Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2015

Was Brazil more proof F1’s overtaking gimmicks aren’t working any more?

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Start, Interlagos, 2015
The top five was set at turn one in Brazil
At the end of lap one on Sunday Nico Rosberg crossed the line pursued by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.

An hour and a half later, after another 70 tours of the Interlagos circuit, the same drivers crossed the line in the exact same order.

The 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix was not one for the ages.

Afterwards the top three finishers were asked whether it was time for F1 to make fundamental changes to allow cars to race together more closely.

“I don’t know how the battles were further back,” Rosberg began. “But of course it’s always difficult in F1 to pass – that’s why DRS has come onboard and that’s really made a lot of progress for us. So we’ve seen a lot of excitement because of that – but we need to keep working at it for sure, and keep thinking about it.”

F1 is in its fifth year with its Drag Reduction System, and the same with the ‘designed to degrade’ tyres supplied at FOM’s request by Pirelli. Was the Brazilian Grand Prix a sign these innovations are no longer bringing the excitement they once were?

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Interlagos, 2015
Not everyone found it impossible to overtake
Hamilton spent lap after lap stuck behind Rosberg at the beginning of their second stint despite frequently being close enough to use DRS.

“You get to within a second and you just lose downforce and there’s no way you can get any closer,” he explained. “And the DRS zone is kind of maybe not long enough, if that was to be the thing to make the difference, it’s almost not long enough.”

While the DRS zone was insufficient for one Mercedes to pass the other, it was more than enough for Romain Grosjean’s Mercedes-powered Lotus to blast past Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso-Renault, which was doing its usual trick of running out of kinetic energy just when he needed it most.

But even on a day when overtaking moves were rare this wasn’t one which stuck in the mind for most fans. Not like Verstappen’s instantly-acclaimed pass on Sergio Perez as he worked his way around the outside of the Force India at turn one, securing the inside line for the following corner with two wheels on the grass.

These three situations tell us different things about overtaking in year five of the DRS/Pirelli era. Rapid tyre degradation on Perez’s car allowed Verstappen to use DRS to set up his pass. But DRS was no use at all for Hamilton and it rendered Grosjean’s move utterly unremarkable.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2015
Hamilton said he ‘killed his tyres’ behind Rosberg
A persistent bugbear with DRS has been how long the zones should be on each track. The different performance levels of the cars made this difficult to optimise when the teams had V8 engines which were fairly close in performance. With the V6 engines introduced last year the gap between the best and worst-performing engine is even wider, making it even harder to strike that balance.

Grosjean demonstrated how easily a Mercedes-powered car could pass a Renault-powered rival using DRS. But switch the power units around and the outcome was very different, as Daniil Kvyat discovered when he spent most of the race studying Nico Hulkenberg’s rear wing.

Similarly, while the ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres have made for more varied strategies than we usually saw in 2010 (the single post-refuelling pre-Pirelli season) and can help drivers overtake when the have fresher rubber than their rivals, in other circumstances the tyres may be preventing drivers from making passes. Hamilton said as much after Sunday’s race: “I was behind Nico and in traffic for some time and it just killed my tyres.”

The two gimmicks Formula One seized on in 2011 have undoubtedly generated more changes of position, whether it’s because drivers are coming into the pits more often to change tyres or jabbing the DRS and shooting past on the straights. To some, this always seemed a poor alternative to genuine overtaking, and perhaps with the passage of time more of those originally welcomed the changes have turned against them. A survey of over a hundred thousand fans by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association earlier this year revealed those who believe DRS has improved F1 racing are in the minority.

Soft tyre, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
Pirelli were tasked with making tyres which degrade quickly
Vettel won the first three championships of the DRS/Pirelli era and so might be expected to have warmed towards them. But his view on how F1 cars could be made to follow each other more closely drew attention to the shortcomings of F1’s overtaking gimmicks.

“If you’re behind you always want the DRS zone to be longer because artificially it helps you to get closer,” Vettel explained. “Naturally if you are only a tenth or two quicker then it’s very difficult to pass – whereas if you’re a second quicker it becomes more easy.”

“I think in general what we need to follow another car closer in medium speed, high speed, slow speed corners is more mechanical grip. So shift the percentage between aero/mechanical more towards more mechanical. How to do that? I think we need better tyres that allow us to go quicker.”

Whether F1’s overtaking gimmicks have stopped working will depend partly on whether you thought they worked in the first place. But Brazil reinforced the view they are not a long-term solution to F1’s passing problem.

What’s needed if for Formula One to become a bit less formulaic: leave the gimmicks behind and seek closer, more natural and less predictable racing. Vettel’s suggestions seem a good starting point.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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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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  • 110 comments on “Was Brazil more proof F1’s overtaking gimmicks aren’t working any more?”

    1. It appears to me that overtaking becomes easier when the rear tires of the guy in front have fallen off the cliff. All three overtakes by Verstappen were caused by him being less than 0.4 of a second behind the guy in front after the corner, which resulted in him being able to slipstream which gave him combined with DRS just the extra speed he needed. I therefore think that the front tires should be much more durable than the back tires, to allow following the guy in front for a longer time while not losing the Pirellis’ ‘key strength’, being that exiting a corner becomes difficult with rear tire wear.

      1. @wessel-v1, You still think an artificial handicap is a good idea despite how terribly they have failed to achieve the desired result ?

        1. Why should it be regarded as a handicap? I’m not opting for less durable (rear) tires, only for a different balance in durability between rear and back tires. If drivers can attack corners to stay close behind the driver in front while preserving the fact that it is possible to exit the corner close to the other driver, that would already make a big difference. After all, DRS only ‘serves’ to close the gap to the driver in front by (or often, unfortunately, before) the end of the straight. If pure slipstreaming could lead to the same result, other much more artificial tools could be banned.

          Of course, this is if ‘too few overtakes’ is regarded as a problem. I’d rather have 3 real overtakes (Renault + DRS = Mercedes so I regard that as a real overtake) than 20 DRS overtakes.

          1. Back = front.

    2. with the WDC already decided they could have used the remaining races to try different tyres.

      1. And screw up the WCC? Not to mention all the regs that would have to be altered, and of course the expense for Pirelli as they’d have to ditch loads of tyres they’d already made and rush through new ones.

    3. Overtaking is great but isn’t the whole show either. A large part of the show used to be how hard the driver had to work, physically and mentally, to get the best of the conditions with his machinery on any given day. Commentators would be able to give viewers the picture that the car and driver were on the limit, that they were under pressure and that there was skill in applying pressure to others and holding off that pressure and performing without making mistakes.
      The current formula doesn’t have that aspect, we have a “get in clean air and manage the tyres” championship instead due to the sensitivity of the tyres and neutralising of defensive driving by rule and through DRS. F1 may be the technological pinnacle of motorsport, more money is spent on it definitely, but for what has always been a driver’s category it’s remarkably stale these days.

      1. But how much of that is the current formula, and how much of it is current technology – pit radio broadcasts, full-weekend coverage – allowing us more insight into the state of the cars at any given time? As you say, commentators used ot give viewers the idea that the car and driver were on the limit etc., but how much of that was real, and how much simply the picture they were painting from an inadequate viewpoint? I was watching the BBC’s “Rewind” show the other day, and I couldn’t help thinking that half of the passes I saw would be put down to tyre strategy differences nowadays. Who’s to say that wasn’t the case back then? We just didn’t know. I even heard James Hunt say of a driver being caught by the guy behind, “He’s probably trying to save fuel now”. Fuel-saving is nothing new; what’s new is that today we know about it, and dismiss any battles that result as inconsequential.

        And this isn’t something I’ve just thought of. I’ve seen it coming for years. I recall, back in the early ’90s, reading post-race interviews and what-not, realizing that if we’d known what the teams knew, the race would have been a lot less exciting, and that given a few years, we probably would. I first noticed it actually happening when refuelling came back in; it wasn’t that in itself that caused the problem, but the fact that the TV crews could predict when each car would have to refuel, how long it would have to stop for, etc. Quite literally, some of the unpredictability of racing was lost. (It’s why I was so much in favour of banning refuelling again: stops become more about the skill of the crew in turning the car around quickly, and not simply a function of fuel flow rates. It’s helped, but not by much; largely because we now also have pitlane speed limits, which can’t really be done away with.)

        I’m not saying that the current formula is perfect – like some others here, I think there’s still too much emphasis on over-body aero – but I can’t help wondering if a bit less information might actually be a good thing.

    4. Why not get rid of pretty much all aero rules and instead introduce a maximum amount of downforce for a given speed?
      Like, any car is allowed to produce a maximum of 150kg of downforce while travelling at 150 km/h.

      Numbers fictional, obviously.

      1. From a technical standpoint, that has to be impossible. How would you measure and control downforce at any speed under all conditions from an engineering standpoint? How would the FIA measure downforce on a car at all times?

        1. Seeing as though the FIA can’t measure air pressure properly I’ve no idea.

        2. You don’t. You measure the produced downforce at one given speed.
          It leaves plenty of room for diversity in the way the downforce is produced, the ‘scaling’ over different speeds, drag etc. Also of course in engine, and, hopefully more important, mechanical grip.
          What it does is it ensures the meachanical to aero-grip ratio stays (roughly) the same. that’s the trick. Think about it; the whole 2009 rule changes were about trimming aero. And 2010 seemed unchararteristically racey. The problem with trimming aero is, teams never take more than 3 years to claim the downforce back. That’s why i’d consider this the smarter way.

      2. Easy to write this in rules. Impossible to police this on the track.

      3. And also, sheer amounts of downforce aren’t the issue, it is being able to use the downforce you produce more of the time and being able to produce it efficiently.

        Just ask McLaren in 2013…

      4. Actually, I’d argue the same, but for the downforce produced by ground effects.

      5. @mrboerns

        The impossibleness aside, because what you’ve just come up with is a spec series. Actually worse because even GP2 lets the teams adjust wing angles and tweak to suit a driver and track.

        1. It’s far from spec. its less spec than now. all that is limited is the sum of downforce. How you gain it, how you distribute it over the car….entirely up to you? wings? why of course! no wings just ground effect? your call.
          All that is in the rules is, to pass scrutineering, when blown at with 150km/h worth of wind from the front the “weight” of the car may only increase by so much.

          1. @meboerns

            It’s far from spec. its less spec than now.

            How?

            1. Put force sensors on the 4 suspensions. You don’t measure air pressure, just the weight on the tires.

              At varying speed you will see a different weight; the difference from the car at zero speed, would be the downforce.

    5. I agree with Vettel in that more focus on mechanical grip would make for better racing, more genuine overtakes, etc. However, in order to do this they need to place restrictions on downforce – and I am sure that whenever there have been attempts to do this in the past teams just find new ways to regain the lost aero, creating turbulant dirty air and we are back to square 1

      1. You give up far to easily, and aero restrictions are always minimal half hearted efforts.

    6. I think Martin Brundle has the right idea when he talks about making the cars less dependent on the air passing over the top surfaces of the car and more dependent on ground effects and the floor. F1 has gone back to turbos, maybe it’s time to revisit ground effects?

      1. @eoin16, I think it’s definitely time to reintroduce ground effects. Decent downforce, far less sensitive to the car in front, I think it would separate the men from the boys. I just can’t understand why it isn’t being done. I was really optimistic when they first started talking about the 2017 regs. Now I’m worried that they are going to waste this opportunity and pass on it again. Even if they had a spec surface for producing the ground effects and the rest of the car was open to the designers, this would be a better solution than an adaptation of the current aero situation imo

        1. Totally agree with you @3dom

    7. F1 fans have a habit of looking back with rose tinted glasses and presuming F1 was amazing in the past. The “glory decades” of the ’80s and ’70s are seen as something to replicate – I’m sorry to have to burst everyone’s bubble, but there were plenty of dull races during Senna and Villeneuve’s day. Dull seasons, too. You look at F1 in the early 1990s and the 1992, 1993 and 1994 seasons were extremely dull. If we look at now, and we had thrilling seasons in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

      It’s how F1 is – not every race is going to be a thriller. You look at the US GP and some people said it was the most exciting GP in years. What, you mean since the Hungarian GP this year? Or the Hungarian GP in 2014? Or any of the other classics from 2014?

      Yes, the overtaking issue needs fixing… but this has been dragging on for decades. It’s tough to overtake in F1. The situation needs improving, but for the sport’s tedious naysayers, sitting around and lamenting the sport as “not like it were back in my day” is hopelessly vacuous. The big problem this season has been the foregone conclusion of Hamilton’s third title. As it was during Vettel and Schumacher’s dominant years, the same for Stewart, Senna, Prost, or Lauda easily romping to a title.

      F1 fans seem to presume there’s some disaster when a GP is dull. The problem is, other sports have plenty of events to hide behind when, say, a football match is boring (there are plenty of them). F1 was 20 races, and when one doesn’t deliver the caustic brigade jump in to dump doom and gloom all over the place. I have a copy of Autosport from 1982 of an F1 “fan” complaining the sport wasn’t what it used to be. Cheer up, misery guts, it’s a fantastic sport… enjoy it!

      1. But as has been pointed out by me and others, at least back then we had the sense drivers and their cars were being taxed to their limits. Ultra conservation, free DRS passing, and ever more forgiving tracks, and still processions in spite of the fakery, hardly inspire fans into thinking they’re watching something as spectacular as before.

    8. I maintain that 2010 was the best season in recent years. Free from DRS and Pirelli tyres, there were three teams and five drivers capable of winning on any given weekend, meaning that going into any given weekend you didn’t know what was going to happen. You bet people are going to tune in to see that, even if the individual races themselves aren’t as exciting as they could be.

      Close, unpredictable, fair racing made 2010 great. F1 in 2014 is none of these things.

      1. And contrary to popular belief there was a good amount of overtaking throughout 2010 & the average number of overtakes per-gp that year was the highest since the pre-refueling days.

        1. I agree 100% but why is it, when F1 fans talk about 2010, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi always come up? While they did highlight the issues on F1’s aero dependence, I think 2010 made the right step by scrapping refuelling. But the FIA overcompensated with Pirelli and DRS.
          When I watch the races from 2010, I always feel the tension rising when a car follows the other. I know that they’re not restricted by saving the tires. I see them taking looks and squirming around trying to find an opening.
          But with DRS and Pirelli, you just sit behind the other car until you’re in the DRS zone to overtake. It’s much better for your tires that way.

      2. I somehow don’t agree with 2010 being a good season for on track action.

        Of course, it was brilliant from a championship and results perspective. But purely looking at each race, the races were less fun. The championship was livened up only because of Vettel’s mistakes. If the Vettel of 2011 was driving in 2010, it would have been worse than 2014-15

      3. I agree 2010 was the best in recent times.

        There was not a single super dominant team. No Pirelli No DRS.

        And funny enough Vettel who won the WDC lead the standing for the first time in the entire year during the last race probably the only time it mattered. That shows how the season went by.

      4. I agree with most of the 2010 comments. The only thing wrong was the mandatory pitstop rule, which killed some of the strategical variance.

        1. Very true. I never liked the first-lap pitstops under the safety car to gain track position when the other drivers had to make their mandatory pitstop. Without that mandatory pitstop the tyre strategies would be much more natural and probably much more interesting.

      5. @lin1876 F-duct. I think 09 was better because regardless of dirty air or not the cars were always prone to oversteer because of the oversized front tyres, which negates the general understeer effect of slipstream.

    9. DRS zone lengths were OK in Brazil. It’s the aero that is the problem. Bring back ground effect! on that note, are the 2017 regulations designed to allow cars to follow more closely?

      1. Besides the fact that DRS is never okay, it is indeed the aero. I think people don’t get that the faster these cars travel the higher it is the aero effect, on straights it is beneficial but because the cars rely so much on aero on the corners it spoils racing. Above all what happened in Brazil is that the kerbs were changed which effectively limited the width of the track which does not allow differing racing lines nor overtaking gaps.

    10. The tyres are basically a solved problem. Teams have adapted – as they always do – to the paradigm of the day. They manage the pace and the stint length much more carefully than when they first had Pirellis.

      When they made them do a whole race on one set it provided really interesting races for two-thirds of a season and then they adapted and the racing got duller again, so it’s no surprise that the Pirelli tyres no longer generate much interest.

      You need to continually change things to keep F1 teams off balance otherwise it’s just a question of how long it takes to optimise to the best solution.

      1. This should really be the comment of the day, because it is simply a correct fact. F1 teams employ some of the smartest people on the world these days, who, in combination with modern computer systems, are able to figure out solutions to complicated problems within a reasonably short time. If you want to really upset the order, you need to throw sticks between legs. Otherwise, you just have to live with a team running away and overtaking and position changing opportunities are limited

      2. Well said.

        In every Pirelli season, the races at the start of the season tend to be chaotic and unpredictable. Primarily because teams haven’t figured out how the tyres work. In second half, every team knows how teams behave and tyres cease to be a factor between the winning team and the rest of the teams.

        And hence, it is at this stage of the season itself, that we get such articles. 2 races into 2016 and suddenly all these questions will go away on its own. Only to return back in second half 2016.

        1. I think it’s worse than that, because although they have changed each year it’s not often been by huge amounts, so even the start of the season is presenting less of a challenge on the tyre front.

          Next year might be ok with the new ultra-soft and the three compounds of slick tyre per weekend strategy choice (or whatever this week’s version of the new proposed rule is) but overall I think it’s time to fundamentally change the tyres for a bit.

          Maybe go, as Michelin were suggesting, to a construction that lets you race hard and flatout for a decent amount of time, and then go back to high-degradation a few more years down the line. It’s got to be a tyre that won’t die after a handful of laps up close behind another car.

      3. HAH! Problem solved ? sure it’s solved if your idea of a solution is avoiding racing other cars and slowing down to the optimum time to minimize time lost in pit stops.

    11. Is the number of overtakes that count of the intensity of close racing? DRS adds to the number of overtakes, but does nothing to close racing. In fact it does the contrary when it’s too effective. So if it’s close racing you are after, the gimmicks have never worked (my opinion).

      What I think should change:
      – same grip/laptimes, but more mechanical en less aerodynamic grip.
      – fundamental change in circuit layout. Less emphasis on slow corners and more on faster corners (also see http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/groups/f1/forum/topic/does-tilkes-love-of-off-camber-corners-discourage-overtaking/)

      I don’t have a clear opinion on degrading tyres and pit for fuel since it’s hard to predict a change would be for the worse or the better.

      1. Where I said contrary I meant opposite. Stop.

      2. You don’t need an opinion on degrading tyres and fuel stops, all you need is the power of observation and the ability to analyze cause and effect.

        1. It makes no sense not to pit for fuel but it does have a strategic element regarding on track racing, degrading tyres ended up being the right solution for the wrong problem, it worked but it’s the aero we should be focused in. As proved by bike racing, racing closely hasn’t deteriorated because bikes simply don’t produce aero.

        2. @hohum What I meant was that we had plenty boring races (perhaps even more) back in the day when tyres hardly degrade and fuel stops were allowed. So when we analyse cause and effect, there is no clear conclusion.

    12. Mexico and Brazil back to back demonstrated how difficult it is to overtake. If Lewis couldn’t even get side-by-side with Nico, it’s an indication that overtaking is practically impossible. Add the lack of strategy to it and it’s hard to make the case to bring Brazil and Mexico back next year.

    13. While I agree that racing can be improved I don’t think that DRS or tyres were to blame at Brazil anymore than they made Russia and the US good races.

      DRS actually worked for Hamilton by keeping him close to Rosberg and the tyres only degraded after he failed to get past after following for multiple laps so while I don’t like it it actually made the racing better in that situation.

      The problem is that I can think of quite a few ways to make F1 better, removing or changing DRS among them, but as with all things in F1 there’s plenty of other people who would argue my ideas were worse.

      Monacco is a prime example where what I thought was a good race had people giving scores on opposite ends of the scale.

    14. I don’t get it. If you have a qualification that puts the fastest driver in P1 and slowest in the back, where should all the overtaking come from?
      We do have overtaking when the qualification have surprises with people in wrong order.
      The first 5 drivers didn’t make any overtaking because they was in the correct order. Lewis Hamilton couldn’t overtake Nico because he wasn’t fast enough.

      1. Well said. We simply cannot expect every race to be a cracker when the sole purpose of qualifying is to put the fastest drivers up front and the slowest in the back.

      2. Here is the comment of the YEAR!!!!

        That is my opinion. Overtaking is just balance of the qualy´s mistakes. How could you expect a Ferrrari to overtake a Mercedes when the german team´s pace is 1 sec faster per lap?

        Imagine a race with no lap limit, no tyre degradation, no fuel consumption, no accidents. At a set time, maybe 100 laps, maybe 500 laps, all car will end in the same order as they are in constructor´s championship table.

        1. WEC illustrates that quite well, IMO. The last two races have been wet, and Audi have had shots at the lead early on, but as the race goes on, Porsche become the inevitable dominators. WTCC’s Race 2 concept shakes things up because it’s short enough for Citroën to not have time to completely make up their deficit on the reverse grid. (Speaking of which, news of the day: Citroën are going to quit the WTCC at the end of the 2016 season. Contrary to what most people expected I think, and I certainly put money on them chosing the easy-coming success of the WTCC, they’ve committed to the WRC, albeit taking a year out to prepare the 2017 model.)

          I am startled at how bad the reactions to the Brazilian GP are on here, including this question piece. In the space of less than a month, it’s gone from the US GP’s ecstatic perfect 10s to wondering, once again, if anything is being done right in F1.

      3. While this obviously has a ring of truth it was only last year that the majority of commentators were saying that Lewis had the edge at least partly because he was setting his car up in race trim and Nico for qualifying. This would have been idiotic if overtaking was too difficult

      4. If you have a qualification that puts the fastest driver in P1 and slowest in the back, where should all the overtaking come from?

        On one level, I agree. If the drivers all have a perfect qualifying run, the car in front is always going to be faster than you.

        On the other hand, it doesn’t work that way. Cars run differently in race trim to qualifying trim. As long as the gap from one car to the next, qually or race, is within a reasonable range, the result will not always be a procession. The problem at the moment is that one manufacturer has run away with performance.

        However, I believe that is a problem which will work itself out over the next year or 2. Merc have smaller gains to be made from their engine, and Ferrari is likely to catch them next year (or at least be a hell of a lot closer). Hopefully Renault and Honda will up their game, too.

        The thing they need to do is reduce the reliance on aerodynamic downforce. I would suggest that simplifying the front wing (a single, uniform, smooth element with uniform, smooth endplates) would go a long way towards that. The other changes I would make would be to introduce shaped floors for ground effect and use grippier tyres (with consistent performance for most of their life, then a gradual reduction at the end to give warning, and as wide an operating temperature as possible).

      5. Would that not make shorter tracks more interesting since it leads to smaller gaps in qualifying and as such a higher likeliness that faster guy is not in front?

        1. Sure while quali on Saturday decides an order in a way that puts the fastest first, I don’t see another way other than reversing the order, say for the first 10 or something, not that I would want that.

          I think the point is Saturday is about fast laps, but the race SHOULD be about 2 hours of fast laps that tax the driver physically and mentally such that they should be pushed to their limits, such that after 2 hours the men are separated from the boys. It needn’t be a procession.

    15. Well, lot of early overtakes after Pirellis and DRS introduced is more because people still learning to race with them. As time goes by, they got more understanding and of course can optimize their strategy. It’s just natural, especially for a sport where every people is seriously driven to optimize everything. Also the second variable here Interlagos is never easy track to get pass with. If you can’t get good exit from last turn and have a good slipstream to Senna S, theres no really other place to overtake. Lot of previous Brazil GP excitement comes from rain whether downpour or just light one but usually enough to shake things up and we don’t have that this year or last year. Last year race is actually pretty dull too, but we got more entertained because Hamilton clearly has a better race pace than Rosberg and threatened him pretty much all the time (and of course his spin during hammertime).

      In short, while the gimmicks is not as effective as when they first introduced, Interlagos track also makes it look worse. We still have lot of complain this year that DRS and tires falling of the cliff makes overtaking too easy and that should prove that the gimmick is still working.

      1. Interlagos is never easy track to get pass with.

        Interlagos track also makes it look worse

        Interlagos has actually traditionally been one of the circuits that featured high levels of overtaking.

      2. @sonicslv

        Also the second variable here Interlagos is never easy track to get pass with.

        This is demonstrably false. It seems that Hamilton’s complaints have left a false impression about the circuit. Interlagos has always been one of the best places to overtake at.

        Here was a poll to find out the best circuit for overtaking BEFORE Lewis began complaining about Interlagos:
        http://forums.autosport.com/topic/192571-f1-which-track-is-the-best-for-overtaking/

        Lot of previous Brazil GP excitement comes from rain whether downpour or just light one but usually enough to shake things up and we don’t have that this year or last year.

        2009 had a bone dry race, yes the qualifying order was a bit random because of the rain on Saturday, but qualifying in general was quite random in the second half of 2009. The race had plenty of overtakes.

        Also, watch Schumacher’s drive in 2006, without DRS, and the aero rules made it more difficult to follow other cars closely back then.

        Lewis was just speaking nonsense when he said that it is “so difficult” to overtake around Interlagos, perhaps finding excuses to why he got beat.

        1. Schumacher’s drive at Brazil in 2006 was incredible!

        2. “2009 had a bone dry race, yes the qualifying order was a bit random because of the rain on Saturday”

          Oh, you mean the year some cars had KERS and some didn’t, and even the performance of the KERS between the teams that did was massive.

          “Lewis was just speaking nonsense when he said that it is “so difficult” to overtake around Interlagos, perhaps finding excuses to why he got beat.”

          Perhaps you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about and/or didn’t bother reading the article.

          Lewis was trying to pass someone he had possibly a tenth on, maybe 2 tops, in the same car, while his teammates engineer was telling him Lewis’ engine settings, on the same strategy, on the same tyres. Thats a world away from what was happening in Schumachers race, and in 2009.

          Vettel said himself but days ago, “Naturally if you are only a tenth or two quicker then it’s very difficult to pass – whereas if you’re a second quicker it becomes more easy.”

          1. Oh, you mean the year some cars had KERS and some didn’t, and even the performance of the KERS between the teams that did was massive.

            The gap between the entire grid in 2009 was about as big as the gap between the best car (Mercedes) and third best car (Williams) this season. They were incredibly evenly matched, the entire grid was often covered by only 1 second. Also, plenty of drivers without KERS made overtakes (Vettel and Button for one).

            Lewis was trying to pass someone he had possibly a tenth on, maybe 2 tops, in the same car, while his teammates engineer was telling him Lewis’ engine settings, on the same strategy, on the same tyres. Thats a world away from what was happening in Schumachers race, and in 2009.

            He specifically blamed the track for the lack of overtaking. He did not blame the fact that he has the same car as Rosberg or the same team/everything. He said “I love this track, but the problem is that it’s so difficult to overtake here”. Of course, anyone who has actually watched races around Interlagos knows that this is borderline nonsense.

        3. You have to take Lewis’ complaint in context, he was not complaining exclusively about the track but about how it degraded the tyres when he closed on Nico, his problem was made to degrade tyres not the track layout.

    16. I really liked Pirelli tyres in 2011-2012 but not so much since then. They appeared to change their philosophy and went ‘thermal degradation’ route rather than forcing stops by a ‘cliff’ which led to many shambolic races. I never was a big DRS fan but (again) in 2013 they doubled the amount of the zones due to their ever more paranoid safety worries.

      So, yes, the gimmicks stopped working because they overdone it. However currently the field is so spread out few gimmicks would improve racing as they either unable to pass or doing it too easily because of the speed difference.

      1. The tyres haven’t changed dramatically since then, they just all didn’t understand them back then. By 2013 a few teams started getting an understanding of them.

        1. They have changed them to. They increased thermal degradation to produce more pitstops. However the final effect was drivers being asked to drop back 2s to conserve tyres. There was no longer any cliff, only thermal degradation.

          This is what Grosjean said refering to two different eras within one Pirelli era:
          “It’s very different from two or three years ago where your driving style could influence the way you degrade your tyres, right now it doesn’t change much,”

    17. At the end of lap one on Sunday Nico Rosberg crossed the line pursued by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.
      An hour and a half later, after another 70 tours of the Interlagos circuit, the same drivers crossed the line in the exact same order.

      I don’t think this is a good argument for the gimmicks not working, rather, it speaks to the lack of competition in Formula 1 at the moment due to the engines. A lot of the teams cars don’t even feel like they’re in the same formula. When there’s a lack of performance parity as there is at the moment, of course you’re not going to see a lot of overtaking.

      Not to say the gimmicks are working either, and I would love to see the balance of performance tipped more towards mechanical grip as Vettel suggested. But no, I don’t think this race was proof of the gimmicks not working, in the slightest.

      1. You shouldn’t blame everything on the engines (PU’s).
        There were only 2 types in the top-5, and not even in order. Further, as you could read in the round-up, Ferrari’s big boss claims that theirs are now ‘a match’ with Mercedes’.

    18. maybe the only way to have entertaining races is to organize a collective pool of circulating racers paid for by the subsequent partaking teams.
      so for instance : hamilton will have to drive a manor , a sauber , a str and yes also a mercedes.
      at the end of the season it will yield a best overall driver and best technical team.

    19. “I think in general what we need to follow another car closer in medium speed, high speed, slow speed corners is more mechanical grip. So shift the percentage between aero/mechanical more towards more mechanical. How to do that? I think we need better tyres that allow us to go quicker.”

      Will Buxton made a good comment on this week’s Midweek F1 Report on Sky that one potential solution is to simplify the front wing. If you compare the front wing complexity between 2009 and 2015 you can see clearly how much a modern F1 car now relies on clean air in order to function at full capacity. He also suggested having ground effect be used more, potentially with a snandardised rear diffuser which doesn’t produce as much “dirty air”.

      1. I think it was in Spa that a Lotus employee talked about how essential and sensitive the front wing is. Teams rely on it to distribute air to every other part of the car, and because it’s so complex, the slightest disturbance of flow to the front wing compromises so many other aerodynamic aspects.
        And when you factor how sensitive the Pirelli tires are to sliding, the issue only gets worse.

        1. Exactly, the tyres make a bad situation worse.

    20. With such a huge gulf in performance between the teams, any sort of gimmicks will not serve its intended purpose.

      Focus on fixing the disease than acting on the symptoms. Also not FIA’s fault that Renault and Honda have done such a shoddy job with their PU’s.

    21. Why did the FIA ask for lower noses again? Oh yes, to make the cars more aesthetically pleasing, because (according to some fans) the looks of the cars, and how they sound, is somehow more important than the actual racing.

      Cars had little trouble following each other from 2011-2013.

      1. Lower noses was actually for safety reasons @kingshark.
        Only the design change from ’14 to ’15 was for aesthetic reasons.

        1. …and if you compare the racing from ’14 with ’15 it is light and day. The changes for this year effectively ruined the racing.

          1. The only significant change was the removal of the suggestively-shaped appendages on the noses; it won’t have had that much of an effect.

            1. @raceprouk
              The removal of the ugly noses meant that the teams had to lower the entire front of the car, this made it much more difficult to follow other cars. In 2013, we had higher noses and they made it much easier to follow.

            2. @kingshark: I thought the teams worked around that by having the front axle high, and sweeping the nose down sharply in front of it? I know Ferrari did something like that for 2014, which led to the Henry Hoover nose. Or did the regs change in such a way that even the front axle had to be lowered?

      2. Has the low noses contributed to the problem?

        1. It has impacted aerodynamic performance in a huge way. A lower nose reduces how much air gets to the floor of the car.

          I’m torn on the current noses. It was clear from Rosberg’s Abu Dhabi crash and Grosjean’s Spa crash, both in 2012, that the noses weren’t low enough. But in Australia 2014, there was a first lap crash between Massa and Kobayashi. Kobayashi rear ended Massa, and Massa’s car was lifted up by Kobayashi’s nose.

    22. Well, DRS was definitely not working at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Latvian commentators, who scream and shout at every opportunity (such as a battle for 15th place between Alonso and Ericsson) were rather indifferent towards the boring and predictable DRS-assisted passes in the race. So was I.

      Passes as such will never attract more viewers. If Hamilton is faster than Rosberg but still cannot pass him, then some will not like it. However, if Hamilton can fly past Rosberg immediately after DRS is enabled, then it does not make the race more exciting, does it? Of course, FIA tries to find a balance but it obviously failed to do that at the Brazilian GP, it has failed many times in the past and it will keep failing simply because there are too many variables in the formula that calculates the perfect DRS.

      ‘Designed to degrade’ tyres are perhaps a more interesting concept but Pirelli also often face a similar problem. How bad exactly these tyres do have be? Seven different winners in seven races is probably a good thing. However, if these tyres explode or discourage drivers from attacking and make every driver hate them, then they are too bad.

      My suggestion: Stop playing with things that are too complicated to control and try more straightforward ways to attract fans. Better promotion of the sport is definitely one of those ways.

      1. I agree with your final point. I don’t think making F1 even more complicated is going to attract new fans. I mean, you have to explain that drivers have to start on their Q2 tires, that there’s a mandatory pit stop to use the other tires, that DRS only works in specific parts of the circuit under a specific circumstance, etc.

        If people aren’t interested in watching cars race, I really don’t think I can convince them to like it by explaining the rules.

    23. @girts I have a solution for DRS which I’ve mentioned in the past: use the telemetry to know when an overtaking car is side by side with other one (or a couple of meters behind) and automatically disable the DRS, by doing this the FIA can then put the activation line at the start of the straights on every circuit and there would always be a perfect “balance” everywhere

      1. GPS isn’t accurate enough for that to work.

        1. I suggested something like this in 2012. Perhaps what can happen is that DRS will stay active for a second and then that’s it. The driver can’t use it again in that zone on that lap. The goal is to give the following car a burst of speed but to hopefully prevent the situation of having a car sail by with DRS open.

    24. For me, it’s an easy fix to make the race weekends less predictable and more exciting. I’ll list out my suggestions below.

      1. Make the tires big and more durable so that they last longer over a race distance (Like the tires proposed by Michelin)
      2. Raise the nose height, it’s clear that the 2015 nose regulations have had a negative impact on following cars through corners. Have the height be somewhere in between 2014 and 2013 noses without the steps, this way they make more downforce and don’t look ugly as sin anymore.
      3. Make the front wings simpler by removing the amount of elements that can make up a front wing, something like what was on the cars during the 2002 period so that they’re less disturbed by dirty air and the cars don’t lose downforce following.
      4. Get rid of team radio or add much tougher restrictions to it, engineers now day make all of the drivers decisions for them. This way we get rid of the engineers on track micro-managing the races and the drivers are free to make their own decisions like when to pit, or when to try a passing move on the car in front of them.

      If F1 were to make the changes I’ve listed above I’d be confident that they could also remove DRS from the cars and the racing would significantly improve and we wouldn’t see the processions that we’ve seen throughout the season

      1. I agree and more things we need to see exciting races. (sorry about my english)
        +1. Less differences between cars in total. Some teams are better in PU and others in aero, but we need less differences in total. (In my opinion we should introduce +weight/point system to decrease differences because it is cheap and effective.) Smaller teams get the same PU as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences.
        +2. Help the following cars, as you wrote 2. and 3. points. Less dirty air in corners.
        (+3. Durable tyres as you wrote 1. point.)
        +4. DRS can help overtakes.

    25. One world champion can’t get past his team mate for two races in a row and suddenly racing is dead. Last time we had a world champ struggle to overtake we were told that ‘He can’t overtake’. How things have changed?

    26. Four things:

      1. Throwing all the Pirelli-tyres into one pot isn´t really the truth. They were working well until Silverstone 2012. Their reaction after that should have been a press-release like “F1-tyres occasionally fail. They always have. Deal with it.” Instead they went onto a route that´s just downhill ever since. We have masses of one-stoppers again, and no mechanical grip anymore, as if they are starting already degraded abd then staying at that level. If they could bring back a tyre-behaviour like 2011/early 2012, the concept of degrading tyres would be totally fine.

      2. Making the noses lower from 2014 to 2015 has been a step backwards. The aero is more affected from air hitting the car in the lower front middle, and that´s just the area which is effected most from dirty air.

      3. The stewarding of the last 15 years or so just puts high risks to trying an overtake, in that any failed attempt at overtaking may not only result in staying behind or maybe damaging a front-wing, but another likely consequence is a penalty. That´s not a problem when a driver can just drive past another on the straights, but it is a problem for drivers/cars with less speed differential, for coming back at someone a corner later, for any move that may or may not work.

      4. We should not forget the whole overtaking-problem was a (massive) lot worse from 1994/95 to about 2009, and F1 has still survived.

      1. @crammond
        The blow-outs happened in 2013 not in 2012. Also I do believe the tyres were exploding because they were unable to withstand the forces cars were creating. In other words, tyres were failing because they overheated. And Silverstone race was not the first time they were going bang. Hamilton, Massa (twice), Di Resta, Perez and Vergne all suffered a delamination-like puncture. I know Pirelli blamed them on debris but explain me why they were not exploding in 11-12 and stopped doing that post-Silverstone.

        And agree with your last (4) point. As much as racing fans love overtaking, it is not the most important nor only element of F1. Watching one cars much faster unable to pass the other can be thrilling too, watch Imola’s battles between Alonso and Schumacher. Not only that, many fans regard 2006-2008 as a great era.

    27. In some ways Brazil was actually a success because the only car to not finish the race did so because of technical problems, not because it crashed out. Crashes are a sign of failure. Yes, there are lots of reasons for crashes, but they all need to be regarded as a failure of some sort. No one enters the race intending to crash (or if they do then they should be disqualified).
      One of the problems in F1 is the cars have very similar levels of performance, and overtaking requires a difference in levels of performance. The fact the top 5 finished in the same order they started simply means there is very little difference between them in levels of performance.

    28. For me this year can’t really be helped, simply because it isn’t competitive. The top teams are too spread out with only Red Bull adding interest if the circuit permits. What this has done is highlight that the racing itself (when it happens) is fundamentally flawed and that watching the cars isn’t that satisfying anymore.

      The competitive order will fix itself over time but in the meantime they need to focus on designing regulations and cars that push the drivers to the absolute maximum. More pressure on the drivers equals more mistakes, which leads to more drama, which leads to more unpredictability. The only way to create that pressure is to make the cars faster and to allow the drivers to drive the car to its maximum potential every lap, if they want to.

      Next is to reduce the dirty air effect so we can eliminate DRS once and for all. DRS is like losing a limb and sticking it back on with superglue. Sure it might look alright but it certainly won’t work like it used to it. (ok, not sure that analogy quite works but you get the point!). A device that renders the leading driver defenseless is not on and goes against every sporting code there is. It should never have been a solution and its acceptance as part of “racing” has really saddened me. I have no doubt that once it has been removed we will look back at the DRS years with utter disdain and wonder how we survived watching races with no real overtakes, or battles of any decent length of time.

      In my view the last proper season of F1 was 2010. We need to go back and replicate that season the best we can. We need higher noses, double-diffusers and tyres that the drivers can push on. Also, maybe look again at giving the drivers the ability to add front wing to counter the understeer when behind another car.

      Ok, that concludes my rant.

      1. I agree on that 2010 was the last proper season of F1. But I’d like to discuss some of your points.

        How high do you propose the noses should be? In my view, Rosberg’s Abu Dhabi crash and Grosjean’s Spa crash in 2012 showed that the noses were too high. But now I think they’re too low.

        I like the adjustable front wing idea a lot more than DRS, but in 2010 teams were using it to balance their cars aerodynamically (lowering the wing on straights and increasing it for corners). But this is something I don’t know much about: by how much could drivers adjust their front wings? Was it two settings or was it more like a dial? If it were the latter, I could see adjustable front wings work. Obviously you don’t want too much front wing, but when you’re behind a car, you need all the front wing you can get.

    29. F1 seriously needs to overhaul the cars big time. They need to be more powerful, louder, have excellent grip both mechanical and manual, high performance tyres with low degradation, increase downforce, improve aerodynamics, increase in season and after season testing, ban virtual simulators (simulators would be ideal for rookie, test and reserve drivers only. Seasoned drivers should not be allowed to use simulators. Race track experience only), reduce the amount of pit crew from 20 to 10. Cut back on the personnel during races. Equal bonus, media and sponsor payments to all teams. Bring back the V10 engines, bigger wheels they can be at 16 inches, get rid of Bernie and help out smaller teams instead of bigger teams to stay in F1. More teams Been following and watching F1 since 1996 things are different now than in the past.

    30. I think the most important thing is what Vettel said: we need better tyres.

      Just come to my mind that every race when the tyres are Soft and Super-Soft the race is usullay more exiting. JUst because of the grip.

      Maybe its a simply solution to improve the grip of the tyres.
      Maybe that is why Pirelli developed the Ultra-Soft tyre, hope it sees the light on next year.

    31. Much ado about nothing. Not sure why a single race should prompt the discussion, as if every single race has been processional.

      This has been an ongoing issue, so nothing about Brazil would seem to merit calling this issue out more than any other time.

      It’s just like Brazil was the opportunity for everyone to talk about how Mercedes should let their drivers race with significantly different strategies.

      The common denominator seems to be Hamilton whining about not being able to pass, go on an alternate strategy, and that he found the race boring.

      No one seemed to complain after, let’s say, Canada where Rosberg followed Hamilton for the entire race, DRS was ineffective for him, he wasn’t allowed to go on a different strategy or do an undercut. DRS wasn’t particularly effective – as noted by the difficulty Vettel had trying to get by Alonso at one point and Hulkenberg at another.

      The first 4 cars were fairly processional except for the spin by Kimi which allowed Bottas to pass him.

      Yet the talking points where not about anything coming out of Brazil. In fact, one was how easy the DRS was. Another how Rosberg just couldn’t match Hamilton (not that Merc won’t allow them to race).

      The issue this year is that barring technical issues or driver error, the races are really 1-2 between Mercedes running similar strategies that will benefit the lead driver. That is boring. That is the issue right now. 2010 was interesting because of so many different winners and drivers in it until the very last race. 2012 was the same way, with 8 different winners in the first 8 races.

      Now it’s Merc 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, etc. In qualifying and races. An no, having the Merc engine doesn’t help customer teams when their budgets are at a quarter or less than Mercedes. The teams that have the money and resources to compete and develop in season, are fundamentally hampered by the engine regulations (Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren). Many feel it will be more of the same next year.

      Take this idea of mechanical grip – would the top 5 have been different with more mechanical grip? Maybe Lewis passes Rosberg. But Vettel, RAI and Bottas are pretty much still running around by themselves.

      So what we are really complaining about is that the Merc is making the racing boring, but it would be less boring if Hamilton could win. I’m sure if Hamilton won he would be saying how boring it was. He’d be saying how beautiful and meaningful it was to finally win Brazil like his hero Senna did. We’d be talking about how Rosberg just can’t take it to Hamilton and is a defeated man and if Ferrari isn’t competitive next year, F1 will suffer.

      The 800 lb gorilla in the room – engine parity, or the lack of engine parity.

      1. @uan
        Fans complained after Canada and many other race in recent times. It is not too difficult to notice why. However as you pointed out, Hamilton does not seem to be talking in the some tone after Canada. In fact, he was doing all his best to convince disillusioned F1 fans that this sport is still great. But Rosberg is no better, he was always pro-DRS saying “it is the best idea ever” and “at the end of the day how care why we are overtaking”.

        1. @michal2009b

          I went and looked at some of the comments after Canada here on F1Fanatic. There were complaints about DRS, but that it was too easy to past (except as I noted about Vettel). Certainly the narrative in the F1 news wasn’t we need to change F1. (beyond that which comes up normally after every boring F1 race).

          Not a lot of complaining about Hamilton winning though, or Merc not switching up Rosberg’s strategy to give him a shot. :)

      2. When Hamilton wins the way he did in Canada, or the way Rosberg did in Brazil, he boasts about “controlling the race.”

        I’ve grown so indifferent to the Mercedes pair winning that I don’t care who win. It might be exciting if they actually fight, like Bahrain last year, but the first two steps on the podium are pretty much Mercedes property, and have been since 2014.

    32. To drop DRS will require fundamental changes in aero. It is possible but I don’t think it’s likely to happen. They will need for example to change the regulations to make the front wing a semi flat surface like it was in decades the past.

    33. This topic has been around as long as I can remember, and it just boggles the mind how people completely ignore that some tracks are easy to pass on, others are not.

      The discussion is about everything else and some of the ‘suggestions’ to ‘cure the problem’ are beyond facepalming..

      To top it all, there are much worse tracks than Interlagos, yet the topic comes up now for ‘some weird reason’.. Sigh.

    34. In my view, what the issue boils down to is if you value quantity over quality of overtakes. I think it’s obvious the FIA have concerned themselves with quantity. That way, they can point at statistics and claim that there is more passing now with DRS than without.

      But I believe that quality is what matters more, and that’s what DRS takes away. The only DRS aided overtake that I can recall being exciting was Vettel on Button in Abu Dhabi, 2012, and that was because they went wheel to wheel in the corner.

      DRS is a cheaper method of fixing F1’s overtaking woes. Rather than revamp the aero 2009-style, the DRS takes care of it. But I think this will (and already has) hurt F1 a lot more than not including DRS at all. That’s why I think 2010 was the last proper F1 season. It was so promising with the ban on refuelling.

    35. While we are talking about changes, how about we get rid of the ridiculous steering wheel and make the drivers use a proper stick.

    36. The litany of ‘you have to do this’ ‘and you can’t do that’ sounds more like the Quebec government than it does an elite car racing series. Although I kind of agree about the ecological aspect (if it’s possible to have such a thing at 200mph!!) of F1 I think that maybe they should leave the shock value of electric racing cars to Formula e.

    37. It is quite obvious… Gimmicks are not working, and even when they do “work” its just a statistical point. Sure DRS leads to more “passing”… but the passing we get is of lower gimmicky quality.

      But then recent Brazil Maxstappen passes would have not happened without DRS. Max would simply not be close enough to do those awesome moves.

      So Gimmicks are there to stop the real issue, which is low mechanical grip compounded with loss of downforce when following another car.

      Especially in recent years top running cars had massive downforce and indeed massive loss of downforce when following another car.

      Thus we saw this year even Mercedes who were at times 1-2 seconds faster than opposition struggle to pass say Williams at Silverstone, eachother, Ferrari at times… Whenever Lewis or Nico is upfront the other one pretty much has very low chance of passing, except for obvious mistake if it happens. Thus we contribute Lewis unable to pass Nico to bad regulations and raise alarm. But when Nico was behind everything was much the same. Impossible to follow and overtake even if you had the pace to catch up.

      Is this anything new? Physics is as old as universe, downforce generation is a well wersed affair now, Martin Brundle reports current Mercedes handles like a dream. Cars right now are scientifically designed to be the fastest possible within current regulations when clawing through free air going for it. There is a fair trade off between maximum clean air performance and “used” air performance.

      So solutions are simple improve speed that is not aero dependant… – Engine power, mechanical grip…

      And apply science to fix aero problems. Post simple rule like… car must not loose more than 20% downforce when following another car within 4 car lengths. Boom teams need to test that in wind tunnel and provide results to FIA, currently loss of front wing downforce can be as much as 50%… making it a rule to design entire package around following would enforce diffrent designs that would enable following other cars better and massively improve the show.

      Like, comment, subscribe ;)

    38. I’m neither pro nor anti DRS, but Brazil was not even good evidence of it not working, let alone ‘further proof’.

      Interlagos was never going to benefit hugely from DRS due to the nature of the 2nd/3rd sectors.

      Potentially the ‘answer’ there might be a reverse-DRS – something that can increase the downforce of a following car to aid it sticking close to the car in front through the twisty stuff in order that it’s within striking distance at the start of the straight. Everyone I’m sure would be well up for that right?!

      Or, further address the fundamental issue DRS is there to solve – F1 cars can’t follow each other through twisty corners. Gimmik tyres and DRS are only ever sticking plaster solutions to this issue.

    39. A car in front of another has a massive advantage over the one behind it. This to me is the biggest problem.
      How do you fix it? Give the car behind some advantage? Give the car in front a handicap? How do you do this without giving one a bigger advantage over the other?
      What will happen if the car in front cannot use its boost button to defend? Cars will try to be in second place on the last lap to then use the boost at the last moment to overtake and win. Will this get boring if it happens at each race or will it stay be exiting? Also I guess this only works if there are two cars, if there are more it is more complicated. Perhaps you get more boost the further down the field you are form your boost button? So many questions, so little answers.

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