As Formula One and Liberty Media push for better on-track action, the sport has designed the first ever “overtaking simulator” for the design of future Formula 1 track layouts, given the lack of overtaking in recent years.
Many key personnel in the Formula One paddock have pointed at the high levels of downforce present on F1 cars that make overtaking so rare. Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost recently claimed that the sport should slash downforce levels by at least 40 to 50 percent to improve the spectacle of racing.
“We have so much downforce, which means high corner speeds, no one can follow because of the dirty air behind and we have hardly braking zones,” said Tost. “How should you overtake?
“That means the FIA, FOM – and there are the experienced people over there, like Ross Brawn, like Pat Symonds – they know exactly what you should do: to come down with aero side, with the downforce.
“I would cut minimum 40-50% of the current downforce, to make the car much more unstable in the corners.
“Then people see that drivers have to fight with the car.”
While it remains no secret that high levels of downforce minimize overtaking, track layouts are also a huge contributing factor to the lack of on-track action. As witnessed in the 2018 season, as well as others, some races on certain circuits feature a lot more overtaking than others. For example in the 2017 F1 season, The Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku featured 42 overtaking moves, while the Russian Grand Prix featured just a single overtaking move.
This new technology is being used to provide innovative circuit designs for upcoming tracks, like the Hanoi circuit layout in Vietnam, which will make its debut in 2020, as well as current F1 circuits which have produced a lack of overtaking moves in the past.
“We’ve produced what I think is the world’s first overtaking simulation,” Pat Symonds claimed.
“It’s been extremely complex to do. To run a lap takes several hours.
“It’s a very, very complex simulation but it has a proper wake model of the cars, it looks at the surface and the tyre characteristics and all these sort of things.
“We’re now using that to design our new circuits and to look at some modifications.
“Vietnam, which is the first circuit we’ve really been involved with, I think that we have really been able to understand what it will take to make good racing there.
“I think Vietnam is going to be a superb circuit. It’s got some great features and it’s going to have some close racing at it.”