The Scrutineering Bay is Badger’s way of taking a hot topic of Grand Prix racing and getting people from the Sett involved to put their opinions across. From predicting races, arguing stewards decisions to just deciding who was/is/will be the best, anything is fair game!

With the Grand Prix world still alight with talk of the racing in China, we look at the effect of the 2011 rule changes and ask…

“Artificial overtaking – is it what F1 needed?”

This week, we have a variety of Badgers involved, including myself Craig Normansell, Jimmy Von Weeks, and up first, Benson Jammichello:

Overtaking in F1 is good, right? We all like some wheel-to-wheel action, especially at the front. In some seasons/races there’s not been much, in others more and, on a number of rare occasions, a deluge. Such was the natural order of things. We all knew where we were.

Then (duh, duh, duuuuuuhhhhhhhh) came 2011. It no longer enough to witness a driver carefully stalk his prey, come up behind him and attempt to pass. Oh no, now we have two systems specifically designed to aid overtaking: a push-to-pass button in KERS and a Drag Reduction System (DRS) to improve top speeds. The latter is by far the most important because, while KERS can be used by both cars fighting for a position, the DRS system only activates for the driver behind creating, in essence, a mini-handicap system.

It’s as if, after years of trying to allow cars to follow more closely, F1 threw up its hands and gave in, deliberately disadvantaging the car in front. No longer will we see brilliant defensive performances because, quite frankly, all the driver behind needs to do is engage all the systems and waft past, leaving only a gentle breeze where once was fury, noise and thunder.

That’s not to say I won’t enjoy it, or write about it, or talk about it, but it will always feel as though there’s something missing, like a jigsaw incomplete, a book unfinished or a dog without its bark.


Up next is Jimmy:

It’s been exciting, that’s for sure, but from the more ‘hardcore’ fan’s point of view the changes seem to have been interpreted as a negative, based largely on the fact that it takes the purity out of the sport.

But then it really depends how you view – or whether you accept the mere existence of – ‘purity’ in F1. I would suggest that the addition of these devices really makes no difference to that, as ultimately F1 is an artificial sport anyway. In a series where the cars are up to five seconds per-lap apart on pace it can be nothing but artificial. Does the best driver win the world championship every year? Did they in the past? No.

So even without DRS and KERS, is it really pure racing to watch a Red Bull pass a Hispania when you consider the massive difference in the cars? Where’s the skill in that when the Red Bull is glued to the track whilst the Hispania is doing its level best to snap out of the driver’s hands? If it was pure Sebastian Vettel wouldn’t out-qualify Tonio Liuzzi by five plus seconds – the gap between them on pure talent is nowhere near that big. Realistically, you’d need towatch Formula 2 to get genuinely pure racing – not that I’m really recommending that.

So yes – after all that ranting, I’ll say that this is what F1 needed. In an already-artificial sport, what’s the harm in chucking a few more artificial additions in if they make the racing more exciting? China was mega -undeniably so – and ultimately don’t we watch grand prix racing to be entertained?

A bit of an off-topic rant by Jimmy there, but he does hold a valid point: why not add more to an already artificial sport?

Finally, I make my point:

My answer is pretty simple: all the new regulations are exactly what F1 needed. The inclusion of DRS, KERS and Pirelli, to me, seemed to be a bit too much too soon, but it has all been clicking since the first time the red lights went out.

DRS gets special praise from me as it is the reverse to what aerodynamics stands for in Formula One. Since the ‘60’s the wing has been used to produce grip, and that’s always been the way it’s worked. Now, it’s a way of finding speed as well. I originally thought the banning of the F-Duct, which was the same in principle, was a bad move. DRS means all the teams are in the same boat with the technology. In essence, it’s turning the “devil” of good racing against itself.

Pirelli and KERS have helped, but in the age of modern electronics and fancy gizmos making the cars as fast as possible, it’s refreshing to see the FIA do something that counteracts this directly. With tyres and “boosts” the hot topics at the moment, you could be mistaken for it being the mid-eighties again. Now that would be something.

For all we say about the raft of new technology in Formula One this year, they are here to stay. If they keep bringing us exciting races, who are we to say they are bad for the sport?