<i>I like overtaking but personally I still think it should be very hard to do as F1 has never been about masses of overtaking anyway.</i>
I hate to disagree with you Steph but there was an awful lot of overtaking when I started watching F1 in the early/mid 1980s and if you watch videos from the 1950s-1970s you’ll see quite a few races where the lead changed every couple of laps and loads more overtaking than we get these days.
The advent of effective front wings was the turning point for this, I can’t find the quote but I’ve heard Jackie Stewart say that the day they introduced front wings was the day they ruined the racing aspect of F1 as it meant that drafting became an awful lot more difficult because whenever you got up close to the car in front you started to lose front end grip and the car becomes unsettled.
These days front wings are so important to the cars handling that it’s become even more difficult to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre unless you’ve got a much faster car or the guy in front makes a mistake.
I’m not saying everything was perfect in the old days or that every race was an edge of the seat experience with constant overtakes and I hate to keep banging on about the uselessness of aerodynamics but the fact remains that as long as the modern obsession with aerodynamic down force continues, the more dull the sport will become and the more ridiculous the rules will be as the FIA try to artificially prevent processional races.
Aerodynamics may be a wonderful technical and engineering exercise but it is an expensive and ultimately worthless route to follow as there are very few real world applications and every time an improvement is made it only leads to the banning of other, more relevant, technologies in an effort to keep cornering speeds down as well as making the cars more aerodynamically sensitive and therefore more difficult to overtake.
Over the years we’ve seen turbo chargers, active suspension, laser ignition and many other technologies banned in an effort to keep speeds down when what the FIA should have done was limit or ban devices that create down force. Not only would the teams have been able to develop many technologies that they could then sell to car manufacturers but it would also mean that we wouldn’t have cars that are almost impossible to overtake in normal conditions.
Being honest, when was the last really great F1 race you watched that wasn’t either rain effected, Safety Car effected, the result of irregular tyre wear or a top driver qualifying lower down the grid than normal ?
A race that was great because of the racing not because of some external factor or freak occurrence ?
Take a look at these statistics (You will have to register but it is free):
They show that the average number of overtakes has reduced from over 40 in the early 80s to below 15 for the 2009 season, we’re on 28.75 so far this season but obviously there are now more cars at each race, it’s not been a full season yet and there are still a few bore-fests to come. Amazingly it went down to just 10.74 overtakes per race in 2005 !