Like any season, 2017 has had good races and bad races. But whilst the good races have been really, really good, some of the bad races have been really, really dull.
Some of that is down to the aero-heavy nature of the car, but F1 Sporting Boss, Ross Brawn, reckons circuit layouts have got a lot to do with it as well and he’s looking at ways things can change in order to improve things.
Brawn has said that as well as looking at ways to allow the cars to follow each other more closely, work is underway to see how existing circuits can be altered to help provide better racing.
“The aerodynamic programme is now starting to pick up pace, and the work on circuit development is happening. We have already got engaged with some circuits about possible modifications to improve racing.
“We have started looking in our archives. Were there periods of racing where there was more overtaking? Are there tracks where there is more overtaking? So you can do a statistical analysis.”
So, what sort of changes is he looking to make? By the sounds of things, wider tracks will help, with COTA being given as a good example of what works.
“What we are seeing so far is the ability to take different lines through corners is quite important to help racing. So if you have got a hairpin and it is a narrow track, it is not that great. If you have a hairpin and it is a wide track, where there can be some different lines going into it, then you can get something happening.
“Austin, I think, would fall into the category of where there is a complex of corners.”
It isn’t just the layouts that matter though – Brawn also admitted that the track surface has a massive effect on the racing, with low-degradation surfaces contributing to dull races.
“The surface is quite important to the racing because the type of surface can create degradation and a reasonable degree of tyre degradation is helpful to racing because you start to get performance differentials,” he said.
“It doesn’t want to be the band aid to fix it. But if you look at circuits with very low degradation, like Sochi, the racing there is challenging and it is one stop. The tyres don’t go off, so away you go. There are no performance differentials created.”
Thankfully, he also realises that there’s more to good racing than just the number of overtakes, as anyone who’s watched the awesome duel between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher at Imola in 2005 will surely know.
“The thing you have to be careful of is that overtaking isn’t good racing. You have got to start to think about what is good racing – and it is two cars fighting each other. It may mean the guy in front stays in front but you can have some great racing going on. It is a little bit more complex than the number of overtakes, counting the number of overtakes.
It’ll be interesting to see exactly what comes of this and what circuits may be up for alteration. It’s probably not going to mean drastic things like turning Monza’s Parabolica into a big, slow, wide hairpin, but we could see some circuits (Abu Dhabi apparently has something in the works) getting a bit of a makeover in the near future.