F1’s overtaking problem solved?

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F1 cars seem able to follow each other more closely in 2009

The first two races of 2009 are in the books, giving us our first chance to see if the radical new regulations designed to increase overtaking have had the desired effect.

So far the signs are good – but will it last?

The Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix were quite unlike the kinds of F1 races we have grown used to over the years.

We’ve seen the return of wheel-to-wheel dices for position. At Melbourne, often an overtaking-free zone in recent years, we saw cars going past each other in places where we thought it wasn’t possible.

And at overtaking-friendly Sepang some drivers were passing and re-passing each other over and over again.

But with so many changes to the rules this year, how can we tell what has made the difference?

New aerodynamics

The restrictive new rules on the size and shape of wings has given us some very peculiar looking F1 cars.

But it has also achieved its goal of cutting downforce, allowing cars to follow each other more closely. That has an obviously beneficial effect on the race.

It has also made the cars visibly much more difficult to keep under control. As a result, we have seen more mistakes from drivers, opening up the opportunity for overtaking.

Slick tyres

Hand in hand with the reduced downforce is the long-awaited return to slick tyres. Already it seems the howls of disapproval when grooved tyres were imposed by the FIA were justified.

Now the balance of the cars’ performance has been shifted away from aerodynamics and towards tyre grip – as a result, they are able to get closer to each other.

It turns out there was a good reason why no other racing championship besides F1 was using grooved tyres after all…

Option tyre rule

Drivers are having a harder time managing the different tyre compounds this year

We’ve had the ‘option tyre rule’, which requires drivers to use each of the two different compounds of tyres during a Grand Prix, since 2007.

But for the first time this year Bridgestone has brought compounds that are two stages apart instead of one: soft and hard at Sepang instead of medium and hard, for example.

This had clear consequences for the race at Melbourne. Ferrari made brilliant use of their super-soft tyres to get in among the leaders at the start – but once their performance degraded the F60s were easy pickings for their rivals.

It may have had a desirable effect on the racing, but the ‘option tyre rule’ is still controversial. Should F1, supposedly the pinnacle of motor racing, have rules such as this which handicap teams in an artificial manner to improve racing?

The counter-argument is that it forces even the drivers who have the best cars to demonstrate their skill with a compromised setup. But I suspect that cuts no ice with the purists.


Over the winter there was a lot of discussion over whether the extra six seconds of 80bhp over a lap would allow KERS-equipped cars to overtake their rivals more easily.

That debate has now been answered conclusively – yes it does. Not only that, the KERS cars are also able to deploy their power boosts defensively to keep rivals behind.

It remains to be seen what will happen when all the cars on the grid have KERS. Will the improved racing it offers vanish? Or will we start to see drivers using KERS in different ways – at different parts of the circuit, or using their boost all at once to maximum effect?

Adjustable wings

It’s entirely possible that the new adjustable wings have had a greater impact on the quality of the racing than anything else.

But it’s doubtful, for in the first two races of their year we’ve hardly heard or seen any sign of them.

Moveable wings making any difference?

Will it stay this way?

Is that it, then? The overtaking problem is fixed, now we can move onto something else? Probably not, but I think the Overtaking Working Group who came up with many of the changes deserve a hearty pat on the back.

It will be especially fascinating to see what kind of racing we get at ‘overtaking-unfriendly- tracks like Catalunya, Monte-Carlo, Valencia and the Hungaroring.

The question now is, will have good racing again next year – and the year after that?

We are at the very beginning of a significant change in the rules which has produced a variety of different solutions. Inevitably the teams’ design philosophies will converge – with most teams probably taking their inspiration from the Brawn BGP001, perhaps with a thoughtful glance in the Red Bull RB5’s direction as well.

In the years to come as the cars become more similar, their lap times may become closer, but the varying strengths and weaknesses that has given us so much entertainment in the first few races of the season may disappear.

That will be the next measure of success for the radical new rules.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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78 comments on “F1’s overtaking problem solved?”

  1. Terry Fabulous
    8th April 2009, 7:38

    At this point, I would like to heartily slap the back of the overtaking working group and wish them a roaring ‘Well Done!’.

    If we manage to get overtaking at Catalunya I will offer them my hand in marriage.

    1. or your first born baby

    2. If he is offering his hand in marriage, I think he is unlikely that he’ll have a baby ;)

    3. Terry Fabulous
      8th April 2009, 11:42

      Oh my kid would be part of the deal… even if they don’t overtake, still offer my kid :)

  2. from what we’ve seen so far this year I think it’s been all around a good improvement, definitely more overtaking, more errors through corners when drivers are under pressure and all round more entertaining event.

  3. I like this seasons racing. The overtaking group appears to have done its job. Now lets hope they don’t try to become too ambitious and keep working harder. Too much of a good thing is bad for you.

    One thing that I like is making the cars more difficult to drive. Or should I say more driver dependent. This has been going in the right direction with the ban on driver aids and now lower down force.

  4. So far so good, but let’s give the Small Freaky One and the Spanker some time Keith. They’ll come up with a sophisticated device to change the current situation, I can bet my house on it. Speed limiters would do just fine. Or winkers…

  5. I think it’s a little early to say, although the signs are good. Like Terry, I think we have to wait and see if the Spanish race provides much or any overtaking, especially if there is a faster car behind a slower one, although plenty of cars managed to pass Alonso, so perhaps there’s an indication in that.

    These cars aren’t so ugly now, are they?

  6. Ronman (ex Ron)
    8th April 2009, 8:14

    Great Analysis, but my beef lies with this tyre option rules.

    i like the idea that lessens the difference between cars. i dont want F1 to become a spec series like other Formulas, but i would like to see everyone rolling on the same Tyre. like in the old days. this soft, hard super mushy selection makes me want to puke.

    i read somewhere on F1 Fanatic that the difference between the two compounds amounted to about 3 seconds a lap? what is so cool in that? i think it ads to the cost, ads to the complication. if you want to make tactics more relavant in F1, i think they should limit the amount of fuel spent to make it more economical, make fuel tanks smaller to increase pit stops. and make the tyres last for the whole race.

    i know in the past refueling was not allowed, but think of the fun if tires are to last a whole race (making them more road car relevant) cars have to use a specific amount of fuel (making them more economical thus cheaper and road car relevant).

    and if that is too much, then limit to one wheel change a race to keep the pit stop show running, but do something to eradicate the multiple compound issue.

    there are better, more sustainable ways to keep tactics in F1 more alive.

    i see alot of suggestions on this site that makes a lot of sense. i think Keith should group them all up, we will vote on them, and then Keith will submit them to the FIA, FOA , FOTA shmota (Bernie’s words i presume) and to the ringmaster himself mister Ecclestone. and lets see if it works.

    but over and above, F1 was much duller before i go to know F1 fanatic, so that at least has to stay as it is….

    1. but over and above, F1 was much duller before i go to know F1 fanatic, so that at least has to stay as it is….

      Aw, thank you very much :-)

    2. I don’t like the tyre differences, either. At first, it was nice to see the extra overtaking, but then I realised that it was usually a car on better tyres overtaking a car on lesser tyres.

    3. I agree about the tyres, its about time someone got the Bridgestone boys by the collar and demanded tyres that can last for the whole race, and an end to this false pit stop strategy we have to put up with.
      The teams should be able to decide on the tyre for racing during practice, and then live with their decision through Qualifying and the Race. To have the choice imposed on them by someone else is just SILLY.
      (oops I’m at it again).
      I also agree a little about the fueling – yes limit the amount of fuel the cars can carry, and encourage the manufacturers to make more efficient engines (which I think was one of the original specifications of the 50s), but only allow refueling under extreme conditions – ie when the tank is empty – and with FIA supervision – to ensure the cars all start with full tanks and don’t seek an advantage by being fuel light.

  7. schumi the greatest
    8th April 2009, 8:35

    have to agree keith we’ve all criticised the fia and everything plenty of times in the past..but the overtaking group seem to have done a good job…and i have to agree with terry fabulous if we see any overtaking at catalunya it will be an absolute miracle

    1. The OWG is comprised of a few key people from the teams. Rory Byrne (Ferrari), Paddy Lowe (McLaren)and Pat Symonds (Renault). So in reality,m the teams did a great job here. Maybe an indication that if the FIA should butt out and let the teams handle things themselves.

      Before the season started, Mosley was actually preparing for the OWG to fail. He said that if overtaking was not improved he would disband the OWG and that FIA would take over again. I assumed that meant that he wanted to go for his split rear wing idea again.

      I’d say that the measures of the OWG surely work, cars can obviously follow each other much closer. On the other hand the “tyre lottery” probably has had the greatest effect. Cars lapping 4, 5 and even up to 10 seconds a lap slower will be overtaken. Is that something I’d like to see? No.

    2. Before the season started, Mosley was actually preparing for the OWG to fail. He said that if overtaking was not improved he would disband the OWG and that FIA would take over again. I assumed that meant that he wanted to go for his split rear wing idea again.

      Indeed – he was also talking about going further with the adjustable wings, which to me looks like the most questionable part of the package so far.

  8. Nothing has changed in my opinion. There was an Alonso train in Malaysia and drivers over 1sec faster than him (Barichello) had a hard time getting past. Even Kimi struggled and only managed when Alonso made a judgement error going into a corner.

    What about KERS? Definitely makes up places on the start and helps defend overtaking on the straights (Webber vs Hamilton) but if everyone has KERS it will not contribute to more overtaking. I think the best use of KERS would be to augment HP rather than to boost it over a short period.

  9. Bravo to the rulesmakers… overtaking has, for now, returned! And the fascinating shapes and designs of the cars produced from the new rules is a welcome side benefit.

    What’s needed now are incentives for other tyre manufacturers to be in the fray. They all have market share to gain.. why is there usually just a single supplier to F1 lately?

  10. i can’t remember the last time i saw this much action during the race! it’s fantastic how the cars vary the most in maybe decades, and still the gap from first to worst shrinks. this is a success for the rules makers as well as the teams, engineers and drivers. bernie doesn’t mind either.

    my opinions:
    2009 aero – good. i thought all of the barge boards, winglets, et certera were forbidden. seems they just shrunk and hid them from the camera. maybe next year they will be expressly banned.

    slicks – this should be obvious

    option tires – bad. refuelling is gone in 2010, and should thake this with it. 2009 is the worst yet, with teams making little more than a token effort on the softer tires, because they are inappropriate for the cicumstances. still, it sure mixes things up…

    kers – love it

    adj. wings – huge potential

    will it stay this way? – tough to say. even if it tapered off, it’s worlds better than the parades we are accustomed to.

    1. That’s dead on about the tyres. I hope next year they retain an option tyre, but don’t make it compulsory – so a driver could choose to have a tactical 10-lap blast on soft tyres during the race.

      Adjustable wings – maybe they should enlarge them, so they’re visible from the in-car camera.

  11. I’m not convinced yet. In Australia drivers were still unable to pass despite being 1.5 or even 2 seconds faster! So far, most overtaking was done due to the tyres.

  12. Well they had variation in the tyres last year and it didnt help overtaking. All of the factors have helped. Webber vs Hamilton just wouldnt have happened last year, Mclaren obviously have the KERS sorted, Red Bull have more downforce. cue brilliant duel.

    Some people on here are in danger of praising the FIA! ouch that must hurt.

    1. Last year they didn’t have the ridiculous variation they as they have this year.

      Maybe the tyre lottery was that apparent in Malaysia, but did you see the race in Melbourne?

  13. Racing this year has been great…we should bring back tyre wars to spice things up!!!

    Bring back Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli..etc! That will be crazy!

  14. Antonyob,

    The tyre variation is this year much bigger than it was last year. In 2009 the difference is almost three seconds per lap but in 2008 it was no more than 0.3-0.8 seconds!

  15. One of the reasons people used to give why the Catalunya GP was a procession, apart from the circuit itself, was that teams did loads of testing there so they all had the perfect setup. So I wonder if the testing ban will have any affect, especially as teams will be bringing untried parts to races.

    The main argument for a single tyre manufacture is that it is easier to restrict performance, if we had a new tyre war we would see lap times tumble and the FIA would act to reduce speeds for the sake of safety.

    1. Plus tyres end up having too much of an impact on pace — we watch F1 to see drivers and constructors battling it out, not tyre manufacturers! (though sometimes the upsets are exciting to watch, as when Damon Hill almost won in Hungary in 1997)

    2. Terry Fabulous
      8th April 2009, 22:43

      Good Point. It is said to be one of the harder circuits to get your set up right, hence their enthusiasm to test their adnuseum (can’t spell).

      Maybe with less testing we will see a more mixed up race (fingers crossed.)

  16. Lapcharts for Australia appear to show that Hamilton made a positive overtaking move on some 19 occasions but I submit to the experts on this blog for checking that. Some of that may be down to KERS some to tyre degradation but surely some must have been down to the OWG and even skill (if this heinous criminal condemned for life without the option of parole can be so permitted)

  17. OWG Have done a great job. The thing is, it isn’t just the car that overtakes the other cars its the driver. Jenson Button got past Alonso no problem, so Barrichello should have done so in the same car as well. And Lewis Hamilton, i’m certain, has overtaken more cars than anybody so far this season. With KERS and the new aero regs, dull races where people settle for postions are a thing of the past! NO need for bloody medals or whatever system the FIA want to introduce next season!

    1. Williams 4ever
      8th April 2009, 18:13

      @ djdaveyp

      Jenson Button got past Alonso no problem, so Barrichello should have done so in the same car as well.

      – Did you account for the fuel load factor on Alonso’s car when JB overtook him. FA and NH were two fuel tankers loaded to brim that evening( or twilight should I say). FA was not even getting his breaking points right when Button was behind him. FA’s fuel load must have obviously become more manageable for him to control the car when RB was at his tail.

  18. Great Article, Keith.

    I honestly think is too early to see if overtaking is easier than in previous year, because there are some other not planned variables arround:

    Cars with double diffuser are 0,5-1,0 Sec faster than the rest.

    Kers / Non Kers: everybody was thinking that almost every team were going to use it, and now there is a mixed grid.

    In any case, keeping in mind what we’ve seen in those two races, it seems there are more overtakes than in previous years.

    Would be great if some of your expert contributors, could give us a technical view of their thoughts about the new aeropackage.

    We cannot be sure if what we have seen is just due to the other factors and not because the new aeropackage that was specified to facilitate overtaking.

    1. I don’t think anyone expect all the teams to be running KERS at the beginning of the season. And of the teams not using it yet, most appear to be convinced of its benefits — Brawn might be the only team not ending up with KERS:

      – Williams is developing their own kinetic system
      – RBR will be using Renault’s
      – FIndia will be using McLaren’s
      – Toyota: ? (they could presumably collaborate with Williams; AFAIK they licensed Williams’ transmission in exchange for engines)
      – STR: Ferrari?

      Brawn probably cannot use McLaren’s, both for competitive reasons and because they use their own gearbox.

    2. ferrari will be using magneti marelli’s kers. in my uninformed opinion, williams’ will be the best kers, by a mile.


      very good and free video inside!

  19. Whilst we have seen more overtaking i think it is to early to call. The new regs have made a difference but the overtaking we have seen is artifical because one car is impeded in one way or another. Kers give advantages to some teams on the straights, while the diffuser three have more downforce therefore better cars and the option tyre rules create more drama then anything and i personally dont like. Last year the cars were much closer in performance over a race distance therefore more difficult to overtake. Reducing aero was a great move and mechanical grip is the best thing for overtaking. Personally i think the cars look awful and i dont understand why they couldn’t adopt simlar wings to indy car. That series has so much overtaking and the cars follow eachother centimetres apart. You will find the cars will eventually become fairly even and overtaking will become more difficult. The difference the regs will make will be driver errors will now be penalised as the cars can pounce much faster on a car running wide. There will still be tracks were overtaking will be minimal like hungry, barcelona, monaco, valencia…

    1. The question is whether IRL cars can produce more overtaking compared to F1 cars when racing on the same track. In 2008, most likely; in 2009, who knows?

      But I agree that Hungary and Valencia ought to be replaced. Bring back the classic tracks!

  20. The OWG does deserve a lot of credit for their work. But a lot of the good racing we’ve seen is due to the cars being so close in performance, which the rules somehow have managed.

  21. It’s worth noting with regards to the adjustable front wings, Jenson’s weren’t working in the last race.

  22. After just 2 races?
    Its way too early to give a verdict. If you ask me I’d say there is not a significant improvement in overtaking. You have 4teams marginally ahead of the others. with 3 out of that 4 potentially having a superior car.
    What the first few races have just shown is that, some teams have clearly not done a very good job in designing their cars and are suffering the consequence.
    Some teams are running KERS, others are not. Its significant that the teams not running KERS are faster than the others, while they KERS cars are probably faster at the end of a long straight but unable to carry much momentum into a corner.

    If after the half way point when the teams would have at least sorted themselves out we see regular overtaking. Then I will agree that it has worked.

    It seems you came to this same conclusion that it might be worth waiting to get a good idea of what the reality is, which somewhat contradicts the need to give the OWG a pat on the back.

  23. Gotta give credit to Mo when he gets things right !

    I believe that the teams working with the FIA in a reasonable way can do things correctly.

  24. In my opinion the success or failure of OWG depends on those diffusers: whether they are legal or not. I wonder if/when every team copy them from Brown or Toyota will overtaking opportunities be the same as in first two races? Im not a technical guy but right now I understand that double diffusers produces more downforce and makes it harder to follow each other – so more in direction of 2008 than 2009 rules. If its true then from European gp’s we will have less overtaking (if everyone will be using brown-like diffusers).
    Am I right?

  25. Captain Caveman
    8th April 2009, 12:52

    The first couple of races were very interesting, but I cant say I put it down to tyres or KERS alone. Much has come from the fact that the cars are not qualifying in their normal positions due to some teams doing a better job than other on development.

    This highlights to me that some of the better drivers, are able to bring the most out of the cars on race day and differentiate themselves, by moving up the field and overtaking lesser drivers ( comparatively) in better cars.

    The key things that has affected overtaking in first two races in my eyes has been fuel load. A line of justification would be that the vast majority of exciting racing and overtaking moves has been in the first part fo the race when fuel deltas are at the greatest.

    @ djdaveyp

    Withy regards to why Barrichello took longer to get past Alonso, I put it down to the fact that Alonso probably used up his KERS on the first straight to make 6 places and then was unable to use KERS to protect his position from Button for the remainder of first lap. By the second lap the KERS had re-initiated and thus harder for Barichello to overtake.

  26. Why is it too early to call? 2 races, loads of overtaking. Tell you what im going to call it, its worked. It might not work forever but the point is the FIA can see that positive attempts to increase the spectacle work.

    Also an unintended consequence of the many rule changes is the wide variety of solutions and therefore differentials in performance between the most successful and the least. That gap will close as they all follow the best solution, or Brawn as its otherwise known. BUT that means the FIA should try these curve ball rule changes more often.

    1. Agreed, though this makes it even more important to have a budget cap in place, otherwise the other objective of bringing in new teams would be hampered by development costs

  27. Williams 4ever
    8th April 2009, 13:00

    Too early to say anything, given that Oz & Sepang were so chaotic races. The virtues(and vices) of the changes made in regulation and its help in overtaking can be assessed only after a “Normal” incident free, non weather infected race.

    currently the playing field is not level –
    a) whats the fun in watching a KERS Equipped team overtaking Non KERS Team.
    b) Bridgestone has done lousy job in the multiple tyre compounds they are bringing to race weekends. Although they can argue reduction in test times for evaluating right compounds they have access to data of all teams on the grid now, so I can understand teams frustation for not getting best out of available tyres but not bridgestone.
    c) KERS and effect on Tyres , this has also not been properly tested. I have my doubts if the optimum performance window of tyres is getting reduced in case of KERS equipped car.

    Can’t help but draw parallels with Wet/low temperature performances of McLaren Cars last year and the competition that was really struggling in those conditions. It was quite obvious one McLaren driver on better strategy got all kudos ( Most of which was team’s credit) and what made the driver look stellar was that his team mates qualifying and race strategies were compromised in every race of the season ( though this season that driver has not completed a single lap dur to his wrong doings). What was the fun watching that driver overtaking others at free will, what was point in poking fun of drivers who had bad time coping with conditions where their car was not equipped to handle those conditions ??

    To summarize the variables are too many and not consistent at the moment for concluding anything.

    1. ad A) It’s not that straightforward. Still I’ll agree that a battle between 2 KERS cars is more fun to watch.
      ad B) Bridgestone is forced by the FIA to bring suboptimal tyres .

      BTW Where do you get that the McLaren drivers were on such wildly different strategies? Moreover do you seriously think that the difference in their drivers’ performance was purely based in strategy? Is this similar in the difference in race performance between Rosberg and Nakajima?

  28. Captain Caveman
    8th April 2009, 13:09

    @ Williams 4ever — very well worded, could not agree more

  29. Personally, I think it’s a moot point discussing whether the cars can overtake more easily, because the FIA will just come down like a ton of bricks (as they have shown) on any drivers who try to race and fight for position, or(whisper it) make a mistake.

    1. Williams 4ever
      8th April 2009, 17:01

      @Jim – That was another point I missed in my previous post and had in back of mind. If Stewards are gonna meddle and punish drivers heavily for Racing Incidents KERS or NO KERS, Aero or No aero, bad tyres or good tyres, drivers will think thousand times before jostling for a position. My Heart goes out to Vettel, whose radio transmission to his pit crew was taken out of proportion and used against him in Australia.

    2. Slightly off topic, but the irony of the Stewards listening too much to Vettel’s radio comms and not enough to Lewis’ just struck me :/

  30. “whats the fun in watching a KERS Equipped team overtaking Non KERS Team.”

    did you not watch Lewis vs Webber??? best dice since:


  31. but im sure you’ll find some reason why it isnt the same/any good/ fia are rubbish/bernie oout blah boring blah


  32. To be able to give an exact answer to that question, we’ll have to wait to see the levelling of teams in terms of diffuser and KERS.

    Current cars in the field have different types of configurations, namely double-decker diffusered, KERS, non-KERS, ordinary diffusered etc. So, aerodynamically-speaking, overtaking progress cannot be traced now, unless those aero deviations are sorted out and teams are levelled somehow.

    When lots of parametres are changed in an equation, one cannot draw a conclusion whether those separate changes affected the result or not. We have to fix the others if we want to measure the one.

    When all teams use KERS, when all teams incorporate so called diffuser, then we’ll have much clearer vision if those rule changes boosted overtaking.

    1. I agree it’s too early to assess the improvement of overtaking. Teams are in different performance levels and different design estrategies. Moreover, most of the teams are working on fixing designs, glitches, etc. so it’s hard to tell if easier to overtake or not.

      The good thing is that now there’s more variety among teams, something we did not see since the seventies. I would like to see this differences to survive the season dreaming about the teams R&D groups can come up with new ideas instead of copying Brawns, Toyota or RBR ones. I agree it is probably matter of time for the teams to look more or less the same and I am afraid the usefulness of KERS will be diminished.

      If there’s something I would like FIA to change is the two-compound tire rule and the cap on KERS energy storage and management during the race. I they are willing to allow multiple tire brands back to the sport it wold be terrific. Right now, Bridgestone seems to follow a political agenda by bringing unacceptable dissimilar tire options, and changing compound on each race; for the teams this is a totally uncontrolable factor and gives nothing to the sport.

  33. David (Brazil)
    8th April 2009, 13:58

    Nice article. Just to provoke a bit: shouldn’t diffusers be banned, then, to ensure overtaking is maximized? I’m kind of in favour of this. Let Brawn etc. keep their points for cleverness but ban the diffuser for the rest of the season. Ferrari can’t really complain about the other teams keeping points as they’ve benefited in this way recently too (after running their mobile floor). The point is the other teams will introduce their own versions if the diffuser is allowed, equalizing the competition (at least on this aspect). So it would make more sense to round everyone down (making overtaking more difficult with less aerodynamics) rather than up.

  34. ‘Will it stay this way?’
    I think it would be unfair to blame the new regulations if the racing quality/overtaking trailed off over the next two seasons (or even this season.) This will simply be the teams working out the best solution and implementing it, resulting in the ‘varying strengths and weaknesses that has given us so much entertainment in the first few races of the season’ disappearing- sadly there is no ‘may’ in it.
    But I hope the FIA won’t simply change a little rule as this simply turns the competition into a battle of budgets with only a couple of teams able to compete. Rather large/many rule changes seem to have the greater effect and help the smaller teams (using Red Bull/ Williams as examples, all of the talk of Brawn GP being a new team or a little team is laughable.)

    Finally come on Williams, your setting fastest times in practices you should be doing better! And get that flywheel kers working, batteries are all very well but we all appreciate a little mechanical design.

  35. Bit of the Topic but I was wondering what effect next years ban on refueling will have on Qualifying?

    I also think once all the cars are competing on equal level, the overtaking will go away.

    1. They really should reintroduce low-fuel qualifying for next year. Rationale: if cars qualify with their starting weights, then cars that are well-handling during qualifying will also be well-handling during the start. On the other hand, a low-fueled car might handle differently once filled up, thus providing overtaking chances for drivers who have more balanced set-ups.

  36. If the cars can overtake at Catalunya, is too much to ask that they get rid of the horrible chicane?

    1. That was introduced on safety grounds, not for overtaking.

  37. Williams 4ever
    8th April 2009, 17:35


    BTW Where do you get that the McLaren drivers were on such wildly different strategies?

    Were you watching the same F1 campaign as rest of the world :-? wasn’t it obvious that Only one of the McLaren drivers was fuelled to brim effectively hemming his chance from taking front row, through out the season. that point on his effective role was to get leftovers from the table to teams point kitty…
    Team didn’t do favors by botching up on Tyres choices for that driver as well.

  38. You say there Keith “Hand in hand with the reduced downforce is the long-awaited return to slick tyres. Already it seems the howls of disapproval when grooved tyres were imposed by the FIA were justified.”

    Yes, you’re right that there was justified disapproval but remember that F1 was setting record breaking speeds at the time because of the ‘tyre war’, the introduction of grooves was said to be for safety reasons to slow the cars down as they were going through corners too fast, and this worked.

    It has been great this year though to see cars follow others so closely through corners, whichever developments have caused this it has no doubt enhanced the overtaking opportunities.

    Excellent website Keith, really appreciate what you do.

    1. Thanks Sulzerpower!

      Afraid I don’t agree with you about grooved tyres though – the same means that have been used now to cut cornering speeds could have been used in 1998, and the grooved tyre deviation would never have happened. Mosley was given a report saying just that in 1999. He should have listened to Jacques Villeneuve instead of punishing him…

  39. best racing for years…bring on China

  40. It’s been enjoyable thus far. Passing on the track, passing in the pits, still a lot of great strategical work, and the car are having a very fast paste.

  41. bit early nobody could pass alonso because of his kers.All ive seen so far is faster cars passing slower cars diffusor cars overtaking nonkers non-diffuser cars.Brawn & redbull were the two fastest cars in Malaysia & couldn’t get past any of the kers cars until there tyres wore out. When the diffuser debacle is sorted and all the cars have kers we’ll be back to the procession’s we have seen in past years so enjoy it while you can.Normal transmission will continue shortly

  42. StrFerrari4Ever
    8th April 2009, 22:24

    this is way off topic but <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_ahhY4MtA8&feature=related i love it

  43. I suspect some of the new passing has to do with good drivers in poor cars — hamilton, raikonen, kubica, alonso — starting in the back due to a lack of absolute pace in qualifying, but coming to the fore when the actual racing begins.

  44. KingHamilton
    9th April 2009, 7:49

    I am amazed, the FIA by hiring the aerodynamic-overtaking-whatsit group have actually done something right!!!!!!

    Well done overtaking aerodynamicists or whatever you’re called.

    The races so far have been superb and I cant wait for more.

    Just everything still seems to be stirred up in all the politics at the moment.

  45. either all driver with kers are magician or have telepathic power to on it-off it; I did not see flicking any switch to get the bust…Maybe TV graphics need to improve
    Some cars looks like they have automated the system already.
    If charged, it looks like McL & the red one get a bust exiting the last corner before the finishing line ..”no hands, no fingers..”.
    Then after the first corner is charged again, the driver can use it one time on the current lap if needed…otherwise “no hands, no fingers..” after last corner.
    Once every team has the same system, optimized in the same way, it will be down to pure luck to use it to overtake.

  46. I think there’s a little more to it than more mechanical grip. They’ve now got those dirty great front wings; which are lower to the ground; they’re more efficient in turbulence. This is a huge improvement over the last 20 years, especially from ’01 onwards when FIA regulations deliberately targeted the front wing, creating more efficiency problems.

    I suspect the cars are still very stiffly sprung, and reliant on aero. One year ago you simply would not have seen them nose to tail on a track like Sepang. Not in the dry. It’s a shame we won’t see Grande Courbe this year; that was always the ultimate frustrator in F1 aero.

  47. Cars with unequal characteristics results in better racing? Brilliant! This could make for some great championshi…what’s that Max? World engine? hmmm…

  48. I wonder what they would call that new universal engine proposed for racing after FOTA goes off on their own,
    How about the “Whippet” ?

  49. Kers vs non kers has added more to overtaking then the aero rules. Non kers cars are attacking under brakes with the dices about mid corner car control and holding the defensive line on the limit.

    Some of that will diminish as kers proliferates. All that sunk money will just see them change the rules to bias more kers power if this year’sformula doesn’t advantage it enough.

    Lap times should be the measure of aero and the OTWG could be said to have failed except that it is great seeing engineering brilliance. The other factor is the great positive of the removal of some of the driver controls. I think the ECU should be pared back further. I also agree with the non mandatory option tyre but logistically it is too expensive (way more tyres transported per GP) so I don’t think it will get up and the only way would be back to 1 control tyre.

  50. Following cars has been easy; in case of cars with regular diffuser.

    Those with double deckers are still hard to follow I feel.

    KERS; in my opinion is not very useful. KERS cars seem much slower than those without KERS. (Alonso at Sepang; Ferraris at Australia – I know it was the tyres; but it is foolish to assume that the skewed up weight distribution did not play a role in eating up the tyres faster.

    Once, all cars have KERS; you won’t be able to make out any difference.

  51. a hearty and mighty double handed slap on the face of FIA, Max and Bernie for screwing up our sport..plus a bumpy drive over their bodies forwards and backwards a couple of times..

  52. I wonder if there is any statistics on the overtaking matter. No of overtakes avarage /race 2008, compaired to
    running avarge of 2009?

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