McLaren team principal Andrea Stella believes that the current generation of Formula 1 cars are naturally more difficult to overtake at high speed, low downforce circuits.
However, while drivers have routinely said that the new generation of cars allowed them to run closer to rivals ahead than previous cars, drivers have been complaining about the impact of dirty air making it difficult to overtake increasingly this season.
Asked whether the limitations of F1’s rule changes were beginning to show 18 months after their introduction, Stella said that data suggests drivers do have a better time running closer to cars behind compared to 2021.
“I think what we have observed already last year with this new generation of cars is definitely easier to follow in the corners,” Stella explained.
“We saw some tracks where it was very difficult to overtake, like Hungary for instance, they are now tracks in which you can follow. And then in complexes where you have corners and once you can go out of the last corner, you are actually closer to the car ahead and then you can attack thanks to the DRS. So I would say this aspect of racing has been helped very much by the new generation of cars.”
With the introduction of ground effect aerodynamics, there had been speculation about reducing or even eliminating the controversial Drag Reduction System overtaking aid. However, F1 drivers have been vocal in their views that the divisive system must remain to allow them to continue to make on-track passes.
Stella believes the nature of the current cars means that there is a clear impact on slipstreaming when cars are running low-downforce configurations at high speed tracks like Spa-Francorchamps or Monza.
“When it comes instead to configurations like Spa or Monza, where you need to have a lot of towing effect to overtake, I think with this generation of cars you have less ‘suction’ from the car ahead, so in this kind of circuit it has actually become slightly more difficult, possibly,” Stella explained.
“So there, if you want, is the two faces of the same medal. But I would welcome the fact that we now can follow cars more easily than it was possible with the previous generation of cars.”
Formula 1 will head to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time following the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort to commence the second half of the season next weekend.
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