F1 teams concerned over passing; maybe a survey will help

Reading an article about the Formula 1 regulations and how they may be preventing passing, I am reminded that the concept of passing is still very delicate in the expectations department depending on who may be discussing the racing element. F1 hasn’t been a prolific passing series and yet some of the dramatic moments in history have been when a key or critical pass happened. That’s to say, it isn’t prolific but when it does happen, it’s usually for big gains and can be very rewarding for fans, drivers and the teams.

The concern now is that the new cars create a higher amount of disturbed air that it is difficult for trailing cars to even follow let alone pass even if they are quicker than the leading car. An article at Autosport has Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul lamenting the inability to pass that this season could represent.

Their comments are perfectly fine and they’ve been around the sport long enough to not only see what’s happening but to anticipate what may happen as well. However, I found Red Bull’s Christian Horner to be a little more measured in how the sport may approach this issue when he said:

“We have to reserve judgement [on overtaking] after two or three races,” he said.

“Historically there’s never been a lot of overtaking [in Australia].

“Let’s wait for China and Bahrain, which are two of the more easier circuits to overtake at before drawing any judgement.

“The positive [from Australia] was the drivers were pushing all the race.

“There wasn’t a lot of fuel saving going on and not a lot of tyre saving going on.”

It’s been one race and while all the earmarks are there and the teams knew the increased aerodynamics of this year’s car was always going to challenge passing, there is a circuit element to this as well.

Chances are, harder tires and a lack of passing means this year could see a return to passes made in the pit stops and one-stop strategies all year long. The question is, what will F1 do to thwart this processional aspect? We also know how Ross Brawn warned of knee-jerk reactions.

Some have argued lengthening the DRS zones but I found Jason Swales and Will Buxton’s idea of making the detection zone longer. Instead of a one second detection zone, make it two seconds. This would be that a car within 2s of the leading car can use DRS. Normally it is limited to 1s but expanding that may be a simple improvement.

This still means that DRS would be the only major hope of inducing passing this year and ultimately, that’s a gimmick that has to go.

There was another fan survey and while Motorsport.com was proud of the response rate, I am not taking F1 surveys anymore. Sorry, but I’ve taken them for the last fifteen years saying the same damn thing over and over again. The results have been misinterpreted by the GPDA at times and then the F1 Strategy group ignores them. What’s the point? I think it’s terrific that Motorsport had such a good turnout though, I’m not slating them for trying, but ultimately the desired changes rarely match the hidden agendas and machinations of the sport.

As such, doing away with gimmicks and constructs is a resounding fan desire but if the cars can’t pass each other this year, then gimmicks are about all we have left in order to make that happen.

Hat Tip: Autosport