Alonso: too much focus on overtaking

Admittedly Fernando Alonso’s comments about overtaking find a safe harbor from me as I have, to the point of becoming a droning idiot, been moaning on about DRS for ever since it was introduced. I’ve also said many times that I am a bit of a heretic in the Formula 1 fan community because when I took those many surveys like millions of other people, “more overtaking” was not high on my list of things I felt F1 needed to improve.

For me, DRS was an answer to the fans clamoring for more overtaking but it was also a way to avoid the elephant in the room which is aerodynamics—the Holy Grail of F1 designers—and find a way to allow these cars to somehow overtake each other at the end of long straights.

Fernando thinks we may be putting the focus on the wrong thing:

“But definitely nowadays it’s very possible that the car that is running 16th or 17th can overtake a Mercedes out of the pitlane with newer tyres and pull away.

“That’s difficult to explain to the people in front of the televisions.

“The overtaking is probably not as real as it was before. You don’t need to be inspired by something or to choose the right moment in the right place.

“If it’s not in this corner, you wait another corner and you will pass because they are five seconds slower.

“I don’t think we need to put a finger on one thing to improve the show because when we were having those races with two or three overtaking moves we were asking for more overtaking to improve the show.”

I agree with him—no surprise there. It’s not prolific overtaking I want to see, it’s relatively competitive cars that are able to race and pass each other. Alonso uses the example of Spain 2005 but I would go back a little farther in the late 90’s when McLaren and Ferrari were locked in an epic battle and the driving skills of Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher often times made the difference if either car was slightly off song in setup.

There wasn’t complete parity between the cars but they were close enough and the design of the cars, while certainly impacting each other aerodynamically, weren’t so tweaked that the wake was massive and the trailing car would chew up its high degradation tires just trying to close in on the leader.

If relatively comparable cars can race close together and allow for driver skill to overcome slight deficits, it would be far closer to what I would hope for from F1. To be fair, that’s asking a hell of a lot from the series and it is easier to just create HD tires and DRS to provide some semblance of passing than it is to really roll the sleeves up and come up with the strategy that would allow for this type of racing—not to mention the teams would not be all in agreement.

Perhaps the new chassis designs for 2017 will be approved and effective…at least that’s what I am hoping for. I think Alonso is too.