By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
If Formula One’s new cars fail to live up to their considerable hype Ross Brawn is ready to step in and save the day.
The new cars are so far fulfilling their design objectives of being far faster and more aggressive looking than their predecessors. They are some of the most attractive cars F1 has had in some time and in Free Practice 2 Lewis Hamilton lapped quicker than Michael Schumacher’s 2004 race lap record and came within one tenth of the outright lap record Sebastian Vettel set in qualifying in 2011.
Some drivers, crucially veterans of an era when passing was far more difficult have expressed concerns that the new cars will make overtaking more difficult. Chiefly, the 2008 title protagonists Hamilton and Felipe Massa. They fear the cars will be quick like in the mid 2000’s, but the races may devolve into more processional affairs like those not seen since their early days in the sport.
Should that situation come to pass, Brawn assured the press he will act quickly to help develop cars that still feature extraordinary downforce, but not to the detriment of any cars following in their wake. He is already planning an independent task force to address overtaking, similar in manner to the old OWG, Overtake Working Group that convened to make the 2009 rule changes. Many changes that have ironically been overturned by the new 2017 rules.
“If we see things this year that we don’t think are great for the sport, then we will be fighting our corner, and we will be fighting at every level. You can rest assured that we will be working with the teams and working with the FIA to find solutions if we don’t feel the racing is as good as it should be,” said Brawn.
If anyone can fix F1’s aerodynamics, Brawn is the man. He led Benetton and Ferrari to massive success with Michael Schumacher, took the helm at Honda, then won big in 2009 with his eponymous Brawn GP. After that he laid the foundations for Mercedes massive success of the past three seasons. Crucially, Brawn is universally respected in the paddock, and he knows how to get things done.
He continued, “If you look at the configuration of the aerodynamics we have, we have cars with very complicated bodywork structures which create very sensitive flow regimes around the structures. It means as soon as they are disturbed by a car in front, they suffer. So can we come up with a set of regulations where we can still use the power of aerodynamics to give us the speed and spectacle of the cars, but in a more benign way so they can at least race each other more closely without it having an impact? That is my ambition, that is my objective.”
“I have heard it said that some of the cars out there do race each other quite well with large aerodynamic performances, so the sportscars for instance, and IndyCar aren’t suffering so badly. So a proper campaign, a concerted campaign, would definitely take us in the right direction on that. I am convinced of that.”