Melbourne was a blast but F1’s aero problem remains (Australian GP analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The wet track allowed F1 cars to race side-by-side at Melbourne
The wet track allowed F1 cars to race side-by-side at Melbourne

The Australia Grand Prix was every bit as thrilling as Bahrain was dull.

But don’t expect many more races like that unless we get a lot more rain, because F1’s aerodynamic problem hasn’t gone away – as the later stages of today’s race showed.

Lap 1

Australian Grand Prix: Lap 1 position change
Australian Grand Prix: Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

In the pre-race analysis yesterday I wrote that you can count on two things happening on the first lap at Melbourne: the pole sitter keeping the lead and a crash.

Sure enough, Sebastian Vettel motored off into the lead and behind him Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher collided, tumbling down the order.

Further down the field a frightening crash eliminated Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi and Nico H???lkenberg. Kobayashi’s front wing fell off, jammed under his front wheels and he slammed into Buemi and H???lkenberg.

Worryingly, this was the third time a front wing had come off Kobayashi’s car this weekend. The team said it did not fail on its own – Kobayashi had made contact with another car at turn three.

With the Virgins starting from the pits and Jarno Trulli not starting at all the HRTs gained the most places. Meanwhile the McLaren drivers converged – Jenson Button slipping back to sixth for fourth and Hamilton climbing four places to seventh.

Pit stops

Australian Grand Prix - pit stops
Australian Grand Prix - pit stops (click to enlarge)

Jenson Button pitted for soft tyres on lap six and completed the remaining 52 laps without another stop for tyres – an impressive feat.

Button’s early switch from intermediate to dry tyres prompted his rivals to follow suit. Though it’s possible that his off-track moment at turn three on his out-lap led them to being more cautious than they needed to.

When they reacted on lap eight Button was 2.1s faster than any other car on the track. The next time around he was 4.3s quicker.

For some reason Red Bull delayed bringing in Vettel and Mark Webber until laps nine and ten respectively. Although Vettel kept his lead Webber lost three places, plus another one when he went off at the start of his out-lap.

Lewis Hamilton lost two places in the first round of pit stops while Fernando Alonso picked up three (one was thanks to Adrian Sutil’s retirement).

The aero problem

Hamilton and Webber catching Kubica, Massa and Alonso
Hamilton and Webber catching Kubica, Massa and Alonso (click to enlarge)

During the first half of the race the Melbourne track was damp and then drying. The lack of grip meant the detrimental effect of running in the slipstream of another car was far less of a limiting factor for the drivers and so we saw lots of exciting passes and changes of position.

But it was a different story towards the end of the race. As the graph above shows even though Hamilton and Webber were up to two seconds per lap faster than Alonso/Massa/Kubica, once they caught them they couldn’t get close enough to pass.

Yes, Hamilton had asked a lot of his tyres in closing the gap to Alonso, making the job of passing him more difficult. But the fact remains the Ferrari driver had covered twice as great a distance on his rubber and Hamilton was faster. The McLaren driver couldn’t get close enough to try a pass because, now the track had dried, the cars were once again extremely sensitive to running in disturbed air.

Hamilton finally put a move on Alonso as the Ferrari driver became desperately short of grip, locking up his tyres at turn 13… and we all know what happened next.

This tells us two things about the much-debated question of – brace yourself for that horrible phrase – “improving the show”.

First, aerodynamics is still a big problem and fully dry races are likely to be much more processional than what we saw today.

However, because all the cars at Melbourne started on intermediate tyres none of them were forced to use both dry tyre compounds. As a result we saw some drivers pit more than others and as a result lapped quicker on fresh tyres later in the race – creating the opportunity for racing.

In the dry at Bahrain we saw no major differences in strategy among the front runners because of the mandatory pit stop rule. Removing this rule, and the requirement for the top ten qualifiers to start on the tyres they set their fastest time on should, looks like a good way of improving the quality of racing in F1. The next few races should provide more evidence for whether this is a good idea or not.

Read more: Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem

Race charts

Australian Grand Prix: Race chart
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (click to enlarge)

Here are the race charts showing the gap between the race leader and the other drivers (top) and a version of the chart based on the leaders’ average lap time (bottom). The lap chart (below) shows the position of each car on each lap.

Australian Grand Prix: Lap chart
Australian Grand Prix: Lap chart (click to enlarge)
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (average times)
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (average times) (click to enlarge)

2010 Australian Grand Prix

188 comments on “Melbourne was a blast but F1’s aero problem remains (Australian GP analysis)”

  1. Kobayashi’s front wing fell off, jammed under his front WINGS and he slammed into Buemi and Hülkenberg.

    you may want to correct that

    1. Fixed, thanks.

      1. also ‘Hamilton climbing for places to 11th’

        dont you mean he climber four places to 7th?

    2. i think fia ruined the good work they ve done with the 09 regulations longer cars mean harder overtakes i do like the new look but next year with the ban of yhe DD difusers maybe f1 will be even better

      1. yesterday i wrote exacly the same about the aero overtaking was much easier when the track was damp afterwards the race became a train 1st half of race a 10 2nd half a 5 for the uk fans of course the race was fantastic but on reality it wasnst mainly beacuse of the 2nd part

  2. Great article, this site and the articles it publishes are truly excellent for enthusiasts like myself. What’s more is they are written in a very impartial way, unlike certain other sites who’s bias is very obvious. Keep up the good work.

    1. I truly second that.
      The best site and the best comments :)

    2. Thanks guys :-)

  3. Interesting Australian overtaking stats from ClipTheApex:

    Total overtakes: 32 (Bahrain was 21)

    Drivers: most overtaking moves: Michael Schumacher (8), Fernando Alonso (5), Lewis Hamilton (5), Mark Webber (5)

    Most times overtaken: Pedro de la Rosa (5), Felipe Massa (5), Karun Chandhok (4)

    1. Very nice stat. While rather clinical, it does support the fact that today’s race was far from processional. Thank you.

      1. There were 21 on track overtakes at Bahrain, significantly higher that the Bahrain average of 17.29, the big problem there was that most of them didn’t appear to be televised. I think this is a major issue in F1 along with negative reporting in the media.

        1. Plus they were all between backmarkers.

          1. You can’t have every race with 10 changes of leader.

          2. Well, you would expect the front runners to do at least a little overtaking. Do brilliant passes for 18th place get remembered for decades to come?

          3. Yeah, I still remember (2 weeks is along time for my memory) that great pass between Glock and err, umm,,,, that other guy.

          4. …With much less downforce.

          5. There wasn’t a single on track pass for the lead in Australia. A big difference in that race was that the television coverage included most of the overtakes.

    2. so 7 more then last year

    3. Just 5 from Alonso??? MMmhhh

    4. HounslowBusGarage
      29th March 2010, 8:57

      Not sure I can understand these figures. Chandhok completed 53 laps against the first twelve drivers completing 58 each. So how could Chandhok only have been overtaken 4 times?

      1. I think those overtaking stats are for position, being lapped doesn’t count.

        1. Exactly. Funny that Massa was overtaken for position more times than Chandhok but I guess when your at the back you’re at the back!

  4. I believe it’s time to allow free tire choice. Allow them to choose which ever tires they want. If they can make soft last the entire race well advantage to that team. Bring hard and super soft and allow free choice. This way some might try for full race on hard and some might do 1 or 2 stops on super softs. With 2+sec difference on the tires super softs could be advantage you can push harder and be faster the pit stop time would drop you down but might give you the speed/grip advantage to overtake to. This race showed how exciting the race can be with free tire choice.

    1. Erm, I have a different idea, get rid of the sillt qually rule for starters, but instead of bringing tyres that can last a whole race distance, bring tyres taht can’t.

      All the teams thought that the softs would last to the end, but when they didn’t, some teams tried a gamble.

      Bring tyres to a race that will not last, maybe so that on a 1 stop they will struggle on an average track, this also means that the cars due to the softer tyres have more mechanical grip, which will aid overtaking.

      Do we really need 2 compounds? every weekend it looks like 1 is the optimal one and the other is a dodgy one. do we really need that?
      Obviously it doesn’t aid overtaking…

    2. Toby Bushby
      30th March 2010, 1:38

      Or even better, make the teams choose which two compounds they will take to each race. Each team chooses two, then Bridgestone delivers them to the track. Force the teams to know their own tyres without Bridgestone giving them advice. Oh, and remove the qualifying tyre rule. (I just love how spell-check tells me I’m spelling “tyre” wrong…. “tire” is something you do after walking around Albert Park all day.)

  5. I remember in the race Ted Kravitz said something along the lines of Ferrari felt Massa had the pace but as he was in the dirty air it hurt him do it must have really been an issue for Ham and Web as they caught up later when the track was drier.

  6. Removing this [mandatory pit stop] rule, and the requirement for the top ten qualifiers to start on the tyres they set their fastest time on looks like a good way of improving the quality of racing in F1.

    Couldn’t agree more! I just wish everyone would refer to it as improving the ‘quality of races’ and not ‘the show.’

    1. I hate the phrase “improving the show”.

      1. Hate is too weaker word Keith, don’t hold back, it’s more like detest, loathe or abhor.

      2. just like the phrase “double decker diffusor”

        1. Not nearly as bad as “stuck in dirty air”.

      3. Varun Mehta
        29th March 2010, 6:30

        It’s a better phrase than last years “Fuel corrected”.

      4. Look at the bright side, at least no-one’s suggested bringing in Simon Cowell as a consultant.


  7. After reviewing the data, if you change your tyres you cant over take people who stayed out on old tyres.

    Two stop stratagies will not happen again this season.

    1. Spot on, as Martin Whitmarsh said yesterday you needed to be 3 seconds quicker than the man in front to get close enough to overtake in dry conditions. If new softs arent 3 seconds quicker than softs that have done 30+ laps on an abrasive street circuit they never will be and it wont be tried again.

      Everyone, commentators and people on pit lane, said that the softs would last the distance and they did quite easily. In that case, what is the point of having the ‘prime’? Surely the point of having 2 types of tyre is to offer a steady prime and a quicker option that will fall off and not last?

      How about the F1 becomes a winter sport? It’d be guaranteed to rain more!

    2. That was one of my thoughts. The brave (and ultimately doomed) souls that enlivened the latter part of the race with this strategy went home licking their wounds. Given the same situation again, they’ll just stick to trundling around in the train.

      We may still see rain and very slow cars out of position again to help liven things up, but I’m worried it won’t be very common.

    3. Not for Lewis Hamilton anyway! Still worth trying fresh tyres to pass someone if there’s a decent gap behind you, if it loses you no places or maybe one.

      Many people are quoting Martin Whitmarsh and his 3 seconds. I’m not sure it’s as bad as that. Hamilton nearly made it past Alonso – which is always going to be tough – and no doubt would have tried again on the last lap if he’d not been rudely bundled off the track.

      He wasn’t seconds faster over a lap but was staggeringly quick in a straight line, and that created opportunities for him. He must have a sore knee this morning after pressing it against the vent all afternoon!

      I predict there’ll be some overtaking on the long straights in Malaysia and China, the teams will meet and take no action, and the problem will go away a little, until we reach Barcelona…

  8. I think you have hit on the big change that could improve the show Keith… RAIN!

    THanks to Bernie wanting lights and other modifications that some claim are artifical. MAybe it is time to include rain machines across the circuit. If you want the best driver to the fore, this would work.

    You could have them around the whole track and control them with computers so the start and finish time is completely random!

    We could then include some of those powerups from death race where the first driver to cross the mark gets an offensive or defensive weapon.

    To be honest my contribution for the remainder of the season will be to pray for rain! The race was fantastic!

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      29th March 2010, 2:30

      Sorry, but the idea of a “rain machine” is ridiculous. How much water do you think it would take to food the circuit – and keep it that way? We’re talking megalitres. Now, consider this: Melbourne is still in the vice-like grip of water restricions. Their dam is currently hovering at round 30% capactiy because significant parts of the Austrlian continent are caught up in a seriou drought. If you were to plant “rain machines” around the circuit for the sake of flooding it, the resulting public outcry would be ridiculous. I cannot think of a worse way to waste water.

      1. You do realise he was having a sarcastic joke at the farce which is quickly becoming our beloved formula one right?

        no? ok maybe not…

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          29th March 2010, 9:15

          Actually, I’ve heard of serious suggestions of “rain machines”. It’s possible to flood the circuit at Paul Ricard, but it’s very expensive and uses a lot of water.

          1. How bout people from the stands having water balloons and targeting them when they pass by, that should give us an unpredictable race.

          2. Really, what a waste? that wouldn’t happen in Australia, we have water issues….

          3. You could bottle it after the race and give to the poor!

    2. Well the GP in KL, should have lots of water around, there is a 60% chance of rain every day!

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        29th March 2010, 13:56

        That’s the point though isn’t it. The races which would need “rain machines” the most are the ones in countries that rarely have rain…and are therefore often running low on water supplies.

        Joke or not, rain machines would never be feasible. The feasible way of achieving the same result is to cut down on aero grip and/or increase mechanical grip. And we’ve been crying for that for years!
        I almost hope the rest of the season is as dull as Bahrain just so that the teams finally get scared enough to make some REAL changes to the cars for 2011.

    3. It didn’t do last night’s, I mean today’s, Indycar race much good…

  9. It certainly still is a problem as we saw from the last few laps with Hamilton unable to pass Alonso in the “dirty air”

    As usual though no one will listen and just blame Herman Tilke…

    1. I blame him as well, boring wide easy circuits with no elevation and too much run off and no punishing walls or kitty liter (although I suspect the rules he works under might enforce all of this) , that being said….

      The aero problem is so bad now, they can’t even get close enough to try and force a mistake….

      1. “I blame him as well, boring wide easy circuits with no elevation and too much run off and no punishing walls or kitty liter” Well he has to stick to the restrictions when designing tracks

        1. the one time I don’t add that as an after note…. ^^

      2. But he can’t do anything about it, he was strict rules to make these tracks and they produce good racing in other Formula’s so it’s the cars.

  10. Nice article and charts. Puts things in better perspective.

    I say bring back limited ground effects and reduce the wing-produced downforce.

    – a spec undertray/floorpan section all teams must adhere to
    – designed to produce max 500kg @ 270kph (or some tested value at a certain speed)
    – no more diffusers (at most just a restricted size flat panel with a hole for the starter and no sideplates)
    – single wing only at the rear with reduced chord with no sideplate aero tricks (no lower wings or winglets/scoops)
    – limited chord front wing with limited area adjustable fins (limited air deflectors ok as long as they don’t add downforce)
    – current limits on bargeboards and bodywork restrictions ok

    I’m not an areo engineer, but the earler ground effect cars that generated most of their downforce via the undertray rather than big wings didn’t have much of a washout problem.

    Maybe it’s a silly idea, and it would certainly need testing, but otherwise maybe an option to consider.

    1. I agree, Kremer, but the reason ground effects were abandoned was due to safety. Did you see Kobayashi today? If he had got in that state with GE’s Kamui should have gotten truly air-borne. See footage of the death of Gilles Villeneuve, for a demonstration.

      1. Villeneuve’s – and for that matter Pironi’s at Hockenheim – were truly horrific accidents, but there are a couple of points worth raising in support of the idea of GE making a comeback:

        * The cars in ’82 weren’t carbon fibre and were much less structurally sound than those of today.
        * Many of the GE accidents were caused by suspension failure. I reckon the constructors could build stronger suspension these days. In fact, outside of the top teams, the build quality of the cars was often shockingly poor. In these days of mandatory safety tests etc., I reckon that wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

        It’s also worth noting that there were few GE-related accidents of note back in 79-80 (I’m not forgetting poor Depallier though) before the sliding skirts were banned. When FISA (the FIA) banned the skirts the teams got around it by pretty much removing all suspension movement – shocks being absorbed through the tires! It’s no wonder drivers were complaining of double vision…

        Great race this weekend btw :)

      2. How did ground effect figure in Gilles Villeneuve’s death?

        Villeneuve’s Ferrari crashed into the back on Jochen Mass’ slow moving March during a qualifying session. Mass had seen Villeneuve and pulled over off of the racing line, but Villeneuve assumed Mass hadn’t seen him and so also moved off line to pass him. Villeneuve’s bitter rivalry with Didier Pironi and the need to get the most from ultra-sticky one lap qualifying tyres also contributed.

        Ground effect was banned because the teams were running ever-harder suspension, which took an enormous physical toll on the drivers. But I can’t see how it made any difference whatsoever to Villeneuve’s death.

        1. AFAIK, when Villeneuve hit the back of Mass’ car, the incredibly stiffly sprung suspension allied to a sudden loss of GE caused the car the literally cartwheel. Pironi’s accident was similar.

          Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though ;-)

          Incidentally, a great book to read on the era is Nigel Roebuck’s ‘Inside F1’, which is basically a selection of his Autosport ‘5th Column’, well, columns! The book deals with the period 80-88(ish). I’m old to remember watching the news of Villeneuve’s death on the BBC news, but as I was still under 10, there’s plenty in the book that was a surprise to me.

          1. I think you are wrong – these sorts of accidents have happened to flat bottomed, non-ground effect cars as well. See my response to gpfan.

        2. Well, Tim, due to the GE, Gilles motor went sky-ward-like when he battered on Mass’s tyres. Then he died.

          What are you having problems with?

          1. My problem is with your reasoning – i.e. driver of ground effect car suffers fatal accident, therefore ground effect must be to blame for the accident.

            What happened to make the ground effect Ferrari go skyward that wouldn’t have happened on a flat bottomed car? From the footage I’ve seen, Villeneuve’s front left makes contact with Mass’ right rear which launches the Ferrari. The same thing happened to Riccardo Patrese at Estoril in 1992 and Christian Fittipaldi at Monza in 1993 – both in flat bottomed cars. The only differences being that Patrese’s Williams landed on its rear wheels, Fittipaldi’s Minardi landed pretty much square on all four wheels, while Villeneuve’s Ferrari lands on its nose. Nearly 20 years ago I witnessed a fatal accident in Formula 3 in nearly identical circumstances to Villeneuve’s – both drivers involved were in non-ground effect Ralts.

            There have also been various incidents with flat bottomed sports prototypes getting airbourne on their own – see Peter Dumbreck and Mark Webber at Le Mans in 1999.

            I’m more than happy to stand corrected if you can explain what was uniquely dangerous about a ground effect car – but I’ve never read anything to suggest that ground effect made Villeneuve’s crash fatal.

    2. Eddie Irvine
      29th March 2010, 8:53

      This will bring F1 back to 1950.. Introducing a standard amount of downforce a car can create is like removing the brain from Andrian Newey.
      The best solution is GET RID OF RPM LIMITER, cars can’t use slipstreaming because even they have lower air resistance they also rev up to 18,000 as the car in front, so they just can’t go faster… it’s simple as that even if you have zero air resistance after some meteres the car in front will have the same speed as yours.
      Imagine you’re driving in a downhill, you all know you can go faster, but if your car had a rpm limiter to 4,000revs then you couldn’t use the benefit of the downhill.
      ALso, with bigger speeds comes the bigger braking more room to overtake under braking!

      1. They are far from a problem. Cars only rev up to 18,000, yes, but they can adjust the gear ratios to get past that. We see that all the time – how do you think they manage to get to such high speeds at Monza, along with low downforce? Higher gear ratios. This allows cars to get to even higher speeds without topping out… If the limiters are so restrictive then how would speeds of 330km/h be possible? Even when (lack of) downforce is taken into the equation, it’s still the same. They don’t get any faster because that is the maximum that current F1 cars can do in the best conditions. The benefits of removing the rev limiter would be negligible, if there were any benefits at all.

        1. The benefit would be variability.

          With a hard cap of 18,000 rpm, most teams are within a couple horsepower of each other. If you remove the cap, then teams might be able to milk a few more horsepower out of an engine and gain an advantage.

          The other possibility is blowing an enigine. But, that’s the compromise you have to balance…performance vs. reliability.

          I’m all for getting rid of artificial tech constraints like rev limitations.

          1. I would think we wanted the engines to be similar as opposed to giving advantage to one that can handle the extra RPM,

            I think that this, is not a real problem, Aerodynamics is what is causing the problem. More speed bigger braking zones? Slightly yes, but the amount of extra speed needed would be incredible.

            To increase breaking zones, It would be better to reduce the aerodynamic potential of the cars, (extending braking zones by both lowering mid corner speed and lowering brake effectiveness, or and this one seems simple to me, Reduce the size/effectiveness of the brakes themselves. although that could provide many arguments against it namely for safety reasons.

      2. I don’t think it would be a good idea, but removing the limitation of 8 engines per season would.

        It’s stupid hearing pitbox to Massa “don’t push, conserve engine. Not for now but for next races”

        come on…

  11. The racing is better when there is marginal grip. I think aero is a factorbut not the major factor. They need to lose mechanical grip – one way would be to make the tyres go off so much quicker – you could get them to race on the full wets, there would be loads more pit stops, or simply get rid of tyre warmers (easiest option to implement). I’d love to see the race the officals wet the track 5 minutes before they start and get them to start on intermediates just like Melbourne but the purists will argue until they are blue in the face on that. Mixing it up will see some fast drivers fall backwards and then have to carve their way through the field.

    1. But then they have a worse problem – aero washout still prevents close racing, and now they have to contend with even less tire grip. That would only add more dangerous understeer trying to overtake in corners in the faster sections.

      1. Hey, Kremer? I have always maintained that aeros extreme of the wheel base should be FIA controlled/ designed. That is: get rid of the front and rear wings, or make them minimal. The teams do not like this as it removes prime advertising space, but many ran without front wings in the ground effects era. And, if you remember Long Beach in ’79(?) Villeneuve ran with a ‘double’ rear wing, that was basically a two-fingered salute to the FOCA. This wing provided zero aeros. So, to provide ad-space, maybe the FIA could introduce “Andy’s Ad-Wings” (TM. me! lol).

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      29th March 2010, 2:49

      No, you need to get rid of aerodynamic grip. More mechanical grip is fine, because it relies on the driver to make it work. When one driver pressures another, mistakes are not so costly because a pursuing driver cannot get in range. But with mechanical grip, we can get drivers racing closer to one another.

      Mechanical grip requires the driver in order to work. Aerodynamic grip just works automatically.

    3. Rob, We need less Aerodynamic grip, and more mechanical grip, if you are suggesting having tyres that wear faster, I agree, but a softer compound, giving more mechanical grip with a short lifespan is the way to go, Cars can’t pass because of the Aerodynamics of the cars.

      I see where you came up with your idea, but the reality of a wet race is that because they drivers are struggling to keep the car on the track, they make mistakes and can’t drive at 100%, less mechanical grip on a dry track will see them drive slower, but it won’t help passing at all.

  12. What a great race! Exciting from start to finish! You really don´t need to have a team (I do have one though) to get glued to the TV screen. Completely the opposite of Bahrain (aka Boring-ain)…

  13. Very important points at the end of the article Keith about mandatory stops – I completely agree with them all.

    The fact that FOTA might be considering two mandatory stops troubles me, because this offers *even less* chance of grip differences between cars. It just seems obvious.

  14. One further point, I think the short pitlane at Melbourne, whilst being very tight between garages, also means that the cost of pitting is less than at most other tracks, i.e. Bahrain. Pitting at Monaco also doesn’t seem to cost a driver quite as much time (Hamilton 2008).

    I therefore have two ideas to make pitstops cost less time:

    1. design circuits with garages on either side and shorten the pitlane by half (a bit of an effort perhaps!).
    2. Increase the pit lane speed limit (not going to happen of course).

    So, in summary, none of my ideas have any credibility! But perhaps my point is made.

    1. Ordinarily it is a quick pit lane but they reduced the speed limit in it this year. I expect the strategists took that into account though.

      1. “I expect the strategists took that into account though.”

        No Way! They never think of everything! ;) lol

    2. I really like your ideas. With a pit lane twice as wide, there would be less penalties, higher speed limits, shorter stop times.

      Why didn’t anyone think of this instead of making big useless tracks like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. If they wanted to increase tourism, they wouldn’t have made a track in the godamn desert. Make it go over the water or something like the Hong Kong street circuit which goes over the water like a jetty.


  15. The use of hard and soft tyres at Melbourne was a change from last year due to complaints about degradation of the super-softs. Yet in this race the option/soft tyres were apparently capable of completing nearly an entire race distance, maybe because of the cool temperatures but despite the high fuel loads that were still there in the early laps.

    This had a major effect on the race outcome as the leaders only stopped once on laps 5-9. Keith alluded to this early tire change in his preview, expecting the first lap safety car to enable an early tyre change (to the harder compound). However, it was the rain that meant a tyre change was no longer mandatory but only required to get the cars onto slick rubber. I was surprised the option tires, not the hard tyres, lasted most of the race.

  16. Everything Kremer says above is spot on, the cars need to rely less on over-body air flow and should be permitted to make the under-body more effective.

    The obvious caveat to that is safety – we really don’t need a second era of ground effect.

    One other thing – why is there a section of front wing that must be undeveloped?! Cars cannot follow each other because they cannot generate enough front end grip, yet the FIA enforces an ineffective front wing?!?! Idiots.

    1. i think that the thinking behind that was if the wing is designed to produce down force from the sides rather than the middle, then they would be less affected from the turbulance from the car in front.

      1. That’s the theory, but it’s not working too well, is it? :(

        I’m in favour (see above and on various other threads) of a return to some form of GE F1 cars, but that aside, wouldn’t removing the ridiculous underbody plank help things somewhat???

      2. That’s correct.

        Problem is, when you follow a car around the corner, the wake from the diffuser is not likely to travel through the centre of the following car, but at the sides!

        1. True enough. I’m really trying to make the point that the plank is almost like the reverse of *underbody* grip, which given the reliance on aero through the wings really doesn’t help matters.

    2. Settle down, kid. ‘Idiots’? Come on, now. You just didn’t understand the point of it.

  17. I’m almost certainly being thick, but I don’t really understand what the bottom table is meant to show. If the dependant variable is the gap to leader’s average time, how come the leader isn’t a constant along the bottom and how come the leader only achieves a gap of 0 on his last lap? Is the y axis meant to be gap to the leaders best?

    1. The graph is correct. Think of it as the gap compared to the leader if he had circulated at a constant speed the whole race.

      In the first few laps they were racing slower because of a damp track, so the gap increased steadily. Then around lap 8 when the track dried they could put in faster laps so they started catching up.

      If you look carefully you will see the lines curve downward towards the end. This is because they were lapping ever faster as the fuel loads decreased (although not so much because they had to nurse their tyres.)

      If the race had started dry and ended wet, you’d see the line dip below zero at the beginning and turn upwards when the rain fell and lap times increased.


      1. oh right I see now. Cheers martin

  18. Nice Perspective. I had the same opinion in the Rate the Race topic. More than refuelling or No Refuelling but it is about making the cars more overtakable. I was watching the live timings in the F1 App from (FIA) One thing was evident. So many faster cars were stuck behind slower ones. If it was for the correct strategy and better overtaking possibilities Hamilton would have won by a mile ahead Button and co. So is the case with Fernando. Robert though was not the fastest car managed to stick on.


    Feel very sorry for Vettel. Red Bull garage needs to improve the work.

    AND VERY VERY SORRY FOR HAMILTON. Drove a fantastic race. Was really let down by Maclaren. TO me he drove the best race of the GP. I could understand his frustration when he yelled out in 54th lap “whose Terrible Idea it was to do a pitstop? “. yes putting the team on the pedestal is wrong but at that moment one can justify Lewis.

    1. Keith, quick question Any plans for developing an iPhone app based on this blog? Should be real fun given that ipad is also getting released now ? Sorry for little diversion on topic.

      1. Mouse_Nightshirt
        29th March 2010, 1:56

        Android as well if you’re at it!

        1. Any decent coders on here? My code is somewhat limited by today’s standards ;-)

    2. Sush Meerkat
      29th March 2010, 9:35

      “AND VERY VERY SORRY FOR HAMILTON. Drove a fantastic race. Was really let down by Maclaren.”

      No TMAX, he wasn’t let down by anyone, the optimum strategy is to pit for tyres first, Hamilton pitted while no one else did, they pitted him on the assumption that others would also pit.

      Both Hamilton and McLaren got out foxed by Button.

    3. How did Bridgestone muster the courage to bring a set of tyres that will last an entire race?

      That decision was taken a month before the Bahrain Grand Prix:

      Harder tyres for the Australian Grand Prix

      Given they have to manufacture and ship the tyres out there at considerable cost they weren’t going to change the compounds based on what happened at the first race.

      Nor is it by any means a given we would have seen a better race if they had brought softer tyres. It really isn’t as simple as that.

  19. Good Analysis For improve This F1 ” drama “

  20. I don´t see any problems with Hamilton having trouble to pass Alonso at the end of the race. I am following F1 since 72 and I always hear the same thing:
    To catch one driver is one thing, to overtake him is a completly different thing(it sounds much better in my native language)
    My point is, given enough time, Hamilton would eventually pass Alonso,
    but would be very boring if he could accomplish it right away. Where would be the excitement?

    1. I miss Murry…. (sad face)

    2. This is true – it should be hard to overtake, but based on what I’ve seen, its going to be actually impossible (as opposed to nearly impossible)to pass anyone in Barcelona, Monaco, Hungary, Valencia, Silverstone, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and Suzuka. Saturday will be more exciting that Sundays at those venues if the races are dry.

      Melbourne has not historically a terribly difficult place to pass, and neither for that matter was Bahrain, but what we’ve seen this year is shocking. Its as though the extra developed rear diffuers have made the air just that much dirtier and the effect is pronounced.

      1. I only disagree with one thing. Monaco and Valencia (street circuits) always have been nearly/actually impossible to pass anyone, specially Monaco (bicycle races would have the same problem there) and a lot of drivers refers to the Hungary circuit as more appropriated for karting races. On the other hand, old circuits like Monza, Interlagos, Spa and the old Hokenheime, never had this kind of problems. I read some nice comments here stating that the problem with overtaking has also a lot to do with the circuits and I agree with that.

  21. Well, if you guys wish for rain in Sepang, Malaysia this coming weekend, then you’re in luck. It has been raining heavily for the past few days here.

  22. Bartholomew
    29th March 2010, 1:57

    I propose rock hard tyres with smaller brakes, and a mandatory stop for a chug of beer.
    Then, making the cars 1,5 meters shorter.
    Now were talking business !

  23. Keith, you wrote:
    “But the fact remains the Ferrari driver had covered twice as great a distance on his rubber and Hamilton was faster. The McLaren driver couldn’t get close enough to try a pass because, now the track had dried, the cars were once again extremely sensitive to running in disturbed air.”

    With due respect, these are not the facts. And your theory accordingly is not supported. In the race I watched, in the final stages, Hamilton was climbing all over Alonso, and in fact was straight under his wing through the back esses before pulling along side on the next straight. He would have got him without a doubt were it not for Webber’s brain fade. In fact, aero-evils did not keep Hamilton from carving up some competitive cars throughout the race. I know we like the mash the aerodynamics-spoils-everything key all the time, but for once, the tire-wear differential actually overcame the aero thing here and to great effect.

    If anything, the race between Hamilton and the Ferraris in the closing stages simply shows that the cure for the passing problem is to bring in more drivers who will take the shot if the grip is there, period. Those drivers would change the current culture of the sport, wherein drivers slam the door way too late and then go crying to the stewards, and therefore where no one want’s to do a pass lest they get fined for contact or for violating the Hamilton Rule.

    1. I’m with Keith and disagree with your 2nd paragraph. However, I think you make a very good point in your 3rd…

    2. Hamilton reported over the radio that his tires were shot when he’d caught up to Alonso. A combination of his pace to catch up and the aero might explain this. To me he seemed to be at the greatest disadvantage over the last 2 slow corners before the main straight, where aero was the less critical component.

      1. Quick question: wasnt the whole aero kit on the car redesigned to allow more overtakin as u cud sit more in the slipstream?

    3. aero-evils did not keep Hamilton from carving up some competitive cars throughout the race

      Obviously the track surface was changing throughout the race – from wet to damp to dry. When the cars are struggling for grip the aerodynamic wake is far less of a problem (and this is when Hamilton made those great passes). Once the track is dry the aerodynamics become a greater limiting factor.

      1. Disturbed air isn’t the problem with overtaking, because the air was disturbed exactly the same earlier in the race, when there was overtaking. Mechanical grip is the real problem, That race proved the point, the start of the race the cars struggled for Mechanical grip on a damp track and went through phases of drying to a green state with no rubber down. From lap 10 we had lots of overtaking, but around lap 40 when Hamilton got stuck behind Kubica, the track had rubbered in and mechanical grip was at an optimum and a car 2 seconds a lap faster than Alonso on shot soft tyres struggled to make an impression.

        1. I’m not sure about that. In the earlier part of the race the cars are travling slower, therefore air isn’t passing over the car as quickly, which leads to less downforce being generated.

          1. That’s a different point to my point being that disturbed air is still disturbed air. If you follow a bus at 30 miles an hour or 60 miles an hour you’re still sitting behind a box shaped hole in the air, but the turbulance around that hole will be more intense because the air is travelling quicker. You’re right when you say when the cars first went to drys the aero wouldn’t be as efficient because the cars are travelling slower, and they were travelling slower because of less than optimum grip on a green track, i.e mechanical grip. If F1 introduced rock hard tyres that give comparable performance to that poor grip overtaking frenzy period in the Oz GP (lap 10 onwards) the aero wouldn’t be the problem! That disturbed air affects the tyres over a prolonged period because the tyres are too soft. On rock hard tyres it just wouldn’t be an issue. Thank You, you actually helped me explain the point.

          2. Dr Le Quack, that is a very good article. Didn’t they only run that wing on the ovals though? I watched Indy Cars back then and I seem to remember they only ran it on the oval tracks? I could be wrong though, that was a long time a go. The racing was great though. Frankly if it would work on an F1 car, the FIA and FOTA need to get on with it!

        2. Jasper, sorry, but I really think you are wrong wile Keith is spot on! You always need some mechanical grip regardless of the aero because all the downforce in the world cannot make the cars change direction (until they are equipped with air rudders!)

          When the track gets wet the mechanical grip becomes the main cornering-speed factor over the aero, and this is further enhanced by the lower speeds. All of a sudden we a lot of overtaking and action because distribution of mechanical grip is all about skill and feeling and in addition alternative lines start to make sense. Again everything is enhanced by the lower speed because cars follow each other closer but this is not the main reason.

          The main reason simply is that the mechanical grip factor by far overrules the areo grip factor and that’s why this race should easily make it clear for everyone that mechanical grip is the way to go and aero grip has gone way too far. I don’t think it could have been outlined any clearer than in Melbourne!

          On top of it all; Hamilton’s excess of speed on the fresh tires in the dry should make it clear that pit stops should not be controlled and ultimately the quantity and type of tires not either.

  24. Florida Mike
    29th March 2010, 2:13

    Matchett and Hobbs on Speed were very vocal about the rules going in the wrong direction; reducing mechanical grip with narrower tires while increasing aero-dependant grip with larger front wings. Plus those wide front wings are a inevitably the contact point when things get tight. Limiting the front wing to no wider than the inside distance between the front tires seems like an easy way to relieve the dependance on clean-air.

  25. [blockquote]During the first half of the race the Melbourne track was damp and then drying. The lack of grip meant the detrimental effect of running in the slipstream of another car was far less of a limiting factor for the drivers and so we saw lots of exciting passes and changes of position.{blockquote]

    I think this actually suggests that aero problem is less of an aero issue than a grip problem. Maybe give them rock hard tires so a) the drivers can rely less on the mechanical grip, and b) have more than one grippy racing line through the course. I think everyone has bought into the “aero problem” because the media is pounding it home, but this exciting wet race – especially the first half – makes me believe that we’re barking up the wrong tree.

  26. I dont dont feel different tyre stratergies is good, it promotes artifical overtaking,it cant be anything but artifical,1 car on nice fresh soft rubber,passing a car with worn rubber,thats well?Yeah shortening the wheelbase may help,get rid of the diffusers and anything that will loosen the rear end up so that they have to battle with balance.Get the safety car on the track more regularly.

    1. I dont dont feel different tyre stratergies is good, it promotes artifical overtaking,it cant be anything but artifical,1 car on nice fresh soft rubber,passing a car with worn rubber,thats well?

      I don’t agree.

      We’re talking about a driver having a choice between, say, using one set of tyres and nursing them for an entire race distance, or using more than one set of tyres but being able to use them more aggressively and having to accept the time lost in the pits.

      That’s part of the challenge of racing, there’s nothing artificial about it.

      Why do you think would shortening the wheelbase help?

  27. Yes, thank you! As I watched things unfold, I too felt like the rain had played a big part in the exciting racing, yet it was the difference in tire strategy that was applicable to future adjustments. If they would just get rid of those damn stupid tire rules, strategy would be freed up and, as we saw, would make for more interesting racing.

    1. Analyze the Melbourne race objectively and the fundamentals still equate with Bahrain.

      The train progressively forming behind Kubica, with the only serious attempt to pass – Webber on Hamilton – ending in disaster, confirms that a reasonably talented driver in a healthy car is almost impossible to pass.

      So, since the race did excite from time to time, what caused this to be?
      1. Weather, specifically rain, which cannot be counted upon to affect each race in a similar fashion.
      2. Tires, since everyone started on wets, the foolish tire rules were negated and everyone was free to use whatever tires they wished, whenever and however they wished, thereafter.

      Since we can count on the tire factor in every race, change those rules now! Bridgestone brings 3 slick compounds, 1 intermediate and 1 full wet tire to each race. The teams are free to use whichever tire – or combination thereof – at will, the number of tires being the only restriction.

      A fix? No! Just a Band-Aid, till a permanent fix is instigated in way of trashing a number of similarly foolish restrictions in other areas, that have destroyed the racing in favour of the show.

  28. During the race the commentators were talking about an idea Sam Michael had about making it possible for the drivers to adjust front and rear wings during the race to enable them to follow other cars more closely.

    Can someone with more technical nouse than me (ie, any) tell me if this would work. And if it would be possible to introduce mid season?

    1. theRoswellite
      29th March 2010, 6:39

      Here’s my take…which does not imply that I have any special technical insight.

      If you allow the wings to be adjustable, then all the cars will be able to increase the down force when they need it (braking, cornering, accelerating) and decrease the down force when they don’t need it (on the straights).

      It won’t help the problem, it will make it worse because the car running in the front of a group of cars will be in clean air…thus his use of down force will be increased compared to now, while the following cars will be in even more disrupted air; so that even though they can increase their down force from adjustable wings it will be less relative to the car in front of them. You have actually exacerbated the problem.

      With apologies to many of the folks above…

      The problem is the abundance of aero down force over mechanical grip. Period.

      Perhaps I can exaggerate for effect.

      Imagine the car in front of a group with no down force assistance from wings. As he bores a hole through the air, the following car encounters disrupted air (if he follows close enough he will find himself in an area in which the air has been “parted” and has not yet been able to return to it’s normal condition…thus the following car will encounter much less drag. This is of course, drafting.

      But, to return to our problem…

      Because we are having all the cars receive no down force from aero, the following cars will not be affected by the wake turbulence, to use the aeronautical term, thus when they come to a corner they can follow close behind the leading car…their grip on the road, mechanical grip, will be the same, theoretically, as the car in front of them.

      This is WELL UNDERSTOOD by the FIA and the teams.

      So, why you ask, don’t they drop the aero-grip, or down force? Simple. It will decrease the cars speed in corners…significantly. Very significantly. And, the powers that be do not want the most technically advanced race cars on earth to be seen as…..slow.

      However, there is an answer. You can still axe the aero if you increase the mechanical grip enormously by……such things as: increasing the size of the contact patch (wider tires), allow the suspensions to be variable, or active,(which does not mean they have to be automatic), attempt to have the tire compounds be as adhesive as possible.

      Finally, sorry for the length, the use of increased down force from the underside of the car, ground effects, will not solve the problem because the amount of down force the car gets from GE is affected by the air the car encounters. If the air is disrupted, following close behind another car, then the down force will be less. It is the same conundrum.

      We need to stop racing “air-craft” and start racing cars again.

      1. Reducing the wings and eliminating the diffuser and low rear wings/flaps will do a lot to reduce low level turbulence, and the front undertray splitter should allow limited ground effects to work underneath.

        Lower aero grip in the corners won’t drive away fans, and your suspension suggestions might help.
        The key is to level the ground effects for everyone and maybe let the designers have more leeway other than the smaller wing restrictions and no diffusers.

    2. What a surprise – an engineer suggests a solution that involves more engineering.

      I’m deeply sceptical. I can’t see many solutions to the problem that don’t involve taking more of Sam Michael’s toys away.

      1. Well, I suggest LESS engineering.
        But, I am rather olde-fashioned.

  29. I don’t get what all the fuss is about. It is certainly possible to measure how ‘clean’ the air is behind a F1 car in a wind tunnel. Give the engineers free hands, but introduce a rule saying how clean the air should be behind the car. I’m not that into aerodynamics but I’m pretty certain the engineers are doing everything they can at the moment to disrupt the air flow behind their car.

    1. True, but how do you measure or enforce it?

      1. Accidental Mick
        29th March 2010, 14:21

        @ Gustav. With you all the way on this. It would stop designers deliberately producing cars that are difficult to overtake.

        @ Mike Put all cars through a wind tunnel before the season starts. Then, either ban outright any aero updates or put the car back through the wind tunnel after the updates have been added.

  30. All drivers who had gained the most positions ( Senna, Chandhok, Petrov) didnt made anything good at the race

  31. Another great analysis Keith. I have to make two points though.

    “Jenson Button pitted for soft tyres on lap six and completed the remaining 52 laps without another stop for tyres – an impressive feat.”

    It is impressive, but the fact that F1 tyres are now so durable that a driver can last 51 laps on the second softest compound available to him is one of the reasons F1 races have become so processional. How many laps could Jenson have completed on the “prime” tyre (the hardest offered by Bridgestone), my guess is about 100, far far more than a race distance. Prehaps I’m simplfying things here, but in my view, a super soft and soft tyre should be just that… SOFT! They should provide epic grip and massive pace, but for a VERY limited time period. These things should be worn out within 10-15 laps, no more.

    “The aero problem”

    You hit the nail on the head again Keith. Much more still needs to be done to limit the cars reliance on aerodynamic grip. Yesterday’s race was epic, but it was solely because of the changeable weather conditions. Yesterdays race would have been processional too if it had been dry. Need evidence? Fernando Alonso could not pass Felipe Massa, who was clearly struggling with the car. A driver in a quick car, who had great pace through FP and Quali, and who is one of the best racers on the grid today, could not get by his team mate who was struggling to keep his car on the track never mind string some fast laps together. Lewis Hamilton, driving his socks off in the McLaren, couldn’t get by Alonso despite the fact that he had been catching him at 1.5 seconds per lap. It’s just not right.

    1. One thing I forgot to add to my rant is that the time which you could gain by changing tyres is now cancelled out by the reduced pit lane speed limit. What does this lead to? Less pit stops, more drivers and teams afraid of losing track position because it is impossible to overtake, more processional races.

      1. Well said, although I think the slower pit lane speed is an Albert park issue.

        1. Wasn’t also used in Bahrain?

    2. I think it’s more likely that Alonso wouldn’t get past Massa rather than couldn’t.

      It’s hard to overtake with lots of risks for an accident. You don’t pull something like that on your team mate.

      Before the team might have allowed that if the drivers were on different strategies. For instance when Heidfeld let Kubica pass him in Canada and Kubica went on to win the race that Heidfeld would have won otherwise.

      Or when Kovalainen let Hamilton pass at the nurburgring after they “forgot” to give Hamilton a pitstop during the safety car situation.

  32. sorry guys for asking a dumb question. why the dirty air effects a car balance in dry track, but not when it is wet?

    1. It’s not a dumb question at all!!!
      I believe it is because they run slower and generate less dirty air…

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      29th March 2010, 9:09

      Because of the relatively slower speed of the cars in the wet.

    3. They can also choose different lines heading into corners on a wet track without too much change in grip. A wet track has different characteristics than a dry track (or even a damp track with a dry line) in terms of grip over the entire width.

      1. Edit – actually should be “into and through corners”

        1. And let’s not forget that on a wet track throttle control becomes *much* harder :)

  33. Agree a lot on aerodynamics limitation.
    Agree a lot on free tyre choice.

    But another silly point is: if we see spectacular races when the rain comes in, it means that we need to decrease mechanical grip also!!!
    With lower mechanical grip the drivers need to manage engine power, that means that you are much likely to do a mistake and be attacked from the others.
    Less aerodymanics is ok. But what about narrower tyres and more powerful engines? Or any other device to reduce mechanical grip also???

    1. I think this is a common misconception, Lower Mechanical grip will simply see cars going slower,

      What the rain actually does, is lower the predictability of the tracks grip levels, A driver does not know how much grip he will have as the track is always changing in those conditions, Which means, he must be careful, and if he is not, he facing losing grip, and sliding, possibly into retirement.

      That’s why we saw so many drivers go off at the first corner after their pit stops, they expected more grip than was available.

      Ok, badly explained but hopefully you can see what I’m trying to say.

    2. No, rain means the entire field slows down, especially in heavy breaking areas and fast curves.

      Slower speed plus longer breaking distance diminishes aero grip to a greater extent than mechanical grip entering and through a corner.
      Why penalize the mechanical grip in that case?

      1. I wouldn’t know…I just observe that when you have lower mechanical grip (rain for example), you have a lot of overtaking.
        I know it appears to be absurd somehow, but I’m just basing on empyricals…

        1. This is a very fair question, one that James Allen raised in his blog a while ago.

          However the F1 teams seem to generally agree that the aerodynamics are the main problem and they are the one who should know best. Also, a few years ago grooved tyres were introduced to reduce mechnical grid in order to lower cornering speeds for safety, but we didn’t get masses of overtaking then.

    3. theRoswellite
      29th March 2010, 19:08

      If you reduce or eliminate aero-grip and mechanical grip, as you suggest then you have a massive overall reduction in grip, which means, as you say, the cars will be sliding around more (4 wheel drifts…a good thing!) and the driver will become more of a factor in overall car speed. All of which I like.

      But, the problem will still be a significant reduction in cornering speed, it can’t be any other way, and this, at present, is unacceptable to the powers that be.

      Oh, and if it rains under the above conditions (no down force and low mechanical grip) you can almost forget about being able to race at any speed close to what they are now running at.

  34. I think the race was a good example for why there should be no mandatory pit stops at all. After everyone had changed to slick tyres we saw what it could be like if drivers did not have to use both compounds of tyre and could choose whether or not to pit.

    Both Mercedes, Hamilton and Webber decided to pit for fresh tyres and try to use the extra grip to charge through the field while the other leading cars decided to stay out and try and make their tyres last until the end. If everyone had to make a pit stop they would all have just come in at about the same time so as not to loose track position.

    If the people in charge are still looking at ways to “improve the show”, my suggestions would be in the short term to get rid of the mandatory pit stops, and make the tyres more marginal, I don’t think it should be possible for the soft tyre to be able to last the whole race so easily. In the long term it comes back to the car and they need to reduce the dependence on aero so the cars can follow each other more closely.

    When the BBC interviewed Stefano Domenicali (I can’t remember if it was on Saturday or before the race on Sunday) I liked what he had to say including that F1 shouldn’t rush into making any knee-jerk changes after just one race. He makes more sense than some other people in F1.

    1. Agreed entirely. Make the soft tyres less durable, get rid of the two compound per race rule, and most all of the problem goes away – just like that.

  35. No offense Kieth, but i dislike any of the driver? Because it seems to me that you aren’t a fan for Alonso.

    1. I’ve nothing against him. What was it in the article that made you think otherwise?

      1. Alonso is the best in my opinion, and that is the only opinion that counts. And, Keith? If you have a bother with this, we shall arm-wrestle over it!

        But, I am rather arthritic, and not too fond of Spaniards. Now, if he was Scottish or Canadian, I should be rather threatening towards you. But, sadly, Fernando is not either, so I will continue with veiled wimpy talk to defend my fave driver … :)

  36. The race was good, up to a point (it dryed out) The last 25% of the race was as dull as Bahrain, and I’m starting to lose interest in the sport, again. Unless something is actually done to fix the aero problem then I’ll just give up and wait till 2011.

  37. I definitely agree with everyone that says the problem is the mechanical grip and not the Aero grip. That’s why wet races are always more exciting, – less mechanical grip.

    What we need are really hard tyres that last the whole race or even two. The tyres would have a lot less grip and drivers would make more mistakes. Drivers could be restricted to sets of tyres per season as they currently are engines. (cheaper for the tyre supplier too) this would spice things up when some drivers are forced to use old tyres at a race whilst others use fresh ones.

    The only problem with that is that you would have to go back to refueling inrace to force pitstops.

    James Allen suggested going back to manual gear boxes – great idea, botched gear changes would provide loads more overtaking opportunities.

    1. Just like Mike said above. This is a common misconception. Wet tracks lead to drivers making more mistakes not because there’s less mechanical grip, but because you don’t know how much grip is available. When a dry line starts to appear after it stops raining, as soon as you get out of this line you go on a damp surface with slicks and you slide. Even when it’s raining, you can’t know exactly how much grip is available since it’s always changing, and every time another driver goes into a corner, the grip levels change since the water is moved.

      If you lower mechanical grip in the dry, races will just be slower. Drivers are always on the limit of the tyre’s grip, and sometimes you go over and lose traction, but those are just simple mistakes that happen even in dry races (like massa at the end in bahrain when braking). But you’re pretty sure how much grip you’ll have and most times know ahead of time when and if you’ll slide, but in the rain you go slower since you don’t know how much grip you’ll have in the next corner, so you’re not as close to the limit, and another driver that judged the grip levels better, or was simply lucky, overtakes you because he was closer to the grip limit.
      I hope it makes sense but pretty much if there are tires with less mechanical grip drivers will go to the limit and will just go slower, without aiding overtaking since the mistakes will just be regular simple mistakes, not many, as in for example bahrain, a dry race.

      1. Can’t argue with that I suppose, but won’t drivers with less grip -be it mechanical or aero- make more mistakes thus creating more overtaking oppertunties? Of course with changing conditions drivers are going to make even more mistakes, maybe they should hose every track down at the beginning of the race!

      2. theRoswellite
        29th March 2010, 19:15

        Yes, I agree, well put MARIOME.

  38. going back to manual gear boxes is one good idea
    it will let the drivers show their true driving skill

  39. I’m not sure I agree that aero is the problem … this race showed that mechanical grip is the issue – take a bit of that away and actually the passing flows quite freely. You’ve just got to look at all the overtaking in the race on what was essentially a track that reduced mechanical grip. The aero was the same.

    Had Webber not shunted lewis he would probably have got past Alonso … that was still pretty exciting racing!

    1. you’re missing the point. when the cars go slower (ie in rain), the ability of the aerodynamics to create grip lessens. (These cars arent designed to go slow remember, so when they do, they’re a dog to drive.) The car then has to rely on mechanical grip. That’s why the racing was better.

  40. The funniest part of all the rules is no tyre choice for the 1st 10 positions.
    Itz like you drove too well? now herez ur punishment! :P

    1. Indeed, it’s commonly known as handicapping. Just another tire related rule instigated to “even the playing field” that does not belong in a true motor-racing venue – and won’t work either.

  41. I thought Webber was out of order in his last move on Hamilton and Alonso, that was the sign of a desperate man. Hamilton was making his move, and I think was going to make it stick having been patient. Next thing, bang, Webber comes flying into his behind. probably happened because webber was in front of his crowd and he said he wanted to go down fighting. I think that was stupid. I like racing but that was not racing.

  42. Racing is great overtaking, ma is also sometimes making some mistakes.
    Don’t worry gazzap, that was not the bad part!

    (unless you’re Hamilton fan, then I understand you :-D)

  43. How about if the following is played a couple of hours before the start of each F1 race?

  44. Why is everyone still trying to mandate the solution instead of the result? Everyone has complained because the 50% aero reduction never happened, is it any wonder it never happened when they are aiming to reduce aero instead of mandating what they really want which is the ability to follow.

    Instead of saying that you cannot have a double diffuser or must have a wing that looks like X or is Y high they need to start making the rules limit the effect of the aero on the air after the car has passed.

    Tell the teams they can do whatever they want but once they’ve done it they must leave the air in a sufficient state for a standardised car model to follow with a maximum percentage loss of downforce.

    1. sounds expensive to implement and regulate, but an interesting idea.

    2. it’s the aero that creates the ‘dirty air’.

  45. Why don’t we just clone Hamilton 20 or so times, and let the racing roll. That guy is a blast from the past in terms of the way he approaches races, and the consistently spectacular passes he makes, often when in a less competitive car (most of 2009 and so far in 2010), make for breathtaking viewing. I mean, can you really imagine Vettel or Button going round the outside of Rosberg at the frighteningly quick esses. Other drivers like Vettel may be close to Hamilton in terms of driving skill, but in terms of sheer balls-out bravery and uncompromising commitment, he just cannot be matched.

    Alright, maybe his car is very quick in a straight line, and the Mclaren did have good race pace this weekend, but the fact remains that overtaking is currently infuriatingly difficult, even more so among the top drivers. The way Hamilton picked off Ferraris, Mercedes and Red Bulls, all of which were very evenly matched in terms of race pace, was spectacular to watch. I also believe that he would have got past Alonso as well if the overly rash Webber hadn’t shunted him off, and he would have eventually taken Kubica if his team hadnt decided to bring him in.

    By the way, i’m actually not a hardcore Hamilton fan, i actually prefer Button. I just had to say what needed to be said.

  46. Is Petrov the Lap1 overtaking champ for this year?
    He jumped quit a few in Bahrain and now he did it again.

    Trulli must -4 in lap 1.

  47. What was the quickest strategy around Albert Park on Sunday. One-stop or 2-stop? Looking at Hamilton’s pace as he caught up to Alonso in a matter of 12-15 laps it must be said that 2-stopper was the faster way around the circuit.

    Still, most drivers preferred to take the 1-stopper route.

    This shows that drivers and teams don’t believe overtaking is possible. They chose a slower strategy which gives track position, over a faster strategy.

    Unless teams believe that they can overtake, I doubt we will ever see any dry overtaking.

    Many have advocated the replacement of aero-grip by mechanical grip. But the trouble with too much mechanical grip is extremely short braking distances and lesser mistakes by drivers.

    The correct way of Formula One is to replace Aero-grip by no grip. Aero-grip does not allow drivers to follow each other. But if that is coupled with lesser mechanical grip, then there will be more mistakes by drivers thus allowing the chasing driver to overtake.

    1. theRoswellite
      29th March 2010, 19:30

      If you increase mechanical grip you can corner faster, and as you say, brake in a shorter distance. To lengthen the braking distance and still keep cornering speed, simply decrease the size of the braking rotor surface allowed to come into contact with the pads (or the pad surface area). Then you can extend your braking zone distance to the length you want.

      Problem: If you overdue this reduction you will decrease the cars ability to slow down under any conditions, and this will lead to more contact between cars and cars leaving the track at higher speeds. Both of which are undesired of course. (Oh, and driving in the rain will be even more difficult)

  48. No sure what we are saying here???? Current aero prevents passing??? This doesn’t add up to me.

    During the start of the race where mechanical grip was low there was more overtaking and it got worse as the track dried out.

    Am I being thick, but sholdn’t they be reducing mechanical grip to increase overtaking from the data of the race in Oz???

    1. NOOOOOO!!!!! With the rain, the cars cant go so quick, the slower they go, the less their aero works (ie less grip). So, when another car catches up, he can get alot closer because the car in front isn’t creating so much ‘dirty air’. It is then down to mechanical grip on whether the trailing car can get past.
      Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, if there is a wholesale reduction in aero dependant grip, then we should get better racing.

      1. Agree.

        And, I think the other factor is driver input.

        Mechanical grip is much more influenced by driver input than aero grip. This is why you see such disparity in the wet between the average drivers and the truly good drivers. In conditions of poor grip (i.e., rain), the better drivers are better able to control the car.

        I believe that the more effort is put into making mechanical grip paramount, the more you’ll see car control (driver skill and error) influence the outcome of races. Aero, in my opinion, does the opposite as far as driver skill is concerned.

        1. Yeah this is true when you see these drivers racing karts against each other as juniors etc you can see visibly the different lines etc. karts are approaching having 100% mechanical grip and provides spectacular racing.

      2. Less mechanical grip means longer breaking distances and more chace for driver error. So I stick by my suggestion that slippy slidey makes better racing and a chance for the more ballsy driver to pass.

        1. And to quote what you already said that the aero doesn’t work as well at lower speeds, less mechanical grip brings speeds down.

          1. Absolutely!! Well, that’s it then, I think we’ve sorted out F1!

  49. “”Rain, rain go away, come back on Grand Prix day.””

    1. I am with you in this rain dance.

  50. Agreed the FIA, FOTA etc need to find a way of massively reducing the aerodynamic nature of F1 car design and return to the good old days when cars looked like cigars and men were men pfh! But you cant unlearn the past technological breakthroughs and F1 must remain as the pinicle of motorsport cant get rid aero F1 must be significantly quicker than GP2 and the like, soo..
    Its not an easy solution especially when many fans ( i thought more than 10 points for a win was outrageous) like the tradition associated with the sport; the old circuits, teams etc… to do this without fundamentally changing the sport seems unrealistic if we wish to attract everyman to watch the sport…

  51. is the main problem the rearwing upseting the air flow for the other cars following ?well why dont the f.i.a bring out a rear wing that all the teams have to that dose not affect the air flow as much.but safe for high speed to

    1. The problem is that ‘dirty-air’ is an effect of the current aero rules. I don’t know if anything can be done. Do the teams make it worse, now there’s a question.

  52. I think standard front and rear wings are a good idea or at least very restricted rules for wing design.
    If you compare the Virgin to the Ferrari the eye can´t see why the lap times are so different.

  53. Does anyone have the fia pdf’s on the aus race, as they’ve taken them down from the site early.

  54. I don’t remember who it was but some driver said back when F5000 was being introduced that ‘the most exciting racing happens when the cars power exceeds the available grip’.

    So we need to both reduce available grip and remove limitations on engine power.

  55. Have you noticed that between laps 21 and 27 lap times went up? I think it is because frontrunners had to lap cars from the end. This is an excellent example how slow cars can affect lap times of quicker drivers.

  56. Its a fair argument, and one that has raged for decades. The problem is that F1 has always devoted time and millions of dollars into the art of aerodynamics, and happily employs some of the brightest in the business to do so. We thought in 2009 we had curbed this inventiveness but we were proved wrong by the now infamous double difusers. Those, as we know, are banned for 2011 but the boffins will come up with other bright ideas that skirt the rules and give their teams and advantage.
    Its a catch 22 situation in which there is no easy solutions. You could increase radiator sizes to aid in cooling, but I doubt that would aid too much in the art of overtaking.
    However, lets get everything in perspective. Hamilton failed to pass Alonso not just to the aero aspect of the cars, he also failed because Fernando made it bloody difficult for him to do so. It was a good scrap, nothing malicious, between two top racing drivers. Hamilton took to trying to pass Alonso the long way around, maybe trying to unnerve the Spaniard as to get a run for the next corner. They both had to brake hard, Fernando locking his wheels, and Webber ran out of room.
    Keith is quite right about the rest of the season. Unless we have plenty of wet weather racing as we did in 2008, this season will see more sterile racing especially at the more modern venues.

  57. Whitmarsh’s statement that a driver needed to be 3 seconds quicker than the one ahead in order to be able to pass was quite startling…

  58. If it rains in Malaysia then we are set for another goor race ( I HOPE)

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