Recent reports have shown that the number of overtakes in 2011 so far is much higher than at the same three races in 2011. Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat has found out the total is now at nearly 150 passes, but is that what Formula One really needs?
Granted, passing in the past was very limited, and something had to be done to improve that. In that, congratulations to the technical working group and new FIA president Jean Todt to address this situation.
However, and fortunately, some people have already voiced their concerns about the overtakes, and more importantly how easy it all has become. The problem appears to be that the issue has been addressed in such a way that overtakes in F1 have now almost become a normal thing and are uninteresting events.
The most important factor are the tyres which are now much less durable after the FIA has specifically asked for tyres with such behaviour. Great job by Pirelli, but the issue of tyre marbles remains, and looking at Sepang last week, has become even worse.
A change in regulations has also played a big part in the change of race events this year, with especially the adjustable rear wing flap allowing easier overtakes on straights. At the first GP of the season, held at Melbourne, it helped, but it was still quite difficult to get past another car.
In sharp contrast are the Malaysian and Chinese Grand Prix. The particularities of these tracks, in combination with people being on different phases of their tyre stints make overtaking just ridiculously easy.
An example of this is the battle between Hamilton and Alonso during the Malaysian GP. Alonso's DRS system failed after just a few laps in the race and therefore had to battle Hamilton the old fashioned way, delivering one lap of close battle, overtaking attempts and eventually a minor collision. Whatever is the purpose of the new regulations and tyres, such battles should never be reduced, and they unfortunately already are. Just imagine how simple a pass would have been if Alonso could use his DRS device on the pit straight at Sepang. It would have been a walkover.
In the end, Formula One as it is now, with KERS and Pirelli tyres could easily do without a drag reduction system, which is a very artificial system in its currently regulated form.Steven De Groote