Could someone show concern about the physics of the actual racing in F1 rather than the composition of the engines? Is that too much to ask?
It’s interesting to have Lewis Hamilton’s thoughts on the difficulty of overtaking not long after he had passed 10 cars during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Forgetting for a moment his performance advantage from a fresh engine due to run for ‘only’ two races, Hamilton credits much of his progress to the artificial effect of DRS.
Actually, ‘credit’ is not necessarily the right word since Hamilton admits there’s little to admire in any push-to-pass system; a view that is widely shared, judging by subsequent social media comment.
Aversion to DRS gets my vote. It’s a bandage for a gaping wound; a tacit admission that the rules governing aero are flawed, making it very difficult for the current cars to run in close company.
Why this should surprise anyone is beyond me since the current nose wings are a recipe for disaster on several counts: too wide; too complex; too expensive; too prone to unnecessary damage; too ugly. Okay, the latter is a subjective view. The multi-element aerofoils do represent beautiful pieces of intricate sculpture when you see them stacked on stands outside a garage; it’s just that they just look ridiculous and questionably pointless when mounted on the car.
When is anyone going to show interest in curing this fundamental failing that inhibits the actual racing? “Dear Ross and Chase: You remember racing, don’t you? It’s the thing people come to see as opposed to paying handsomely to watch synchronised passing inbetween razzamatazz on the grid and some dummkopf ‘personality’ asking banal questions when it’s all over. And, by the way, don’t dare mention reverse grids.”
Daniel Ricciardo fans will be the first to stand against criticism of a lack of passing since their man has pulled off truly outstanding moves. The Honey Badger – and, to a marginally lesser extent, Max Verstappen – is a spectacular exception to a situation crippling racing that ought to be extremely close.
We’re talking here of a formula employing technical brains so brilliant that the products of their work reach almost identical results in terms of lap time; so close that, as Ferrari and Mercedes found in Sochi, the opening of a cooling duct will cost a fifth of a second over a lap. That may seem hardly worth worrying about but when it amounts to five seconds over a race, it becomes the difference between winning and losing.
Do you open the duct and be ‘slow’? Or close it and risk blowing the engine if not running in clean air? That intriguing question aside, it is an indication of how deeply competitive the teams have become. While I love the intensity of it all, it’s difficult to get such detail across to the fan in the grandstand. In which case, why allow an aero package that inhibits the wheel-to-wheel stuff even further?
I’m not saying F1 should be like a crazy Formula Ford race with the lead changing hands every five seconds on any club circuit near you. I’m merely asking – as I believe Hamilton is – that a driver should not feel there’s little chance of a proper overtake attempt unless his car is more than a second a lap faster than the one in front.
All we want is the opportunity to get close enough to have a decent try; to show a wheel; to sling one down the inside. Is that really too much to ask?