Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 should aim to rid itself of “artificial overtaking devices” – Seidl

2020 F1 season

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McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andreas Seidl hopes the sport can one day remove performance-levelling rules and “artificial overtaking devices”.

In recent months F1 has considered introducing reverse-grid qualifying races at some events, giving back-of-the-grid teams the chance to start from the front. It has approved ‘aero handicap’ rules, which will reduce how much aerodynamic development teams can do the higher they finish in the championship.

However Seidl, who was previously the team principal of Porsche’s LMP1 programme in the World Endurance Championship, isn’t a fan of rules which set out to adjust the performance level between teams.

“I would say I’m still a bit old style in this aspect,” he said. “For example, the reason why I don’t like DRS at all is because one thing I always liked in Formula 1 is that everyone is working according to the same regulations and in the end the team of the driver wins that simply did the best job.

“That’s something I always like in Formula 1 compared to other categories I have been in. And I still have this dream that together with the new regulations from ’22 onwards, together with the budget cap also, that hopefully we get to a position one day again where we could have these same regulations for everyone and not having any artificial overtaking devices, simply a great show with a competitive field and with cars that can race each other very close.”

F1 did not approve the reverse-grid qualifying race plan after two teams blocked it. Seidl admitted the proposal could have helped McLaren score better results.

“Of course a team like McLaren would have been up for that because it would have been a great opportunity for us to also score big results which are simply not possible to achieve in normal races at the moment for a team like us.

Mercedes Brackley factory 2018 - wind tunnel
Sliding scale? BoP? Call F1’s new aero rule what it is: A handicap
“But I can fully understand also that a team like Mercedes being so dominant and so competitive and looking as strong again also in winter that they cannot accept the suddenly an introduction of random races.”

Seidl doubts there will be any significant changes in the pecking order among the teams until F1’s new aerodynamic regulations arrive in 2022.

“To be honest, I don’t [expect] any big change in terms of balance of power this year and also for next year. Because with the way the regulations are now also with a huge carry-over of this year’s car also into next year I expect pretty much the same kind of power or balance of performance between the top three teams and the midfield.

“With what we have seen in Barcelona I think we can expect a very strong Racing Point. Because with the way that they developed their car together with Mercedes they will be strong. We expect a very strong fight, again, in the midfield.

“Then I think the first time we could see probably a bit of a shake-up of the field is probably ’22 to ’23 once the budget cap is washing out and once the new regulations are coming in.”

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2020 F1 season

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33 comments on “F1 should aim to rid itself of “artificial overtaking devices” – Seidl”

  1. Well, that’s the aim with the upcoming technical regulation-changes pushed back from next year to the year after.

  2. Robert McKay
    1st July 2020, 8:59

    Can’t we just get rid of DRS because it makes overtaking boring and reduces the amount of time two cars are actually likely to spend wheel-to-wheel, as opposed to any particular concerns about it not being the same for all?

    1. @Robert McKay
      ”reduces the amount of time two cars are actually likely to spend wheel-to-wheel”
      – Most of the time, this isn’t the case.

    2. Harold Wilson
      1st July 2020, 11:01

      Right now F1 needs DRS to paper over the lack of overtaking. The dirty air that all these cars produce makes one car following the other almost impossible at least for racing purposes. From memory I think it becomes impossible to following these car if you are within 2 seconds.

  3. tony mansell
    1st July 2020, 9:40

    I was ok with DRS when it came along, but that was from a perspective of how few overtakes there were and this new aid would just offset the dirty air issue. But now when I watch pre DRS races its so noticeable how hard won the overtakes are and how much you are willing it to happen, like a goal. Overtaking is F1s ‘goal’ moment. What we have had/endured over the last decade is them making the goals twice as high and wide to help bad shooting. Goals are cheaper, cheering is less.

    DRS has actually worked reasonably well on some tracks whether it be by luck or judgement but the days of a driver being tucked up behind the wing and darting out are long gone, admittedly Max, Danny Ric & Leclerc have their moments but the rest just take the path of least resistance and motorway overtaking is very much the norm.

    There are a million solutions a day from online experts, just booting out DRS might just make F1’s teams sit up and grasp the true state of the sport at the moment. Because it isn’t pretty.

    1. @tony mansell Far from being the norm. Most of the time, it doesn’t really make any difference whatsoever in aiding overtaking, and definitely doesn’t guarantee it to happen, especially given how difficult following another car is due to aero-designs.

      1. tony mansell
        1st July 2020, 12:18

        @Jere. You think? Most overtakes have DRS, if not all, by the nature of the overtake its along a straight into a slow corner. I did say at some tracks it works quite well but theres way to many drive by’s. If they had someone in the back, they’d be waving.

        1. Indeed, at some tracks DRS actively stops overtaking that might otherwise happen at other points of the track.

          Who wants to overtake going into the detection zone? No one, as you just get repaired. Think La Source as the prime example.

    2. About DRS, in my opinion, there’s room for improvement, for example, last year in the famous Haas going backwards races, we saw usually Magnussen or Grosjean leading a long group, where everybody behind them has DRS. So, the second car on the group had a big advantage, that car had DRS and was trying to pass a car without DRS to defend from it. Behind them, everybody had DRS but they also were trying to pass someone with DRS to, the result? Only the first car behind the slow car were able to pass, and we saw a bunch of uninteresting passes one by lap, and all the other cars stayed in position.
      Example: on a certain lap the order was: Grosjean, Albon, Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly.
      next lap: Albon uses DRS and stream passes Grosjean, all the others have DRS so no changes because it’s impossible to pass someone that also has DRS
      next lap: Norris uses DRS and easily passes Grosjean, all the others stay the same
      next lap: Sainz uses DRS and easily passes Grosjean, all the others stay the same
      next lap: Ricciardo uses DRS and easily passes Grosjean
      next lap: Gasly uses DRS and easily passes Grosjean
      This happened in a very predictable way.

      In my opinion, this should be avoided. How to do this? Options:
      1 – You can only use DRS in alternate laps, if you use it in one lap, you can’t use it in the next lap.
      2 – DRS is available if you’re less than a second from the car in front, but if you have someone behind you more close to you than you are from the guy in front, it is not available, example:
      — Grosjean Norris Ricciardo => Ricciardo would have DRS, but not Norris.
      — Grosjean Norris Ricciardo => Ricciardo and Norris would have DRS
      — Grosjean Norris Ricciardo Gasly => Gasly and Norris would have DRS, but not Ricciardo.
      3 – Other option, you can use the DRS in even/odd laps. Cars placed in odd places (3rd, 5th, 7th) could use DRS in odd laps, cars placed in even paces (2nd, 4th, 6th) could use it in even laps, this has the issue of being confusing when something external to that fight changes the places.

      2 is my favourite.

      1. How about if your car is blue you can use DRS on lap 17, 3 and W but if your team principal’s first name begins with a vowel you can eat squirrels on Tuesdays. Makes as much sense.

  4. Wings then are artificial blocking devices!

  5. William Jones
    1st July 2020, 10:37

    I don’t think you need to get rid of DRS, just the rules that dictate when you can deploy it. However this needs to come with a really strict interpretation of what is and is not a legal defense of an overtaking attempt, with harsh penalties for breaking them – I’m talking drive through – because with the current tyre technology, that attempt might be their only opportunity to make an attempt, say fresh super softs vs ancient hard tyres. You also need to loosen up on aggressive overtaking rules – to incentivise drivers making an attempt, and making it easier for the defending driver to come back at them rather than stop them ever getting through.

  6. Jose Lopes da Silva
    1st July 2020, 10:51

    Real F1 died in 1968-69 when they came with the hideous idea of “sponsoring” (Lotus and Gold Leaf) and then this “wings” thing. Bring back the Fifties and Sixties.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva, not this nonsensical mythologising of the past and the constant desire to ignore the flaws in favour of turning it into a gilded caricature, a fantasy version that serves as nothing more than a fetishised dream from people unwilling to accept that an era more than two generations ago is as dead as most of those who competed in that era.

    2. Real F1 died in 1950 when they created an arbitrary “World Championship”, thus marginalised a ton of great races at great circuits.
      And don’t get me started on a point for the fastest lap!

  7. I’m always glad to hear a team principal talk this way as it makes me feel like he amongst others would be saying these things in their meetings and driving this point home…drs needs to go, or more specifically the cars need to be designed such that drs is not even a consideration. And that is what they have done with the new regs. I know they have chosen to retain drs in the cars ‘just in case they might still need it,’ but I (and obviously many) will consider it a big big fail if they take this opportunity to rid themselves of clean air dependence for good, and don’t capitalize on it.

    I find it almost impossible to fathom, after all the wind tunnel work and the direction towards much more emphasis on ground effects, that they would still employ drs. It will just make no sense to me whatsoever considering that there was no drs for decades, and then since it has been employed it has remained a thorn in so many people’s sides, such that the retention of it’s use, if that happens, will be very frustrating and very sad. The new cars are to be wholly different in philosophy in order to promote closer racing. The less effective wings and the tunnels underneath, as well as the reduction in the wake that cars will make, must all add up to the elimination of drs. If they somehow ridiculously still find a need for drs then they must continue to tweek the regs until it can be eliminated. I can’t think of what else the massive redesign will have been for, if drs can’t be made a thing of the past. It’s at the very core of why they want this wholly different philosophy…why Brawn put two cars nose to tail in a wind tunnel to study this file…like they haven’t known decades how harmful clean air dependence has been to close racing anyway even without Brawn’s team working on this.

    1. Well said everyone should read this

  8. They are already aiming in to get rid of it with the way the 2022 tech regulations. Thats why the rules are there as to ensure not much bad air can come out from behind and disturbing the chaser car. That’s essentially why its there.

    DRS is still there in 2022 as a backup in case their regulation doesn’t work but its clear that F1 is trying to get rid of the dirty air problem (the need for DRS in the first place).

    Whether the new regs will actually work as intended or not though, is another matter.

  9. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    1st July 2020, 12:28

    The problem is F1 needs those ‘artificial gimmicks’ at the moment as without it there’d be even less overtaking or wheel to wheel combat than there is already. Hopefully the rule changes will allow for a competitive field that can run close and fight without needing ‘artifical overtaking devices’ but I don’t think that addresses the larger issue.

    Want to remove DRS? Okay then, address the lack of financial parity between the teams to allow a proper convergence of pace and fix the rules so cars can actually follow each other without losing performance. Then you wouldn’t need an artifical overtaking device.

    1. @rocketpanda So the technical regs have been altered dramatically and for 2022 we should indeed see much closer racing with cars losing significantly less performance when in a leading car’s dirty air.

      As to financial parity and a convergence of pace…I think there will still not be financial parity for quite a while, or perhaps ever, but the balance will be much better between the ‘have’ teams and the ‘have less’ teams. But for me what I look for is that once cars will be able to follow much more closely I think what we will find is that the cars have been closer in performance than we think. I think the fact that current cars/drivers can be so handcuffed by the tires and the dirty air has to have to some degree masked their true performance, so I expect that even if financial parity wasn’t as much a concern as it is, the technical regs alone will go a long way to revealing some surprises from the lesser teams on a given Saturday or Sunday.

      Of course you are right that financial parity would help, but I just think that it is unreasonable to expect the lesser teams to find themselves in a few short years on a par with the bigger teams. We just need the lesser teams to have the help that is coming and a little more opportunity to see some light at the end of the tunnel that they will be able to grow their team into something bigger and better.

      I hope and expect that the closer racing cars will improve the show enough that it becomes a driver vs driver series (we need drs gone for that to happen) which will garner much more buzz and excitement, which should garner more audience and sponsors, which should help the sport and particularly the lesser teams grow, and encourage new teams to enter eventually.

      1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
        1st July 2020, 17:55

        I think my problem is that you have teams barely surviving to keep out of collapse and others that are immensely flush with cash getting paid just for turning up. It’s no surprise that in that situation one can’t realistically fight the other, or why one’s performance is so much lower than the other. That’s something that needs addressing – if financial stability was there, especially in regards to prize money, then the gulf between the ‘big three’ and everyone else would be considerably narrower.

        It’s got to be more of a point that you can’t just ask for ‘closer racing’ and call for the removal of things like DRS without addressing why closer racing doesn’t happen and why DRS was – and arguably still is – needed. Perhaps the impending tech regulation change will help with this but we’ve been here before and… it didn’t. It often feels like we’re treating the symptoms of a problem but not the cause, so we always end up back here at the same place.

        1. @rocketpanda Ah but you see for me we have not ‘been here before.’ Literally. F1 has never studied nose to tail effects with two cars in a wind tunnel in any sort of way that anywhere near resembles what Brawn and his team started doing as soon as they got the keys to the place, nor with the support from all the teams, in such a sustainable way, as in, this IS happening.

          So no I see no reason for them to end up back at the same place when all that happened before was under BE, with the top teams having the power, and now this is a totally new entity in charge with obvious big plans that have already been set in motion, again, with agreement of all the teams, who have all signed off on this.

          To me nothing about the massive combined effort and attention to the issues of F1 that Liberty and Brawn have instigated has resembled anything about F1 under BE, except that it is the very issues BE and top teams created that are the reason big change is so badly needed and has been put into play.

          Put another way, at a bare minimum I think the new owners at least deserve respect as well as their day in the sun to see their plans through starting in 2022, to really show us with actions rather than words, and that is to come as soon as they literally have been contractually able, and keeping adaptations to the pandemic in mind. I’ll not be running them down based on speculation that nothing is going to change when it appears like everything is about to change for the better. Let’s let them show us what they’re on about. Personally I can’t wait for a wholly new and refreshing chapter.

          1. I’ll agree with @rocketpanda on this part. Many things will change, but at the same time, they aren’t really changing…

            Downforce and the resulting turbulence and therefore loss of performance by the following cars has been a major issue with F1 for 50 years, and getting worse every year.
            Regardless of whether Bernie or Liberty is in charge, F1 has always maintained that F1 must be the fastest car racing series. The creation of downforce is a massive aerodynamic disturbance, and the only way to overcome that disturbance is to reduce downforce.
            “F1 has a problem, here’s a half-baked solution that doesn’t upset certain people or interests.”
            “Oh, it didn’t fix it. I wonder why.”

            In that sense, nothing has or will change because of Liberty’s involvement.

            What is changing, though, is the basic philosophy of what F1 is. Originally a technical free-for-all, it has been constantly devolving into a more restrictive and regulated series – and now Liberty has com in and hit it on the head with the ‘Spec’ stick, restricting car design and individual engineering solutions to an absolute bare minimum. Almost zero.
            While they are certainly trying to provide a solution to F1’s problems, they don’t seem to be looking to the past to see where F1 went wrong. Rather than actually addressing and solving problems, they are still just as likely to be replacing them with new ones.

  10. Many here already beat me to it. It’s the wings. If you punch a hole in the air so big that the front wing does not work, then why use it? Good for going fast, but bad for racing. Are they going to wait till there is nothing left of F1 before they go “Ya know, maybe the wings are the cause of not being able to follow close enough to race.” They apparently are.

    1. Well no…they started to address all the issues in F1 as soon as they (Liberty) took over, and those changes will take effect in 2022 because of the pandemic, but otherwise would have been next year.

      So to ask if they are ‘going to wait until there is nothing left of F1’ is very unfair, since they have enacted many significant changes that were never going to be able to come to fruition until existing contracts ran out in 2020 and until the teams have had some time to prepare for the wholesale changes in a fair manner.

      If they wanted to wait until there was nothing left of F1 they would have just taken over from BE and sat on their hands and done nothing. They’ve done the opposite.

  11. I called it the Dumb Racing System years ago because it is the Dumbest Racing Solution ever devised. I like what Robbie said in his description of it. He gets it as does everyone responding today. As a boy I read tales of Jimmy Clark coming from tractors and farming to learn that he had an uncanny ability to control race cars at high speed. Doing so while learning the art of the pass. He developed his talent and found he could outsmart others when approaching the apex. A slower car can pass a faster one with driver skills. Develop your skillsets and master your craft.

    Doing that or learning how to do that should have already been learned by those who have grown within the ranks of Grand Prix drivers.

    The fans hate the very idea of DRS. Why should a slower car and slower driver be giving a 14mph advantage on the fastest straights so he can be able to pass a faster car and more than likely a better driver so the racing is better ??

    It’s absolutely insane.

    How can any driver feel good about passing in this manner?

    Tell the FIA to listen to the fans like Robbie and me. WE DEMAND FORMULA ONE STOP THIS RIDICULOUS IDEA FROM EVER BEING USED AGAIN.

    Learn how to improve the car and learn how to pass or GET OUT of Formula One.

    DRS ??? What a dumb solution


    1. Thank you HOLMZINI and well said.

    2. The only thing more stupid is NASCAR ‘stage(d) racing’.

  12. The thing that annoys me more than DRS in F1 is how it’s spread to the junior categories which didn’t even need it begin with.

    The racing in F2/F3 was perfectly fine without things like DRS or High-Deg tyres & I have always felt that including these things in a junior/ladder category purely for the purpose of the show ignores what the purpose of those categories is supposed to be.

    A concern I have is that when we get to a point where DRS is finally removed from F1 you are going to be left with a younger grid who have never raced a formula car without it & are therefore lacking the sort of racecraft that you used to learnt & hone in the junior formula.

    1. @stefmeister A fair point, however, could it be argued that in order to train these youngsters for entry into F1 they have needed, in this last decade, to have raced with drs and high deg tires, for that is what they’ve been about to experience in F1? Forgetting for a moment of course the wholesale changes about to come.

      Also, can it not be said that there are drivers in F1 now who have never raced without drs and will be in for quite a change come 2022 pre-season?

      Oh I absolutely take your point though about drivers and their racecraft. At least it is likely safe to say they have all experienced non-drs racing in karts. And they’ll have their incredible simulators to help too. But nonetheless, great point about racecraft, and I hope and expect that without drs and with much closer racing we will see more of a noticeable separation of the men from the boys.

      1. None of it matters
        Either you are capable or your not.
        If you can’t rise for that moment.
        Your not worth any investment.

  13. I have a dream today.
    I have a dream today, where black Mercedes and white Williams race on the same competitive field not seperated by seconds but joined by speed.

    I have a dream today.
    I have a dream, where DRS is nolonger enabled and drivers regardless of position and color of their livery can overtake for the win.

    I have a dream.

    1. Clever

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