For a long time there have been complaints by fans about the lack of overtaking. Many attribute it to the dominance of the top 3 teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. However, FIA race director Charlie Whiting has a different take to this argument. He says that the biggest factor impacting overtaking in F1 aren’t the cars themselves. Instead, it is the competitiveness or the lack of competitiveness of the F1 midfield teams.
The 2017 season saw number of overtaking moves drop by nearly half, following the introduction of faster and wider cars. In Melbourne last year, the drivers confidently declared that the cars would be capable of challenging the art of overtaking. Boy were they right!
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said, “The wider cars look great and they’ve given us more grip, but when they take up more space on the track you have less clean air so it does make following harder”.
However, Whiting disagrees with the Aussie’s assessment of the situation. Instead, he underlines the vast performance gap between the F1 midfield teams and the front-runners. Whiting said, “I don’t think closer racing is the issue, and I don’t think the cars are the problem. The biggest problem we’ve had this year is that it’s clear the big three teams – if you want to call them that – in Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are significantly quicker than the rest. I don’t think the racing has been bad, it’s just that some have done a significantly better job than others, which is nothing new in formula one,”.
How will the dynamic change in 2018? Will the Mercedes dominance end? Will the likes of Force India or Renault bridge the gap to the front-runners? Is the Renault partnership what McLaren needed to become competitive again? So many questions need answering and we cannot wait until March 23rd to get them answered.