October 24, 2005

New F1 proposals

Writing about web page http://www.fia.com/mediacentre/Press_Releases/FIA_Sport/2005/October/241005-01.html

Just so I can say "you heard it here first": this is what a Formula One car may look like from 2008, or even – optimistically – 2007 if every team agrees. (OK, 2008 it is then).

The big change is the design of the rear wing, to let cars follow one another much more closely and hence, hopefully, get a lot more overtaking. Slick tyres should make a comeback too!

The principle is to massively improve the ratio of mechanical grip (from the tyres) to aerodynamic grip (from the wings) – at the moment, aerodynamics disrupt the airflow so much that a car loses loads of front grip if it gets anywhere near a car in front. CFD simulations (see pic below) show the centreline air-pressure profile of the new rear-wing regulations – bottom – as much better than the current – top – one. If you're not technically-minded, trust me, it does.

With these regs, F1 should actually stand a chance of seeing some more overtaking again!

- 6 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. It's exciting at the moment, what with around ten million potential new teams around. Let's just hope that they're all racing in one series not two!
    It's shocking that the FIA had to carry out a survey to find out that we, the fans, want more overtaking. I know F1 people don't live in the real world, but I think a Martian would probably have been able to tell them that.

    24 Oct 2005, 21:10

  2. Thats cool, I'm amazed how much the wake has been reduced.

    Tho you have to say, that is THE most hideous rear wing arrangement anyone has ever seen.

    24 Oct 2005, 21:21

  3. Yeah, it don't look great – as I commented on someone elses blog – it looks like someone reversed it into a traffic light or something. But overall, I don't think there's too much of a problem with overtaking in general – Suzuka this year showed that – and Silverstone last year. Ok, so 2 grand prixs in two years isn't great – but both these GPs had mixed up grids, forcing people to pass. It seems silly to me that people often complain about a lack of overtaking – surely a basic consequence of qualifying so that the fastest cars are at the front and slowest at the back means that there's never going to be much overtaking! If you want lots of overtaking, go and watch the IRL on the ovals. For the last 25 years or so probably, F1 has never been about lots of overtaking – Villleneuve and Arnoux at Dijon is about the only time I can think of two cars having a battle where they pass and re-pass each other. I wouldn't want to see a situation where its impossible to defend a position and overtaking somewhat devalued.

    24 Oct 2005, 22:08

  4. Guy, I'm sure you're not really suggesting that cars qualify in the order of the speed they'll attain for a whole race distance! Overtaking should happen more often than it does – many times in a race you'll often see a faster car helplessly stuck behind a slower one for lap after lap.

    I'm not advocating lots of overtaking – like you say, on the ovals it's far too easy and overtaking is meaningless for the first 90% of the race. But you only need to look back to the early 90s to see a time when overtaking was much easier – see countless classic moves by Mansell et al. It still wasn't easy, and a proper overtaking move was still (and, in F1, has pretty much always been) very difficult and skillful. Speaking of passing and repassing, what about Kimi around the outside of somebody (Montoya?) for a good few corners at Hockenheim in 2003? Button did it a couple of times last year too. But in essence, a good racing driver doesn't want to make a pass unless it's going to stick – otherwise he loses himself time against the next person up the road.

    But pretty much since refuelling was reintroduced, and more and more every year the ratio of aerodynamic grip to mechanical grip has increased, races have involved cars waiting until the next round of pitstops because it simply hurts their tyres too much to follow closely enough for a few laps to overtake. Either that or they risk understeering off the road trying to follow another car through a fast corner. I think the fact that overtaking has been noticeably less this year, especially at normally classic circuits like Silverstone, shows that aerodynamics now have far too much influence to allow racing. If the only racing we saw was where grids were very mixed up (and I'd say 2 "overtaking" races in 37 is a terrible record), that surely points to the fact that a large speed differential is required to overcome the barriers to overtaking, which in turn suggests that championship contenders can never overtake one another on the track. That's wrong, surely?

    25 Oct 2005, 00:09

  5. But the engines :-( Rubbishy things with too few cylinders…

    25 Oct 2005, 01:38

  6. I agree, drivers shouldn't be forced to wait for the pit stops to overtake. But maybe the pit stops should go too? (I'm playing devil's advocate here, I quite like pit stops actually!) And of course I'm not suggesting random grids every weekend! That's not Formula 1 at all. But in general the faster cars are at the front of the grid already – sometimes people seem to forget this.

    You mention the likes of Mansell performing classic manoeuvres, but partly the reason they've gone down as classics is because they happened so rarely. And still, I reckon a couple of moves Raikkonen has pulled off in recent years, and particularly Alonso on Schumacher at Suzuka this year, are pretty classic passes too. But the tracks often don't help overtaking – the long, constant radius corners of Barcelona, the Hungaroring, the brutalised Imola – there's very little opportunity for overtaking. I don't generally appreciate the Herman Tilke tracks, most of them are very Mickey-Mouse and have little character – but Turkey showed what could be done – there was plenty of overtaking there.

    There has been little overtaking between championship contenders this year; I think the point-system has to take some blame for that. With only the two point gap between first and second, Alonso this year was quite happy to rack up the second places and not go for the win. The old 10–6-4–3-2–1 system put the emphasis on winning, which means the guy in second has to overtake. And with the disadvantage this year's rules placed on retirements – qualifying earlier the next race etc. – drivers were less likely to try and overtake in case it all ended in tears and their next race was ruined too.

    25 Oct 2005, 20:26

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