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The Overtaking Problem - Go back to slicks 
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Go back to slicks

That could work if it was done in conjunction with a substantial reduction in downforce, otherwise cars will be faster through corners as well as even harder to overtake.

Reader's comments

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Related Article(comments are sorted latest first)

Nevin from Eire adds,

I think the FIA should only allow the wings to have a maximum angle for downforce. something like the downforce they use at Canada should be the max downforce. 
Tyre compounds should be made up by the FIA so that the rubber will not be stickier every race. then the compound is given to Michelin and Bridgestone to make into tyres. Slick tyres should be brought back and a brake system that allows only a certain pressure to be put on brakes so you have to apply the brake earlier when going into a corner. 
This will allow the driver to have more of a chance to overtake.......

The Heretic replies,

The wings are certainly the major cause of the overtaking problem, but it is an aspect of the car that is getting the most attention at present and drives a lot of current innovation in aerodynamics. Tyre development is another. If this development is suppressed how can F1 keep itís no 1 position?

Marco from Australia adds: 

It is so simple.  The idea is too make the ratio between mechanical and aerodynamic grip as high possible.  Therefore BIG WIDE slick tyres are needed to increase mechanical grip and the wing reduced or even totally deleted to reduce aerodynamic grip.  But this will never happen because it is too simple, cheap and easy to implement.  What will happen is that more grooves will be put into the tyres to REDUCE grip and wings reduced or raised by a miniscule 50mm or so which will have negligible effect once the designers have completed and integrated their new aerodynamic packages.

The Heretic replies:

Unfortunately you are right. The whole show would change for the better if they went back to slicks - especially if they specified minimum sizes for the tyres to ensure that there is little point to rely on aerodynamic grip only.

Apart from anything else, the speed increase will be so severe that other changes will be needed at the same time. A big, brave move - not the FIA style.

Nicodemos from Cyprus adds:

I believe that by moving to grooved tyres the FIA has not only reduced mechanical grip, but have also made the cars nearly impossible to go beyond the limits of their cornering ability. It is very rare for us to see a driver lock up when trying to overtake, or drifting on the exit of a corner. With slick tyres, a driven can have a greater feel of his car's grip, and will dare to corner in a way the car was not intended to. Grooves on the tyres greatly reduce a driver's ability to do this, as it places much stricter limits on the manner in which a corner is taken.

With slicks, driver's are more eager to take gambles, which will lead to more overtaking attempts, and perhaps two cars passing and re-passing each other. (Although, in all probability, it will take a number of other changes for this to occur) If the FIA are unwilling to change the aerodynamics of the cars, then a move to slicks, coupled perhaps to better circuits, will be the best available cure to the current state of F1 racing

The Heretic replies:

I suspect that you could be right; however changing only the tyres to slicks without altering the aerodynamics will also make F1 cars a lot faster. As the FIA are already struggling to reduce speed to make it safer for both drivers and spectators, they are unlikely to even consider this.

If they can find a way of slowing the cars down (or making it safer for all concerned at higher speeds) slicks will be great as they improve mechanical grip dramatically, helping when the aerodynamics are not working (slides and spins). Drivers would feel more comfortable with more control and overtaking may improve.

Tim M from Australia adds:

Return to slicks but also make them bigger so there is more mechanical grip.
Reduce wingsize as well and you will have more passing. Look at Indycars, less wing, more mechanical grip = overtaking. Grooves have made the problems worse because teams then just pile more wing on to get grip

The Heretic replies:

Some people are suggesting that we remove all aerodynamic devices.

I agree with you, theoretically they can make the tyres even narrower and the teams will just trade straight line speed for grip by increasing aerodynamic effect.

Maybe there is a tyre width that starts providing so much mechanical grip that the drag associated with aerodynamic grip become too expensive.

Again I am right at the limit of my knowledge. Do we have a reader that can add to that?

Jacob V from Australia adds:

Do we really believe that the aerodynamics plays such a huge part in race-craft? How can we when we see the moves Coulthard made on Schumacher in the latter part of 99'. Everybody is missing the point.(1)The grooves on the tyres are to reduce mechanical grip.(2)The new longer, thinner design makes for a rethinking of how to achieve mechanical grip. What the FIA have done is take away Mechanical grip. The aerodynamic factor does make a difference, but not as much as the mechanical side does. If you can recall with slicks wide, short wheelbase cars a driver could turn in and flat stick all the way out almost. Now they can hardly touch the accelerator without smocking up the rears. Mechanical grip means a driver has confidence. Without it, it means that they are too scared to move these twitchy new age rockets about. The ones who need to make a passing move do so with ease. Mika on Michael SPA 2000. He was able to catch and pass. The drivers need confidence in the cars they drive. There is nothing wrong with aerodynamic grip but we need to give them just as much mechanical grip to have some guts to make a pass. The cars need to be wider and have a decent amount of rubber on the ground

The Heretic replies:

While you have an extremely valid point I believe that the concern would be with the combination of decent mechanical grip with current aerodynamic grip. Go back to wide slicks and wider cars with the current aerodynamics and they will have so much grip that they could campaign an entire race without taking their foot off the loud pedal. Speeds will go too high and the danger factor will make for serious panic in the organiser ranks.

You are right when you say that "they are too scared to move these twitchy new age rockets about" aerodynamic grip alone makes for a very dangerous car as any or all of the control depends on it pointing in the right direction.

I suspect that aerodynamics are here to stay - now if only we can find a way of giving back mechanical grip without making it so fast that it is deemed to be too dangerous for drivers and spectators

A reader adds

Heretic can you please explain to me as I am not technical how when slicks were being used some years ago in conjunction with high downforce cars that they were able to overtake often, I'm not saying your wrong but your statement seems to contradict this maybe I am wrong but surely if you have high downforce with slicks this contributes greatly to grip therefore making overtaking possible, the varying power of the cars in each team would still be different so passing would be still possible on this logic as well.

Have you given any consideration to the re introduction of traction control and active suspension, do you think im barking up the wrong tree and would the FIA consider it anyway.

Heretic's reply:

I absolutely agree with your comments on slicks and wing reduction. I suspect that the reduction of wing surface will have to be pretty extreme, but with the current formula it seems the only option.

The FIA outlawed traction control, active suspension and ABS brakes as they felt that this was taking away from the skill of the drivers. At the time it did not seem to change much and I found it hard to understand why they focused on these aspects and not the semi automatic gearboxes, no clutch and extreme engine and chassis management.

Traction control and active suspension may help to make overtaking easier as they would compensate to some extent for the effect of turbulence.

It is not a bad idea - do we have any other readers with opinions on this?

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