It’s expected that the new regulations will make overtaking much harder in 2017, and that the current DRS zones won’t be as effective as they have been in previous years.
Although to many fans that will sound like a good thing, the FIA is already eyeing up making changes so that the amount of tedious motorway-style passing stays the same as it has done in the past.
Because the new cars are bigger and generate more downforce, that means they also generate more drag, which means that opening the rear wing flap will result in less of a gain in speed.
The FIA have put lots of effort into making sure the 2017 cars are faster and more exciting to watch and drive, but it seems like the impact this will have on the racing has been largely ignored until now, which is weird because, you know, it’s a race.
Aldo Costa, Mercedes’ engineering director, expressed his views on what could happen to the racing.
“We need to learn about the overtaking because this car is fundamentally different from an aerodynamic point of view. They have not been particularly studied for the overtaking improvement. So we need to see how it would be [for] that. The DRS effect will be smaller so probably the FIA will have to increase the distance [of the zone], probably, to make it as effective or even more effective. So we have to discover altogether, little by little, where we are in terms of racing.”
Costa also said of the racing that “we will have to learn as an F1 community about it.” In a very un-F1 move however, it seems like the FIA are actually going to try and learn about it before making any rash changes.
Because the DRS zones at Albert Park are quite small nothing meaningful can really be learned from them, but the long straights of the second race of the season at Shanghai should give a decent impression of what needs to be done (if anything). Therefore after the Chinese GP the FIA will consider making changes if they consider overtaking to be too difficult.
Wow. Waiting to gather some meaningful data and then making an informed decision based on those findings – maybe the FIA learned something from the whole elimination qualifying fiasco after all! It’s good to see F1 making some positive steps but the overtaking issue hasn’t exactly been a secret and you have to wonder – why couldn’t they have looked at solving it a year ago?