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Top F1 teams co-operate to bring overtaking back.

Key members from three of Formula 1's leading teams – Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault – have formed a working group to come up with design ideas that will raise the chances of overtaking in the top flight in 2009.

With a radical overhaul of the technical and aerodynamic regulations within the sport due to take effect from next year, there has never been a greater opportunity of late to solve F1's longstanding problem of not enough passing. The European Grand Prix around the harbour-side streets of Valencia back in August was widely criticised afterwards for having been 'boring' [see separate story – click here], and even world championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted that the action 'can be a bit dull' [see separate story – click here].

That being so – and backed by governing body the FIA – design engineers from the three teams have defied the sport's prevailing atmosphere of secrecy to hold meetings during which they have been bringing their mutual knowledge, resources and experience to the table in discussions about how to spice up the spectacle.

In the old adage that 'three heads are better than one', McLaren's Paddy Lowe, Ferrari man Rory Byrne and Pat Symonds of Renault have set up the Overtaking Working Group, British newspaper The Independent reveals.

“Great overtaking,” underlined Lowe, “is appreciated most where the guy has really worked for it. My personal favourite was when Mika Hakkinen passed Michael Schumacher at Spa in 2000 as both of them overtook on either side of Ricardo Zonta going up the hill to Les Combes.”

Drawing upon McLaren's F1 simulator, the trio determined that around the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona prior to its changes last year, a driver would have needed to have been some two seconds a lap quicker coming out of the final corner in order to have had a chance of getting past the car in front along the main straight.

“Almost all of the attempts to reduce downforce in the recent past have been retrograde in terms of overtaking possibilities and wake behaviour,” one working group representative noted, adding in reference to the two-part CDG rear wing the FIA had initially wanted to make mandatory for 2009: “If we had wanted to make overtaking chances worse, that's what we would have come up with...”

The 2009 designs will feature, The Independent affirms, 'fewer ugly appendages, such as barge boards and air extractor chimneys', whilst rear wings will be both smaller and higher-mounted on the cars and front wings will be wider, lower-mounted and adjustable by the driver whilst driving.

The latter marks the first time such a situation has been permitted at the pinnacle of international motor racing since wings first appeared in F1 more than four decades ago. That should allow drivers to better control the balance of their cars whilst in dirty air – thereby reducing the resultant understeer and, theoretically, improving overtaking chances.

“I hope,” Hamilton admitted, “things will be very different with next year's cars…”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Michael Schumacher overtakes Juan Pablo Montoya at the Nurburgring
McLaren - Honda MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 F1 launch, [Credit: McLaren]
McLaren MCL32, McLaren-Honda, [Credit: McLaren]
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Fernando Alonso - McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
Ferrari SF70H

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Scared - Unregistered

October 02, 2008 10:01 PM

F1? Overtaking? This is supposed to be entertainment and F1 has lost the plot. World Superbike and Motogp are FAR more entertaining these days. BTW, I've been an F1 fan from the 70's. The only driver that reminds me of proper overtaking in F1 is Hamilton.

George - Unregistered

October 02, 2008 8:18 PM

Too Good, no need to insult me or suggest that I am a new fan to justify your own insecurities. That fact that you tried to prove your point with evidence from a race in 2005 is just stupid. It just shows your ignorance. F1 has an overtaking problem TODAY. This isn't 2005, so your example is not really intelligent. Lewis is one of the few making moves TODAY. Not 2005. Also note, I used Lewis as an example because he is one of the Few making passes. I did not say that Lewis is the ONLY driver that EVER makes passes. I want to make that clear so you can sound intelligent when you come back at me in a few minutes. I'm here to help you not look like a fool.

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