Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem

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The first race of 2010 was a processional affair
The first race of 2010 was a processional affair

After months of anticipation and despite a mouth-watering line-up of teams and drivers, not to mention the biggest grid in 15 years, the Bahrain Grand Prix was a damp squib. And that’s putting it politely.

But the F1 community – be it the fans, the teams or the rule makers – should not be too hasty to jump to conclusions after just one race.

And blaming the refuelling ban for yesterday’s uninspiring race would overlook more serious problems with competition in F1 that need to be fixed.

Long-time readers of this site will know I never had much time for F1’s refuelling era and was glad to see it dropped. Artificial jumbling of the running order holds no excitement for me.

I enjoy proper wheel-to-wheel racing. Genuine passes for position on the track and robust defensive driving. Neither of which we saw much of yesterday – or in quite a few races last year for that matter.

Blaming the refuelling ban for the lack of overtaking yesterday is a simplistic, knee-jerk reaction to a problem which has been around much longer and whose roots are more complicated.


Over the winter the designers were left free to push the development of their cars’ aerodynamics without new restrictions. And, as has always been the case when they’re allowed to do that, the cars now produce more downforce and so are more sensitive to running in the air of a leading car.

That much was clear in the opening stages of yesterday’s race when Lewis Hamilton was unable to get within half a second of Nico Rosberg despite having a car that was up to a second faster per lap in clean air and the fastest in a straight line.

The improved aerodynamic performance of this year’s cars has been accompanied by a reduction in mechanical grip due to the narrower front tyres. The balance of the cars’ performance has shifted away from mechanical grip – which is not impaired by running behind another car – to aerodynamic downforce – which is impaired by running behind another car.

But it’s not just aerodynamics which has made it harder for one F1 car to follow another closely.

Running in the hot air of another car causes cooling problems, as we saw when Fernando Alonso caught Sebastian Vettel in the later stages of yesterday’s race. Alonso had to pull out from behind Vettel on the straights in order to keep cooler air flowing into his radiators.

This brings us to a third problem – the need to conserve car and engine life. Felipe Massa was being urged not to run closely behind other cars to avoid overheating his engine, which will have to do at least one, possible two more Grand Prix distances after this one.

In short, since the last race of 2009 it’s become harder for F1 cars to follow each other. And with none of the cars able to use KERS for a handy power boost, hardly anyone was able to get in range to make a pass.

The circuit

From the moment we first laid eyes on the revised Bahrain circuit, used for the first time by F1 this year, people were saying it would be no good for overtaking.

From the satellite photo alone you could tell it was too tight, too slow and too narrow. The race proved the organisers’ promise the section would “provide new overtaking opportunities” was well wide of the mark.

It wasn’t just in the F1 race that cars found it hard to pass on the new section. The GP2 Asia drivers couldn’t do much with it either but could still pass on the rest of the circuit. Incidentally, these are cars with tightly restricted spec aero, spec tyres, and no refuelling, and have consistently produced the best single-seater racing I’ve seen over the past six years. Sadly last weekend was their last scheduled outing.

The sheer length of the track played a part as well. The longer the lap a car has to do the less likely it is to encounter other cars. At around two minutes per lap every car on the grid could circulate five seconds apart. It’s no coincidence that Interlagos, which consistently produces some of the best races we see, is also one of the shortest tracks.

At the very least the circuit organisers should switch back to the normal layout for next year’s race. It’s no classic, but it’s far better than the configuration they used this year. And if they really want to make things interesting and increase opportunities for overtaking, they want to use their shorter ‘outer’ track.


The first race was always going to struggle to live up to the pre-season expectations. We all wanted to see Schumacher battling with Alonso and the fight for supremacy at McLaren. What little racing there was seemed to be between the Virgins and Lotuses at the back of the field.

And in one respect we were unlucky. The Vettel/Alonso/Massa battle for the lead was getting close when the Red Bull driver’s exhaust packed in, spoiling the fun.

But we shouldn’t judge the entire season based on one race. The first Grand Prix of 2002 was a thriller but the rest of the year was largely forgettable. Was yesterday’s race really any worse than Istanbul or Singapore were last year with refuelling? I don’t think so.

The real problem

The fundamental problem is still that cars can’t follow each other closely. This is what the FIA needs to fix. Bringing in more mandatory pit stops and reintroducing refuelling would be like putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg.

Instead of over-reacting in a panicky fashion with ill thought-out changes the rule makers need to look at the big picture and understand how many of the technical changes in recent years have conspired to make it hard for cars to follow each other: engine use restrictions, rev limits, double diffusers and more.

Even after the Overtaking Working Group’s changes last year, F1 cars still can’t follow each other closely enough often enough. Encouragingly the FIA has already taken a step towards fixing it by banning double diffusers for 2011.

But they need to go further and consider not just cutting back downforce, but also looking at this problem of cars overheating when they run close behind a leading car.

That’s the real heart of F1’s overtaking problem. And solving it is much more challenging than just forcing more pit stops or bringing back refuelling.

Overtaking and the refuelling ban

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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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397 comments on “Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem”

  1. Keith I very much appreciate you efforts in running the forum and putting up some very good posts.

    I am an F1 fan for the last 12 years. I have been eagerly waiting for the first race of this season for the last 5 months. I am very very disappointed with today’s race. In all honesty F1 is not racing any more! When is conserving tyres and driving economically called racing? No wheel to wheel action, this year none of the cars break any previously set records due to the stupid rules like no refuelling, fixed no of engines for the whole season (tho the race calendar increased by two GPs), no testing during the season and finally no KERS (tho some of the teams spent enormously last year to develop the system). It is more like a parade of cars 49 times rounds the track. Everybody (or atleast the top 10 cars) have the same strategy, qualify and start on soft compound and then use the hard compound to last until the end. Why would anybody even pay to watch this rubbish?

    I would soon be sticking/switcing to WRC and Moto GP which are way more exciting to watch than F1 unless somebody really takes the leadership and scraps the new rules and make F1 more exciting. Bye Bye F1.

    1. Feel sorry that you want to leave F1.Well it’s true the right people are not making the right decision.Even I am a F1 fan for 10 years,so I do feel same as you.I think the banning double diffusers will solve the problem.I think keeping low fuel qualifying on Saturday F1 should bring back refueling.This will help to keep the pace up & we won’t see any economical driver to save fuel & tyre.

      1. how cant bringing back refuling solve the issue?

        all they are going to do now is save the tires… every race it will all be about going slow and taking care of the tyres.

        and you cant get close enough to overtake because the cars are SO HEAVY FROM TOO MUCH FUEL, and if you go in too hard with a full load of fuel, you destroy the tires, if you try to follow close to get that chance, with heavy fuel, you destroy the tires…

        fuel stops = lighter cars
        fuel stops = more tires

        lighter cars + more tires = overtaking.

        1. Last year they were trying to save fuel…. so, the problem just transfer to other side

        2. Fuel stops = A call from your race engineer saying “You are running two laps longer, so try save fuel and we will get him at the fuel stop”.

          Brining back in race refuelling is not the answer.

          1. The difference for me isn’t the overtaking, because there has never been a truck load of it, the difference is you can now visibly see the drivers taking it easy. Last year you would see Hamilton powersliding everycorner, counter sterring, and pushing lap after lap. It was good to watch and appreciated. Now we have 24 cars doing fu&k all for the first 3/4 of the race, for a quick 10lap dash at the end which was spoilt last night because the Redbull packed it in. Alonso pulls out a laps over a sec quicker then everybody else, this shows how much he had in reserve

            I enjoyed the sprint, wathcing schumacher pulling out a 24 sec lead, when he was 4 stoping vs everyone 3 stoping etc etc.

          2. I’m sorry, but while your engineer tells you to save fuel and that you’ll get him in the pit stop at least we, as spectators, don’t necessarily know that, and the other guy is pushing as hard as possible so that it doesn’t happen. Furthermore, I remember being very excited about seeing the stopped car leaving the pits as the other one came down the main straight and then watching a fight for the next two laps as the tires got up to temperature. Maybe it wasn’t “real” racing, but at least it was more than what I saw this weekend.

        3. I think we need to be clear that overtaking means overtaking on the track not in the pitstops.

          The first problem with fuel stops is that everyone has to stop, so they really make no difference.

          The second problem is that you have light cars on worn tyres, or heavy cars on fresh tyres, all performing very similarly.

          To get real track action we need cars on worn tyres vs cars on fresh tyres, with fuel loads not being in the equation. We also need fresh tyres to perform much better than used tyres.

          I don’t understand why anyone didn’t try changing tyres with 10 laps to go. They were 6seconds off the low fuel quali pace and a stop costs about 24seconds, so within 4 laps they’d be back where they were with a 6 second a lap car advantage. Even Ralf could turn that into an overtake!

          1. there cars wouldnt be light enough with ten laps of fuel on board!

          2. The problem is your 24 second pit stop cost you 5 positions which cost you another extra 1 or 2 second a lap.

        4. Since we’re starting shouting, let me spell it out. THE CARS HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME WEIGHT OF FUEL ON BOARD for the last 3rd of the race as they did last year! They are NO heavier towards the end and STILL no-one could overtake yesterday. So how would refuelling have fixed that?

          fuelled to the race after last stop = fuelled to the end of the race after 2/3rds distance (Or half distance in one stop race strategies)

          No-one was complaining yesterday their tyres were shot, in fact the opposite. Yet still, due to all the points Keith spells out, no-one can get close.

          1. All we can hope is the increased understanding of tyre wear from the first race may let some teams push a bit harder next race.

          2. SERIOUSLY! Too much is getting made out of the fuel loads. The same distance of fuel for each team means that the difference is in the cars aero. I agree with Keith that we need more mechanical grip and less aero grip as this would alleviate some of the wake problems overheating the followers and not allowing them to corner. More mechanical grip also means that new teams won’t be sucking it the whole time during the first year. They will be much closer to the lead drivers; and from this we will see which driver is truly better as the cars will only be 1 second (or thereabouts) off each other instead of 3,4,5… et cetera.
            And yes, when we watch someone creeping out of the pitlane just in front of the other guy at the end of the straight we are excited but only because its the only damn passing going on during the race. There are no duels anymore because the tracks only have 1 line through each turn and the cars can’t get close enough before they lose grip.

    2. i agree with everything said here
      this was predictable.
      2007 and 08 had very competitive quallys because of the big levels of downforce on every car saving less to the drivers improving the show but the overtaking was impossible because of the turbulance.
      last year the turbulance prob was partly solved comprimising downforce but solved with the new slicks.result making easy enough to drive to minimize gaps and ending with turbulence.this year fia became things worse made the cars too hard to drive making the drivers on the upper hand winning very last in 2 weeks time we r going to watch an huge race

      1. Only barrier to overtaking i remember form the refuelling days is the FIA – Spa 2008 anybody? Even lie gate in Australia 2008 was because of overtaking!!! I think all the decision markers are just hypocrites – they talk of overtaking and the moment a driver comes along a does exactly that, they fine his team, call him a liar and take away his wins!!

      2. One thing that really surprised me – and got me very worried about the rest of the season – was the fact that every team found the one-stop strategy to be optimal. For a place like Bahrein where temperatures are so high and tyre degradation quite substantial, the Bridgestone tyres seemed to cope extremely well.

        Too well. That meant that there were no alternative strategies that were worth the gamble. For instance, had the optimal pit strategy been 2 stops (with tyres wearing out quicker), I am sure a few teams at the back would have would have given the one-stopper a shot. That would’ve also meant that drivers on the optimal strategy could have pushed more each stint (with the possibility of some drivers even contemplating a three-stopper with super fast, on the limit stints).

        This would have surely meant more interesting racing, even if it didn’t necessarily increase the actual amount of overtaking manouvres. And also, what can we expect of the next races, where presumably tyre degradation will be less of a factor?

        If the FIA wants to cut costs, fair enough. Ban double-diffusers, bargeboards and, why not, give teams the possibility of running a single set of tyres for the race! In the case of yesterday’s race, I am sure the likes of Button could have flirted with the idea of a race without a single pitstop.

        1. I agree Senor Paz. I thought with tyres being the only reason to stop, some teams would try something different in an attempt to gain positions by making one less stop. Bridgestone need to help sort this out!

        2. And now the teams are talking about having two mandatory pitstops to ‘enhance’ the show… Are they mad? It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

          Either get Bridgestone to supply tyres that are grippier but wear out quicker (hence shifting the optimal pit strategy to 2 or 3 pits) or simply ban the mandatory two-tyre rule.

    3. i am a fan for almost 30 years, so i understand you. but what concerns me more, it’s reducing power and increasing the weight. Those narrow tyres make me sick as well. We need the v10’s back, and fat tyres, that can take the abuse. Alonso can be world champ in 2010, and he isn’t the fastest driver. is this still f1?

      1. Spot on, bring back the V10’s!

        1. UneedAFinn2Win
          15th March 2010, 8:48

          Well ,the turbocharged “world engine” is coming 2012, or has that scheme been scrapped, do we know?

          Was it back in the 80’s when they drove those 1,6 liter 1400+ BHP V6’s and really fat sticky tires, i remember racing being pretty exiting back then, pre V10. Just imagine those engines made with todays standards.

      2. what on earth are you on about? Alonso won his first title in 05 with a V10 engine, and arguably wasn’t the fastest over the entire year (though I have no idea what point you’re trying to make). was that still f1?

      3. The weight limit was increased this year, despite KERS being dropped. Lower the weight limit again to AT LEAST what it was before, increase the width of the tires- front in particular- and increase the rev limit and power limit to 17,500/18,000 and 800 respectively. Completely outlaw double diffusers and bargeboards, and allow a low number of engine vents to aide cooling issues.

      4. First, Who is the fastest driver Alpa Chino?

        Second, V-10’s are gone for good old people! Yeah, I like em too, but the world is moving on and I suggest we drop these ridiculous suggestions. Turbo-charged tiny displacement super-high output engines are going to be the thing for awhile. They are going to sound like **** but they are going to produce more power and use less petrol/bio-fuel. If you like the sound of v-10’s so much then make one that can compete for fuel figures with a bio-diesel turbo-charged 4 cylinder engine; whats that? Oh, yeah it can’t possibly.

    4. I agree 100% with you.

      Every pundit said before the race that we were in for the best ever F1 season. Give me a break !!!.

      What a sleep inducing spectacle. Pity I didn’t record the race. Would be great help when I can’t get to sleep of a night.

      WRC, WTCC and Moto GP had more excitement in one race than F1 had in all of last season.

      WTCC and Moto GP had more real overtaking on a couple of laps than F1 had in all of last season.

      By the way this is from someone who loves F1 and has not missed watching live an F1 race in over 25 years.

      Will give the next few races a look but if they are anything like yesterday bye bye F1. Will record the races and watch the first few laps and the last few laps.

      I’m beginning to think that no one in F1 really wants to chance, all talk and no action.

    5. A few minutes before the race, on the grid, Ex F1 driver, and team boss, Gerhard Berger was of the opinion that there had been little ‘racing’ for many years, and a huge reduction in Aero was needed if we are to see it again, the biggest obstacle to racing is the air turbulence, and unless you stop the engineers seeing it as an advantage to keep someone behind you using aero, they will wait until they are forced to remove it, and we, the fans, will be able to accurately predict the race outcome from quali, subject to mechanical gremlins….from a drivers point of view it can be no fun to realise that your only chance is someone else’s misfortune…

      1. The issue with F1 is that it still hasn’t gotten over the death of Ayrton Senna. Because of his celebrity and fans world wide, his death put the FIA in such a panic over the issue of driver safety that it when overboard. The cars have become more and more hideous looking and less passable on the track due to lack of mechanical grip and the over reliance of aero grip causing turbulence for the car behind wishing to pass. In the name of safety we have gone from men racing fast dangerous cars to boys going to the track on weekends with their dads in the pits watching their sons in a timed rally race with no passing just beat the clock of the other driver, particularly in the pits.

        I’m not opposed to driver safety but not at the expense of the spirit of the sport. What F1 needs to do is go back to the wheel track of at least 1994 or better yet the wheel track/base and tire size of 1992. This would increase mechanical grip thus producing more passing. If the FIA is concerned about reducing speed in the name of driver safety, it could reduce engine displacement and power. As noted in this past weekend broadcast by one commentator, “the cars today are producing more downforce then they did in the ground effects era of the early 80’s. Why, because with a longer and narrow wheel base, you need a why to keep them on the track.

        If the cars had a wider track, refueling or the lack there of wouldn’t make a difference because there would be passing on the track. Just look at the refueling and non-refueling era’s between 1980 and 1992. You still have close racing with drivers on the tails of each other passing all over the place.

        As a fan of F1 for the last 24 years, I remember a time when being on the pole just meant they your were the fasted on Saturday with no guaranty of victory or a podium on Sunday.

        1. We need smaller wings (same width as the inner distance between front wheels) with only 1 element allowed on each, no cascaes, and straight side plates, without all those channels, ground effect flat bottom floors, and of course the 92 wheel size and track width (2meters). Also, all bargeboards need to be forbidden.

    6. Ok this obviously needs some clearing up, Edin, I think you misunderstood what Keith meant,

      I do believe that Keith is in favour of the refuelling ban, But is concerned with the nature of F1’s unrestricted aerodynamic grip compared to the vastly limited mechanical grip, and even more so, The problem of F1 engines being pushed so far to the limit, which we saw the result of when the Ferrari’s had to get out of the slipstream to avoid damaging their engines instead of trying to make a pass.
      If this is what he meant, then I would agree.

      The heavy fuel shouldn’t make to much difference one way or the other, The argument against the ban is countered by the cars almost always making their passes in the pit stops.

      To back up my thoughts on the weight of the cars not really affecting overtaking, look at Australia’s V8 Supercars, they overtake a heck of a lot, But weight wise, are quite heavy.
      Weight is a minor issue, and I think it resembles one of Keith’s so called, knee jerk reactions.

      Formula one cars are still very light, even with the huge amount of fuel on board. Personally, I think mechanical grip needs to be promoted, and Aerodynamics restricted… Not restricted so much that having Newey on your side isn’t a coup, just so that the cars can still be fast with the mitigated grip behind another car.

  2. I would say the race was what I expected it to be. Minus the big red winning. But it was what I expected as far as a race gose in F1

    1. I think a big majority of people that really really hated it was because the red cars won.

      Great article though, You can’t judge on just one race with new rules. When has the Bahrain Grand Prix ever been good? 2007 was boring, 2008 was boring and 2009 was boring… all turned out to be great F1 seasons with some good racing.

  3. Quite a forceful post I would say!

    I would certainly agree in a lot of respects, but to mix it up a bit, how about some more low-downforce, fast circuits such as Monza (less the dog-leg chicanes), or even the chance of an oval?

    1. I would also like to add that HRH Crown Prince of Bahrain said that he decided on the new fiddly bit to test drivers but then said he was going to iron out some of the bumps, rather defeating the purpose of the new bit in my opinion.

      Secondly, he said he was a “true racing fan”, if so, how about the outer circuit! :-)

    2. I think an oval race would be great – and it would be F1’s best chance of cracking the US market:

      Why F1 should race on ovals

      1. the bahrain outer circuit is good for overtaking but imagine how many complaints it would draw from the drivers. they’d find it incredibly dull!

      2. An Oval Race would force me not to watch a Formula One race again.

        I hate the idea of oval racing. Not only it’s too much dangerous, it’s also a matter of winning or crashing… and everytime it rains, the race has to be stopped. Every little thing that affects or might affect the cars, needs to be cleaned, and to be cleaned, you need the safety car, and the safety car means the racing cars don’t race for 10 laps or more!…

        And then you have the fact that while Americans are used to waiting million hours for the track to be cleaned and the race completed, the rest of the world isn’t. Everytime i watch an Indy race, i switch off after the first safety car. How can Americans watch an entire race (or even go to the track to watch it) it’s a big mistery for me.

        Oval racing sure offers what F1 can’t nowadays; overtakings. But recently, But overtaking’s a lot… but not all!

        And lets not forget Indycars are also getting it difficult nowadays to overtake, so they have to try power boost systems and stuff. And all their cars and engines comes from the same manufacturer.

        Oval racing should’ve never been invented. Im very glad F1 will NEVER go oval racing!

        1. I don’t want an oval F1 race, 7 if there is even a plan like that in the future then I think the best place to do an oval race must be in USA where F1 is not so popular & they really oval racing.

      3. If that is what i wanted, i wouldn’t be watching formula 1 since there is already a product on the market that offers exactly that.

      4. the purists will kill you. But trying on an oval wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It couldn’t be worse than last sunday’s parade.

        1. Yes, yes it could be.

      5. I’m a long time F1 fan, but the best race I’ve ever watched live was a ChampCar race at Michigan super speedway. There were 63 official lead changes (probably well over 100 actual lead changes because it would change 2 or 3 times a lap)(see finish:
        Now maybe ovals are not for F1, but a high-speed (400kph) simple, safe, low-downforce circuit could be amazing.

        1. I think the chances of a race where the cars go 250mph is quite slim. With V10s and the right circuit then maybe 230-240.

        2. So, oval racing has lead changes, sure: One inch forward, one inch backwards! It has been a horrible start to the F1 season but as boring as oval “racing” it will never be! 400km/hr makes no difference the speed is constant for all cars throughout the race. No form of car racing is as static as oval IMO, because in reality only the track moves fast under the static, only very slightly moving cars. Oval racing has missed three out of four of the main points to car racing; acceleration, braking and cornering. All it has left is speed, which I find utterly pointless without the other three.

          Keith, I think you have written a great article and you are spot on about your points. However, I still think that the refuling added some valuable things to the exitement; first of all the strategic concerns and the fact that it was possible to significantly change strategi during the race in case of rain, accidents or other changes. I also the fast low fuel laps that would speed someone in front in case of carrying a little extra. Kimi was always strong in this dicipline.

          That being said I would certainly prefer actual on track wheel to wheel action and I agree that aero grip should be seriously limited and mechanical grip enhanced. I think it was almost insanity to let the double difusers slip through in the first place but how on earth they are still legal is completely beyond me, considering that they pretty much destroyed 2010.

          Let’s get back to basics: fat sticky tires and for my sake they can even rip off the front and rear wings completely! Did everyone forget why gokart racing is so great fun??

      6. “I think an oval race would be great – and it would be F1’s best chance of cracking the US market:”

        …As an American, that comment just made me throw up a little bit in my mouth Keith!

    3. Building more fast circuits would be certainly nice, as well as having an oval race. However, that are very ‘expensive’ solutions.

      The easiest and more cost effictive way to improve the show and spice up the races at the permanent circuits is to install a sprinkler system and make 1/3 of each race a WET race (preferably the last 1/3rd).
      A fair challenge that puts the emphasis on driver skills again.

      I don’t know why nobody ever discusses such a simple option.

      1. Oval racing? Great. Hill-billy formula 1 teams; thats just what we need. NO. If it only goes left it drives in Nascar. You’d have to have no soul to want to drive an oval over a real track. Like some sort of robot without any concern for yourself or the fans and only about increasing the amount of times the sponsors get seen on the car… not to mention how many bodies fly through the air much to the delight of the inbred simpletons who enjoy truckin’ [expletive]’ muddin and circle racing.

        I’d rather see the cars equipped with 007 style oil slick, smoke screens and headlight machine guns than go do 1 single circle race. Heck, add in pop up ramps just to throw the drivers off a little and nitrous tanks like Mickey Thompson offroad video games had!
        Welcome to Thunderdome b!tc8.

  4. Another thing I though of that adds to the lack of excitment is the reliability+aero of the cars. Back in the v10 days the cars had more weight in the rear and more power and the aero was simpler so they would spin more. Plus you saw more cars DNF because of reliability problems (top teams, not just lower one too). The 18,000 rev limit also contributes to that. I may be less expensive, but it’s also less exciting.

    1. The thing is that the cars are so reliable these days that, for a championship contender, a DNF is incredibly costly. As such teams will try and pick up some points wherever they can, rather than going all out for big results. So it doesn’t matter how many arbitrary rules you throw at them, the teams are always going to go for the most conservative option. It’s difficult to think of a solution for that – dropped scores might work but always struck me as a bit arbitrary.

      I agree with Keith that bringing back refuelling will not magically cause the cars to overtake, but equally that the banning of refuelling was never going to solve the overtaking problem either, despite what many people had predicted.

      Interestingly Virgin and Lotus were having a few decent battles before Glock retired yesterday. Those cars are a bit short on downforce at present, which reinforces the idea that it’s the cars’ aero that is the biggest barrier to overtaking rather than strategies, points systems or whatever.

  5. Completely agree with all of that.

    I was horrified when I heard Martin Whitmarsh talking about 2 mandatory stops & things like forcing Bridgestone to bring worse tyres.

    Leave refueling away from F1 & just fix the cars inability to follow, Do that & Im certain we would see better racing.

    1. i agree, but at least in the meantime refuelling gives drivers a chance to overtake at some stage in a race as it seems impossible to if fuel loads are the same and tyres are the same.

  6. Keith, I am pretty sure the size of the sidepod inlets is governed by the teams themselves and if the cars are overheating, its their problem. Most teams run at the limit of what’s possible. Mclaren used some kind of removable plastic plugs for the 2008 German GP since the weather was colder.

    They could introduce a universal surface area like they do with the air intake tho…

  7. I think they should keep the diffuser next year and make heavier restriction on wings. I also thing giving the cars more power and worse brakes would help.

    1. Exactly, as far as I understand the diffuser adds grip without affecting the wake. What we need is to see the FIA introduce a standard front wing but the problem is the teams don’t recognise. They are aero addicts and the first step is to get them to admit there is a problem. Given that all the top teams have invested millions in windtunnels they won’t stand for standard aero. We’re probably in for more talks of breakway sadly, as the FIA is going to need to force the issue.

  8. Good article, Keith. You’ve covered many of the overtaking problems root causes, but I would go even further. The way rules are so restrictive as to bodywork and engines the designers are being forced into narrower and narrower envelopes as to what they can design. I feel that the problem is basically the attempt to force a spec series on F1. There is no innovation allowed in engines or aerodynamics, and no chance to rethink solutions. We see occasional innovation within the rules, such as the double diffuser and the McLaren ductwork, but there is no chance to really innovate. Maybe we need to go back a bit and allow some underbody aero. Maybe we need to open up engine development. How about controlling the amount of heat available from combustion but let the fuel be free? For example, allow diesel, allow toluene rocket fuel, allow alcohol, but control the flow rate so that per second heat of combustion is equal for all fuels. Allow turbos, allow rotary engines, allow diesels, but control the potential heat available for combustion. I know this would increase costs, but maybe engine manufacturers would step up and be innovative. Put bigger tires on the cars and get rid of wings. This formula has become too constrained and is dying a slow death. F1 used to be the bleeding edge, now it’s a spec series and getting really boring.

    1. I agree Steve H. F1 needs to be an inovative force.

      I love the idea of using underbody aero and this is a great way of keeping F1 the fastest formula, while encouraging overtaking.

      This year without intervention is going to be as many predicted, a procession. and I fear we will lose a few fans this year due to this.

      My personal favourite engine has been the 3.0 V10. Lots of power from a balanced engine and a great sound. Bring this back (which goes against current fuel saving initiatives) and go for more underbody aero to allow close racing with the refueling ban.

      Clearly the current regs need looking at to see what can be salvaged out of the rest of the year, but there are positive answers out there for the future.

  9. ” Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem ”

    Maybe not – but banning it sure as hull made it worse.

    1. It’s artificial overtaking though, isn’t it? Like Keith, I yearn to see wheel to wheel racing and without changes to the design of the cars (and some of the circuits – not likely I guess), I can’t see ANY of the daft ideas that have been floated (mandatory stops etc.) improving things.

      Don’t Indycars (and GP2 cars for that matter), use limited ground effect? isn’t it about time the FIA considered the potential benefits of a GE chassis once again? After all, assuming you had a minimum ride height to prevent a sudden loss of GE, wouldn’t the cars then be able to follow each other more closely? The early 80s wasn’t a particularly exciting period*, but as I recall the cars COULD follow each other – even through long sweeping corners, such as those at Rio, Hockenheim (the Ostkurve pre-chicane), the Osterreichring and so on.

      Just a thought.

      * I’m aware of the tradegies associated with F1s GE era (I remember the races well), but much of that was down to weak goverance on the part of Balestre (Mosley’s predessesor), weak chassis (pre carbon fibre) and vicious politics between the manufacturers and the garagistas. No change there then! ;-)

      1. Addendum to my addendum: and not forgetting a general lack of understanding of exactly how GE worked.

        1. I agree almost completely with everything said here, ground effect cars with no wings and maybe even wheel cowlings powered by small turbo-charged engines burning petrol, diesel, or a fuel cell. Instead of a fuel sample do an emissions test.

          In fact don’t introduce it, build TWO cars like that as a test and have a race between them, then if that works use the knowledge gained from that experiment and apply to the regulations.

          Of course a basic scientific experiment like that will never happen. F1 is run by solicitors and accountants, not scientists or engineers.

        2. Maybe some ground effect system that you can turn on and off (similar to how they got round a GE ban before by simply moving a switch to lower the skirt?)

  10. the ban on refulleing was never going to fix it. Refuelling added some intrest to races in terms of the stratergy, and that combined with cars that could overtake each other could have produced some good races.
    There needs to be an increase in the mechanicl grip as a percentage of overall grip to solve this problem. Weather this is achieved through having a maxium coefficent of turblance at a set distance and speed behind of a car, or by just making the wing progresively smaller / disapering. IRL cars have wings and ‘look like’ racing cars but seem to be able to follow eachother a lot better, maybe that needs to be investigated.

    In terms of the heat coming of cars – this is a problem but it cant be solved. It even affects the v8 supercars. If a car was struggling to pass someone at the clipsal 500, which was an exellent event just gone, then they to have to search for cooler air.

    1. perhaps you could deflect the heat upwards as it exits the holes.

      1. Or stop racing in the middle of the damn desert. Bet they don’t have heat issues at Silverstone.

  11. Hey Keith,

    Speaking as a hardcore fan here, it’s not the lack of overtaking that really got me today – I’ve come to expect and accept that as part of modern day F1.

    What made this race so dull for me was the total lack of diverse strategies. The front 8 all pitted within a two-lap window and ran the same one-stop strategy, and thereafter the order was settled (granted Vettel vs Alonso was looking interesting until that got snatched away) and it was simply a case of waiting for an hour for the chequered flag to come out.

    Even further back, everyone who started on the harder tyre, they all changed tyres once, within a few laps (18-23 pretty much) and then settled. Only the Lotus and Toro Rosso teams even tried to do anything slightly different, and they were so far back they received no attention.

    There was never a prospect of an overtake once Vettel faded. I don’t mind overtaking NOT happening, but I want to know that there’s at least a chance it might, or what is the point of watching?

    Maybe Sakhir exacerbated the problem today, especially given the ultra-durable tyre situation today. We’ll see in Melbourne. But if the teams all stick to the “optimum” strategy as designated by a computer, then I don’t see the situation improving much. Even on tracks good for overtaking, there does need to be some differentiation in performance for overtaking to happen. With cars all running the same strategy, that’s much less likely.

    The teams need to be bolder in making unorthodox strategy calls, because today they were uber-conservative. There was no real performance differentiator in play, and therefore (with the root causes of the overtaking problem you correctly point out still in play) there was never going to be any real action.

    It would be brilliant if the root causes of the overtaking problem were eliminated, because then we could see some proper racing – much better than if refuelling were in place.

    But as it is, the main source of interest in most F1 races comes from the strategy, and today’s race was completely devoid of it. I hope that’s not an indicator of what’s going to happen in the races to come, because I don’t see the overtaking problem disappearing for good any time soon.

    1. What made this race so dull for me was the total lack of diverse strategies.

      And mandatory pit stops, which they’re talking about bringing in, would make that even worse.

      I think they should have let the season start without this “top ten drivers start on their qualifying tyres” rule. That would give the drivers more freedom.

      1. If the next few races unfold in a similar manner to this one, then the first rule change to be made is to remove the mandatory stop that already exists.

        The Q3 tyres rule also seems to have had a detrimental effect this weekend, although at circuits where the option is more marginal and the top teams opt to qualify on the primes, it may add an extra (if artifical) element to things.

        1. you mean to say no pit stops and just run one set of hard tyres for the whole race?

          that’s what i was thinking, then we will get more differentiation between cars that can manage the tyre wear vs those who have to pit.

          1. Exactly. We saw the problem with mandatory stops today. As soon as one of the front 8 pitted, the whole lot had to pit immediately or risk losing time.

            Pitting should not be free. It should be a carefully considered decision, weighing up the benefits of fresh tyres versus the drawbacks of lost time and track position.

            A mandatory stop is a free stop, and is therefore has no effect in differentiating the strategies.

          2. Have you ever seriously watched F1 before?

          3. Like 2005 no tyre change?

        2. I agree. Make pit stops completely optional. Some teams might try a stragegy of lasting the whole race on set of tyres, others will pit once, some maybe twice. Some might just change the rears, or left or side. At least it’ll mix it up a bit and give the teams some alternatives to explore.

      2. More freedom ? You would just end up with all cars running the same strategy. Harder compound at the start, one stop strategy for everyone (because otherwise you take the risk of being held up during your second stint), and everybody pitting within 3 laps, because if your opponent pits he will have brand new tyres and be much quicker on the same fuel load if he’s in clean air, so you have to stop immediately after to not lose time.

      3. But wouldn’t another mandatory stop allow the drivers to push harder and worry less about tire degradation?

        1. Push harder, yes. But with the cars so closely matched, and with all the cars certain to run the same strategy if they’re FORCED to make two stops, there’s no hope for overtaking given the dirty air problem.

          Drivers should have the option to pit whenever they like for fresh tyres. The problem with a mandatory stop is that it simply has no drawback, because you know the time spent pitting will be made back when everyone else pits too – which invariably they will within a lap or two because they don’t want to lose time, which they will do if they stay out on worn rubber.

          Making the tyres last the whole race, on the other hand, up against a well-timed one-stop strategy, there will be an element of chase in that sooner or later. And if there is a mix of strategies in the field, we will see the drivers having to deal with guys on different strategies.

          That’s not perfect, but it’s what F1 had with refuelling, and it’s what it desperately needs to find again if it wants to maintain some level of strategic and wheel-to-wheel action.

          1. Also, if a driver decides to try to go the whole race without pitting, then it would make sense for another to pit and try to gain advantage with fresh rubber.

      4. Get a first grader and randomly pick the grid on Sunday afternoon – problem solved.

    2. Totally Agree. Excellent Post.

  12. Hi Keith,
    I agree with 99.9% of what you’re saying. the true problem is that the cars cannot get close enough to overtake. but surely at least with refuelling, drivers like webber in yesterday’s race would have at least some chance of passing through pit stops, given he had a faster car than shui and couldn’t overtake on track. i might be in the minority here but i really liked working out the fuel strategies and seeing who could benefit from quick in and out laps (as again with webber vs barrichello in silverstone last year).

    at the very least, refuelling mixed up the order a bit (like piquet in germany 08 going the one stopper). i have a bad feeling that we are going to see a lot of pole to flag race wins this season due to the identical strategy (if you can call it that) of the top ten and not much change from grid positions. it seems the first corner is going to be the most decisive.

    i can’t help but fear what monaco will be like… at least the high attrition provides some entertainment for part time f1 fans. regardless though, i still love it.

    1. Let me ask you this, then: who did you have posters of on the wall growing up? Drivers or race strategists? I don’t know about you, but I idolized the drivers. I’m with Keith in that leap-frogging in the pits is a pitiful replacement for actual on-track passing. It’s so much more thrilling to see two drivers go at it in a test of one another’s skill and machinery.

      1. i completely agree. The only problem is that f1 in its current form doesn’t really make such exciting racing due to the physical limitations as outlined by keith. the problem i have with banning refuelling is that there is now almost no chance of getting past another driver if they are not that much slower. in terms of ‘the show’ (i hate that term), overtaking in the pitlane can be quite boring but for the drivers, it must be frustrating knowing that you’re faster than the guy in front but cannot overtake through driving faster for a lap or two to jump them in the pits.

        of course we will have to wait and see what happens in the next few races. maybe the drivers will have more confidence to truly race at other circuits with lower temperatures and reduced tyre wear, etc.

        oh yeh, and it was the fantastic on track passing of suzuka 2005 that got me truly hooked on f1 and i’m still growing up. plenty of f1 posters on my wall.

  13. Many races are going to be one early stop for 90% of the grid and then the rest of the laps played out in a boring procession as every driver looks after thier tyres and engines. Not exactly thrilling.

    I liked refuelling. It definately added to ‘the show’ and although endlessly discussing strategy could be tedious, at least teams did things differently and that added some variation to the race.

    At the very least refuelling added a second pit stop for most teams and that added something for the viewers. The one early stop followed by no racing (due to drivers not wanting to destroy their tyres or risk an engine) makes for seriosly boring races.

    There are many causes of F1’s no overtaking woes – boring Tilke tracks, too much aero grip and not enough mechanical grip, double diffusers, only getting 8 engines a season etc. But at least refuelling added a strategy element and now even that has been taken away!

    I really, really hope this isn’t a boring season to forget, but after today I think it might be.

  14. Well that was THE most woeful race I’ve seen in a VERY long time.

    The Start was slow and lacked that ‘seat of the pants’ anticipation the the start/first corner normally offers as they limped tank full’s of fuel around.

    This endless tinkering from the FIA fails again to achieve anything. I’ll wager that even those fans who welcomed the refuelling ban, wouldn’t have preferred to see what Messrs Schumacher / Brawn could have pulled off with strategy.

    I really appreciate Keith’s comments but I have the most uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that this is what we can expect for all 19 races this year. if this is the case then I worry about a mass exodus from the fans.

    The sport has been through turmoil over the past couple of years with all of the political twoing and frowing, threats of breakaway series, Renault gate and manufacturers leaving en mass.

    Then if course there’s the distinct lack of sponsors. Teams old and new struggling to attract sponsorship surely only goes to prove that our sport, the one that we all sacrifice so much of our free/family time up for because we love it so much, is damaged.

    Now what? More panic meetings? More knee jerk reaction from the FIA? Another Band Aid on a Burst Water Main?

    What do people think now about the stifling of technology in F1? They removed it all with the absolute promise of ‘Real Driving’ and ‘Wheel to Wheel Racing’. Well I’ve not seen any of this. EVER since they removed it all. Sure we get the occasional spurt of driving talent, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson in Brazil last year and Alonso on a good day but beyond that….

    Is F1 still the pinnacle of motor sport? Is it REALLY?

    1. so it wasn’t just me who thought the cars seemed super slow. it was like monaco 2008, it just didn’t feel like a grand prix, and that’s a strange feeling…

      1. Yeah, I agree. I felt like yelling at the screen “Hey! There’s a race on boys, get a move on!!!” It just felt sleepy.

        If I wanted to see drivers take care of their tires I would have taken a sunday drive and looked at oncoming traffic.

      2. Of course, Monaco 2008 was a thriller! But I see what you mean with the lap times. It felt weird seeing them struggle to get under 2 minutes most of the time.

  15. The one problem F1 has today is called HERMANN TILKE!

    He designed all this new circuits. Anyone show saw last years brazilian grand prix (every car had the diffusers and aero artifacts) know this is true.

    1. Have to agree with you.

      1. Mouse_Nightshirt
        15th March 2010, 3:28

        Not really his fault – he’s been straightjacketed by the FIA.

        1. Tilke Yawn-o-dromes…

    2. YES! The worst races of every year are the Tilkedromes. Everyone knows this because one of the most boring races of last year – a year with refuelling – was the pathetic Tilkedrome called Suzuka.

      1. Oh, hang on a minute. You’re completely wrong.

        Suzuka is one of the greatest tracks ever built and it produced a very boring race last year, a year when refuelling existed.

        People must learn to think. It’s the key to success.

        1. While I think that Tilke tracks on the whole are boring I completely agree that we’ve had boring races before and will have again regardless of refuelling. Seems to me the biggest cause of boring races is Sebastian Vettel more than anything else. Check out China, Britain, Japan and Abu Dhabi last year. Plonk him on pole and let him get to the first corner first and it’s all aboard the Boredom Express. The FIA guy should do something about Vettel! :)

        2. To be honest, only 2 races at Suzuka in the 2000’s were any good – 2003 and 2005. Fuji produced two good races but gets unfairly derided.

      2. Surely you know that Suzuka was designed by John Hugenholtz?

        1. Yes, that’s why the other David replied to himself.

    3. i agree also not a fan of his designs, and why do all the new tracks seem to be done by him there must be other designers out there, heck i’ll do it!

  16. A very impassioned response there Keith, I like it, although I do wish people would lay off this “real racing” nonsense they just end up sounding like Jeremy Clarkson.

    You describe refuelling as an “Artificial jumbling of the running order”. It’s not though is it? It doesn’t jumble anything. It’s an additional strategic facet that provides greater opportunity for competition.

    I agree with your points about the circuit and I agree with you when you say “Blaming the refuelling ban for the lack of overtaking yesterday is a simplistic”. But if you were talking about position changes as opposed to overtaking then there would be a good argument to be made.

    I don’t think my expectations were unreasonable, in fact I quite enjoyed the race in part just because quite simply I’m glad F1 is back and the season has started.

    With regards to “the real problem” I’m not convinced as to how much of a problem there actually was/is and how much of it is just people blindly buying into ill-founded rhetoric. The double diffuser “debate” is a case in point. The most experienced and esteemed opinion that I’ve read on the subject (an opinion that was published on this blog) said that double diffusers make no difference to the ability of an F1 car overtake. You yourself Keith said “Whether it will help cars follow more closely – and thereby increase overtaking – is a subject of much debate”.

    Anyway despite being pro-refuelling I’m willing to give the ban more of a chance than just one race, when I think of all the crazy rule changes that blight the sport it comes out as one of the more sane ones.

  17. Keith, although I commend your approach towards the problem, the refuelling ban was always going to exacerbate the existing problems in modern Formula 1.I was never really in favour of the refuelling ban, and despite your earlier predictions, I see my expectations coming true.

    Refuelling and the two pit-stop phases it entailed made even the most boring races (such as this one) watchable. Maybe my opinion is strictly restricted to myself, but even Istanbul and Singapore last year were diversified by the action in the pits. True, I would prefer action to happen on the track rather than witness “artificial” changes to the order, but at least refuelling guaranteed some action.

    Without refuelling there was technically no racing after the first pitstop rush (after lap 20 approx.). In fact, if Vettel did not slow down with his exhaust problem, we would have seen simply a succession of 50 parade laps.

    The starts and the opening 10-lap rush were nowhere to be seen. Cars are heavy, and what is worse, they are equally heavy. In previous years, “race-fuel qualifying” for all its vices, ensured that we get some decent action in the opening laps when lighter cars got inevitably stuck behind the heavy ones.
    What’s more, the diversity in strategy did not materialize and while Renault and Williams experimented a tiny bit, we’ve seen an identical strategy from the first eight. This only entailed minor changes to the order, while in the past years we have seen how a successful fuel strategy can decide the outcome of a race. I have read many complaints about the faults of “predictable strategy” of refuelling, but now that the teams can’t predict each other’s actions, they just opt to copy each other and refrain from losing out.

    I consider myself an f1 purist, and was never in favor of artificial rules such as “race-fuel qualifying” or mandatory pit-stops. But let us face it, if the drivers are made to preserve their destroyed tyres for most of the race, we wouldn’t see any natural changes to the order i.e. overtaking. What’s worse, the significance of pit-stops also dropped.

    What this leaves us with a situation where the best qualifiers finish first with those behind having little opportunity to change anything. Hence, the best cars will always win and that was not the case a year ago. So I’m not really surprised at having witnessed an altogether dull non-race.

    I’d give the refuelling ban a few more races but not much more than that. Bahrain does not typically produce thrilling races, but if this farce continues in Melbourne, I say bring back 2009 rules by Monaco so we don’t screw up the season completely.

  18. It was quite obvious to me and many others that with the ban on refueling there would not be some mind-numbing ramification of stragetic options and thrilling wheel to wheel battles. The opposite seemed more likely. Specifically, the fact there were only two types of tire and one energy versus mass tradeoff permitted at the start means that there would be one optimal time to pit for all.

    The theory, heard much here, was that the lack of the ability to perform a cowardly, unsporting pass in the pits would force drivers to race on the track. Of course, all it has forced them to do is to drive like old ladies—not risking a flat spot or slide—and hope that in the very final stages, their quarry would have done poor math and have ruined his tires, or something.

    Reprising old issues with being unable to follow closely, effectively homogenized engines, what happens in GP2, and the tracks, is not on point. The issue here is what banning refueling did to the racing, other things equal.

    As a case in point, Hamilton’s vacation behind Rosberg was due as much to the ban as to turbulence or whatever. He could not put Nico under sustained pressure because, as the team was telling him, he needed to make the tires last, so that his second stint arithmetic would hold up. Anywyay, because everyone is running way below the limit, if he did push harder, Rosberg had the option of using up a little more tire to defend every margin of speed Lewis showed—or giving way to maintain his own strategy. So, in a real sense, they were never even really “racing” anyway.

  19. I agree with much of what’s been said– very little movement in the field except for technical failures– but I think another part of thep roblem was a boring track. Very little visual excitement, too few fans, too long a lap, and a fussy layout. We got rid of races in Europe for this??? And I knew I’d miss refueling.

  20. perhaps the time will soon be right for active suspension? with some cuts in aero freedom, it would provide stability, literally and figuratively, and let cars get as close as they want.

    1. Sweet active suspension ahhhhhhhhh

    2. Active suspension would increase cornering speeds and make overtaking even more difficult.

      1. Why would it make overtaking more difficult?

        1. Higher cornering speeds equals shorter braking zones, and that’s where you’re most likely to see overtaking.

          1. True say!

            What about cars being able to follow each other through corners, particularly medium to fast corners where (at the moment) aero grip is important?

    3. Andrew Reeves
      15th March 2010, 14:51

      Wouldn’t do much to keep budgets low either…

  21. “Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem”.

    Couldn’t agree more Keith.

    As a comparison did anyone get to see the Indycar race from Sao Paulo today? Actual passing at the front for the win! A great track albeit with premier race issues, but way more interesting then the F1 snoozer.

    1. just watched the highlights of that race seemed like a good one alright and the bumps in the baking zones that spiced it up!

      1. I’d say that the entire Bahrain circuit was a baking zone on Sunday…

  22. I think that refuelling masked the problem that F1 cars had in overtaking each other and now it has been exposed. I agree that we shouldnt mandate pitstops as this removes another variable in a sport that is becoming more and more standardised but i believe reducing the durability of the tyre is a good idea, especially if people want more pitstops. What gets me really depressed is that its too late to change the cars now, what should have been one of the best seaons in recent history wont ever be able to live up to its expectations or anywhere near them. A sad day for F1 was sunday.

    1. Totally agree Zahir. Refuelling has masked just how little action was happening on track over the last few years! Softer tyre compounds will help, but it really is an aero issue.

  23. They’ve been trying to allow the cars to run more closely for years. The engineers are smarter than the rule makers. It’s like protecting a network against hackers. While vulnerabilities can be patched new ones are soon exposed.
    How can this be achieved without dumbing down the sport. The IRL has plenty of passing but is that what we want from F1? Maybe less mild and more drastic changes need to be made that will cut downforce by a HUGE amount. However, in a few years I am sure much of the lost Aero efficiency will be re-attained.

  24. Can I just note something.

    If refueling was so great for racing then why is it that according to the overtaking stats, the level of on track passing has decreased massively since refeuling was brought back?

    There was an immediate & massive drop in overtaking from 1993 to 1994 & its continued to go down ever since.

    The stats alone show that overtaking took away from the on-track action.

    Also, was todays race really any more ‘boring’ than many races over recent years?

    I saw overtaking today, I can think of at least 10 on track passes from memory & there was likely more. I’d bet there was more overtaking today than the 9 on track passes we got at Silverstone last year.

    Was todays race more dull than the 3 on-track passes we got at Hungaroring the last 3 years running or the 1 on-track pass we got at Imola in 2006 or the zero at Monaco in 2003?

    Todays race wasn’t great but it was far, far, far, far from been anywhere close to the worst we’ve had in the past 30 years.

    1. It might be considered worse because we all know the racers were not really racing, they were conserving. I see more aggression in endurance racing.

    2. StefMeister, I agree with you and Keith, I agree with every point you just made. This hysterical reaction against the refuelling ban is so misguided, it’s stunning.

      The real problem is the ludicrous level of dependency on aerodynamics, the lack of mechical grip, and the regulations that force people to drive conservatively such as the forced engine rationing and the rev limiters. These are nothing new, this wave of stifling regulations has been slowly building to a crescendo over the last few years, ever since about the mid 2000s. It is all due to short-sighted gimmickry on the part of the FIA and Bernie. They don’t realise that this aero nonsense is a school of F1 technology that, in terms of generating real excitement, wore out its welcome years ago. And yes, also the dull tracks like Bahrain are to blame too, they don’t test anybody’s bravery.

      If you don’t think you can have an exciting race without refuelling, you are very wrong, and obviously ignorant of the history of the sport.

    3. That’s a really interesting link, thanks StefMeister.

    4. dude if there were only 20 cars on the grid, you can sure as hell have expected zero overtakings. Formula1 was boring in 1992-93, there was no action, hence the need to refuel.

      1. And that had nothing to do with the fact that during those years one team had a car which was two seconds per lap faster than anything else?

  25. Little update.

    For all the talk of a dull race, There was apparently 19 on track passes in todays race, According to this:

    1. 19 on-track passes – and it was still boring. That is some achievement, then.

      I have drifted off to sleep very often while watching F1 in the last 16 years – but this was the first time it happened in the first 30 mins.

      F1 probably needs more battles. Not just overtaking, I guess. 19 is a good number, but if we feel there werent many, that means they weren’t memorable.

      Also, something about yesterday’s race on Star Sports made it even more dull. Visually. I couldn’t get a handle on what it was.

    2. Wow. Someones gotta spam that fact/link in response to every comment made just so people actually realise how stupidly they are overreacting, and how poorly informed they are.

    3. wow, 19 passes. of course, 12 of those were overtakes on the Virgin/Lotus/HRT guys and 4 were on Buemi.

      So really that’s 3 passes of interest, including 1 pass involving both Saubers cars which must have been so very challenging for both.

      *SLOW CLAP*

      1. The numbers shows in the wet is lots more overtaking. What about 50% all races must be in the Wet? If’s not raining just artifactial let it rain. (not in the hot countries)

        1. you’d *really* be happy to sprinklers dousing the tracks half the time?

          why not just adjust the engine revs in proportion to their position, 1st at 10,000, 2nd at 10,500, 3rd at 11,000 and so on. That’s about as crap an idea.

  26. Been saying this for years, seems no one is listening though.

    Softer tyres, smaller wings and ground effect worked in GP2, remember Hamilton in 2007?

    That and get rid of this stupid compulsory stops, want to see 0 stops vs 3 stops but the tyres have to be right too.

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt
      15th March 2010, 3:25

      Softer compounds would be good. Make shredding tyres more common; you don’t want a tyre that everyone can make last 3/4 race distance.

  27. Kieth. You have tried to convince me on many occasions that banning refuelling was a positve for F1. Since the news broke many months ago i was completely against it. I remember stating that a load of fat F1 cars cruising around conserving tyres waiting for the best time to get the hammer down is not my idea of the pinnacle of motorsport. I didnt even take into account engine conservation.

    I understand that people enjoy different aspects of F1 but personally i enjoy flat out racing, an intelligent (sometimes unusual) strategy, aggressive attacking, desperate defending, and the occasional 2nd guessing of other teams tactics. IMO F1 got really close to that 2006/7/8 and even part of 09 although i agree also there were issues that needed attention through those years. Then came the issue of cost cutting which as we all agree the sport needed.
    But, correct me if im wrong, in those years refuelling did “mix it up” so to speak. It added and exciting element that teams had the freedom to explore with intelligent strategists working hard to take into account the track, compounds of tyres, weather, drivers ability sudden racing incidents and more all before and even during the race. All of this, the standard of driving and more had me completely in awe of the sport and the spectacle it produced.

    Obviously aero needs looking at but being as im not technically minded ive no idea what the resolution is with that.

    Banning refuelling however, for me and many others removed a huge chunk of the sport which we really enjoyed and paid a shed load of money to follow.

    Im an avid fanatic and have been for a long time. Its my first port of call and am very respectful for the work you put in and love the fact we can all agree and disagree but surely you can agree with me when i say like me there is a hell of a lot of other fanatics that are incredibly concerned and outspoken about this.

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt
      15th March 2010, 3:24

      I’m mostly in agreement. There is definitely one optimal strategy now. At least previously there could be much variation in the optimal strategy last year.

  28. I,ve been very surprised by the reaction to todays race and refuelling, its not the first boring race I,ve seen and I found it interesting in a everybody testing the water sort off way. Dont forget that in the past everybody would have the same fuel after there final stop and there position would be due to a computer simulation E-mailed to the Pit wall from there HQ sometime in the first 10 laps (exaggeration but you get my point). Bridgestone supplied a tyre that was to durable which will be easily remedied for future races, Bahrain is a Lemon of a track and Aero Aero Aero.

  29. I didn’t read everyone’s post so my bad if I repeat someone’s ideas.
    Making changes here and there and one at time really won’t help anything. They need to make several changes and really think how they will affect the field as a whole. I mean really think it out. Banning refueling may be a good idea, but it seems like the FIA didn’t look at all the options and what exactly might happen as a result. I think there are several ways to make it more exciting in my opinion.
    1. Get rid of the refueling ban.
    2. Make the fuel tanks very small.
    3. Increase the minimum weight of the car by A LOT. Maybe 50-75 kilos or more.
    4. Have two required pit stops during which tires must be changed and cars refueled.
    5. I’m on the fence for this last one: require every driver to pit on the same lap. Or maybe P1-P10 on lap x, P11-P20 on lap x+1, and the final drivers on lap x+2 or maybe the completely opposite. Then one more time later in the race of course.

    The heavier cars might make for more passing opportunities but the drivers would complain of course.
    Smaller tanks will mean teams will put in similar amounts of fuel in when they pit. Less fuel along with fresh tires at each stop will allow the drivers to push extremely hard. Mandatory refueling and tire changes will eliminate tire and fuel strategies within each team (for better or for worse) but will still have the tire option. Because they’re all pitting close to each other, teams won’t be able to know the other teams’ tire choices which may mix things up. Having the drivers pit in groups on designated laps will mix the field and bring the cars closer to each other with traffic all over the place. If P11-P20 pit one or two laps after the leaders will give them the opportunity to put in some quick laps on low fuel (seems unfair, which it probably is, but remember they will have to start heavier) Yeah, bringing the cars close together will cause other problems like overheating but deal with it. And requiring pitting, especially on the same lap, will drive people crazy saying it eliminates team strategy, but I’d like to see more racing on the track rather than in the pits.

  30. Prisoner Monkeys
    15th March 2010, 2:00

    The fundamental problem is still that cars can’t follow each other closely. This is what the FIA needs to fix.

    I’ve always said it, but in order to do that, they need to regulate aerodynamics. Don’t just make diffusers single-piece affairs, make them spec pieces, and make them ultra-simple. The same goes for any serious aerodynamic piece. Ban McLaren’s snorkel, and kill shark fins to dissuade anyone from trying the same. Because otherwise, developers are just going to go bananas and the gap between cars will increase.

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt
      15th March 2010, 3:22

      I was under the impression that diffusers were less affected by air disturbance infront of the car, they just created a huge wake.

      Instead, make the front wings and upper aero giblets even more restricted. McLaren’s snorkel could hardly count as making aerodynamics more important. It stalls the wing when you move your leg. I doubt it would affect or be affected a great deal in regards to aero behind or infront of the car.

  31. Rather than mandating more pit stops, there
    should be no mandatory pit stops.

    The problem now is arising because everyone
    is forced to the same strategy. Two doesn’t gain,
    and one is required.

    If there were guys going into Q3 with hards and running to the end versus guys on softs and changing there would be a bigger speed difference on track.

    Rene Arnoux moments should NOT be banned.

  32. This news circuits don’t help any regulation!

  33. mr zing zang
    15th March 2010, 2:19

    Wider tracks. No double diffusers. simple

  34. inc0mmunicado
    15th March 2010, 2:22

    But they need to go further and consider not just cutting back downforce, but also looking at this problem of cars overheating when they run close behind a leading car.

    Note: the Red Bull exhaust is mounted lower than everyone else’s, which was probably a huge factor in causing Alonso’s overheating.

    1. inc0mmunicado
      15th March 2010, 2:22

      The first paragraph was supposed to be quote. I forgot the tag for that…

  35. I agree with Keith. Races were boring before the refueling ban, and I didn’t find this race less dull than, say, Abu Dhabi or Singapore last year. The Overtaking Working Group need to get back together urgently to find a new solution though, because this has become a very serious problem for F1.

  36. Some quickfixes that can be done straight away;
    – scrap the same 3rd quali and race tire rule. Currently there is only 1 optimal stratey, which is softer compound for quali and early stop. By scrapping this rule at least there will be some variablilty in the stop strategies

    – Increase the number of tires allocated on the race weekend so the drivers can try and be slightly more aggresive in quali as well as the race.

    – Increase the number of engines available for the season, and hopefully encouraging teams to pursue a more risker engine tuning stratgey to chase race wins.

    – abolish the 18k rev limit – again to promote more risk taking with the teams.

    what is everybodies thoughts?

    1. Bring back a gear stick and clutch, problem solved.

  37. William Wilgus
    15th March 2010, 2:35

    It’s very simple: get rid of the wings!

    1. Florida Mike
      15th March 2010, 2:51

      Excellent suggestion. Or at least limit the front wing’s width to the distance between the front tires, which might eliminate a lot of the contact.

  38. okay..this is probably the dumbest question you all have heard…but since downforce works by pushing down on tyres without increasing their work load as weight does..would it not be possible to use hydraulics to push down on tires??? almost like an active suspension..that would not have any wake and still keep speeds up

    1. Florida Mike
      15th March 2010, 2:56

      I would think that aerodynamic downforce has the same effect on the tires as does a heavier car, and that the tires don’t know the difference.

      1. as far as traction goes..weight and downforce are equal…but as you add weight the workload required by the tyres increases..slowing cornering

  39. True, Keith. Bringing back refuelling or enforcing more pitstops is a band-aid that ignores the bigger problem. But I would suggest one band-aid that might (and I stress might) fix the one-stop problem at least – ban the driver-controlled front wing adjuster immediately. It obviously does nothing to improve overtaking, which is what it was brought in to do, but it does allow the drivers to manage their tyres more. That’s one small and easily implemented thing.

  40. Mouse_Nightshirt
    15th March 2010, 3:19

    Keith says:
    “And in one respect we were unlucky. The Vettel/Alonso/Massa battle for the lead was getting close when the Red Bull driver’s exhaust packed in, spoiling the fun.”

    Well, why would anyone think there would be fun there? Lewis was unable to get close to a car a second slower per lap with much less straight line speed. The Ferrari had an even smaller margin than that. The exact same thing would have happened.

    1. Well, why would anyone think there would be fun there? Lewis was unable to get close to a car a second slower per lap with much less straight line speed. The Ferrari had an even smaller margin than that. The exact same thing would have happened.

      Perhaps, but what condition were Vettel’s tyre in? If they’d gone off and was only going to get slower from that point he’d have kept backing the Ferraris up – perhaps to the point that one of them could have tried a pass.

      1. Mouse_Nightshirt
        15th March 2010, 11:55

        If, and it was a very big if.

        I still think Vettel would have held it with little bother. He didn’t manage to mice his soft tyres, and although the RBR has been suggested to eat its tyres, Vettel managed to drop his laptimes considerably in the last few laps of the race and keep Nico behind him. Not the sign of tyres that had died.

        1. Would it have really mattered, if Alonso did not get past Vettel but had a serious try for say 3-6 laps i a row?
          Maybe even make Massa and Hamilton get closer to them and push a little themselves?

  41. Why don’t the FIA just put you in charge?

  42. We should have seen this coming…

    Last year the Red Bull worked brilliantly in clean air, but struggled in dirty air. Christian Horner was quoted as saying as long as they had clean air they’ll be okay (I think it was just before Turkey last year).

    Now that so many of the teams have gone to varying degrees of copying last years RB5 aero design we have a field that can’t deal with dirty air.

    I was hoping that the tyres would spice up the action but the prime tyre is too durable.

    I’m resigned to the fact that without a complete redesign of the cars aerodynamics we will have a precessional season. The diffusers need to go.

    Maybe for this season they should just take one type of tyre to the track that is chose beforehand by a random draw e.g. hard tyres at Monaco, supersofts at Albert Park, or ditch the 4 compounds and have one (that would save heaps of money) and maybe spice up the action.

    It would not be fair to the teams like Ferrari and Red Bull who seem to have the best cars on the grid to change things now, but this ‘classic’ season we were hoping for I think will never eventuate.

  43. Scrap the 3rd quali same tyre rule…. and we should see some fireworks….

  44. Make the drivers change their own tyres :)

  45. Why not force all these clever designers and engineers to come up with solutions for overtaking on the track?

    How about a points system which gives some points for the saturday qualifying but the bulk of the points come from the race. Then have a reverse championship points grid.

    The up shot would be that anyone who can make a car that can overtake should win the championship.

  46. Keith

    Though you are emphatic on FIA not re-introducing refuelling, you are very quiet on what should be done to improve racing in the absence of using artificial means – at least in the short term. Personally i am for the re-introduction of refuelling while the OWG does more research on other options.

    It is starting to look like these other options will include a relaxation of the technical rules to a large extend and some form of budget cap to hold in the bigger teams from grabbing on-track dominance.

    With engineers having more leeway with technology – be it KERS, adjustable height, movable wings, higher revving engines, a selection of tyres, widths, types and manufacturers, a wider selection of fuels including green power sources etc etc,- cars will be more differentiated technically and strengths will vary more with circuits providing more racing. Just having Michelin for example used to producing some very interesting racing because of the variability in the two tyres available on the grid those days. Back then, Ferrari had to use the full might of the FIA to keep the Michelin shod cars behind them. I can imagine what that would do in this era of more equitable racing.

    However, budgets would have to be capped to prevent big teams from covering all bases through sheer muscle power and thus holding the sport back in the no overtaking characteristic.

    From your analysis, you quote the tightly spec-ed GP2 Asia series as having all the right ingredients. Unfortunately, F1 cannot go that route for two reasons: 1 – that formula never had the status of F1. Despite the fact that there is now a gap as the formula is coming to an end, F1 going that route would be perceived as a down grade. 2 – F1 is a competition of technology and drivers not just drivers. This is the concept that puts F1 apart from all others. It is upto the organisers to find a way of how to make this formula exciting because inherently it holds a lot of potential for some really passionate racing.

    F1 needs to reflect the real world. Eventually technology should move from F1 to the road. To do this, there has to be more freedom to tinker with F1 technology. Indeed the only reason i would support banning refuelling is that in a technologically freer F1 world, teams would have to make more efficient power plants that would some day find their way into my bonnet. I would say that the sports that “can be done at home” ultimately have more appeal and competition than the ones that cannot – read football, cycling, athletics etc. For F1 to rival these sports in fanship, the guy on the street has to be able to see a link with with a growling McLaren on the grid.

    1. you are very quiet on what should be done to improve racing in the absence of using artificial means – at least in the short term.

      I’m glad you asked that – I was going to add a couple of paragraphs on the end of the article on that but I didn’t want to make it over-long or distract from the point too much.

      The bad news is there’s probably no useful short-term fix for the aero problem. This isn’t IndyCar racing where everyone has spec chassis and you can just change the cars – which happened in that series last year and the governing body handled it very well by doing just that.

      For F1, changes in the technical rules are what’s needed and that can’t happened until 2011.

      There are a few things I would change in the meantime. I’d scrap the Q3 tyre rule and the rule forcing drivers to use each compound during the race. That should reduce the imperative for drivers to be so conservative in their tyre choices.

      1. The teams might be more aggressive with tyres in future races, but the cars’ relative speed and the timing of the first (only!) pitstop will always be dictated by the weakest link in the chain.

        1. This definitely isn’t the comment I thought I was replying to, Keith! I’ll re-post in the right place…

          In reply to this point, though, I agree with all the above, including with your proposed changes (as did Alain Prost!). A little more radically, I like others’ suggestions that all four tyres should be available to the teams before the weekend. Does anyone know how many different types of tyre Goodyear brought to each race in the early 90s, when they had compounds A, B, C and D?

          The biggest problem with the new tyre regs as they stand is that all the drivers are trying to conserve their tyres in the early stages, but as soon as the first car in the train decides it’s time to change tyres, the others also have to. Button could have stayed on the super-softs for ten more laps, he said, but McLaren’s pace on the medium was immediately 3+ seconds quicker, so he’d have disappeared into the midfield!

      2. Accidental Mick
        17th March 2010, 17:22

        “The bad news is there’s probably no useful short-term fix for the aero problem.”

        If I was an aero engineer, one of my objectives would be to make my car as difficult as possible to overtake.

        I don’t know how it is done but car manufacturers publish figures on the “slipperiness” of their cars through the air and a slippier car will, by definition leave less turbulance.

        Instead of trying to out-smart the aero engineers with detailed specification changes, just set a maximum level of turbulance that a car can leave behind (tested in a wind tunnel) and let the engineers do whatever thay like within that parameter.

  47. I’ve been following the F1 for 25 years, or maybe more, and let me tell you, this race was an interesting one. Not the action packed race of our dreams, but an interesting one nonetheless. In fact, it had more drama than many many other season openers. F1 has never been comparable to MotoGP, IRL, the defunct CHAMP car, and much less NASCAR, it is a totally different sort of Show.

    We follow it because its pinnacule of Motorsport, because of the technology and because of the history… Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams, Renault, Who is KV? Who Is Gannassi? Tell me the name of a team in NASCAR.

    Yes, I agree, a handful overtaking manouvers and a round of pitstops wasn’t what we had expected. We never thought Mclaren to be so far, and we never believed Mercedes was so off the pace… but they are. Blame the Hype, blame “the Best Season in many years…” that the “pundits” yelled at the four winds. That’s the cause of your dissapointment, not the formula one.

    Blame the tracks, Multimillion Ratmazes designed by a German that has never understood the passion of races, just the logistics, safety and business side of the tracks.

    Bring more Spas, Interlagos, Nurbürgrings and Jerez more “organic” circuits with bends created by the mountains and valleys not by the deft pencil of an architect.

    It’s not the car, but the circuit.

    1. There is always a lot of Tilke bashing whenever a race isn’t interesting. In my opinion it’s really unfounded. As track designers, Tilke GmbH (Tilke’s firm) are limited by constraints – proposed location, FIA rules, track owner preferences etc.

      If for example a country wants to build a track in the middle of a flat desert, it limits the longitudinal grading of the track. If the land is flat you cannot have multiple uphill, downhill sections, crests, sags, dips etc. You are pretty much limited to a fairly flat track. Similarly, if the FIA regulations specify that there are to be 8000 miles of runoff at each corner or specifies a maximum longitudinal grading, it limits freedom that the designers have with the layout of the track. Then if the client specifies that they want 4 or 5 track combinations within the circuit, it further limits what the designer can do.

      Tilke and his employees have to work within these constraints, and I imagine they stive to do the best they can given all the constraints they get burdened with.

      For people to claim that Tilke and his employees are not passionate about motorsport I think is down right insulting too them. I dare say most of them have dreamt of designing race tracks their whole life, just like the drivers have dreamt of being F1 drivers, and the engineers have dreamt of being F1 engineers their whole lives.

      If you want to blame anyone for boring tracks, you should be pointing fingers at the FIA, FOM/FOA and the track owners. The FIA set the design criteria, FOM/FOA choose what tracks are included on the calendar and the track owners select and buy the piece of land for the track and set the commercial objectives of the track.

      Give Tilke Gmbh some good rules and good land, and they’ll probably give you an awesome track.

      1. I agree with you that Tilke and his employees are undoubtably passoinate about their work and, seeing how many tracks they’ve been asked to design they are surely very highly thought of by those people in the know.

        My question is that if they end up designing an uninspiring track because of constraints placed upon them then do they not have enough influence on the process as a whole such that they can suggest the relaxation of some rules to get a better outcome?

      2. Give Tilke Gmbh some good rules and good land, and they’ll probably give you an awesome track.

        Which is pretty much what’s happened with Motorland Aragon in Spain, where F1 isn’t racing and is going to Catalunya and Valencia instead…

        1. Elevation changes aside, what is there to recommend it though? There are no fast corners, a horrible chicane in the middle of the back straight and no ‘flow’ (something that appears to be anathema to a Tilke track). Compare Aragon to somewhere like Watkins Glen – no contest!

          Otherwise, I’m with you on all points raised. I despair when people talk about pitstops improving the racing. They might mix up the field, but isn’t *racing* supposed to be about the action on the track – not in the pitlane???

          *Sigh* :(

  48. Bahrain was the first race & as a f1 fan i was also lookin for some wheel to wheel racing. Unfortunatly that did’nt happen , thanks to heavily fuel loaded cars & aero packages on these cars.
    Hope , atleast the concerned will take steps & bring back the sheer excitement which f1 actually is.

  49. F1 needs to go back to the 1980’s 1990’s I remember watching my first race brazil 1989 and all the overtaking that went on.

    Think Keith Sums it up when he says the cars are just ‘too’ Aero efficient and cant follow witness yesterday with Alonso catching Vettel and also the Engine usage needs to go again witness Massa being told to slow as he needs to save the engine.

    But One thing F1 doesnt need to do is bring through a host of knee jerk reactions, maybe a second mandatory pit stop would work who knows?

    I think the FIA need to open up a site where fans can again send in their ideas for better racing, after all…
    No Fans = No Sponsors
    No Sponsors = NO Money
    No Money = No F1
    Its refreshing when we hear team principals / drivers saying we need to improve the show for the people that pay…..

  50. Jonesracing82
    15th March 2010, 6:53

    there are 2 problems! 1 the tyres are too durable, they they “fell apart” (for want of a better term) after 10 laps we’d see action, like the start of last year when the tyres were too soft, and the biggest issue is still aerodynamics, pure n simple!

    1. I think the tyre situation is a lot more complicated than that. Remember how in practice the cars were destroying their tyres after a couple of laps, but it wasn’t a problem in the race?

      I wonder if the teams were a bit spooked by how the tyres weren’t holding up in practice and treated them very conservatively for the race. Remember the had zero testing in these temperatures in the off-season.

      I suspect that, armed with the information they got from tyre performance in yesterday’s race, they’ll be able to use them a bit more aggressively in future races. That’s what I hope, anyway.

      But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the aerodynamics is the biggest problem here.

      1. The teams might be more aggressive with tyres in future races, but the cars’ relative speed and the timing of the first (only!) pitstop will always be dictated by the weakest link in the chain.

        (This reply has been re-posted having put it in the wrong place before).

      2. Actually after a lot of thought, I think this boring race might just be the best thing for F1 for years! The drivers over the last god knows how many years have been relying on race strategy to win races, ie clever fuel loads, pit stop windows calculated to the second etc etc. That was the best and safest way to gain track position, overtaking on the track was only for when they were desperate and the strategy wasn’t working and so was very rare. It was almost always a team decision even to try to overtake as was clear from the pit radio. But now it seems there is no sensible race strategy to gain track position after the first corner. Eventually it should therefore dawn on the brighter racers that the only way to gain places it to risk it and try to overtake, lock the brakes, slither round the corner exactly the sort of thing that we often see in the first corner, but we have rarely seen later in the race for many years. Yes 9 times out of 10 it won’t work, sometimes it might end in tears, but sometimes it will succeed. I think this might finally break the “only overtake if it is safe to do so” attitude that seems to prevail, and if it does then …. Hooray!!

        1. Jim,
          I couldn’t agree with you more; after 20 odd years of ‘pitstop overtaking’ it’s time the drivers earned their money to do their jobs: race & overtake other cars !
          After all, Jackie Stewart didn’t wait for the pitstop to overtake, did he ?

  51. So the FIA, FOTA, FOM and GPDA have to look at all tracks to get rid of fiddly bits. And agree on bringing KERS back this year (having teams choose the McLaren/Mercedes system or the Ferrari system, with outsider Williams – all of the shelve solutions)

    In the mean while make Bridgestone bring softer tyres to the race but make them softer, so the softer lasts only 5-8 (10-20% of the race) laps but be really fast and the harder tyres last only 50-60 % of the race. Maybe bring a 3rd compound lasting all the distance, if the driver takes care of his tyres.
    Get rid of the rule having the top 10 race on the tyres they qualified with and the mandatory use of 2 compounds.

  52. If they do not want to get rid of the qualifying tyre rule, maybe what James Allen said can be done:
    Have tyres with a little bit smaller differences, so qualifying will be on mixed tyres. Then the pit stops will be on different parts of the race as well, mixing it up a little bit.
    This still requires the soft tyres not to last for 50% of the race, though.

  53. Jonesracing82
    15th March 2010, 7:08

    all you peaople who say bringing back refuelling will solve the problem are kidding yourselves! we have had refualling in for years and in all honesty thats been no better than what we saw last night! look at last year for example! by early season were all complaining about how they cant follow each other etc, that has nothing to do with fuel loads, it’s all aerodynamic! the flip ups etc that have re-appeared on the front wings, sidepod wing mounts, and double diffusers, not to mention wings in general! thats the real issue here! i reckon “keith for OWG president” is the way to go, at least he listens to the fans and has a lot of common sense and doesnt want any gimmicks!

  54. It’s worth noting that some of just want refuelling back.

    Not that we believe it’s the panacea for all ills in F1.

    1. seriously, who didn’t like the occasional pit lane fire? or driving off with the hose attatched? they were the good old days… well actually, i guess it wasn’t that good for those involved. poor kimi…

  55. In the long run, all stakeholders (The F-3 and GPDA) should really try to:

    1. increase mechanical grip (wider tyres, more powerfull engines, some ground effect). This will partly lessen the need to have the aerodynamical efficiency for grip
    2. Have more differences between cars (enabele someone to have a more powerfull engine, other car being lighter and nimbler but less powerfull etc, then some klever gizmos for overtaking, etc.). Bring back individual inventiveness and have teams follow their own development paths.
    3. Do this in a way not to mushroom the investments and spending (some spending restrictions or just having several solutions but make it hard to get all in 1 car at 1 time).

  56. Marc Connell
    15th March 2010, 7:39

    I would hate to be a designer now…spending all that time to design a car what can accommodate a large tank. Engine designers to design a more efficient engine … all the rules to be all changed AGAIN? keep the no refueling for a few years. Maybe it will get better. Maybe bringing back turbos will give more overtaking…

  57. If the powers that be so desperately want overtaking, take off the front and rear wings. That reduces aerodynamic dependency and would allow cars to follow eachother more closely through corners… and reduce lap times at the same time.

  58. Dear Keith, I’ve been following F1 for over thirty years myself, our reactions are not the one of amateurs, all you’re doing/saying si simply trying to save your own job/blog here. Don’t worry, hardcore fans will never leave. That said F1 is in real trouble, so here’s the deal, and just like so many other racing categories:


    A 30 minutes sprint in the morning

    A one hour race in the afternoon


    1. Of all the things people have said in this thread that would make them stop watching F1 this is it for me. Sprints and Enduros etc. are not Grands Prix. A Grand Prix is a special event and it is one race around 2 hours long. Done and dusted

    2. sounds like a gp2 or lower formula race weekend to me i’m not sure about that idea. as for the race it was no classic but i’ll be back in frount of the tv for the next one( unless someone wants to fly me there from ireland)

  59. Keith,
    I disagree! I think the tension of the race was beautiful. This was the first race with the new rules and new cars and new front tires and new teams. I think we have to give them some time to get used to it, to get new strategies requires that you know what normally happens so you can try to overcome that. Thjis was the race necessary to get the normal things.
    I think Australia will be much more exciting because it normally is a better racing circuit than the Bahrain sandbox.
    What you see here is raw speed of the drivers and their cars. By the end of the race both wearing down.
    Besides, there was a lot of overtaking in the mid- and back- field. So cars not following each other is nonsense. At the front overtaking is harder but that is because the cars are so evenly matched. I mean Vettel took a 2 second lead in the first two laps and that was it! Alonso was still on his tail all the race. No mistakes allowed! I like that. We will see a lot of different race winners this year.

    1. so you do agree…

      1. Yeah I think, re-reading makes the world look different ;-)

        I sometimes wonder if some of the posters here enjoy the pre-season more then the actual season. I can’t wait for the next race.

        I was looking at a few ESPN Classic Retro F1 shows lately and although F1 looks different the race is pretty much the same. That is why we all like it so much.

  60. Bridgestone need to make the tyres softer. That’s all.

    I’m not sure the overheating was a real problem, other than with the Ferraris because they had already changed both engines.

  61. i dont mean to sound like a stuck record but i said this a couple of weeks ago! F1 has been destroyed by this refuel ban and i no i wont be watching it again!

  62. I am lucky enough to be retired and yet even I have not got time to read all these comments.

    Everything I wanted to say has been said.

    What a sad state for F1 to get into now that nobody was happy!

    They got rid of the stupid fuel burn in qualifying but now we’ve got it in the race instead!

    It has now all come down to qualifying (and the start) but qualifying was almost meaningless on the telly because we had no side bar telling us how people were doing.

    Having supported F1 for about 45 years (yes, watched Moss, Hill Clark etc live) I’m not going to bother to waste the middle of a sunny Sunday watching it any more, I’ll just record and then fast forward through it later to see if there was any fun,

    What a shame!

  63. Well, i belive we should actually look at early 90s f1 for clueas what we need. True, in 92-93 racing got boring, but not because of
    the aero. The pure supremacy of williams and active suspension put its mark on the sport.

    What f1 needs today is:
    – Cars that are 2m wide (more mechanical grip, better looking cars :) )
    – Completly glat bottoms of the cars, without the wood plank (less sensitivity to dirty air and SPARKS!!! :))
    – Normal diffuser that starts at the line of the rear wheels
    – no bargeboards, or any helper aero, just bodywork
    – lower and wider rear wings (the width of the space between the wheels
    – Narrower front wings, also the width of the space between the wheels
    – Only 1 wing element on each side of the front wing allowed, no cascades or stuff like that
    – flat front wing endplates
    – free the engines, allow for different configurations, rotary valves instead of poppet valves, allow both 1.2l turbos or 2.4l naturally aspirated engines
    – abandon the tire requirement. have 2 compounds at the race, but let the drivers freely choose between them

    I’m sure i forgot something, but i think those things would drastically improove overtaking, making the cars far less sensitive to dirty air than now. And i’d like
    to stress the point again, YES those things are basically what we had back then in thelate 80s/early 90s era, which saw some great racing and overtaking, but without active suspension (which would make things boring as it did) and remember, that today all manufacturers have very high standards and are close together, not like in 92-93, where you had williams and mclaren with active suspensions and the best cars, and everybody else was way behind. F1 has different standards today. And early 90s aero regs would work today.

    1. Ooh nicjasno, Hi-5 to you mate! I completely second that just like what I have in mind.

      2000mm wide cars, I find current cars too skinny and long like a twig, horrendous. We need cars like mid 80s to mid 90s.

      Oh yes and sparks, that isn’t the danger factor, don’t know why it has been gone since 1994 when ugly poo-like coloured wood dust spit from the under of an F1 car. Eew!

      And yup, bring back variations of engines from turbos to natural aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s. Mixed field will mean more action and everything.

      This will be in the face of what the McLaren, Mercedes Benz and that 7-time ‘world champion’ said about F1 needs to improve the show. Boo on them! Peace.

      1. Sparks are gone, because wood doesn’t throw sparks, and cars don’t bottom out, because they have to prevent the plank from wear, so they need to be higher from the ground. Which sucks.

  64. Christian Biddon
    15th March 2010, 8:37

    Sorry if I am repeating what has already been said above, but the main problem with the race yesterday for me was caused by the top 10 being forced to use the tyres they qualified on for the start of the race.

    Every front runner qualified on soft tyres and they all changed them at roughly the same time and then that was it. Everyone settled down to get to the end of the race.

    I can see this happening in a lot of other races as well. EVERY driver will qualify on the soft tyres unless they want to qualify 10th and they will all change them at roughly the same time. DULL DULL DULL.

    I know that the slimmer front tyres don’t help and the drivers having to be carefull with engines etc is not good for excitement but I think a good start to fixing these issues woulod be to immediatly get rid of the qualifying tyre rule.

    Personally I am hoping that when Bridgestone leave F1 the tyre rules will totally change anyway. We all know that Bridgestone insist on them so that we are talking about their product and that it is really nothing to do with F1.

    1. Forcing the top 10 onto a soft tyre means they’ll all change around the same time.
      However, without the rule, would the whole field start on the harder tyre?
      Yes they would.
      Then the big change would be when one driver goes for the softer tyre to gain time. It would spark the same reaction across the field.

      What would make a difference would be to scrap the compulsory stop and soften the compounds to prevent a no stop option and provide a two stop option. At the moment with everyone 1 stopping we might as well not bother stopping and save the money on the pit stop crews.

  65. A very good and poignant look at the problem, Keith. Thank you.

    One more thing I’ve seen mentioned in terms of the lack of overtaking for quite some time is the efficiency of the carbon brakes. When the cars can brake down from top speed at 50 to 70 meters before a corner, it’s harder for another driver to brake yet another couple of meters later in order to stage an overtaking attempt. It’s often suggested to switch back to steel brakes to make the braking zones longer, but apparently, this suggestion has been around at least since the late 1990s without any practical consideration.

    In terms of braking before the corner, I actually expected the refueling ban to help a bit at the beginning of the races, because the cars are significantly much heavier than that the drivers would have to break earlier for the corners. At the moment, I’m guessing this effect is all but negated by the aerodynamics (still) preventing the cars from following one another closely.

  66. Just too many rules in the wrong places.
    Give them mechanical grip, take away most of the aero so they can race properly and get rid of engine and tyre restrictions.
    I’ve been an F12 fan for forty years and I’m very disappointed with the look of this season.
    Moto gp for me too.

  67. I was watching the grand prix (having a nap) yesterday when my girlfriend asked a question that at first sounded dumb. Why don’t they go fast in the pit lane? Bla bla bla…security… bla bla bla. But really, I started asking myself: If a pit stop was 15 seconds instead of 25, maybe it would be way more interesting to stop, change pneumatics and go on a mission with no care! The price of pitting is just too high! Obviously there is a security problem here, but I’m sure there is a way around + allow as many pneumatics as you want and we will have more strategy (conservative vs pushing it) rather than nobody wanting to pit.

    1. would you be happy to walk out onto the autobarn?

      1. Obviously, speeding in the pit lane is dangerous. I remember senna winning by going in the pits, so it’s been done! (yeah, of course, it was b…y dangerous). It has to be possible to do something safe AND shave 10 seconds off pit stop. I have no idea how to do it though.

  68. The races are really about conserving atuff. No one is really pushing it. They have to conserve the engine, gearbox, fuel, tires…

    1. I agree, it’s become an economy version of a race in every sense. It’s rubbish…

      1. Conserving, is not racing because it is something dumb and stupid to say – Go Green, which fact says it isn’t going green because nothing is 100% green for environmental friendly! F1 is now too easy and I find it’s for the wuss instead of real men drivers. Pity.

      2. yes, exactly! Save the engine, save the gear box, save the fuel, save the tyres…

  69. I agree Keith, those are the main issues in F1 at the moment. So WHY did they decided to ban refuelling which did add some spice to an F1 race (given the other issues) BEFORE those issues were addressed!?!


    I liked refuelling – but I like F1 more. IF banning it is the way to go, then I’m all for that. But the timing was very bad – they did it too early, and should have been concentrating on more pressing matters.

    1. So WHY did they decided to ban refuelling which did add some spice to an F1 race (given the other issues) BEFORE those issues were addressed!?!

      Well, I happen to think refuelling didn’t ‘add some spice’ to the racing – though I saw plenty of races spoiled by refuelling strategy and faulty rigs.

      The refuelling ban was brought in to save money because flying 24 rigs (two per team) to 19 different locations around the world is not cheap.

      1. I don’t think you can hold faulty rigs as a reason for banning refuelling. All sorts of components fail – none of them should. Vettel’s spark plug shouldn’t have failed, and maybe he should of then won the race. It didn’t, he didn’t – that’s tough-luck.

        I understand the costs – but have they really saved that much (they still need to ship fuel rigs – question: how many? – can anyone tell us the actual cost savings banning refuelling has achieved?)?

        IF the racing is like this all year, the potential loss in fan base and in turn, sponsorship and other incomes, will that balance the books for the savings? I’m pretty sure it won’t.

        It’s the first race, so let’s give it a few more and see. But so far, I’m not convinced.

        1. Sorry, correction:

          “All sorts of components fail – none of them should. Vettel’s spark plug shouldn’t have failed, and maybe he should of then won the race. It did, he didn’t – that’s tough-luck.”

      2. ” i saw plenty of races spoiled by refuelling strategy and faulty rigs.”

        Is that not some spice??

        Refuelling was not the problem. watch the v8’s, they have refuelling but more passes in one race than in a whole season of F1. Cars that are fundamentally unable to follow closely and then pass are the problem.

        1. When two drivers are poised to fight for position on the track and then one drops out of the battle because his refuelling rig didn’t work, I don’t call that ‘spice’, I call that a contest spoiled.

          1. i call that equipment failure, and not a reason to get rid of refuelling.

            What about the fisrt part? “i saw plenty of races spoiled by refuelling strategy” Is that not the thing with startegy? it is a risk, it is a chance?

  70. Agree with you Keith. Last year there was a thrilling race and then the majority of season was woefully dull even at tracks like Suzuka and Spa and we were never going to get a Schumi vs Alonso vs Ham vs Vet scrap at the first race.
    I’m really not sold on the ban mainly because I like how drivers have to do a sprint and are flat out when there is refuelling and also because right now there’s already talk of changing the rules for pitstops (which will never happen and could just lead to another row between the teams).
    However, I am willing to give it a chance and it is very interesting to see how it plays out. Everything was so unknown yesterday and maybe the drivers were a bit toon conservative. It’s certainly too early to judge the rest of the season on one race and I think people are getting over the top -the BBC’s report yesterday was pretty poor too in my opinion- we’ve had one race at a track that has a sector which is practically street circuit style so this is hardly breaking news. I thought there were some nice moments to the race anyway.
    It’s the cars that need to be changed for overtaking. Racing is less artifical now and it’s a different style of races but the cars are pretty much the same and the tyres are very good so I dont’ see why there was such a high expectation so soon.

  71. I had more fun watching womens curling in the olympics…

    Alonso won… zzzzzzz… yay… zzzzzz…

    1. the curling was great! im converted!!

  72. As a lifetime F1 fan (30+ years) I agree with your post Ken. No refuelling isn’t the core problem, it’s the fragility of the aerodynamic performance which is infinitely more advanced than ever before. I think the only solution is to look at the whole package of an F1 car design rather than attempting to tweak the extremities in the vain hope that will cur it. I don’t know the solution, but maybe looking again at ground effect (would that be affected by following closely?) and active suspension (would that not help cars follow closer while cornering?). Maybe a much heavier or much lighter car would work better? Look again at small capacity turbo engines?

    A blank sheet of paper is what is needed, with the FIA and car designers contributing to a new look F1 with overtaking and close racing as the main aim (along with safety of course). Tweaking tyres and wings will not provide a large enough change that designers won’t immediately negate by clever development.

  73. I agree with Kyle and others, that removing any tyre change obligation would help a great deal, and if Bridgestone brought softer compounds, we’d have something akin to the South African GP in 1981 that I watched on the BBC site the other day.

    Those cars could follow each other, sure, but if you can imagine Lewis, on shot, harder compounds, being chased down mercilessly by say, Felipe on new, soft compounds over the course of 5-10 laps, then having to defend a position on rubber that’s on its last legs, you begin to see what I mean.

    That can’t happen if every top 10 team is going to pit early onto rubber that’s hard enough to last a race distance, only if the driver doesn’t turn the volume up to 11. We want them to turn the volume up to 11. What we saw yesterday was only turned up to 6 or 7, that’s why it was tedious.

  74. Thank you for this article Keith. You will probably have to write a piece like that every week for people to finally get it. Number of people visiting your website is growing, and maybe your voice will reach FIA. I hope.

  75. Just off the topic, Sutil started on mediums which was supposed to last longer and be an advantage. What made him go for his first stop on lap 15 around same time as others in front? Was it bad judgement on part of FI to think ss may not last long enough which ultimately may have cost them few places in Q3?

    1. Sutil and Kubica spun at turn 2. Kubica cooked his rear tyres, so it’s possible that Sutil also damaged his tyres in the incident.

  76. Well said, Keith. A real masterpiece of good sensible critic on what F1’s problem really is. It’s not the refuelling, it’s not the mandatory pit stops, it’s the cars not following closely due to overheating and lack of risk-taking ability.

    We need wider cars just like the 80s to early 90s; cars running lower with return of some steel struts or under-plates which will create some spectacle of temporary shower of sparks flying in mid-air; the return to fully manual knob H-shifter, remove the engine freeze and allow multi-class of engine spec ranging from V8s to V12s, perhaps even turbo-charged should return; we won’t need 7-gears, 6 would have been sufficed as more gears doesn’t mean better racing; we don’t need adjustable front wings and gizmos that won’t help any bit in more overtaking; bring back the pit boys in polos and shorts as there is no refuelling when changing tyres and that won’t danger their life with fireballs burning them… it goes on and on.

    That is what we need to solve the problem instead of some McLaren people saying no mandatory pit stop caused a boring processional race bla bla bla, and that multiple time ‘world champion’ saying that refuelling spoiled the overtaking. Nonsensical.

    May the sparks fly and not just judge a season by one race…

  77. All you say is true Keith, but the refuelling did provide room for strategy. The teams were overly protectionist of tyres/engines/gearboxes/fuel at Bahrain this weekend. That spoiled the show.

    Agree in removing the need to pit at all, provides the no-stop vs 1 or 2 stop option. Also believe that FiA needs to ensure that teams are all carrying a full 160kg of fuel to stop teams going light and turning down in latter stages.

    I personally liked the variance that refuelling brought to F1, but fully accept your stance. Fingers crossed for some racing in Melbourne. Early days, but the driver comments were worrying.

  78. Keith, I agree with your conclusion that the heart of F1’s problem is the inability of the cars to follow each other. Which is caused by excessive aerodynamics.

    2009 did solve that problem to some extent. Cars were close to each other at Baharain last year than this year.

    But further tightening of the aero-rules will only make F closer to a spec-series. F1 is as much about the drivers and teams as much as it is about technology. It is what makes F1 different than other sports and other motorsport. They don’t call it the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ for nothing.

    You say that banning of double diffusers will significantly reduce this problem next year. Do you really expect that by then, Newey and other designers will not have come up with other innovative device which compensates the loss of downforce due to removal of double diffuser.

    To counter this over-bearing image of aerodynamics dictating races from start to end, F1 must relax rules on the other front, i.e. Strategy.

    What happened yesterday, was everybody came to the pits in a heap. Atleast in 2009 it was possible that someone would be on a different strategy and his final position would be revealed only in the dying stages of the race.

    Its time to accept it and let go. The sport is 20 years older than the regulations. Aerodynamics has become a become nuisance and unfortunately unavoidable. To counter it, we need a new tool, and that is strategy, in the form of allowing re-fueling.

    The last 2 decades have been hailed by many as “Newey vs Schuey”. And they had titanic battesl because Newey’s forte was aerodynamics / car design and Schumi’s was Strategy.

    Unfortunately, now strategy has been removed. Newey is going to win easily. See how easily Vettel was leading till the problem hit.

  79. After one GP it is too early to judge how the recent regulation changes have affected the racing. Martin Whitmarsh was saying they would have to look again at making the drivers make two mandatory pit stops. Personally I don’t agree with having any mandatory pit stops so I hope this doesn’t happen.

    I feel his other suggestion of getting Bridgestone to introduce racier tyre compounds that don’t last so long would be a better solution, but ultimately it is the old problem of F1 cars not being able to follow each other closely because of aerodynamics.

    Hopefully when double diffusers are banned for next year it will improve and they should also close the loopholes that allowed sidepod winglets and barge boards to remain.

  80. I’m with you all the way Keith… Overtaking is the problem.

    i say reduce aerodynamics severely, or limit it in a way that it will produce less drag.

    shrink some of the new shrinkable circuits, increase laps… re introduce the boost option, perhaps if not by Kers, then by de-restricting the engine rev limit for say 10 or 15 laps worth of boost.

    but all in all we should give this format a few more races…

  81. I really thought this was a boring race. Problems from the green light. Usually drivers gun it once the lights go out for the first corner in the hope to jump a car or two and we usually see 1/2/3 cars hitting because of this. Generates a bit of excitment. With 6 more cars on the track this season we didnt even see a front nose being damaged. Drivers were FAR to cautious because they didnt want to hurt their tires and because they didnt get enough dry testing in the winter period to fully know how the car would react with a FULL fuel load on board.

    As for the new teams… I have nothing but respect for the 3 teams, that in this climate managed to raise the money to enter the sport. However, i feel that they way in which their enter was handled by the FIA was a joke. I mean 4/6 cars didnt even make half the race distance. They are supposed to add another factor to the race, to mix it up with the other cars and cause exctiment and suprise. Instead what we see are 3 teams so far off the pace that they would just about hold their own in GP2.

    F1 this year for me is still a 10 team sport, because we are not going to see anything from the 3 new teams.

    But i have to say, fair play to Alonso, he has taken to Ferrari like a duck to water and also good job for Cosworth, i thought pre season that their engines would be way off the pace but Williams seem to have made them work. My fingers are crossed for Australia but if i am honest, i am not sure where this sport is going…

  82. The tyres were toogood? For overtaking you need a speed difference of atleast 10km/h problem is when you get out of the wake of your victim you get hit by turbolentie. You can make your front wing smaller, but the rearwing must be ‘solid’ so you can make a clean wake for overtaking. BUT the KERS is probaly the simple way todo that. give everyone a fixed 25 charges per race and you should get overtaking instead of a round improver like last year.

  83. In all of the debates about overtaking, it seems to me that one group of people seem to have got away without criticism. I appreciate the constraints imposed by the many rules, but surely the car designers could spend a bit more time thinking about how their creations will behave in hot/turbulent air. If they want their cars to win races, and they can’t wait to “overtake” in the fuel stops (never a true overtake IMO), then presumably the only solution is to build cars that are capable of getting close enough to the car in front to be able to out-brake or whatever at the appropriate moment. I’m over-simplifying, I know, but…

  84. I’m probably in the minority here, but why is everyone constantly going on about overtaking as if it is the magic bullet that will change everything?

    I may only be speaking for myself, but I love Formula One because it is supposed to be the pinnacle of technology, driver talent, cost etc displayed on a worldwide stage… What concerns me more than any lack of overtaking is the constant constraints put on designers. The rule book is getting thicker every year and all to promote more overtaking.

    If there are any football fans out there, how would you feel if evey year FIFA made the goal mouth bigger? After all, more goals would make a match more exciting, wouldn’t it? Or would it just make goal scoring less special, after all if you made the goal big enough, each side could score thirty, forty goals a match.

    If overtaking is the one thing that would persuede us all to keep watching F1, why isn’t moto GP bigger than F1? They overtake all the time :-)

    Forget overtaking for a moment, the issue is excitement. If the commentators struggle to find anything to say about the action on the track, there is something wrong. Refuelling (which I was in favour of) at least gave us all another thing to think about and concentrate on for 90 – 120 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. The strategies involved meant that there were countless combinations of light/heavy car with fresh/worn tyres at different times in the race, possible fluffed stops, changes to strategies depending on safety cars, traffic position… The commentators couldn’t keep up sometimes!

    Refuelling wasn’t the problem, I’d be glad to see it back, but am realistic enough to know it’s not going to happen. The problem isn’t overtaking, I really used to enjoy watching some of the greats (Mansell, Senna, Schumacher) reel someone in and take ten laps to get past because it’s NOT EASY TO OVERTAKE.

    The problem is dumbing down the engineers and designers to try and promote overtaking. Stop trying to make all the cars the same, allow a good designer to build the next Brabham fan car or Tyrell six wheeler. Allow technology to lead the way. Give the designers the challenge of designing something into their car to allow overtaking and once one does it, within three races everyone will have copied it!

    Oh and even though I don’t believe it will happen…. Please bring back refuelling :-( (Sorry Keith!)

    1. Interesting, but for me the moments I look back upon with fondest memories in F1 are the great battles on the track with cars racing nose to tail or even side by side. Perhaps overtaking itself is not the be all and end all, but racing closely provides the excitement and the greater opportunity for overtaking to happen. If the car design makes running closely a virtual impossibility then that would be the area I would look to first to increase excitement. Strategy is all well and good, but there are far fewer great historic moments of strategy I can recall compared to the moments of wheel to wheel action.

  85. I am not an expert in aerodynamics but from what i have learnt over the years the problems seems to stem from, as Keith talked about, downforce and more specifically aerodynamic grip. Since Colin Chapman introduced the wing car in the late 70’s F1 has been about who can produce the most aero grip, this in turn forces cars to rely on it more than mechanical grip i.e. tyres. and so can’t follow each other closely. That’s why much more overtaking occurs in other racing such as IRL, Nascar, Touring cars, GP2.

    FOTA surely know this but would not want to limit aero grip as it would hamper bigger teams who can afford to produce more innovative aero grip cars and allows them to keep their place at the head of the table.

  86. So many people giving so many different solutions…

    That could be the solution. Give the teams FREEDOM to design and develop what they consider their best strategy for creating a winning car.

    Aero restrictions, but not based on specific designs or technical regulations that always will be open for a “wise interpretation”.

    Just make sure, the turbulence of each design is restricted to certain level just to ensure any car can still be fast when running quite close behind other. Aero turbulence is something that can be measured in a wind tunnel.

    Last thing,

    We are claiming more overtaking, but I have not the impression overtaking has been easy thing in F1 since I follow F1 (mid 80’s).

    We only remember great moments, and there are not so many along a whole season. We tend to forget dull races (or moments) only remembering the great ones; but at the end, its hard to make more than 1 hour video of each season.

  87. The website lost my comment.

    I was just saying, in sport I dont always want to see the best team/driver/person winning. I want to see the underdog using whatever method they can of overcoming the odds. The refuelling gave the underdog a way into the race.
    Of course the aerodynamics dont help but I found the lottery of refuelling a really exciting part of the race.

  88. Prisoner Monkeys
    15th March 2010, 10:49

    Here’s a couple of ideas I’ve had:

    1) Make all four compounds of tyres available on Fridays. At the end of FP2, drivers have to choose which two compounds they will run. The tyres will be “twinned” with the next-best alterative, so teams will haveto decide between soft and supersoft or medium and hard for Saturday and Sunday. By removing the stagger, drivers on harder tyres will be more competitive in Q3.

    2) “Upgrade trading”. At the beginning of a season, teams must declare their full budget to the FIA. They will then be offered a strict number of car upgrades over the course of the season based on their budget. The more they spend, the less upgrades they get. ie If they spend $250 million, they get 0 upgrades; if they spend $200 million, they’ll get 1; $150 million gets 2; $100 million gets 3; fifty million gets 4 and anything under fifty will get unlimited upgrades.

    3) Offer incentives to designers for emphasising mechanical grip and to teams for keeping costs down.

    4) Ban shark fins.

  89. @Keith Collantine
    Thank you Keith for you blog which I’ve been reading for several years now and treat as indispensable reading as part of my F1 hobby. I’ve been watching F1 for almost 20 years and I’ve seen quite many changes of the rules over the years. I remember the introduction of refueling, and now it’s banning.

    Keith Collantine has put much of his reputation on the line criticising the old regulation and praising the new ban on refuelling. The main arguments are as follows:
    1) refuelling does not improve overtaking
    2) refuelling makes race strategies predictable
    3) refuelling makes race strategies conservative as many confrontations/overtaking manoeuvres are moved from the race track into the pits
    4) removing refueling will improve the race since 2) and 3) are eliminated

    After yesterday’s “processional” race many have put forth criticism on the refuelling ban, and Keith Collantine calls this line of argument “simplistic”. The main counterargument is:
    5) there were many processional races with refuelling last season
    6) overtaking is paramount and refuelling is irrelevant to this discussion
    7) the circuit was bad and does not create overtaking possibilities
    8) aerodynamics and less mechanical grip make the cars more sensitive for drag i.e. during overtaking situations

    However, there is a logical flaw in Keith Collantine’s reasoning. He defends the refuelling ban mainly with argument 1) i.e. overtaking, and similar arguments 6,7,8. But what about arguments 2 and 3? Keith Collantine simply ignores these arguments, which is the core of the logical inconsistency. How does the ban make race strategies less predictable? Personally, strategy is what makes F1 interesting to me – it’s chess played with 300km/h vehicles. Banning refuelling has eliminated many of the strategic dimensions since the performance of cars is, more or less, proportional to their fuel load. The performance difference between tyre compounds is too similar and creates no opportunities for strategic advantages. Does the refuelling ban force drivers to overtake on the race track? As we saw yesterday that is not the case. Race strategies are as conservative, or even more, than they were during the refuelling era. Strategies based on fuel efficiency and tyre wear are, to say the least, quite technical and less dynamic than refuelling.

    Since Keith Collantine argues that the problem of overtaking is argument 7 and 8, and that refuelling doesn’t change anything – why then ban it? Why ban this highly strategic dimension? It is as if Keith Collantine is presenting a solutions/answers (refuel ban) to his own questions (overtaking, circuit, aerodynamics, mechanical grip), when the question really is: what advantages does the ban bring forth? It eliminates much of the strategic tension, but does not improve the more “flashy” dimensions of “the show” i.e. in-race overtaking – so why remove it? Overtaking, according to Keith Collantine himself, is inhibited by aerodynamics and mechanical grip, and not by refuelling – it does not provide anything to the sport except disadvantages. I would claim that refuelling adds a more dynamic and intriguing strategic dimension to the sport, which is now eliminated in the name of the more ”flashy” overtaking argument. Yes, strategies were perhaps conservative with refuelling and avoided confrontations on the race track moving them to the pit stops – but this year it might very well be NO confrontations to speak off since strategies are completely static. Maybe, as James Allen argued yesterday, a modification of the tyre compound difference will be a quick fix?

    I’m looking forward hearing from other readers and Keith Collantine concerning this matter!

    1. You know, you don’t have to keep referring to me by first name and surname, just Keith is fine!

      Personally, strategy is what makes F1 interesting to me – it’s chess played with 300km/h vehicles.

      This is where your argument falls down for me. I want to watch racing, not chess.

      1. Can I call you Mr F1 man… pronounced in a Japanese accent?

      2. Well then, Keith, racing is what you get in folkracing in Scandinavia. F1 is about bringing something more sophisticated to the racing concent – i.e. a strategic dimension. F1 is not folkracing on steroids and high speeds – it’s a complex race of drivers, cars, technoloy AND strategies, someting other racing forms can’t provide.

        You still haven’t answered my basic question: if banning refuelling make strategies conservative and static, but doesn’t change anything else (“racing”) – why remove them? You insist on talking about overtaking, but you admit that refuelling has no effect overtaking – so why bother? Why remove it? Refuelling doesn’t make race strategies infinitely better, but it does make them more dynamic and complex, and also (as pointed out by several people in this thread) gives smaller team/drivers the rare possibility every now and then, to actually have a chance against the big teams. All of this is lost with the ban.

        1. I have answered your question. I don’t believe refuelling makes races better. I believe refuelling makes races worse.

          1. Keith, reiterating that “races are better without refuelling” is not an answer! Could you be more specific? Why? I’ve pointed out the inconsistencies in your argumentation since this is a “DISCUSSION Forum” and the point is to explain one’s argument and debate issues. I would like to hear your argument since the ones you present in your articles sometimes lack logical consistency, particularly in this case. I want to know why you defend the ban so heavily – what are the arguments beyond those that you have already presented and that I’ve criticised?

    2. I accept that some people liked refuelling because of the strategy element, but refuelling didn’t do anything to help on track overtaking as drivers usually wouldn’t risk attempting an overtaking manoeuvre on track and would instead try to make up places during the pit stops.

      The trouble with the current rules with no refuelling is that teams still have to make a mandatory pit stop to use both tyres during a race. Whitmarsh said that McLaren effectively triggered the rush for all the top teams to come in when Hamilton pitted to try to get past Rosberg. As everyone has to make a stop they are likely respond to a rival and come in at the same time to cover the risk.

      Whitmarsh also said FOTA etc would have to look at bringing in two mandatory pit stops in an attempt to stop drivers conserving their tyres during the race. While this may indeed mean drivers do not have to look after their tyres as much, I think we will still have the same problem as teams stopping when their rivals do.

      If drivers did not have to make any mandatory pit stops, teams may still copy their competitor’s strategy but it also leaves more space for varied strategies. Yesterday Hamilton may still have changed tyres and used the extra pace to try and make up places and the time it took to pit, whereas others such as Button may have risked staying out on the same set of tyres for the whole race.

      However the main obstacle to on track overtaking is the reliance on aero and the fact that cars can’t follow each other closely.

  90. In my humble opinion these double diffusers need to go. The first race of 2009 was great with several cars (not brawns) following right behind each other. They all lacked the disruptive double diffuser, however. Tighten down the aero regulations a little bit to enhance the ability of one driver to follow another.

    Also… that track was horrible. Who was it that thought it would be good to put in that new section?? How exactly were they going to pass in there?

  91. It is getting ridiculous now that everyone thinks “the show” has to be tinkered with. The idea of having 2 mandatory pitstops is stupid. In football, teams are not told they have to make to 3 substitutions so F1 teams shouldn’t be as it takes away of the spirit of pure racing.

    If “the show” is so boring how come it’s still so popular?

  92. Yesterday’s race was – as the national press in the UK have said to a man – about as exciting as watching paint dry. I have been a fan of F1 for half a century (first GP Brands in 1964) and we have had quite a few ‘dull’ races since then. However, to my knowledge the regulations have never before been specifically framed to create boring events. The FIA (mainly) and FOTA (to an extent) are to blame for this. What happened yesterday in Bahrain is pre-destined to happen for the remainder of the season unless someone does something…quickly. And it isn’t necessary to bring back refuelling to achieve this.
    1. The cars are pug-ugly due to crazy rules about aerodynamics. OK, so double diffusers will be outlawed next year but the aero rules need sorting so that it’s possible to follow closely and OVERTAKE!
    2. Abandon or reduce the ridiculous ‘reliability rules’ for engine/gearbox use. and allow in-season testing on a local, nominated circuit.
    3. Have an annual, regulated budget that teams can spend as they wish. This is sort of meant to be happening but needs to be introduced NOW.
    4. We HAVE to get away from the idea that Grands Prix are a reliability run. THEY ARE NOT!
    5. If necessary have a reversed grid in the short-term to spice up the show and penalise anyone who qualifies faster than their fastest race lap.
    6. Outlaw sophisticated ride-height adjustments NOW before the wealthy teams spend millions on systems that the others won’t be able to afford (see 3 above).
    7. Think carefully about re-introducing re-fuelling because it’s potentially dangerous. However, still allow teams to re-fuel up to two times during a race. There has to be a way to play with the fuel/tyres conundrum by saying that you either change tyres or re-fuel, not both together.
    8. Abandon the ‘two types of tyres’ and have one tyre type for each weekend but increase the number of sets available.
    Personally, I won’t abandon watching F1 on the basis of a single boring race. However, we run the risk of permanently damaging our sport if we allow the legislators to get away with a whole season of boring races when potentially it should be the best series of races ever.

    1. Most of these ideas are very funny.

      Specially this one:
      5. If necessary have a reversed grid in the short-term to spice up the show and penalise anyone who qualifies faster than their fastest race lap.

      What you say is keep the rules as they are and do a lotery for grid? Beware not to be too fast in testing otherwise you will get a penalty? Why do you bother to list a post here?

      Please folks. Watching F1 is not mandatory. Leave us fans alone then.

  93. Chris Goldsmith
    15th March 2010, 11:48

    One thing which I think is a big contributing factor in all this which I’m not sure has been touched upon, is the confusing dedication to reducing costs by the FIA. I’m not sure there are any other motorsports where teams are budget capped or have to sign a resource restriction agreement, or anything else for that matter.

    So we have engines which are restricted artificially for performance. Meaning no team can come out with an engine which has a development which gives them a temporary edge. Wasn’t it wonderful when turbo cars appeared in the 80s which were capable of immense bursts of power but blew up all the time. Now we have homologated engines which are sealed and performance matched, taking away a massive technical aspect of the sport. And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s a ridiculous restriction on the number of them available each year meaning that the drivers are forced to further nurse them around the track rather than going all out and having to weigh up the consequences.

    There’s also just one tyre supplier so we’ve lost out on the days of tracks being ‘bridgestone’ or ‘michelin’ tracks where a certain tyre may have an edge. It was a great thing bringing back slicks but it seems that tyre technology has moved on now to the point where the tyres are too durable to produce interesting racing. Time will tell whether or not, as the season progresses, drivers will feel more confident wringing the performance out of the tyres and risking shredding them in the process. As it stands it doesn’t seem like there’s any other option other than starting on the soft tyre with a short stint, and then just cruising out the rest of the race on the harder compound. Even if you could calculate a better strategy using more sets of tyres, we’re again hampered by the restrictions on the number of tyres you’re able to use in a GP weekend.

    Formula 1 is meant to be at the forefront of motorsport. It should have the fastest cars, the best technology, and crucially the biggest budgets. Thanks to a few manufacturers who set themselves unrealistic goals and then pulled the plug when they didn’t get the results they were after, we’re now in a situation where they’re artificially reigning in the performance and most annoyingly, the spectacle of the racing, just for the sake of getting a few fly-by-night teams on the grid fronted by some chancers who don’t seem to have any aims other than to have a go at driving round an F1 track.

    F1 as it stands has some massive problems. The rules leave too many areas of ambiguity for the exact things they’re meant to prevent. The diffuser debacle. These horrible shark fins. McLaren’s new F-vent (or whatever they’re calling them now). These are all horrible ‘innovations’ which serve no real purpose other than to sidestep a dodgy set of rules bent on restricting performance and expenditure. What they need to get back to is the concept of a grass roots racing car which relies on the simple principles of a lot of power and a lot of mechanical grip, which maintains aerodynamic efficiency rather than focusing on downforce. Throwing open the engine rules would be a good way of achieving this, at least in part. Engines are expensive, complicated things, especially the current breed of high revving small capacity V8s. A larger capacity V8 would generate the same sort of power and torque over a smaller rpm range, especially with the addition of turbochargers (which arguably assist in giving the sport greener credentials) while the components would be far less stressed meaning the engines could be more reliable and crucially made with a much lower budget, allowing for a team to have more engines for a smaller budget.

    While I wouldn’t want to see it become a carbon copy of the series, I think that F1 would do well to look at the likes of Champcar and Indycar in the States, where they use simple, powerful engines, combined with cars which run ground effect for efficient aerodynamics and good grip, and the racing on the track is absolutely brilliant.

    1. I’m not sure there are any other motorsports where teams are budget capped or have to sign a resource restriction agreement, or anything else for that matter.

      No, but development is much more tightly restricted in other sports so they don’t have the opportunity to spend more.

      And, it has to be said that no other motor sport is as prestigious As F1, so there’s no incentive for them to spend so much either.

      I think that F1 would do well to look at the likes of Champcar and Indycar in the States, where they use simple, powerful engines, combined with cars which run ground effect for efficient aerodynamics and good grip, and the racing on the track is absolutely brilliant.

      I think that’s a great idea. Yesterday’s IndyCar race was great fun (though they had rain which always makes races more exciting).

  94. I agree with Keith, and we also need shorter cars ( by a meter and a half ), remove the snowploughing junk in the nose, and make smaller restricted size steel brakes

  95. I say the teams are cowards and they should try doing a LAST 10 LAP MANSELL NEW TYRES CHARGE!!!

  96. I agree that the overtaking-problems are mainly caused by 1. The tracks (since we did see a fair amount of great overtakingmoves last year, just not on overy track.) and 2. The aerodynamics. They should have seen that a few years back when they were punishing a driver because he was 100 meters in front of Massa and he was complaining about “dirty air” or something. I can’t remember but I think it was Alonso who was the victim. If someone could fill in the details it would be great!

    I do think the refuelling ban is a bad idea. Perhaps not too much in the overtaking but the conservative racing and the taking away of any form of strategy really. I did love the pit stops though. When they all came in at the same time it was really spectacular. That being said, with heavy cars comes the need to save the tires and the engines. The engine needs to deliver more power and because the car is heavy the tires will wear down a lot faster. I liked it better last year. First of all you have the element of pit stop strategies that brings a little more mystery and excitement to the game (short stints, long stints, everyone starting on different compounds etc). Second of all, last year they had to switch tires too. Because they had more pit stops, more errors were made in the choice of the tires. I remember a few races where one guy was catching the next with a few seconds per lap because he was on a short stint with soft tires and the other guy was on a long stint with hard tires. What we will see more often now is that a lot of teams will choose the same strategy. The’re very heavy in the beginning so it makes more sense to drive one short stint with soft tires and one long stint on hard. The strategy of 9/10 top ten cars was exactly like that (everyone but Sutil I think). They did take away another dimension. I don’t often agree with Schumacher, but he was right about this.

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      15th March 2010, 12:35

      Actually the best strategy would be starting with a long stint on the harder tyres and then switching to the softer tyres as the fuel burns off for a sprint on the grippier tyre at the end.

      Unfortunately with the rule which says you have to start on your qualifying tyres, all the top ten teams will all be forced to start on the same tyre (unless they went a bit mad in qualifying and used the hard tyre) so there’s literally no room for strategy whatsoever.

      I just think at the moment the teams are being very cagey while they learn how hard you can lean on the tyres. As someone else pointed out, they had no trouble shredding tyres in practice, they were just really nursing them in the race.

      Still though, none of these rules relating to tyres or fuel stops does anything to address the big issue of the dirty air making it impossible for cars to run nose to tail.

    2. The driver punished for being 100 metres in front of Massa was indeed Alonso it was at the 2006 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

      It was during qualifying, Alonso came out of the pits after a puncture needing to get round in time to start his hot lap before the end of qualifying so was going at full speed, however the stewards judged he had impeded Massa who was on his hot lap even though Alonso was something like 100 metres ahead of him, so Alonso had his three fastest Q3 times deleted meaning he started 10th instead of 5th.

      It was controversial as many saw it as a way to allow Schumacher to close up in the Championship, I think this is when Alonso said F1 was no longer a sport.

  97. Chris Goldsmith
    15th March 2010, 12:17

    Bear in mind that in the 80s there was no refuelling and there was no shortage of on-track action.

    If you think that the most exciting part of the race is when the drivers stop for fuel then there’s definitely something gone very wrong with the racing.

    1. My thoughts exactly!

  98. But the refueling ban didn’t help either? IMO it only make it harder to overtake, the cars now weight all about the same, the difference in race pace is smaller. A lighter car will always have better chance against a heavy car.

    At least the drivers can push harder with refueling, and make 4 stops with a light car if that’s faster.

  99. One suggestion:
    Ban all the team radios. Let drivers decide when to pit. All the infomation given to drivers about tyres, positions ,engines are not allowed.
    Let drivers do everything!

    1. I think there’s a lot to be said for that idea. Teams study tyre degradation very closely and give their drivers a lot of information on what times to hit, etc…

      They’d find some ways around it, certainly, but in principle I like the idea of cutting the umbilical cord.

    2. Maybe limiting it to 1-way information from the driver to the pits and only on the start finish strait.

      We would have to get a inboard camera to see which buttons the drivers fiddle with to find the right thing to do on their own.

      The buttons could be simpler, because the drivers have only short time to operate them, having to think about it, not just folowing instructions from the pist.

      They could try this next race.

  100. There are a lot of comments in this post and I have no clue if what I’m gonna say has already been said by someone else.

    I know a lot of F1 fans want to see wheel to wheel racing. And F1 has occasionally delivered such racing. But I think F1 is different from other motorsport. most people might not agree with me, but I’m an engineer by profession and I love F1 not just because of its racing but because of its technology. I think F1 brings speed, race and technology all together. There are a lot of other racing categories (and good ones) that has a lot of wheel to wheel racing. Every motorsport’s enthusiast can be satisfied with them. But why make F1 like that? I know Keith will disagree but I think re-fuelling was good. It gave us some wheel to wheel race and some strategy and some team efforts. Which I think is brilliant, because thats what F1 is. F1 is where innovations happen, be it only to thwart your rivals. Exactly why I am so impressed with what McLaren came up with to increase their straight line speed (even if some say they are not in the spirit of the regulations). F1 is about some very good drivers driving state of the art machines.

    Say we make F1 cars get rid of all complicated aero packages and stuff… how will F1 stay as F1. What will distinguish F1 from other categories? I guess it will then only be drivers that will be the difference. But then why will drivers think F1 is the pinnacle? Why would Ferrari, McLaren be in F1 and not in say GP2?….. F1 is what it is and I like it for that. I think they tried to improve the show with a lot of rule changes. I believe double diffusers where wrong and I believe re-fuelling was right.

  101. I agree 100% on this article. I was very disappointed that this race was soo dull. The line up looks exciting on paper and the pre-testing looked great. But cars need to be able to follow closely behind each other to get a chance at overtaking. the FIA and teams need to reduce the aero grip and allow for cleaner air behind the car. I’ve been following F1 since the 80’s (I’m only 34 :P ) cars where able to slipstream right behind cars and try and overtake at every opertunity.

    I gave up on F1 about 4 years ago, but got back into it last year. I may leave it again if things don’t improve. BTCC, Nascar, indy are all better.

  102. Is it right that budget restrictions are now in place in F1? I can’t recall if the FIA proposed budget of $40 mil was agreed or not, but surely once a fixed budget like that has been achieved, it would make sense to then open up the regulations to allow more variation in car design. The cap would prevent the big teams throwing hundreds of millions to effectively ‘buy’ good results and reward the best and most innovative designers regardless of team.

    I disagree with comments that the ‘F-vent’ and similar inventions are bad, quite the reverse – they are exactly what F1 needs. Clever, low cost performance enhancers should be encouraged within the regulations, but the current regulations are so restrictive that they are preventing that sort of innovation occurring that often. I’d love to see a small team come up with something cool and new that pushed them up the grid a few rows (and then see the rest adapt to regain ground). That would mix up the racing itself, having different drivers and teams with an advantage from race to race. With a budget cap and freed-up rules, I don’t see why that couldn’t happen…?

  103. What you guys are failing to appreciate is that uncertainty of a refuelling pit-stop. Gone are the days (well unless they revise the refuelling thing) when mistakes by the refuellers or faulty equipment give the excitment we crave in F1.
    The non-refuelling pit stop was supposedly meant to make F1 exciting for the fans, but listening Alan Prost talk, it seems they did it for the drivers.
    Now all cars are fuelled alike, they go in change tires under 4secs (all teams) and come out again (with the SAME amount of fuel) to slot in where they were (only button and Schuy changed noticeable places).

    After the second corner in Bahrain the race was set, we don’t want that. We need F1 to have EXCITEMENT and UNCERTAINTY, that is F1!

    Anyway, I must give a shout to Schumacher (my man) for getting a place (Nico didn’t), so that is good.

    1. The days of a mistake by the refuellers may have gone but the chance of a mistake while changing tyres has increased because they are under more pressure to get them changed quickly whereas before they knew it was the refuelling which determined the length of the pitstop.

  104. It is NOT the fuel ban that is to blame, it is the amount of aerodynamic developement that has been allowed, and the lack of mechanical downforce/grip, there is so much turbulence behind these cars that the car behind can’t get close, and also the cars running in the wake of another car, in hot condiotions like yesterday, can’t do it for long without risking overheating, as Alonso had to keep pulling out from behind Vettel, so as to get a cleaner/slightly cooler airflow into his engine. Also a mandatory 2 stop stratagy needs to be brought in, double diffuser’s need to go, and more emphasis needs to be pushed into mechanical grip rather than aero, so slipstreaming the car in front is possible, so as to get good tow and overtake. If re-fuelling comes back, we will just get a different sort of stratagy of conserving, and with the same result.

    I have only been interested in F1 for a couple of years, and hope it gets sorted or i will soon lose interest and go back SBK/MGP!

  105. So what about 50% random determined artifacial Rain on the circuits? and/or adding KERS both are easy to setup and costs none to little for teams.

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      15th March 2010, 16:14

      KERS would be almost impossible to add to this year’s generation of F1 cars. Like the larger fuel tanks, it’s something which must be carefully packaged in the car and there simply wouldn’t be room at the moment without a major redesign. Which would be impossible anyway as the chassis are homologated and you’re not allowed to make changes to them during the season.

      As for artificial rain – ask yourself – do other racing series’ need artificial rain to produce good racing? Of course not. So is the problem that you can’t have a good race on a dry track? No.

      1. Rain brings overtaking the number confirm this but do i want artificial rain only if it completly random maybe otherwise no!

        Kers for the poorman give everyone electronical limited TURBO’s that should be easy to install and cheap ! same as last year on limiets or just 20-30 charges what people like.

  106. Personally I would rather have boring race that is pure than something that is artificial.

    We watch F1 because it is our passion, not because we need thrills. Football and cricket are boring. But they remain pure, and that is why they are so popular and respected.

    Any of the racing fans here who want overtaking, why not watch IRL. It is full of excitment. But nobody watches it because it has no passion, despite its excitment.

    Motor racing is not a form of entertainment. It is a sport. If F1 stoops to appease the “fans” that are obsessed with overtaking, it will loose its integrity and ultimatly will turn into a show like wrestling.

    The Bahrain GP was boring, no question. But in the end it was satisying and the winner went to the best driver in the best prepared team on that particular weekend.

  107. Fantastic article Keith. You are a real journalist! Very thorough. Congratulations

  108. Chris Goldsmith
    15th March 2010, 16:03

    In endurance sportscar racing there’s plenty of tyre and fuel conservation going on, yet that’s exciting enough to have endured for the better part of a century. The 24h Du Mans is one of the most prestigious races in the world, and also one of the most exciting. And as I said before, GP racing in the 80s had no refuelling and was none the worse for it.

    As for mistakes in refuelling, what on earth is wrong with people? What is good about seeing a pit crew flung to the ground by a stuck fuel hose being dragged along by a car? Or a car and driver engulfed in flames as a result of a fuel spill? If these are the things you find exciting then you’re really looking at the wrong sport. These things are dangerous and I think the sport is much better without them.

    As for the idea of the weight of the car ruining the racing, I think the notion is ridiculous. These cars, even fully laiden, still have a power to weight ratio of around 1000bhp per tonne. They still generate enough downforce that they could drive on the ceiling at about half their top speed, and they generate several G through corners. With a full tank of fuel they’re still the fastest, numblest racing cars in the world. They’re just slightly less fast and nimble than with a third of a tank of fuel.

    There is a findamental problem in F1 which is that the cars lose their aerodynamic grip when following another F1 car, which means that even cars with a speed advantage can’t get close enough to attempt a pass. This all stems from the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. One of the biggest contributors to this problem is the much-maligned two-level diffuser concept brought in to sidestep rules which were brought in specifically to reduce drag and allow for closer running of cars. Once this awful unnovation is binned in 2011 I fully expect the cars will be a lot more dynamic when following each other. It won’t solve all of the problems in F1 but it will certainly go some way towards addressing the biggest one.

    But in terms of the drivers conserving their tyres, this I suspect is simply a result of them not wanting to take too much out of them too early. As the race proved, they could have driven a lot harder on those tyres without ruining them so I expect when they come to Australia they’ll be more prepared to push the tyres to the limit.

    I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a tyre which is ‘too durable’. I would have thought if the tyre is able to cope with it, you should just drive even faster. Vettel was forced to lean on his tyres towards the end of the race when his engine problems caused him to lose time, and he found he was able to push them much harder without having problems. Have faith here – it’s a short period of acclimatisation while the teams and drivers get used to this new setup. There’s no need to overreact and do things like force two stops.

  109. Macleod,

    I don’t think KERS was cheap or easy, hence why it was dropped this year on an agreement with all teams, and also why it was only run by a few last year, be good to bring back i agree, but don’t think it will due to the cost factor.

    On the rain front, not for me ta!

  110. Keith,

    you are spot-on with your obervations. My input on the issue is that there won’t be any real improvement in the F1 ‘show’ for as long as cars (at least those among the top teams) are more or less equal. Under Mosley, F1 has moved decidedly in a cost-savings, equalize-everything, direction. If the top cars are separated by only a tenth or two (and throughout the season), how can we expect any overtaking ?

    In earlier seasons we had certain cars that were clearly faster than the rest (Ferrari in 2002, McLaren in 2005) and that produced the type of epic races, like Kimi’s amazing win in Suzuka. Since then, regulation after regulation has been put in place to basically equalize the cars. The theory there was that if they are closer in terms of performance, there will be more overtaking. I think it is actually the opposite. You need some of the cars to be half a second faster than the others in order to expect some overtaking, especially given the latest aero regulations that you mentioned. Driver skill only goes so far.

    I think Mosley has done a whole lot of damage to F1. I posted on this site before the Sakhir race, that the introduction of the new teams, especially on such short notice, was going to be disastrous. Chandhok only lasted one lap ! It was good to see no accidents yesterday due to these amateur drivers, but there will be a lot of them in other tracks.

    I mean the F1 field is a joke. It’s like there are 2 leagues really racing in the same GPs as one. The vast majority of fans couldn’t care less what happens at the back of the field, say between Campos (or whatever they call themselves now) and Virgin. having cars there to just fill up the grid is nonsense.

    For the sake of the sport I hope Jean Todt and FOTA can come up w/ some good ideas to undo some of the damage, otherwise F1 fans like me will indeed switch entirely to the World Rally Championship. One or two more races like y’days will do it.

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      15th March 2010, 16:17

      Interesting that you make a long post about how F1 doesnt’ have any overtaking, and then mention WRC in which there is absolutely none.

      1. WRC is not even supposed to be about passing. It’s different racing entirely than F1. Don’t compare apples to oranges. Nick Fry and Michael said the same thing I pointed out, that the spectacle in Bahrain was unacceptable.

    2. Last year I couldn’t care less what BMW and Toyota were doing somewhere in the midfield.

      At least Hispania, Lotus and Virgin are wasting a whole lot less money, driving each other forward and providing some human interest. Lotus in particular seem to know where they’re going.

      What’s the alternative – 3 Ferraris? Two is bad enough – it was obvious they’d never let Massa attack Alonso, they’d just warn him to save fuel and back off.

      1. Either have 3 cars from each of the top 5-6 teams or try to bring back BMW, Honda and Toyota. They can come back just like they could leave. Mercedes is back now after so many years. The current situation is ridiculous. Chandhok’s sponsors paid $5m for this amateur to drive in the first race and he promptly crashed after not knowing how to deal w/ a bump. That’s tragic, really.

  111. I’ll tell you what will solve not just overtaking but all of F1’s problems.
    Basically let all the teams have the freedom they have had in previous years.
    Bring back V10’s
    Bring Back Aero-Add Ons
    Bring Back 1000+ horspower
    Bring Back Refueling
    Get Rid of Budget Caps
    Get rid of narrow front tyres
    Then the racing will become exciting.
    Let the Teams create the best possible machine they are capable of, This is FORMULA 1 after all it is the Height of all motorsport, if they carry on the way they are going manufacturers will be able to create road cars capable of setting faster lap times than F1 cars.
    its plain ridiculous.

    1. ‘Bring Back Aero-Add Ons’

      That would just make the situation 10x worse.

      1. Gazz: “Bring back 2m wide cars”

        There, i fixed it for you. :)

        1. Thanks for that nicjasno :)

    2. ” if they carry on the way they are going manufacturers will be able to create road cars capable of setting faster lap times than F1 cars ”

      There’s the whole problem with your argument in a nutshell – there is nothing wrong with the speed of the cars, yet almost all your points are about increasing speed.

    3. Gazz,

      I could not agree w/ you more. Right on. The idiot Mosley pushed the sport to a direction that is counter-intuitive to the sport’s nature. F1 was never about cost-savings and equal-everything. Let the boys loose !

  112. Perhaps every driver should have to wear a vertical helmet extension in the shape of a phallus, its length directly in proportion to number of points gained so far in the season. Not only wreck the aero on a handicap basis but reign in the egos at the same time!

  113. While most people are blaming the engineers for being aerodynamically minded, I sympathise with them. They are constrained in finding that tenth of second solely in aerodynamics. With engines homogelated and development in most of the mechanical parts ruled out due to safety (haha, what a lame excuse for cost cutting…), from where do we expect them to find that tenth of second that wins a team the race? The answer is simple, aerodynamics. Unless mechanical freedom is opened up, we’ll end up having the same processions.

    This is the true problem of overtaking!

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      15th March 2010, 16:49

      I don’t blame the engineers at all. The problem is more that the rules have these areas of ambiguity which allow for the engineers to come up with these solutions in the first place. I don’t particularly know the answer to the problem – that’s a job for the technical bods at the FIA – but the problem itself is plain for all to see.

      Even if you allowed unrestricted development of the engines and chassis and suchlike, the engineers would still be seeking to extract the maximum amount of downforce possible within the rules. It’s just the way that F1 has evolved.

      Personally I think there’s a lot of politics behind some of the rules in F1 at the moment. I think over the past 5 years or so a lot of the big manufacturer teams (Renault, BMW, Honda, etc) have been kicking up a stink because Ferrari were dominating the sport and they weren’t able to match their performance. So the rules have been tweaked increasingly towards equal performance from all the cars. Unfortunately these restrictive rules have created a situation where engineers aren’t developing cars in the way which makes the most sense. So you end up with something like a double diffuser, which creates more drag and is less aerodynamically efficient than a single level diffuser. It actually adds to the problem it seeks to address. And the irony is that despite all these handouts and mollycoddling from the FIA, the manufacturers have all still walked.

  114. Aerodynamic problems are not really the question here, so it is of no moment to complain that the “real” problem is the diffuser, or sunspots. The issue is hand is that the refueling ban did not do what it was supposed to do: force people to make a pass on track because they had no chance to do it in the pits. And no, it would not have done so even if the cars were all lozenge-shaped: no driver would be so foolish as to engage in in a multi-lap battle over 4th place, or even venture a try, if it meant risking another stop, a la Hulkenberg. The ban eliminated a source of strategic variation, and forced radically conservative driving. It has actually mooted proposals for reducing turbulence of putting on big sticky tires and the like. So while Keith makes plenty of good and well-established points about the aerodynamics, the tracks, the engines, none of them defend the refueling ban itself.

    This will not change if drivers learn they can use a little more tire earlier—a marathon’s strategy and the relative pace of runners will not change if a tail wind suddenly arises, the race will just be completed a bit earlier.

    I fully expect a required second stop before we get back to Europe and I will welcome it.

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      15th March 2010, 16:56

      I totally disagree. Whether you refuel the cars or not, it makes no difference to overtaking. The heart of the issue is that it’s almost impossible, for a number of reasons, to overtake an F1 car with another F1 car, even if you have a significant speed advantage. This is true whether the cars have 5kg of fuel or 500kg of fuel. With the cars in their current trim you need an advantage of something like 3 seconds a lap to be able to overtake someone. In a field where the cars are all virtually identical in terms of performance, this relies on mechanical failure.

      What good would a second stop do? People would simply pass each other in the pits. Is that good racing? For me, it’s a poor substitute to seeing someone banging wheels and making gung-ho dives down the inside into corners. Have we really had our expectations lowered so much by F1 that we now miss the fact that someone pulls off the track and another car whizzes by? Sad times.

      1. Double diffuser should never have been allowed last year…its a big culprit.

      2. I agree with Chris – it’s obvious the aero is the issue as there were cars following other cars at a short distance all through the race. Weber behind Button, Button behind Schumacher, Massa and Alonso behind Vettel, and that’s just the leaders. The fuel level had nothing to so with the fact that the aero sensitivity meant they couldn’t close up enough to attempt an overtake. Yes, apparently they were conserving tyres for a lot of the time, but do you really think if they could get right on the tail of the car in front that they wouldn’t have a go? Especially if (in most cases) it was a faster car behind a slower one – if the overtake was successful they’d be clear very quickly. What driver wouldn’t go for it if there were no more pitstops before the flag? If the aero problem could be solved and close running made possible, it could also mean that taking an extra pit stop for brand new tyres could be a successful strategy as the speed difference at the critical stage could be higher.

        Forget refuelling, sort out close following. The only way to do that is to kill the reliance on aero grip.

  115. The no refuelling was definitely a problem in yesterday’s race. There was a total lull in the middle with almost no action. At least FOTA are going to discuss having 2 mandatory stops……whether that will actually help, I don’t know. However, it was still a great season opener and the driver line up is sensational. Can’t wait for australia!!!

  116. The only way I see most of these problems getting fixed is the FIA stepping up the rules and being more stringent. For example, the cars over heat while following each other two closely, well a simple fix is to mandate larger radiators and or radiator openings to flow more air. I also think they need to reduce the downforce on the cars, get rid of all the little flicks on the front wing and put a simple wing on them, same thing with the back wing and the shark fin so many teams now run. Then I think they need to open up the engines and not limit the revs, if you limit the revs you end up with everyone running the same rpm in a big parade. I think those changes would be a big step in the right direction.

    On a side note I still think they need to refuel during the race, it ads so much to the race as far as strategy and excitement

  117. East Londoner
    15th March 2010, 17:04

    What a disappointment. Hopefully Australia will be better.

  118. Keith, I’m an F1 fan since 1998 and I’ve only known this site for a few months but I come here every day to read your articles and read everyone else’s comments but I have only written a couple of comments myself.

    I just wanted to say that your article is great and thoughtful and I completely agree with you. The real issues are not about refuelling. Button said as well that they have so much more downforce now so they can’t follow each other. I can only hope that the changes next year will improve the every year.

  119. What has happened over the past few years is that we have gradually reduced the areas where teams can gain performance differential to just one – aerodynamics.

    You can’t (legitimately) make a performance enhancement to your engine, you can’t run different tyres, etc.

    This has forced teams to plough all of their resources into aerodynamics, which has resulted in cars which go fast in a straight line, handle corners well, but can’t deal with dirty air.

    If I were starting F1 with a blank sheet of paper, I would take the basic GP2 car and use its shell as the spec aerodynamics (overtaking not being a problem in GP2). The competition becomes about who can make that shell go fastest. Allow teams certain changeable elements to allow optimisation of set up and handling, including expanding the current movable front wing to have other elements moveable in race.

    Go back to turbo engines, and allow teams to plough resources into engines instead, but keep the fuel tanks the same size so that they are immediately focussed on fuel efficiency and the trade off (e.g. saving 10% fuel efficiency leaves 10% of fuel for the turbo, or 10% less weight in fuel tank).

    This would allow us to have overtaking, strategy (how many times you press the turbo) and address environmental concerns. It also keeps the manufacturers happy as they can prove their chassis / engine are the best – its not a spec series, just spec aero.

  120. How can FIA get it so wrong? Very sad. If one was asked to invent a racing sport that produces the most non-race like conditions, they couldn’t have done it any better.

    1) The cost to overtake outweighs the gain.

    2) Not only does the turbulence prevent cars from getting close, but also the HEAT.

    3) Saving tyres removes all point of racing.

    4) Saving fuel removes all point of racing.

    5) Did changing point system encourage drivers to fight for 1st? No. because the risk and cost to overtake outweighs the gain.

    6) Will the drivers risk their car, tyres and fuel consumption to overtake? No.

    7) Will the teams risk reliability to overtake? No.

    The end.

  121. the problem isn’t tires, fuel, number of pit-stops or anything else that F1 has managed to screw up for the last 10 years. The bottom line is that there’s so much aero on the car and the cars are so dependent on aero that if you get behind another car, the hole developed in the wind by the car you’re trying to overtake doesn’t allow you to have any aero downforce on your car. Can’t understand why everyone makes it so complicated. remove 90% of the aero, stop telling teams how many different types of tires they have to run, let the teams run as many sets of rubber as they want in a race weekend and watch them race again.

    i think it’s ridiculous that F1 mandates that you have to run this many of this type of tire, this many engines, this many pit-stops, this many pit-babes holding umbrellas for your car, this many people from your entourage on the starting grid etc etc etc to the point I want to throw up. It’s supposed to be a constructor’s title, let them construct, throw out the aero and watch f1 become fun again.

  122. I haven’t had chance to read all comments but there are some very interesting ideas out there. I have a been a fan of F1 for as long as i can remember (mid 80s+) It seems to me there are some fundamental errors in F1 at the present time.

    The budget/engine cap means technology and reliability of these V8 engines, revving at only 18000 RPM (it was around 20000 RPM from V10s in 2005) has far surpassed what they are capable of. which is making the engines ultra reliable and very similar in power output. Add to this the way modern aerodynamics are designed on the car meaning any cars following have very little chance of getting past though slip-streaming anymore due to the “dirty” turbulent air produced from the car in front.

    I don’t believe the problem lies in weather we have refuelling or not. Last season (apart from Brazil) was no more exciting than Round 1 of 2010. I believe until the engine lock end’s in 2012 things will not improve.

    In my opinion they should look at re-introducing 1.5-2L V6 Turbos again, No refueling and adjustable in-car boost. That way they will all vary in pace, they would be able to increase boost to overtake, but at the same time drivers need to manage there fuel to reach the end of the race. Also restrictions on certain aspects of the aero designs to allow real slipstreaming again.

  123. theRoswellite
    15th March 2010, 18:50

    Keith is absolutely correct on this subject. (Pardon me while I get up on this soapbox…again.)

    The problem is the car specifications.

    These F1 cars are designed as “air craft”, they use smooth air via the front and rear wings, diffuser and any other devise possible to suck themselves down onto the track. This is the major means by which they are able to corner at the present speeds.

    As long as the FIA is unwilling to ween themselves off this aerodynamic approach, we will struggle with cars being unable to run in close proximity to each other…which is just as obviously a requirement for increased passing.

    I’m not suggesting there is a simple solution to this problem.

    Everyone wants the cars to be fast, but the speed gained through aerodynamic downforce is a two edged sword. You get your pure car speed, while the car is alone and in clean air, but you sacrifice an ability to maintain that speed while running close to a car in front.

    Please, we need to return the cars to a state in which the majority of their cornering ability comes from mechanical not aerodynamic grip.

  124. At almoast every turn the FIA has made the wrong decision on the rules to improve racing.
    First, why bring in the v8 engines when they could have kept the v10 but with a revlimit to save cost and increase engine life. These engines would have a wider powerband and be easier to race with.
    Second, why allow double diffusors since this increase aerodynamic grip when the whole idea of the 2009 rules was to decrease aerodynamic grip.
    Third, for this year they wanted a better relationship between front and rear tyres. The obvious thing would be to increase the width of the rear tyres to get more mechanical grip! but no off course the FIA again do the opposite to what would improve overtaking.

  125. It seems the FIA thought ‘How can we make the teams more equal, and therefore more overtaking?’ – ‘I know, lets ban refueling so that all the cars have the same fuel’


    Now what happens is the most fuel efficient car (something that cannot be changed during the course of the season without massive ammounts of investment and development) and therefore the lightest car will simply win all the races, barring liability problems we saw with red bull.

    Now, providing Vettel or Webber do well in qualifying, they will win every race as they have the lightest car and the most fuel efficient.

    The Ferrari’s are too hot and have already changed engines and Hamilton can’t drive smoothly enough to save his tyres to save his life!

    So now every race is going to be a precession of the lightest car at the front, which appears to be Red Bull at the moment. Barring reliabilty issues of course.

  126. Talking about the refuelling ban: why should we have pitstops any way?

  127. the incessant rule changes are infuriatingly moronic, and reek of bored, suited imbusiles, with too much time and not enough sunlight, playing around for the sake of playing around. they’d be better going playing in the sandpit with those of a similar mental capacity and leaving F1 to those who’ve been there and done it- in other words, former drivers, who will know better than anyone the ins and outs of racing a formula 1 car. these days, teams barely have time to perfect one car and then they have to design another from scratch. evolution is made difficult, despite it being the foundation of any learning curve. Understanding comes over time, and what time is there if the sport is constantly being made to do somersaults by the imbusile ecclestone? while the cars have so much downforce, nothing’s going to change, regardless of how much messing about the fia do with the rules. the wake behind the cars is undoubtedly the major problem preventing overtaking-apart from tilke’s woeful circuits- and so surely it would make sense to severely limit the aerodynamic packages of the cars and return them to the downforce levels of 25 years ago, when we got arguably some of the best racing ever, and shift the focus to mechanical grip. that way, we would get 2 advantages-

    1) less wake- cars follow more closely
    2) cars are a lot more difficult to drive to the limit and so we would be able to see the true ability of the current crop of drivers, along with some potentially spectacular driving. F1 would once again return to a gladiatorial wrestle between man and machine. current cars, as Schumacher and several others say, are too easy to drive nowadays anyway.

    (i know attempts at reducing wake have already been tried recently, but they were so half-hearted and limp-wristed there was barely any point.)
    look at gp2 for example, where stringent aero caps are in place. it produces the most exciting single-seater racing in the world at present, often putting its big brother to shame.

    f1 is beginning to worry me at the moment. it now seems a competition between manufacturers rather than drivers, and the conservative, cost-cutting new rules mean that attempting to race is too much of a risk for a driver in terms of affecting his race strategy, as attempting to break through the turbulent air will just destroy the car’s tyres.
    the cost-cutting measures have placed emphasis on conservation (of tyres, of engines, of gear boxes), and so the risk of harsh penalties is deterring teams from really hanging their necks out and going for it. the latest set of rules don’t make any sense. the only reason we got some overtaking in recent years was due to the different fuel loads of cars- a light one chasing a heavy one down. with the wake behind modern cars, a dramatic weight advantage was the only way to break through. now that factor is removed, breaking through that air is near impossible. the fia have tried to recreate the challenge faced by drivers decades ago, thinking that what worked then will work now. the nature of the sport has changed however. cars are safer- fear is eliminated. cars are also easier to drive- therefore there are fewer mistakes and less reward for brave driving. the huge levels of downforce generated by cars is what kills racing (as well as rubbish tracks), not strategy. IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT AS DOWNFORCE LEVELS INCREASE, OVERTAKING DECREASES. at this rate, qualifying will soon be the main attraction, with the race a foregone conclusion.

    Ecclestone has turned F1 into a motorised circus. it is now a show rather than a sport. his obsession with turning f1 into a brand, and with filling his own pockets, has left it teetering on the brink of a laughing stock.
    oh and also, what convinces tilke that, despite all the drivers saying they love fast bends and hate slow, twisty complexes, the ideal track is a complicated scribble of tight turns with chicanes placed precisely where they ruin the rythm of the track the most. he says his circuits are designed to aid overtaking, but who can overtake in a narrow, twisty complex, where cars are constantly moving around? It is common knowledge that Monaco is notoriously difficult to overtake. Why? It is too tight and twisty to allow cars to get up along side each other. so why the hell has tilke tried to mimic Monaco in Valencia and Singapore, both of which are pathetic circuits where cars simply tootle round in a procession. there will only ever be one Monaco. it is a great race because it has history, heritage, and is unique, not because the racing is good. any attempt to copy it can only fail. Mortal street circuits don’t work for racing. Ecclestone has a duty to make sure every track on the calendar is the best it can be, but it seems he is only concentrating on whether or not the offering price is the best it can be. There are enough great circuits in the world to fill a calendar. in my opinion, the drivers should have a considerable say in where they race because they know better than anyone where there will be the best racing and it is they who have to drive there.
    It is also about time that Ecclestone STOPPED JUDGING CIRCUITS ON THE QUALITY OF THEIR FACILITIES AND STARTED JUDGING THEM ON THE QUALITY OF THEIR LAYOUT. any driver on the grid today would rather go wheel-to-wheel in an exhilerating high speed chase, and shower in a portakabin, than have access to a self-flushing toilet and play follow the leader amidst a sea of perfectly decorated run-off zones.
    Rant over.

  128. It’s crazy that it takes a clearly faster car/driver a couple laps to even attempt to overtake. Heavier cars and increased worries about tyre wear just makes things worse. The overtaking problem is blamed on aerodynamics – double diffusers and dirty air etc -because a standard engine configuration, a single tyre supplier and bans on other developments – active suspension, selectable rear braking, tuned mass dampers etc – just places more attention/blame on wherever teams can make changes. We have a highly competitive grid – which all real F1 fans want – with cars that have similar performance characteristics over all parts of the track, carrying similar speed along the straights, in fast corners and slow corners. It’s those performance characteristics we need to change whilst keeping the competitiveness. Instead of more aero-tweaking I suggest, other than a serious look at increasing breaking distances, the introduction of some variable engine power feature. Either through the reintroduction of KERS (unrestricted and with penalties for those seeking an advantage by not using it), an A1GP-style push to pass system or maybe even a return to turbo engines with a driver selectable temporary boost increase. For example 10 seconds of increased boost every minute (not every lap as this reduce the increased boost being used the same spot at all the time).

  129. In the early 90s, there were mostly 2 strategies to all the races:
    – The 1 stoppers who stopped at about 1/3 distance (usually the top guys McLaren, Williams, Ferrari)
    – The no stoppers who tried to tough it out all the way and play road block at the end (typically the low powered cars (March, Benetton)

    In the short term, removing the obligations to use both types of tyres in the race and to start the race on your qualifying tyres might introduce this possibility again.

    In the long term, there’s no other solution than to decrease aerodynamics DRASTICALLY. If the cars can’t overtake, there’s no racing, no matter what the format or the amount of pitstops.

    Wouldn’t there be a way of measuring the aerodynamic disturbance caused by a car and setting a limit on that? It would be a more elegant solution than imposing weird shaped wings.

    1. Your last point crossed my mind yesterday. That would definitely be interesting, as we could still get different looking cars and so, less boring like ‘spec series’, or better put, more commercial appeal.

  130. Okay, I don’t think Bahrain lived up the the billing. New season, great driver line-ups etc. But suspect the are all getting a little too stoked right now.

    First race. Too little testing. The teams and drivers really didn’t know what to expect, and as a consequence all went massively cagey on race one. McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault, Force India and the rest do not want to see Ferrari repeat this result for the rest of the season (although suspect Vettel would have won, bar his misfire).

    We have all seen boring races in F1 before, just check every Valencia outing so far. The teams and drivers are going to push and experiment with alternate strategies to get make a breakthrough, and also because they understand F1 needs to be a show, else it hits ’em where it hurts.

    Melbourne is coming up in less than 2 weeks. Suggest we all take a deep breath and stop trying to re-invent the slick.

    As a side note, there has been some useful suggestions here about a future was forward for F1, but then some of the ideas were tin foil hat territory – but fun reading. One of the smartest suggestions, and no, I can’t be bothered to find it, involved FiA having an air flow disturbence test pre-season on the cars. Lord knows how you measure fluid dynamics, but an absolutely brilliant idea I think, if possible. Else limited GE with stock front and rear wings.

    Anyway, this is Keith’s roost, and I applaud his stout defense of the ban. Let’s move on and see what a decent circuit like Victoria Park throws up.

    1. Okay – typing too slow for brain as usual, but hope you get the gist folks ;)

  131. The track plays a big part.. and the double diffusers should have been banned this year.

    Now, what does make for good racing??… rule stability!

  132. i think they should spice up the racing by making some kind of overtake leauge..winner gets world championship points at the end of the year..

  133. Stomp & Steer
    15th March 2010, 21:25

    Let me have at it.
    F1 seems to have to may rules.
    Try this on.
    No wings front or rear. What designers can come up with just body designs probably will need to be looked at as time goes on. (I know rules, rules.)
    Let the team choose wheel, tire size & compounds from what ever tire manufacture they can convince to work with them.
    Use one set of tires in the race or two or more sets, team choice.
    Bring back testing during the season.
    Free up engine choice by the teams also.
    Stay with no refueling during race.
    Ride height adjustment, traction control seem to be on the no no list of many, perhaps another look is in order. I was dreaming of four wheel drive, four wheel drive, four wheel drive—Oh sorry about that, how did that get in here?
    Imagine a top driver/team had a bad qualifying session & started in back on race day. Could he/they make it through towards the front in today’s rules/events?
    Just some thoughts. Don’t get to outrageous, it’s just racing.

  134. In my humble opinion as a F1 fan of 30 yrs, I think everyone should remove those rose-tinted spectacles and drop the ‘need more overtaking’ line. As far as I recall this has pretty much been repaeated ever since I started watching! There has never been endless overtaking – that is what makes those moves when they happen that bit special. Get over it and let it go! If you want endless overtaking go and watch some other formulae – there are loads that deliver on that front.

    F1 should be the technical pinnacle, not the ‘over-taking fest’. Don’t get me wrong – if the overtaking is there as well then great.

    The problem in my opinion is that there are too many restrictions removing the technology interest & variety. With the intention of reducing costs the variety has been ruled out. I miss those days when there were a mixture of cylinder numbers on the grid!

    Free up the regs, and let the competition self-govern. Yes some teams would come & go – but in my opinion it would be a lot more interesting….!

    1. Well that would be nice but it ain’t going to happen and at the end of the day the big spenders will outspend the others and they will rule the roost, run away and hide and so will the fans, TV etc. It would be the end of F1.
      This is a competitive sport but on the track and not the engineering and design offices. What’s the point of shelling out huge bucks for a ticket as well as accommodation etc to watch a bunch of talented guys go around and around in a line? Didn’t we already see that at Indy a few years back.

  135. Get rid of the rear-wing and any sort of diffusers.
    Allow sideskirts, and fan assisted downforce. (BT46B)
    The downforce level will be maintained while there will be less turbulent air flows to affect the following car.

  136. I’m extremely disappointed with this style of racing.
    I want to see the action of guys hammering their cars to limit.
    Saving tires, fuel and money isn’t very interesting to watch.
    I like the refueling and sprinting.

  137. This stupid discussion regarding aerodynamics and the cars being upable to run in the turbulent air off the car ahead has not an will not change no matter how much the FIA and FOTA play with the regs.
    If you want to get closer racing then dump the aero bits entirely. Give them wide super soft and medium soft tires on the cigar tubes of the earlier era and let them go at it. It will all be mechanical grip and driver right foot that will make it competitive.
    A 4 wheel drift at 200 mph will be something to behold in an F1 car.

  138. Wasn’ impressed with sundays race. But who cares how boring the races are as long as Bernnie gets his cash!!

  139. it’s obvious that rain makes races more interesting and there is certainly more overtaking, plus it challenges the racers a lot more. so why not place sprinklers around the track to come on at random times ;)

    Or just hold a gp in Wales :D

  140. Reading all these opinions here… the one thing that’s just struck me is – the teams, their engineers etc, all know that this is a problem… if they haven’t come up with designs to counteract it – is it because it’s impossible, is it because it’s not in their interest, or is it because no one bothers to think about it during the design process? Is it possible that the problem is that the cars are just not built with overtaking in mind? Maybe it’s not the regulations, but the approach to design throughout the field that needs a revolution? Ahem, without getting too metaphysical – all systems stagnate eventually and when they do they need to fresh perspectives that ask questions that no one has thought to ask before. Maybe F1’s reached that point.

    …although it was just the first race of the season, and I,m rather the patient sort, so that’s just food for thought.

    1. American_F1_Fan
      15th March 2010, 23:22

      Designing a car to overtake (under the current regulations) means creating a car that is not very aero sensitive. If the car is not aero sensitive (i.e. lacks downforce) then the car is going to be so slow that it’ll never have the chance to overtake anyway, even if it is capable. While said car might be fast in a straight line, it would be so slow through the corners that it would be miles off the pace.

      The real problem is the regulations and not the designers. The designers will simply design the fastest car they are capable of under the regulations. IMHO, the regulations need to be radically overhauled. Aero grip needs to be radically reduced and mechanical grip needs to be greatly increased.

      The FIA can jerk the regulations around all they want in the interest of improving “the show”, but until the fundamental problem of aero dependence is addressed, the quality of the racing (and especially overtaking) will continue to suffer. The FIA regulated its way into this mess and needs a wholesale overhaul of the regulations to fix it.

      1. I’m just as much in agreement with the mechanical over aero grip solution. Still, I’m just saying that maybe there are workable aero solutions to be found that haven’t been looked for because no one has yet come up with a way of looking at how the cars move in turbulent air that might drastically change how aero is conceptualised to begin with.

        1. American_F1_Fan
          16th March 2010, 0:15

          I totally agree with you.

          Regarding what you said, I think while it might be possible, it can’t be done under the current regulations. I’m no aerodynamicist, but here’s how I see it. The car derives most of it’s grip from downforce. That downforce is created by wing surfaces on the car, primarily the multi-element front and rear wings. Determining how those surfaces affect the car in a clean air stream is difficult at best.

          Now let’s expand that to “running in turbulence”. Even if you take the model of what the airstream behind another car looks like (which is anything but laminar), what can you do with it? The wake behind a car “looks” different at multiple distances from the rear of the car. What it “looks” like 0.5m behind the car is totally different than what it “looks” like 2.0m behind the car. Since the FIA regs outlaw moveable aerodynamic surfaces, if you created the wings to work well at 0.5m behind another car, they wouldn’t work well at 2.0m behind. And this is completely ignoring the fact that the wake turbulence pattern varies from car to car. The RB6, for instance, will have a different wake pattern than the MP4-25. I’m not saying this couldn’t possibly be done, I’m just saying it couldn’t possibly be done under the current regs. If the FIA were to allow computer-controlled movable wing elements, it might be possible.

          I think the engineers would love to create a car that can run in dirty air and also be competitive in clean air, it’s just that they know it’s largely impossible under the current regs.

          Personally I think the FIA needs to define strict aero regs and eliminate most of the mechanical regs that have been implemented over the years. I think direct driver aids such as TC and ABS should stay banned, but free the engineers to be creative again. Most of the creativeness in cars these days is aero, and we’ve seen what that produces, cars that run great in clean air, but can’t follow or pass.

          1. ” the FIA needs to define strict aero regs and eliminate most of the mechanical regs that have been implemented over the years. I think direct driver aids such as TC and ABS should stay banned, but free the engineers to be creative again ”


          2. I agree with all of your post.

  141. maciek – thats easy – no designer thinks about how his car will overtake or get overtaken. The ultimate objective is to have the quickest racetime!
    At some pre-season forum the team principals may consider the spectacle, but thats it. Once the ‘rules are in place – that is it. No designer approaches the season intending to make a car that can fight it out with the rest – given the opportunity they’d have their car win by a country mile!

  142. for me i think the ONLY reason that were not seeing enough overtaking in f1 is nothing to do with the fuel or tyres its the lenth of the track. if they made the tracks smaller so the cars wouldnt be spred out everywere you wouldnt have the problom of no over taking because there would always be a car to pass on a shorter track, simplessss :P

  143. So I haven’s read all the comments because there are simply too many. However, I did read a comment which sparked an idea. Someone said that engineers purposely alter the airstream behind the cars to slow down the other cars (which they do). Also, as we know, formula 1 has become just as much an engineering competition as a driver competition, which, as an engineer, I’m fine with (a lot of you will hate me for this). However, I believe that it is possible to use the opportunity to turn F1 into both (engineering and driving competition) at the same time.

    So the idea I had was to come up with a parameter to measure the amount of turbulence behind the cars (which is fairly easy to do). As we know, it is impossible not to have turbulence behind the cars, but we could set an acceptable amount. This way the designers and engineers could have no restrictions on design, but would need to respect the turbulent parameter to be homologated. This way we could keep seeing some clever engineering solutions to F1 and still see overtaking. Everyone wins!

    Anyways, I’d like to hear if this has been proposed before or what your thoughts on this are.


    1. I like this idea, very sensible and I would imagine workable, and gives some freedom back to the engineers and aerodynamicists to be innovative.

      The FIA might even be able to scrutinise the turbulence coming off the back of the car using CFD. Make it a requirement that one week before a race all teams have to submit to the FIA an accurate 3d model of the exterior of the car they are planning to run at the race, the FIA loads the models of the different cars into the same CFD software package, and virtually checks that the turbulence off the back doesn’t exceed the set limits.

      1. The FIA might even be able to scrutinise the turbulence coming off the back of the car using CFD.

        They did do that in the Overtaking Working Group to produce the 2009 changes.

        They put a lot of emphasis on moving the flow of air away from the following car – hence the wide, low front wings and tall, narrow rear wings.

        But I wonder if they went far enough with into reducing the total downforce the wings can generate. The teams can clear still run very steep wing angles – compare an F1 rear wing to the ones the GP2 Asia cars were running last weekend.

        And the teams continue to find ways around the rules. Some of the cars had shark fins last week and we’re seeing the return of more complicated barge boards and turning vanes. Surely they can stamp out some of that for next year?

  144. To be fair the Bahrain GP site does let us know that there are only “Three real possibilities for overtaking” in the race stats. (they do mean over the course of the whole race right? :P )

  145. Looking at the short term, what can be done now, without huge costs for the teams, I would address only the tires as that are relative simple, cheap changes:
    – do away with the Q3 = Start race tire rule; also let them tweak setups after qual, before the race
    – provide more different tire specs, four or even more, all specs at all races. Teams have free choice in practice, qual and race.
    – no mandatory tire-stops, no minimum nor maximum number of stops.

    This could create strategy differences, changing strategy during a race even, resulting in enough speed difference between cars to allow overtaking even with the aero package as it is now.

  146. Another great, insightful article Keith. As usual the media were quick to focus on all the negatives, but I was a little surprised at how much of the F1 community did as well. If it were not for three factors – Vettel’s mechanical problem, Kubica and Sutil tangling at the start, and the addition of the new sector, which not only made the lap longer and made the field spread look worse but also, because it forced everyone to go line-astern, something an F1 car does not like doing, with Hamilton it cost him just enough time to not be close enough to Rosberg at the first corner to make a move on him, and a free Hamilton might have tagged onto the end of the leading pack and made things more exciting – we would have had a good race for all the world to see, possibly with an ending as exciting as Webber’s and Button’s duel in Abu Dhabi last year; not only may Alonso have had more in reserve than Vettel, but the pair duelling may have made them ruin their tyres more, leaving them in danger from Massa and Hamilton.

    Like Bernie said (and there’s few times I agree with him!), let’s wait until after China. If it’s still “boring” (since when did “just not exciting” mean the same thing?), thewn the best thing to do will be to ask Bridgestone to remove its two-compund rule. If teams, learning at every race, don’t start being a little more daring and differing with their strategies, then only having to use one tyre would give them further incentive; do you qualify higher but start on the worse tyre, and have to stop, or do you play it safe and try to go through the whole race on the one set? Or a mixture? Then, when the season is over, hopefully the powers that be will look seriously at the main problems so many have been almost screaming about and yet which seems to never be dealt with.

  147. I don’t see why they narrowed the front tires for this year. All that did was add to the problem of F1 cars being dependent on aerodynamic grip over mechanical grip. What they should have done was widen the back tires and banned double diffusers for this year. Sure, it won’t completely fix the problem, but I think it would be a step in the right direction.

  148. Jonathan Weston
    16th March 2010, 7:11

    To have a race you must be able to drive and overtake within inches of the competition – watch any UK saloon car challenge and see real motorsport – watch NASCAR dare I say it – F1 has become too much about areo dynamics and too litle about motor RACING – booorrriinnng – Indeed the F1 money machine will not survive unless RACING returns real soon – all the HD TV tricks will not get blood pumping if there is no RACING. We need comprehensive reform – tire choices – fuel strategy – mechanical power delivery and handling – simpler and less expensive aero that will keep designers out of the wind tunnel and allow drivers to get right up to each other – up close and personal – ask any driver in F1 if they agree with me and you will get almost unanimous aggreenet – beleive me their future salaries will depend on it.
    It’s time for drivers to be the major contributing party to the sporting regs – Without RACING there is no SPORT.

  149. My only thoughts on this are that a Lotus car and a Virgin car provided the only decent battle on track. What did they have in common? They had much less downforce than all of the other cars. Sure they were 4 seconds off the pace, but I’d gladly give that up for better racing any day of the week. Well done the new teams IMO.

    1. a Lotus car and a Virgin car provided the only decent battle on track. What did they have in common? They had much less downforce than all of the other cars.

      Yeah I thought that myself.

      1. Could it be that we can only look to the new teams for decent on track action? LOL

    2. Could it be the all-CFD Virgin car’s easier to follow than the wind-tunnel designed ones…but too early to say, as it’s always easy to follow and pass a car with no 4th gear.

      1. Both cars seemed to follow each other quite well until the Virgin hit gearbox trouble.

  150. To me it seems that a lot of rule changes are being brought in with the thought that it will induce driver mistakes.

    To me racing is not about waiting for another driver to make a mistake in order to get past.

    But further to that the standard of drivers at the top end of the field (and frankly i’m not fussed about the tail end) is so high that its possible this may not happen in the first place.
    Further to this as car not follow closely, it takes the pressure of the driver in front thus meaning they are less likely to make mistakes in the first place.

    If overtaking were possible introducing measures which make drivers push the car to the edge and make mistakes or that mix up the grip/running order would then see faster cars potentially drop behind slower cars and create more of a racing spectacle. But that’s a big IF overtaking were possible.

    1. The fundamental issue here is downforce. It is a drivers best friend and unless something is done to cut it drastically the situation will only get worse.

      Unfortunately, if that were to happen, other series such as GP2 would be almost as quick as F1 cars. But then it wouldn’t take too much effort on the FIAs part to cut downforce on cars in other FIA series too.

  151. Bernie Ecclestone on tyres and downforce.

    “Some might wonder why the teams have options on tyres at all,” he said. “Maybe if we only gave them a soft compound they would have to stop twice, but I am not sure that they will vote unanimously for a mandatory two-stop race which Red Bull proposed.

    “It is basically the same problem we have had for the last few years about downforce and cars not being able to get close to the one in front to create more overtaking.

    “The teams know this but they won’t do anything about it because each team looks after its own interests: trying to win.

    “I had a meeting with the teams and tried to explain to them what our business is about – racing and entertaining the public. It’s not about playing with computers and going fast over one lap.”

    I have to say that I’m with Bernie on that one!

  152. I dont think refuelling would bring any great improvement in proceedings. All it would achieve is having something to consider during the middle third of the race. The answer is not just to take step back to what we know and understand.

    An example is the qualifying format; this changed more times than I can remember, and every format lambasted for whatever reason. But finally we landed on the knock out format and, regardless of the fuel load or tyre regs that come and go and the division of the cars performance, the format is generally loved and makes for good TV without being convoluted. It took time but F1 got there in the end.

    I also don’t think mandatory 2 stops is the answer. Again this is convoluted racing. In fact the two tyre compound rule is a negative for F1. What happened with tyre strategy in Bahrain should have been totally obvious because the outline of the strategy is the same for all the teams and required by the regulations. As with car design these days, it not open to creativeness and experimentation.

    The two tyre compouned rule should be abolished. This would at least give the teams and drivers a choice. Do I want to a) run the whole race on primes and not stop, thus saving 20+ seconds of at pit speed, or b) run two or three stints on the faster options which would allow me to be more agressive. You could easily see Jenson going for option a and Lewis going for option b. And thats what racing is about. Once again F1 has so far shot itself in the foot with its overly limiting regulations.

    But I have to say I agree with Mr. E that F1 must not make a knee jerk reaction to Bahrain. Give it time, at least until we get to Barcelona.

  153. i know its a bit convoluted but what if you had ground effects that you could switch on and off, a bit like kers, enabling you to gain time for a few seconds a lap to get close enough and to actually make the pass. If the guy in front does it at a recognised spot then you should in theory be able to do it on the next corner and drive round the outside. Im sure there are flaws in this idea but its cheap technology, relatively, and it has a large area of the track its useful for, unlike kers.


  154. Bahrain was a bit disappointing as far as the first race of the season goes – because we’re used to things going wrong, teams not using their cars/tyres in the right way, drivers making mistakes, etc. It seems that most teams turned up having done an excellent job and erred on the side of caution with the tyres; the drivers were mostly performing perfectly and were helped by the fact that they were on a wide, dusty race track with big run-off kerbs, rather than a fast grass-lined street circuit. Melbourne will be better.

    Aerodynamics are a very big problem – but even races from the 80s could be extremely processional. The main difference since those days (since the 50s, 60s and 70s too) is that the cars are now so closely matched and all work in the same way, so have the same strengths and weaknesses.

    Overtaking will only ever come from a difference in performance which gives a driver an advantage of ‘two car lengths plus following distance’ between the start of one corner and the start of the next.

  155. Funny, refueling wont solve overtaking. But KERS would have been a great advantage this year down a straight as the extra weight penalty as a percentage of the total weight would have been smaller, thus on full tanks an extra 80 bhp for circa 8 seconds per lap would have made a mighty difference if last years kers teams had continued to use them. It would be very intriguing indeed to find out what might have happened if KERS was kept by the teams that used it last….

    1. I agree. We need KERS or some other way to vary the engine’s power output. A temporary 80-100 bhp increase for each car would increase overtaking whilst keeping the grid competitive.

  156. Anyone else asked themselves – if you start a race with the fastest at the front why would overtaking be expected?
    Lets face it, a high number of the most exciting races, with the most overtaking have been as a result of qualifying finishing with cars out of their ‘rightful’ place. Whether this has been through some mechanical failure, or more commonly, adverse weather, during qualifying.
    I totally agree with the aero vs mechanical grip argument; but IMHO the really exciting races have been due to a mixed up grid.

    Any comments – is that achievable? Cancel qualifing, and have a grid start in reverse championship order?! Guarantee there would be overtaking. Then maybe have a 2 race weekend to make up for the lack of qualifying..?

    1. “Cancel qualifing, and have a grid start in reverse championship order”

      Then everybody would try to go slower in order to secure a chance to be 1st on the grid the following year. which would be crazy and dumb

  157. “Anyone else asked themselves – if you start a race with the fastest at the front why would overtaking be expected?”

    Because you would have expected their half worn super-softs to have given up the ghost well before they did and in many cases the super-soft tyres were changed well before they had worn out or even lost performance.

    If they can’t do something with the aero (unlikely) then they should do something with the tyres (possible). But maybe leave it until after the Chinese GP to do anything at all.

  158. I dont understand how tyres will resolve the issue of processional races. Until the issue of “dirty air” is resolved a car sits behind the next one by over half a second which is a massive gap.

    A car would have to be massively faster and then its a case of the haves over the have-nots winning all the races. Of which the haves will all be running in a line not able to pass one another anyway.

  159. theres alot of guff talked about what the racing was like in the “glory days” of the early 90’s …mainly from people who started watching F1 then. The glory days really stopped in 1959 and its been a losing battle to technology since then. But going back to my first point, racing in the 80’s and 90’s could be just as processional, cars were plasticky, fell apart and half the drivers couldnt keep the car on the track if it started sliding.

    The criticism of Bahrain is totally over the top and is symptomatic of a media and an audience who demand thrills, or else. It was a poor race and part of that was the faceless desert it was raced in, part the drivers lack of courage, part engineers not being able to think outside the box ( 1st prize goes to the designer who can get a car to follow another closely) and partly our fault for expecting schumacher, lewis & alonso to weave and slipstream all the way to the chequered flag.

    F1’s audience needs to grow up, its not WWF

    1. but you gotta admit that some simple things could be changed/introduced to allow the drivers push their cars instead of “save their cars”.

  160. It was interesting to note that the IRL race in Sao Paulo was anything but boring. Same chassis, same engines, less aero and a ‘push-to-pass’ button. Not ‘F1’, but definitely ‘racing’. Cars look great too! How hard can it be?

    1. Why not watch GP2 instead of F1 then?

      1. My thoughts were only that even with a non-spec formula it can’t be that difficult to get cars to overtake each other as often as they do in a spec series.

        Someone needs to understand that adding more downforce to the cars season after season isn’t making things better. The cars, even with the 2009 rules, now have much more downforce than they did in 2008!

        And I don’t think that just getting rid of double diffusers for 2011 is going to make a great deal of difference.

  161. Susila Adnyana
    16th March 2010, 15:06

    Warm Greeting from Bali….

    I hope this email meets you well.
    I have been a big fan of F1 since 1992. I was so sad watched the race in Bahrain a few days ago. It was not racing at all but parade of F1 cars.
    I understood that any changes of F1 regulation intended for a good influence of the sport. But, sometime it did not work as expected.
    I read from several F1 websites latest talk about tweaking some area to increase the race actions. The last one was applying mandatory pit stops, which is suggested by Mr. Christian Horner.
    I have a better and simpler idea to increase the race action.
    The problem of the dullness of the race action comes from the ban of mid-race refueling that give domino effect to tire maintenance and economy-driving during race. That issues lead to slow lap time and lack of intention to overtake. We heard the race engineer told the driver to save tires and fuel from radio conversations. Fernando Alonso average race speed was just 186 km/hour (too slow for “normal” race), which was only happened if the race was interrupted by rain or safety car deployment in the past seasons.
    There one simple rule might be added to overcome this situation.
    We may name it as mandatory speed rule. The driver who take P1 – P10 (after finishing first lap of race and starting the second lap) must lapping the circuit within a certain lap time which is decided based on qualifying time made on Saturday. The mandatory lap time is calculated by this formula: Pole sitter qualifying time + P10 qualifying time is divided by 2 and than added by 3 seconds. For example, if P1 time was 1:54:00 and P10 time was 1:56:00. So, the mandatory lap time would be (1:54:00 + 1:56:00)/2 + 3 seconds. It is equal to 1:58:00 (1 minute and 58 seconds) That is the maximum lap time the P1 – P10 have to achieve during race (started from lap 2). If each of those drived circle the circuit beyond that mandatory time for 3 laps in row, the driver will be penalized by drive through penalty.
    This simple rule will force the driver and the team to apply more aggressive race strategy and forget about tires maintenance and economy driving stile. Since, the drivers (P1-P10) are forced to speed up, the tires consumption will be more and trigger more pit stop to change tires. There is a hope for more overtaking either on the track or during pit stop.
    Since the P1-10 have to speed up, the rest of the field (P11-24) will be speed up as well. If the don’t do that (still conservative as they did in Bahrain), then they will be overlapped by P1-10 before their first pit stop. They will not like the situation. So, they have to speed up as well to the minimize the gap. Then, their tire usage will also trigger more pit stop as what happened to P1-10.
    If P12 become P10 during the race because P10-P11 is doing pit stop or having mechanical troubles, he has to achieve this mandatory lap time as well.
    So, hopefully we will have the race back with more hope for track actions.

    I hope this idea will give you a solution for F1 that we love so much.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Susila Adnyana
    F1 Mania from Bali, Indonesia

  162. mr.ecclestone PLEASE do something to put the spectacle into are a few of my suggestions- 1.bring back KERS, drivers say with an evenly matched car you need a couple of hundred hp to pass,so rather than the 60-80hp boost of last yr,increase the figure to over a hundred. 2. or bring back 1.5 litre turbos with an over boost facility for 30-40 secs a race.alot of manufacturers are now developing small turbo motors due to better mpg(driven sensibly of course)!big v8s and v10s really dont have much time left on the roads imho. 3.get rid of carbon-carbon brakes,go to steel or if thats too much of a backward step run carbon ceramic brakes. braking distances are now so small the time on the brakes is miniscule leaving drivers without the time they need to pull a pass. (plus all the above are a lot more relevant to a normal roadgoing car) 4.AERO-one of the biggest headaches! although the TWG are heading in the right direction,-less aero more mechanical grip,more needs to be done. this isnt 1 of my strong points but how about single element wings combined with a major increase in “ground effect” and the wider front slicks from last year? come on bernie crack your whip, and teams come on lets get this sorted for the good of the sport,like button said before the race if this season isnt exciting we are doing something seriously wrong,and all signs are that something`s not quite right to say the least.

  163. The thing people overlook is that there simply never has been much overtaking in F1.

    You have cars with wildly varying performance levels start in level of which goes fastest. How on earth can you expect much overtaking to take place?

    People just have the wrong expectations.

    For instance the OWG set out to make overtaking possible when the lap time difference was about 1 second. Before that cars needed to be 2 or 3 seconds faster to be able to overtake.

    The OWG changes did accomplish just that. Many overtakes showed that it worked.

    What people didn’t understand though, was that making it possible to overtake doesn’t really mean you get more overtaking. That only happens when slower cars actually end up behind faster cars. In this case the slower KERS cars also were able to negate a lot of overtaking.

    It’s a bit of a lame duck to say that bringing back refuelling won’t fix the problem. Of course if you single out just one component it won’t fix the entire problem. So what?

    Just fixing the tracks won’t solve the problem either. Just fixing the aro won’t either. It’s a complex problem with multiple components that all need to be addressed.

    Point is, the ban on refuelling DID make overtaking more difficult. Or rather the reduction in pitstops put more emphasis on saving tyres and that makes overtaking more difficult. Bringing back refuelling or perhaps introducing other reasons for more tyre stops could help in making overtaking better possible.

    Maybe the biggest problem is still perception. We actually just saw a race where there were more overtakes (21) than average. Above average for the track (17) and above average for F1 (14).

    If you want more overtaking than there has been in the last 20 years you need to change F1 to a spec racing class. Give all cars the same aero and stop them from developing it. get the performance levels of the cars equalled as much as possible. If the spec class itself doesn’t offer enough equality they could for instance by using penalty weights. Other ways are using reverse starting grids. Or maybe by replacing the qualifying by a set of dice. Now that would sure help increase overtaking.

    In the end though, if you want all that, go watch IRL, GP2 or touring car racing. Overtaking never was common in F1 for the last 20 years and it won’t start happening now.

    1. “In the end though, if you want all that, go watch IRL, GP2 or touring car racing.”

      F1s main priority is entertainment, pure and simple. If it’s not entertaining then people who require it to be entertaining (broadcasters etc) will ultimately ensure that it is entertaining or will take their TV cameras elsewhere.

      “Overtaking never was common in F1 for the last 20 years and it won’t start happening now.”

      We don’t expect ‘Dijon 1979’ every race, but we do, at least, expect the possibility of it.

    2. I did watch Indy last weekend from sao paulo and i would take it any day ahead of the Bore in Bahrain.
      they had to DRIVE that car in sao paulo; not just follow the leader round and round. it was raw pure driving without gimmicks.

      Purists are ruining F1.It does not have to be Nascar but damn it is borringg

  164. i dont know if its been mentioned but i dont really want to look through all 350 posts to check..

    i think the no refueling idea worked in 1993 and before due to the fact there was no pit lane speed limit…with stops around 2 seconds pitstop in out times would be around the 15second mark i would guess… a much more appealing prospect then for teams to mix up the running and pit and gain place with fresh tyres.

  165. Paul Sainsbury
    16th March 2010, 18:26

    It is not the rule changes that have ruined it, it is the continued problems with the cars. I was never excited like the commentators were when the pivotal moment of a Grand Prix was a driver rolling down the pitlane and coming out onto the track ahead of the guy he was ‘overtaking’. That was not overtaking at all. So right now it might seem to be even worse, but they don’t need to re-introduce refuelling, they need to address the actual issues. The simplest way to deal with it is to hugely reduce downforce. Damon Hill got it about right a few years ago when he said ‘just give us huge, wide slicks and take the wings off’. Obviously an over-simplification but everyone knows what he means.

    I am not particularly confident though, since we have a bunch of people running the sport who were prepared to turn qualifying into a meaningless ‘fuel-weight lottery’ for several years and, finally given the chance to make it pure again, have introduced a stupid, unnecessary irritating tyre-rule into it to penalize the 10 fastest drivers/cars. Brilliant.

  166. I have just read an article on James Allen’s website ( ), which says that the aero is not the real problem – the tyres are!

    Frank Dernie says that even when cars in the early eighties lost 80% of their downforce (skirts banned) overtaking was no better. He says that the mechanical grip was still the main culprit back then. He suggests rock hard tyres and manual gearboxes to sort the problem.

    1. It surprises me that people keep pointing at single aspects to solve the problem. To me it seems more like a complex combination of things that makes overtaking more difficult.

      Besides, it’s not the absolute levels of downforce that is the problem. It’s the dependency on clean air for the aerodynamics to work that is the problem. This means car can’t follow closely (without risk of damaging the tyres!) and thus they can’t overtake easily.

      Sure if you make the cars drive on ice or water, there will be more mistakes and overtaking will occur more often. Until the drivers adapt and the situation is back to what it was before.

      Not really fair to use an unpredictable situation like a wet track (with chaning weather conditions, pit stops, mayhem, safety cars and what not) as a benchmark on how low grip might help racing. If you introduce random events there will be more action no matter what the cars are like.

      Mosley tried the low grip thing before (grooved tyres) and it didn’t help much either.

      The problem needs to be tackled on all sides:
      1) The tracks need to be looked at (in cooperation with the drivers) to see where things can be improved to allow overtaking. Some tracks have plenty overtaking (like Interlagos, Shanghai and Bahrain!) and some virtually none (Valencia, Monaco, Abu Dhabi, Singapore)

      2) Developing aerodynamics to the level where the car only has nominal downforce levels in clean air should be avoided. Complex wings and little flaps that only work in clean air should be banned.

      See how cars were able to follow each other much better during the first few races of 2009. Even after double diffusers became more standard. I remember Button driving for laps on end on the gearbox of the cars he was about to overtake. In the end he usually DID overtake them.

      3) The TV coverage should show ALL battles on track. Not just the top 3 where 2 red cars are trailing a blue car by several seconds for 30 laps. That IS boring yes. There were 21 overtakes during the last race of wich I saw virtually none.

      4) People need to stop whining. F1 is never going to be a sport where much overtaking will take place. You can make it easier to overtake, but the situations where overtaking can occur simply don’t happen very often. Not as long as cars start in the order of who’s fastest and with very different performance levels between them.

  167. I have an idea, Bring back turbo’s. like in the late 80’s. If you use it too much you run out of fuel. Even overtaking at monaco was possible then!

  168. friends,

    Sunday was good day to compare. Bahrain in the morning,here in USA, and Sao Paulo Indy in the afternoon. The Indy race was great, simply because the rules are different. The teams in F1 are a bunch of prima-donnas.They want this little train running around the track, so basically what you can do is win the race on saturday by qualifying in first place or maybe second. if you do in third you are done for the weekend.
    How about a full course yellow for accidents. The average Joes does not want the purists taking over.They want a race and they want a drag race to the finish. Bunch them up and you got it. bring back refueling too

  169. Keith I hate to say this but after watching F1 for the last 25 years maybe we should reverse the grid for the races, even frank williams is an advocate, I doubt he was when williams were dominating though!
    As Frank Dernie said on James Allens website, If you have the fastest cars at the front then who’s going to catch them?
    The best race I ever seen was suzuka 2005 because Alonso Schuamacher and Raikkonen all started way down the grid.
    I think a lot more people would tune in for melboure if Alonso was starting 24th Massa 23rd and Hamilton 22 id guarantee there would be more overtaking in 10 laps than Bahrain Barcelona Valencia combined

    1. Qualifying will naturally throw up grids like that once in a while like at Brazil last year or Italy the year before. But once you start making every race start in that fashion it won’t be special any more. The one thing that would be as bad as having no passes for position would be having so many they’re not special or remarkable any more.

      That remark “if you have the fastest cars at the front then who’s going to catch them” has become a cliche and I think it’s a false one. The car that’s fastest over a single lap on one day is not necessarily the car that’s fastest over a Grand Prix distance the next day.

      Besides which, cars don’t motor away from the grid in single file, they gain and lose places, like Hamilton did with Rosberg. The problem is they then can’t regain those places because they can’t get close enough to pass.

    2. “after watching F1 for the last 25 years maybe we should reverse the grid for the races”

      I’ve seen people write this over and over. The fact of the matter is, if you do that then people are going to try to go as slow as possible to increase their chance of starting first. This will not work. Instead, the race and qualifying will turn into a political game, lottery chances and not racing.

  170. Here we are cracking our heads once more on how to improve the show.
    F1 has evolved into a precision engineering business.
    15 yrs ago, gear boxes were failing on race day, engines blowing up, wheel bearing seizing, engine power difference were counted in HP.Keep this in mind.
    Now, nothing breaks, engine power is measured in…0.01 sec a lap..HOW TO OVERTAKE when everybody runs at the same speed, same efficency for 50+ laps and no breakdown??
    If FIA really wants to save the show,(most here agrees to the need of mechanical grip)should trash aero efficiency by imposing a std undercarriage, impose a suspension “stroke end” (to control min high ride)TEST (test instead of talking abt it, trying it)the solution with 2 cars until the car that follow can tail the front one @300 kph, brake at 150m mark with confidence.
    Than bang fist on the table and say: “we screw-up last year, we cannot continue this way, the modification WORKS and are effective this date, offer a form of compensation to each team for the effort spent on the double diffuser(so they can unanimously accept the solution quickly)”.
    If FIA wants to solve/improve the show, should take responsibility for previous decisions, otherwise, I predict “how to improve F1 racing” will be the topic of the year.
    For sure I will watch 2-3 more races, but I am not prepared to fall asleep in front of the tv for the next 14-15 races if nothing changes.
    The first one is already one too many..

  171. I agree with Prost: they are not used to the new rules yet. he’s right about the tyres too.
    Refuelling ban will improve F1, says legend Alain Prost
    There may be a hint of the frustrated genius here – why doesn’t everyone else manage their race as well as I did?

    I guess it’s the counter argument to Coulthard wanting 2 mandatory stops: Prost never raced with refuelling (not after ’94 anyway) and DC never raced without.

    1. Yeah, Prost would like the cars to be slow. He never was a driver who was out to drive an F1 car at maximum speeds (although he would often set fastest laps during the race).

      F1 cars are almost 10 seconds slower (compared between qualy and race pace) because they have to haul all their fuel around from the start. It’s depressing.

    2. Well I think Prost does not understand the problems. It is not like back in the old days where teams select the best tyres and fuel quantity based on their knowledge and go racing. Now days teams have the most sophisticated computers and programs that simulate the entire race. They study these races day and night and select their strategy in a manner much more efficient compared to the old days. As a result, it is very likely that all teams will come up with similar strategies.

      So the only way to breakup those strategies is to introduce variety:

      1) Allow teams to use any tyre compound and allow them to change their tyres as many times as they want during the race only. Keep tyre limit restrictions for practice and testing only.

      2) Bring back refueling, and allow teams to refuel their cars as many times as they want during the race only.

      3) Make KERS mandatory, and boost its power output by 200%. Instead of introducing restrictions to power, FIA should instead introduce restrictions to its technology, in much similar way to that of the engines.

      Not only will this introduce range of strategies, but it will most importantly allow drivers to push their cars instead of “save their cars”.

  172. Why can’t the FIA or Bernie buy 2 f1 cars from last season, employ 2 experienced drivers (Nick heidfeld David Coulthard) and actually test new aero packages, Tyres, KERS, too see when they can follow each other closely at say Barcelona instead of just turning up for a new season to see if new regs work in front of millions of people

  173. It seems to be that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much technology and money they’ve thrown at them, F1 cars are not good ‘racing’ cars.

  174. Theres an interesting counter argument on James allens website from an aerodynamicist who argues that its not all as straightforward as blaming aero,well he would say that wouldnt he.

    To coin an oft used phrase i think all of this is somewhat ignoring the elephant in the room, everyone seems fixated with the overtake as if that can turn a dull race into an epoch changing one. And whilst overtakes are exciting, so are goals in football but we dont need one every 2 minutes for it to be a good game.

    I think what we are missing is the fact that watching an F1 car drive round a track at ten tenths is frankly dull, the car barely moves about, theres certainly no lift and drift cornering and although the driver is undoubtedly showing great skill, the skill is running a car up to its limit never over. Lewis can do it occasionally and maybe Alonso but the rest are quick, like drying paint.

    Theres a 100 answeres on this blog and a 100 questions but maybe we are barking up the wrong tree. Give us an F1 car that can be driven sideways and the overtake can become the icing on the cake, not the cake.

  175. “And whilst overtakes are exciting, so are goals in football but we dont need one every 2 minutes for it to be a good game.”

    I prefer to think of overtaking as a well excecuted ‘set play’ or a player that delivers the perfect ‘through-ball’ etc, rather than a goal, and there is plenty of that in a good football match. The “goal” is to win the race.

  176. the point is its not overtaking per se that is the only way a race could be considered a good one. If Lewis & ALonso are 3 seconds apart but you can see them sliding the cars on the limit then its exciting.

    And to extend the argument 40 overtakes at a hairpin doesnt make it a great race.

    1. 40 overtakes at a hairpin makes it a lot greater race than no overtakes there.

  177. “If Lewis & ALonso are 3 seconds apart but you can see them sliding the cars on the limit then its exciting.”

    Many would beg to differ with you on that point I think!

  178. with all due respect, you cant know what “many” believe and secondly, if all you want is an overtake then go watch gp2 or superbikes, theres plenty of it there. If you youtube Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart and watch them slide a car at high speed you may change your view. If not, then its your loss but F1 was never just about overtaking.

    1. In some recent surveys, overtaking came out tops and I guess that if I just wanted to watch ‘sliding’ then I need look no further than rallying.

    2. so youd rather watch a car slither round, rather than get close to the car in front and have a real chance to pass?

      1. this post for antonybob

  179. Before 1993 there were not refuelling stops , and before 1984 no tyres-change stops . The races were very enjoing ! Why ? Because the cars are the true problem of modern F1 ! Cars don’t permit drivers to stay very close to the rival ! And for 30 % the lack of overtaking is for the circuits , a demonstration is that Belgium Gran Prix is always rich of overtakes .

  180. I recently came across the Clip The Apex forum. They have a brilliant Statistics section. In particular, they show a year by year evolution in overtaking stats over the period between 1983 and 2010. These stats compared with the rule changes introduced each year.

    I think the analysis is quite fascinating and busts a lot of myths.

    Interpreting the data is a tricky affair. As I see it, and my opinion is totally biased: It starts off nicely 1984. There is a sharp drop in 1992, 1993, 1994 and F1 has never recovered. The sharp drop occurs with active suspension 1992, automatic gear boxes ferrari 1989 and everbody in 1992, traction control 1993, refueling 1994, and most of all the disappearance from F1 of the greatest drivers motosport has ever seen, of Senna 1994, Prost 1993 and Mansell 1992.

  181. well if you think watching Moss hold a car against its will at 150mph in a 4 wheel drift is just rallying then you truly dont know anything about F1. A truly fatuous statement.

    As for Mansell, Prost & Senna being the 3 greatest drivers of all time, well you are too far gone to be even helped. Senna is top 5 possibly, Prost top 15 and Mansell maybe top 30. Im a huge Mansell fan btw, loved him buti loved watching Gascoigne i dont think he was the worlds greatest player.

    But i guess its difficult to teach the playstation generation much that doesnt happen now or buzz in their hand. More red bull than red wine.

    1. I am totally biased as I said, and I’ve never touched a playstation by the way. The stats are interesting in any case though.

  182. well you dont need stats to know overtaking has reduced. And this is proving to be a more difficult point to get across than i thought..however, ive been watching F1 since 1978 and my dad since the beginning and beyond and overtaking isnt the only measure of a good race. In the early days you werre lucky to see any overtaking, or even the full circuit..of course the mind only remembers the good bits. And i dont care which survey says what, you ask fans if they want blue or red hotdogs and you’ll get an answer.

    Quite alot of f1’s audience are casual thrill seekers and i really dont want a sport that i support by actually going to be dictated by someone sat in his dressing gown munching on his cornflakes ready with the remote if no one crashes or takes 12 cars in one corner.

    In essence its way to early to be changing the rules just cos the 1st race wasnt good enough.

  183. right im going to try this one more time for the slow lad at the back. Clearly there is a problem with overtaking in F1 and despite their best efforts the FIA dont seem to be able to solve it and no-one else has come up with a guaranteed solution eiter. Still with me? right, so if we cant solve that problem lets look at other ways the spectacle can be livened up. One of the great joys of watching racing is seeing a driver balance a car at high speed in a controlled drift. Something we havent seen in F1 for way too long but maybe something that could be engineered in. Its a longshot but hay so is overtaking at the moment< why not think out of the box? SO… i dont prefer a car sliding to overtaking, im not a fan of rallying and i agree overtaking livens up a race no end. ok?

  184. As Keith and others mention; the aero cannot change until 2011 but we have to hope that 2010 will be eye-opening enough for drastic changes to be introduced by then. If difusers are the main cause of turbulence then why even discuss single vs. double – why not scrap then completely?

    Some of my other suggestions would probably be too liberal for the FIA but here goes:
    1. (Can be effected right away to save 2010) No more tire rules. Goes for Q3->start and throughout the race. Use as many of any tire you like. The benefits should be obvious.
    2. (Can also be effected right along with 1) No pitstop rules. Stop five or zero times as you prefer.
    3. Smaller wings.
    4. If not deemed too complicated; introduce a spec for drag/turbulence as suggested by someone above.
    5. Introduce wider and stickier tires.
    6. Remove the rev limiter BUT keep the limit on total number of engines.
    7. Don’t limit the number of wheels on the cars!

    I think we would see more diversity in the designs have some teams benefit on slower tracks while others on fast tracks.

    As someone else suggested I think it would be a great idea for FIA to open a forum for suggestions. Not only would they be bombarded by ideas they would have never though of themselves but in the process they would project a much less arrogant face.

  185. good suggestions, a limit on down force could also work, tested at a certain speed, teams would get to this point and they have to develope other thing which may help

  186. SennaRainho, great suggestions. I would like to add that standardizied underbody tunnels be introduced to accompany the smaller wings. Varying powerplant configurations should be allowed as well. Ideas 1,2&5 are fantastic.I dont agree with 7 though.

  187. Whether there is refueling or not is sometimes irrelevant. Personally I prefer it as it adds another variable into the mix although like everything else this too develops an element of predictability. It seems to me they put the horse in front of the cart and expected the cart to pull itself along i.e. they should have fixed the overtaking and following issues before going to single race fuel. That said, lets hope Todt knocks some heads together to address this issue radically.

    I like when we have big changes as it throws the cat amongst the pigeons and produces unexpected and unpredicatable results as well as levels the playing field for a while, that is until the wizard engineers with seemingly unlimited or should I say much vaster resources are able to identify and get on top of the challenges.

  188. They need to bring back refueling with 6 races gone the most entertaining races were Australia,Malaysia, and China which were partly wet races.With the dry races Bahrain,Spain and Monaco there was hardly any overtaking as drivers are just trying to consevre their tyres till the end of the races.With refueling it will enable dirvers to change tyres aswel,therefore increasing the amount of racing and overtaking.Unless every race has a chance of rain then there not going to be as exciting as previous seasons.

  189. Jonathan Weston
    18th May 2010, 1:23

    bring back smaller tanks and refuelling asap – add a tire manufacturer choice and it could get exciting again.

  190. Garry Westwood
    19th May 2010, 7:58

    Bring back refuiling Bernie,You made F1 boring i use to look foward to watching F1 now i fall asleep watching it.

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