No passing? Price we must all pay; maybe next time

It seems to me that reading comments from FIA president Jean Todt adds to my confusion rather than removes any Vaseline from the camera lens trained on the Formula 1 series. I’m not sure what to make of much of it and today’s article was not as helpful as I had hoped.

“Overtaking has always been a problem in motor racing,” said Todt.

“I remember races 20 or 30 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.

“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, but maybe it was the price to pay for having wider cars with more aerodynamics.”

Sure, I put a happy face on the first race’s lack of passing as it’s a unique circuit and time is needed to really sort out the 2017 regulation changes and the impact it is having on the sport. However, I’m not quite sure about this “price to pay” and how that reconciles with the fans of F1. Surely it was not we fans storming the keep demanding faster, wider cars at whatever cost? I don’t recall the fans even being engaged in the technical regulation discussion and therefore, I’m curious as to why it should be a price we must pay for the 2017 cars?

In fact, I recall vividly our applause for wider, more durable tires that could be pushed coupled with a call for reduced aero and increased fuel flow. If I had a Red Bull for every time I have read a fan say that, I’d be Dietrich Mateschitz but without the cool, grey hair.

Here we are, rending judgment on the season as a no-passing affair after one race and suggesting that it’s the price we must all pay for the super cool cars we demanded. That’s not how I recall the discussion, Jean. The knee-jerk reaction (how Ross Brawn hates those) to this issue and price we’re ALL paying? Lengthen the DRS zones of course. At least that’s what the FIA are considering at this point.

“It’s something that we need to address when we are going to speak about future regulations, about whether it is a good compromise,” he said.

The unvarnished truth is that F1 has been kicking this “long-term” can down the road for a decade or more. Let’s play devil’s advocate, shall we? You had a major regulation change for 2014 that put three teams out of business over this comprehensively intricate hybrid engine that is engineering genius but completely outrageous in expense. When things weren’t panning out and fans began to find other forms of entertainment and interest, you tacked and set about writing a new set of regulations for 2017.

Why, now, would you suggest that we’ll have to take a look at it down the road for the long-term when you just had the opportunity to look at it for the long-term? You just re-wrote the regulations last year and could have taken a long, hard look at the long-term but it seems you didn’t and now, once again, it’s a case of, “yeah, we need to look at that the next time we change the regulations” type of thing when you just looked at the regulations.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not thinking straight here. As the cars, not 48 hours ago, celebrated their new looks and the big 2017 regulation changes, the FIA are now saying that passing is something they’ll have to think about whenever they get around to changing the regulations. Until then, we will all pay the price for these nicer looking cars…that weren’t 5s per lap faster in the first race and something tells me that may have to do with the fuel flow rate but whatever you do, don’t mention that because clearly they’ll have to consider that if they change the regulations sometime in the future. SMH.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Alianora La Canta

So the FIA don’t listen, do their own thing and then act surprised when it doesn’t work. Why does it feel like they’ve done what they usually do?


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I would say they have lost the plot.

But they never had a plot to lose.

Mag The Knife

But what about Ross brawn’s role here when looking for the future? Is it positive that he’s in charge of F1?

Negative Camber

Well, this is where I think it gets a little sticky because Ross isn’t in charge of the technical regulations of F1. He’s going to need the FIA to play ball and the teams to all get on board. I agree with Chase and Liberty, you want Ross there to protect your investment so these kinds of silly knee-jerk things don’t happen anymore and dilute your investment’s potential. Just not sure how receptive Jean will be about that.

Salvu Borg

Of course Ross Brawn is not in charge of the technical regulations of F1, It is the FIA that MAKES and CONTROL the rules and regulations. that was why I have been saying on here that regardless of the bombastic way the top three plus their boss of LM exploded themselves onto their new acquired investment they cannot/there is no way that they can go tango on the dance floor alone, and there is nobody in a better position to know that then Ross Brawn, as he has been there, done that. Ross Brawn knows first hand, that if any… Read more »

Meine Postma

As far as I know the FIA have sold their right to make the rules to get more money.

Salvu Borg

no they did not.

Salvu Borg

Meine, Jo and his site are very good indeed, certainly one of the top sites when it come to the number of followers from around the world, BUT that particular article was a total brain fart from him.

Meine Postma

I don’t think so.

Wasn’t it last year that Todt said they didn’t make the rules, but the strategy group did.

Mag The Knife

Hmm well, I must say I have been wondering about how the structure actually look – It’s quite confusing. I mean Liberty owns it? But FIA controls it? But so does the teams?

In Champions League, Uefa runs the show
In NFL the 32 clubs own the league together and elects a CEO
But F1?

Salvu Borg

Liberty are the new owners of F1, The FIA makes and CONTROL/POLICE the rules and regulations.

Trevor Filmer

If F1 and the FIA want these cars to be able to overtake each other then they need to make some changes. I would like to see a narrower front wing that sits between the front wheels. Remove the controlled centre section and remove any height restrictions. That should provide the downforce at the front of the car even if they are following another car. Next, get rid of carbon brake discs and go back to a metal brake disc. Allow the drivers to how some braking skill. And something off-topic. What about a parallel twin-turbo on the engine with… Read more »

charlie white

The FIA has never been an organization that would readily and publicly admit a fault or a mistake brought by them. So just after one race, Jean Todt is telling us the new specs for 2017 are not what they had expected? Let’s remember this: the new specs were all about aestethetics and increased speed, not passing or reduced aerodynamic downforce. On track passing was never under consideration. Do you still think the coming conversation over the 2020 tri-lateral agreements will be easy?


Making the car wider makes it more difficult to pass. Why not make it slightly narrower instead.

Don Thorpe

Amazing that every one except the experts at FIA knew this would happen. What do they pay those idiots for.

Tim C

Jean Todt, and probably several others in the FIA, are totally out of touch. The sad part is that I’m not surprised. Ugh!

Pear Bear

Go back to simple front wings and less downforce and the cars will be able to slipstream each other and overtake on the straights. The more aero they put on the car, the less they can slipstream in the turbulent air. Sure they will be a lot slower but the racing will be a lot better.

Zachary Noepe

I agree it’s frustrating but I don’t think it’s confusing. It’s well established this change in the regulations was dictated by Bernie Ecclestone acting alone and that everyone else knew it was going to be a disaster from the word jump. The Autosport season preview podcast was full of current F1 insiders who flatly stated exactly that, no less than Martin Brundle and Pay Symonds among them. I think this site has every right to a viewpoint, freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one and all that, but I think there’s a subjective admiration for Mr… Read more »

Negative Camber

I think you’ve overplayed my admiration for Mr. E. The technical regulations were written and approved by the F1 Strategy Group and while Mr. E had six votes for approval, so did six teams and the FIA had six votes as well. Anyone, especially the FIA or the teams, could have voted no. they didn’t.

I think we will find that blaming 100% of F1’s ills on Mr. E is a bridge too far in my opinion.

Zachary Noepe

I don’t know the workings of those groups (and I don’t know whether the official workings are the real workings – what happens to teams if they voted against Bernie?). And I respect that you know more about it than I do. I bet though we both agree Martin Brundle knows more about it than both of us put together, and I’m just repeating what he said. And I’m saying it all makes sense if you listen to what the insiders are saying. Todt says this is garbage and we might have to suffer with it and wait to change… Read more »

Salvu Borg

ZACH, I will repeat, now that the last of onehalfthecancer of F1 is gone things can only get better because most of formula 1 problems followed him out the door. and by the way, PROSIT and SPOT-ON in your opinion of things as are.
Some time ago when the other halfthecancer of F1 ruled the FIA as per his buddy’s wished with an iron hand most of these here people use to scream DICTATORSHIP, Now Todt receives criticism by the same people for trying to rule by consensus rather then impose his will on all and sundry.

The Captain

Man does Todt come off as aloof. It feels like a ‘Let them eat DRS’ dismissal. He has gotten so many things wrong with f1. At this point I think the FIA needs a fresh look at things. But damn those FIA structures make getting a new head damn near impossible. It’s so desperate I find myself hoping somewhere out there is a sex tape of Todt even. Maybe with a Marquis De Sade theme with two prostitutes from Pigalle. (I just googled “sleazy Paris suburb” so don’t get mad at me people from Pigalle your beef is with Google).

Paul Riseborough

FOM asks for faster more aggressive cars, Todt is focussing on a career path to the UN and the individual teams pursue any change they think will advantage their competitive position. If I was a team owner with 500 mouths to feed, a non-competive engine and a top aero department, of course I would push for a rules change with more emphasis on aero, keep quiet down the negatives before the change and tell the media I knew it wasn’t going to work afterwards.

Its total war on and off the track.


With wind tunnel time and CFD time severely restricted, teams spend their limited hours modelling how the car works in clean air. This at least gives them consistency and it can be correlated with the results when running the car in testing. It doesn’t help the team’s understand how to make the car work when following another car though. Rather than trying to fix this through technical regulation changes, I would change the sporting regulations. Currently back markers are forced to get out of the way of faster cars once they pass three blue flags. If this rule was changed… Read more »


I would like to see them remove some aero and make DRS something you can use at anytime. I’ve seen cars lose pieces of their front wing and have no negative consequences. If I can go through a turn faster with my DSR wing open and less downforce than the car next to me, that should be my advantage. I would also like to see the tire rule go away. If I have the skill to preserve my tires and can go the whole race on one set, then that should also be my advantage.