Sunday, January 3, 2010

Newey and Michael: Do not blame us

Two of F1's leading car designers believe they are not to blame for the lack of overtaking in the sport and think major changes to circuit design are needed to improve the show. Red Bull technical director, Adrian Newey and his Williams counterpart, Sam Michael agree that the rule changes instituted in 2009 yielded mixed results, but feel circuit design and not chassis design is the key to solving the 'overtake problem'.

"Fundamentally, I think the circuits are probably the biggest influence," Newey told Racecar Engineering magazine. "Everybody keeps conveniently forgetting about that, as it is deemed to be easier to change the cars than change the circuits."

Michael believes the switch to slick tires and reduced aerodynamic downforce last season had some positive effects, and says the disparity in the amount of overtaking at different circuits highlighted the nature of the problem.

"You've got to ask yourself, why do you go to a race such as Barcelona where no one overtakes, and then take exactly the same cars to Monza, Montreal or Hockenheim and you get lots of overtaking," he said.

"You can't keep putting all of it on the car design all of the time. Of course the car design has some responsibility for it, but if you went to every circuit and you never saw any overtaking, then you could blame it all on the car design. But clearly that's not the case, because there are places where cars do overtake."

I believe that circuits do play a role and take a similar view of Sam Michael. Both car and circuit design play a role and F1 should be tackling the issue from both ends.

I actually think that the ban on refueling will do a lot for overtaking in that tire wear will play a critical role and teams may choose to stay out during some periods to keep track position, others will pit for new tires. The difference in tire wear will put guys at different speeds, hence assisting in overtaking. We saw some of this earlier in 2009 when Bridgestone brought a bigger difference gap in the available tire compounds.

On the flip side, F1's insistence on Herman Tilke to design it's newer tracks is a bit of an annoyance. He has some good ones, Istanbul and China; even the heretical carving of Hockenheim has produced good races and side by side action. My only real condemnations are a lot of his tracks are featureless and the fact that F1 has not looked elsewhere for new, fresh ideas. Moreover, there are older circuits on the schedule that can use some changes without destroying the character of the track. The Hungaroring could use another reconfiguration and there are plans for Silverstone to get work done. In addition, some of the newer tracks could be rethought; for example, the Tilke designed Sepang and Bahrain circuits.

However for all of the discussion, an aspect not mentioned is where the races are. Here is a novel idea...go to where the great tracks are.


Anonymous said...

Dump Tilke, rinse and repeat.

Anonymous said...

Is rehashing the news off other sites what passes for a blog now.

Pete DaSilva said...

Thanks. News is the news, and you are right you can get it anywhere and everyone eventually ends up talking the same stories.

As this is not a news site the objective is to share what is going on (the news) and to discuss opinion. Some posts will be directly related to news, some posts will be discussing other things, like F1 and defense tech crossover, the value of a particular driver, etc. In either case, there will be an opinion involved.

Whether my opinion is one that people like or for find useless will be sure to come.

Nevertheless, thanks for the feedback as the comments will help determine it.