By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
The fear espoused by many in the build up to the season looks like it may have come true; overtaking has been made significantly more difficult, at least so far.
Many voices of reason and experience questioned the move to higher downforce cars, veteran drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa who experienced the high downforce machines of the mid 2000’s said that increased downforce wasn’t the answer. Some of the men who designed the notoriously quick but hard to pass cars of that era like Pat Symonds and Ross Brawn echoed those concerns.
The Formula One community is always quick to judge, but some have called for patience, like Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Christian Horner. It is also worth mentioning that Albert Park is hardly a circuit representative of the rest of the calendar. James Allen once said of it, “Shouldn’t ever draw too many conclusions from what you get at the first Grand Prix of a season, this is an odd track here Albert Park, it does tend to favor one car, to flatter it.”
It definitely flattered Ferrari, but when the race polesitter who sat a new track record, can’t pass a slower car, there may be a problem.
Enter in Ross Brawn who is already in the process of putting a team together to respond in case the lack of passing continues. DRS will be looked at after China in case any changes to it could help as well. But even though China and Bahrain will give us a much clearer picture for the season ahead, the cars do appear to cause significant turbulence which proved problematic for following drivers and limited overtaking on Sunday. Several of the top drivers have spoken out about the issue and are adamant about it.
Hamilton, who praised the cars for being great to drive was still damning in his assessment on their huge wake of dirty air, as he was arguably the biggest victim of it on Sunday.
“I know Formula One, it’s always generally been tough to follow, probably worse now than it’s ever been” he said. “It’s definitely for me a lot worse, than I anticipated. I hope that doesn’t mean that for the rest of the year it’s more of a train. I don’t know if it was more exciting for you guys to watch but for me personally I want to be closer up with cars and more close wheel-to-wheel battling.”
“It’s through pit stops that we’re racing now,” said the three time champ.
Hamilton’s new teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was more reserved in his criticism, but the Finn still had plenty to say.
“I was trying to get close but the problem is once you get within a couple of seconds you just lose so much grip in the corners, definitely more than the years before,” Bottas said.
“Which is a shame. It’s going to be difficult in places to battle with similar cars,” added the third place finisher.
Felipe Massa, who along with Hamilton criticized the rules before the cars ever even took to the track, agreed with his former rival. “What overtaking?” said Massa when he was asked by the press post race.
“I did on the start but the race is much more difficult to overtake,” he continued.
“For the driver it’s fun because the way you’re driving the car is quite fun. But definitely overtaking is more difficult than how it was.”
We will soon get a better chance to see how the cars take to a more traditional track when FP1 gets underway at Shanghai International in just 11 days, but it looks like Brawn better get that team together quick.