Overtaking in Formula 1 has suddenly become a real problem because nobody, except Red Bull, appears to be able to do so regularly, but what can be done to address the issue?
The Milton Keynes-based team have found a way to be quick in the corners and absurdly fast in a straight line which means they can cruise through the field when they haven’t qualified up front.
The 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku was a real wake-up call as Charles Leclerc qualified on pole for both the sprint and grand prix, only to be swallowed up and spat out by the Red Bull duo.
Compared to 2022, there are five fewer overtakes – on average – per race and a lot of those numbers will have been from Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez coming through the field at Jeddah and Melbourne respectively.
So is there an answer to the problem? Perhaps. Total Motorsport examines a couple of options.
Strip it back
The 2023 F1 season has seen the teams be forced to raise their ride height because the FIA were concerned over excessive porpoising when the cars were scraping the ground at the start of the new regulations.
All that has done is make things extra hard when following another car because there is just as much dirty air as before.
It might come with some resistance from certain teams who couldn’t get a grip on it but allowing teams to slam their cars to the floor again would make things much easier for those who have difficulty following closely to another car.
Another alternative is limiting the number of aerodynamic parts on the car. Front wings, bargeboards and all sorts all cause dirty air and make it extremely tough to stay close if you haven’t got an obvious pace advantage.
The only exception is at Monza where everybody runs as little downforce as possible. The solution here is to force them all to run with their Monaco wings at the same angle and create F1’s equivalent of a “plate race”.
Plate races in NASCAR are running with restrictor plates to keep speeds down on super speedways but that also means that the cars run extremely close all day.
You’re actually faster when you’re at the back because of the slipstream effect and if that could create an overtaking bonanza at Monza, nobody would complain because the Temple of Speed has become stale in recent years.