Will the new regulations really increase overtaking?
The Overtaking Working Group which is established by the FIA and a lead by Paddy Lowe (McLaren), Pat Symonds (Renault) and Rory Byrne (Ferrari) made a detailed study about how to increase the overtaking in Formula one and FIA has implement new regulations for 2009 in the light of their work. We will see many changes this year especially most of them will be in the aerodynamic area, but will these new regulations really increase the overtaking? Let’s try to find an answer;
Since there weren’t any major changes over the regulations for a very long time and there was an engine freeze, the only chance of gaining an advantage over the other teams was having very different winglets on the cars. This different aerodynamic equipments on the cars caused nothing but the increase in the dirty air flow for the car which is behind. Therefore overtaking has become very difficult. As a result of the new regulations confirmed by FIA the downforce levels were decreased about 50% by the changes made on front and rear wings and diffusers. In addition, the winglets and cranes on the cars are now prohibited. Since the races have not started yet, nobody really knows whether the new regulations will increase the overtaking or not.
When the first 2009 contenders started to be launched we noticed that some of the teams have chosen a different approach towards their diffuser designs. They definitely benefited from the gray areas of the regulations as already Max Mosley and Charlie Whiting admitted. Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP designed their diffusers similarly as a part of the car’s rear crash structure which causes this part of the car to act as two separate diffusers. So their diffusers produce more downforce and this gives the teams extra performance. Some of the opponent teams are ready to protest these teams for using illegal parts on their car at the opening race of the season. FIA is expected to announce its final decision over this issue at Melbourne GP. It’s believed that, if FIA announce these designs as legal, the entire grid will be in the race of copying these designs for their car. But it’s clear that a decision in this direction will not help overtaking and all the works have been done to increase overtaking may well be wasted. Also it’s logical that the teams who attended to Overtaking Working Group have not looked for the loopholes where the others did.
Look at the video that I uploaded above. It’s from the Barcelona tests. Massa was trying to follow a Toyota when he lost the rear of the car and has ended up with a spin. I do not say that this spin is caused completely because of Toyota’s diffuser but I have a strong feeling that it’s one of the most probable causes for this spin. So what do you think? Is it OK to declare these diffusers as legal and go back to the old days in which the overtaking is impossible?
I wish you a very exciting and contentious 2009 season. I hope to see more overtaking this season..