel. :)

  20. Steel brakes. Pardon some momentary luddism, but the carbon brakes are to blame for a large part of the passing problem. Who is going to pass you if you can brake from 200mph in a hundred meters? The steel brakes will do two things. 1. It will increase the distances and 2. Vary the stopping distances because a driver will have to manage more carefully the temperature and wear of his brakes. The relative unsprung weight increase will also be a way to shave off a little overall cornering speed without dropping revs or adding total weight.

    1. Good point. Also I have never seen a mettallic rotor explode as I have seen the carbon rotors.

      1. The carbon rotors are just more durable, have better cooling and less fade, and better brake feel when hot, but moving to steel brakes would not increase braking distances unless you also decreased the grip of the car. Think about it, even with smaller brakes made of steel, they could lock the tires up under braking, which means that tire grip is ultimately the limiting factor here. Smaller TIRES would mean longer braking zones though!

        1. Excellent point. Or increased speeds.

        2. Yes going back to metallic will increas distances because of the fact they cannot dissapate heat as well. They will fade faster and glaze over. And drivers locking up the wheels and flatspotting tires is a good thing for competition as its his responsibility to manage the car as well as the brakes and tires. Smaller tires just mean they will lock up faster.
          As for more durable, again I cannot remeber a metallic rotor exploding and I have seen several of the carbon rotor disentagrate. Massa driving a Sauber comes to mind.

          1. Martin is right on this. Metallic rotors heat more quickly and hold the heat longer, causing glazing. Glazed rotors brake less effectively.

  21. Jonesracing82
    2nd July 2009, 14:57

    i think it’s these double diffusers, think back to melb and sepang races, there was lots of overtaking, the diffusers came in from Bahrain onwards and from that race onwards we have been seeing less and less oveertaking! i think thats a bit more than a coincidence!

  22. F1 Outsider
    2nd July 2009, 15:12

    GP2 cars seem to be able to run pretty close to each other. At Silverstone there was a good scrap between DeGrassi and Nico Hulkenberg for 2nd place.

    1. There was a good scrap but I’d argue the majority of the race was processional once the field had spread out a few car lengths.

  23. I think we need to proceed in decreasing aerodynamic load (limited wear wings profiles, limited angle, limited diffuser zone) and to switch back from carbon to steel brakes.
    Refuelling ban and pit-driver communication ban should also help, because the driver would need more vision on the race and you could not give up overtaking just for “tactical” reasons. I don’t like when the box talks to the driver and says “The next one is on your strategy” or “The next one should have two laps less”…and I think somehow those communication can inhibit overtake attempts.

  24. The problem is I think not so difficult to solve. More mechanical grip and less aerodynamic grip. This solution has been proposed for years just as Gilles Villneuve did And Damon Hill, Gary Andersson as well among many others.
    MUCH smaller vings, wider tyres and a larger diffuser!
    Why is this so difficult to implement?

  25. that mclaren simulator must be sent to a steel foundry & destroyed. it has neither helped them nor the OWG. complete failure on the part of OWG. Over taking will only be possible when the godforsaken rule of engine-freeze is lifted. nowadays the role of a engine has been reduced to nothingness. everybody running at same RPM, how can we expect overtaking? remember the 80’s & 90’s, the fight between the porche-tag,renault,honda was a treat to watch. Engine has no meaning in today’s formula one. i would like to know what job do mercedes have in f1? nothing imo. the neither build chassis nor do they have to further develop kers.(cuz they are doing away with it next year). emphasis must be laid on engine development also. but the dictator & the small troll will never listen to fans. so there is no point.

    1. I agree the engine rpm limit must be lifted. Also want the mfg of the engines to go back to their own ECU. This Mclaren/microsoft ecu is another equalizer that ruins the competion.
      The OWG obviously is a incompetent group because Brawn told them of the loophole in the rule and then exploited it to the dismay of everyone around.

      1. yes but Martin if you believe the reports from the beginning of the season then Brawn reported the loophole and wanted it closing and the rest of the working group ignored him and he went his own way.
        The rules need to be cast iron with little or no leeway. Designer need to have some lenience on the way the interpret the rules but not such a big step as the 3 teams had. I still say though that Brawn is quicker because of the engine more than the diffuser. Look at the other 2 teams and how they are doing. And Red Bull did well without the diffuser.

        1. I wont diasagree, because in the interviews with Barrichello he told everyone that would listen that the car was more than just the diffuser, he went on to say that there were several different improvements in the car that made the diffuser work better than other designs. I agree that the Mercedes engine is probably the best 1 out there right now. Power and reliability are better than any of the competing engines.
          I do think the Brawn is more than just the sum of its parts, but Red Bulls cars are starting to become a force to recon with. Who would have thought this time last year that Mclaren or Ferrari would be winless.
          You also bring up another good point as the other 2 teams who started out with the DDD havent enjoyed the same level of success. But they run the same engine. I dont know if that is relavent though.

          1. Well yes Force India have the mercedes engine too, but they are a much smaller outfit,(no matter what people think of BrawnGP, it is still mainly HONDA’s money and people and resources).
            PLus perhaps Mclaren/Mercedes help BrawnGP more than Force India due to needing Honda back on the grid in some form.
            But i would say it’s more down to the resources of BrawnGP vs lack of resources at Force India.

            Perhaps there needs to an independant body to look at several issue within F1 such as overtaking and aerodynamics engines gearboxes rev limits tyres chassis etc.

          2. Well yes Force India have the mercedes engine too, but they are a much smaller outfit

            Yeah but Vijay has the biggest boat scunny :)

            Indian Empress

          3. But seriously; From F1-Live.com

            Massive investment from Honda ahead of F1 exit
            After the car won three-quarters of every race so far under the 2009 regulations, Alex Wurz has revealed the secret of the Brawn BGP 001.

            At times last year, the team’s predecessor Honda had five wind tunnels at its disposal, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, as well as a half-billion euro budget.

            “The car was taken in three different directions in the wind tunnel,” test driver Wurz told News. “Two directions were found to be wrong, so the team could just switch.”

            Amid the shock of the global economic situation, Honda then pulled out and the Brackley team was rescued by a management buyout headed by Ross Brawn.

            “The Brawn is probably the most expensive car with the lowest operating budget ever,” the Austrian admitted.

          4. I believe that the Nurburgring may be more suited to BrawnGp cars that the Red Bulls in my opinion. It’s not such a high speed circuit like Silverstone. And not one of my favourite tracks. I never have liked the modern circuit, especially circuits with mickey mouse chicanes right before the start/finish straight.
            I would prefer one of the other teams to come to the fore and challenge BrawnGP. But i believe Red Bull are the only team that can really catch BrawnGp because of the points gap.

          5. You may be right scunny, but if Red Bull come good at what’s left of the Ring and then again in Hungary it’ll be game over for Brawn this year. The only new track I like is Turkey and that may be going away after next year (see my post on Bulgaria in the forum).

        2. Yes Jagged, the most expensive car to design maybe and one of the cheapest to run.
          Maybe next year we will see BrawnGP’s real potential.

          1. It’ll be interesting to see if Brawn can respond to Newey’s latest Red Bull challenge. We’ll know in about 10 days scunny.

          2. Agreed Jagged, I quite like Turkey too, especially with some nice roast potatoes, some brussel sprouts,sweede,carrots, yorkshire puds, mash, cabbage, parsnips and gravy yum yum.lol

            No seriously I do like istanbul park.

            Remember though, the likes of Mclaren, Ferrari and BMW are well capable of coming good befoe the end of the year and taking points away from both front running teams. Maybe even Renault too, NAH that’s asking too much lol.

        3. I still say though that Brawn is quicker because of the engine more than the diffuser. Look at the other 2 teams and how they are doing.

          well McLaren have the same engine as Brawn GP so I wouldn’t think that is the main reason for Brawn success although it certainly is a contributing factor. What is one major issue is that McLaren and few other teams had designed their chaise to support the Kers .. so the extra weight the center of gravity were modeled around that. Thus the entire car and chaise was built around that since the rules were not very clear, as they never are thanks to Max Mosley. Where as Brawn, including red bull did all their work with no major plan on using the Kers… Brawn were also the first to perfect the use of the double diffuser so I still believe that this gave them the edge initially, although now I believe that the car is just so well balanced compared to the rest…

          1. I have to agree with you maksutov that the BrawnGP cars are more stable because of the design without KERS, but i still stanndby my staement that the engine is more of a factor than the diffuser, if not then the cars would be much further ahead of the Red Bulls than they are. And i am sure that Mclarens woes are also attributed to going the wrong way on the aero. I am sure that Mclaren will improve this year and BrawnGP have improvements too.

  26. and they should ban MIRRORS. it should be like moto gp. even jack the son of gilles was of the same opinion.

  27. I love how people are stating that the DD diffusers are the problem, when experts in aerodynamics have proven that actually undercar aerodynamics are more efficient and less likely to effect the following car.

    I agree with the poster above who state that they shoud reduce the over-car aero downforce and allow more undercar downforce. Though even once this is taken into balance the overall downforce should be less than it is currently.

    I think part of the reason the first few races were more exciting than more recent ones is that the cars were all new, the teams were still getting to know them and how to set them up and a lot of the aero packs weren’t very developed. Now we’re into the season the aero on the cars is getting more developed (as hence more sensitive) and the teams are honing in on the best setup which means the cars are more driveable…

  28. I’ll give my two cents. I did not watch F1 in the 60’s when, at least in the documentaries, you see a lot of great slipstream battles. But I have been watching it since the mid 70’s and I can tell you that this idea that in the past the number of overtakings was absurdly higher than now among similar performance cars is a mith. Overtaking moves in F1 have always been special (and therefore, relatively rare) moments. But I agree that things got a bit worse in the last 10 to 15 years. Although I appreciate the aerodinamic argument, I believe the main problem are the tracks. Since Senna’s death the sport became obsessed with safety – You make of it what you want, but I think that if you don’t have the guts you should work in an office or somewhere else and take Jack Stweard along with you. Most of the fast-curves followed by long-straights (ending in a tight corners) are gone and that is where cars with similar power managed to overtake each other in the past. Think of the parabolica followed by the pit straight in Monza or the eau rouge followed by the strait to les combes in Spa, for example (the few survivers). In the past we had the woodcut followed by the pit straight in Silverstone, the sector between the tamburelo and tosa in Imola, several places in Paul Ricard, the peraltada/pit straight combination in Mexico and many more. And, of course, we had the old Hockenheim – a blast throught the forest. What do we have now? Many truncated circuits and a bunch of straights that follow tight corners – the cars will bunch up in the corner but if there ins’t a huge disparity in power they won’t change places in the straight because the car in front can accelerate earlier than the car behind. This advantage to the car in front is not there if the straight is preceeded by a fast curve.
    Thus, bring the fast curves back and, to guarantee, ban the wings.

    1. This is the best comment in this thread (barring the formatting). I agree with both of your points:
      1. That overtaking has always been relatively rare in F1.
      2. The cars and drivers (through simulators) have “outgrown” the static or neutered tracks.

    2. I agree with the neutered track staement more than ever.
      Safety is important, but the old tracks and the dangerouos spot in them where what seperated the drivers from the posers.

    3. I agree with Antifia 100%.

    4. I agree you have made some good points there Antifia especially the obssession with safety following Senna’s death. Yes safety is needed, but it needs to be tempered with the whole point of motor racing. Especially at speeds in excess of 200mph. Danger is always there and death a possibility. Drivers and fans should be aware of this and not neuter the tracks as you say.
      Yes there was not a massive increase in the amount of overtakes in years gone by compared to now, but they were more memorable in the main and more people were prepared to try. The stewards and the FIA with their penalties may be making drivers and teams think again about even trying an overtake incase it goes wrong and they are penalised.

  29. and also would it be a good idea to use slicks only in the front end & use threaded tyre at the rear? that would compensate for the large “rear” downforce produced by double-decker diffuser using cars such as brawn & red bull. the point of introducing slicks was to compensate for the lack of downforce. but now it seems that aero is king. and the cars such as red bull & brawn are dangerously closer to the 2004 lap times(fastest f1 in history). so it would be nice for wheel to wheel racing if they revert back to grooved tyres. this is the cheapest & best solution if we wanna see some wheel to wheel battle.

    1. I have always hated the grooved tire. Proper race cars ride on slicks unless it is raining. Then great race drivers ride on slicks and the rest ride on rains.

      1. Me too Martin i have hated grooved tyre since day 1, and i can’t beleive they stayed for 11 seasons. Grooved tyre was one of the worst ideas to enter the sport.

  30. Formula 1 become too much of a spec series, resulting in a very competative starting field. But if cars are more or less equaled, it will be very hard to pass anyone.

  31. Like dsob said, IRL has done a good job in the past of having cars able to follow closely and overtake. In NASCAR, the cars are built in a way to allow the car following to run faster than the lead car. I am not an aerodynamicist, but I know NASCAR aerodynamics are a little different from F1. Can anyone explain tough why F1 cars can’t be built to allow the following car to be slightly faster than the lead car? We always hear about the cars being slow while running in “dirty” air.

    1. F1 Outsider
      2nd July 2009, 17:23

      To say that Nascar Aerodynamics are a little different from F1 is the understatement of the century!

      F1 cars do get a “tow” from the car in front. But the front of F1 cars is very aero dependent unlike Nascar. A stock car can follow another closely because there’s less need for downforce at the front nose of the car. When an F1 car gets too close to the gearbox of another, the car in front is creating a hole in the air and a vaccum right behind it. Once the the nose of the chasing car is inside the vacuum, it loses all the downforce that it depends on for grip, which hurts the car’s cornering ability, which is what you need to make a sucessful pass.

  32. remedy for the current problem of overtaking:-

    1. Complete ban on wind-tunnel testing.
    2. Complete ban on simulators(like the crappy one at mclaren)
    3. lift freeze on engine RPM.
    4. It must be made mandatory thar big-corp like mercedes,BMW,toyota,honda can “only” supply engine & not bother about other things.
    5. real f1 teams like McLaren, williams, Red bull must build only chassis & transmission & not bother about engines.
    6. encourage innovative designs.
    7. bring back some classic tracks.
    8. appoint adrian newey as the head of OWG.
    9. use only dassault systeme’s based CAD/CAE products
    10. Ouster Max Mosley from FIA.

    the last suggestion would end all the problems imo.

    1. I agree with some of those but not all. I really do think that a lot of this comes down to the drivers. In the mid field is some pretty close racing, but drivers do a pretty good job of defending. Heidfeld had a problem with his front wing which slowed him down, yet he was still able to hold of Alonso, and Alo was definately trying his best to get by him.
      One thing they should do is desing a areo package that would allow for the closest racing (sorta like making Adrian Newey a head designer) and all the teams must design their cars accordingly.

    2. Well I don’t agree with any of these. Max is probably on his way out, but it’s most likely not just him that’s the problem.

      2. Complete ban on simulators(like the crappy one at mclaren)

      Why? How does this help overtaking?
      It’s not just the big teams that use simulators. Wirth Engineering designed the LMP2 Acura that competed last year in the ALMS. This car was solely tested in their simulator to save costs. They are linked with Manor F1 for next season and I can only assume that they will do a similar job.

      Also how does banning simulators work with point 6.

      6. encourage innovative designs.

      With the limited testing surely innovative design would be drastically reduced if they can’t test or simulate them?

      9. use only dassault systeme’s based CAD/CAE products

      Could you expand on this, as I can’t see how this will help?

      3. lift freeze on engine RPM.

      Costs would rise dramatically. Only feasible if a working budget cap is introduced or your point 4 was introduced (engine or chassis but not both), but then Ferrari would not be able to supply their own engines and that wouldn’t be F1, would it?

    3. mp4-19, while I like your suggestions, it would be tough to police. items 1,2 and 9.
      Itme 4 & 5 are good also but I doubt any mfg could design a competitive car from the ground up, that is why they have been partnerring with companies like Mclaren, Williams and others.
      I dont have a problem with a company such as Mclaren Builing chassis/tubs for sale so other teams could just buy them and design their own bodywork(would cut cost for smaller teams and be a money maker for the chassis/tub mfg’s) Their are teams that wouldnt like this but as long as it was only the tub and none of the other peices of another teams car, I could live with it.
      I think items 6&7 go without saying as well as #10.
      Appoint Adrian Newey as the head of the FIA.
      and let him get the old guard out and get racing people back in.

  33. Actually the IndyCar series (IRL) in the US is currently having the same problem. Even on ovals, the cars are not able to get close enough or pass.

    The IRL has basically frozen changes to their specs for years to keep cost down. Some people believe that this has lead to a point where individual teams have attained the peak performance from their chassis-engine-tire combination.

    The IRL also made a took away a lot of the flexibilities that the teams had with respect to the changes they could make on the chassis in order to reduce the difference between the cars and again, keep costs down. Some people also believe this has also contributed to the current situation.

    1. IRL has just announced changes to the oval aero package:

      The IndyCar Series will provide aerodynamic options to teams for 1.5-mile oval racetracks with a goal of improving performance, specifically overtaking.
      After a number of boring racing this year, the IndyCar Series has stepped in to give team more freedom to create different aero options and in theory, create more passing.

      Tools include tire ramps and sidepod extensions, and brake backing plates for Kentucky Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Utilized with other track-specific aero packages, the changes would add about 300 pounds of downforce to the cars and potentially create more overtaking opportunities.

  34. i disagree that they are so ugly, look at last years cars, i do belive that this year, they have a more menacing, low, and down-to-business look.

  35. The recent IRL race at Richmond was possibly the most boring IRL race ever! Sufficiently boring for two of its drivers to need to apologise to the crowd afterwards (those that bothered to stay to the end that is).Other recent IRL races were also lacking in action.

    But changes will be forthcoming for the next races,and this is the area in which F1 is falling behind in,its ability to react soon enough to obvious problems.

    Of course in IRL no one is going to moan about the multi-million dollar aero/chassis/suspension update that they can now no longer use because the rule changes now make that update instantly obsolete,and so you’ll get the meetings and the arguing and the teddy throwing until eventually we end up with something that’s a bit better,but didn’t go the whole way to solving the problem.But that’s F1! LOL

  36. I been thinking. Why not get the whole field using KERS. Then, they can only use the battery on every other lap. 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc can use it for one lap then 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc use it for the next. There we go, alternate laps, hey presto,,,,, Overtaking everywhere!!

  37. the principle is fairly simple – reduce air disturbance with aerofoil deivces I.e. wings, and replace the lost downforce with smooth flow solutions such as GROUND EFFECT.!!!!!!! I’m starting a campaign – bring back ground effect!!!

  38. I have been saying this a few times on this site about overtaking.
    In my opinion i’d have to say that reducing the aero package as far as possible along with widening of the tyres and maybe this idea of the bigger diffuser that John Beamer is talking about may be the way forward. If a car has more mechanical grip and less drag form the aerodynamics then it should be possible to have close racing and then be upto the driver’s skill to overtake.
    It must be possible to design a car that is capable of the things i have said.

    1. I agree scunny, but instead they went with those huge and lower cow-catcher front wings this year. Besides being subject to washing out in the non-laminar flow of the double deck diffusers, they’re easier to damage in a tight passing maneuver.

  39. Bartholomew
    2nd July 2009, 19:05

    Narrower front wheels and steel brakes –
    The cheapest and best solution.

  40. Use seperate point systems for the Drivers and Constructors championships and award an extra .5 for every pass that a driver completes and maintains for 2 laps, but if he doesn’t hold it, he loses the .5 point and it is awarded to the other driver, so long as he can hold it for 2 laps. That type of system may motivate drivers, especially near the end of the year if they are in the hunt.

  41. Good ideas from everyone. I think I would have agree with Gille Villeneuveis comments of 25 years ago. He said to improve passing and all around racing: Increase engine/horsepower to say 5 litre, put 20 inch slicks on the cars, ban re-fueling and lets go racing. As an addition, diffuser and floor regulations could be opened up and wing regulations tightened. There you have it. Next problem please?

    1. pardon…..that Villeneuve’s

  42. I have some views why overtaking is that hard in F1!

    First BRAKES!
    Those F1 brakes are so darn good, they brake so so late and so make it very very difficult for an overtake to take place!
    Unless you get real slow corners (a hairpin), it will be hard as they brake so late and take corners sooo quickly!

    Another thing. Qualifying times are rather close… but on long runs the difference between the cars are much larger, and the difference is again a factor there.

    Altough some drivers seem to be better or braver then others… Lewis Hamilton seems to be pretty good at it!

  43. How about a simple push to pass button, as in A1GP to allow a temporary increase in engine RPM. Each driver is given a limited number of chances to use this during the race.

  44. Ugly or beautiful is a relative thing. In the 17th century Rubens painted images of the hottest chicks of the day; zaftig zeppelins by today’s standards. Centuries later it was Twiggy. I know some old-timers who are abhorred, aesthetically, by any race car with so much as a wing on it.

    Taste is a moving target so given enough time the aesthetic, the look of an object that is, will normalize itself in the minds of people (think of the solid-body electric guitar). Once that is done, the move is to the refinement of proportions, scale and other attributes.

    Today’s cars are neither ugly nor beautiful, but a result of the rules written to legislate them. Given enough stability and time, an aesthetic will emerge. It will then be regarded as “normal”. Over time the overall design will be refined, more and more people will come to accept it, and then if it had a sound beginning, it has a chance to become “beautiful” in our eyes. Overtaking’s another thing entirely.

  45. The drivers are partly to blame there is a real reluctance to have a go with those snowploughs being so delicate go back to 2008 take off all the funnels and horns,smaller brakes large rear wheels,large rear diffuser & rear wing, engines to 20,000 rpm.Cant be any worse than what we got now.

    1. Do you blame them? The stewards would probably drop them 10 places if they got it slightly wrong (Vettel Australia)
      Only Reubens seems to get away with a bit of bashing, but he hasn’t always made it work.

  46. Sven has it in a nutshell ! As have other excellent posts. Get rid of aero and let’s get back to pure mechanical grip. But….

    At the same time one thing that must be discouraged is the current system of allowing the single tyre manufacturer to use it’s advanced technology in a negative way….allowing them to deliberately supply inadequate/inappropriate tyre compounds to ensure that their tyre brand is continually being mentioned/discussed on live TV. Their marketing men love it, but it is simply stupid to allow the quality of the racing to be downgraded by a deliberate marketing ploy. Which is all it is !

  47. I can’t get on board with “all mechanical grip.” The cars are supposed to be fast. You need downforce to be fast. It’s simply not more challenging to drive my wife’s Passat Wagon (or a Sprint Cup car, OK) through Becketts than a 962C with 4 thousand pounds of downforce and 900HP to pull the drag. Sliding may be cooler to look at, but that’s what Formala Drift is for.

    1. Please…Formula drift plus all of the drift races have absolutely nothing in common with real racing. Part of the beauty in watching great racing is a driver who is coming out of a high speed corner and the whole car is drifting under control..he uses the entire corner and takes all the speed that is available down the straight. When you have a driver that can do that lap after lap without error is when you have seen real racing and the sport at its best.

  48. The issue with overtaking is the aero reliance on the car and the brakes. You cannot compare other standard series with f1 . Every car in those series are near identical. Therefore they alter the grip levels by having gripper tyres therefore mechanical grip inturn easier to follow as the aero loss is minimal. If you control the aero rules you can control the turbulent air.
    Turbulence from aero is caused by the rear wing. Current wings look shocking., they should all have a standard rear wing similar to IRL, wide and low profile and identical across the grid. The wash off the wing will be identical and car design will naturally be altered to cope with the was allowing for closer racing.
    Another option i believe is to propose a max downforce limit. (Max proposed this, i hated the idea but it would work.) It could be easily controlled by a simple wind tunnel test and measure of weight on the rolling road. This will allow lead to design towards mechanical grip.

    1. Yes but for every rule that the FIA has come up with to control this, the engineers and designers have worked around it. They would design the car such that when in the tunnel would give the max number that was wanted for certification and then in the real enviroment would perform in a different/better way then was measured.
      Every attempt by the FIA and all of its high powered committes to reduce speed and grip and any other performance variable, has always been redsigned and out thought by the engineers. Speed the next year are back to within 5% of what they were and thenext year after they are going faster than ever. It is the nature of the sport.

      1. Downforce is generated by wind and air pressure. The only variable is air. The difference in levels between a windtunnell and track would be caused by the density of the air, (casued by natural height above sea level) and speed. Windtunnell may only test up to 200km hr. This can also be measured with sensors on the car, which the team already have.

        Speed is not the issue, overtaking is the issue. If you limit the dirty air coming of the back for the car, the better the racing. 80% of the dirty air comes off the rear wing, this can be compensated by the floor of the car, which does not produced anywear near as much dirty air.

  49. IRL isn’t a shinning beacon for passing at this point, when you have top drivers apologising straight after a race for a lack of over taking.

    Maybe have a set value for the maximum turbulance allowed to produced by a single car, as i don’t see them removing front or rear wings. Too much advertising space

  50. Brakes are the problems I think. Generally, we can see this year’s cars able to follow closer, relative to 2008 specs. You can follow as close as you want, but if there’s no room or time to out-brake someone, overtaking is difficult.

    We can see the cars braking hard for a slow speed corner like 80 meters prior. The brakes are just too good! If they all put on brakes with decreased performance, I think it’ll help solve the issue.

  51. Phil,

    The issue is not aero reliance per se, and it’s not generation of turbulence per se. It’s susceptiblity to turbulence and dynamic instability. We need to go to tunnels. You need a car that can stick to the road off line and that’s how you do it. They generate downforce but don’t require super clean air. I understand the appeal of big tires, but you need big normal force for grip.

    The 09 rules are misguided. Dropping the wings to get them out of the upwash and making them bigger to get more downforce in turbulence was naive. A wing requies clean air, period, no matter how big it is. The tiny diffusers make the cars unstable and twitchy.

    Flat bottoms caused designers to use wings, flip ups, horns, etc to get downforce back. This created more turbulence–generated by devices that need clean air to work. Furthermore, flat bottoms make cars extremely pitch sensitive. These changes overall have made the cars both unstable and highly sensitive to turbulence. And thus, have made going round the outside in the parabolica, a la Mansell, a guaranteed trip to the gravel.

    1. The issue is aero reliance and the need of clean air for appropriate function. It is impossible to design something which can work efficiently in dirty air and generate the same downforce because the parameters of the dirty air constantly changed. Clean air is a constant variable.

      If you limit the dirty air wash of the car the better the overtaking. The rear wing is the aera where most of the dirty air is generated. Standard rear wing design were 80% of the dirty air is generated will allow the cars to follow closer. If the cars had a wide, and low profile rear wing the wash would be significantly less. Not only this standard rear wing would give teams a constant variable to to design front wings too allowing for closer racing.

      they need to reduce the aero of the rear wing.

      As for going around the outside of parabolica at speed, there are other factor other then aero the make that difficult. Tyre grip on a dirty unrubbered line which never get driven on, there is more road to cover going around the outside of a corner, the downforce difference and horse power difference between cars today is not big enough to allow for that.

  52. In a poll here earlier this week the modern F1 cars were voted among the most unattractive ever seen in the sport.

    That’s a very misleading statement Keith. Modern F1 cars were voted the best looking. You can’t isolate 2009 from the rest of the 2000s because you haven’t done that for the rest of the decades. Cars always change a lot over 10 years, so it’s unfair to isolate 2009, claiming it was the worst. The statement also gives the impression that the poll showed the recent cars were poor, meaning any arbitary figure from 5-10 years depending how you interpret it.

  53. Yes jagged Viyay has the biggest boat and the biggest toys i guess. But he’s not spending his money like Toyota to get his team to the front.
    Vijay knows that just throwing money at the job isn’t going to work. Although throwing money at a big boat gets him something to be envious of…

    Nice Boat……………..

  54. or maybe the present day drivers don’t have the balls to perform overtaking maneuvers like senna,mansell & hakkinen. they are too afraid to overtake cuz they are afraid they’ll get penalized. look at what happened to hamilton at spa 2008. although i agree there are flaws in the OWG’s design, the drivers must also make a conscious effort to overtake. for example people like nick heidfield race only for statistics(he’s finished 40 odd races in a row i think)if it were senna or hakkinen or for that matter montoya in his position, they wouldn’t give a damn to such a useless statistics. it is people like nick heidfield, nakajima,fisi that make racing boring. if i’m right nick heidfield hasn’t won a race since the turn of the decade(1999 he won a f3 race, his last ever race win). so he dosen’t know what it takes to push for a victory. all he cares about is finishing all the races , so that people will remember him as the driver who finished the maximum races in a row. who cars about such a statistic? no real racing driver would give a damn. ppl like nick heidfied must be confined to testing & other activities. he’s certainly not a racer. we are in desperate need of some ballsy drivers. the last one was jpm.

    1. It’s like you say there mp4-19b if drivers are worried they will be penalised for trying to overtake and fail then why should they even try. Over the last five or so years there have been numerous instances of penalties for overtaking blunders.
      I remember one instance for Montoya at US grand prix (dunno which year) where he tangled with Barrichello and i saw it as a racing incident as did Rubens i believe, but the stewards blamed Montoya. It was one of the reason he left the sport mid way through 06.

      1. i remember that race too well. i’ll never forget that race. it was the 2003 us gp. at first they gave him a 10sec stop go penalty & later half through the race black-flagged him for no good reason. we must remember that shoemaker,jpm & kimi were separated by a mere 3 points at that point. even rubens acknowledged it as a racing incident. so i dunno why such a harsh punishment was meted out to him. that 2003 season was a rigged. the fia & ferrari were pals at that time. nowadays drivers don’t have it in them. they are all as good as george bush. thats all i can say.

        1. I think 2003 was heading to be one of the best seasons ever with several different winners compared to the yr b4 and the yr after. But then the FIA stook it’s nose and it’s big size 15 boots in and starting messing because of pressure from some quarter, I can’t quite remember who right now.
          If i had been Montoya at Indy i would have fumed aswell. I’m not surprised at him leaving F1 when he did. He was sick of the politics and so am i.

          People have been saying get rid of max and all will be right (and i was one of them), but now i believe all of FIA is the problem. SO why bother with them, let’s all just quit and start from a clean sheet from the ground up.

          1. People have been saying get rid of max and all will be right (and i was one of them), but now i believe all of FIA is the problem. SO why bother with them, let’s all just quit and start from a clean sheet from the ground up.

            Finally someone gets it.A missed opportunity ? LOL

            As for aero,well maybe a leading open-wheel series at some point in the future will be brave enough and forward thinking enough to remove once an for all the reason that F1 cars don’t ‘race’ any more.

        2. “nowadays drivers don’t have it in them. they are all as good as george bush. thats all i can say.”

          Please explain mp4-19b i’m a bit confused.

          1. all i meant to say was that the drivers are starting to become more incompetent, just like bush. a day might come when the art of overtaking might well be forgotten. the sole purpose of racing according to me is overtaking, the rest including pitstop, refueling, managing tyres etc is all bull…
            nowadays drivers are discouraged to overtake by their own teams! look at what happened in brasil 08. after vettel had passed hamilton with 3 laps remaining, whithmarsh came on the radio & told hamilton that he was racking glock & not vettel! vettel was a few feet ahead of him & clock was almost half-a-lap ahead!now hamilton being a “well groomed” mclaren prodigy obeyed his godfather & decided to play it safe & thereby not pass vettel. now just imagine what if those extra drops of rain had not fallen at juncao? glock wouldn’t have lost grip & hamilton would have never been kissed by nicole scherzinger! all that i’m trying to say is that would senna,mansell & jpm played it safe like hamilton. with no disregards to hamilton.no they would not have. they would have gone chasing vettel, at least attempted to pass him even if it meant risking losing a chmpionship. that is what we want. not an old man sitting in front of a lcd screen looking at the gps data, telling their their drivers who is where & asking them to play it safe. by doing this on a consistent & regular basis the teams themselves are directly discouraging their drivers from overtaking. whats the fun?

          2. I cannot disagree mp4-19b but i see overtaking as an art form, a skil that not every f1 driver has, but they should!. The examples you give Mansell,Montoya,Senna and even Hamilton (when not told to slow by team) are very good at overtaking, even with bad aero and hard to overtake cars. Mansell has many instances where he was able to bluff the drivers in front of him into thinking he will try an overtake one side and then take the other.
            Although current cars need modifying to help overtaking it is not impossible to do so as Hamilton has shown and a few others.
            I like to see a BATTLER like Mansell who is not afraid of anyone just go for an overtake, if it fails and he stays on track he just tries again. Some/a lot of current and recent f1 drivers seems to have one or two goes at an overtake then ease off if they can’t get past. Of course the Penalties awarded for some overtaking moves will put drivers off. It is such a shame that we can’t see real battles on the track. Just most drivers wishing to wait and see if they can pass in the pits.

          3. I just hope that whoever replaces Max is better than the guy who replaced Bush. It isnt racing but it is just as important.

  55. the only good thing about the 2009 cars is that since its got rid of all the winglets,horns,aerofoils,sidepot cuttings, no complicated front & rear wings, it makes it easier for game modders to model these cars. as a result the polygon count is very low resulting in improved fps performance in rfactor & f1c. the 2009 cars graphical performance is way above the 2008 cars. for example the latest f1rl v2.0 gives me about 50 fps during race, while the fsone 08 gave me only 35-40fps :( thats about the only positive thing i can say about this years cars.

  56. can’t we just go back to the aero package of the cars when it wasnt such a pain to pass (whether thats 10 or 20 years). Perhaps with some modern modifications of some sort so they dont look really old. F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport BUT I think its the viewpoint of most people that its more engine and development of other parts rather then the aero itself which needs to be right up there.

    There just seems to much emphasis and cost involved with aero then anything else due to the way they have set the rules (i.e. no engine development etc). Each team is spending an absolute crapload to get extra aero parts bolted on throughout the season where its the aero thats the biggest issue with the sport.

    we dont want the cars to all look exactly the same, but maybe have much stricter rules for new aero and limit teams wind tunnel work or only allow 1-2 upgrades a year.

  57. If kERS was the reason that there was more overtaking in the earlier rounds, there should have been a KERS car winning a race – but there wasn’t.

    1. thats cuz overtaking only happens at the back of the grid & at best midfield.

      1. Maybe if that is the case then reverse grids are the way forward, but with rules that don’t allow for the front running cars to go slow on purpose to be at the front.

        Don’t ask me how that is possible.

  58. Although the rules haven’t really produced any overtaking, one success is how close the cars are now – especially in qualifying.

    And the car’s aren’t ugly, they look clean and simplistic.

  59. HounslowBusGarage
    3rd July 2009, 12:35

    I think I’ll start a breakaway series . . . Formula Hounslow. Whadda y’think?
    Normally aspirated 3.5 liter engines of any configuration. Slick tyres, steel breaks and limited venturi tunnels. But no aerodynamic device in front of centre line of the front axle, nothing behind the centre line of the rear axle either. And no aerodrnamics higher than 50 cm above the highest point of the tyres, no protusions from the main bodywork featuring curves of less that 50 cm radius.
    There. Simple really.

    1. There. Simple really.

      Sounds like some ‘historic’ series to me.;)

  60. Ban the double decker diffusers – then we can have great racing like the first GP of 2009 again.

    1. Ban the double decker diffusers – then we can have great racing like the first GP of 2009 again.

      Teams have spent literally millions on developing double-decker difusers and upgrades that ‘blow-away’ the opposition,and not forgetting that some of the teams actually ‘read’ the rules correctly in the first place! Would it be fair now to ask those teams to throw all that advantage away?

  61. “I just hope that whoever replaces Max is better than the guy who replaced Bush. It isnt racing but it is just as important.”

    Yes martin

  62. having read these articles about goodwood and overtaking it has got me wanting to watch some season reviews over the weekend, while not doing the july 4th thing. Only i can’t work out what seasons to watch from 1975 to say 2006.

    can anyone suggest some years for me please?

  63. Oh yes the penalty thing! They give them waaaay too quick.

    The Montoya US GP penalty was so hars … what if that didn’t happen and his engine didn’t fail at Japan where he was leading and the fastest out there… We would be talking of Montoya Champ 2003, many forgot it:)

    1. Yes SoLiD I think Montoya would have made a good champion, and he would have deserved it in 2003.

  64. This has to be your worst article yet.

    1) Overtaking IS easier than it was in the last few seasons.
    2) Vettel IS poor at overtaking. Or rather he hasn’t showed much ability in this respect. While for instance Webber has demonstrated overtaking moves in the same car (and even on KERS cars)
    3) In that chart, Button is 1.5s faster on one single lap. In almost all other laps it’s less than a second. While Rosberg shows that he could go faster so in reality the difference is hardly more than a few tenths.

    The best you could argue for is that Button shows he can do a best of 81.7 and Rosberg a 82.4. That’s a 0.7 difference.

    The only thing the OWG set out to do was to make it possible for a car to overtake if it’s around 1 second per lap faster than the car it’s chasing. They accomplished this and this is demonstrated on track. Button is (at best) only 7 tenths faster so indeed that’s not enough.

    The OWG did not set out to let cars just drive past each other. There still has to be some skill involved.

    The amount of overtaking is actually more related to the number of possibilities. Like in the opening races with the odd tyre choices and resulting differences in strategy where cars could differ in lap times by 5 seconds.

    People should just stop whining about there not being enough overtaking. This is the essence of F1. If people ask for more overtaking the only thing you get is the retarded tyre rule we have had this year and things like reversed starting grids.

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