2011 begins with more regulation changes to aid overtaking and inject some more excitement into the sport. The return of KERS, and with movable rear wings, added to moveable front wings and less reliance on aerodynamic grip, have all been sanctioned by the FIA to improve the sport’s reputation as “being boring”.
Yet, back at the end of the 2009 season, overtaking and excitement were rife throughout.
Interlagos, Brazil, showed Jensen Button courageously fighting to finish high enough to win the championship, and introduced Kamui Kobayashi, who fought hard to keep or take any position from any other driver. He almost caused several crashes while defending or trying to take places. The fans loved it, and it made thrilling viewing.
Kobayashi was criticised for his actions as current rules prevent a driver from moving more than once to defend a position, and rightly so. This rule is in place because wheel to wheel racing is a whole lot more dangerous at F1 speeds.
The younger, ex-GP2, drivers are eager to jump at any opportunity to pass a car in front, and will fight to the death to defend a position. In F1, it could very well be “to the death”.
So, wouldn’t a possible answer to the lack of overtaking be making the cars even safer than they already are?
Mark Webber’s crash at Valencia last season, demonstrated the sheer vastness of the improvements in safety, even compared to 15 years ago, let alone 50.
Even though, instead of making the cars easier to overtake, making the cars even safer to crash could do a lot to improve excitement.
Now I know that this may sound like a contradiction. Safe means boring, right?
But increasing a drivers safety could increase their bravery when trying to send one up the inside of the car in front. Making the cars tougher would mean they could take more knocks without breaking, encouraging wheel to wheel racing.
NASCAR drivers provide thrilling overtaking entertainment, while travelling at higher average speeds than F1, and while crashes are spectacular, drivers are rarely seriously hurt.
Formula One cars can take massive crash loads and keep the driver safe. What’s wrong with them crashing like that more often in the pursuit of a more entertaining spectacle? (10 points awarded to the biggest crash of the race!!)
With all that though, Formula One is a pinnacle of motorsport, and is as much about building the best possible car as it is about hiring the best possible driver.
Surely, to avoid your car being overtaken, deliberately creating unstable, heated air from the back of your car would be an advantage?
While I welcome any change to the regulations that improve this fine sport, if your car cant overtake the car in front, make a better car.