this aerodynamic gear is killing the Grand Prix spectacle, with cars
unable to overtake and races decided on pit stops rather than driver
problem was graphically illustrated at Melbourne, with Kimi Raikkonen
being held up behind Honda’s Reubens Barrichello for 19 laps despite
the Ferrari being 1.5 seconds per lap faster…’
are the problem. Not the seventies pop-rock supergroup created to
continue to feed Paul McCartney’s over-bloated ego, but the
aerodynamics package bolted to F1 cars – and they’re ruining Formula 1.
Despite all of this
year’s changes to the driver’s aids – taking away traction and launch
control, stability programs etc, to make the racing more even – the F1
bosses have myopically neglected the one thing that would make the most
aerofoils that produce so much downforce that it is theoretically
possible to drive an F1 car on the ceiling are the fundamental problem
facing Formula 1 today. The hole punched through the air by a modern F1
car makes it all but impossible for a car following to overtake without
the leading driver either conceding the position or making a mistake.
The turbulent air
zone interrupts the airflow over the following car’s wings, robbing it
of its own downforce at the moment that it’s needed most – during
cornering. This leads to understeering, slower corner speeds and
prevents cars getting close enough to slipstream and then overtake on
The problem was
graphically illustrated in the 2008 season opener at Melbourne, with
Ferrari pilot Kimi Raikkonen being held up behind Honda’s Reubens
Barrichello for 19 laps despite the Ferrari being 1.5 seconds per lap
faster than Barrichello’s chariot. Lewis Hamilton suffered the same
problem behind Mark Webber in Malaysia.
Although this is bad
enough, it gets even worse. The disturbed air doesn’t flow through the
car radiators properly, causing overheating and increased strain on the
engine. Raikkonen’s engine blew up a few laps from the end of the race
– coincidence? Probably not.
world champion Alan Jones has long advocated the return to slick tyres
and reducing the amount of wing allowable to increase the
competitiveness of the sport. Many other recently retired drivers have
bemoaned the amount of technology that has decreased the downplayed the
role of drivers and made the car the real star of F1.
The reputation of
Formula 1 continues to take a battering. It is derisively referred to
as slot car racing because it is so difficult to overtake. The races
are interesting, but rarely exciting and there is something
fundamentally wrong with races being decided on pit stop strategy and
fuel loads. It should be about the combination of car and driver –
that’s what we pay to see.
Having said that, F1
fans are divided into two distinctly different tribes. There are those
who love the racing, with overtaking and crashes, who want to see the
very best cars and drivers pitted against each other.
On the other hand,
there are those who just want to see the pinnacle of automotive
engineering in its native environment; they are there for the sights,
sounds and smell of Formula 1. There is nothing quite like seeing a
live F1 grand prix. It is a feast for the senses and the fact that
there is a race thrown in is a bonus – but it’s not why they’re there.
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep both groups happy?
Is F1 too predictable? Come on petrol heads, give us your view, either with a comment below or in your own Sportingo article.