Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023

“Overtaking has got worse” in second year since F1’s rules change – Wolff

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In the round-up: Overtaking became harder to achieve in the second season since Formula 1 introduced new rules to help drivers race, says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

In brief

Wolff lays out 2024 ambitions for F1

Next year’s F1 cars will be evolutions of 2023’s machines rather than radically different designs, since there are minimal changes to the technical regulations. This has prompted concerns overtaking will continue to get more difficult.

“We’ve got to wait and see what happens in Bahrain next year and how the season is going to pan out,” said Wolff. “Let’s see how the Pirelli tyres are going to handle next year’s cars.”

However he admitted the improvement in the quality of racing seen in 2022 had reversed this year. “At the end, when you’re looking, overtaking has got worse and it’s all about thermal management.

“I’d like to have races like Qatar where you just go flat-out,” he added. Concerns over potential failures of F1’s Pirelli tyres at the Losail International Circuit led F1 to impose maximum stint lengths on the tyres as a one-off that weekend.

Toyota goes for radical new WEC livery

Toyota's new 'Prototype' livery for the 2024 World Endurance Championship season
Toyota’s new ‘Prototype’ livery for the 2024 WEC season

Toyota will model a new look in the World Endurance Championship next year, swapping its long-used white-and-red livery for an almost entirely matte black wrapping of its GR010 Hybrid hypercars.

When Toyota returned to international sportscar racing in 2012 their cars bore some resemblance to the Formula 1 cars they had made in the 2000s due to having the same sponsors. Although the F1 team usually ran white cars with red detailing and sponsor names in red and blue, the WEC team used blue detailing and stripes from 2012 to 2015 before returning to red for the next eight seasons.

Boya, Stenshorne and van Hoepen announce FIA F3 plans

Three Formula 3 teams have announced hirings for the 2024 season.

Mari Boya has moved to Campos Racing for his second season in the category. The 19-year-old was Spanish Formula 4 runner-up in 2021, came 10th in the Formula Regional European Championship last year and had a busy 2023 with MP Motorsport which started off by coming fifth in Formula Regional Middle East, being Eurocup-3 runner-up and racing in FIA F3.

Nyck de Vries’ protege Laurens van Hoepen will move up to the category full-time with ART Grand Prix after spending two seasons with the team in FREC. During that time he only got two podiums, but he did win the 2023 New Zealand Grand Prix which was part of the FRegional Oceania championship.

Martinius Stenshorne will make his debut in F3 next year after being the 2023 FREC runner-up. He will be team mate to Macau GP winner Luke Browning at Hitech GP.

Andretti loses major sponsor to Ganassi

DHL has ended its long-running support of Andretti Global in IndyCar to sponsor the Chip Ganassi Racing-run car of reigning champion Alex Palou in 2024.

The logistics and postal company has branded Romain Grosjean’s car for the past two seasons, and before him it sponsored Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar exploits with Andretti from 2011 to 2021. Its Andretti partnership also included sponsoring the car driven by Jamie Chadwick in Indy Nxt this year.

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Comment of the day

Ferrari junior and 2025 F1 hopeful Oliver Bearman says Oscar Piastri’s impressive rookie season in the world championship this year was helped by the scale of his preparations, which included private testing in addition to free practice sessions.

But with no rookies on the grid for the 2024 F1 season, are young drivers being prepared enough to make teams think they are worth signing in race seats?

To give young drivers experience in F1 they should let them do the sprint qualifying and races instead of the main drivers.

I would think that to be more exciting – the sprint is then like a support race/event (for those races that do not have Formula 2/F3 support races) but with actual F1 cars only rookies are allowed in, and in this case 10 cars – one per team. Parc ferme rules only apply after sprint race – just before qualifying for the grand prix.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to David N and Siddharth!

On this day in motorsport

  • 30 years ago today Sauber ran its new C13 – the team’s second F1 car – for the first time at the Circuit de Catalunya

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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37 comments on ““Overtaking has got worse” in second year since F1’s rules change – Wolff”

  1. Before you can judge overtaking, or more correctly the ability to follow close enough to attempt an overtake, you need a car that’s fast enough Toto.

    It’s all very well to talk about thermal deg, but is that being caused by a lack of downforce in the following car as it was pre 2022, or is it just because the tyres aren’t up to the job?

    Let’s see what 2024 brings. Hopefully some teams will make a better fist of development than they did this year.

    1. @dbradock The tires been more prone to overheating when running behind another car was something all the drivers complained about this year (Along with the tires in general still having a smaller than idea operating window) & it’s one of the areas Pirelli have been asked to improve for 2024.

      The initial running on 2024 compounds has been inconclusive in terms of if they have met that goal or not.

      But additionally the cars have gotten worse in terms of there ability to follow as teams have found ways to bring back the aero outwash effect which was one of the key things the FIA had hoped to minimise with the 2022 regulations.

      I think the figures were that the 2021 cars were losing 50%+ of there downforce when running around a car length behind another car. The 2022 cars were estimated to be losing around 20% when a car length behind another car but the 2023 cars were losing 30-35% when a car length behind another car & it’s expected that with the 2024 cars that figure could be 35-40% or more.

      1. But additionally the cars have gotten worse in terms of there ability to follow as teams have found ways to bring back the aero outwash effect which was one of the key things the FIA had hoped to minimise with the 2022 regulations.

        Wasn’t Liberty actively engaged in shaping the 2022 regulations through its technical department led by Ross Brawn ?

        1. That’s correct.
          The FIA did not create the current (aero) technical regs.
          Worth noting, though, that it is officially a partnership…

        2. The rules were good. The person complaining about following reduced half a second worth lap time from the floor which is efficient and clean downforce.

          So the original rules were good but the one with increased diffuser throat and floor edge not.

    2. “Before you can judge overtaking, or more correctly the ability to follow close enough to attempt an overtake, you need a car that’s fast enough Toto.”
      What kind of a nonsense statement is that?? Mercedes came 2nd in the constructors’ championship, having the 2nd to 4th fastest car in the field. What are the other 16 cars in the field supposed to do then – not be able to overtake at all?
      And logically, RedBull are the least suitable to judge the ability to follow since they are in the lead most of the times having the fastest car, and when needing to overtake they do it with their general speed advantage that is more powerful than any slipstream benefit they might or not have etc.

      1. Agree, very strange take.

  2. The Toyota livery just says “Audi” to me!

  3. COTD: I wouldn’t watch that. I watch F1 for ‘top level’ drivers and teams. Rookie driver substitutions, no thanks. And I say this as a person who’s watched every race, quali, and sprint for almost 20 years.

    Are the Sprint races/quali exciting to watch.. eh, not really but I’ll keep watching them.

  4. Coventry Climax
    13th December 2023, 0:40

    Wolff lays out ambitions for F1? Hold it; that’s not his job, is it? Funny choice of words?

    “Let’s see how the Pirelli tyres are going to handle next year’s cars.” Well, you should probably have a decent idea already, as you’re the one that did the Pirelli tests. Where he speaks of his concern about the Pirelli tyres, may be is showing what they learned already? That the Pirelli’s are awful is no news, as they have been F1 unworthy for over 10 years already.

    1. Well, you should probably have a decent idea already, as you’re the one that did the Pirelli tests.

      Yes but not in race conditions when running behind other cars.

      Thats the biggest issue tire wise when it comes to racing. Running behind other cars in the dirty air costs you some front downforce which makes the front end slide more which in turn causes front tire temps to increase which then takes them outside of there optimal operating range which then makes them more prone to graining and/or increased degredation.

      The testing they do both in private & when running test tires in FP1/FP2 can give you a decent read on how they perform on your car but it’s not really representative of how they will hold up when your right behind another car pushing hard fighting for position for several laps or if your stuck in a train of cars where there’s more dirty air to contend with causing you to lose a bit more front end grip.

      1. Coventry Climax
        13th December 2023, 16:32

        My, am I glad you explained all that, I would otherwise never have known all that.

        Fact remains they know more than the other teams, and you underestimate what engineers can (should be able to?) do with the knowledge they do get.

      2. That might be a bit simplistic. They do have data from previous tires behavior in (past) tests vs what data when these tires were eventually used in traffic. That delivers a predictive model. So with new testing they only may have the first category of testing data but they do have the historical data of previous correlation and effect. It is always a competitive advantage.

  5. Toyota goes for radical new WEC livery

    Wow! Radical indeed! It is now Black with red and white instead of White with black and red!

    1. Cant throw that old paint away!
      They can always mix the old paint and come up with a new color!

  6. While following & thus overtaking indeed got harder for this year & will probably be harder next year versus this year, is that really about thermal degradation rather than aero designs deviating from the regulations’ original intention + 15mm floor edge raise initially?

    So, all Toyota Gazoo Racing operations have received that new livery design rather than only the world rally operations.

    COTD’s idea is good in theory, but unfortunately, not so much in reality, mainly because of possible crash damage implications.

    1. Coventry Climax
      13th December 2023, 16:37

      And it was mercedes themselves that were/are unable to get a grip on porpoising and therefor started complaining with the FiA in hopes they would mandate increased ride heights, sabotaging their own ground effect regulations.
      That’s called shooting yourself in the foot.

      1. Coventry Climax
        13th December 2023, 16:39

        Ah, should have read a comment further down first, sorry guys.

  7. Toto’s going to be so mad when he finds out who pushed for the floor regulation changes that ruined overtaking under the 2022 rules.

    1. My thoughts exactly, that backfired on him quite a bit, didn’t it?

    2. Disappointed that wasn’t mentioned in the article. It seems the Trump-inspired diligence of the press to call out these questionable statements was shortlived.

      Wolff with his scheming is one of the main culprits for the failure of these new cars, which are meant to be run closer to the ground than they have been since the Mercedes-requested technical directive was dumped on F1 in the middle of a season.

      1. It takes time to realize the floor of an F1 car and to be able to to tune it like a pressure regulator.

  8. Yes, overtaking is getting worse, and will continue to until there are new technical regs.
    And then this cycle will repeat forever, until F1 eventually goes to spec aero (arguably, they should do that immediately) or at least strict regulation of downforce, turbulence and outwash is tightly controlled and enforced via homologation methodology.

    The tyres aren’t really a factor, as any tyre bolted to an F1 car will suffer in the same way. The teams specifically and deliberately design and setup their cars to extract 100% performance from the tyres in clean air – they will always exceed their limits and suffer in dirty air. There is no stopping this.
    Harder tyres minimise this characteristic – but in modern F1, harder tyres are simply unsatisfying for everyone. The teams complain about a lack of traction, the drivers complain they have no feel and are too slow, and the ‘fans’ complain that there’s no variation in performance from strategy or degradation.

    The (temporary) maximum stint length imposition was a great example of what F1 could be more like simply by changing attitudes rather than equipment.
    F1 should do it more often.

  9. Some serious dumb takes in the comments. Whether you hate Wolff or not, he’s not wrong that overtaking suffered last year and he’s not just referencing his own cars. Every car on the grid struggled to overtake bar Red Bull who spent half the year with a 10-20kph advantage in speed with their trick DRS.

    He’s also not wrong that a huge part of what makes overtaking harder is the fact that you can’t spend more than 3 laps running close to another car before the tyres on the car fall out of their ideal operating window which then starts crippling them on wear and grip.

    The teams clawing back their downforce and outwash hasn’t helped but the core problem with racing in F1 is still the appalling Pirelli tyres with their woefully small temperature operating window. It doesn’t matter if a car can get a few tenths closer through the corners ultimately if they have to back off 2-3s to stop their tyres stopping working every few laps.

    1. Well in the opposers defence: the man hasn’t got a shred of credibility left which is totally up to his own doings and antics. He is not exactly a source I would rely on or go to if I wanted to know something about F1.

      1. Coventry Climax
        13th December 2023, 16:42

        Couldn’t agree more.

    2. The tyres being affected is directly linked to the loss of downforce, which had been exacerbated by the Mercedes-requested change to the concept of these cars.

      Yes, Pirelli could make better tyres, but that’s not the cause.

      1. Coventry Climax
        13th December 2023, 16:46

        Could almost not agree more :-) :

        Pirelli should make better tyres.
        (And stick up both third fingers on their hands towards the FiA – if they really are who request this anomaly in the world of tyres.)

  10. I think the COTD makes a fair point that young drivers simply don’t get enough time in the car, although I’d blame early promotion, junior category expense and not being able to compete in F2 as Champion as other factors.

    However I really don’t agree the solution lies in sprint racing. 10 cars on track is a waste of a session. How many drivers can the general public name? Firing in a Drugovich when the fans expect Alonso is a bit like watching a reserve game, we have a place to watch junior talent already. Furthermore, I don’t get how the weekend format would work -would the stand ins get another practice themselves? Do we bring a third car along or would it always be the number 2 driver’s car? How does that work for engine mileage and grid penalties?

    I think the sprint is a really, really poor product for F1. A hopeless format with entirely predictable consequences. But half baked ideas like reverse grids and junior drivers won’t improve things. F1’s popularity is going through it’s first real test since the big boom, it would be foolish to double down on things that don’t work.

  11. Good to understand overtaking has improved given reality is mostly the opposite of Toto claims.

  12. the fix is very easy, even for sprints, once people tune in that the whole thing from tarmac to carbon fibre is man made. Adding sprinklers wouldn’t be more artificial at all, in fact the tracks all have roofs and gutters, so they could use rainwater – that would be more natural than the rest of it!

    And then, deciding when to turn them on and off, is a whole new opportunity

    1. fanboost !

  13. Might be, but theres still alot more close follwing nowdays than it was before the change in rules, so definitely a good move in that sense. Though the tyres still seems very sensitive to everything that they gets used for, as usual.

  14. When the Toto haters have finished venting, take a moment to consider:

    “I’d like to have races like Qatar where you just go flat-out,”

    He highlights the one race in the season, in fact the one race in the last decade or more, where tyre management was not a factor and there was a lot of racing.

    1. I’d like to see a team try those tactics in another race, one with a suitable track surface, overtaking spots etc. Save up some tyres on Saturday, plan for extra stops and go for it.

      Attacking play without fear or excuses has brought success and a load of fun and excitement recently in English cricket and football. Why not F1?

      1. Unfortunately, the time loss from pit stops has to be weighed against time gained from being flat out on track.

        There are two options to deal with that downside:
        1. Mandate more pit stops.
        People are likely to argue this ruins the race, like the “artificial” forcing of two different tyre compounds in a race.

        2. The tyre supplier makes better tyres that can be run flat out for over 50% of the race distance.
        With Pirelli making the tyres, this is unlikely, to say the least.

  15. I said this when the regs were put in place, I’ll say it again. If you want to restrict dirty air, then THAT has to be the measure. Otherwise, everything gets worked around until the attempted fix of the rule change is completely null and void.

    Ferrari fuel rate workaround anyone? F-duct anyone? Dozens of other things? Now this.

    Figure out what you want the metric to be at X and Y distances from the leading car, and have cars meet that. Then, they are allowed to find downforce or better aero or better cooling or whatever else they want, but if it does not meet these metrics, they cannot use them.

    Anything outside of that sort of method is useless. See you again in 2yrs to say the same thing.

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