Speeds up but overtakes down: Pirelli analyses the F1 2017 season
Posted By:   |  06 Dec 2017   |  7:26 am GMT  |  209 comments

Formula 1’s introduction of wider, faster cars for the 2017 season may have smashed numerous lap records across the calendar, but on-track overtaking was slashed by almost half of last year’s total according to figures released by Pirelli.

Discarding overtakes from the first lap and those as a result of mechanical issues, Pirelli recorded 435 overtakes across the 2017 season, compared to the 866 recorded last year.

This is the lowest number of overtakes recorded since DRS was introduced in 2011.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest contributor to the total, making 43 passing moves over the season – although this is perhaps skewed by engine penalty-enforced recovery drives through the pack. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix held the largest number of overtakes; 42 of them took place on the streets of Baku, while the spectators at Sochi bore witness to just one pass over the whole race.

Lance Stroll made up the most positions on the opening lap, taking 36 positions from other drivers off the line as he often sought to recover from disappointing qualifying efforts.

The fastest race of the year was recorded at Monza, as victor Lewis Hamilton took advantage of an uninterrupted race to set an average speed of 243.626 kph, the fastest Italian Grand Prix seen since 2006.

Michael Schumacher took 1h 14m 51.975 to win that year’s race at Monza, over 40 seconds faster than Hamilton’s victory time this year.

Hamilton also led the highest number of laps this year en route to the title, completing 527 racing tours at the front of the pack – almost half of the total 1196 laps recorded over the 2017 season.

Pirelli also released figures into the total distances covered by each of their compounds, suggesting that the Italian company’s constructions were conservative for the new formula as the three softest compounds covered by far the most distance.

Combined, the supersoft and ultrasoft compounds experienced over 200,000km of total distance, 10 times the amount of running on both hard and medium tyres. In total, Pirelli covered 329,170km of ground across race weekends and tests.

Releasing a range of softer tyres for next year, Pirelli Head of Car Racing Mario Isola expects any lap records set this year to tumble even further in 2018.

“From a record-breaking season, we have collected some record-breaking numbers,” he said.

“Over the course of this year, pole position was on average 2.450 seconds faster than in 2016, and the fastest race lap was on average 2.968 seconds quicker than last year.

“Now we look forward to next season, with an even faster tyre introduced to the 2018 range and with every compound going a step softer, which should help contribute to even more speed and spectacle in the future.”

The softer tyres are also expected to result in two-stop races, a rarity in 2017 as teams were able to unlock plenty of long-distance running even on the softest of compounds.

Officially, there were an average of 26.7 pit stops per race, or 1.5 per driver – Baku once again experiencing the largest figure, an oft-interrupted grand prix creating 41 pit stops.

“Considering all the range is one step softer, plus we have the hyper-soft, we now have the option to go soft enough to target two stops,” said Isola.

“I believe that three stops is a bit too much; it can be a bit confusing to have too many stops. We will try to make the selection of having two stops or one of the fastest strategies a two-stop.

“There is another advantage – with more compounds and a softer step, you give the teams the possibility to design the car that is more gentle on the tyres, so you can push the tyre towards the softer side.

“This is an additional variable that is up to the teams, and we give to everybody the same opportunity.”

Having conducted all of its running in preparation for 2017 with “test mules”, Pirelli now has a season’s data to develop its constructions and understand the demands of the current generation of cars.

Pirelli also released a number of its own hospitality-specific figures, recording 80kg of prosciutto eaten by staff and guests. With statistics like this, someone is certainly bringing home the bacon.

What do you make of Pirelli’s findings? Leave your comments in the section below

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Hi James,

my name is Zvonimir Martincevic, and I am MME from Zagreb, Croatia.

I have worked for Michelin for 9 years, and drove 4 times Dakar rally (the african one).

I work as a Formula 1 commentator for Croatian cable television Arena Sport.

Here You’ll find my analysis of 2017 season:

1) The analysis of the pit stop strategy and selection of tyres in the F1 season in 2017 https://www.f1puls.com/24011/2017-f1-pit-stop-strategy-and-selection-of-tyres-part-1/


2) The analysis of impact of Free practices on 2017 F1 GP weekend results https://www.f1puls.com/23605/the-analysis-of-impact-of-free-practices-on-2017-f1-gp-weekend-results/

I would like to get in contact with You so I can show You my type of F1 analysis.


Zvonimir Martincevic, MME

Zagreb, Croatia

Gmail: zvonimir.martincevic@gmail.com


I know the lap times were quicker this year because the screen said so. personally i do not care if the lap times are 3 seconds slower but i see better racing, more overtakes, more wheel to wheel combat !!!


hamilton has certainly made it clear where his priorities lie this season. he does what he likes, what makes him happy and don’t give a monies about anyone. the fia made a mockery of him during the season and didn’t have him present in their hall of fame inauguratiob. it was disgraceful how they handled that baku saga. todt enjoyed the company of of his favourite drivers on a great f1 night.
todt will certainly remember respect hamilton a lot more next season.


Your comments has no relevance to the article. Spam.


and yours?
still owning ip?


FIA fixed the penalties problem in F1.

If you take more than 15 place hit it’s automatically to the back, and organized in order in which the penalties were taken. No more 35 place or 55 place penalties, because those were the real problem. The most is 15 now…which is back of the grid by default.

Well…that’s that. They’ve finally fixed this dreaded penalties problem with these PU usage rules.

Next time you walk your dog and he drops a turd, spray some fabreeze on it right away while it’s still steaming and give it a sniff. See….it’s really a fresh spring flower!


Imagine refueling with these cars and tyres? I say, bring back refueling!


those tyres kill the show and nobody can see it except very fiew and the drivers


lando norris sums up my thought on pirelli tyres in autosport interview : “The tyre is one of the biggest things – with the Hankooks you could push 99% of the race and [with] the Pirellis you can push for a couple of laps and then you need to start saving.


The kid’s not wrong. Webber, when he first went to LMPI said exactly the same only they used Michelin.


f1 excitement shouldn’t be about the number of overtakes per race. it should be about drivers being able to overtake when they are behind a slower car nor matter how small their speed differential.


Same question as others have asked — why are postings not showing up, it’s been 2 days now ?


I checked the site and was informed that the server was down because one posters multi indentities was the final straw that broke the ‘Camels’ back’.


I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this. Going to wider cars with more aero bits and big tyres takes us back to pre 2009 style cars i.e. a time where there wasn’t much overtaking in F1. In 2009 we went to simpler aero and slick tyres, then DRS came along in 2011, throughout this period we had a lot of overtaking in F1 so it was bound to reduce changing back to the way things were before it.

It is so clear that they need to tidy up the aero. It is so hypocritical for the teams to harp on about road relevance with the engines and spit out the dummy when people mention N/A V12s but then go and squander squillions on honing wing shapes, how road relevant is an F1 barge board I hear you ask?

Ground effects were rightly banned in the 80s when it was getting silly, the cars were starting to be capable of cornering at warp speed but they were still essentially petrol bombs made of tin foil. Now it is different. Why is there still the enshrined doctrine that “thou floor shalt be flat”?

Cut off all the silly bits, front wing, back wing no other appendages. Oh and cut off the silly halo while were at it. No one, if they are being honest and not just toeing the party line wants it, it looks silly and provides a dubious level of protection.


I wonder if Hasegawa is moving out of F1 project partially because he spilled a little bit too much into about engine modes and automation in F1?


@ Sebee….What’s the F1 equivalent of the the old maxim…’loose lips sink ships’ hahaha “talk data sink later’…sorry.


I don’t think anyone but he revealed as much about what these engine modes do. He gave us a sneak peek into how F1 hot dogs are made and maybe paid the price.


We knew this was going to be the case though, right? Those tall, skinny rear wings looked ungainly, but they made the cars that bit less unsettled running in dirty air.


We need to look on the bright side. Soon virtual reality will be a big part of F1 and there will be no issues about passing due to aero limitations , no coasting due to the need to save fuel. No nursing engines to avoid grid penalties. It will be just flat out racing no holds bard.


The F1 rule makers just seem to get it. Fans don’t really care that cars are now quicker than ever, what excites them is close racing with plenty of overtaking. The fact that the regulations actively discourage this is just madness.

I for one would much rather see slower cars but closer racing where cars can follow closely so have a realistic chance of overtaking.

As for the new engine penalties and only 3 engines all season, there’s now a strong possibility that the drivers title will be decided on who has least penalties rather than ability. Again, madness and not wat the fans want.

Don’t even get me started on the halo…….


I have been watching F1 since the turn of the millennium and have loved following this sport both for the technical (I am an engineer) and sporting side. In the last few years I have had a hard time committing anytime to it because the sporting aspect of it seems greatly diminished and the ability of the drivers is difficult to differentiate. Formula 1 has become an engineering spectacle and nothing has highlighted this more than the change in regulations that make the cars go faster, but without the ability to provide the spectacle of sport.

I think as a fan of the sport “good” racing is seeing two (or more) cars racing closely with the ability to attack and defend over a sustained number of laps. Overtaking is a poor metric of this in an absolute sense, but is helpful. In order for there to be more spectacle in the racing, three things would need to happen: The lap time delta needs to be reduced to around 0.5 seconds, the performance differential of the cars needs to be reduced and the ability for cars to be faster in different areas of the circuit needs to be investigated.

What seems curious to me is that all of the rule changes thus far to make the spectacle better are all trying to force the engineers to make a product they think will work, instead of encouraging them. At the moment, the best cars are designed, primarily, to get from start to finish as fast as possible. What if we created a formula where overtaking was a critical component of being able to score world championship points? And in doing so the engineers from the teams are working on a way towards that goal?

One idea to achieve this would be to have a short sprint race on Saturday that is run in the reverse order of the finishing position from the last race and the result of this would set the grid for the Sunday race. This would allow better content on the Saturday (at the cost of a classic qualifying format) and encourage overtaking, thus forcing the engineers to make cars that can overtake.

Obviously in order for this to be successful there are some design rules that need to change, but fundamentally the philosophy of working against the engineers has consistently been a failure. Let’s work with them!


@Danny W…nice to see some lateral thinking. Well done.


And I see now in the latest Racecar Engineering a feature on the new Dallara F2 car. As relevant here, author Sam Collins quotes F2 Technical Director, Didier Perrin, as follows:

“The cars must be able to follow each other and race, that is the key aim with the aerodynamics. In an open championship the aerodynamics are developed to produce the most efficient package possible in terms of performance, but in a one make series the emphasis must be in allowing the cars to follow.”

That right there lays it bare. As a racing spectacle, as a means for drivers to display their skills (and for fans to see and admire that display), F1 – the only “open formula” left; the so-called “pinnacle of motor racing” – is an emperor with no clothes. In contrast, a “lesser” series has cars specifically designed to “be able to follow each other and race.”

DannyW is absolutely right. F1 at this point has become an engineering spectacle.

Racing (more often, the illusion thereof created by pit strategies and DRS) is an occasional byproduct of F1’s rules. Racing, it seems, only matters to the FIA on the way to the pinnacle, not once you get there.


@ Rudy Pyatt…But surely the term ‘open Formula’ is a tautology in many ways. A Formula is a prescriptive outline laid down in rather precise terms. What is needed is, IMO. a form of ‘formula libre’ where by the basic elements are prescribed with the freedom to innovate towards an achievement of the same. That would be the very best solution whereby the creative elements of F1 would reap the rewards of excellence for individuality.


Right! Something like this might work for example:



Agreed! A possible variation on the theme: If I recall correctly, your typical USAC race sets the pole (maybe the first two rows; I’ll look it up) through single car at a time qualifying. The rest of the field is set via finishing position in qualifying races. NASCAR does something similar at the Daytona 500. Pole position is set in single car qualifying, the rest of the 43 car field set by finishing order in a pair 125 mike qualifiers.

You could use the Daytona/USAC approach. Every driver gets, say, a warm up lap and two qualifying laps alone on the track, taking the fastest of those two as a shot at the pole.

Don’t set fast time of the day? Lineup two heats, grid positions in each by order fastest to slowest of their two-lap pole efforts, with each heat going, say, five (maybe 10?) laps. Where you finish in each heat sets your grid position in Sunday’s race.

You could also tweek this by mandating parc ferme for the pole winner: The tires you qualify on, you start the race on. The engine mode you qualify with, you use in the final race. This gives an opportunity for strategic variation and outright gamesmanship: Want to avoid putting extra mileage on the car and powertrain? Avoid the heats by taking pole. But maybe you need to turn up the wick so much for pole, and use such soft tires too, that you comprise your race settings. Decisions, decisions…

This would, hopefully, build-in incentive to design cars for racing efficiency over laptime efficiency.


Wow, interesting stats but not surprising.

When the most exciting thing in the race is Skysports replaying tyres locking up, you know that the sport is heading in the wrong direction. Don’t know if I can stand another year of watching and waiting for something exciting to happen.


To me, exciting overtaking is when we see people diving down the inside or going around the outside. Straightline (DRS assisted) is not exciting overtaking (to me anyway).

So, simplest way to increase exciting overtaking is to decrease overall brake effectiveness. I spose this would be either by reducing size of discs/whatever or by going back to steel.

That can then significantly increase the length of the braking (overtaking) zone.
That then makes it much more possible for someone to dive down the inside.




Not in Abu Dhabi you won’t!!!!


I’m actually totally OK with less overtaking – as long as it isn’t none! People often derided the Trulli trains when they happened, but you spent lap after lap wondering “will he, won’t he?” – and typically when one of them was brave enough the others would follow.

DRS drive by’s aren’t really my thing – sure it gets them closer, but the length and positioning of the DRS areas make it too easy for the faster cars. Maybe they could consider adding DRS zones to the “almost” overtaking spots instead, as opposed to the obvious spots?


To be honest I didn’t even notice that there were fewer overtakes this year. And even if there were, that didn’t make F1 any worse this year than it has been over the last 3 or 4 years. In fact, I would argue that it was actually better for the majority of the year as Mecedes weren’t as dominant and Ferrari seemed to be giving Mercedes a hard time.

I think it’s the drama of close competition that is missing from F1, not hundreds of easy DRS or tyre wear-assisted overtakes per race.


Lewis makes some interesting points in this interview that will add further to the discussion.



Aero. Aero. Aero.

Big shocker. They increased aero and passing went down. Nobody could have seen that coming.


It’s a meaningless statistic since DRS got introduced.

F1 failed on the day it introduced Push to Pass buttons. There is nothing less Formula One than that disastrous idea.


Why is that exactly. DRS on the straights and push to pass in the turns would help overtaking. If implementation were correct I don’t see why a little extra horsepower on demand, if you can get within 1 second, wouldn’t help because as it is now you have to be 1 1/2 seconds a lap faster than the guy in front of you to be able to pass at all unless there is a very very long straight that you can get a tow from.

With enclosed cars you could side draft to take air off of the guy in front of you so that you might actually get around even if you are 1/2 second per lap quicker.


The rule changes have been an exercise in insanity, a definition of which is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. If it wasn’t so frustrating as a fan, it would be a comedy. The trouble is, it’s a recurring tragedy.


Discarding overtakes from the first lap and those as a result of mechanical issues, Pirelli recorded 435 overtakes across the 2017 season, compared to the 866 recorded last year.

This is the lowest number of overtakes recorded since DRS was introduced in 2011.


What I find damning about this statement is that most of the top engineering teams in Formula One were talking about this very problem in 2016 and the FIA did NOTHING to address the issue.

I will also add, with only 3 engines allocated for the season, next year, that number is going to fall even further, as protecting power unit life will play a very big part in race strategy next year. As much as I love the thrill of single qualifying laps, I am fearful that next year qualifying and the quality of race starts will determine who wins the most races next year! If drivers cannot follow and attack cars in front due to aerodynamics, who will risk engine life to make an overtake if each engine has to last on average 6 – 7 races.


Yep and with those batteries halo and such they weigh too much. Much could be done to help many things is lower profile tires.

To me less unsprung weight in the tires would sure help if nothing else gets changed.


I would settle on a limit on how many elements you can have on a front wing. According to Lewis he has to be a minimum of 1.4 seconds faster than the car in front to make an overtake. If that is the average for the Mercedes, that is an impossibly high delta for Formula One.


Is F1 about engineering or driving? I think for most of us it is both but excellence in one is denying us the true sport of the other. We can argue over drs or weight adjustments but for me most races are decided on Saturday and I think it is there that the great minds should shine their light. Definately not reverse grids but perhaps a ban on qualifying engine modes. Then look at the more successful drivers needing to get even better times in Q1 2 and 3 to get pole. Just throwing things in the wind here but Saturday needs sorting out first.


@ Jon…There is a simple solution to this. Just rule that whatever mode you qualified in you keep for the entire race. That should do the trick neatly.


How about 2x 30 min quali where one car from each team is on track at the same time – fastest lap takes pole but all your laps must be within 5% of your fastest, so no backing off to cool tyres etc. if anyone stops early then thats the position they start in so no-one can set a blistering time on fresh tyres and then park it for the rest of the session. Repeat for second session. highest driver in the championship in each team goes first.


Send it to Ross…it is definitely the basis of a plan


What is this world engine stuff Todt is talking about? Did they really plan to have same engine in WEC and F1 and now he wants the same? More cooks in this F1 engine kitchen needed? Or is the goal to keep all brands cooking in the FIA kitchen?

Is this some new plan to bring Toyota back into F1?

I don’t understand how having one engine for both series doesn’t belittle F1 and the technical image it tries to hold onto. Something seems strange. Here is F1 claiming all this technical superiority, and suddenly this plan to have same technical level in both series. Is this to pull down F1 or pull up WEC? Can’t have it both ways.

I mean, why would they do this if not to lower the cost of participation in each series, or to tempt competition in both, or convergence of the LMP1 category?

And if they are willing to do this in the name of efficiency and cost savings, why not apply that logic to F1 first? There is so much waste in F1 it makes the head spin. And for what? Don’t think for a second that F1 is too big to fail.

“The requirements for formula one and the world endurance championship are similar,” Todt added. “A formula one engine has to do about 5,000 kilometres, which is about the Le Mans distance.

“Having one engine concept would be attractive to new manufacturers, and it could mean F1 teams can go to Le Mans with their own team, or vice versa,” he said.


I don’t mind the idea of having similar engines in WEC and F1, not exactly the same though. This should attract more engine manufacturers and reduce cost. At the same time F1 has to remain unique to any other category.


So you don’t find issue that one sport is about endurance and one about sprint racing and they want those two to converge?

Now remember, WEC is getting faster, so those fans are satisfied. Meanwhile, this push toward endurance and efficiency of engines is ruining F1. Slowing. Quieting. Penalizing. Oil Burning. Engine Mode-ing. Yukee-ing!


I just don’t think convergence is the intention. The challenge is to continue to keep F1 unique and attractive to the big brands at the same time without compromising the uniqueness.


Maybe F1 should only allow 1 engine per season and make it run diesel then?

I don’t see what that has to do with anything but the FIA says a lot of things that make no sense to me either.


World Engine. Not new in concept or execution.

I no longer have the hardcopy, but in a reprint of Denis Jenkinson’s “Continental Notes” from a 1970 edition of Motorsport Magazine, he described the FIA’s proposal for “a World Formula, an all-encompassing 4-litre limit for Formula, Sports cars, and Indy.” He noted that Europe could offer American racers “little except heritage and tracks that would blow their minds,” and also noted that “the American racer is a man apart for speed, what with Stock cars lapping Daytona at over 200 miles per hour, and for power, for USAC permits turbocharging and the CanAm engines up to eight litres.” Further noting that “the fantastic sums” for prize money in American racing; and that the money spent on developing advanced materials and other concepts in the CanAm (and turbocharging in USAC) made them the envy of F1 teams, he reported that the World Formula wasn’t adopted because Europe was for it but America wasn’t. If I can find a link to that article, I’ll try to post it.

Further back of course, you see the same thing in the ’20s, with AAA/Indianapolis and Grand Prix rules, albeit pre-F1, sharing the same displacement limits. Jimmy Murphy and Dusenburg won the French GP under the 3 litre limit, I believe in 1921.

More recently, the “world formula” concept found its way to F3, Superformula, Super 300 GT racing and the WTCC. All of these engines are based on World or FIA “Appendix” Engine, a highly specified, direct injection inline four cylinder, with or without turbo, depending on application. I believe that design was first mooted sometime in 2009. If memory serves me correctly, Marcin Budkowski played a key role in framing the specs. In any event, Racecar Engineering had an article describing the Superformula and SuperGT/GT 300 engines last year. If I can find a link (and again, only if that won’t be violating copyright), I will post that as well.

Tooting my own horn for a moment, I had a couple of articles published in Racecar Engineering last year, one of which dealt with F1’s fixation on aerodynamics that maximize what I termed Lap Time Efficiency (LaE, or the ability to turn an arbitrarily fast lap; in other words, to time trial) instead of seeking to maximize Racing Efficiency (RaE, the ability to follow and overtake other cars without resort to DRS).

I repeat: F1 has the distinction of being the ONLY single-seater world championship. For reasons that seemed good to it, the FIA has never seen fit to do the same with F2, F3, etc., unlike how the FIM approached motorcycle racing for so many years (e.g., 50cc, 80cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, and 500cc World Championships running concurrently). I get that Bernie didn’t want competition for F1, but that really should have been rationalized long before he came to dominate the scene.

In any case, that “single seater World Tour” status is ENOUGH BY ITSELF to make F1 unique and desirable, give it the snob (or, in marketing speak, “Aspirational”) appeal it promoted itself on during the Bernie era. It doesn’t need technical complexity and cubic billions in R&D and operating costs to maintain that status. Every quote I’ve read from the FOM Carey/Brawn/Braches trio (and from FIA President Todt) indicates that this is how they view things as well. That said, I disagree with Todt on the requirements of the WEC and F1 engines being the same. Aggregate F1 mileage per engine may approximate the LeMans distance, but the specifics of the duty cycle are completely different (lap length and amount of shifting per race to name two obvious differences). F1 (I repeat) mismatches a sprint racing distance and format to an endurance racing drivetrain. It also mismatches time trial aerodynamics to mass start racing. Combined, these mismatches yield high costs; complexity; little to no visible display of driver input and car control; minimal wheel to wheel combat; and overtaking generally the product of pit strategy or DRS – both artificial means, differing only by the degree of their artificiality.

I think FOM and the FIA are finally getting this.


…and yet here were are. Engines that are asked to go longer distance, cost way more than other, penalize the fans in the second half of the season for attending races as they see their drivers relegated to the back, kill the trademark noise and claim efficiencies that are absolutely and without doubt a total lie and deception. For what?

There is no doubt here that while WEC increases in speed it is F1 product that is being modified little by little to steer it toward WEC likeness. I mean, at this point hat differs the two? Just a little flat piece of carbon covering the wheels? F1 cockpits are both closed now. 2018 F1 cars are a WEC car with open windows and sunroof.


Very insightful post! Must read it a few more times to properly digest it.


@ Rudy Pyatt…a lot to consider there, in an excellent post. I just fervently hope that Liberty is more than ‘marketspeak’ Listening to Bratches is a major turnoff. Carey is not that much better. Keep posting as i enjoy your clear elucidation on these complex issues.


Thanks, Kenneth; you too, Redline! I try not to get too dismissive or cynical about what’s going on in F1, because I know that the parties involved are making an effort; they don’t want F1 to be a laughing stock or look bad compared to other series. I mean it pained me when I told friends about my first trip to the USGP; their immediate question? “Is that the thing where they drive around like a parade and no one ever passes another car?”

Mind you, that was in 2000.

I remember writing an essay around that time that what fans want is close racing- not just overtaking, but genuine opportunities to overtake ON TRACK; visible display of driver control; variety (of car, of track, of engine); and spectacle.

Note that “fastest” and “highest technology” don’t make that list, contrary to what some surveys have shown. I guess that makes me a purist (or whatever marketspeak is current). But it also means that I have a different historical perspective on racing generally. As I have said before, even a cursory review of racing history and technology shows that so much of what we think of as “F1” was well established in other disciplines before F1 adopted it. See my reference further upthread to Jekinson’s discussion of the “World Formula” as an example. To this day, there are conspiracy theories that the CanAm was dumbed down in order to make F1 look good; ditto the end of the Group C regs at the end of the ‘80s.

I repeat: F1 is the only single seater world championship. That gives spectacle enough without the need for either show-off tech or arbitrarily fast laptimes.

If F1 cars together on track can produce only the “spectacle” of a high speed parade, it simply isn’t money well spent for anyone.



I have a bunch of F1 and F1 racing magazine, and I remember how much talk there was about driver aids in those times. How much of a concern from F1 media there was about erosion of the driver and driver skill. And here we are with engine modes and automation of various car function that are critical to acceleration and braking functions. Interestingly, the talk of driver aids has disappeared. No F1 media questions F1 direction of challenges it anymore. There seems to be unanimous agreement and acceptance of the direction and the choices made. As if they are the right ones without doubt.

I remember those issues in 2000s well. TC for example. The start of the slowing down of the cars with grooves and then 2005 with the 2 race engines that drove us to where we are today at 3 engines per season. I remember going to the Ferrari museum and seeing the new cars and then the old cars and without doubt seeing how much more driver skill mattered. How the software was all running in the driver’s brain.

And now…here we are. Nearly 2 decades since your USGP 2000 adventure. I was there too. How do you feel about the path F1 has taken from then till now? Has the product improved? Are the fans getting more from what it is now?


@ Sebee…..Yes, you have made some crucial points there. I happen to be reading Nigel Mansell’s latest book and he devotes considerable time explaining just what superhuman efforts were required of the driver in order to be top of their game. He doesn’t belittle the current crop by any means…just highlights how far this ‘cocooning/auto mation’ has led to a wholly different dynamic when considering driver aids.


As a lover of actual F1 racing, this minutiae of self-induced anti-racing is does not hold my interest. We regulate and specify everything to make everyone equal then we gaze at our navels when it gets too equal. Throw off the shackles !


Hi James, are “overtakes” the target or actual racing? What value is there in just seeing cars pass a button and pass each other in DRS zones? I don’t think any serious motor racing fan is interested in that. What are your thoughts? I think that would be valuable on this site.


James how many years back do we have historical data on passes made per season? Would be great to compare to the 90’s and other decades


43 over takes comes out to slightly over 2 per race – that’s it? That’s what the best over taker did? That’s good racing? Overall, overtakes less than half of 2016. This is what the engineers predicted, and they got it. They also predicted 5 seconds per lap faster, and they missed by a couple seconds. As much as I like aero development, they do need to get rid of some of it to improve racing. Besides, the kind of aero development they do, the little tweaks with winglets etc., is not simple and bold enough in approach and look ridiculous.


The only thing worse than blogging about PUs is blogging about tyres. Bemusing that Pirelli is tracking their race wins as sole tyre supplier.


For me, the most annoying aspect of F1 is to see a car that is faster than the one in front, close by .5s a lap only to get within 2 seconds and just stop as getting any closer completely destabilises the car and thus shreds the tyres. the DRS sometimes helps, but as we have see this year, some tracks you need to be 1.4s per lap faster to utilise the DRS so if you are only 1s faster, there is no way past. It drives me insane. this is copounded when following lapped cars who need to “move out of the way” in order for the leaders to pass. If a car is 2s a lap faster, then they should be able to pass without the car to be lapped dumping itself on the dirty side of the track. Vettel was quicker than Hamilton in spa, but couldn’t get close. Hamilton was also quicker than Raikkonen at the end of Brazil and closed at a huge rate, but once he was on his tail, he had one effort and then his tyres were shot and that was it, follow to the end.
I have been impressed with the faster speeds this year, and the wider tyres do look better but there MUST be something done to allow cars to follow closer so we can see the skills of the drivers and they can battle instead of just following. Is there anyway something could be added to the back of the cars which “smooths” the air coming off the back?


I’ve often thought about an inverted gurney flap to produce a flat wake but the answer is even simpler…
The massive front wings should be able to grab every puff of wind to tie down the front of the car. But what’s needed is the opposite… a small narrow wing about 200mm wide with an adjustable flap behind it, 100mm wide. No other appendages, slots, holes etc.
The amount of downforce generated would be so much less than the current cars that they would be undriveable. This would in turn lead to a reduction in the rear wing size in order to balance the car.
Of course a smaller rear wing would not produce as much dirty air, so the narrow front winiwill work even better. Easy! Simple!


Those tires create most of the wake.. If you enclose those then it wouldn’t be open wheel racing.

The more downforce a car has the more the effect there is on overtaking. Like someone else said these arguments have been going on for 20 years.

The big problem I have with F1 is the difference in lap times from the midfield to the front runners being so far apart. This happens every time the rules change.


I would like to see DRS zones removed next year and experimentation with the DRS rules. Firstly, i would allow it to be used at driver discretion for 50% of a race. This would add a tactical element to racing.


The cars being wider and more aggressive was great for the first few races. Unfortunately as we got used to them the focus was on the racing action and the wider cars fell down on that front. Too much reliance on aero made following in close proximity hard so overtakes were harder to achieve. This did make any overtakes that happened an event but they were too infrequent to keep the attention.
As for the tyres, they were too conservative to allow any strategic variation which always leads to overtaking and close racing. The newer, softer tyres for next year should help with this.
Sadly the FIA have shot this in the foot with the 3 engines per year rule, it’s guaranteed to make everyone nurse the cars home every race. Add in the Halo potentially spoiling the looks of the cars and we’re destined to go back to processional races with ugly cars. Yes, they may be ultimately faster but if they’re running round below maximum pace for the whole race it’s all for nothing.

Add in that it’s the last year of FTA in the UK and 2018 is looking like a damp squib swansong year for F1 to a lot of people. I dearly hope that I am proven wrong and we end up with wheel-to-wheel action all season long but I doubt it.


Or, F1 could stop worshipping at the altar of laptime.

The cars are not optimized to race. They are optimized to produce an arbitrarily fast lap IN ISOLATION FROM OTHER CARS. In other words, they are built for a time trial competition. This in turn stems from a felt need to say F1 is “faster” than “lesser” categories.

Get past that thinking. If F1 provides spectacular cars with close racing (please spare me the argument that pit strategy means close or spectacular racing), then laptime won’t matter.

F1 is already unique because it is the only single seater world championship. Because of that, it doesn’t have to be the fastest or the highest tech to maintain its prestige.

You could take all the aero nonsense off, wipe it back to 1967, and it would still work. The racing would not suck and the cars would be fast and spectacular. Faster laptime? No. But all the drivers want is a big go kart anyway. There’s no excuse for F1 RACING (as opposed to laptimes) to be inferior to so-called “lesser” categories. A certain four-time WC agrees:


Stop worshipping at the altar of absolute laptime. It’s a false god for racing. Otherwise, inaugurate the World Time Trial Championship and be done with it.

Tornillo Amarillo

Lance Stroll made up the most positions on the opening lap, taking 36 positions from other drivers off the line as he often sought to recover from disappointing qualifying efforts.

I disagree, Lance is good in the opening lap, period. When hopefully next year he improves in qualify, he should show the same skill in the opening lap for avoiding troubles and gaining a couple of positions.


the most positions made on the first lap is a meaningless stat… Of course Stroll made more than Hamilton, does that somehow mean he’s better than Lewis?
Ericsson and Bottas both on one position gained? Do we rank them as equals?


What you gain at the race start is not meaningless. That’s the only way most of the time to finish first without starting first.


Or it means you are performing below potential, because your qualifying sucks?


With the 3 engine limitation rule who needs passing. The championship will be determined by grid penalties. In my option the grid pentalties also manufactures artificial passing stats as well. Far less passes would have been executed without the grid penalties. F1 is losing its way and starting to lose fans.


Probably since that was almost the case this year.


For the past 20 years F1 has searched, pretty much unsuccessfully, for ways to improve overtaking during the race. I suspect that this trend and debate will continue until we stop starting races with the cars arranged fastest to slowest.

I would suggest that half the points on a race weekend should be awarded in qualifying. This would allow the teams and drivers to demonstrate who is the fastest. The remaining points would be handed out in the race which would start with a reverse grid for the top ten. Hopefully, this would lead to fewer races being decided in qualifying or on the first lap, which is the case now. It would instead lead to tense races full of strategy and overtakes as the fastest cars/drivers attempt to make it back to the front before the chequered flag. A format such as this would likely lead to teams optimizing their cars/strategies to enable overtaking, which is clearly not the case in the current qualifying centric era.


So far as I am aware, the objection to awarding points for qualifying has always been that the championship(s) could potentially be decided on a Saturday, making the race on Sunday a dead rubber. As for reverse grids – not for me thanks. I see what you are suggesting, and how it might work, but it’s too gimmicky for my taste.


I agree that it wouldn’t be ideal for the championship to be decided mathematically on a Saturday, but given the lack of overtaking indicated by this article, isn’t that the case anyway?

I agree that a reverse grid is a gimmick designed to improve race day, but from my perspective, if the cars continue to line up on the grid fastest to slowest the only way to enhance the racing is through gimmicks e.g. engine penalties, DRS, enforced tire selections for top 10 etc..

I hope for a day when 75% of races are not decided on Saturday afternoon or the run to the first corner. I want to see races decided in the final few laps as the fastest cars/drivers try to make it back to front!


What I don’t get, is when has F1 ever been defined by dozens of overtakes each race? The fans on this forum have never known a time when it was, yet they still follow the sport. Why is it suddenly so important, when did the goal posts get moved? Eddie Irvine used a good analogy in an interview I heard – he was saying that he’d rather go fishing all day and catch one really nice fish as opposed to catching a dozen sprats. Same with overtakes, one or two good ones are worth a dozen cheap and easy ones.
Reverse grids, weight penalties etc are all punishing success. Why should those who have done a better job be penalised? The slower teams need to catch up, as opposed to slowing down the quicker ones. In my opinion of course 🙂


@ C63…Perhaps you might like to ask yourself why the slower teams earn that nomination. As for passing moves, like you, DRS is an anathema to me in so many ways and i support your theory. However the answer to this is now being addressed by Brawn et al and hopefully they will get it right for once. It will necessitate a seismic shift in both controlling interests and a willingness to enter a new beginning. This will be most difficult to navigate for the manufacturers and i for one will be hoping that we get some satisfaction in opening up the engine suppliers and a CLF product becomes the norm. Then we may see some better racing without any foregone conclusions and easily forecast results before the races are even run.


Perhaps you might like to ask yourself

I would say it’s mainly due to a comparative lack of resources, and it’s never been any different. In fact, if you go back 20 or 30 years the difference in times between the haves and have nots was far greater than it is now – some of the back markers would finish minutes behind the winner (if they finished at all).
So far as I am concerned if they can close the field up a bit and make following another car closely a bit easier, then that’s all for the good. But not if that means adding weight or reversing the grids. That would not be for me.

I suspect if Ferrari/Vet hadn’t dropped the ball and had run Merc/Ham a bit closer at the end of the season (like they did for 3/4rts of the season) most of the fuss about lack of overtakes would be forgotten. It’s a tendency for humans to remember the most recent thing that happened and because Ham won the title with 2 races to spare then the perception is that the whole season was easy – of course it was anything but, and for most of it Merc/Ham trailed Ferrari/Vet.


Why should those who have done a better job be penalised? The slower teams need to catch up, as opposed to slowing down the quicker ones. In my opinion of course 🙂

I agree but I’m not sure that’s the point. The problem is that even when the fastest car finds itself out of position and cannot overtake a slower car there’s clearly something wrong. Your man Hamilton has said a few times he wishes the cars were different so that they could follow each other better.

By the way I don’t want loads of overtakes a race either. But the balance isn’t right at the moment, IMO. There are just too many interviews after races where we hear the same thing.. ‘As soon as I got close I started sliding around and the tyres went’.


I’m not against doing something to promote overtaking Nick (although a lot/some of the problem is circuit specific). It was the original comment by Carl who was advocating a reverse grid of sorts which I didn’t agree with. I just don’t like the idea of ‘spicing’ the racing up with artificial gimmicks. As you say, the post race interviews often tell the same story and if they can do something about that, I’m all for it.


Um maybe points need to be awarded for qualifying but not that many. 1 for first 0.5 for second 0.25 for third. Anyone?


I think the risk of handing out fewer points in qualifying relative to the race with a reverse grid is that people would deliberately qualify poorly to ensure they started near the front.


Will be real interesting watching everyone try and nail exactly 10th place in Monaco qualifying though…


I like the comment! The only way a reverse grid works is if the points given out in qualifying are equal to those in the race. If not people will do exactly what you suggested.

It would be fascinating to test how difficult it is to pass at a track like Monaco when the fastest cars are in the middle of the pack. I would hope that we would be pleasantly surprised.


Hi Carl, I agree with your first paragraph, but I’d like to suggest an alternative solution. What about holding qualifying and the race at significantly different times of the day?

It’s felt like temperature changes have affected the cars even more this year, so maybe it would mix up the race-day speeds of the cars enough to create some good battles. I suspect the TV companies would resist it, but at least the teams couldn’t block it (I think).


I like this idea, but I can imagine a situation where engineers would adopt a best average scenario, where drivers may race to finish on average higher up rather go for wins.


I agree that there could be some interesting, potentially negative, strategies on how to achieve the best result. I wonder if that would be dependent on the track layout?


The 2017 regulations, which were ratified by the FIA last week, will create wider cars (from 1800mm up to 2000mm) thanks to bigger bodywork, with wider front and rear wings, larger tyres and aerodynamic devices to work the air harder as it passes underneath the cars. – Article Link Below

I was reminded of this when i read this article, and this was the worst thing about the 2017 season. Especially since on balance Mercedes was the faster qualifier and Ferrari the faster race car, I feel we were robbed of more wheel-to-wheel stuff between Vettel and Hamilton.

(87 % fans here wanted closer racing, and though we did get some it would have been nicer to get more – https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2016/05/f1-fans-speak-give-us-more-overtaking-rather-than-faster-looking-cars/)


The real problem with overtaking is aerodynamics of complex front wings of the cars. Until regulations are tweaked to address that, we will have races with less action on track. With newer tyres the cars will be much faster but that does not improve racing. Two pit stops and random tyre allocations per race will bring some excitement regarding team strategy and tyre choices. That also means most of the overtaking will be done in pit stops rather than on track. Lets hope we have them rectified for 2021.


Interesting reading with packed full of stats JA. Are you indicating that the tyres are reason for lack of overtaking? If so, I didn’t see any data proving that theory.

Pirelli has a tough job to do here. In one hand couple of years ago the tyres were exploding during the race, which was a safety concern. Now the tyres last too long, which prodiboring races with single stop races. Hopefully they find the balance next year.

In regards all the overtaking talks, I don’t see less overtaking this year as a problem. We have seen too many gimmicky overtakes since the introduction of DRS. Now the drivers have to work a little harder. I’d rather get rid of DRS ASAP and let the drivers show what they are capable of. Having said all of that, it’s an engine dominated F1 at the moment. Once that’s resolved and the cars are more equal, I’m sure we will see some great moves by the really great drivers. Ricciardo and Verstappen already proves what can be achieved with the underpowered car.


It would help if the tires could stick better while lasting just as long.


Tyres aren’t the main issues at moment. It’s probablu 3rd on the list behind the current PU and Gimmick of the century, DRS.


Ricciardo’s passing achievements are there for all to see and enjoy. Watching and reliving some of them shows just what can be done despite the efforts of the FIA et al to destroy that basic element of racing!!! Really, the main highlights of another boring season.


Let’s hope the preseason testing shows some signs of encouragement for next year.


Yeah, that DRS had it’s chance. It’s time to try different solutions. No better time than 2021. Get the floor involved, clean up the top of these cars. It’s gotten out of control again.

One of the stories of 2017 is how these wider, longer “aero” cars distracted from the fact that it’s still all about the PU, PU advantage and no tweak to the rules was going to undermine Mercedes.


Ah, there it is.


The truth? You’ve noticed it?


You know what made a bit disheartened yesterday? Reading an Ross Brawn interview with a headline, “Mercedes Streamroll Will Continue In 2018”. I wasn’t expecting drastic changes since the Liberty group took over the sport. In fact, I was encouraged by seeing Brawn in a position to hold the manufacturers accountable a bit more and at least make some changes to 2018 rules to bring the grid a bit closer. But instead it seems Liberty is still intimidated by the big teams. That’s disappointing.


You think that’s what it was?

I think it’s more likely that to make the sort of changes that would level the teams, would be cost-prohibitive for the smaller teams. They’ve all – not just Merc – invested millions of dollars, Liberty can’t just demand a pivot.


@ FZ…As i said some time back, i fear that we are headed into even more boring racing for another three years. No engine changes but availability will be reduced by 25%!! Total madness. How are they going to be altered to be more reliable? Sections thickened/more weight, less revs/ less stress. less revs/quieter exhausts.The strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker. Can F1 afford this?


Well with a more powerful engine you can run more downforce. So having a better engine trumps aero every time.


I’d argue that these stats show the opposite – we had the closest competition at the front in terms of car performance that we’ve had for several years as the PUs converge, and yet a massive reduction in close battling & overtaking. We need to stop obsessively moaning about the engines, and tackle the bigger problems in F1 – aero & tyres.

Aero – it’s great that the cars are actually fast again. Brilliant. But as we knew from the start they got that speed in the wrong way – more wings and surface = more dirty air = harder to follow. F1 needs to completely change its aero concept – ground effect etc as you mention to keep the speed but in a way that allows them to follow closely (it must be possible for these smart engineers!). Incidentally a radical aero change would give small teams the chance to win again by coming up with something brilliant, at least in the first year until the big guns catch up. That would be my first choice of things to change.

My second would be tyres – its great that drivers could push for a bit longer this year, but Pirelli did that by making rock hard tyres and thus dull strategy-free races. Its good they’re going softer again next year, but they seem completely incapable of addressing their thermal degradation flaw that prevents the drivers from pushing while keeping the tyres in a suitable operating window. If they don’t sort that out with their softer tyres next year, then we’ll be back to watching the drivers having to hold back to prevent thermal degradation just like in previous years – Pirelli either need to fix it, or get out of F1 and let someone else have a go.

Thirdly, Liberty have to sort out a cost cap (set at approx/slightly above what a team like Force India currently spends) and fair prize money distribution and limit how much a customer team can be charged for engines (heck that should have been the case from the start of the hybrid era). Customer teams should not be footing the bill for the developmental costs of the engines – if the car companies want to use F1 to develop this great new technology, they should be paying the price for the developmental war (that development cost could possibly be taken out of the budget cap, to appease the big corporations desire to spend their extra budget on showing off their tech, but only if they make the latest spec of their engine available to all the cars they supply at the same time as their main team, and they don’t pass those development costs onto the customers). Customers should be charged no more than say £5-10mill for a seasons supply. If Ferrari want to throw their toys out of the pram, let them – the sport needs to at least be close enough that almost any team on the grid could win a race if the circumstances are right (think back to that Maldonado win in Spain, for example), or even fight for a championship if they come up with something brilliant in their car design. No team is bigger than getting a well thought through, competitive set of rules.

To me these are all things that need addressing with much more urgency than mucking about too much with the engines too much, especially as their performances will continue converging due to the laws of marginal gains. You can’t do everything at once, so sort out the aero, the tyres, the commercial structure first before another complete overhaul of the engines again – maybe yes take off the MGU-H, or if that means too much of a redesign as Merc & Renault indicate, make it a standardised part, along with the control electronics that new designers can request to add on to their own engines.


I’m officially losing faith in Liberty’s ability to fix this mess.

They are sticking to the weak engines, which won’t rev high. They are putting more ERS on top of the V6 Turbo, taking more away from the ICE. Halo. More Aero. No chance at ground effects doing the work due to safety. Ferrari bringing in Alfa, now Maserati to get leverage on Liberty to keep things as they are…the new FI logo…probably short for Forget It!


Agreed – BTCC racing is actually more entertaining to watch than F1 these days. In pure racing terms at least.


Even without the wings there are tires creating lots of wake. Even though there has been less passing over all there does seem to be more overtaking at the front. I remember 3 this year but don’t remember 1 last year. Hamilton passed Vettel twice and Max passed Hamilton once.


What are the drawback of ground effects? Anyone know?


Bumps hahahaha


ground effect is extremely dangerous with a sudden change in differences in air pressure under the car compared to atmospheric pressure. did you ever see webber’s car taking off?


Yes. I really like that CLK-GTR race car. That AutoArt 1:12 D2 is actually the only racing car model I own. It is very low, so that’s ground effects.

Well, it makes perfect sense why F1 won’t listen to calls to make the floor do the work. Clearly they are not going to introduce this as an option as these speeds, especially considering the flight risk.

That’s that then. Hope is dying. They won’t dump the aero. Halo is here. Engines will never sound like even the V8s did, never mind V10s. And Software will more and more take over for the driver with automation and simplification, with the driver more and more just the ballast we have been talking about.

Really, if you think about it, it’s all quite lame. You can’t make any claims of danger, risk, skill. It’s all been engineered away.


i just like watching them race.


IIRC I thought the “plank” was introduced mainly to slow cars down round the bends so that when they DID lose traction, the resulting accident wasn’t too tragic.

Which is fair enough in terms of its aspiration, but that + big rear wings + fat tyres = procession and a nice Sunday afternoon nap for viewers.


@ Sebee…very many years ago when ground effect was a hot topic it was said that costs were the major stumbling block as major changes to the underfloor meant total re designs. Cleaning up the ‘backwash’ was also looked at separately and designs were submitted for approval with the main design being ‘CDW’ for ‘centre down wash. This entailed redesigning the rear wing into two sections directly over the rear tyres with a very large gap in the centre. This was rejected as it ruined the run of continuous space for sponsorship of the rear wing!!!! There was also the suggestion of movable aero elements in the front wing to give greater downforce when attempting to pass. Once again rejected along with all other moveable aero devices. It remains to be seen if any of these concepts are once again considered but i personally don’t see it happening.


We’ve seen so much. We’ve run this F1 simulation so many different ways. How hard is it for the simple approach of “what has worked in the past?” Let’s start there!


‘the Sochi bore’….couldn’t agree more. What a horrendous circuit. No elevation change, no corners or sequence of corners worth remembering. It’s Valencia in Cyrillic. Get rid and race somewhere else. Russia is a pretty big place, I’m sure a better venue could be found.


Agreed. More on track overtakes in Monaco should be their warning sign. Although I’m assuming Buttons move did not count?!


“bore witness” – I see what you did there!


I was driving by a construction site and there was equipment marked “Earth Boring”. That made me chuckle.

You know what is fascinating? Like really really fascinating? That all these paddock geniuses know that aero impacts the show, so instead of making the floor of the car do the work and doing away with all this air disturbing aero, they give us DRS. They won’t even TRY the idea of making ground effects take the load off the top of the car. They could still have a flat rear wing for sponsors, but will they do it? No way. They think that DRS – which opens and completely destroys the rear wing premium ad space is better. Or a shark fin which completely splits the rear wing premium ad space. Or some other crap hanging off the top of that shark fin and blocks the rear wing sight lines is a much better solution.

You really have to ask if they aren’t making the rules just for the heck of it…as a joke. I’ve decided that they absolutely ARE doing just that back when they came up with the regulation that gave us the penile implant noses. I guess they felt that too many fans were referring to the cars in feminine, as in, “…that Ferrari F1 car, she’s beautiful”. So they felt the need to publicly display their privates to make us remember the cars are all male, like the drivers.


Implant? It looked normal size to me…. 😀


What about the receptacle for this? Would that crater look normal size to you?


That team deserved to go broke for putting out that abomination.


The thing is the tires disturb the air most and the car has to have those.


@jdr…Indy car has partially solved that problem with their new design and aero pack. It also happens to be a damn fine looking car IMO.


I totally hate drs its just takes any thrill of overtaking, super artificial feature…and agree on your opinion on ground effects. Can someone tell me why they’re believed to be so dangerous that f1 folks wont touch it anymore?
and those apendages the cars from 09-16 have been horrible looking, my favorite was mclaren from 05 with those devil horns, mighty fast with that v10 screaming. It was balls out racing, we have none of that in f1 at the moment


The negative with the old style ground effects is that the downforce is created by accelerating the air under the car and sucking it to the floor. If the car were to bottom out mid corner for whatever reason (debris, curb, suspension issue), then all this grip would be lost and you’d be buying a first class ticket to barrier-land.


her’s some good old fashion ground effect for you.



I believe it’s because there’s a double whammy of vastly increased cornering speeds but also a high risk of loss of control if something goes wrong with the ground effect aerodynamics. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of the damaging/fatal accidents in the early 80s were blamed on ground effects becoming too dangerous and unmanageable, and if they went back to it now and someone crashed and died it would be a disaster.


It makes sense that there is this risk.

Well, that’s that then. Formula 1 has been spayed and neutered. Engine modes do all the magic for drivers. Software guys and engineers are the stars and 90%+ of the success. F1 doesn’t sound right anymore, it’s all haloed as of next year and hybridified for efficiency and to protect the planet with more jets depositing exhaust right in the stratosphere.

I think it’s high time we throw this onto a 4K console and virtualize it. There is nothing left here to save. #RIP-WWF1.


Good question? The floor of the car has the most downforce and tires produce the most wake. So maybe some type of push to pass ought to be allowed in the turns.


These are interesting stats and on overtaking alone fans should feel a bit short changed now F1 comes at a premium price. Consumers really need to be looking into this data now that F1 charges for the privilege of watching. Having said that, the season still felt very exciting right up to the Ferrari collapse from Monza onwards. Once Ferrari imploded, all the fizz went completely out of the championship which probably skews perceptions of 2017 somewhat. it still felt like a fairly decent year even if the on track action was slashed.

Absolutely shameful pun at the end of that article though, hang your head in shame Jake Boxall-Legge!!


why is it that none of the motorsports featuring more overtakes than f1 don’t enjoy the following f1 does?


Hi James, another interesting story cataloguing this season, thank you for this. I have attached a picture showing the improved cornering speed compared to last season too, which, could also be another indicator as to why overtaking has been that little bit harder this year? Faster in corners and therefore faster on the following straight. It seems out-braking the opponent and from really far back – Daniel Ricciardo-esque – has really been the only way to make a move stick this past year.

It’s interesting that Pirelli think that with the softer step in tyres that they think lap records are set to tumble further, I think in qualifying, the outright lap record will tumble, but the Official Race Lap Record may not with the 3 engine rule coming in to place. Do you think that the drivers will be driving to a delta even more to conserve their engines for the extra couple of races that each one will have to do in 2018? And as consequence overtaking numbers be even further reduced?


ricciardo’s move from far back was a carbon copy of hamilton’s on raikkonen back in 2007. the only difference was that ricciardo’s was drs assisted.
here’s the original.



With 3 engines, reliability is going to be higher on the priority list than outright speed. This doesn’t augur well for 2018 as more management of the engine during a race is expected.
Also, glad to see a fellow countryman here


the teams voted for the rules a long time ago. the challenge has been set so they should deal with it. reliability has always been a factor in f1.


Great logic. If a decision turns out to be a terrible one hey ho carry on anyway because that’s what everyone agreed to.


eliminating hate would improve your mental health tremendously, i assure you..


Eliminating your 30/40 posts per JAF1 article would tremendously improve the sites quality.


were you not one of those who argued strongly that mclaren honda would be a success?
i tried to tell you that honda has never had f1 success except when they had the variable valve timing technological advantage but you would’t have. i hope you left no crumbs….from the pie.


What?! Trawl back through all the articles you won’t find any evidence of me saying McLaren Honda would be a success. Lies.

I remember last pre season you were saying Ferrari would have to watch out for McLaren. Would you like me to find that for you to refresh your memory?


i did say ferrari should watchout for mclaren rather than talk o f challenging for the championship as a passing comment. i have always mentained, from the day ron dennis announced that honda project, that it was destined to fail.


there is a process in place to ensure that decision is the best possible.
many clever lawyers were architects of the process.


Difficult to say how much the overtaking figures were down to the wider cars and how much down to the tyres and single stops


Well glad to see the stats for the overtakes….I have been asking for this for awhile now and I am curious to see if any plans are going to start for the new regulation season to help increase overtakes. Pirelli said that 2018 will have speed and spectacle – what spectacle is he referring to? What’s your take on the abysmal overtaking stats James? Is the FIA going to address this?


Overtakes have never been a big part of F1, just an awesome small part. I don’t get why people complain about the lack of it.
The jewel of F1 is the lap time relative to every other type of vehicle, & the drivers & engineers that best utilize the equipment available to them.


why increase overtakes?


@Aveli…another little gem.


it is the difficulty of overtaking caused by aerodynamics that is the problem, not the number of overtakes. overtaking would be boring if there were too many per lap.


like your idea of f1 teams owning ip to their designs ideas?
what world do you live in?


@ Aveli….so you still believe that there is no IP in F1 designs?


why are you always making things up? you can read everything i post and yet you want to know what i believe?
in f1 teams copy each other and no one has ever been sued for copying another teams technology. not a single one.


@ Aveli…Obviously you are making unsubstantiated claims…again! You really must do better. In 2007 there were legal actions taken for the theft of IP, especially between McLaren and Ferrari. A little reminder, $100million fine was levied by the FIA. Also action was taken in Italy and the UK. The UK case was settled out of court with a figure of $180,000.00 being in Ferrari’s favor. In Italy two Ferrari engineers were jailed for IP theft which sold to Toyota, In 2015 Mercedes launched a legal case of IP theft against a former employee, Hoyle. The matter is still pending. You might like to re think your post and your subsequent claims…..


the lies have it.
back to the core issue.
there has never been a legal case against anyone using anyone else’s f1 ip..there has however been legal cases and complaints about individual who were in possession of files which belong to teams at which they no longer work. ofcause the files are theirs. everyone got to hear about mercedes’ engine architecture and combustion technology and every team used their combustion techmology to improve their performances yet we didn’t hear about mercedes suing any team over it.
liberty can build a competitive engine and offer it at a lower price without any of the teams suing them.


Would be interesting to sort out how many overtakes were performed outside of DRS zone, and its delta between 2016 and 2017. I guess the reduction has been massive, and it’s disappointing: the most meritful manouevres usually are without DRS aid.

So, the reduction by half on the overall figure doesn’t have to be bad at all (less overtakes could mean “overtaking is more challenging”), but thinking of Lewis’ comeback at Interlagos makes me wonder if the problem is still there or even worstened. I need that “out of DRS” figure!


without drs, half the field won’t be able to overtake. hamilton pulled off an amaising move on raikkonen in monza back in 2007, without drs but when ricciardo pulled a similar move on raikkonen on the same corner with the help of drs, some claim it was more impressive than hamilton’s.


Interesting, but inevitable. The corollary to fat slicks and a barn door rear wing generating more grip,is according to Newton’s law of reaction (the 3rd law) going to be an increase in aerodynamic buffeting (drag), which of course makes it very difficult to follow in the wake of a competitor (ask Lewis Hamilton about Abu Dhabi 2017……..)

In any case, Newton’s laws apply to gas particles (i.e air) and his thesis indicates that the exposed Pirelli’s, bodywork and even elements of the rear wing creates high pressure as a reaction to the low pressure action generated by the front and rear wings. This is absolutely correct – it’s why surface generated (i.e front and rear wing generated) downforce is always very inefficient as the drag generated by the exposed low pressure objects creates the inevitable “dirty air” that means track position is so vital (explaining Bottas wins in Russia, Austria and UAE despite a faster car/driver package snapping at his heels).

The irony is, a narrow 90 degree V6 is the perfect engine configuration for underbody downforce generation by means of venturi tunnels and sliding skirts. Of course, ground effects demands an ultra stiff monocoque, but a small fuel tank used these days means the “hole” in the middle of the tub would be tiny, so the extra forces imposed on the carbon composites would be able to cope (carbon fibre is several times stiffer than any metals anyway and doesn’t “sag”) Underbody downforce is much more efficient than surface generation as it is not exposed directly to the air stream, also the aerodynamic centre of pressure and weight distribution of a GE car is much more forward than a surface generated downforce car, meaning a front wing would not be required. It’s what Newton would suggest………


drag doesn’t necessarily result in turbulence. turbulent air is the problem, not drag..


What creates turbulent air? Why do cars go faster when DRS is used? Do F1 cars have a zero drag coefficient?


please state examples of objects with zero drag coefficients.
i promise you, turbulence is caused by objects moving in fluids.
you can change the shape of an object all you want, without motion, there will be no turbulence. stationary f1 cars can open their drs without affecting turbulence.


schumacher hardly overtook other cars yet drew crowds of germans to watch f1.
another flying non bernoulli object for your enjoyment.


here’s a plane flying without bernoulli effect.


it can be experimentally demonstrated that with zero motion through fluids, there is zero turbulence. so long as all other limiting factors are controlled, motion is directly proportional to turbulence..


@ Aveli WOW…All i can say is that your knowledge of all things is only surpassed by your willingness to share that knowledge with those of us less fortunate. You are definitely the ‘goto’ man…..


The imposter has really got the hang of copy and paste.


i knew you’d have nothing to say but that.


motion creates through fluids turbulence.
now that you have learned, go and show off to your friends..


Wow and WOW again….who would’ve known?


yes, wow! with all the words mixed up, it still stopped you in your tracks.
that surely is amazing.


@ Aveli…it’s easy to see that xmas is here. Fruitcakes abound.


yes, i am that amazing!


You do realize that Newton and Bernoulli are two different people right? I admire Newton, but he did virtually no work in aerodynamics. Please stop misrepresenting his work.


no mention of bernoulli above, or his work but there was mention of laws of motion at particle level.


You are joking??????? Newton is the godfather of classical mechanics. His “Principa” is still considered the go to book for both mechanical engineering and fluid dynamics, including a young student at Southampton University called Adrian Newey and a certain war-time engineer called Barnes Wallis who designed the ultra successful Wellington bomber with just a copy of Principa, a pencil and a drawing sheet. Indeed, there is a branch of FD known as Newtonian fluid dynamics. Why do you think air, water and hydrocarbon fluids are called Newtonian fluids? It’s because they all have a linear deformation rate, and since aerodynamics is the principle source of lap time in motor sport, every engineer will have studied Newton’s work.

The Benouilli equation is derived directly from Newton’s 2nd law (from Wiki: Bernoulli’s principle can also be derived directly from Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion. If a small volume of fluid is flowing horizontally from a region of high pressure to a region of low pressure, then there is more pressure behind than in front. This gives a net force on the volume, accelerating it along the streamline.”)

To say Newton’s work is of no importance in the field of fluid dynamics is incredibly naïve, or ignorant.


I didn’t say Newton’s work was of no importance. Most classical physics is based on his work; but based on his work, or derived from his formula’s isn’t the same as according to Newton is it? Let’s give credit where credit is due.


Wallis didn’t design the Wellington. That was Pierson.


If this Newton guy is so smart why hasn’t one of the teams snapped him up as chief designer?


they all have..


If the Gaz character knows so much, why hasn’t one of the teams snapped him up as chief designer?


Well redline, I haven’t got a degree in mechanical engineering, but even if I did, I wouldn’t want to work in Formula 1: it’s too restrictive on the design and engineering side. The gentlemen in Paris at the International Federation say you can’t have ground effects, you can’t have active suspension; you can’t have electric power steering; you can’t have four wheel drive, you can’t have four wheel steering, you can’t have fans to generate downforce…………I thought grand prix racing was the pinnacle of automotive technology? And yet the Class off 2017 are still using coil springs and dampers, and rack and pinion steering……………..just like the Class of 1950………….

There seems to be a prevailing attitude from the regulation drafters in Paris that Ground effect = evil and also Active Suspension = evil, and yet surface generated downforce = good. I personally think this is a nonsense, and I know the likes of Martin Brundle and Gary Anderson think the same (Gary has often been critical in his AUTOSPORT column about the FIA in this regard). When you have a driver as talented and brilliant as Lewis Hamilton struggling to overtake in the wake of his slower team-mate at Abu Dhabi, then that is all the empirical evidence you need that downforce generated via surfaces is flawed on the racing spectacle.

That’s my ultimate point: until the powers in Paris that actually create the regulations have an “epiphany” and realise underbody downforce creation by venturi tunnels/skirts, and active suspension (by way of an electronic actuator on each corner) is a much more efficient way of generating grip AND allows cars to follow each other without suffering from overt understeer, then this issue of “dirty air” will just literally just run and run and run…………

Einstein’s definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome each time. We’ve have been this discussion about “dirty air” for years…………..


@ Gaz Boy So what degree do you have…….


Gaz – I wholly agree that the overtaking “isn’t working” in the current F1. But you are oversimplifying a very complex problem and the assertion that a move to ground-effect cars is an obvious and trivial solution is based on flawed assumptions as well as ignorance of the engineering behind the aerodynamics of the cars. I mean no disrespect – but F1 engineering and aero is so esoteric, that only very few people have a good enough understanding to be prescriptive about the rights and wrongs – and I seriously doubt that includes anyone on this forum.


@ Redline…If i take your last sentence literally then, yes, you’re most likely correct but when i have suggested that ‘ground effects’ should be reintroduced i have done so only after having seen and read articles by people who do know their necessary aero. I have absolutely no doubt about the degree of knowledge required to not only design but also to implement ‘GE’ to these cars however i do know that Indy cars have been able to successfully implement some ‘GE’ and it appears to work. I have not read where Indy cars have the same degree of difficulty overtaking that F1 does?


@Kenneth – I’m not against the idea of ground-effect per-se, although the term is very much misunderstood and misused by the average punter.

What I am saying is:
(1) It is unlikely that anyone on this forum is knowledgeable enough about the subject to categorically state that “allowing” ground effect and active suspension is the solution to the current overtaking woes.
(2) Even if it is so from a pure aero perspective, you cannot just ignore the numerous implications – there are probably several pages worth of caveats which preclude the notion.

In any case my comments were not directed at you, but our resident boffin who has a bust of Sir Isaac Newton on his desk, but ignores the contributions to the science of fluid mechanics of Messrs Euler, Bernoulli, Navier, Stokes, Reynolds, Kutta, Karman, Prandtl and many more 🙂

Regarding Indycar – to be frank I don’t know much about the new rules, other than they significantly increases the proportion of underbody generated downforce. But I think the salient points there are that its a universal body kit (ie everyone gets the same aero) and that races are primarily on ovals rather “proper” race tracks. To me its not an apples to apples comparison, notwithstanding that it “may” make overtaking easier.


@ Redline…very good post. Interesting to note that Indy car racing has now only 6 out of 17 races on ovals! There has been a continuing trend to reduce the ovals over the past few years. The balance of races are on both street circuits and dedicated race tracks.


@Kenneth – wasn’t aware of the move towards street/track layouts. May have to watch some Indycar next season…


i thought the mass dampers were making overtaking worse? didn’t the racing get better once they got rid of it?


Interesting as usual Gaz…
Seemingly, most things the FIA do are in the name of safety…so how do you counter the safety argument?
What do you do when a ground effects car “lets go”?


@ LKFE….According to my limited [degreeless ] knowledge the reason given for the banning of ground effect was based on the fact that if any of the ‘skirts’ detached chaos ensued with a control less car. AFAIK ‘skirts’ as in the past aren’t tipped to be used which then bypasses the lack of control problem.


@ Kenneth – F1 aero is so esoteric that being an engineer is quite meaningless from a punter perspective. Sure, it may help understanding the fundamentals and philosophy of the aero bits in isolation, but at a whole car level its very difficult to understand. I have a degree in aeronautics, with a dissertation concerning bodies in ground effect, and I can assure you I am just as clueless as you when trying to understand the complexity of F1 aero.

Regarding the skirts – you are right, but from what I understand current underbody generated downforce is extremely pitch, yaw and roll sensitive. Damage to the tunnel or the vortex generating devices that “seal” the floor can also cause havoc. Not ideal when bouncing over kerbs or getting punted by that Vette… ehmm… other cars in the cut and thrust of racing. In one of the recent races a car had 12-18 inches of double sided sticky tape stuck in the diffuser, and apparently it made the car difficult to drive as well as compromising the performance.


That’s obvious, nobody likes a big headed know it all’s, and they don’t come any more big headed that old Gaz Boy our resident bathroom expert.


You can understand Pirelli’s conservatism, but the tyres were far too hard this year. It’s good news that the compounds will revert to their 2016 levels of softness, and the new tyres should help things further.


Dear lord! That last line really is “Haming” it up a bit don’t you think…..


HAM did win the title, after all…


To my mind this shows how F1 is focussing on the wrong thing is, faster means nothing if there’s no on track action. Pit strategy can be fascinating but waiting for the pack the shuffle over a few laps in the middle of the race isn’t racing. We either need to sort out aero (I personally think simplify it) so that cars can follow and pass easier. OR we need equivalency adjustments like WEC and BTCC. The big teams won’t like it but would a world champion like people to think he’s earned it through racecraft and talent as opposed to being in the fastest car. No disrespect to Hamilton he’s done a good job but Brazil just showed how dominant the Mercedes package is when he was passing everyone down the straight before turn 1.

I also believe that blue flags should go. The best drivers in good cars should be able to overtake back markers without assistance or further ruining the race for the midfield runners.

Compare to this weekends formula e. Close racing, following through corners, side by side action. Brilliant racing and more watchable.


Blue flags gone ?!?
You seem to have no idea of why are they used…
Along with many you seem to believe they are waved to clear the road for the car behind because its driver is technically in front already, where in fact they are mandatory to save both driver their life, or at least physical integrity.
Myself I do not wish to anybody to experience being cut off by a car some 30 km/h slower, not even at the public road speeds.


f1 is all about speed and being fast is all the f1 action needed. on track action in f1 is not overtaking. it’s about being fast. the problem is not being to overtake when you’re faster than the car in front not because of the skill of the driver in the car in from but the dynamics of the cars. that is the problem, not the number of overtakes per race, month, or season.


the blue flags can’t go because you can have a teammate sacrifice his race over and over, lap by lap, just to impede another driver. that’s not racing. that’s just Roadrash.


Agreed – blocking SHOULD be penalised


I agree with you first point regarding equalising the teams, but then the natural end point for that is a single spec formula and we surely don’t want that.

Blue flags are good for the sport, the last thing it needs is a race or championship ruined by a back marker who seems to think 17th is more important.

And the point about formula e is surely a joke. Side by side action? The track isn’t wide enough, the cars are slow, sound pathetic and overtakes come down to who manages their battery the best. Racing it currently isn’t. Reminds me of the comments made by people who say the WEC is more action than F1, where in reality this year it was 4 cars circulating and managing fuel and tyres for 6 hours or more (and I say this as someone who attends the races).


I think introducing some equalisation would push manufacturers to find solutions around it and would lead not to everyone being the same but variations in how their “equal” performance is deployed. I remember a few years ago at Spa the Audi and Porsche WEC cars had roughly the same total lap times but Porsche managed to set their hybrid deployment to be almost instant along the kemmel straight leading to overtakes and then the audi fightback through the corners.

as for formula E I meant more the way there were multiple instances of cars ending up braking hard into corners and ending up side by side leading to the chance of an overtake rather than just following for corner after corner. yes they are very wide on narrow tracks and slow is comparative, I couldnt drive one at those speeds but if F1 was similar but faster Id still watch it.

lastly, sorry but Im one who really doesnt care how the sound (maybe Im in the minority). I do like the sound of a dirty great V8 rumbling away but an F1 V8 wouldnt sound like that anyway!


Instead of removing blue flags entirely, how about allowing teams the option to call for a blue flag, up to 3 times per race for example?


Last thing needed is over-complication. Blue flags serve a purpose and work well enough. The problems are elsewhere.


correct observation redline. the problem is they don’t like the fact that a certain driver is winning..


There is a SHADE of truth, if you get my drift, about why the F1 community has problems with the individual who is currently its best and most dominant driver.


I disagree, its nothing to do with not liking who’s in front. I just think the midfield and lower teams have a hard enough time without having to compromise their races for the leaders. If blue flags were used to warn backmarkers of an approaching leader then fair enough but to penalise them for not moving over fast enough is my complaint. When I hear the radio calls “BlueFlags BlueFlags” from e.g. vettel or hamilton I just woinder why they don’t just overtake the car thats a second or so per lap slower.

Guess thats the whole issue with overtaking, we need DRS for position overtakes and blueflags to overtake slower cars.

I genuinely believe the backmarkers should NOT get involved and should be penalised for blocking a leader coming through but there is a huge difference between not defending a pass and being forced onto the marbles or having to back right off to the detriment of several seconds when they’re fighting for their last of the points that makes a big difference to their annual budgets etc


blue flags aren’t new, are are you complaining about them now?
if any team enters f1 with the intention of being midfield or back marker, they should become experts at obeying blue flags first and foremost.


@ Andy D…a very good post. I happen to think along the same lines as you.

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