Newey concerned about “overly manufactured” F1

2011 F1 season

Adrian Newey, 2011

Adrian Newey, 2011

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey says he expects the new adjustable rear wings introduced this year to increase overtaking.

But he warned they could make passing too easy and creating an “overly manufactured” spectacle.

Speaking at the annual Sid Watkins lecture for the Motorsport Safety Fund at Autosport International Newey said:

It will help, sure. It reduces the drag of the car on the straights so that you’ve got extra straight-line speed.

I think the key thing is going to be adjusting it, juggling it, so that it makes overtaking possible but not too easy. If it makes overtaking too easy, so that you get into the position where you want to be second going into the last lap, it then becomes overly manufactured.

There is that danger and certainly at the moment the boost that’s provided, to me, looks too big.

Personally, I know I’m in a minority in this view, the difficulty of overtaking is vastly over-egged. Because what difficult overtaking does mean is that when someone does overtake it’s really memorable.

We all remember [Nigel] Mansell going around the outside of [Gerhard] Berger in Mexico or Nigel and Ayrton [Senna] having it out along the length of the Barcelona straight.

Those stand out because overtaking isn’t that easy and if it becomes like a NASCAR slipstreamer it’s going to lose something.
Adrian Newey

Newey also said he is concerned that high straight line speeds could contribute to accidents in 2011.

Increased closing speeds could create greater risk of an accident similar to the one suffered by Mark Webber in Valencia last year.

The very high end-of-straight speeds are probably the most dangerous area. That’s something that worries me slightly this year with the moveable rear wing and KERS.

We could potentially have some very high end-of-straight speeds. It’s not so much the speed itself as when you get that sudden difference between them.

That, of course, was what happened with Mark – Heikki braked earlier than Mark expected and it’s the huge difference in speed that causes the accident.
Adrian Newey

Newey explained the difficulties of preventing this kind of accident through car design:

There are ways being thought of. The fundamental problem is as long as we have an exposed rear wheel then when a nose hits a rear wheel the rotation is going to lift the car.

You could look at regulating very now front noses but that brings other things. At the moment the great thing about high noses is there’s little danger, if a car T-bones another one. If you T-bone a car with a low nose the car could end up on top of you.

So it’s like all these things. It’s almost like the original debate over safety belts: 99% of the time they’re good for you but occasionally there’s going to be an accident where you’d be better not to have a safety belt.
Adrian Newey

Asked what else could be done to stop cars flying into the air Newey added: “Probably get the drivers to brake a bit earlier!”

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91 comments on Newey concerned about “overly manufactured” F1

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  1. David said on 14th January 2011, 13:10

    100% agree Adrian Newey. If every driver will be able to overtake,it will no longer be something people will look forward to see.

    • wasiF1 said on 14th January 2011, 13:23

      I don’t think every driver will, you still need to carry the speed from the corners to the straight, so for that if the car back is something like the Newbie of 2010 against a Ferrari I doubt that will happen.The car still needs to be good in corning.
      But up in the front it will be nice to see some moves by great drivers.

      Another things mentioned by someone here is that to overtake you need huge amount of courage which few drivers if any like Alonso, Hamilton, Kobayashi, Kubica even Schumacher have, may be some other names may add.

      If what Newey said is right then at the end of the season we will have a poll of the “Best Defense of the season” in F1F.

    • jimscreechy said on 14th January 2011, 17:15

      I also 100% agree with Newey

    • John H said on 14th January 2011, 17:30

      100% Agree. Quality not quantity.

      Last two seasons have been great entertainment.

      • Newey is correct to a point. If overtaking is too easy it will devalue it, however overtaking has been getting far too hard. Just look at the fanal race of last season, the two best overtakers in F1 (Hamilton and Alonso) stuck behind far slower cars for most of the race. I know part of the reason is the track design but the other part is the fact that the cars can no longer lap as close to each other as the cars in Mansells day. Something has to be done and I think that the new floor designs may be the answer in 2013.

    • F1iLike said on 14th January 2011, 17:42

      For sure this will be a year to remember as the sadest year. I really hope they realize their mistake for 2012! This is just humbug! Another big reason overtaking in F1 is so hard is that the skill level is so high! They make so few mistakes and everybody is on the absolute limit. Just look lower down on the grid and rookies and what not. Overtaking happens there. Different tracks offer longer straights where slipstream is possible and that’s your best bet at overtaking someone that’s as fast as you are.

      This rule is just c**ck

    • Rocky (@rocky) said on 15th January 2011, 14:32

      Newey takes a stand like a good sheep dog all the sheep fall in line.
      Don’t forget you must be within a second of the car in front to use the adjustable wing and you can only use it on one spot per lap. This is a design to overtake a slower car for position not an equal car or better for position.
      Relax and enjoy the show.

  2. Rob Haswell said on 14th January 2011, 13:11

    Asked what else could be done to stop cars flying into the air Newey added: “Probably get the drivers to brake a bit earlier!”

    This is a very valid point, does anyone else feel that braking distances are too short? If we reduced the braking power through regulation, it might make it easier for drivers to pull a last-of-the-late-brakers style manoeuvre on someone while making the sport a bit safer, does anyone have any thoughts?

    • yep, with longer braking times there is more chance’s for a driver to overtake. i didn’t think of that! so how would they do it.. slipperier tyres? smaller brakes?

      • That was the theory behind bringing in the grooved tyres in 1998: smaller contact patch = longer braking distance = more overtaking. Unfortunately it just moved the ratio of grip towards aero and away from mechanical, and hindered overtaking more than it helped.

        Interesting/ironic that Newey’s two examples of great overtaking moves are from 1990 and 1991 respectively. I agree that overtaking shouldn’t be easy, but you still want one or two exciting moves per race, on average across the whole season.

      • Sush Meerkat said on 14th January 2011, 15:52

        i didn’t think of that! so how would they do it.. slipperier tyres? smaller brakes?

        AUS_Steve, Steel Brakes like the old days would increase the braking distances, instead of using the current exotic carbon fibre composites.

      • they could simply revert to steel brakes

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th January 2011, 13:22

      Might not go down well with the saftey side of things…you need brakes to avoid walls sometimes ;D

      • schooner (@schooner) said on 15th January 2011, 1:19

        Regardless of the brake disc material being used, the drivers will sort out their capabilities and limits, and apply them accordingly. I don’t see that as being a safety issue.

        • airbrck said on 23rd January 2011, 11:50

          Yes, and when you think of that it also means it wouldn’t increase overtaking. Everyone would have the same brakes, same distance to stop, how would it help? I don’t get it.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th January 2011, 13:22

      I agree, Newey is perfectly correct. I share his fear of these wings making overtaking to easy.

      So should we make them use steel brake discs? But woudn’t that make them braking worse than GT cars and high end road cars? Hm, this is not easy!

      • Rob Haswell said on 14th January 2011, 14:10

        No none of that, just reduce the maximum diameter of the brake discs, it would be an easy regulation to introduce at the start of a season or to even fine-tune midseason, with co-operation from teams and brake manufacturers.

      • Would ceramic-carbon composite disks be a happy medium? Higher performance than steel but increasing the braking distances over pure carbon brakes, and potentially reducing the danger at the start of races of having ‘cold’ brakes.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th January 2011, 15:22

          That might be a solid compromise, Rob.

        • Hallard said on 14th January 2011, 16:55

          I believe that the current brake rotors are carbon-ceramic. They certainly arent CFRP or Carbon Composite along those lines. People often bring up steel brakes as a solution for increasing braking distances, but that wouldnt actually work, because the limiting factor for braking is grip (both aero and mechanical). Think about it…a car with traditional steel brake rotors is able to lock up its tires under braking (braking force exceeeding tire grip) just as easily as a car with carbon ceramic discs. The difference is that steel discs are not as durable, and not as capable of dissipating heat as effectively during severe, prolonged use (i.e., F1 racing). What this means is that steel discs would yield the same stopping distances, unless they began to suffer from excessive brake fade or warping from overheating, which would be a major safety issue. Steel brake discs used in motorsports are generally designed to withstand this kind of heat and force anyway though. So ultimately, the real difference would be that (safe) steel brakes would perform the same as carbon ceramic brakes, but would be heavier, cheaper, and slightly more prone to failure.

  3. interesting article.. and i agree with his words about making passing easy.. that’s what makes battles for position so fun to watch.

    and when you think about it.. since a ferrari can fight with a renault for the whole race. if the cars have those rear wings then the ferrari can pass easily, and we will actually have less overtaking.. or less battles at least. But it’s an interesting topic which i’m sure will come up a lot over the next year..

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th January 2011, 13:14

    Fair comments. Good to see he is concerned with keeping the spectacle as ethical as possible.

    • keeping the spectacle as ethical as possible.

      I agree, regardless of how right or wrong he is, he has just said something for the right reason. Which in my book amounts to a new level of respect.

  5. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 14th January 2011, 13:16

    I think what Newey is forgetting is that in order for cars to be in a position to be able to overtake each other is that they have to be going faster than the cars in front.

    With the performance differential that there is in F1, it will probably mean that those cars that can get ahead will stay ahead unless they make mistakes – teammates, however, will be able to stay with each other which might encourage some overtaking (unless the car is red). The rear wing device will then be a way for the driver behind to punish them for that mistake – so i’m not entirely sure that there will be a problem of constant slipstream battles. Then again, i’m not sure how much ground you can make up in one straight – if its a huge amount then it might be a problem – but I suppose you have to be earlier on the brakes anyway!

    • Ru_BD said on 17th January 2011, 9:03

      ……some overtaking (unless the car is red)

      I think u need to go through the season again as u can see not only red cars but many other use the same principle with different manner…

      **** vettel you need to save fuel………*** remember…

  6. agree completly. it’s the wrong way to solve the problem, if there is a problem.

  7. wasiF1 said on 14th January 2011, 13:16

    First they were talking to improve overtaking now they are saying that there may be too many< well we have many season of F1 little overtaking lest full fill those gap then we will decide.

  8. I doubt f1 will be an overtaking fest, but i wont mind if bahrain ends up like moto gp with the guy in second place having the advantage into the last lap

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th January 2011, 13:25

      I can’t see the penultimate lap being that crucial. You can easily be talking 20+ seconds between 1st & 2nd and you can only flick the switch within a 1 second gap. I only recall Singapore in 2010 where it was down to the wire between Alonso and Vettel.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 14th January 2011, 13:19

    Ironically, Pat Symonds thinks exactly the opposite:

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th January 2011, 13:26

      Nice find, although after reading that, I get the impression they are pretty close in their opinions.

      Both say there is a bit of fear of making it to easy to pass. And they both agree, that doing new things is needed.

      The difference is, Newey highlights the safety risks as well, while Symonds speaks more about the interest in getting some new things in to work on for the teams.

    • John H said on 14th January 2011, 17:38

      Thanks for the link. But it doens’t seem to be exactly the opposite PM?

      “Overtaking should not be too easy. It should be like a goal in football – not a basket in basketball.”

      On a darker note, it’s a shame that Symonds is allowed to talk about F1 at all to be honest :)

  10. invoke (@invoke) said on 14th January 2011, 13:20

    Personally, I know I’m in a minority in this view, the difficulty of overtaking is vastly over-egged. Because what difficult overtaking does mean is that when someone does overtake it’s really memorable.

    When a car that is catching another at over a second per lap is then unable to pass that same car, the difficulty of overtaking is definitely not ‘vastly over-egged’.

    • agreed. aero generated downforce dependency is the problem here. modern F1 cars would never be able to produce a Villeneuve – Arnoux battle.

      bit fat tyres and reduction in downforce by 60-80% and we’d see some racing.

      • Burnout said on 14th January 2011, 15:09

        You’d probably have to go back to early ’80s tyre compounds and brake set-ups to recreate battles like that. And that’s simply too unsafe for modern F1. Four drivers died between 1980 and 1986.

        • CNSZU said on 14th January 2011, 15:55

          Not true, the cars these days can withstand large impacts without the drivers feeling anything. F1 drivers these days get hurt less than the average football player, so I won’t mind seeing more crashes for the sake of entertainment. They can take a few knocks for all that dosh they make.

          • Burnout said on 14th January 2011, 16:55

            I’m sure the chassis can take greater impact. But a crash always has bits of bodywork flying about. That’s a huge risk with open cockpit cars. Plus nobody would want to be in Schumacher’s position at Abu Dhabi!

            In any case if I wanted crashes for crashing’s sake, I’d watch a demolition derby.

        • why would you need 80’s tyre compounds and brake setups?
          and even if you did have to, why is that unsafe?

  11. Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 14th January 2011, 13:41

    I don’t like that he compares a battle between Mansel and Senna to the one-off passes we see in the modern era. The cars of that era were no where near as aero-dependent as todays and didn’t suffer the same imbalance when following another car closely.
    Marks accident was caused primarily (in my belief) by a frustrated fool. There was no reason for the fastest car on the grid to try and slipstream behind a car that was easily four seconds slower that weekend. It wasn’t because Marks straight line speed was so high, it was that it was so high when compared to the car he decided to tuck himself under.

    • KateM (@katem) said on 23rd January 2011, 0:07

      Several days late with this, but its worth pointing out that the Lotus was quicker in a straight line than the Red Bull because it had so little downforce in comaparison.

  12. A. Newey is only talking from the POV of RBR, as if they will remain in front of the grid all the time ….. :(

    He should not forget Williams was once a front team.

    I am not even sure using Webber/Kova is good example and compelling a driver to brake late is share arrogance!! The blame (as is the case on our roads) lies on the wheels of the car BEHIND not the poor Kova infront!!

    Oh! And yes, you are in the minority in your views on overtaking. This is guy who is known for creating fragile cars!!

    • Skett said on 14th January 2011, 14:29

      When did he ever try and claim it was Kovi’s fault?

      It was a joke about how there wouldn’t be so many accidents if the drivers didn’t push so hard!

      • That, of course, was what happened with Mark – Heikki braked earlier than Mark expected and it’s the huge difference in speed that causes the accident.

        If the above is not laying blame on Kova …. well, I beg to disagree.

        • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 14th January 2011, 15:44

          I don’t see him laying blame on either person here. Kova breaked earlier than Webber expected is a statement. The causality lies the speed difference. The relation slow-fast is far more determining than the relation Heikki-Mark.

  13. Faraz said on 14th January 2011, 13:43

    Its like in Indy car there is overtaking but its boring to watch. Its too predictable.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 14th January 2011, 13:58

      The wings will make overtaking easier in straigh line, by one car going faster. But in turns I don’t think they will be able/allowed to move the rear wing, so the only increases in overtaking will be boring straight line ones.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th January 2011, 15:23

        Exactly, these wings are designed to fall back into position (bringing back higher downforce) at the moment the driver hits the brake.
        Otherwise he would have no grip in cornering.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 14th January 2011, 15:43

      Road racing in Indycar is boring now, especially since they got rid of Belle Isle and Watkins Glen, plus they’ve even lost their best ovals (Michigan, Homestead, Chicagoland, Richmond).

  14. graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 14th January 2011, 13:50

    Personally, I know I’m in a minority in this view, the difficulty of overtaking is vastly over-egged. Because what difficult overtaking does mean is that when someone does overtake it’s really memorable.

    Exactly my thoughts, overtaking should be a challenge just like putting in a perfect flying lap or setting the car up just right. This assistance is totally artificial and I do worry that’ll it’ll ruin the challenge of F1.

    My biggest concern is that the wings can only be activated on one straight for each circuit, so at every track there will now be just one designated “overtaking point” with drivers only willing to make a move at that one, easy point. I’m worried that tracks like Montreal, Monza and Spa will lose a lot of their appeal because they won’t allow for as much creativity when it comes to overtaking.

    My favourite overtake last year was Lewis Hamilton on Nico Rosberg at Melbourne, simply because he showed some balls and tried something different. Now there’s no reason why drivers would take the risk of making a move like that, when a couple of corners later they’ll have a massive, artificial assist.

    • graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 14th January 2011, 13:53

      And as well as holding off because a move would be much easier at the “overtaking point”, they’ll also not want to overtake early and then be totally helpless against being retook when they reach the straight!

    • Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 14th January 2011, 16:10

      I agree with almost 100% of your point except when you use the Hamilton on Rosberg pass as an example of a great overtake. It definitely was an incredible overtake, but at that point in the season the Mclaren was the only car equipped with an F-duct, which is essentially a moveable rear wing. So one could argue that it was the ‘gimmick’ device which made the pass possible, thus he had an artificial assist.

      • graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 14th January 2011, 16:39

        Yeah perhaps, although you could equally argue that it’s just a design feature that Mclaren happened to get right, just like Red Bull’s insane aero last year or the Brawn’s tyre management in early-2009.

        In contrast, the moveable rear wing is simply too arbitrary to be fair, that’s what’s made it seem too artificial for me. If the driver could use it whenever they like (as they will be able to do in Practice and Quali), then fine, but it’s only at one point on the track and only when they’re a second behind another car.

        It’s as bad as success ballast in other racing series, IMHO. Why unfairly punish a car that’s in front, and usually in front on merit?

        • Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 14th January 2011, 18:58

          Agreed. You cannot compare the F-duct to the rear wing for the exact reasons you describe, I think I’m just trying to say that the end result will be the same. You still will need
          Lewis style balls to pull off a pass like Melbourne, even with the advantage of the MRW or the F-duct.

      • Dipak T said on 14th January 2011, 17:41

        Thats only a design advatage in the car though. Not something regulated like the MRW is, when it can only be used by the car less than 1s second behind, on one designated straight.

        Its even stated in the rules that it cant be used in the first X metres of a straight, and the last y metres.

        Why would a driver effectively need to be told he needs downforce in the traction and breaking zones?!

  15. Kevin said on 14th January 2011, 13:55

    I agree with Adrian’s point of view, I don’t think anyone wants to see ‘manufactured’ racing. The ultimate solution is to reduce aerodynamic dependancy and tackle it that way, however I would say lets see what it brings. Lets not judge it yet until we see how it works

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