5 Reasons Why Overtaking Is More Difficult In Formula 1 This Year
F1 is not the same anymore. It hasn’t been for the last decade or so. Most enthusiasts agree that the FIA, the sport’s governing body, ruined it by applying too much regulations and restrictions. In just ten years F1 cars managed to go from large, V12 and V10 monsters to vacuum-cleaner sounding V6s which are noticeably slower around every track. The reason is quite simple. Instead of letting the teams develop cars made for sheer, outright speed and raw performance, they’re more concerned about reliability and fuel consumption, which ruins it for both the drivers and the spectators. A lot of F1 enthusiasts have even given up on F1, avoiding the sport on the telly altogether. And who could blame them? The 2017 seasons kicked off in Australia last week, and it was rather undramatic and somewhat boring. Here are 5 reasons why overtaking in F1 this year is difficult, if not borderline impossible.
1. Wider Cars
The FIA has allowed the use of fatter, wider tires for 2017, but that means the cars got physically bigger as well. Though one might see this as a sign that they will be faster, the truth isn’t that straightforward, but we’ll get to that in a second. Wider cars mean less overtaking chances, especially on tracks like Monaco or Albert Park in Australia. Apart from the really wide straightaways, there aren’t a lot of places where two F1 cars can squeeze next to one another comfortably. And forget the mesmerizing three-across racing formations we were so used to seeing back in the early 2000s, those are a thing of the past.
2. Braking Zones
With the new cars receiving more grip through both aero and fatter tires, the brake rotors have increased in size as well, from 28mm to 32mm. Though this means the drivers can brake later and dive deeper into brake zones, it also gives us less dive-bombing spectacles since there’s not a lot of room when it comes to out-braking an opponent. A true example that faster does not always equal more exciting. The FIA needs to find a way to make cars both faster and more balanced across the entire grid.
3. Turbulent Air
The new aero rules in place make the cars a lot faster, but it also means there’s more turbulent air behind each and every F1 car. Drivers have always stated that ever since 2014, following a leading car has been made more difficult due to turbulent air, but with the new 2017 year vehicles that problem is even more exaggerated. F1 cars work best in the so-called ‘clean’ air. Turbulent air is distorted so it doesn’t flow over the cars smoothly and efficiently, giving them less grip and stability. In a sense, getting closer to a leading car in the slipstream effect is almost negated this year due to the turbulence, so don’t expect to see any straightaway spectacles.
The tires may be fatter this year, but the aero is less effective when following a leading car. Usually, the chasing driver would be able to create a gap for himself behind the driver in front and attack when the time is right. This year, if you’re following someone you have less aerodynamic grip and have to rely on mechanical one a lot more, so you’re going to heat up and wear out the tires a lot faster. Although the 2017 tires are more durable than last year, they wear out quicker as the season opener in Albert Park proved. The gap for overtaking the leading car is a lot smaller this year, giving you a lap or two before you overheat the tires and have to back off.
DRS is still an unknown, as Australia isn’t really a great indicator as to how the new system will perform. Opinions are split. Some believe that the higher drag levels will make the wing flap effect greater, but Mercedes disagrees. Engineering director Aldo Costa claims that the DRS effect will actually reduce because the wings themselves are shallower. We’ll find out next weekend in China, won’t we?