Write & Earn

The Truth About Overtaking

Is making overtaking more artificial ruining the excitement of Formula One?

Feature 24 Jul 2015, 12:59 IST
The  glory days: A battle for first between Mark Webber of Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton of then McLaren-Mercedes

The excitement quotient of a Formula 1 race is directly proportional to the number of overtaking moves in that race. This seems to be the logic the powers in the sport used while agreeing to install and then finally installing a DRS in every car. I beg to differ.  

I decided to pen this post for multiple reasons. First, to set the record straight and express what I believe is the truth about overtaking. Second, because I had one of the Facebook pages on Formula1 throw up a post that claimed that the Hakkinen-Zonta-Schumacher moment at Spa was possibly the greatest overtaking moves of our times – a moment of inspiration. Third, the executive summary of the GPDA fan survey – finally some data! Is reliving races and duels from the past and enjoying movies such as Rush what the new generation of fans will have to be content with?  

An overtaking battle in Formula1 should be enjoyed (and be allowed to enjoy) as rallying in Tennis. I am happy to see cars battle with each other for laps on end without an overtake actually taking place – much like watching Federer vs. whoever in action over a long rally of shots. Once the point is won there is celebration because of the effort taken to winning it. Of course, the win is celebrated even more so if Federer comes out on top, but that’s beside the point. The DRS fast forwards to the winning of the point even before the rally starts. In short, it takes away the fun!

For Formula1 to get more exciting, it needs to bring back the battle without making the end result predictable. Overtaking is an art and making it artificial and mechanical has done more harm to the sport than good. Drivers have learned the art over years of training and practice in junior formulae only to realise that you might not need it every race in the pinnacle of motorsport any more. This is after realizing that ‘lift and coast’ and not late braking is to be mastered. 

One may blame the build of the modern racing cars (their aerodynamic profile) and the tyres, but if there’s one thing that the F1 Strategy Group should fix, it should be this. And it seems that the regulations for 2017 might introduce ground effect aerodynamics and a restriction for front wing design which should help resolve this issue to some degree. 

Now over to the 40% of the fans who voted in the GPDA survey that DRS has helped improve racing to disagree!

And you are also welcome to read ‘Formula1 Is Cruel’ and ‘Given Everyone Mercedes Engines’.

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