F1 Winter Break
Fans Forum – Chapter 2: The Overtaking Question
Fans Forum – Chapter 2: The Overtaking Question
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2010   |  8:31 pm GMT  |  88 comments

Formula 1 fans had the chance to meet face to face with leading figures from the sport at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander.

The event was a unique opportunity for the fans and the sport to come together and exchange ideas.

The panel for the Forum, held in London on July 1, was led by Martin Whitmarsh, FOTA chairman and team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and featured Tony Fernandes, team principal of Lotus Racing, Jock Clear, Senior Race Engineer, Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team, Luca Colajanni, Head of Motorsport Press Office, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Paul di Resta test and reserve driver, Force India F1 team.

The second chapter looked at ‘The Overtaking Question”, an issue which always comes up in discussions about the sport. Is there enough of it, should there be more and what is the best way to encourage overtaking while staying true to what F1 is about?

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There are only so many drivers capable of overtaking and Lewis is the best.

But who to overtake?

Overtaking teams like the newcomers isnt racing , but negotiating movable hazards that can turn into nasty accidents when the slow drivers believe they are racing.

From 15 down on the grid should enter a B-race to stop interferring with the proper race.

Any top teams landed in the B-race , Tough luck.


did you not watch f1 untill recently?

up untill about 15 years ago the gap from front to back was bigger than the 4-5 seconds we see today. I can recall in the 80's the slowest qualified cars been close to 10 seconds a lap slower than the top guys. You never had anyone whining about slow cars back then.

There should not be a B-Class, This is F1 not multiclass Sportscars.

Besides the 3 new teams for this year are likely to be much closer, if not fighting with the established teams next year so why form a B-Class championship that will more than likely not have anyone racing in it?


Never mind the past.

From a highlighted slot on BBC 2 it has now become a global event.

Drivers who can win races from the front is all well and good but drivers who can win without the best car are a different breed.

That is why Schumacher won his first title.

You just know who the talented RACERS are.

So I state again Lewis is the best.

And Dave I have been watching F1 nigh on 40 yrs


Agreed - a B Class championship would be ridiculous and ruin the sport.


I have long felt that one area of the overtaking Q that always appears to be overlooked is an assumption of the leading driver being able to move over once to 'block' an overtake move. Why not remove this and state that the lead driver must stay to the racing line.

This would improve the opportunity/time for the chasing driver to make a pass. "But thats not racing" I hear the purists say... well, at the moment there is very limited racing, and most ideas to improve the show cost many ££'s and developments, even more once the loopholes are exploited.

Keeping to the racing line could be brought in by the next race and cos nil pounds/dollars etc. There are many more points to this I could make but if you get the general idea...


Martin Whitmarsh expressed the view very strongly (and I didn't sense any disagreement) that it is not overtaking that is important, but the perception of a hard battle - which is why the various push to pass options on offer don't really seem right.

In terms of blocking, if you constrain people too much you risk taking the skill out of it, but my take is that a driver should have to work to pass, but once he has done the work both drivers have to give each other track space. In Canada, Schumacher crossed the line with Kubica (and according to Paul this was discussed in the drivers' briefing at Valencia). In Valencia, check out the in car footage of Button who went wheel to wheel for most of the first lap, yet nobody was forced off the track (though where Webber went to was a mystery!).

There is a balance to be found, but a driver must be able to defend or else you have that dodgy American stuff that they call racing where cars wander past each other for no apparent reason.


I agree with Martin Whitmarsh, I'd rather see drivers push each other and have a good battle than a bunch of random overtakes each lap.

So surely the best thing the teams can do is to let the drivers push each other and change the recent set of cost-saving rules that only encourage the drivers to pootle around at half speed, preserving the car?


I accept your points, there will always be pros/cons however I honestly believe this would improve the overall spectacle. In my opinion I think the teams should seriously consider trialling this option on the track for a season and then gauge the fans reactions rather than simply being debated off FOTA/FIA's next meeting's agenda... I think the fans should demand it of them.


Martin said words to that effect on changes - about being prepared to trial things but then being prepared to bail if it turned out to be the wrong thing. I think historically the FIA invested too much pride in their rules.

Martin's other comment was that they cannot expect external bodies to set the rules because F1 developers are just too clever (and he did make some comment about they were too clever for him as his period in charge of technical changes showed - which I assume was about double diffuser).

I guess the best example of being prepared to try things is qualifying, where they set it up in one way and then agreed some tweaks to the point that qualifying is an interesting hour's worth. I seem to recall that the fan base were sceptical about that to start with, but who would go back to 55 minutes of empty track and a 5 minute blitz?


If races become saturated with over taking - then an over taking move would mean nothing. The skill to be would be lost and become unappreciated. A close car to car battle for 15 laps (as Martin said) creates more excitement than a constant stream of over taking as it is in many American racing series. It's the creating of chances to over take that cause the excitement, rather than the move itself. And so it's important to enable the cars to get as close to one another as possible - to create the opportunities to over take, rather than creating artificial over taking moves.

What ever happens, please god don't let Bernie get his way with "short cuts"!


Is it true FOTA want to cut the length of races? That would be disastrous!


Demoting some new comers to gp2/gp3 will help everyone.


No, I believe Webber said that last year if I remember correctly, but it was just an idea he was throwing.


I too have heard rumours of this being looked at but really hope it doesn't happen.


So do I, Banjo!



Wasn't mentioned today. Martin expressed concern over extending the season beyond 20 races (a sentiment I'd agree with).

Hisham Akhtar

Awesome video. Thanks for that.


If aero wake is an issue would not compulsory dimpling of the bodywork in the same way as a golfball help?

Im sure this has been looked at to increase car performance but maybe not to aid aero wake reduction.

Great forum James, nice one.


Golf balls use dimples to keep the flow attached longer around a sphere.

Racing cars generate an aerodynamic wake due to exposed rotating tires and wings and diffusers that generate a very large upwash of air, as well as many vorticies (a vortex is basically a very high-energy swirl, like a mini tornado).

Dimpling any surface of a racing car would not affect the wake, as it is not the effect of the body surface, but rather the shape of all of the exposed surfaces of the car, regardless of their texture.


I see comments on here from time to time about aerodynamic smoothing devices that will somehow get rid of turbulence. Turbulence is directly related to velocity and in the case of F1 cars engine power. To get rid of, or reduce, the turbulence you'd need to slow the air down once it has passed the wings, increasing the air pressure. This in turn affects to air coming off the wings so they don't work effectively. The dimples on a golf ball work to maintain pressure behind the ball rather than a large wake forming, effectively sucking the ball backwards.

If the aerodynamics went back to 1982 rules with underbody venturis and no front wings there would be two advantages. 1, the key aerodynamic surfaces would be 2 m further back allowing, that distance to be closed, and 2, the high efficiency of a simple venturi would allow the exit air to slow down as much as possible.


A lot people saying that the adjustable rear wing is not good! Just think how many races we have seen the best cars of the grid (lewis in malaysia behind sutil, alonso behind massa in australia and a lot more) stuck behind a slower car like force india or torro rosso that maybe are slower but they have similar or greater top speed from the leaders! So if they had the adjustable rear wing maybe they will have a better chance to overtake but i think that will not make it too easy because we saw that maclaren with the f-duct in the start of the season with greater top speeds can't easily pass the others (button had 5-7kph greater top speed from schumacher in spain and can't pass him)! So i think the new rear wing if they implement it right then will make the battles between the drivers closer and overtaking when you are in the dirty line (but with 10kph greater top speed) will make the overtaking worthable!


It's worth remembering they'll have KERS to defend with too, so as long as the adjustable rear wing doesn't make over taking too easy or common by giving too great a straight line speed advantage I think we could see some great battles.


I am very much against the notion of an adjustable rear wing for only certain drivers in certain situations and it was encouraging to see M Whitmarsh seem hesitant about the sporting side of those regs, adjustable wings yes but either available to everyone all the time or not at all, that way we avoid the biggest fan turn-off of all, constant driver and team complaining.

I think there is a danger F1 will endlessly navel gaze when it comes to overtaking and 'the show'. The focus should on how to adapt the regulations going forwards should of course include how to ensure that drivers are able to race but not at the expense of the core value of F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport. Let's try and get the teams to develop tech that can help them to overtake in terms merit and innovation (in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way of course).

For instance open up the engine regs, allow greater freedom with KERS, yes it may cost money, but with greater freedom of regulations there is a greater chance of making bigger leaps forwards as opposed to the method of constant refinement that goes on currently.


Sounded like they were largely happy with the status-quo. I always thought Jock Clear was Canadian for some reason.


Perhaps because he worked with Villeneuve through most of his career?


Funny they say drivers don't make mistakes...it's because the cars are too easy to drive. I say bring back the third peddle and stick shift. Make the drivers really work.


That is not true, drivers have to work more now than they ever have as the cars become more and more complex.

Plus the physical demands, expectations and associated pressure to deliver are also higher than they have ever been.


There is more to it than that. Prior to the current no refuelling era, the cars were virtually flat out all the time, more so than any time in racing history. The cars don't break down, and with overtaking so difficult, the drivers had to learn to deliver. The fitness levels are much higher now than in the eighties, and this is needed for the concentration levels. You can give the drivers blistered hands if you want to, but when you consider Webber has vommited into a helmet and then done a full race and Alonso has completed a race at full tilt while clinically dehydrated at Bahrain in 09, the difficulty this imposes won't be much.


True they don't have a clutch and gear stick anymore, but the drivers are constantly adjusting brake balance, engine mappings, front wing, blocking holes in the bodywork, etc for nearly every corner.

So they're hardly getting an easy ride, they've just got a different set of things to worry about now.


The cars being easier to drive now than previous tears was discussed with Jock. He could not have disagreed more stating if the cars were getting easier to drive Schumi would get back in a car and breeze it, not take his time getting up to scratch. He also reflected back to 'our nige' telling him ABS and all the aids meant you, as a driver, had much less margin for error in braking, drivers line, throttle points etc - actually making the cars harder to drive.


To be honest I am happy with the level of overtaking in F1, even the processional races are still exciting, anything can happen. Since 2004 F1 has just been getting better every year. The only element I would bring back is single lap qualifying, I loved the amount of pressure the drivers were under to get it right, with no excuses of being blocked as they had the whole of the track to themselves. I remember losing my voice when Jenson stuck it on pole in San Marino 2004 and Schumi cracked under pressure. He went on to win the race, but qualifying was electric. Though to be fair qualifying is entertaining now, but I am getting bored of drivers getting blocked and not getting a fair crack at pole.


Make it two. One where drivers fight for the order as in Q1 now. Then reverse this order, let the last driver first to have the track all to himself to set his time for the grid. Any mistake will be his own doing, no more complaint of blocking or whatever. How many laps to do it, 1..2..or 3?


or maybe 2 at a time at different intervals.


I tend to agree with you Ben. Overall, this year's been pretty good I reckon.

One-lap qualifying definitely sorts out the men from the boys, and even if a star driver makes a mistake, it spices up the race a bit because they have to work through the field.


Yes I second this one mate. One lap qualifying was hardcore. All or nothing, do or die.


Agreed. One-lap qualifying is totally fair, totally equal and definitely exciting. Have the run-order from slowest to fastest in final practice so that each car has a good chance at snatching provisional pole, and you've got a battle to the end.


I like the current format. There's lots of action, quite often there's an upset and it doesn't seem at all Mickey Mouse (unlike, say, reverse grids or drawing lots).

Actually, until this year, quali was quite often better than the race...


Did Jock Clear really say that todays F1 drivers do not make mistakes? That is hilarious! What complete nonsense. That makes his argument very weak.


Obviously, they make fewer mistakes than they used to. Obviously the overall standard of driving has increased enormously over the years. That was the point he was making. Why do you think Jackie Stewart used to win races by a minute? He was a great driver, but he didn't have super-powers: it was that most of the drivers then were nowhere near as good as most of the drivers now.


They don't necessarily get even one corner perfect per lap, but the point is that these days the drivers are expected to approach the absolute limits all the time. The cars have a high grip to torque ratio so the corner exits are always close, and the margins on the braking distances are always very small.

If compare this to the eighties where drivers making mistakes to throw away wins, e.g. Prost in Monaco 82, Jones in Spain in 81, Senna in Monza 87 and Monaco 88, Berger at Estoril in 87. The closest I can think of is Vettel in Turkey last year and that was lap one. The cars needed to be nursed in a way that required a margin for preservation. Boost was varied. The gaps in qualifying are much smaller now and this carries over to the races.


The biggest mistake: "Michael Schumacher"


It shows what the teams expect of drivers, if nothing else.


20 races is fine for me but hate not having my F1 for nearly 4+ months, cant we have the season end and start with less of a gap..

Tony from Lotus seems like a top bloke


+1 on that


Agreed on Tony. The sport could do with a few more characters like him. Hope he's around for the long haul.

I really don't like the idea of the wing adjustment only being available to the chasing car. Both cars should have it, so the potential's there to thwart an attact too.

I'd time limit it, so each driver gets 100 seconds of use per race, and it's up to each to deploy the adjutable wing as and when they choose. That should give them three seconds or so with their finger on the button every other lap.

What I'd hate to see is the situation where you'd ALWAYS consider the driver running close second going into the final lap the favourite to win.


11 more overtakes and the total for 2010 will be higher than for any season since 1993 and that's after just 9 races.

There have been 292 passes so far this season and that doesn't include passes on the first lap or lapped back markers, etc.

If we remove Lotus, Virgin and HRT from the figures than that drops to 134.

So the 3 new teams between them have been overtaken 158 times and they have made between them 23 passes.

The top 3 teams (McLaren, Red Bull & Ferrari) have been overtaken 33 times and have made 105 passes.

The only 2 drivers to have made a pass for 1st place are Lewis and Jenson.

Jenson passed Lewis and Nico Rosberg.

Lewis passed Jenson, Mark and Fernando.

All the data is here: http://www.cliptheapex.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=1482

And here: http://www.cliptheapex.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=1608

With a complete breakdown back to 1983 here: http://www.cliptheapex.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=822

From what I can see, overtaking is taking place and more so than for the last 20 odd years.


That's really interesting. Thanks for that!

Having thought about the adjustable wings some more, I think I'm okay with them as long as they're driver activated and have no artificial restrictions on when they can be used. This is also much simpler for the casual fan to understand:

The rules have to be simple enough for me to explain the concept to my girlfriend before her eyes glaze over 🙂


Thanks guys.

Glad you found the data interesting.

On the subject of tyres, I'd like to see the 2 compound rule removed and let the teams choose which one to use and how many changes to make.

But there must be a clear difference between the compounds so the super soft should be 1-2 seconds per lap quicker but only for a handful of laps whereas the hard should be a lot slower but last around a third to half distance.

That way we would see different strategies and more exciting races.

Having a tyre which can last a whole race, as was the case with Kamui in Valencia makes a nonsense of the "must use both compounds" rule.


Thanks for coming up with this Brogan. I for one am not unhappy about the amount of overtaking currently taking place. As far as I am concerned the last three years of F1 have been supremely interesting. However, I do think that a rule that complicates tire strategy would provide even more excitement. How cool was it when Kobayashi, finishing the race on fresh tires, whipped past a couple of cars to pick up some extra points?


so today's driver simply no longer makes mistakes?

what rubbish.

name me any competition where the humans at the top have become so good as to be impervious to error.

the top chess players in the world are overall much stronger than any that come before them, but compare them to a computer and they blunder again and again game after game.

tiger woods over the decade was an unprecedented prodigy, and still couldn't manage to sweep tournaments, and today can't even manage to find the brilliant but still flawed form that he once had.

boxing, mma, the best screw up all the time, see: fedor getting caught a few days ago.

surely the best quarterbacks of the new millennium are as advanced as these super human racing drivers, and no longer throw interceptions right? wrong.


the problem is that 1. they aren't given enough opportunities to make mistakes within the formula's base technology. and 2. the penalty for the mistakes aren't great enough to allow the car behind to pass.

and the overtaking that whitmarsh is so proud of has been almost entirely from being the only car on the grid with an f-duct for most of the season, and the luxury of having the engine with the most hp.


I mostly agree with you, but the style of racing has changed from earlier decades. The cars need to be driven much closer to their ultimate performance all of the time and this is training the drivers. It has driven the need for greatly increased fitness.

I would like to see greatly increased engine torque to make corner exits more of an issue. Greatly increase rear tyre wear and handling balance could be an issue.


I really like the videos James -

Are the full 90 minutes recorded? If so, is there a chance of that being put up?

Thank you


I'd like to add that I don't mind if it's just the audio.

I see these videos are edited (which is nice!) but I'd much rather have the full session unedited than 10 minutes edited.

This isn't meant to come off as a complaint or anything, please don't take it the wrong way!

Thanks again 🙂


Me too.

BTW - you got a mention on the BBC blogs I see, good to see that they're not afraid to give credit where it's due.


I think aside from the issue of aerodynamics and the dirty air issue, the fragility of modern F1 cars has got to play a role here. All those little winglets pop off with the lightest touch. Front wings also can be dislodged with relatively little contact. Perhaps getting rid of some of these bits and pieces, and making the cars just a tad sturdier would embolden the drivers to take more risks? Just a thought.


I cant help but repeat myself: the new rule doesn't say adjustable "rear wing", it says "bodywork".

WHile everyone says "rear wing," it *could mean almost anything - floor, barge boards, radiator flaps, front wing bits, etc etc etc.


Would be good to have a 3 day test at Barcelona using 2 'test bed' f1 cars. Each team in FOTA could come up with a component to run on both cars for around 10 - 20 laps. The goal is to come up with components that can help the two cars follow each other minimizing dirty air plus other issues with today's cars that need sorting out.

Funding the project may be difficult and also the FIA readdressing the testing ban etc. Wind tunnel numbers are one thing but to have 2 F1 cars on track physically testing components would be really interesting, instead of waiting for winter testing and finding out that any new changes need rolling back due to being ineffective.


james, you should have a like button here like facebook.

amazing forum! glad to see a great interaction between different stakeholders in formula1 including us, the fans!


Overtaking is a very complex matter and as we have seen in Valencia, marginal tyres could be the answer.

Moveable wings will be a good experiment but I am sure the deployment and the usage should be looked at, I understand and agree with Paul di Resta point of view.

To be frank, this season has been one of the most exiting and looking back at Bahrain, we all thought that we were going to have a very boring season.

F1 should be the pinacle of motorsport engaging with car production therefore we should have a look at solutions that could be implemented in road car production, will we see adjustable wings on a family hatchback, or F ducts, or blowing exhausts.

We might see small engine turbocharged with Kers.

It is complicated and I guess what we thought last season was very bad for this season it turned up to be pretty special so far


James, firstly many thanks for yesterdays entertaining event

There were a couple of points raised that I would like to comment on though in this area.

Following Webber's horrific crash at Valencia at the weekend, I was alarmed to hear Martin seriously considering a "proximity sensor" based overtaking device to determine when to give a following car a speed boost - this would surely increase the likelihood of Sunday's accident. I also don't like the idea of a system that rewards a car for sitting in second place the entire race just so they can use an artificial overtaking boost on the final lap which the car in front is unable to defend against.

The panel were at pains to point out that overtaking is now at such a premium due to the high skill levels of the drivers, and the fact that they make so few mistakes that would offer a passing opportunity.

However, I felt Paul misinterpreted a later question about tarmac run off areas vs. gravel trap areas - and whilst obviously driver safety is paramount, the tarmac run-off areas inflict relatively little penalty on cars which slightly overstep the limit. If these run-off areas significantly slowed down any cars straying off the race track, it may increase the impact of these now infrequent driver errors, and enable trailing car(s) to pass.


When you have a qualifying that put the fastest cars in the front and slower cars in the back then overtaking will be very limited.

When qualifying is messed up then there is a lot of overtaking.

Look at qualifying, if you want to change something.

But I like the races as they are now.


Excellent stuff so far - please put up the full 90 minutes as a podcast!

Karl Sciberras

The problem of overtaking lies in the frustration that builds in a driver, when he is unable to pass a clearly slower car due to a number of factors, including circuit design. This results in cars stuck behind one car (example the Kobayashi train at Valencia) and separates the drivers in a way, in which they wouldn't risk fighting for an extra point, because there's not much on the table worth risking for, like if one was racing for first or second. A system of meritocracy in overtaking is needed, because it isn't allowing the race to go ahead flowingly and let the best battle it out between themselves.


People seem to forget that there has never been a surfeit of overtaking in F1 and I tend to agree that I'd rather see a close battle as one driver tries to out-think and out-maneuvre one-another.

My concerns about a non-defensible 'push-to-pass' scenario are that it will either lead to and endless procession of overtaking, or, in the case where two cars/drivers are equally matched (as we've seen with McLaren & Red Bull over the last few races) will run round in formation until the last lap and the 'push-to-pass' is used at the last possible overtaking point leading to a somewhat manufactured result.

As others have said, the reduction of aero wake needs to be the priority to allow close racing and the possibility of better overtaking opportunities and a further reduction in driver aids. By far the biggest of which is the semi-auto gearbox - a manual shift gives the opportunity of more driver errors and greater opportunity for overtaking as a result.



Any chance of more video of the event becoming available ?



sorry if my English are not that good, but I would like to make a question to you, regarding overtaking, that I have never taken a good answer.

Why don't they freeze aerodynamics and free other parts?

And by freeze I mean, each team to have their aerodynamics department closed in the racing season time. Each team to develop their car aerodynamically from November until the first race and then stop until the next November. That way, if you free for example engines, gearboxes etc, each team who would like to find some more performance for their car, should develop their engine, their mechanical grip, gear shifting, brakes etc. Wouldn't this means, more overtaking?

Teams will depend less in aerodynamics and more in parts of the car that will increase overtaking.

I would like to have your say on this, since I can't ask that in a team principal.

Kind regards,


The problem is that the cars would still be designed the same way, with the same aerodynamic concepts. If your theory was correct, then the first race of the year (Bahrain) would have been the most exciting, and then each race after that would have been less and less interesting.

If they want to reduce the aero wake, they need to attack the aerodynamic concepts being used, rather than attacking aerodynamic development.

John Krouskas

Why I think that the first race would be the less exciting and when the updates of the teams would take effect in engine, balance, gearbox, brakes etc in the middle of the season, then they will be more and more exciting?


This is great, very encouraging. Only one mention of "the show" in the whole thing. Let's make sure we drag it back nearer towards a sport, rather than a show. I'm really pleased Whitmarsh and Di Resta were so firm about overtaking being fundamentally unlikely, and that it's always going to be comparatively rare. And please, for God's sake, let's not have any more of this video-game nonsense where they're only able to use the capability of the car in certain arbitrary circumstances, like we had with KERS.


Definitely a brilliant job in the two we've seen so far, perhaps the full session would provide an even greater experience for those who aren't in the UK.

Oh man, if you could get one of these set up in Australia, I would definitely be there *hint hint*


On the discussion about about blocking.

ChampCar ran a system where drivers were unable to deviate off the racing line at all to defend your place & we saw a bit more overtaking but far less racing so overall the races became less intresting.

One of the things I love about MotorSport is the 'Racing', One driver defending his position & the other trying to find a way past.

Overtaking should be made more possible but not at the expence of racing & I believe that adjustable wings, KERS Etc... only for the car behind will take away from the racing & make overtaking easier than it should be.

The problem we see today isn't that overtaking is difficult as it shoudn't be easy, The problem is that its less possible that in should be.

Outside of F1 other series are looking at ways to make overtaking more possible without resorting to Adjustable wings Etc... Swift for instance have developed a 'Mushroom Diffuser' on there Formula Nippon cars which makes following cars closer more possible. Indycar are looking into there 2012 Chassis formula & have a series of proposals from various chassis manufacturers which all feature intresting designs which would allow for better racing.

Thats the direction F1 should be going, Looking at ways to improve the racing by design & not ways to mask over the problem by giving big speed boosts to simply get more overtaking on straghts.


Good call on the Mushroom Buster design. Perhaps a good rule would be to have a mandatory spec diffuser (or add-on to the diffuser) that would create the same effect.


Once fixed the dominance of aero downforce, if You want to give more chances to overtaking then tyres must offer a much bigger grip, or engine power has to be drastically cutted. An opposite solution is to reduce drastically the corners grip while keeping the power, just like it happens when it rains. Random watering of corners surely gives a lot of show, and it's very cheap to realize.

More seriously, when only a single path exists to make corners at maximum speed, there's only a place where drivers can put weels, I mean just before the corners. This is why we see less overtakings and why a very efficient F1 can't easily pass a much slower one.

In 2008 arised the good idea do cut downforce then, in 2009, someone in FIA had the very bad idea to allow a trick which was anyway out of the rules spirit, I mean the so called "double diffuser".

Not counting this decision produced a championship whithout thrills, the big downforce joined tho bigger weight due to refueling ban, lead to the present situation. Now, increasing max speed on straights, is basically useless if everyone has this chance. Here comes' the very complex rule stating that the back wing can be set nearly flat only to try attacking and if who's ahed is less by one second. It may happen only and in specific places, and it's not allwed to defend, if you touch brakes it's disabled.

Again, and wrongly (my opinion) FIA makes things more complicate, for sure expensive, duels even less fair (who attacks benfits a trick) and rules will be more subject to grey zones.

This new rule, thought to get "more show" has still to be verified effective, meanwhile it's sure it makes cars more complex (fly by wire commands) and expensive, moreover putting driver's ability one more step behind aero efficiency.

F1 has never been a race plenty of overtakings, therefore, the lack of close up dueals between top drivers isn't what we really miss. The problem are instead cars where downforce still plays the biggest role. In a such situation it's a big trouble to overtake slow cars which can't be passed easily even by top ones, driven by top drivers. Therefore, actual F1 is a race which get decided after the first two corners, later, only because of chance.


Martin covered the issue, and the summary is that tyre (mechanical) grip does not make for racing. He also was very clear that an F1 race is about tension, not overtaking. For me Valencia wasn't over until Vettel finally emphatically responded to Hamilton - Hamilton hadn't given up so it wasn't until the last 5 laps or so that the winner was determined, even though Vettel had led for so long.

However, it is clear that consensus is that tricks to make life more amusing is not what F1 should be about.

F1 has evolved into a sport where you have a strategy evolved the previous season; strategic reviews based on careful analysis of likely race scenarios; on the fly tactics based on unfolding events. If the race turns into an unpredictable lottery, the race itself might appear to be more amusing, but the strategic side which fuels the in-between race speculation and intrigue is lost.

If you look at other motorsports you would have to ask why A1GP and IndyCar have failed spectacularly to gain a fan base even with push to pass and generally more overtaking. The answer is that the racing is unsatisfying, even though there is/was more overtaking.

BTCC is thrilling close quarters racing, but there is not a lot of overtaking - that again is slow pressure building up into moves - and the changing characteristics of handling over a race, but overtakes have to be stolen rather than gifted.

The most interesting comment to come out for me was that the teams are really interested in opening up the race data to keep the geeky fanbase happy - recognising this is a second level that need not bother the casual viewer.


I totally disagree there's not a lot of overtaking in BTCC, there's plenty and mostly encouraged by the enclosed wheels.


There is plenty of overtaking is not necessarily the same as a lot of overtaking - cars don't switch position with each other lap after lap. It is not unusual to see a train of BTCC cars for a number of laps, where the pressure builds up and then all of a sudden there is a flurry of moves where one mistake causes a major reshuffle.

What encourages overtaking in the BTCC? Tyre wear differences due to the different characteristics of the car means that some are better at the start of the race than later on; artificial devices such as the reverse grid and the weight penalty, and the use of previous finish positions to define the next grid, where cars which have failures are massively out of position. What BTCC doesn't have is an artificial device that makes a car able to overtake at the push of a button - not quite true - the tolerance for the "nudge to pass" and deliberately forcing cars off track amounts to an artificial overtaking move.

Anyway, the fundamental is that BTCC overtakes still have to be earned.


If anything, I think the cars should have more power; it would provide the drivers with a car that is more difficult to control and a much higher probability of cracking under pressure by spinning the tires exiting corners.

Bring back the 1000 horsepower monsters. 🙂


I really think that whatever options to improve overtaking are made, they should be universal across the grid at all times and not offered to only selected drivers.

Penalising the leader for being in front is something that wouldn't be allowed in pretty much any other sport.

The idea of a team seeing their goal get bigger each time they score to help their opponents would (rightly) be laughed out of the door.

F1 should do the same with selective push to pass options or adjustable rear wings.

Paul Di Resta mentioned something which is quite key to overtaking - tyre degradation in dirty air.

Perhaps the FIA should ask the single tyre supplier to focus on making sure tyres don't go off when they slide around in dirty air rather than manipulating the number of pitstops in a race through mandating pitstops or asking for softers tyre compounds to be brought.

It's time to let drivers choose their tyres rather than the FIA!


This is great. can we have the rest please?



I will sort the problems in 1 second about overtaking. Have 20 races at interlagos lol. Cheers bernie i will take my 10 mill in 100s pls


... or better still, the Nordschleife. If there were 20 Grands Prix there, they could afford to make it non-lethal.


The problem for overtaking is that on most tracks there is one clean line and the penalty for going off that onto the dirty side is huge. The last great overtake on the outside of a corner I can think of was Villneuve on Schumacher round the last corner at Portugal in '96 - 14 years ago. So something needs to be done about the tyres to reduce the marbles. Also do you think that drivers and teams have learnt a lesson in that it is better to settle for third and pick up points rather than risk everything for an extra place. The management of risk seems now to be heavily weighed towards don't jeopardise what you have.


"The problem for overtaking is that on most tracks there is one clean line "

Yes and thats just plain geometry. Almost any design you could come up with would have *1 optimum line.

The only place I ever saw a truely multi-line circuit was (is?)the Champcar track on the airport in Cleveland. The massively wide runway leading into the hard rt hand turn 1 made for a bunch of different lines. Even though there was only one optimum path, in the presence of other cars it got weird.


Totally agree. You see marbles within 30 cm of the racing line. It's practically like a train track on the corners of circuits.



Firstly, you did a great jog organising the event

It would be great if you could post the whole event, let people see the banta between the team members.

Even though I had a great time and the panel were open to all our questions and seemed to agree with most points, it seems FOM want to keep F1 in the dark ages and the F1 teams have little or no say ultimately, therefore rendering the whole forum process redundant, and a bit placebo for us public making us think we make a difference when actually we don't


The main problem with all these overtaking devices (kers, f-duct) is that they can be used to defend against overtaking as well, so they lose their effect. So adding adjustable rear wing is nothing new - it's just one more device of the same type. The real problem teams have to solve - is how to make these devices usable only for overtaking and not for defending. And the current plan of allowing to use it only when following other car closely seems very hard to policy and a bit artificial. I wonder why teams are not discussing the solution used in some other series - to have only finite number of uses per race or only one use per lap. For example allow to use kers or adjustable wing only once per lap - all the drivers will pick the longest straight to use it, because it will give biggest effect there. But then the car trying to overtake could unexpectedly use it in some other place and gain position. Or wait till the leading car has already used it and then use yours. This solution will give opportunities to overtake without any hard to control conditions.

Ted Rolfkopter

On the subject of pass-assist technology/gimmicktry, I think in an earlier post it was discussed bringing the rev. limit down to 17,000 rpm, and utilizing the standard ECU to unlock the rev range up to 18,000 for an agreed-upon specified duration of time to implement a 'push to pass' system. It could be in the regulations for next year, and it might as well be called 'KERS', for the same effect with arguably cheaper implementation.

For those concerned with 'the pinnacle', we could keep calling it KERS complete with battery graphic on the onboard speedo/tach/gear-o-meter. This all seems to point back to the debate over opened regulations and the engineer's paradise it could reintroduce into Formula One, or the increasing regulation to keep costs manageable and the racing closer.


F1 is not broke and does not need fixing.

We have exactly the right amount of overtaking at present. Too much more and we devalue the battles we do enjoy.... but I guess in this X-factor culture in which we live people have lost sight of quality over quantity.

The only problem is with the circuits. Less of the oil money and more stands full of fans.

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