Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

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DiogoBrand
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Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by DiogoBrand » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:24 pm

With every year more and more people talking about 'how to have more overtakes on F1', with no solution at all seeming to work, here's why I think overtaking may actually never be a thing again on F1.

1. Faster cars qualify higher: If my car is faster than the other, I'm probably gonna qualify higher, so how is there gonna be any overtaking if the faster cars are aready starting in front?

2. Precision and Consistency: F1 gets more and more consistent every day, with both the cars' manufacturing being precise to a nanometer as well as the drivers being incredibly consistent. So there's no reason for a car that's 5 tenths faster than the other to suddenly become 5 tenths slower, therefore there's one less logic reason for a car that's behind passing a car in front. Back in the day engineers and drivers had a vague idea of how much their engines and gearboxes would last, so sometimes a driver would push less than he could, or more, which led to breakdowns. Apart from some engines blowing today, that doesn't usually happen anymore, and even when it does, I don't feel any excitement from seeing an engine blowing.
Also, teams today have a pretty good idea of the ideal pace for the driver to go as fast as possible from start to finish, so there's no reason for a faster car to suddenly become slower.

3. Strategies: Everyone qualifies on low fuel and gets whatever fuel load they want for the race. Also with the more durable tyres, a 1 stop is pretty much always the way to go. With that in mind, strategy is currently not a factor for a faster car to suddenly become slower. When that does happen, we see an amazing show like the Red Bulls gave us at China, but it rarely does happen.

4. Aerodynamics: Everyone blames F1's complicated and sensitive aerodynamics for the lack of overtakes, and that is a part of the problem. But if you watch this video you'll see that the speed with which a car drags the air leaves the car behind less relative speed for its aerodynamics to work, so no matter how simple the aero is, driving in the wake will always be a problem. Just watch the 2009 season: Aerodynamics were way simpler than today, and even so overtaking wasn't considerably better.
Perhaps that could improve with a bigger focus on mechanical grip and ground effect, but the wake of the car in front will always be an issue for cars so aero dependant as F1 cars.

Also: Overtaking in F1 is actually really easy.
Look at how easily Ricciardo was able to overtake on newer tyres in China, or how fast Hamilton made up positions at Bahrain, so fast in fact that after that Grand Prix some were asking if overtaking was too easy. The fact of the matter is: if the car behind is faster, overtaking in Formula One is surprisingly simple. The big problem is that there's no logical reason for a faster car to usually be behind a slower one.


There you have it guys. It may seem a little pessimistic, but every time I think about it, I see no good reason for overtaking to become a common thing in F1, no matter how many DRS zones, no matter how they change the aerodynamics. Leave your opinions down below (I sounded like a youtuber now, sorry).
Last edited by DiogoBrand on Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by flynfrog » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:15 pm

I think part of the problem is people have this rose colored glasses version of the past where every race was this:




When in reality most races most races were pretty boring.

But to address your post yeah the cars are so fast and closely matched there inst going to be a ton of overtaking.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by DiogoBrand » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:08 pm

Rose tinted glasses are a big part on that discussion. I already tried watching some races from the 1980's on youtube and they were pretty much as boring as today.

IMO most racing fan lives in the past. I mean, 10 years ago everyone complained that there was no overtaking. Today you see a lot of people saying "Early 2000's was the real F1", when by the graph you posted you can tell it was the most boring era in history overtaking-wise.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by GrayGreat » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:07 pm

Well, here is my take on this.

Fastest cars start at the front, and slower cars at the back, so overtaking is basically impossible, and rightly so, because why would you want the faster car to be overtaken by a slower car?!

The real problem, which is usually forgotten amid the overtaking debate is the ability of faster cars to overtake slower cars. Even a car that is 1 second faster than the car in front usually gets stuck behing for multiple laps. This is the problem that should be discussed, not the outright overtaking itself.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by wesley123 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:21 pm

I think people focus way too much on overtaking, like it is the sole thing that matters. It actually has reached the point where overtaking is simply just driving past another.
And in thought of that, it has actually made the problem worst; Teams don't actually have to drive their race with overtaking in their mind anymore, because DRS will take care of that.

You can have great battles where the other driver never actually gains a position, but apparently that isn't good enough anymore. And a huge amount happens in the midfield, which has always been the case.
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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by PhillipM » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:26 pm

Teams have gotten far too good at analysis and setup with the compute power and manpower available today.
When you get an outlier like today with unexpected temperature issues for the tires, sudden bursts of wet weather, etc, the races come good again.

If it were me I'd cut down the practice sessions. Or only allow them to practice on a single tyre type.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by flynfrog » Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:42 pm

wesley123 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:21 pm
I think people focus way too much on overtaking, like it is the sole thing that matters. It actually has reached the point where overtaking is simply just driving past another.
And in thought of that, it has actually made the problem worst; Teams don't actually have to drive their race with overtaking in their mind anymore, because DRS will take care of that.

You can have great battles where the other driver never actually gains a position, but apparently that isn't good enough anymore. And a huge amount happens in the midfield, which has always been the case.
I agree. With DRS drivers rarely earn a pass anymore get up on the rear wing open the flap and drive on by. I got into F1 because I found the cars and strategy fascinating. There are plenty of series with tons of overtaking it doesn't really make the race more interesting for me its still the strategy. Take indy or nascar. sure they can overtake easily but its all about getting into track position for the last few laps. See Fred's Indy try ran up front all race until the regulars made their moves late in the race. When over taking becomes easy it doesn't matter anymore.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by mani517 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:08 pm

All good points... but, performance delta between competitors is the key reason for lack of overtaking. Each time an argument is made about minimising performance delta, inevitably, a counter argument is made about the need for pushing boundaries and staying true to the "pinnacle of motorsport" title.

F1 is a unique sport that allows cars to take different development path in an attempt to make sense to the constructors championship, with astounding level of success, I must add. But, what the great minds of F1 fail to realise is, the level of free development is proportional to the potential performance delta. When the range of performance spread becomes huge, it naturally affects driver's championship (often kills it).

What we need is a performance delta between cars that can be offset by driver talent or car handling. That does mean, F1 should lean towards a spec series, but, the question is to what extent? F1/FIA could still let the teams enjoy their development battle, but, in a much more controlled and regulated environment -- surely, this should be an easier problem to solve than increasing overtaking while turning a blind-eye to the performance delta. But, we're talking about F1, it could be a tough ask...

May be, age the engine technology in a controlled way by introducing performance cap and find a way to allow cars to be driven flat out all the time in the track. IMO, fuel saving, engine saving etc. are counter productive. I understand the intentions, "less engines = less cost" etc., but, there are better ways to save cost -- for example, performance cap on engine should reduce the development bandwidth, thus, development cost.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by Edax » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:59 pm

I think one of the advances which has reduced the amount of overtaking is the evolution of the gearbox. I can’t remember the last time I heard that someone made a gear shift error, while that was a frequent cause of overtakes in the 80’s.

With the current paddles it is just a matter of clicking up and down and as long as you watch the lights you’re OK.

Driving with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the shifter, whilst feathering the throttle and the clutch is a different matter. Much more time to be gained or lost there.

Not sure whether we want to bring that back. Might as well bring back the spoke wheels and the cigar bodies and then you end up with a historic series..

But if you look for a reason overtakes went down, this and the spongy brakes used up to the mid 80’s are my prime suspects.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by roon » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:21 am

Where is all the passing supposed to come from.

If it's from fast cars overtaking slow cars, the implicit suggestion is to have a big performance delta across the field. This is at odds with people calling for different forms of parity. If you want faster cars lapping slower cars, watch multiclass sportscar racing.

If it's from multiple artificial place regressions via pitstops, then perhaps consider turning the tracks into obstacle courses. Go all out with the hoop-jumping. Ramps, oil slicks, sand traps, fire rings, elephants, water jets, sidewind jets, loops. Bernie wanted this.

There's enough to like about the sport without crashing and passing. It's why forums like this exist. Yet, people sign in here and with all the grace of a drooling chimpanzee slap their hands against a computer keyboard, miraculously forming coherent sentences, to complain about a sport they have little comprehension of.

Two of the biggest, I would say most significant, motorsport events this year were time trials (Pikes Peak and Porsche's 919 tour), zero passing, while NASCAR has had declining viewership for years. If the races bore you, then get off your couch and go to them. You may have more fun. Motorsport is older than TV coverage and on-board cameras. As a spectator event it has historically, mostly involved spectators attending races in person. Which is an entirely different experience from sitting in a room alone in your boring neighborhood over-analyzing an edited camera feed displaying the same thing over and over again.

Watching a car drive the same lap dozens of times is inherently boring. People seem to have forgotten this. That's what a race is. Mastering a lap lots of times until you win. It's repetitive and boring to watch. Why does this surprise people.
Last edited by roon on Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by roon » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:17 am

Edax wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:59 pm
I can’t remember the last time I heard that someone made a gear shift error, while that was a frequent cause of overtakes in the 80’s.

With the current paddles it is just a matter of clicking up and down and as long as you watch the lights you’re OK.
Interestingly, if you go back far enough you find two speed manuals in F1. Which would entail less shifting, less opportunity for error, more hands on the steering wheel. What modern afficionados would call too easy, or boring, while claiming F1 as not being like it used to be.

Edax wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:59 pm
Driving with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the shifter, whilst feathering the throttle and the clutch is a different matter.
Drivers had one hand on the f-duct and one hand on the brake balance lever while altering the front wing in 2010, so there's precedent for complex operations in recent history. Didn't always lead to passing or crashing.

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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by johnny vee » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:33 am

Thank you for this thread Diogo. You make some very good points.
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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by oT v1 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:40 am

My 2 cents...aero aside.

Braking efficiency is the biggest killer for overtakes.

Most overtakes are done in the braking zone, so this zone in the lap/overtaking window needs to be increased. lets face it F1 cars are rediculous at braking :o

Reduce the power of the brakes (easier said than done, it’s not not like MotoGP where they could switch between steel/carbon, plus lap times will fall off a cliff) and there’ll be a lot more overtakes!
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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by Just_a_fan » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:50 am

roon wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:21 am
Yet, people sign in here and with all the grace of a drooling chimpanzee slap their hands against a computer keyboard, miraculously forming coherent sentences, to complain about a sport they have little comprehension of.
Brilliant! Give that man a prize - the best thing I've read on here in many a moon. =D> =D>
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Re: Why overtaking is dead, and might never come back

Post by turbof1 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:58 am

flynfrog wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:15 pm
I think part of the problem is people have this rose colored glasses version of the past where every race was this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeLK9UftveA


When in reality most races most races were pretty boring.

But to address your post yeah the cars are so fast and closely matched there inst going to be a ton of overtaking.

http://i.imgur.com/cSbJdVd.png
The issue I have with that graph is how it commonly assumed in F1 that the amount of overtaking = the amount of entertainment. I rather have 0 overtakes but 50 attempts then 50 overtakes where the opposing car blasts past.

The issue also is just how spectacular reliable these cars have become. In the past cars would break down right, left and centre. Nowadays you get on average maybe 2 cars each race breaking down. So that's a lot of drama removed from the show.

Furthermore, teams have a constant flow of telemetry data. They are very rarely off with things like fuel. During the 80's car in general would be under- or overfueled and only found out about at the end of the race.

I don't think it was better in the past. The same rules that applied back then still apply generally speakin now: the faster car will be generally in front. What you don't have as much anymore, is the chaos that can make a race from time to time a lottery.
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