Tag Archives: overtaking

How is F1 2010 comparing to F1 2009 so far?

So, 4 races into the F1 2010 season, and we have had 3 different winners with no sure idea of who is the favourite for the title. The technical rule changes this year were deisgned to “improve the show”, so let’s see how they’ve done so far.

Driver’s Championship – 2009 vs 2010

2009 Driver Points
1 Jenson Button 31
2 Rubens Barrichello 19
3 Sebastian Vettel 18
4 Jarno Trulli 14.5
5 Timo Glock 12
2010 Driver Points
1 Jenson Button 60
2 Nico Rosberg 50
3 Fernando Alonso 49
4 Lewis Hamilton 49
5 Sebastian Vettel 45

The one thing that amazes me is that, despite the huge increase in the number of points given out, the gap between the top 5 is actually smaller this year than it was last year. This can largely be accredited to the fact that drivers have not been consistent with their finishing positions this year.

By looking at the chart alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that Jenson Button is dominating the first 4 races of both years. However, this year, that is certainly not the case. While he has won twice in 4 races, his rivals have kept up with him well, meaning the top 7 this year are separated by only 20 points.

No real assumptions can be made about the championship so far, but I would think that there are 8 drivers in contention for the title this year, compared to about 3 or 4 last year. This is a very good thing to say, as more competition means a better and more entertaining fight for the title.

Constructors’ Championship – 2009 vs 2010

2009 Team Points
1 Brawn-Mercedes 50
2 Red Bull-Renault 27.5
3 Toyota 26.5
4 McLaren-Mercedes 13
5 Renault 5
2010 Team Points
1 McLaren-Mercedes 109
2 Ferrari 90
3 Red Bull-Renault 73
4 Mercedes GP 60
5 Renault 46

Again, from directly looking at the 2010 standings, you may think that the 2010 constructors’ championship is the usual battle between McLaren and Ferrari. This is completely wrong, as Red Bull, Mercedes and Renault are all in the hunt still. Red Bull should have been in the lead, but for unfortunate mechanical problems for Sebastian Vettel in the first 2 races, resulting in a loss of 38 points, which would have put them in the lead by 2 points.

While Mercedes and Renault probably won’t be battling for the title, not this year at least, there is still a very interesting battle going on between them. Mercedes have had a head start with Nico Rosberg doing brilliantly to get 2 podiums so far, but Michael Schumacher was been surprisingly poor. Meanwhile, Renault had to wait for a few races for Vitaly Petrov to get up to speed in F1, and he has just rewarded them with his first ever points. With the extremely talented Robert Kubica, Renault may well overtake Mercedes in the standings soon.

At the bottom of the standings, we have the fight between the 3 new teams, something which we certainly did not have last year. Of course, none of these teams have got points yet, but we didn’t expect them to. So far, Lotus are the fastest of the new teams, followed by HRT and then Virgin. Branson’s squad’s dire reliability have ensured that they lie bottom of the standings, behind a team that didn’t even turn a wheel before Bahrain Friday Practice.

Overtakes per race

2009 Race # of Overtakes
1 Australia 25
2 Malaysia 28
3 China 60
4 Bahrain 15
2010 Race # of Overtakes
1 Bahrain 21
2 Australia 41
3 Malaysia 24
4 China 81
2009 vs 2010 - Overtakes in first 4 races compared

2009 vs 2010 - Overtakes in first 4 races compared

These 2 charts tell a lot. Put simply, in 3 of the 4 races this year, there have been more overtakes in 2010 than in 2009.

Admittedly, the rain has played a part in 3 of these races, but the racing was still great in situations where the rain did not apply. For example, in Malaysia, where the Ferraris and McLarens were charging through the field, the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were doing a great job getting past fellow drivers in superior machinery.

It’s not surprising to see Bahrain bottom of the chart in both years, but there’s a simple solution to increase average overtaking across the year: Get rid of Bahrain. And throw in Valencia, Turkey, Hungary and Barcelona while you’re at it, Bernie.

Nevertheless, I’m confident that there can be more overtaking in these circuits (except Monaco) this year, and I will talk about this more in the next section.

If you want more stats on overtaking across the years, then have a look at this page by Clip the Apex, which has a section where they analsyse overtaking in Formula 1 extrmely well, you can have a look at it here.

Race-by-race analysis

2009

Let’s have a look at 2009 first. The season opener in Australia was mad, but not exactly pure racing, as most of the action was caused by badly chosen tyre compounds by Bridgestone. The crash between Kubica and Vettel near the end, which ended the battle for the lead, was a perfect example. Having said that, the Brawn 1-2 was a very special moment for many, including me.

Malaysia was again very eventful, but in a completely different way. In the first half of the race, many of the overtakes were caused by the KERS-equipped Fernando Alonso falling down the field. When the rain threatened at the first stops, we were intrigued by Kimi Raikkonen’s choice for extreme wets, even though the track was dry. When the rain did eventually fall, nearly the entire grid leaped for extreme wets, only to be out-smarted by Timo Glock, who chose intermidiates. When everyone realised their mistake, and switched back to inters, the rain fell harder, and the race fell apart. While the last 10 laps were very entertaining, it wasn’t exactly pure racing.

Next up was China, which was completely drenched with rain. This was a very good race, as the conditions stayed terrible throughout, which meant that wet weather tyre strategies didn’t apply. The battle between Mark Webber and Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton trying to pull his way up through the field, were my personal favourites.

Finally, Bahrain gave us the surprise of a Toyota 1-2, but only in qualifying. A disastrous decicion to put on the harder tyres for the second stint of a 3-stop strategy threw away their advantage of their front row lockout, and handed the race to Jenson Button on a plate. However, he didn’t get it entirely by Toyota, as a crucial pass on Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the first few laps proved decicive in the race.

2010

Instead of Australia, Bahrain was handed the honour of hosting 2010’s first F1 race. Any boy, did they make a mess of it. To make a long story short, the race was boring and processional, and the new section of the track was awful, leaving many to criticise the new F1 regulations far too quickly.

After the mess of Bahrain, Australia firmly proved F1’s critics wrong. A shower at the start nicely mixed up the grid in the first few laps, with Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher getting caught out. However, as the track dried out, Jenson Button made a crucial dry tyre call, and put himself back into contention for the lead. Meanwhile, Alonso was scything his way through the field, whereas Schumacher was stuck behind the rookie Alguersuari for up to 30 laps. Despite the rain at the start, it was a great race, even when the track dried out.

Malaysia was next, where rain in qualifying turned the grid upside down, as Alonso, Massa, Button and Hamilton were all stuck at the back of the field. In the race, both the Ferraris and McLarens battled between themselves as they tried to climb their way into the points. Many people argue that this wouldn’t have been an exciting race if these top drivers weren’t at the back, but I disagree. Jaime Alguersuari drove a brilliant race through the field to get his first ever Formula 1 points. His overtake around the outside of Nico Hulkenberg (I think!) was stunning for a rookie, and it was the highlight of the race for me.

Finally, China was another race affected by rain, but not in a way that actually brought about much overtaking during the start, which is quite odd. Nevertheless, it was another great race, as Jenson Button yet again proved his masterful tyre managment to give him the win.

In the first 4 races of 2009 and 2010 compared, there is little to separate them, although the 2010 races have been more pure, because of the ban on refuelling meaning more overtaking on track rather than in the pits. However, if you have a look at the 2009 F1 calendar, you will notice that many of the next races weren’t exactly classics, up to Silverstone anyways. So, if F1 2010 is truly better than previous years, which I believe it is, then the next 3 races (Spain, Monaco, Turkey) will have to impress. Then, after this, the F1 paddock will roll into Montreal, and then hopefully it will all become clear.

The “most exhaustive” F1 survey ever

FOTA, who are organising the survey

FOTA, who are organising the survey

FOTA have launched what they have called the “most exhaustive” F1 survey ever.

The survey is to find out what every type of person feels about Formula 1, even if they rarely watch it. The survey definitely deserves it title, it covers everything. There are questions about how they feel about racing technology, overtaking, changing race structure, the drivers and teams, safety, and broadcasting.

Even if you aren’t interested in Formula 1, I’d encourage you to take the survey anyway. These results will probably be used by FOTA to push for a new F1 in the future.

Have your voice heard – take the survey here.

Oh, and make sure you say you’re over 18 ;) They won’t let you take the survey if you say you aren’t!

Why don’t they just leave the rules alone?

This time in 2009, Bernie Ecclestone unveiled his new idea for F1: the medal system. Cue outrage around the world. The idea was dropped two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne, but the controversy over it never really left. This stupid idea from Ecclestone was eventually left alone, but still revealed the Achilles heel of Formula 1: inconcistency.

At no point over the last decade have the rules and regulations been left alone for a long period of time. So many pointless changes, like the horrificly awful qualifying format for 2005 and the difference in tyre compunds in 2009 show how Formula 1 never learns.

At the moment, we are inundated with F1 leaders talking about “improving the show”. What’s this all about? Formula 1 isn’t a show, it’s a sport. In 2009, we saw one of the biggest overhaul of the technical regulations in recent history, to improve overtaking, which, after all the mad changes we saw, failed. This year, the F1 teams want to force the top ten qualifyers to keep their tyres into the race. They say that this will create a mix-up in the field. The crucial word in that last sentence was “create”.

Great racing isn’t created by constantly fiddling with the rules until it happens. Unfortunately,  everyone in FOTA, the FIA, Overtaking Working Group, and Technical Working Group seems to think it works. This means that, for years, we will be seeing more and more rule changes, to try and create artificial racing.

Just look at the tyre compounds at the start of 2009 for example. Here, Bridgestone decided to have one compound in between the ones they would be using each weekend (eg super-soft and medium, soft and hard). Since both compounds had to be used in a race, it would mean a huge difference in performance over stints. In Australia, we saw the super-softs disintegrate after 8 laps, and the medium tyres struggle to get heat into the rubber. What we ended up with was lots of action, as the field was constantly struggling with the tyres. Then, near the end, the inevitable happened: Vettel, who was struggling for grip, crashed into Kubica, and took them both out.

This is not only unpure racing, it’s just dangerous. It took Bridgestone nearly half the season to get the message, and finally reverted to the old tyre compound procedure. But, even though its gone, it simply guarantees my thoughts that these sort of rule changes are terrible for the sport.

Of course, the leaders of our sport never learn. So, for 2010, let’s go back to the Q3 “same tyre for race” rule. It hasn’t been approved yet, but almost certainly will be. This means that we will see a mix up in the grid, between drivers who go slower on more consistent tyres, or drivers who go quicker on fast-wearing tyres.

Isn’t this what we just banned with the refuelling ban? We wanted an end to seeing light-fuelled cars on pole, and the faster cars penned back because of a heavy fuel load. So what the hell is the point of ditching that, and introducing something which will end up exactly the same?

At the end of it all, it simply makes no sense. Maybe it’s too early to complain about the tyre rule changes, but seeing how other changes have gone down, I’m not confident. However, at some point, the Overtaking Working Group will get their wish. We will see a season filled with overtaking, action and incidents. The tv audience will be glued to their seats. And it will be hollow, because we will have artificially ruined Formula 1.

Newey: Banning DD diffusers won’t help overtaking

Adrian Newey

Adrian Newey

Red Bull aerodynamicist Adrian Newey says that the potential banning of the double-decker diffusers in 2011 will not help overtaking in F1.

Talking at the Watkins Lecture at Autosport International, he said:

“I don’t think [double diffusers] affected the overtaking. It gave us more downforce and made the cars about a second a lap quicker. That doesn’t change whether the car’s going to overtake or not, there’s no difference in the aerodynamic wake which is what affects the ability of the car behind to overtake.”

Also, he believes that the sport should not get back into the habit of “piecemeal modifications” during the 1998-2008 technical era:

“The regulations we had for 2009 were the subject of a lot of research by the Overtaking Working Group. It’s questionable whether they worked or not, but the process, I think, was correct.”

“What’s now happening is we’ve gone back to these piecemeal modifications – banning double diffusers or getting rid of barge boards. For me, it’s very frustrating that it’s not being thought out. [It needs] a clear goal and proper research.”

“So often in Formula 1, things are changed with very little research.”

Also, he has concerns about the banning of refuelling for the 2010 season:

“I think the ban on refuelling is another example of that where… maybe it will be good for the racing, but it was not thought out. Some people thought “we could save a £100,000 here by cutting the cost of flying the refuelling rigs around the world. But if that destroys the spectacle and the racing becomes more boring as a result of that and people start turning their televisions off, then that wasn’t £100,000 well saved.”

Anderson: 2010 rules bad for overtaking

Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

The former technical director of Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar, Gary Anderson, believes that narrower front tyres for 2010 will make overtaking more difficult in F1.

Anderson, who is now a technical correspondant for Autosport, said:

“I think the aerodynamic grip will overcome the mechanical grip loss by a reasonable amount. The full contact patches added up are what gives the car the grip level on the track, but the aerodynamics of the car are going to improve quite dramatically.

“And I think that’s wrong, because all the way along the FIA has been trying to reduce the downforce of the car to improve the overtaking, and from the simple rule of just changing the front tyre, suddenly you’ve increased the downforce levels and made overtaking worse again.”

“So it’s going to be very difficult to know. But it’s going to be about the cars and the drivers that know how to look after their tyres, because you’re going to have to do much longer stints on the tyres now.”

Because front tyres are now narrower, there is less turbulence coming from the front wing and suspension area, meaning more downforce at the front. This may lead to understeer, which can be corrected with either high rear wing angle, which increases drag and reduces speed, or lower wing flap angles at the front. This will mean about the same downforce as before the narrower tyres, but less drag and therefore higher speed.

Anderson belives that this, coupled with the refuelling ban, should not be underestimated.

“It’s going to be interesting for sure,” he said. “It’s a pretty big rule change – it will change everything that the teams have learned over the last 15 years.”

“Race strategy was such an important factor in potentially winning a race. And it’s not only refuelling. The front tyre is a narrower tyre, which will lead to better aerodynamics because there is more air that can get through between the front wheel and the monocoque. So the aerodynamic changes to the car will increase the downforce.”

“The performance of the car next year should be better by a reasonable amount, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them half a second quicker, something like that.”

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