Overtaking has become “too easy” – Petrov

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

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Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Istanbul, 2011

Vitaly Petrov thinks the combination of rules changes in 2011 have made overtaking “too easy”.

Petrov says the FIA should shorten the zones in which drivers can use the Drag Reduction System in races.

Speaking in a press conference today he said: “I think we are moving in the right direction with the rear wing, it’s more exciting to watch racing and good for us, even in the last race I had so many overtaking manoeuvres.

“I think we are moving in the right way because with the DRS system, with this 700 [metre] straight or something, I think at every race this line will be shorter because at the moment it’s too easy to overtake.

“Sometimes it’s harder, it depends. I think the FIA will move this line so it’s a little bit shorter, so the car won’t just stay behind and overtake the car in front easier. I think it’s more exciting when you go in to the corner together and you can still fight under braking.”

Felipe Massa said the DRS was useful in a situation where two drivers were running on the same type of tyre:

“When you go out of the garage and you have new tyres and you find cars with old tyres in front of you, it’s definitely very easy but it’s because of the tyres, it’s because of the high degradation. I think when you are in a similar situation it’s not so easy, but the wing helps, you know?

“I don’t think it’s just the wing which makes overtaking possible, easier or not easier, it’s everything, together with the tyre degradation and everything: how the cars use the tyres; how the strategy works as well.

“I think it’s better for you guys. How many years have I heard people saying ‘the good thing was the past, when Senna, Piquet, Mansell… it was really fun to see all these drivers race. They knew how to do it: Villeneuve, Arnoux.’ It’s true.

“It was also different cars as well and I even heard some things like after China: ‘ah, now Formula One is back to how it was before’. It’s important to see you guys happy as well, and I think for the fans it’s what we care about.”

Lewis Hamilton joked that Mark Webber had suggested overtaking had become too easy because “His car’s too fast!”

He added: “As Felipe was saying, I don’t personally feel it’s too easy to overtake. I had some great battles with people in the last race and it’s definitely just as hard but obviously when you have the opportunity to use the wing it makes it a little bit easy, but it allows you to get closer and really remain in close proximity to be able to attack in places.

“It aids overtaking but it doesn’t make it too easy, personally.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    63 comments on “Overtaking has become “too easy” – Petrov”

    1. is not what the general public wanted. A tv show to watch while waiting at a restaurant before they get a table to have lunch? F1 fanatics are a group that doesn’t count much. Because they know, we are going to watch anyway. As long as they have improving tv share, and race tracks full of fans. Everything is fine.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        5th May 2011, 18:11

        Yes, but there is some feeling like “what a real race should be” is starting to fade. I’ve seen some 70s or 80s videos where the aeropackage was not attaching cars to the ground, so there were REAL overtakings (Gilles vs ARnoux in 79) and exciting races I’m sure any person driving a car would like to see. Evolution of cars and technology has cut progressively what the real spectacle is about. It’s a shame

        1. And if you try to cut out the effects of that evolution, so cars and racing can be as they were, people say innovation is being stifled.

          1. and how often were overtakes like Villeneuve and Arnoux? like 1 in a million?

        2. Hey, we have the same avatar. :)

          1. Yeah I was wondering about weather it wasn’t you changing name. Only the views in those comments did not really match yours.

    2. Insert contentious comment here.

      This whole topic illustrates the difficulty of appeasing F1 fans. There are several groups – the casual fans and the purists on the opposite sides of the spectrum and then the various levels of fan in between. That’s not to say one group is the greater fan than the other, but each have their own views on whether overtaking should be easy, whether it is currently too easy and how overtaking could be made better.

      Honestly, I’m starting to tire of the whole argument. F1 is a constantly evolving beast, changing every single year. This year, we have adjustable rear wings, KERS, and great tyres. Next year we might not – we might have something worse or better.

      F1 is great – all the time…so why complain!

      1. Because it’s not great all the time. And it does get frustrating when you already have what you want and it goes the other way…

        That said, you’re right. F1 can’t please all the people all the time. But they will try anything for a quick buck.

      2. Trolling for COTD?

        A sport such as F1 needs continual development, and criticism from fans is always good.

      3. In 25 years I’ve seen about 5 technically revealing shots of the under-floor using stop motion.Since the last race was reminiscent of late 80’s Berger vs. Cappelli why not use Newey’s first F1 floor as standard. No tea-tray, small diffuser otherwise flat this would allow for kers and
        differing monocock/wheelbase lengths to apply and no exhaust feed ?

        Come to think that March was just too good so maybe the Ferrari floor Berger ran :)

      4. COTD :D

        End of the day, you can’t change it so you may as well embrace it. I welcome all sorts of changes.

        This is a formula after all…

    3. I think Petrov is right though. Malaysia was defenitelty to much DRS, China was still a tad too much.

      But it looks like they are getting close to how to instate it now. Still do not like the idea of it very much, but it seems to be doing what it was desinged to do.

      1. China was strange, at first it was a matter of saying oh look DRS isn’t working then suddenly it kicked in and we got tons of overtakes thanks to it in the later part of the race.

        1. I think most of the DRS overtakes we saw later in the race had more to do with better exits on newer tyres from the corner leading up to the straight meaning the following cars were simply in better positions.

          The DRS made things a little to easy when they were there.

    4. What is this, Formula 1 Entertainment? I don’t want to watch an entertaining race, I want to watch a race that’s entertaining!

    5. I like how Petrov is the only driver in the picture actually smiling :P

      1. Hah! Yeah… the others don’t have much to smile about really. It’s been a harsh 2 years for most of them. Massa worse than that.

        1. lol nothing to smile about…
          these are among the highest paid sportsmen in the world and get to drive the fastest coolest cars on the planet. Even if i was Jerome D’ambrosio louging around the back of the grid, i’d still wear a cheshire cat smile..

      2. it’s kinda of ironic for petrov to suggest overtaking is too easy, if you remember how he was last year

    6. The New Pope
      5th May 2011, 18:57

      I like the new rules and DRS.

    7. UKfanatic (@)
      5th May 2011, 19:05

      110% agreed Petrov, one thing that I agree too is that Petrov isnt good enough.

      1. Ouch! 2nd year in the business? I think all drivers deserve 3 years for prove themselves. He’s done good this year. I like him as a person as well, he’s enjoying his racing.

        1. The New Pope
          5th May 2011, 22:09

          I agree with Hare, here. A podium for a second year driver on a team not named “Ferrari,” “Red Bull,” or “McLaren” is nothing to sneeze at. Give the guy a break.

    8. I think Alonso might disagree with you there, Vitaly. How long did it take him to pass Schumacher?

      1. And wasn’t Alonso on fresher tyres as well? For ~7 laps?

    9. i think overtaking has in some cases become too easy and also predictable.

      in every situation where you see a car on fresher tyres catch one on older tyres the car on older tyres has no chance to defend because he has so much less grip. in every situation this year we have seen old tyres v new tyres we have seen the car on new tyres pass within 2 laps and as such in those situations passing has become far too predictable.

      i do not want to go into a situation where you know the car behind is definately going to pass the one ahead but sadly this is exactly what we have when you see the new tyre v old tyre situation.

    10. StefMeister
      5th May 2011, 19:13

      Not a big fan of what we have now if im honest. I’ve watched the 1st 3 races yet never really got into them as I have races in the past.

      I don’t think a race needs to feature a ton of passing for a race to be entertaining or exciting & infact there has been races over the years which featured little overtaking yet have still been considered great races.

      Suzuka 2005 for example didn’t feature a great deal of passing (Only 14 on-track passes for position) yet its considered a great race because the passing we did see was genuinely exciting to watch & genuinely meant something. On the other side the 2006 Bahrain Gp featured 34 On track passes for position yet isn’t looked back on as been that great a race.

      Other examples would be Imola in 2005 & 2006, Very few passes (Only 1 in 2006) yet there looked back on as entertaining races because of the great battles for the win between Schumi & Alonso over the closing laps. Or Spa 2000 with the Schumi/Hakkinen scrap in the final stages of the race.

      I watched the 1st 3 races of this season & saw a ton of passing yet didn’t find these races as entertaining as others I’ve watched in the past including many which featured a lot less passing.

      I actually think the Pirelli’s in particular have made passing predictable in some circumstances.

      Whenever you get a car on new tyres up against one on old, the one on old tyres has so little grip that him been passed becomes ineviteable. At Shanghai for example, as soon as Hamilton got by Massa it was obvious he was definately going to get by Vettel for the win. On the BBC Radio commentary Anthony Davidson made a comment when Lewis passes Massa about how he felt a bit sorry for Vettel because there was going to be nothing Vettel could do to hold Lewis off on his older tyres.

      Every situation at Sepang/Shanghai where a car on older tyres was caught by one on fresher tyres, The car on fresher tyres got past almost immediately with the one on the worn tyres been completely defenceless to do anything about it.

      Its fine to say there was 85 On-Track passes for position at Shanghai, Yet how many of those 85 passes actually really meant anything at the end & how many of them were truly exciting to watch?

      Its basically like a Nascar race at one of the plate tracks. A ton of cars swapping places yet at the end none of the place swapping really actually means anything.

      A pass should be hard fought for & not simply be down to DRS, KERS or because of a bit gap in tyre performance. Passes should mean something & not simply end up been cars momentarily swapping places because of Tyres, DRS or KERS.

      To end.

      The thing I love about F1 & indeed MotorRacing in general is the racing. I love watching one car defending its position with the other trying to find a way past. I love watching good racing & if that good racing results in a truly exciting, unexpected & memorable pass for position then that just makes it even better.

      Alonso/Schumacher at those 2 races at Imola in 2005 & 2006 was truly exciting to watch, It was a great scrap for the win between 2 of the best. The battle lasted 10+ laps both years & while no pass was made it kept you on the edge of your seat the whole time wondering if the following car would be able to get past.

      I personally found those 2 Imola duels to be far more exciting to what we had late in the race at Shanghai with Hamilton catching/Passing Vettel. I also found the closing stages of Suzuka in 2005 with Raikkonen catching/Passing Fisichella to be far more exciting, far less predictable & with a far more exciting pass at the end to what we saw in Shanghai.

      1. Remember how exciting Bahrain was last year, with Hamilton trying to get past Rosberg and Webber trying to get past Schumacher and Button.

        I do, but a lot of the people at the time didn’t think so.

        Come on, these arguments about the tyres are ridiculous. Suzuka 2005 we saw faster cars stuck behind slower ones; can we saw the same for all those other classic moves and races? It has usually been about tyres, tyres, tyres. Mansell on Piquet in 1987 is remembered as a classic, yet Hamilton making an extra stop and passing Vettel is too artificial?

        1. StefMeister
          5th May 2011, 20:43

          Although I do find the DRS regulations artificial I havn’t said anything about thinking KERS or The Pirelli’s are artificial.

          I just said I don’t find the sort of racing the Pirelli’s have produced to be as entertaining or as exciting.

          One thing I’d say about Silverstone 1987 is that its remembered because of the way the pass was done. It wasn’t a straght forward pass, Mansell did a great job of setting the move up by pretending to go left forcing Piquet to defend left only to then dive to the right & take Piquet by surprise.

          Had Mansell simply breezed by on a straght or done a simple move on the inside I doubt we’d look back & consider it anything special. The reason its remembered is because of the way it was done.

          1. Well whilst not in the same league, Hamilton didn’t exactly DRS pass Vettel did he? Some have even argued that he was counting on Vettel expecting an attack in the DRS zone so he jumped him early, i.e. tactics.

            But you contradict yourself a bit. 85 passes resulting in only a few changed positions at the end of the race does imply NASCAR, but it also implies multiple battles between drivers, kinda like the vaunted Imola example. Also they might not mean anything in relation to the grid, but they did in the race: Hamilton ended up only 2 places higher but carried out more overtakes than that to get there. Otherwise he would have finished 5th.

            You say the passing is predictable, but again going back to Mansell, so was that. It was a brilliant move but he would have got past him in the two laps, we were lucky the few remaining laps gave him the urgency to pull off the stunner. Look at the last race, Hamilton didn’t pass on the first lap he got to Vettel, we saw good defending to go along with it. Add to the fact that he was the only one to pass Vettel…clearly Hamilton was just on great pace and aided by the tyre difference. Hence, not at all inevitable because of the tyres, but by the driver.

            The bottom line is your and others’ point that

            A pass should be hard fought for & not simply be down to DRS, KERS or because of a bit gap in tyre performance

            is, in relation to the tyres, effectively saying a lot of the passing throughout F1 history has been “simple” or whatever. Only a difference in tyres and car advantage produces overtaking and since the best cars are usually at the front…

            One last thing: out-of-sequence faster cars in older decades could pass because aero wakes weren’t a problem back then. In essence, because mechanical grip was more important. Now we have lots to aero but thanks to Pirelli’s tyres, what do we also have back? the importance of mechanical grip.

            1. StefMeister
              5th May 2011, 23:33

              Still stick by what I said & disagree with you view on it.

              Biggest thing for me is that for the 1st time since I started watching F1 at Imola in 1989, Im not enjoying the racing, instead im hating it.

              I’ve been enjoying the Indycar races far more this year & think the racing has been much better over there (Silly blocking rules aside) even though there has been a lot less passing than there has been in F1.

              I basically don’t think that a lot of passing necisarily makes a race better than a race with less passing. I’d rather a race with less passing but some good racing & perhaps 1 or 2 truly great overtaking moves than the almost constant passing we have seen so far.

            2. Jeffrey Powell
              6th May 2011, 11:08

              Great drivers should be able to exploit mechanical grip,tyres that last only 10 laps at 9/10ths pace are just ridiculous.Of course the fastest cars 9/10ths pace will normally be faster than the 2nd fastest car.What these tyres do is negate the true racers advantage.I will be interested to see if Alonso can reconsile his driving style to tyres that dumb down his advantage.It appears Lewis has learnt the lesson that he no longer has to drive at full pace to win, and people call this exciting, Crazy!

      2. I sort of agree, but I wouldn’t discount the whole set of updates to F1.

        I dislike the idea of drs for the reasons you mention, those overtakes feel very artificial. Really dislike it.

        I personally do like the idea of KERS, as it’s something available to all at all times, the added weight is made up for in speed. The only problem I have is that it’s not visible on the outside. They should put blue neon tubes in the rims activated on KERS-use. I know it’s silly, but it would be undeniably amazing to see.

        The tyres are interesting. Passes on Button and Rosberg did feel more spectacular, but this seems to be something the teams are getting to grip with. I agree with Icthyes, the added importance on mechanical grip sounds extremely promising. I think as the teams get a better understanding strategies will be closer together.

        I’m really looking forward to Monaco this year, for the first time since it started raining in 2008.

    11. Heidfeld and Petrov have both said how they feel DRS has made overtaking too easy. Is it just a coincidence that they have the fastest car in a straight line on the grid?

      DRS probably negates most of the advantage that they would gain so I think there is a lot of vested interest in Petrovs statement.

      In my opinion I believe its worked well, we have never seen a slower car overtake a faster one which was the initial worry. People argue that it gives an unfair advantage to the guy behind but previously you could be 2 seconds a lap faster than the driver infront but not able to pass him due to the dirty air, who had the unfair advantage then?

      Drives still have to work for the pass, its not like they are sailing past other cars but it allows the quicker guy to be ahead, which after all is what motor racing is all about

      1. To be fair Webber is also against it. But I didn’t see it being too easy for his team-mate having to duck back into the slipstream of the Renaults to pass with the DRS.

    12. Overtaking has become “too easy” – Petrov

      Alonso should be happy! (Abu Dhabi 2010…)

      1. mmm, get that printed on a t-shirt?

    13. The rules regarding DRS is what makes it feel artificial.

      Either let everyone use it everywhere and let drivers running behind take chances…or if we can’t to go that way, at least make the driver running behind stay close to the driver in front for 2-3 laps before being allowed to use the DRS.

      1. I think that’s a valid argument.

      2. The New Pope
        5th May 2011, 22:09

        Yes, that is not a bad argument.

      3. I think that’s a pretty good compromise and would weed out the passes that were just too easy.

      4. IF DRS is removed RBR would then win every race, they have a big DRS advantage at the moment as it shows in Qualifying.

      5. As the passing cars TAG sensor approaches 1.0 meters both cars then have DRS at front to rear wheel overlap. Now that would be a surprise just before the braking zone eh!

    14. Both Petrov and Heidfeld are right. DRS and the fast degrading tyres make overtaking too easy and are only tools for curing a symptom in stead of the real cause, which should be addressed. And both don’t make for real racing, just easy overtakes as Hamilton versus Vettel in China proves.

      The real reason overtaking is difficult with the current car designs is that they don’t allow for slipstreaming. And slipstreaming is what helps with real overtake actions, like the Mansell versus Piquet action mentioned above.

      The main reason for this is that cars are too dependent on aerodynamics (thanks to Adrian Newey) and imho opinion there is only one solution for this. Bring back ground-effect to the formula 1 car, so cars can slipstream through corners and we hopefully can see more actions like Arnoux versus Villeneuve.

      1. The New Pope
        5th May 2011, 21:50

        Its kind of funny that so many have said this, but we have had relatively the same guys and teams on the podium for three races now. It is not like we are seeing backmarkers winning and the top teams off the podium.

    15. personally I can’t see much difference between using the DRS and turning the boost up on a turbo in the 80’s, yet we think of races from then as classics. suppose back then you couldn’t physically see it happening.

      1. The New Pope
        5th May 2011, 22:07


        1. like niki lauda said at melbourne, back in the turbo days the defending driver also had the option to turn up the boost to defend.

          thats what makes the drs passes a bit artificial, its basically giving one car a significant speed boost which the lead car simply doesn’t have.

    16. Imagine if Alonso had said that today… the OUTRAGE!!

      1. The opinions of all drivers on this particular subject are interesting and I for one would be interested to hear what Alonso thinks about it.

        Pre-judging what everyone else’s reaction to it would be seems a complete and utter waste of time.

    17. I don’t think the driver should complain against anything in the rule that doesn’t involve their safety.The rules was designed this year just to aid overtaking & off course for the spectator to put up a show,so far they have been successful.But now we are in the European leg,it will be interesting to see how things turn out in some of the races where overtaking is too tough.

    18. What if DRS had a limited amount of deployment time, like KERS? Make depolyement time enough to cover the longest straight at a given track (or something like that), but it could be used anywhere you wanted. Then it would be another speed-tool in everyones bag and subject to mechanical grip and racecraft.

    19. So far overtaking has been a little too easy but it remains to be seen if it remains that way.

      As I said before DRS is all wrong, you want some thing that enables the following car to be able to not be penalised by the dirty air around the corners, there is no problem along the straights where DRS is used.

      DRS gives the car behind an advantage on the straights where there is no disadvantage to overcome because there is no way (currently) of overcome the disadvantage in the corner.

      DRS really removes the fight from the braking zone which is a shame.

    20. kenneth Ntulume
      6th May 2011, 9:39

      But how come he is not overtaking????

      1. kenneth Ntulume
        6th May 2011, 9:46

        sorry meant … Vitaly Petrov thinks the combination of rules changes in 2011 have made overtaking “too easy”…………..question is how come he is not showing us how “easy” it is and does some overtaking himself

    21. F1 is no longer only about the 1 to 1 battles between 2 drivers.

      The technology in F1 has become more complex and so has the source of the excitement.
      Strategy and tire management, combined with KERS and DRS create much more dynamic races than before.
      As a spectator, you need to process a lot more information than before to truly understand all that is going on.

      – Different strategies cause lots of “virtual” track positions.
      – Tires may wear faster or last longer than expected.
      – Will all pitstops calls be timed correctly?
      – Did a driver change strategy during the race?

      And then the random elements: Rosberg had to start conserving fuel. Webber qualifies only 18th. Button’s mistake in the pitlane. …

      While I understand how some people feel that overtaking itself has become too easy (still, far from every overtaking attempt is successful), F1 still offers a lot more excitement compared to previous seasons.
      If you don’t think that strategy and tire management are exciting, and you only care for true 1 to 1 battles on tracek, then F1 in it’s current form, is not the best race for you to watch.

      1. If you don’t think that strategy and tire management are exciting, and you only care for true 1 to 1 battles on tracek, then F1 in it’s current form, is not the best race for you to watch.

        so basically those who have supported f1 for many years (47 in my case) should be driven out of the sport?

        you could also arguse that those who constantly complained about what we had untill 2011 perhaps should have stopped complaining & gone to watch nascar or something.

        afterall nascar is basically what f1 has become now.

    22. Can Pirelli improve the tires to between the Bridgestones and the existing.
      The predictable overtaking kills the excitement and most important, the racing.

    23. Ok, 1 thing I noticed without reading a word and pretty much scrolling through this whole article/thread. Why so much attention to one statement? Surely its not worth 4-8 paragraphs in the article and from what i noticed many lengthy conversations. Some would question the fact is “picking” on a new comer and having to crop thefield and bring down the
      ‘tall poppy”? The fact that he is the first to say that it helps AND makes driving too easy (in F1).

    24. ok mabye i should have read the thread.

    25. Seems to me the drivers do really like DRS but I appreciate that they don’t want to be seen as being gifted a position. Taking the battle to the braking zone is ideal and I think the FIA should push for that at every race where possible.

    26. I happen to like it at least there is passing.on that note when you go to the race itself you can watch the backmarkers race rather then just what the show on TV.

    27. I think the fact that has been overlooked so far on this thread is that DRS is a new piece of technology that isnt fully understood yet.
      Turkey showed that it was wrong and I would argue with anyone that the speed differences we saw were fair and just (particularly for Rosberg getting mugged at the end of the straight early on.
      But (and its a big but), it is now known that they need to shorten the DRS zone for Turkey 2012.
      We are just going to see some tracks where its not that effective, monaco for instance, and others like Turkey where its too much, bottom line is its easy to fine tune this aspect.

      as for the tyres who knows, I am not a fan of 4+ pit stops because some genius thought it would be a good idea for the tyres criteria to be that they burn out after 15-20 laps.

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