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Hamilton: F1 must address fundamental issues

NEWS STORY
24/10/2018

As entertaining as Sunday's cat and mouse battle for the lead was, compared to similar battles witnessed in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s, the hunted now has an added advantage, for the aero rules that mean that whenever the pursuer gets too close, the dirty air from the car ahead causes the car following to lose front grip.

As a result, rather than a sustained attack aimed at forcing the car ahead into a mistake, or hanging on to the exhaust pipes waiting for that perfect moment to pounce, drivers now have to maintain a gap in order that they are not affected by the turbulence.

While the sport's powers-that-be continue to tinker with the issue rather than actually grabbing hold of it and dealing with it once and for all, Lewis Hamilton admits that as a result the racing will always be compromised.

"I really enjoyed the race, Kimi drove great, Max drove great," said the Briton, according to Motorsport.com. "Seeing that there was three of us, at one point there was me and Kimi wheel-to-wheel, I thought it was awesome. I wish it went for longer in that first stint, and the next time that it happened. And then at the end with us three in that train I wished the race could continue, because it was awesome, and I was hoping that we might get to manoeuvre.

"But still fundamental issues in F1 being that you can't follow, so there's so big gaps between us all. So I really, really hope that whatever the guys are doing I hope they are making some good decisions for 2021, so that there's not a second and a half that you need to get close to a car. I hope it's a lot less than that. If you get it a lot less then we're gonna have the best racing series ever."

Reflecting on the fact that once again, the 'best of the rest' finished around ninety second behind the winner, the four - soon to be five - time world champion also believes the speed differential needs to be addressed.

"That's a fundamental issue of the sport," he said. "There shouldn't be such a big difference between first and last, there shouldn't be such a massive difference between cars.

"How can a Williams or a McLaren be three seconds off a lap? That's a huge amount of performance. So I think they've got to change the rules to allow that gap to go so we can have more awesome racing. It's got the potential to be the greatest racing series there is, but you look at MotoGP and they are wheel to wheel, fighting from corner to corner."

The Mercedes star was also critical of the issues he encountered when lapping back-markers at the weekend.

"I don't feel like it's entirely the backmarkers' fault," he said. "Tyre pressures have gone up, it's very hard to follow, so as soon as you get within five seconds you feel the wake from the car ahead. The car starts sliding more. So the advantage you have starts to disappear the closer you get.

"They've got a race to do, they shouldn't have to let off massively to give several seconds to you. So it's a bit of a difficult scenario. For example I was stuck behind two Toro Rossos, but I couldn't get close enough, and my tyres were getting worse and worse, and I wasn't getting close enough for them to have to lift off. So it is a difficult one, but it was nowhere near as bad as somewhere like Singapore, for example."

Of course, one could argue that reducing the speed differentials would only add to the problem of dealing with traffic.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by mickl, 25/10/2018 16:09

"They can never reduce the speed/lap times of the cars which would be a consequence of reduced aero and increased mechanical grip. If they did, they would have to lower the speed of all the lower formulas. It would be embarassing if an F2 car posted a faster lap time than even the slowest F1 car."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Mad Matt, 25/10/2018 11:52

"I saw an interview with Pat Symonds which was quite interesting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYLA7UQdzJ4).

I think aero stopping the cars running closely together is an issue but also braking distances being very short."

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3. Posted by raleighsimon, 25/10/2018 5:24 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 25/10/2018 7:55)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

4. Posted by Fambank, 24/10/2018 23:39

"I would say that the difference in laptime between first and last isnt the problem. I have looked up two random Q sessions, one from 86 (Monza) and one from 95 (Imola). Both were at 9ish seconds difference between first and last. If we look at the times from this years Suzuka the difference is about 4ish seconds. So a lot of progress has been made. What would make a difference is the ability for cars that are evenly matched can engage in fights from all over the grid and more easily get close to the man in front without artificial aides "

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5. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 24/10/2018 19:17 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 25/10/2018 7:55)

"If there wasn't such a performance gap then less cars would be lapped, therefore, less traffic.
Unless of course one of the front runners gets a grid penalty.
Regarding cars not being able to follow, I'm a simpleton when it comes to engineering however the F2 cars seem to be able to follow each other so maybe the F1 rules people could look into that series.
I remember someone mentioning a "tunnel" those F2 cars have which gives good downforce from under the car rather than relying too much on airflow over the car.
MotoGP is my goto series for overtaking. Those riders are amazing at what they do considering the consequences they face if things go wrong."

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6. Posted by RDFox, 24/10/2018 19:08

"As always, the solution to this issue is simple but strangely resisted by FIA: Reduce total downforce levels, make the cars more reliant on mechanical grip, and allow underbody effects to generate much of the downforce with vastly reduced wing area, making the aerodynamic grip far less dependent on clean air. It works in every other series in the world--including Indycar, probably the closest analogue--and it should work here."

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