March 10, 2011

More Overtaking in F1? I seriously doubt it...

The big novelty in F1 this coming season will be the addition of movable rear wings, this would allow drivers to trade stability for straight line speed and gain the few meters at the end of the straight that allow for a pass. Great you say? Not so fast.

As things stand now, drivers are not allowed to use the wing any time they choose, daring to go longer without rear downforce for example , or using the device in unexpected places on the track. No, wing usage can only happen with an electronic consent from race control!

Here are the basic rules as of today: During the race, a driver following a car within "one second" will see a light, activated by race control, on his steering wheel. Only then can the driver activate his "Drag Reduction System".
This will be available not anywhere on the track but just in "designated passing zones". If the system works that would mean you would never again see a car stuck behind a slower one, think Alonso and Petrov last year. No, all a driver would have to do is get within one second coming out of a corner, done, driver in front has no defense.

I don't know about you, but I find that almost a deal-breaker even as a long time F1 fan. I hope the rule gets modified to allow at the very least, use anywhere on the track, as they are now allowed to do on Friday and Saturday.

Not that that would solve the problem, drivers will still have to proceed mostly in single file, with only one line through corners, any time after the first couple of laps. Why? in the quest for the show, the FIA has asked Pirelli for tires that shed their rubber after just a few laps, the inevitable result will be more marbles than ever before, negating the usefulness of the movable wing.




  1. I couldn't agree more with that post. Tire marbles have ruined the sport.

  2. Formula 1, its own worst enemy. Glad to see the horrors have not stopped in the post-Mosley era!

  3. Guys, do you remember Arcade driving games, when the driver behind always managed to close the gap regardless of his driving? That was because the game routine was project to help the driver who was following, to make racing more exciting.

    How sad is that F1 has come to the same solution...

  4. And if we wait to see the results? assertions based on partial information is never a good things;

    Like, marbles and lines; Yes marbles pose problems, but have you thought about lateral force vs slip angles? To take different lines you need a tire being able to have large slip angles...not the case with any modern racing car tire. Yes, when you want to lose the least tangential speed while having the highest angular one (= being able to corner and exit fast) you necessarily have a reduction in racing lines.

  5. Does anyone know if the driver in front is allowed to use the "drag reduction" mode to defend a lead from someone who is within "one second"? It seams from comments that they will not be allowed to do that. Also couldn't the fact that race control is operating the wing lead to potential safety issues? Could a sudden (Race Control initiated) increase in drag to the passing car, as it leaves the "zone", coupled with late breaking by the passed car lead to collisions?

  6. Off topic, but this one is to show how McLaren will trash Ferrari in the GT world:

  7. I bet they put an LSD in that one :)

  8. Jb, as far as the rules are now, only the driver behind can use the device.

    That's why I say that it's like videogames, giving an unfair advantage to the driver who follows.

    But, imagine a three car-fight on the straight if the gap between one car and the other is less than 1": the first car that will be forced to run on full downforce, the second will have slipstream plus 0 wing and the third will have 0 wing plus a two car slipstream! Can you imagine that? Maybe it will be exciting, but it sounds like good for a movie like Driven, not for F1...

  9. I think the FIA has reserved he right to amend the use of the wings on a race by race basis.

  10. The FIA and teams have stated that the wing will be adjusted in the regulations to prevent a blow by of the person behind. Its only there to allow someone to get a little bit closer and maybe beside them in the braking zone.

    But I really dont understand why they are allowing them teams to play with the wing all they want during practice and qual sessions, as it just adds more complications to things and gives artificial track times, along with making it a shit-ton more difficult for a driver to be managing KERS and the rear wing at the same time which will now be treated like an F-Duct during friday and sat.

  11. AC,

    You are spot on. F1 is making stupider and stupider attempts to regulate competition when they are totally unwilling to fix the real problem: utter dependence on aerodynamics. Clamp down on the aero rules (as regulations have tried to do for years, yet they keep letting the teams use loopholes), take the resultant hit in lap times, and get the heck over it.

    Do the fans come to see the aero packages? No. Are they hurting the on-track action? Yes. Does that mean we need to change them? Yes!

  12. That is a genuinely ridiculous rule. So you can only use the wing when race control tells you? You have to be within a second?

    Why don't they tell them where they can brake and where they can accelerate for that matter?

    Total deal breaker, I'm sorry but that takes a great idea and sh*ts all over it. Who the hell is making these rules?

    -Chris Hurst

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. In the race series I run in, Skip Barber, we use hanford devices - which work everywhere on the track and make overtaking a tad easier on a long straight.

    Something like this would enable the playing field to be fair for everyone and help make overtaking slightly easier and thus maybe a more exciting show.

    I think a system which is on/off at various points is certainly going to have problems and that if we go 3 races into the season without a controversy ill be shocked.


  15. Why not implant a chip in the driver's brain and manage the race from a console? This is getting ridiculous! How far did we get since Lauda said that he felt the car with his ...behind!

  16. From, re: Charlie Whiting on moveable rear wings:

    Q: What was the thinking behind the introduction of this new regulation?

    CW: This was a proposal the teams made to the FIA with the sole purpose of improving overtaking potential, whilst not making it easy. The FIA is always willing to listen to suggestions for improving the spectacle and we have sought a solution which both pleases the teams and the spectators.


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