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Has F1 made overtaking too easy?

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Tuesday, 24 May 2011

There have been five grands prix so far in the 2011 Formula 1 season and every single one of them, in its own way, has been a cracker.

The introduction of faster wearing tyres from new supplier Pirelli, the DRS overtaking aid and the return of Kers power-boost systems has led to a perfect storm of close racing, overtaking and pit stops.

This has made for an exciting season even though Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel is running away with the championship after four wins and a second place in five races.

Yet there is disquiet in some parts of the Formula 1 paddock.

There is a purist view that what the world is seeing is some kind of pale shadow of what F1 really should be. Superficially the racing has improved, some are saying, but is it real? Is this F1 or a tainted, cheapened version of it?

After years of complaints about overtaking being too difficult in F1, about races tending towards the processional, about a general lack of entertainment, it might seem a somewhat perverse thing to say.

But the sense, in some quarters, is that in trying to spice up the show, the sport has veered a little too far towards showbiz and lost some of its true essence.

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He is careful about he expresses it, but Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber is one of the chief exponents of this view.

Ironically, Webber has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new rules so far.

In China, where he qualified close to the back, the Australian used a clever strategy to benefit from the huge grip differences between new and old, hard and soft tyres, as well as the DRS, to climb up to third place by the end of the race, just seven seconds behind winner Lewis Hamilton.

So great was his pace advantage over his rivals in the latter stages that had the race been three laps or so longer Webber would have won. From 18th on the grid. In a race in which there was only one retirement. Even allowing for the superiority of the Red Bull, that is astonishing.

And yet Webber said afterwards that it felt a little hollow. Sure, he had enjoyed himself, and he was pleased with the result. But passing tough, world-class competitors such as Fernando Alonso so easily when they were effectively defenceless did not feel quite right. The racing, he says, is "less intense" than it was.

Webber brought up the subject again in Spain at the weekend, pointing out that the lap times F1 cars were doing on worn tyres and high fuel loads were only eight seconds faster than those of the GP3 cars, two categories down the motor racing ladder.

"We still need to be the pinnacle," Webber said. "We need to be able to push the cars to the limit throughout a grand prix and have very strong lap times, man against machine.

"Pirelli are working hard but we need to make sure the degradation and pace is still of a sensible magnitude and the cars can be put on the limit and not get too far on the showbiz side of things."

It's not just Webber, either. Last week, influential Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo weighed into the debate, too.

Di Montezemolo said: "Listen, I want to see competition, I want to see cars on the track. I don't want to see competition in the pits.

"A little bit, yes - but in the last race (Turkey) there were 80 pit stops. Come on, it's too much. And the people don't understand anymore because when you come out of the pits you don't know what position you're in.

"I think we have gone too far with the machines, too many buttons. The driver is focusing on the buttons, when you have the authorisation to overtake. We have gone too far."

Much of the criticism has, as Di Montezemolo said, focused on the DRS. This is a clever device that moves a part of the rear wing, reducing drag, and therefore increasing straight-line speed.

A driver can use it in a specified zone on the track, on the longest straight, when he is within a second of the car in front at a predetermined point before the DRS zone. The driver defending his position cannot use it.

The idea was to make overtaking easier - but not too easy. The problem is that people have looked at the Turkish race, and the number of times drivers sailed past rivals down the long back straight, and concluded that DRS is making overtaking like driving past someone on the motorway.

That, though, is a misunderstanding of what is actually happening. In Turkey, as in so many of the other races, what promoted the overtaking was the differing grip levels of the tyres at various stages of their lives.

As Charlie Whiting, the race director, points out, in a lot of the cases in Istanbul, the driver behind already had a massive speed advantage over his rival even before he got to the DRS zone. Because his tyres were providing him with so much more grip, he could slingshot out of the preceding corner so much faster.

In those circumstances, the pass would have been easy regardless, DRS or not.

"Our view has always been we shouldn't make it easy, we should make it possible," Whiting says.

"In Melbourne we didn't have quite enough length (in the DRS zone). I think it worked perfectly in Malaysia and China. But we're all learning here. I definitely don't think we've made it too easy.

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"I don't think anyone is under any illusion that it's the DRS that's allowing the overtaking. Opinions vary presumably, but tyres probably have a bigger part to play at the moment. I don't think we've gone over the top with the DRS, and we certainly don't want to. We've got no intention of doing that. We believe it's a good tool and hopefully you agree."

Although I share some of Webber's reservations, I also do not want to see fast cars stuck for ever behind slow ones just because the laws of aerodynamics dictate that drivers cannot follow closely enough to overtake. The DRS is a way of using technology to get F1 out of a hole that technology has got it into.

So, fundamentally, as long as governing body the FIA can find the right balance, I think Whiting is right on this, and the proof came in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel spent the first 18 laps bottled up behind the fast-starting but slow Ferrari of Alonso. Red Bull tried to jump the Spaniard with an early first pit stop, but just failed when Ferrari responded and got out in front.

So they tried again and despite Vettel having to pass three cars on his out lap and Ferrari responding next time around, the German blasted past the pit exit just as Alonso was emerging.

Last year, with much slower wearing Bridgestone tyres meaning smaller pace differentials between the cars, Vettel would never have been able to pass three cars on his out lap, and he may well have spent the entire race behind Alonso.

At the same time, the difficulties all drivers had in passing down the main straight, the DRS zone, when they were able to pass elsewhere - around Turns Four, Five, 10 and 11, for example, where overtaking was previously very rare - proved that it was the tyres not the DRS that were making the difference.

"Barcelona had the possibility to be a drone-a-thon," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the race. "Two years ago here, Sebastian drove around looking at the exhaust of (Ferrari's) Felipe Massa for the whole grand prix.

"This has really changed the dynamics of that and a track where it's traditionally difficult to overtake and produce close racing has produced an absolute thriller. The regulations have obviously contributed and created that. They're working."

It's true that the tyres' fragility is stopping the drivers exploiting the full potential of their cars all the time. This may not always be desirable but, as my colleague Mark Hughes points out in his column, this season it probably is.

If the cars were all on rubber that allowed them to push to the limit in the race, Red Bull would probably be able to tap into more of the speed that gives them such a huge advantage in qualifying. In which case Vettel wouldn't just be winning, he would be driving off into the distance. The tyres appear to be making the racing close, and introducing competition that might not otherwise be there.

Despite Vettel's domination, all the races have been close and exciting to watch and that is having a startling effect on the television audience.

You might expect, for example, that a German winning nearly everything would cause TV audiences to switch off in the UK, but in fact the opposite has been the case.

The BBC F1 audience has been up at all but one race so far this year. China had the highest number of viewers that race has ever had. During the Spanish race, the peak audience was 1.2 million higher this year than last.

But far more telling is the behaviour of the audience during the race. In the past, there would usually be a peak at the start, a significant dip in the middle, another peak at a moment of high excitement - a crash, a pit stop etc - another dip and a peak at the end.

This year, though, the audience has started higher than before - and stayed there throughout the race. People dare not switch off for fear of missing something. Far from the races being too confusing - as some newspapers have said - they are proving to be gripping from beginning to end.

I'll leave the final word to Jenson Button. He was asked if F1 had veered too far towards 'showbiz'.

"There are more positives than negatives," he said. "Of course it's a show; that's what any sport is. We need viewers to exist and the viewers have gone through the roof supposedly. I don't think we've done anything wrong. We've definitely gone in the right direction."


  • Comment number 1.

    Personally I'd consider removing DRS as it is the most fake element of racing at the moment. You pointed out that tyre degradation is more important in overtaking and as long as the tyres keep doing this then there will be overtaking. Only other thing that needs sorting out is the problem with people gaining a massive advantage by going out in the first qualifying round. Almost best to just use 1 set of tyres, get near the top 10 and have bonus sets for the race.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog Andrew!

    I think if it becomes too extreme then they may as well scrap the DRS as KERS and especially the tyres are doing this job of increased overtaking already.

    If they do have two DRS zones for Montreal and Valencia then overtaking will be easier than before which won't be very exciting.

    Finally, I wonder if Red Bull will be brave enough to use DRS through Eau Rouge in Practice/Qualifying at Spa?

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd completely agree with Jensens comment at the end of the article. My son watched a few races last year and said he was bored with it, the end of season race especially. This year he is now asking me on a Friday if there is a race this weekend and sits through the whole thing on the edge of his seat just as much as I have been, we've both been enjoying the show.

    The changes that have gone in were necessary especially with all the new boring tracks that have been introduced. It seems to be a common theme in almost all of the more recent tracks that overtaking opportunities just weren't there with the last few seasons engineering/rules.

    I haven't enjoyed F1 this much since the late 80s, early 90s.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think we should keep DRS; but have its effectiveness at the level of Barcelona and Australia. In both of these circuits, DRS wasn't really effective enough to cause an overtake in itself, but allowed the car behind to close up ready to attack over the next few corners.

    When the following car loses time due to lower downforce and grip being in the dirty air, especially coming out of slow-medium corners onto a long straight, DRS can even up this disadvantage.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great blog Andrew!

  • Comment number 6.

    There were 88 overtakes in Spain, more than the previous 13 years combined.

    The current total overtakes after 5 races is 389; the whole of 2010 only had 547.

    Other than 2010, the current season total of 389 is greater than any other season total back to 1993.

    I would say it has become too easy and it is devaluing overtaking as a skill.

    There is data back to 1982 here for every Grand Prix:

    You do need to register to access it, but it is free to do so.

  • Comment number 7.

    This season's F1 has been amazing. I don't understand how anyone can complain that there's too many pitstop or that overtaking's too easy. Not long ago the pitstops were one of the most exciting parts of F1. And that was wrong. Now the excitement is where it should be – on track. If you really have an issue with the new and improved F1 then perhaps it's time to consider following another sport. For the rest of us, and more importantly, for new fans F1 is exciting and thoroughly entertaining.

  • Comment number 8.

    I understand the purists' concerns but the stats don't lie. More people are watching it and are watching it all the way through, surely that gives the message that this is what people want to see. It used to be so depressing in the past to see a slower car manage to jump to the front and then hold up everyone behind for the first half of the race, where's the interest in watching that? The fact is people at home can't tell the difference between a car going 200mph and one going 210mph. All the vast majority want to see is a bit of excitement and that's finally what we're getting now.

    I agree Turkey went a bit too far and there were too many overtakes for them to really mean anything. But this is still early days with the rules and they'll learn as they go and change things as they go. I for one though am delighted with the way the season is going. I don't even bother looking at the table at the end of each Grand Prix, I just want to see some excitement.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would also agree with Buttons comments. I would however still like to see the drivers be able to push as fast as they can go for at least a certain part of the race, you never seem to see a driver on the ragged edge.

    Despite the tyres bringing excitement I have to say I do get a little frustrated sometimes that drivers are simply unable to defend themselves because the driver behind has fresher tyres by 2 laps. I was very excited in this latest race where Vettel and Hamilton were on exactly the same tyres at the same time, going for the finish. I believe this is the first time this has been seen this season and I must admit I do miss that part of the racing a little. Maybe give the teams all fresh tyres in the race apart from those qualified on?

    However these are only minor criticisms in what has been very exciting racing

  • Comment number 10.

    It certainly seems that Formula 1 have got things about right. What was great about DRS in Spain is that you felt it gave Hamilton the chance to pass without making it too easy which certainly wasn’t the case in previous years. It is still possible to defend a position, like Vettel did. A big bonus seems to be that different circuits produce different sorts of race with Turkey and Spain being very different and Monaco going to be another new challenge. With circuits tending to get more alike this is a big improvement. The tyres have been the best thing about this year and it’s been back to being like some of the highlights we've seen on Classic F1 where drivers can run a strategy that involves passing other cars but DRS is still necessary and has produced some fantastic battles, Hamilton and Button in Turkey and Vettel and Hamilton in Spain. As for cheapening the sport, it seems to have done the opposite, the fastest guys are rewarded and that is what motor racing is all about.

  • Comment number 11.

    The trouble that I have with this season of F1 is understanding the context of what is happening on the track. For example, during the race in Barcelona Jenson Button made two overtakes within just a few corners of each. I was out of my chair, 'fantastic driving' I thought. However it later transpired that Button was currently at a much better stage of tyre wear than his rivals (due to his 3 stop strategy) and so the two overtakes were moreorless a given. I think there is a big role for the broadcasters in providing graphics to help viewers understand which drivers are on which set of tyres and how many laps they have done on them. Otherwise understanding the context of what is happening during the race can be very difficult.

  • Comment number 12.

    Is it true about acid petrol? I've heard that in the 70s Lotus put acid in the gas and it made the engine go 'ouch ouch stop that!' but it actually made the car go like 10 or 11 mph faster?

  • Comment number 13.

    It was still very good driving by Jenson to pull the two passes off within such a short space, rather than waiting for the DRS zone twice (or perhaps longer, if he hadn't been able to make a pass stick). OK, he didi have an advantage of better grip, but particularly the pass on Alonso was good oppoprtunism as well as utilising the grip he had.

    I do think though that perhaps the racing has been made a little too artificial, with the strictly prescribed use of the DRS and KERS, rather than letting the engineers figure out the best solutions.

    I'd like to see a much looser regulation for KERS, so that teams can choose to run no system at all, a small system that only accumulates enough power to offers few seconds boost per lap, or a bigger system that would allow use for 15 or 20s per lap but with a car's minimum weight being taken in the absence of the KERS system.

    Also, it is obvious from the initial races that the DRS system needs some adjustment for each track - Australia it had little effect, Spain a bit more (and was probably close to the ideal level - lets cars get level but not ahead too easily), Turkey and China it was too effective (or the DRS activation zone was a little too long). Hopefully with a bit more experience of how it works, Charlie Whiting and his colleagues will be able to adjust the length and location (i.e. whether close to the previous corner exit or half way along the straight) of the activation zone to get the balance right - not that it will be effective in Monaco.

  • Comment number 14.

    A simple solution would be to limit the number of times DRS can be used in a Race, to maybe 10 times instead of every Lap

  • Comment number 15.

    F1 can't win. Once a boring procession as overtaking impossible, now apparently too easy.
    For most, the increase in entertainment is directly proportional to the reduction in predictability.
    Tyre compounds (well done Pirelli), DRS and KERS must stay

  • Comment number 16.

    The fact is, it is far more entertaining - which is the point isn't it? I used to struggle to make it through 5 laps, knowing that even if these cars caught each other, there wasn't going to be a chance of a pass.

    I think the margins should be narrowed by altering the degredation, so that a 2 stop is a viable option for a highly skilled driver, and I now think that tyres shouldn't be carried over from qualifying to give qualifying some sort of meaning again.

    Or maybe maximum 3 pit stops, forcing drivers to find their way around.

    But for making it false? That's a dreary argument in my books

  • Comment number 17.

    Qualifying does need to be sorted out though. Why not just have one set of quali tyres for all three sessions?

  • Comment number 18.

    #1 Can't agree that DRS is a fake element. After all, we had adjustable front wings until very recently. This is adjustable rear wings that help overcome the turbulent air. The restriction of its use might be considered a little fake although it is for sound safety reasons. If anything is fake it is the tyre degradation. Who in their right mind would create tyres actually designed to degrade catastrophically and forcing you to change tyre types in a race?

    KERS also I don't consider a fake technology and it is a useful way of recycling energy that can be passed onto road cars.

    However, overall I am happy with the way things are going for now. However things may change when qualifying starts going into a one shot affair as drivers start to focus on tyre preservation rather than track position. Heidfeld's performance was a warning. Now this could lead to more exciting racing as top drivers are lower down the order but I expect a lot more action to happen in the pits!

  • Comment number 19.

    How anybody within the FIA thought it would be a good idea to give the car behind a straight line advantage is beyond me. Yes it makes it easier for the car to pass the one in front but I wouldn't call it overtaking, it is merely passing. You might as well just wave blue flags at a car if the car behind is within 1 second of him. The tyres are great and so is KERS but de we really need DRS as well?
    Also if DRS is purely there to make overtaking possible then why is its use permitted during qualifying?

  • Comment number 20.

    The on-screen graphics currently tell us how many pitstops and what tyres cars are currently running. What could be useful and would make understanding why or how a car has overtaken another would be reference to how many laps each of the cars has had on it's current tyres. I imagine it would also be a helpful aid to Martin and David in their commentary and analysis too.

  • Comment number 21.

    The one area where there is a problem is qualifying where there is no incentive to try higher up the grid as teams are penalized for getting through to the later stages of qualifying. How about having a prize of an extra set of types (or two) for making the final stage of qualifying?

  • Comment number 22.

    #17, I agree that's along the right lines - only worry I have with that is teams saving their tyres for the later stages of qualifying

  • Comment number 23.

    I have no problem with KERS or DRS, but I do have one with the quick-degrading tyres.

  • Comment number 24.

    Last year, and for some years before that, the 'racing' was so dull I'd watch the start of a race, get bored, and start the house work during the race. So often so little was happening, it wasn't worth watching. This year, at least there is lots happening which keeps a fan watching.

    One of the biggest problems recently was that a faster car could not get past a car that was significantly slower. Even on the straights. That has been resolved. What's the problem?

    If the car/driver that has been overtaken with DRS/KERS is FASTER, they will catch up and overtake themselves the next lap. If the cars are equally matched, they will keep swapping positions, as in MotoGP.

    ALL of F1 is 'fake'. The engines are limited - engine size, revs - the aerodynamics are 'fake' - must be this size, can't bend more than that - the tyres are fake - can't be bigger than this. Everything about F1 is regulated to the nth degree, and bears zero resemblance to cars as we know them. I see no problem with DRS at all, unless it is a safety concern, such as some drivers have expressed re: Monaco.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well, people moaned because there wern't enough overtaking.. And now people are moaning because there's to much of it. F1 Can't seem to win. Im loving this new Era of racing. So many overtakes, so many battles of the front and the back of grid. I think its all what we wanted isn't it?

  • Comment number 26.

    Webber won't be feeling hollow now. He has been able to study the backside of Alonsos Ferrari for many laps and never looked like passing. Like Button & Massa he is a number two these days in all ways but officially. The DRS is working great. It's hard to know what effect KERS is having as Red Bull are winning with & without it.

    It'de be good if Alonso was with Vettel & Hamilton and hopefully later on, Kubica.
    These guys are a class above the rest. This season has been excellent.

  • Comment number 27.

    I've been watching F1 since about 1993 and this is some of the most exciting racing I have seen.

    Those complaining should cast their memories back to the early 00's when Ferrari could test their cars to death through the winter and Schumacher would win one processional race after another.

    As other posted have mentioned, the key is predictability. If a sporting spectacle is highly predictable it's unlikely to offer much entertainment. Quick degrasing tyres (and regular pit stops), KERS and DRS all work towards this end.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think the 2011 regulation tweaks have been a brilliant success. What is most impressive about this frenzy of action we are seeing, is how cost-effective it is. DRS and fragile tyres don’t require substantial amounts of development for teams, and therefore huge costs. Control tyres and a flappy rear wing are creating an intriguing show at last in dry conditions. Compare this to the overhaul of the aerodynamic regulations in 2009, at a huge cost to teams - which failed miserably to spice up the racing.

    Unfortunately, there is always going to be a minority group of people who sit on their armchairs and moan about Formula One, regardless of what they see. Whether it’s too boring, there’s too much action or whether it’s too “fake”. I’d to know their magical solution to improving overtaking without fragile tyres and DRS.

    The viewing figures speak for themselves, to not only have more viewers watch the races, but to have more viewers watch throughout the races is a testimony to the rule tweaks. It shows that the average viewer is now finding the races more engaging, and that’s what ultimately matters. If F1 is more entertaining to the masses – then that can only be a positive.

  • Comment number 29.

    I suppose i must be considered a "Purist " in many eyes but yes its far far too easy ,BUT i am in 2 minds , i cannot deny that it is exciting , As a longtime fan of course its great to see , and great to hear that it is making the sport more popular , BUT it is too much too soon , To have the tyres go off so very quickly along with the DRS and KERS makes it too simple to overtake , And how long before the teams learn the tracks /tyre situation and ( on certain tracks ) just dont bother too hard with qualifying and "settle " with a lower grip position to save tyres for the race cos they know they can make up huge amounts of time ?...

  • Comment number 30.

    The problem with DRS, KERS and the new faster degrading tyres is they have all been introduced to combat one problem... The fact that F1 cars are designed to be as fast as possible around corners at the expense of outright top end speed.
    I found it incredible that that F1 cars which look so slippery and aerodynamic are pushing drag coefficients of 0.9cd, unbelievable. But that is how a fast 'lap' time is achieved.
    The only way to really combat the processional nature of F1 is to create rules which promote mechanical grip and drastically reduce aerodynamic grip. That way the 'dirty air' syndrome will be minimised and drivers can overtake because they are faster over a lap, and not just because they can utilise artificial acceleration and top speed 'aids' to blast down the straights. Or redesign the 'processional' tracks which have no natural overtaking opportunities. (It's why cars on 'new' tyres with higher mechanical grip can get past more easily... It makes sense to me, and why the tyres are proving to be the real 'winner' in terms of making the racing exciting.... But also rendering qualifying positions a little meaningless... Petrov/Heidfeld anyone??).
    Also I find the 1 defensive maneouvre a very laughable notion. Whilst I appreciate that from a safety point of view it reduces the chances of accidents, but F1 drivers are paid handsomely to drive fast and take risks.
    Would we all be applauding Alonso's driving skills on the run up to the first corner if the 2 Red Bulls could only make 1 defensive move, allowing the faster off the line Ferrari to just walk into the lead? No, we'd be berating the Red Bull drivers for a poor start and offering Alonso minor credit for getting away better.
    Obviously F1 can't be a 1 make racing series, and there will always be an effective 3 tier pecking order through the grid.... But something needs to be done to radically alter the cars' reliance on aerodynamic downforce, and increase the cars' mechanical grip to promote racing....

  • Comment number 31.

    Personally, I've enjoyed the beginning of the season, but the new tyres have played centre-stage too much. Its not that i don't like them, its just that so much time is devoted to talking about them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Oh, and as an aside....

    Although I am finding the racing to be more 'exciting' from a viewing perspective, I am finding the coverage far more entertaining due to the awesome presenters and the fact that this season there is a lot more depth to the commentary.
    I mightily applaud whoever made the decision to move away from treating all viewers with the lowest common denominator, to actually bringing in more technical and complicated thoughts and ideas to explain what is happening. OK, it seems that sometimes there is a reliance on reiteration (Prime and Option tyres being explained every time they are mentioned), but to have DC and/or the Brundle-fly getting into pretty technical stuff with one another and people being interviewed... before, during and after races is just fantastic.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm so glad somebody wrote about this, it's a great debate. The thing is, the same man may be winning each week but the races themselves are so exciting - compared to last year's thrilling championship where the individual races themselves weren't that great to watch.

    I think I agree with comment 19 about DRS, though - as soon as a car is within a second of the one behind, that's their position lost. I don't buy the argument in the blog that it's the tyres, not the DRS, that are responsible for the overtakes in the DRS zone.

    If the tyre wear difference is so great, the car behind should be able to outpace the one in front in a straight line such as the pit straight anyway - but at least it would require some driver skill in acceleration, positioning and braking. Turkey was, frankly, embarrassing and I know that this season is effectively an experiment in how to operate the DRS rules but, in this sport, it's a very expensive one.

    I also think KERS should be optional. The rule that says a car would have to carry the same weight anyway if they chose not to use KERS is silly - surely if a team either wants to go without KERS or can't afford to use it, they should be compensated for the lack of power by having a lighter (faster) car, which could also reduce tyre wear?

    One other big concern I have which I don't think has been mentioned yet is the race-going experience - it's great sitting at home with commentators and graphics giving all the information a viewer needs to understand positions, tyre compounds, pit-stop strategies etc, but I fear it makes it much harder to understand the race for those in the grandstands, with limited (at best) access to this info.

    More excitement is great, and I'm loving this season so far, but a car race should still be a car race.

  • Comment number 34.

    I really like the changes - prefer it more in this direction that the other. But I'd like to see the following small tweeks

    - 1 set of extra softs/options allowed for Q3, otherwise it's silly. Although I'd like to see someone risk p8/9/10 with hard tyres, and see if they can get the jump later on
    - and/or 1 set of softs that are just allowed for the race
    - The soft/options being just slightly less fragile, but only by about 5or6 laps.

    Also - do people think that with these tyres being so fragile, scrap the rule enforcing a compound change. It was introduced to make teams try to move to 2-3 stops, but now with the fragile soft, that'll happen anyway.

  • Comment number 35.

    Have to agree, as well, about the number of tyre sets. It has damaged qualifying as a spectacle - Q3s last year were exhilarating whereas this year has gone back to something like when we had one car at a time (difficult to believe we lived with that, in hindsight) - and last weekend proved the silly incentive for people like Schumacher (and Maldonado if he hadn't been so honest) not to bother with Q3, while Heidfeld also ended up benefiting from his team's failure to repair his car quickly enough. Whether it's an extra tyre set or penalties for skipping qually sessions, something has to be done before we see people doing it every week.

  • Comment number 36.

    To really find out if F1 is better in its current form I think you need to look at the alternative - what would the season have looked like thus far had Bridgestone tyres been on the cars?
    I would suggest that the final results would not be all that different - Vettel out in front, maybe Alonso would have had a better result in Spain and Webber wouldn't have had a podium in China. However, the difference would be five relatively boring races, barely an overtake and 1 pit stop per car per race.
    I, for one, will choose the new F1 anyday of the week.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am, strange as it may sound, of both opinions. I haven't enjoyed watching F1 this much in years. The races are more exciting, drawing bigger audiences which can only be good for the sport.

    That said, I fear that the spectacle of F1 is being diminished. This is meant to be the pinnacle of motorsport, and talk of "simple overtaking" and "artificial" driver aids can only damage to prestige of the sport. I agree that races were becoming processional and that something needed to be done, but in my opinion, the FIA are going the complete wrong way about it.

    The problem faced was that the focus on aero that modern F1 cars must have meant that overtaking became almost impossible. It would seem to me that the logical fix would be to reduce this dependence, but instead they introduce new aero pieces? and next we have engine size reduction which will do nothing to reduce this importance. My suggestion would be to free up the regulations a bit on mechanical development and give teams room for some real innovation. This would be better for the sport than artificial overtaking, and don't get me started on Bernie's sprinklers!

    Perhaps I'm wrong, I'm not an expert and like I said, I am enjoying this season immensely, but I fear the long-term effect this new direction could have on the reputation of Formula 1.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, my opinion is that I am really enjoying the spectacle this year. I was one of those that would sit through the whole race in years gone by, but the races certainly seem to pass quicker this year! As DC is always pointing out there has always been technology in F1, and it is how the teams use this that gives them an advantage or loses them time. This year is no different.

    We are constantly told that DRS will be adjusted as time goes by - it is a learning period for everyone, so lets wait till next year and see whether the lessons learned in say Turkey mean that the DRS zone is reduced. Hats off to Pirelli have the ba**s to produce tyres that may or may not last 40miles. It is what they were asked to do and so far they have produced exactly what they have been asked for. If the tyre situation is subject to twaeking like DRS, then maybe there should be one allocation of tyres for Free Practice and Qualifying and another allocation for the race, but no transfer of unused practice tyres for the race. Say two sets prime and 2 sets of options for practice/qualifying and 3 sets option 2 sets prime for the race. It is then up to the teams if they use them all or just some of them. And as for KERS, it worked brilliantly for Hamilton against Webber in China and in Spain where Alonso was able to keep the Red Bulls behind down the straight to combat the DRS.

    I think that DC and Brundle do a fantastic job of commentary, and I am sure they were quick to point out that Button was on fresher tyres than Webber and Alonso when he passed them just as they did when Vettel made theree passes on his outlap. However, as I was watching the race I knew that Button and Vettel had made more recent stops and were therefore on fresher tyres. C'mon guys, if you have enough interest in F1 to write into this blog, surely you can follow a race on tv with the great coverage and all the graphics.

    This is an exiting year in F1, for those that want to get rid of all the new technology, and go back to processional racing - actually change that to processional driving - here is an idea for you and one that will save costs too. Get all the teams to a circuit, maybe let them do qualifying as there was still tension there to see who qualified where, then on race day, just get all the teams to do 1 pitstop per car and call the quickest pit stop the winner as that is what was happening a few years back. OK that was somewhat tongue in cheek, but would you really rather see a 90 minute race won by a 4 second pitstop beating a 4.5 second stop?

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the key difference between the tyres and the DRS is that a car on better tyres still has better tyres after it's passed, and so will pull away. Passing that is solely due to the DRS would result in being re-passed on the next lap. To be honest, I haven't seen much of that, which also adds to the argument that the tyres are dominating the DRS to such an extent that we haven't really seen the effect of DRS on it's own.

    However, the tyres will evolve year on year, whereas DRS is here to stay. So we could expect DRS to produce a bigger relative effect in the future. I would like to see unlimited use of the DRS by a following car all the way around the lap, not just in one designated zone.

  • Comment number 40.


    Perhaps the Button example isn't the best one (as lots of people will have been following his progress closely and thus known about the relative state of is tyres). However, when the coverage cuts to the mid-field battles for position it is very hard to understand the significance of the moves being made. Can you honestly say you have an awareness of the state of Kobayashi's tyres when he makes a pass to take P10? I think a small graphic next to the drivers name showing the tyre that they're currently on and the number of laps that they've done on it would help significantly in understanding the context of overtaking manoeuvres.

  • Comment number 41.

    I guess I must be a purist then because I wouldn't say any of this season's races have been either thrilling or cracking. Quite the opposite, in fact, I've found the racing quite underwhelming.

    Which is not to say I preferred the processions of recent years either. But surely since everyone points to the ultimate problem being aerodynamics and the turbulent air behind each car, the ultimate solution would be for the regulations to stipulate much simpler/poorer aerodynamics.

    Everything else which has been done seems to me to be treating the symptoms rather than the problem - working around aerodynamics which work too well as opposed to stunting the aerodynamics.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the racing has been more exciting with the use of DRS and Kers, but they are fake toys, it's not about the driver and his machine anymore, some of the overtakes especially in Turkey were way too easy, yes looked great on TV, especially the Midfield racers, there were overtakes all the time, but what can the driver do if he's in front of someone coming up to the DRS zone? Nothing!! The car just sails past no problem. It's not true racing, and then you have the Pirelli Tires, it's a similar thing, you see overtakes and thing wow what an overtake! but then later realise they just had fresher tires. The new rules with DRS etc has helped with overtaking but for the wrong reasons, it's not all down to the individual car/driver anymore, who has come up with a great new aero package or new mechanical design like F1 used to be all about, engineers racing also to come up with the best machine and then the driver to race it! It's all now about the fake toys.

    I say bring the new 2013 rules in but not with too many regulations, the people who are putting in these rules and regulations are killing the sport, they are placed way to heavy and then the team who comes up with a new design has it banned, not because its dangerous but coz everyone complains, if the rules were slightly more open to come up with inventive ideas, the sport would be better and more exciting like it used to be, no need for the stupid DRS etc.

  • Comment number 43.


    You make a fair point about the differences in being able to follow Button's moves better than Kobayashi's. and while I can see the merit of more info in this case, I wouldn't like to get to the stage where the racing is in a box on one side of the screen and all the information desired by people took the other half!


    I can only imagine that someone in your house is playing a cruel trick on you and playing a dvd from 2 or 3 years ago instead of live tv! Not thrilling? Underwhelming? Well at least BBC will be happy with the increased viewing figures and the increased loyalty of those people during the races. Or maybe all those millions are deluded and you are right. Nah, perhaps not.

  • Comment number 44.


    The teams voted a couple of weeks ago to go with a much less radical set of revisions for 2013 - I'm pretty sure one of the changes was not changing the engine size (on the grounds that it costs much more to develop a new engine than to develop the existing one). However, the key priority to the coming changes is to reduce the importance of aerodynamics compared to mechanical grip and suspension setup - IIRC, the discussion is to go back to narrower and simpler front wings, flatter profile rear wings (like those currently run at Spa or Monza, when top speed is the key) and to hugely restrict the add on winglets, profiled parts etc that give the current cars so much downforce.

    Of course, having said all that, it will be interesting to see whether the changes actually work, or whether it ends being a bit of a waste of time like the 2009 changes (which we could all guess wouldn't work because they put an increasing reliance on the front wing performance). Hopefully, if successful we can do away with such high wear tyres and opening flaps in the rear wing.

  • Comment number 45.

    And why do people like zepunisher seem happy to ignore the experts in the field who said that Turkey was more about the tyres than DRS, use Turkey as a reason to get rid of DRS?

  • Comment number 46.

    Something which nobody seems to have mentioned much: The viewing public seems to want driver skill to be at the forefront - so why not eliminate the radio link to the teams on the pitwall? So often you hear teams advising "a little more this" or "setting that" which affects the handling and performance of the car... the driver should race without advices from the wall, surely that'd bring in a large element of uncertainty to proceedings...

  • Comment number 47.

    #24 Great point that should have been noticed before now...

    If DRS was creating fake overtakes (Fake implying the car overtaking is slower) then why aren't the cars being overtaken simply catching and overtaking the slower car again. The fact that the car got in the DRS zone and THEN PULLS AWAY shows that they should have been ahead. And if the pace was due to being on better tyres then that is a tyre issue/choice/strategy, not an issue with DRS.

    DRS allows faster cars to overtake slower cars - not the other way around. Tyres arguably allow slower cars to overtake faster cars.

  • Comment number 48.

    Aren't comments like #47 missing something? Isn't it part of the challenge and excitement of racing to have overtaking battles?

    The climax to Spain, for instance, could have been even more exciting had the race been a few laps longer and without DRS because we might have seen Hamilton and Vettel in a tussle for the win, Hamilton having caught up with Vettel (maybe, I don't know, by being faster?) but then having to find a way past him, through Vettel's defences. With DRS, Hamilton would've been rewarded not for getting in front of Vettel but merely for being close behind him. That's not racing!

    If all the fastest cars have a divine right to be in front of the slower ones, why don't we just do a speed test earlier in the weekend and reward the winner then? No, hang on, that's qualifying.

  • Comment number 49.

    Formula 1 will always have problems like this because the cars are so cutting edge. They're designed for time trials, not for racing. Basically, they're too wide and too fragile. If you put two drivers in equally fast F1 cars out on an F1 track, the driver behind would need to be a LOT better than the one in front to get past, given that even the slightest touch can force both cars to pit.

    So to create a decent amount of overtaking, you need the cars to have an artificially created speed differential.

    If you want to see good racing, try Touring Cars or Moto2. People watching F1 will never see satisfying overtaking unless there's some radical track design solution possible.

  • Comment number 50.

    Without the tyres degrading it becomes more about the car! Adrian Newey then becomes the most valuable asset to any team. There is not many ways to make all cars the same without eliminating the need for people like Newey it's a conudrum. Tracks are the other issue if they dont give you the chance for overtaking how can you?

  • Comment number 51.

    fuel and tyre management are . should be , and always have been part of motor racing ; bridgestone wrecked that , and good riddance
    but DRS is artificial and should be dropped ..pirelli have made it unnecessary and we are never going to see it used on the road anyway , if only on safety grounds
    kers is a different ....this is an important idea to recuperate waste energy , and will be more important as times go by and one day every vehicle on the road will have a system of some sort

    and I agree with a previous poster , having a coach in the pits is taking away from the importance of the driver , it has already gone far too far

  • Comment number 52.

    Just a thought to try and even up the use of DRS. How about you get a certain amount of "activations" in a race. You could start with 3 to be used and these could be topped up as it were each time you pit by say a further 2? that way on a three stopper, you'd have the initial 3 and then a further 6 built up through the race. That way its not a continues "I'm under a second behind, lets hit the DRS button again" it might make the drivers think about when to use the supply they have. Just a thought.

    Having said that, I've never been so glued to an F1 season so quickly during my last 25 years of following as I have now.

  • Comment number 53.

    As with anything it is all about finding a balance. In Barcelona and Australia the DRS system may as well not have been present for all the good it did. For other races it was just too easy to overtake meaning that the person in front could do nothing about being overtaken since it was too big an advantage. The ideal is to have it help overtaking without removing any driver skill from the process.

    I understand that some feel F1 is going too far down the line of changing things "just to be cool" but done correctly it adds some driver skill back in where technology has impeded it. Without DRS it is practically impossible to overtake simply down to the aerodynamics issue created by dirty air...something that wasn't as prevalent 10-15 years will take time to fine tune this addition to the sport but give it a chance and i'm sure we will begin to appreciate it for the edge it brings to an already great sport.

  • Comment number 54.

    I have to say It's working well, F1 fan for 20 years. Brilliant! The new tech works because the fastest driver will now win! Surley thats what motorsport is about!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Further more on the DRS, You have to take in the Physics of moden F1, the air behind a f1 car at 200mph would be like standing next to a hurricane! The same spot in a 1980's car would be like being on blackpool pier in march! The DRS is a clever way keep cars taking corners at 160mph but allowing overtakes. I really cannot see a better way of cleaning up the dirtly air. This is new tech! when right it will be brilliant im sure.

  • Comment number 56.


    How would taking away DRS have made the end of the race more exciting? Hamilton couldn't pass Vettel (even with a quicker car as you say) even with DRS. Take it away and Vettel maintains his big home straight gap and no overtaking battle takes place - back to the good old "get half a second behind and not have a chance" of mid 2000s F1.

    Faster cars have a divine right to have an OPPORTUNITY to overtake, which is what (if used correctly) DRS offers. If Hamilton takes that opportunity, Vettel should maintain a position close behind and then take his opportunity. If he doesn't, he is slower and doesn't deserve to be ahead. How exciting have the Hamilton/Button battles been when the cars have been swapping positions throughout 1 or 2 laps?!

    Your argument is against an overused DRS, not DRS itself. If you want an overtaking battle with today's aero technology but without a combination of DRS and tyres you're requesting race after race of Alonso/Petrov/Abu Dhabi.

    Bottom line - DRS used between cars of similar speed creates overtaking battles, which is what we want. DRS used between cars of vastly different speeds allows that difference to play out in the race without a procession.

  • Comment number 57.

    Get rid of DRS and aero packages and bring back good old ground affect - the racing back in the day was much better as the cars were not stopped by the invisble buffer of turbelence.
    Or just stick with DRS, make the hard tyres last a bit longer (there not much of a gap at the mo) and handicap Vettel by putting Alonso, Hamilton & Button in the same car!

  • Comment number 58.

    As with all changes, they take some time to fine tune. I just hope that they will not persist for too long in not making bold changes. It seems that the tires are making a bigger difference than anyone expected, so the KERS and DRS seem to be overkill. But that is only because they are over regulated. Just let the drivers decide where to use them and possibly look at a limited number of times that it can be activated. That way it becomes part of the strategy that a team has at its disposal, like the use of tires. Also, I like the fact that they have to use a stint on each of the hard and soft compounds, but otherwise just let them use as many tires as they want. That way the qualifying will not be affected, each team can decide how many stops are worth the fresh rubber and the planet will not be destroyed...

  • Comment number 59.


    '...DRS allows faster cars to overtake slower cars - not the other way around. Tyres arguably allow slower cars to overtake faster cars....' Well put!

    Short of removing aerodynamics and increasing dependence on mechanical grip, not sure what else they can do.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Has F1 made overtaking too easy?"
    Ridiculous question- overtaking is never easy!
    However, good debate on the state of F1 this season, and I agree with the viewer ratings, if it's more exciting then we will watch it.
    2 years ago F1 was pretty boring, technically fascinating but as a spectacle a parade of noise!
    THe narrow wing regs were an attempt to get racers racing again, which sort of worked, now with the tyres and DRS and KERS we have more variables.

  • Comment number 61.

    15. At 11:09 24th May 2011, aka_bluepeter wrote:
    F1 can't win. Once a boring procession as overtaking impossible, now apparently too easy.
    For most, the increase in entertainment is directly proportional to the reduction in predictability.
    Tyre compounds (well done Pirelli), DRS and KERS must stay


    You'd call five poles and four wins for Vettel unpredictability? This season is just boring in a different way. The problem with the regulations as they are is that they reward the car much more than the driver, which means the chances of any spectacular performances from lesser cars are greatly reduced, so don't go expecting anyone to pull off a freak pole like Hulkenberg did at Brazil last year.

    My suggestions for the rules:
    DRS - can be activated anywhere *except* the long straights.
    KERS - optional to any degree.

    I'd like to see the tyres last a bit longer. Maybe 15-20 laps at peak rather than 10-15 for the soft compound and 25-30, so the teams would probably only need two stops most places. Four each is too many.

  • Comment number 62.

    Let them use DRS whenever they want as long as they are within the 1 sec window, that will then allow more driver skill to shine through (using it in corners etc). As soon as a pass is made the 2nd driver will then be in the DRS zone so will be able to attack himself. I personally find these long multi lap duels better than someone storming round and leaving another driver for dead or to be stuck behind someone for what seems like eternity! I would rather have too much action than too little!

  • Comment number 63.

    I think it would be better if DRS was made available in a similar way to KERS. If a car is 1 second behind a car it can use DRS for 7 seconds per lap anywhere on the track. This would make its benefit driver strategic, as with the way Lewis has explained he has utilised his Kers.

  • Comment number 64.

    I've been a F1 fan for over 20 years and prior to the new changes it was getting very boring and predictable. The new changes are GREAT and brought excitement back to the sport.

    For those who question is "overtaking too easy" ... please remember that every car is equiped with DRS making it equal. The best car/driver will win if they are using the best strategy.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mark Webber has got it wrong. F1 is *not* about having a superb, fast machine that a great driver can push to the limit. This has so often produced sterile, uneventful racing in recent years. What F1 is about is producing races where drivers and teams have to apply their skills, strategies and tactics over the entire course of a race in order to get their car past the one in front and, with luck, be the one that finishes first. This generates a spectacle that grips viewers.

    I doubt many viewers give a hoot if an F1 car is only 8 seconds faster than another category when the outcome of every position is in doubt until the final lap and yet it is still clearly the skill, strategy and tactics used by the driver and the team that determine the winner. If winning was a lottery I'd have some sympathy with Webber, but it isn't.

    This is the most exciting F1 has been in years. Long may it continue!

  • Comment number 66.

    Define excitement, in the context of F1 racing? I personally don't find excitement from artificial drag reduction and knocking on 100 pitstops a race.
    Racing should be about design, power and driver coming together to be the fastest package. The rules should be put in place to allow for cars to overtake because skill and clever technological thinking matter, not producing cars so reliant on downforce drivers effectively become passengers as soon as they get close to the car in front.
    If that means someone in charge has to step up and say... 'look everyone, we're going to fundamentally alter the rules so aerodynamic downforce is to be severely limited.... you'll have to find ways to increase mechanical grip to allow for fast cornering' then that would work for me.

  • Comment number 67.

    Bring back re-fuelling. It'll prevent the under cut being so effective as the cars staying out will be low on fuel. Also, it'll bring back decent strategies (2/3 pits) leaving the audience guessing at the start of the race. Currently only Jenson does 1 less stop compared to the other 'top' riders.

    Finally stop broadcasting the radios- I know people like it, but what do the drivers/engineers actually say that is interesting (fuel mix 5...). If the radios are hidden it may mean more cunning strategies during the race (just like the old days)

  • Comment number 68.

    yes overtaking is becoming too easy. Tyre degradation is slightly too much. Formula 1 drivers are now like taxi drivers... nursing the car too much. No need for DRS.

  • Comment number 69.

    Yes, far to easy and almost totally void of skill. Take Vettel's outlap this last race where he past Massa and Button, I blive. Superb overtakes? Hardly, he might as well have been lapping back markers. Overtaking someone who is in a car a second a lap (more so in Massa's case) slower than yours and on tyres probably over 4 seconds a lap slower is not at all 'superb'.
    Turkey was a joke, whilst Australia showed how uncoventional use of KERS can be used to hold of DRS assaults (the Massa vs Button fight). In my opinion, Australia was about as perfect as DRS can get.
    But I stil say it is a completely pointless addition. The overtakes it creates are fake and void of skill. When two drivers today go wheel to wheel or pass each other, in all of our minds we go "oh, its DRS" or "oh, his tyres are ten laps younger". Is that the sport really wants? Does it prefer quantity as opposed to quality?
    I say, if you want fast vehicles passing each other like there is no tomorrow, try MotoGP. If you want to watch some of the best drivers in the wolrd dueling into the braking zones using their skill and not artificial tyres and wing flaps then I would LIKE to say you hould watch Formula One. But I cannot, because that would be lieing.
    The only reason I even watch now is in the vain hope that Massa can get back on form and that Hamilton takes the wins and championships he deserves so much more than Vettel, as well as praying for the nevr to come news that Raikkonen is to return to F1. The season is going to be a Red Bull cake walk and the enjoyable overtakes are rarer than ever.
    At least the Ferraris in 02/04 werent the incredible qualifyers that the RedBull is todays and actually had to fight for positions sometimes, and the majority of overtakes actually took skill, now it is the minority. Great, loving it.

  • Comment number 70.

    DRS will be the solution to painfully dull races until F1 finally tackles the issue of dirty air preventing drivers getting too close to overtake by conventional means.

  • Comment number 71.

    F1 needs to regain excitement for the general public. It needs real racing, not fake nonsense induced by overcomplicated rules. The best way to achieve this is to simply ban tyre changes (even if it rains). Allied with the current ban on refueling, this will ensure drivers have to rely on skill - not pit stops - to win races. And bring back turbos!

  • Comment number 72.

    TCollins makes a fantastic point. the number of times over the years i've seen a driver close on the guy in front at a couple of seconds a lap and then once they get to within a second, there progress is halted as they hit the dirty air zone is unbelieveable! so DRS is the answer until F1 sort out the dirty air issue.
    Also on a quick note, this season so far has been the most entertaining for quite some years!

  • Comment number 73.

    I don't have much of a problem with the tyres or KERS, as both can be used for either attack or defence if you play your cards right. Sure, we don't want to see cars being held up forever, but some of the best moments of recent years like Alonso holding off Schumacher at the end of Imola '05 likely wouldn't have happened with DRS since Schumacher would have been gifted the lead instantly by his DRS

    I remember many years ago Coulthard saying that F1 should look at the example of touring cars. Anyone who watches the BTCC will know that the races are exciting and close, but there's no fakery. The difference is that there the cars can run really close together.

    F1 doesn't need to be as extreme, but the cars generate too much downforce (and therefore turbulence) from the wings. Bring back skirts and ground effect and take away DRS. THEN we will see some really great racing.

  • Comment number 74.

    too easy???!!! I dont believe this. having sat through years of F1 and its years of non-overtaking....its dull without overtaking. I mean otherwise starting P1 on the grid means its all over.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ #14

    Limit DRS to only ten times in a Grand Prix? This would not make any difference. There have been 389 overtakes in 5 races. That is 78 per race. Which is an average of only just over 3 per driver. Not all overtakes are in the DRS zone so that still leaves an excess of DRS opportunities.

    Where it mattered with like for like cars competing DRS and Kers didn't change much in Spain. As the article says it was the tyres that made the difference, mainly the new very slow hard compound.

  • Comment number 76.

    Changes I would propose to qualifying.

    1. If a car does not set a time in a qualifying round that it is eligible for, then it does not take part in the race.
    ----- A car that elects to not set a time to conserve a set of tyres and thus gain an in-race advantage over those that qualified should not be allowed to race on fairness grounds

    2. The 107% rule applies to each qualifying session. A time outside of 107% of the top placed car in that specific qualifying session does not qualify the car for the race.
    ----- This would prevent teams from setting a non-competitive time in a session to reduce tyre wear.

    3. If a car breaks down during qualifying and its set times are inside the 107% of Q1, it starts from the pit lane after the second to last car has passed the pit exit so long as the car is raceable by the time the pit lane closes prior to the installation lap. A car that is not raceable when the pit lane closes is disqualified from the race.

    4. DRS and KERS cannot be used on the flying lap. To avoid mechanical failure from the batteries overheating, KERS is allowed to be used on the in-lap and out-lap.

    5. Cars are awarded manufacturer (not driver!) championship points in each qualifying session. The amount changes depending on the time difference to the top car in each session.
    Winning qualifying ........... 5 points
    0.000 - 0.199 seconds ..... 4 points
    0.200 - 0.500 seconds ..... 3 points
    0.501 - 1.000 seconds ..... 2 points
    1.001 - 2.000 seconds ..... 1 point

    Qualifying must be performed with exactly the same aerodynamic, chassis and engine settings, and the same tyres (tyre rule only applies to the top ten cars) that the car will start the race with.

  • Comment number 77.


    I see what you are saying but so far it does not seem that anyone has deliberately sought to do badly in qualifying. As it happened in Spain track position was more important. Something Vettel, Hamilton and Button found out at different times in the race.

    If teams were to start underperforming on purpose during qualifying then your changes may be useful. The last one I am not so sure about though. The drivers use every lap they do before the race to gather information in order to get the perfect set up. What if they noticed a slightly oversteer/understeer during qualifying and decided to fix it before the race? Under your rules they would be prevented from doing this. Rules that penalise those doing the right thing to prevent someone doing the wrong thing are not good.

  • Comment number 78.

    As a fan for 34 years, overtaking has never really been the key to F1, it has always been a form of high-speed chess. That's why we always see the same classic Senna/Mansell wheel-to-wheel clips because basically there has never been much of that going on.

    Last year, Lewis was able to keep the pressure on the Redbulls (until his Monza mishap) because although fast, they were unreliable, especially for Vettel in the first 6 or 7 races. The only reson we are seeing Lewis close again this year is because of Redbulls problems mainly with KERS. 2010 is touted as the most exciting season ever. If you study the season, every driver made a couple of bad driving mistakes, and there were 5 (I believe) wet races, one of which took Webber out of the title hunt.

    With regards to overtaking, in 2009, defending with KERS was a skill, probably just as much as using it to pass. I would love to see drivers activate DRS maybe when the chasing car is 1/2 a second behind. I know that sounds complicated but it means the chasing car would be able to deploy it a bit earlier than the car in front, but I genuinely believe the car in front HAS to be able to use DRS to defend, but not neutralise the attempts to be overtaken.

    It's very predictable when a car on fresh softs gains 1.5 seconds in sector 1 alone, and is a complete formality once it gets to the straight. Formula 1 is in danger of becoming like Nascar. I think the main problem is that there's plenty of overtaking but 1: It's most definitely fake and 2: People will still start to switch off if they see Vettel in a Redbull winning every single race.

  • Comment number 79.

    There's surely a simple solution to resolving the overtaking issue without the need for toys and complex rules.

    Remove the rear wing!

    That way there's no dirty air. The car's have far less downforce. Racing would be more unpredictable. Drivers won't be able to rely on their car's aerodynamics to help them around corners and racing will once again be a true test of driver skill.

    Alternatively, a simple standard rear wing that is designed to massively reduce or completely eliminate the dirty air issue. With this simplier wing the drag reduction system could still be featured. And with a more unpredictable race and driver skill playing a larger role, I think DRS could then be employed throughout the circuit.

  • Comment number 80.

    Just a few thoughts....

    DRS - Love the idea.... what I don't like is it's 'controlled' use during the race, all this '1 second behind in the activation zone' stuff is odd. I'd much prefer (as some people have already mentioned) a much looser rule, for example (off the top of my head) 'each driver can activate the DRS 20 times during a race for a maximum of 7 seconds', that way it could be used not only for overtaking but also for some extra speed to catch a car and also add a strategic element 'do I use all my DRS at the start or save it until later in the race?' .... I really hope the FIA will consider something like this seriously.

    Tyres - After the re-fulling ban I think it's a must that the tyres don't allow teams to practically run the whole race on one set, the whole 'pit early and run the rest of the race without stopping' was so boring, pit stops are an important part of F1.. 3 stoppers are pretty much ideal I think... I've never understood the whole 'drivers must use both sets of tyres' rule though, I'd get rid of that right now, let the teams use whatever tyres they want to use.

    Kers - I don't really care one way or another to be honest, let the teams run it if they want to and let them not run it if they don't.

    Qualifying - Ban the use of DRS and KERS during qualifying, don't force teams to start on the tyres 'they set their fastest lap on if in top 10' .. supply enough tyres and lets see the teams battle it out.

    (if anyone can think of a good reason why these changes wouldn't work I'd be interested to hear and discuss)

  • Comment number 81.

    I agree with Jacques Villeneuve when he says they have turned F1 into a video game and we run the risk of destroying racecraft. In particular, what these new rules have done to qualifying is totally unacceptable. To actually not post a time, or get out of the car and not try further just to save on tyres ... Sorry, get rid of DRS and KERS. Play around with the tyres, and go back to 2010 rules minus the compulsory pit stops.

  • Comment number 82.

    I really miss re-fuelling. It allowed PROPER strategies - you would have people short-filling their cars to leapfrog a close runner, then trying to make it pay before their next stop. Every now and then someone would confuse everyone by only one stopping and hold up the whole field, and it gave some options - if you could get in clear air with a light fuel load, some really good laps could be put in, enough to be worth the extra stop.

    The hard / soft tyre nonsense is my least favourite rule in F1, or any other sport for that matter. Overtaking should be easier in faster cars, so DRS and KERS are fine, but the ridiculous tyre difference makes racing pointless.

    The idea (I assume) was that someone who looked after their tyres would beat someone who shredded them going faster (like the tortoise and the hare), but that doesn't seem to have worked for Button, because the tyres degrade so fast regardless.

    All the "cost-cutting" measures should be got rid of. Engines in F1 SHOULD only be able to last one race - that way the cars would be nearer peak performance at all times. Teams would have the choice from the old days - reliable car that never breaks down, or fast car with occasional engine failure. I don't honestly care if it prices all the tiny teams with pay drivers out of the sport. If F1 was better to watch, surely that would bring more money in, and the teams could afford it anyway?

  • Comment number 83.

    Any sport is for the spectator. Without spectators there is no sport. I am a spectator. This has been the most exciting F1 season in my living memory (I am 32).

    I think keep DRS get rid of KERS but improve the tyres slightly. I agree that 4 pit stops in one race, just for tyres, is too much.

    People who moan about the purity of racing being diminished need to realise that "pure" racing was boring, not economically viable and likely to result in the death of the sport.

    Great blog by the way!

  • Comment number 84.

    At the end of the day what keeps me viewing is a battle for the Championship. With the RBR being so fast and so reliable that battle is fast becoming non-existent. Because of it's format F1 can be "exciting" on a superficial level as each race is an entity unto itself....however, if the ultimate prize of being World Champion is over as a contest halfway through the season, the "excitement" is vastly diminshed. DRS, KERS, etc. are all gimmicks to try to make it a level playing field (apologies for the mixed sporting metaphor) because usually the fastest car, assuming it isn't in the hands of a complete idiot, wins and the F1 organisers need the season to go on competitively as long as possible for purely monetary reasons. The super degradation of the tyres this season seems to have made driving fast in the race almost inconsequential; it's all about driving smart now. If I want to see smart drivers I can watch guys poodling down the centre lane of the M25 at 71mph!!!

  • Comment number 85.


    Last year the anti-Vettel brigade wouldn't stop criticising Vettel's overtaking abilities. Now that he has shown that he can overtake (which by the way was never in doubt), you lot are now attributing it to him having a better car/better tyres yet when Hamilton overtakes it's all him and not the car/tyres. Double standards but you would expect that from blinkered Hamilton fans like you.

    And why exactly does Hamilton deserve to win the championship, not Vettel?

  • Comment number 86.

    Vettel still has not done a representative overtake on a front runner. Ie, one that doesnt involve being on tyres multiple seconds a lap faster and not using the incredibly cheap DRS to breeze past.
    Vettels inability to overtake cleanly last year was almost legendary, and with the new overtaking aids I doubt he will get a chance to prove himself a proficient overtaker.

    XXXFLUFF #83.
    "People who moan about the purity of racing being diminished need to realise that "pure" racing was boring, not economically viable and likely to result in the death of the sport."

    Yeah, because the WWE is so exciting the fact it is fake makes no difference... At the rate F1 is going, soon it WILL be a 'sports-entertainment' and not a true sport.

    The FIA dont NEED to add a tonne of silly gimmicks to make the sport entertaining. Take away some of their downforce; 2010 cars were some of the fastest ever in the sport around most courses, im sure lowering the downforce to levels that would make them as fast as 2000 ish cars would be viable. Their slick tyres would keep the lap times down to perhaps 2002 level; hardly slow. With downforce that low, overtaking would be much easier.
    What we also need are more courses were overtaking is possible. Most of the soul-less Tilke tracks are nigh on impossible to pass on and are boring as it is anyway, other than Turkey and Malaysia. Get the race organisers, or anyone to move to renovate current tracks to make overtaking easier.

  • Comment number 87.

    fantastic blog.

    i feel that f1 has gone a bit too far away from that of the recent past. Overtaking was far too difficult relying on a mistake from the driver in front in order to get past. Pace alone was not enough due to the aerodynamic issues. (The forced error, in my opinion, has also been diluted by run off areas instead of gravel traps)

    The combination of KERS, DRS and quickly degrading tyres has turned F1 into a bit of a circus. It is almost difficult to follow what is going on on the track. Keeping tabs on a drivers 'actual' position in the race is at times nigh on impossible with the experts sometimes not being able to foresee some scenario's. I agree something had to change but i think the current set of rules is a step too far.

    The current argument surrounding the use of DRS in the tunnel is an embarrassment to the sport. Why does DRS need to be banned in the tunnel? The drivers have to make a decision to push the button. if it is unsafe to do so then they simply do not press it! There are no rules stating they must lift off the accelerator when cornering but they all manage to do that just fine. Bring back an element of danger and daring. I don't want to see people getting hurt or killed but there should be an element of risk should they get things wrong - i mean the risk that they won't be finishing the race, for example, car stranded in a gravel trap.

    A longer term approach is required - something the FIA seemed to be pushing towards until the teams rejected it. I hope that the technical rules proposing a radical change in the aerodynamics of the cars is taken up soon as getting the cars to run close together is the key to good racing, not expensive gadgets.

  • Comment number 88.

    spain this year was by far the best race. DRS played a part, so did KERS but it did not dominate the race, meaning that those tools along with the actual car the driver (e.g. Alonsos first corner masterpiece) played a key role. Anything that can make the spanish grand prix exciting right up untill the last lap has my vote. however turkey was awfull... to much artifical overtaking... but then again where should you draw the line, yes f1 is better than previous years, but in a single seater open cockpit series overtaking is always going to be a problem, you would have to go all the way down to formula ford to get some proper racing (driver skill only).

    In short the areo package on the cars needs to be radically altered, bascially cut most of it off.

    But the reverse argument is that f1 should be the pinicle of motorsport and can it be that way if it is being shot down at every turn and new idea it comes up with.

    On another point the bbc coverage is now brilliant. MB and DC are supurb, much better than legard who made me switch to five live commentary.

  • Comment number 89.

    DRS is a good thing but drivers should have a set number of times they can use it based on the number of laps but they can use it anywhere on the track and they can use it defensively too.

  • Comment number 90.

    I was interested to hearing many people - DC for example - say that the Spanish Grand Prix was a boreothon and sometimes cite the track as the reason why but in my opinion the main reason why is because the teams use it for winter testing. As a result all the drivers know it like the backs of their hands

    Regarding qualifying, I preferred the setup we had in 1996-2002. Namely one hour, twelve laps per driver. Oh and EVERY DRIVER SETS A TIME. I'm sorry but when you have a driver like Alonso being unable to qualify his car (because he doesn't have one!!) but still being able to take part in the race the inevitable question then becomes what is the point of qualifying!!

    Regarding the new rules it was suggested that they were brought through to appeal to the casual fan rather than the long term fan which I can agree with. Having DRS, KERS and degradable Pirelli's is just too much. I'm not a fan of the two compound rule either.

    Also I'm missing the Safety Car!!. It hasn't made one appearance yet. Usually it has by this point

  • Comment number 91.

    Nearly everyone mentions the amount of pit stops/tyre changes that take place in a race and therefore I agree this plays a very significant part in today’s F1. However do we want the outcome of a race to be influenced by how good or how bad the tyre strategies are or how efficient the mechanics are at changing a tyre.
    I for one would like to see a race decided by the skill of the driver and the design of the machine. I applaud the introduction of DRS and KERS. They are tools for the driver and should be used whenever they are necessary and not restricted to 1 second to the driver in front (DRS) or re-charged when crossing the start line (KERS). When to use them would be down to the skill of the driver.
    Let’s have tyres designed to last, in the same way refuelling was changed to last the race, again it would be another skill the driver would have to learn, to get the best out of his tyres.
    Then at the end of the season we would know who the best driver is and not who had the best tyre strategy.

  • Comment number 92.

    As someone who used to watch the start of a race, find something to do for an hour, and then watch the end of the race, everything they've done for this year has been great to watch.

    In Turkey, perhaps it was a bit easy to overtake, but I'm sure they'll sort that for next year...But apart from that, I think they've got it pretty much spot-on. The races are much more exciting, and the fastest driver on the day has won.

    On the tyres, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm managing to keep up with pit stops - more than can be said for my dad, mind you...But, F1 is effectively a team sport, so I think that the extra strategical element is a good thing. The time difference between hard and soft in Barcelona was probably a bit too much, but from what I read, Pirelli were hoping that it would be smaller than it was, and they just got it wrong. So that should be sorted too.

    Basically, hope they keep going with this, make a few tweaks to it, and let the viewing figures speak for themselves.

  • Comment number 93.

    With cars that are as technologically advanced as F1 cars and teams that spend millions on their design in the pursuit t of victory, it is inevitable that the racing will suffer. Imagine a football match between a team with a perfect strikers and a team with a perfect defence. It would be dull. F1 had reached a point where something had to be done. Technology can't be sacrificed because F1 has to maintain its position at the cutting edge of automotive engineering. Therefore, short of standardising all cars and limiting innovation, the only way to counteract effect of technology on the racing is to use technology. The purists may complain, but at the end of the day F1 is sport and sport is entertainment. Purism is incompatible with nature of F1. DRS may not be the perfect answer but it is difficult to see where the perfect answer would come from.

  • Comment number 94.

    Monaco F1 just a farce. Strategy, interesting - until the race is 'wasted' by the ridiculous elimination of all the tire issues by allowed tire changing for the end laps.
    As for MaClaren they need to sack someone for pathetic decision taking - makes you wonder what gives????

  • Comment number 95.

    I think they should get rid of drs zones and use drs like kers 10 seconds a lap would do getting rid of drs and kers would make f1 really boring with not as much overtaking

  • Comment number 96.

    In the 60s each car was very different with each teams level of technology at a different level to that of its competitors. Modern racing has seen everyone attain a very similar level of technology often with the top ten separated only by tenths of a second. So to create a difference again, and you need a 'difference' otherwise 24 cars would cross the line in the same instant, you need to create one artificially.
    Teams spend millions to grab an extra tenth here and there, yet we rely upon artificially 'weak' tyres to get the thrill back into F1. That's not a criticism by the way, nor would I criticise kers or the rear wing - they are all good and they all promote a 'difference', and they all add to the excitement.
    But here's an idea I've come up with to an extra ingredient using no additional technology. The FIA sets the diff ratio and the 7th gear ratio at each race to achieve, let's say, 190mph @ 18k rpm. But each team is allowed to remove the rev limiter from their engines to permit a potentially greater top speed for overtaking and to defend from being overtaken. Each team still has it's allotted 8 engines per season and the engines cannot be modified in any way from current spec. That means, with kers and the wing, a de-restricted motor can spin at 21k rpm putting unintended extra strain on it for X seconds per lap. Each time a driver uses it to help pass or to defend a position he is eating into the life of that motor.
    I think this would add a huge 'difference' to each race and come the final few races of the season, everyone would be one the edge of their seats wondering if their guy's last engine would survive. What do you think?


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