F1’s REAL overtaking problem

This topic contains 18 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Icthyes 6 years, 7 months ago.

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    I think I may have found the real cause of F1’s lack of passing. I think that the problem is not technology, or driver skill, or motivation, but vulnerability and price.

    Formula one cars are fragile (very fragile) and no driver can afford even the slightest contact. This makes drivers much more cautious in their passing attempts, and sometimes even discourages passing. Look at any gt series. What do you see? Close, side by side racing that offers much more thrills in terms of racing then F1. The BTCC is a good example of this, close racing with plenty of exciting contact and overtaking.

    Example one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-riXxqcsoFE

    Example two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hxc6YAX7JH4 (Check 28 minutes in)

    Another reason is the price of the cars. Formula one cars cost far upwards of 5 million dollars, and nobody wants to total that kind of money. This too discourages close racing. If you do make the sport some how cheaper, then the racing will become more intense. See below what I mean.

    Example one: http://floridawintertour.com/2011-rotax-classes-video.html (Any race)

    Example two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZX63o64mo

    But sadly, these are two things that will never be fixed. As long as Formula one remains the Pinnacle of Motorsport, racing will have to be limited by fear of damage, or fear of a pricey repair.



    I really don’t think F1 has an overtaking problem. The amount overtaking in 2010 was just fine, and we only had a handful of “boring” races. The amount overtaking we are seeing in F1 is not much different to the amount of overtaking we saw 5 or 6 years ago. I have seen races from the ’80s, and the amount of overtaking back then was similar. I’ve never known F1 to have a “golden age” for overtaking. I think this whole “lack of overtaking” is being taken too far.



    I agree with slr to a large extent.

    Also, when drivers are racing I’m not sure they think about how damage and cost they might do if they barge by. I also don’t really want contact in F1, the BTCC may be exciting for overtakes but the driving standards are shocking at times. A great overtake isn’t just about shoving people out of the way. I’d rather have fewer but high quality overtakes than NASCAR style.

    However, as much as I don’t agree I do think this was an interesting idea for a thread as I’m not sure the lack of overtaking has ever been looked at in that way before.


    Grant Bigham

    I think there are a combination of issues that have restricted the amount of overtaking in F1, mainly the aero issues and track design. Personally I wouldn’t have said that is one of them because a racers a racer, if he see’s the chance to overtake then their going to take it. Theirs no need to make the sport “cheaper” because then we’re just going to end up with something that’s a copy of another race series and not F1.

    Plus like slr said there was a good amount of overtaking in 2010…just look at these stats (you may have to register but it’s free and the stats are quite interesting).




    I don’t really think cost has a lot to do with it. Yes, and F1 car may cost several million, but compared to the amount of money teams spend developing and designing it in the first place, I’m not sure the cost of actually putting the car together is every significant. I’m not saying it’s irrelevant, but I doubt drivers are told “be careful because repairs are expensive”. I think the prospect of losing out on points, and ultimately the Championship, are much more important.

    As for fragility, that’s a fair comment. The chances of two cars coming into contact and inflicting no damage whatsoever on each other, no matter how slight, is very rare. F1 is not a contact sport, so the cars aren’t built to withstand it. Touring cars are built with contact in mind, on the other hand. But it’s not only the durability of the cars that causes this fragility- it’s the speed. Touring cars don’t get anywhere the near speeds of F1.

    Safety is also a big issue. At F1 speeds any collision or crash can potentially be fatal. The fact that there are less injuries in F1 are because of the lack of contact. If you drove open-wheeled cars in the manner that touring car drivers do, you wouldn’t last very long.



    It’s just an idea, and I know I worded some things in the op wrong. Like SLR said, there isn’t a lack of overtaking (as I mistakenly put it) but there sure could be more. And this if for those people that constantly complain about how boring the sport has become, and there is a lot of that going on. Not my view, but it’s just my take on other peoples views.



    I think we wouldn’t mind less overtaking if the tracks were more interesting. Long straight, hairpin, repeat. It gets old. Mix up the track design with more high speed corners and such, making the tracks more challenging and causing more mistakes. See, the thing with F1 is that the car with best aero and highest top speed will usually win (Red Bull). By making tracks more difficult on drivers it might give lesser cars a chance.



    I think the problem is not the amount, but two things in particular:

    1) Lack of it between podium contenders

    2) Needing quite a big advantage to pull it off

    I think the new tyres will help with #1 because a lot of cars will be potential contenders until the final stop and not getting held up may be a crucial factor. #2 hopefully will be addresses partially by the DRS and more fully with the new rules for 2013.

    The tracks too are a problem. You usually either have a slow or fast corner precede a long straight, which spreads the cars out. A medium-speed corner would minimise the worst of both worlds.

    I don’t agree that the fragility of the cars is any big factor but it’s an interesting take on things.



    F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and that carries with it immense amounts of skill throughout the grid, front to back. If you had as much over-taking in F1 as you did in any other formulae it would de-value F1 as the pinnacle. It’s meant to be hardwork.


    sbl on tour

    wonder is passing at pitstops is included in these stats, cos that would be somewhat misleading



    With regards to cost of the chassis I don’t think that this is relevant. This is for two reasons –

    firstly, that when the drivers see red in the cockpit, the last thing that is on their mind is the cost of the equipment around them. As far as I know, there are no contractual clauses that require them to personally fork out for the damage they cause (as that would be hugely unfair).

    Secondly, the cost of the chassis is not worth as much as the cost of the prize at the end. i.e. if they risk say 100,000 for an accident, but by doing so overtake one car, this may give them an extra 5,000,000 at the end of the season. Breaking it down race by race, it will always be more beneficial to overtake a car at risk than it will to stay behind.

    The only time this will not be the case is either when one team has won/solidified a lead in the championship that is not worth risking [in which case, point 1 about the racing instincts will overrule it] or when a team, such as HRT has only limited parts for their car and therefore cannot risk an overtake. However, the teams with limited parts tend to be racing at the back, therefore there isn’t much overtaking going on.

    Fragility of the cars, however, is definitely a factor. Why risk your front wing at the first corner which will ruin your race? I don’t know how you could fix that – because the nature of open wheel racing means that the delicate parts of the car are exposed. Accordingly, the cars will always be fragile. To me, that’s what makes the sport great, so I wouldn’t want to change it.

    Further, fragility is also not the only reason. As others have mentioned, circuit design, aerodynamics and tyres all play an equally large, if not greater role than the fragility of the cars.

    To me though, there is no ‘problem’. And that is in itself, the problem with F1 and overtaking. The desire to have commercial excitement is what has driven this whole ‘f1 is boring’ attitude that is in itself the real reason for the wide publicity of a non existent problem. F1 has never been about lots of overtaking, its been about skill and those rare overtaking manoeuvres that take your breath away. Its about so much more than overtaking. The real problem, therefore, is the press and the commercial desire for a ‘perfect’ product. To me though, and many F1 fans, F1 has been pretty damn perfect for a while.


    Stephen Jones

    sure there may not be that much overtaking, but when it does happen, it’s exciting.. We don’t want to turn it into NASCAR, where they are basically 2 wide all the time, and the awesomeness of an overtake goes out the window.



    Another thing, the BTCC and Formula Ford video show close exciting racing because the cars are much more equal and regulated. In F1 the overtaking mainly seems to take place when a clearly better car gets by a worse one, unless great defensive moves are taken. And a big worry I have about increased pit stops is “overtaking” someone who is in the pits. There is nothing I hate more than an overtake due to pit work. Take Monza from this year as an example; Button holding off Alonso with Alonso creeping closer and closer, it seemed like we had a spectacular climax awaiting us. Enter the mandatory pitstop, which was worthless last year when a set of Bridgestone softs could get you 40+ laps, and Alonso “overtakes” Button thanks to pitwork and a faster in and out lap. Yawn.



    This is the problem I have with basketball, it’s just points being scored all the time. Do we really want that for F1?

    When it comes down to it, I think the only frustration is that cars can’t pass when they’re in a position to, because of the way they are designed and the way the tracks are built.



    I don’t think a Golden Age in F1 ever existed. People who look at a particular time in F1 and condense everything great happened in a period of a couple of years, and then compare it with a couple of current races.

    The “problem” of overtaking in F1 is overstated too. At some point in time, people made the rather erroneous assumption that more overtaking means better/more exciting racing. I personally think that the chase is the most exciting part of the racing. I guess that’s why it’s called racing, and not just “overtaking.”

    I’m sure a lot of people on this site also feel tense when a driver you like is either closing in on an opponent or has an opponent closing in on them. The split ebbs and flows as each driver pushes hard, then they come into sight of each other and the gap keeps narrowing. You’re hoping that your driver can either hold on or get past. No matter what happens, after the overtake/defence is over the tension dissipates, and there is relief. The final thing a chasing driver has to do is make a pass stick. Currently, that’s a very hard thing to do and whenever it happens it’s a rare display of incredible skill.

    Making it easy, with buttons to reduce drag or give a KERS boost would be like a hollywood film where the good guy finds a really easy way of killing the bad guy. Even if you’re on the good guy’s side, you don’t really want him to bring a gun to a knife fight…you want him to square up against the baddie and win.

    Overtaking should be hard. In F1, the excitement is in the subtleties of the racing. If you need lots of overtaking to keep you entertained, may I suggest NASCAR.


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