Vettel says ‘Calm down’ over lack of passing

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Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

Way back when high degradation tires and the Drag Reduction System were being considered for Formula 1, I made the case that passing for passing’s sake wasn’t really something I felt was as critical to F1 as the multitude of fan survey’s seemed to suggest.

I would often mention that while NASCAR may have 400 passes in a race, the only one that matters is the last pass on the last lap for the win. A terrible analogy as NASCAR is a completely different beast but the point is, prolific passing hasn’t always been a hallmark fo F1. The incisive or critical pass has.

Pirelli announced that the 2017 saw a reduction in passing by nearly 50% and while many folks seem concerned over that fact, I’m not actually one of them. That reduction is against the previous season but it is, as they say, what it is.

At the time, I was not a fan of DRS or HD tires and I am still not so I felt that adding them to the series was a construct. While I am less frustrated but the tires, the DRS is very frustrating as it is not the same for everyone. The car in the lead gets the penalty of being in the lead and I found it a less elegant way of handling the situation.

The fact is, DRS is there because aerodynamics are such a major part of the series. Nearly every fan I’ve spoken to or read says the same thing, reduce the aero grip and dirty air left by these cars so people can slipstream and pass. I haven’t heard many teams or the FIA suggesting the same. There’s a reason for that but that’s a different story.

If I had to put my finger on all those fan surveys that said they wanted “more passing” in F1, I guess I would say that what they really meant was that they wanted to ability for equal or relatively equal cars to actually be able to pass.

I think of the pass in Austin that Lets Hamilton made on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and the lack of any defense due to the sheer speed difference the Mercedes had gained in the DRS zone as a simple example. Could See have held Lewis off or defended more? Possibly if DRS didn’t exist but we’ll never know.

So how important is passing or prolific passing in F1? IS it ok to have a boring race from time to time? IF there is one thing F1 has always had, it is the boring race from time to time. Is that bad? Not according to Vettel:

“Wishes for next year is that everybody calms down,” said Vettel.

“Some races are boring, so what? I don’t see the problem in that.

“I don’t think we need another record, another record every race, to have more overtaking and more overtaking.

“It’s true that [difficulty in] overtaking sometimes, especially if you’re behind and you’re fast and you can’t get past for those reasons, it annoys you.

“But then again if you make the move there is a massive reward inside the car, sometimes out of the car.

“What I want to say is that overtaking should be an achievement and not handed to you. “Sometimes just relax and calm down and accept a boring race or a boring two races in a row and then there will be another great race after that and another one.”

I agree with Seb that the more frustrating part of the issue of passing is really the inability to do so even when you have a better car due to the aero wash from the leading car or your tires get chewed up from running in the dirty air. Again, if I had to put my finger on the pulse of fans requests, it is this issue with passing that they would like addressed, not simply more passing for the sake of passing.

F1 fans understand that F1 is not synonymous with prolific passing. There have been times when it had lots of passing and times when it had nearly none. There is this element of F1 that is the long game. It’s played out in the short game each race weekend but if you’ve been a fan of F1 long enough, you can recall titles won or lost by one key pass or one key passing opportunity missed. Think of Alonso’s inability to get around the Renault of Vitaly Petrov in Abu Dhabi back in 2010 as a key pass that didn’t happen and title was impacted in Vettel’s favor.

So as not to marginalize those who feel more passing in general would be better, I understand that notion as well as there are terrific non-championship winning passes happening that mean big bucks to those teams in the Constructor’s Championship. The ability to pass midfield would surely be solved by solving the ability to pass up front, no?

If there is a incredibly compelling case for not reducing aero downforce and cars design to disturb trailing cars, I have not read one yet. There may be a team who has advocated this aero reduction and perhaps they’ve made a compelling case why F1 should but if there is, I’ve not read it or even seen it. If you know of one—not written by a journalist or blogger—that is a from a team perspective as to why they would advocate removing their aero advantage and design to disturb air behind them, I would love to see a link if you could share it.

Until such time as the technical regulations are changed with what would be presumed opposition from the teams, we’ll have to get used to a boring race or two and to be honest, that’s not all that unusual. Just ask Sebastian.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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John Palermo

I tend to agree with Vettel and you DC. Since I can remember, many of the fans – mostly the vocal ones – I’ve spoken with want less aerodynamics on the car and more engine and mechanical grip. Yes, aerodynamics is fundamental in getting those tires to stick, but maybe we go with stickier tires, more pit stops, refuelling, and less of the aero. The FIA have very smart engineers; it baffles me how they can’t figure out some way to restrict the aero. However, another part of me also thinks they’ve done the study and realize that it’s better… Read more »

MIE

I think you may be misrememberig. The only F1 engines to produce over 1000bhp were 1.5litre turbos with either four or six cylinders.
The engines that ran to over 22,000 rpm were V8s. The V12s didn’t rev above 16,000 rpm.

Salvu Borg

As reciprocating mass goes down rev’s can usually go up.

“never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the back, or an idiot from any direction”.

Negative Camber

Dude…how many time are going to have to have this conversation? Did you just use a quote and imply someone is an idiot?

Salvu Borg

Yes, I used/wrote a quote, an Irish proverb, a very inspirational one. But believe me, I wasn’t meaning or implying that someone on this page is an idiot.

Negative Camber

Ok, just worried that if I took it that way maybe others might too but I could be wrong.

Salvu Borg

OK, Thanks, Apart from you I would like to assure all those taking part on this page that my quoting was in no way meant to say that anybody taking part on this page is an idiot.

John Palermo

V8 never reached 22000 rpm since they introduced a 19000 rpm limit. They may have done 20000+rpm on the dyno, but were not allowed to on the track. V10s may have been rated at 18000 rpm, but they reached 22000 rpm. During that era, the max rpm was unrestricted. Watch some footage from the early 2000s and you’ll see them reaching about 21000 – 22000 rpm in Schumacher’s Ferrari, and the engine would relay the max rpm to the viewer’s screen and it would just get to below 22000 rpm.

MIE

Even Ferrari dropped the V12 in favour of the more efficient V10. V10s were not mandated by the regulations, it was the manufacturers who converged on the most effective engine layout. The revs then started to rise significantly when the capacity was reduced from 3.5 to 3.0 litres, in an attempt to regain the lost power.
Steadily the regulations have restricted more and more of the engine configuration, there is very little freedom manufacturers have now compared to twenty years ago.

Paul KieferJr

Apparently, Vettel has never attended a hockey game or a NASCAR race. We in the USA are action junkies. Heck, we’ve had films dedicated to action (“Total Recall”, “Rocky”, “Hard to Kill”, etc.). Did he really think we’d be any different about F1?

Holym4n

Americans are a different species altogether, super humans as the characters in those ‘excellent’ movies you list. We should build a wall.

charlie white

“Some races are boring, so what? I don’t see the problem in that.” The fact that Vettel actually said that is the problem and it’s Liberty’s problem. When one of your sport’s top stars make a statement like that(LH’s recent quote on F2, too) should bring concern to the 3 Wise Men. I am troubled as Vettel sees nothing wrong with that. Maybe, for him, it’s not so boring to be wrestling around in the Ferrari holding off Bottas’ Mercedes, but for us, viewing the race, we, the TV viewing audience, are probably watching the race for 6th place or… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

I was kind of surprised when Pirelli stated there were signifgantly less passes this year. I thought it was about the same or even a little more. I feel there were more battles at least, and definitely not as much grousing about tires. Hamilton was behind Raikkonen in Brazil for a good amount of time before his tires finally gave up. I don’t think that would’ve been possible in previous years. Having said that, something has to change about Abu Dhabi. That was a real snoozer. In fact, I think the lack of passing is sticking in everyone’s head because… Read more »

iman50

Hamilton passed Vettel on track at COTA not because of DRS or better tires but because he is the better driver, See how Hamilton defended against Vettel at Spa despite Vettel having better tires and possible tow comng down the Eau Rouge area of track? Facts do not LIE LOL !!!

Mal DePortimente

That you and I both remember these moments out of however many hours of F1 viewing in 2017 is a comment about the state of affairs as well, no?. Meanwhile, dozens of great dices and passing occurred in F2 this year. Aside from F1 qualifying, F2 is sublime; love to see a little more horsepower but that will never happen as it would totally overshadow the F1 show.

Salvu Borg

Good job promoting number 44 (your idol/pin-up) with the same post around half a dozen F1 web sites.

B52Rocklobster

Hamilton couldn’t pass Kimi in Brazil because Kimi is the better driver.

Hamilton couldn’t pass Bottas in Hungary because Bottas is the better driver.

Hamilton couldn’t pass Vettel in Bahrain because Vettel is the better driver.

See how your supposed “facts” work?

You’re completely ignoring the advantage of a higher horsepower engine combined with a long straight.

Mal DePortimente

Cars parading 2 seconds apart is not dicing and is not interesting. DRS accentuates differences in horsepower and masks the ongoing area debacle. That Vettel doesn’t to see a problem with boring races is a comment about his lack of imagination.

peter riva

Unpredictability is what sports events are all about. Spa produces more unpredictability than most, as did Monza when engines were pushed past the red line. It is why Monaco still holds our rapt attention, it is always unpredictable. What we’ve seen with the reliable performance superiority of the Mercedes works team is a lack of unpredictability, and that makes the sportive aspect boring; not the drivers’ abilities, not the circuits’ uniformity, and never the weather. In fact, if you look at the unpredictability of the weather when rain is threatened or coming down, you have the proof of excitement engendered… Read more »