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Downforce gains have harmed overtaking, admits designers.

Some of the leading technical lights in Formula One have admitted that they under-estimated the amount of downforce that would be clawed back by the teams following the redrafting of the rules for 2009, with the subsequent adverse effect on overtaking.

Part of the remit behind the drastic overhaul in the regulations, which led to the radical new look for this year's F1 cars, was to improve the spectacle of racing in the top flight, but the four technical directors present in Friday's press conference at the Nurburgring admitted that the show had not been spiced up as much as they had hoped thanks, in the main, to the efforts of their design teams.

"I think we set a very low target for the downforce, knowing that, once the teams got working on it 24/7, they would rapidly bring that downforce up," Renault's Pat Symonds, a key member of F1's Overtaking Working Group, revealed, "But I have to say it went up a little bit further than I expected it to, which is not conducive to overtaking amongst other things.

"I was having a look at this very subject after Silverstone and I think that, as I put things together, I could see that, give or take a little bit, we had achieved a fair bit of what we set out to do. I think that there is no doubt that the cars can follow a little bit closer and, statistically, if you analyse the races that are worth analysing this year, there has been a little bit more overtaking. I just think we probably didn't go as far as we wished or wanted to. We were setting out to try and halve the time difference needed to produce a successful overtake and maybe we haven't quite got that far."

"We always need the level of downforce," McLaren's Paddy Lowe agreed, "It was important as, obviously, that affects the weight more significantly than anything else. The fact that the downforce that has been achieved by the cars this year is significantly higher than anticipated means inevitably that some of the work we did has been eroded in effect.

"But I think the other factor that is worth bearing in mind, which is quite fundamental, is that, as F1 has become, I would say, more thoroughly professional from end to end - and better resourced from end to end - the performances have closed up so, in actual fact, the spread of lap time performance from end to end of the grid is about half what it was five years ago. Now, if all the cars are that much closer, it just means they will always find it more difficult to overtake, so it is quite a difficult problem to crack."

Asked why the OWG hadn't mandated a design that mimicked the sort of car that provided greater overtaking in the 1970s and '80s, the panel was quick to point out that the motorsport world had changed since then, Red Bull's Adrian Newey adding that there were elements beyond the design of the cars that needed to be addressed.

"I think it's a slipstreaming argument," Newey responded initially, "From Monza in 1970 or whatever, it was a very different technology at the time. Cars, at that time, almost all of them, were powered by a single engine, a DFV, giving out exactly the same horsepower. The circuits have changed [too] - we don't have a Monza-type circuit, we don't have a slipstreaming circuit as that used to be, and that only happened at that particular circuit, if my history of motorsport is correct.

"I think that, yes, if we raced at ovals, then perhaps that would be a way of going about things. Indeed, you've almost had the opposite problem. I think at some of the IRL-type races, everybody is changing places all the time and I'm certainly of the opinion that, if overtaking is too easy, then it's actually quite dull because it just becomes commonplace. I personally don't find NASCAR races very interesting because the whole art seems to be [about being] in about fourth place with three laps to go. So it's personal opinion, but I certainly don't consider that's modern F1 and I think it would be a very artificial set of rules that came up with that.




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sas - Unregistered

July 11, 2009 5:30 PM

About refueling i'm against. I want to see the driver skills, i want to see what they can deliver from qualifying set-up and race set-up. The tyres will be very important, i want racers pushing hard but saving the rubber. What will be the best pace? Am i fighting with other cars with "all my heart" or be patience, what is the best? About the "Brawn-Toyota-Williams" difuser, i think they could be banned, because in f1 we don't have many straights, and where there are, the cars have to be close to overtake. They have to be very good in the corners and f1 is about fluid circuits(like Siverstone, Spa, Suzuka, and the new circuits). Kers has to be banned (Could be a long term development plan).



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