Fernando Alonso says overtaking in F1 is not too easy

By Andrew BensonBBC Sport

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has rejected claims that overtaking in Formula 1 has become too easy.

The number of passing moves in Turkey on Sunday has led to worries the new speed-boosting drag-reduction system that aids overtaking may work too well.

But Alonso, who finished third in the race, said: "I think it was fine. The overtaking we saw was more from tyre-performance difference than DRS.

"I like it; we are getting used to it. It is a new F1 compared to last year."

The DRS was introduced by F1's bosses this season with the aim of making overtaking easier - but not too easy.

The system, which gives cars a straight-line speed boost when activated, works by moving a flap on the rear wing to reduce aerodynamic downforce and, therefore, cut drag.

Drivers can activate it in a zone on one of a track's straights if they are within a second of the car in front at a specific point prior to that straight.

The driver defending his position is not allowed to use his DRS.

There were many overtaking moves at Istanbul Park on Sunday, the majority of them in the DRS zone on the back straight before Turn 12.

But Alonso said these were caused less by DRS than by the differing amounts of tyre grip on the cars at the time.

He used the example of the early laps of the race, when he and Red Bull's Mark Webber, who finished second, were trying to pass the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

Alonso stated: "When we followed Rosberg in the first couple of laps, it was impossible to overtake him but when he started to have tyre degradation it was very easy to overtake him. So it is more tyre-related."

The new rules have made the races much more action-packed and Alonso added this was a good thing.

"It is what the people asked [for]," he commented. "More show, more pit stops, more overtakings.

"It can be a bit confusing for people. You can follow the first five guys but you cannot follow the 14th place because it is already too many stops.

"But the important thing is [having] lots of people in the grandstands and lots of people in front of the television and hopefully this year it is better."

The BBC broadcasts F1 in the UK and its viewing figures have been up for every race this season.

The Malaysian and Chinese grands prix had the biggest audience they have ever had and Turkey's was substantially higher than in 2010, when the event was one of the best races of the year.

The 2010 Turkish Grand Prix included a crash between the Red Bull drivers while they were disputing the lead, and wheel-to-wheel racing between English McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who finished one-two.

And this year for the first time the audience is being sustained throughout the race, rather then dropping off after the start and jumping back at key moments.

Governing body the FIA has always said that DRS is a work in progress and that at some races the zone will inevitably be misjudged, so overtaking is either too easy or too hard.

But the FIA believes it got things about right in Turkey, BBC Sport understands.

Huge speed differentials were seen between cars, and several overtaking moves gave the impression of being too easy.

But an FIA insider pointed out that the key thing was to look at the speed differential between the cars before the DRS zone.

In many cases, the car behind was already much faster than the car in front, even before the driver could activate his DRS - indicating that he would likely have overtaken even without the help of the extra speed boost.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he felt "it could be argued that perhaps overtaking was a little too easy".

But the views of Alonso and the FIA were backed up by Renault technical director James Allison.

He told Autosportexternal-link: "I think that what you were seeing was a track where, because the tyre degradation was high and because different people chose three stops and some four stops, it built up big differentials of performance.

"If you looked at people who were on the same strategy as one another, behind one another, they could not just breeze by on different laps. There were lots of laps where they were pinned behind other people for many laps, so I think the FIA got it again pretty spot on."

The difference in tyre performance is a deliberate move by new supplier Pirelli, which was asked to produce tyres that degrade quickly to provoke more pit stops and more overtaking.

A big test for the new rules will be the forthcoming Spanish and Monaco grands prix.

Spain's Circuit de Catalunya has traditionally had uneventful races, so if this year's event follows the trend of 2011 and produces plenty of action, the sport's bosses can be confident the rule changes have worked.

The same applies at Monaco, where overtaking has traditionally been all but impossible because of the tight confines of the street circuit.

Regardless of what happens at those two races, DRS is set to stay in F1 for the foreseeable future.

It was included in a new set of technical rules that were agreed at the weekend for the 2013 season.