Todt dismisses overtaking fears


If ever you had any doubts as to just how out of touch the sport's powers-that-be are, comments made by the president of its governing body at the weekend should leave you in no doubt.

Speaking ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, amidst fears that the new regulations would impact overtaking, Jean Todt claimed that this was a price worth paying if fans wanted to see faster cars.

"Overtaking has always been a problem in motor racing," he said. "I remember races twenty or thirty years ago, when a car with fresh tyres that was three or four seconds quicker could not pass a car with old tyres, because overtaking was difficult.

"Clearly we can figure out that overtaking will be even more difficult this year," he admitted, "But we have tried to find ways to make overtaking easier with DRS and other technologies.

"Maybe the new regulations will make overtaking more difficult," he continued, "but maybe it was the price to pay by having wider cars with more aerodynamics."

As we have previously stated, long before the new regulations were announced, armchair experts and barstool technical directors had been warning that it is the sport's reliance on aero grip over mechanical that is compromising the racing and has done for some time.

Fans rejoiced when the new wider tyres were announced for 2017, but then the FIA had to ruin it all by announcing wider front wings and the rest.

When it was pointed out to Todt that perhaps it is the aero regulations that need addressing, the Frenchman said: "It's something that we need to address when we are going to speak about future regulations, about whether it is a good compromise."

To a man the drivers subsequently complained about the lack of overtaking opportunities on Sunday, unable to get within 2s of one another before the dirty air from the car ahead caused problems. And while it was good to see someone other than a Mercedes driver winning, there are now fears that the season will be decided by strategy. Those who grew sick and tired of Lewis Hamilton blaming reliability for last year’s title loss now facing the prospect of the Briton blaming the team’s strategists… and pit crew should they make a mistake.

For Mr Todt's benefit, the definition of the verb 'race', is to 'compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective', it is not about being fast or looking spectacular.

Consequently, as we await "future regulations" to see whether the sport's powers-that-be finally get it, in terms of racing and overtaking, we shall have to settle for further artificial interference in terms of lengthening DRS zones, as proposal put forward by Charlie Whiting on Thursday.

In the meantime, with Ross Brawn having made it clear that Liberty Media will "fight" its corner to get the sport it wants - and has paid $8bn for - there is the added prospect of "success ballast", a proposal the Briton is very much in favour of and one which should fill F1 fans with dread.

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Published: 28/03/2017
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