Natural evolution?


Staff Member
I thought about adding this to one of the other numerous threads there are on the subject but this is approaching the current situation in F1 from a slightly different angle.

That angle is; isn't this what we should have expected?
And if so, why are we all surprised and dismayed at the same time?

In the "good old days" there were privateers, pay-and-drive, rich playboys and a smattering of professional and semi-professional racing drivers.
Couple that with old technology, manual clutches and gearboxes, unreliable cars, wildly different designs and cars of vastly different relative performance and it isn't surprising that the racing seemed (was?) more exciting back then.

Fast forward 30 years and now we have extremely strict rules on design and components, regulations governing how many tyres a driver must use during a race thereby automatically dictating strategy, drivers who are the best in the world at what they do, designs which are worked out on extremely sophisticated computers which all naturally come up with virtually identical results and cars which are some of the most advanced machines on the planet with brakes that can stop a car travelling at 200kph in about 60 metres.
Then there's the qualifying format which results in cars lining up for the race in order of fastest first, usually separated by mere tenths of a second so even if there is a car out of position, they don't have enough of a speed advantage to get past, notwithstanding the dirty air/aero/mechanical grip problems.
In addition, tracks are safer and narrower now and there's the phenomenon of "marbles" whenever anyone goes off the racing line meaning there is usually only 1 line in and out of corners making it extremely difficult for anyone to enter the corner on the outside and switch back on the inside.

Is it any wonder therefore that there is much less overtaking, mistakes, failures and all the other issues which contributed to more interesting races from decades ago?

Shouldn't we all just accept that this is the natural evolution of F1 and short of going backwards by reintroducing manual gearboxes and clutches and steel brakes, it's going to get "worse" rather than "better"?

Perhaps it's F1 fans who need to change their perception and expectations, rather than the sport?
Honestly the reaction to this one GP has been more than ludicrous! F1 was boring in the sixties and seventies, the majority of WTCC, BTCC races are incredibly boring, MotoGP has loads of incredibly boring races. WE'd have no idea what a good race is were it not for the fact that the majority of races are boring.

It was Bahrain for Godsake, what on earth were people expecting?!! :givemestrength:

Sorry Bro, you are absolutely right, of course the evolution toward mundanity is inevitible and the onus is on us to enrich our experience by fully understanding its diversity and richness. Even if that richness is harder to discern it is still there and discernible.
I don't think there is a "situation". There can't be after one race.

Some people have an agenda. FOTA want to cut the length of a race to an hour, the FIA wants to cut the difference in budgets between Ferrari and the rest (and to be fair Ferrari shouldn't be able to buy championships by copying other teams innovations - it should come up with its own), FOM wants to screw every last penny out of the sport to finance that ludicrous loan, and the teams want to prevent the other teams using that elusive loophole they found that gives them an outright advantage because they didn't think of it themselves.

Something is going on with these vested interests, something much darker and more manipulative than anything Max Mosley could have dreamed of. For the kind of figures in the sport who have come out to proclaim that "something must be done" to have done so, and so soon after the race and before it had been fully digested (Whitmarsh on the BBC red button forum, for example), is so inconceivable that I think the black hole left in the sport by Mosley's departure is what's being fought for. There is a vacuum there, and with Todt wanting to hand the reigns over to a non-existent F1 Commissioner, and thereby abrogating himself of all responsibility, the teams are making hay while the sun shines.

Is't possible, could it be, that some might whisper Max, Max, come back, we need you?
I think you've hit the nail smack on the head Bro. (which is a bit of a bugger because I've now scrapped one topic I was preparing and am going to drastically re-write another :D )

You only have to look at the recovery time after each new rule is implimented to see how advanced F1 has become. For example it took Lotus over 2 years to design and perfect a working ground effect car (Tony Rudd had been working on the concept for a couple of years before that as well). The same for active suspension which Lotus first ran in 1982 but eventually managed to fit to their 1987 cars. It took Williams almost 2 years to develop their semi-automatic gearbox and active suspension systems. Just look how quickly the teams adapted to the new aero regs last year and exploited the various technical gaps they could find.

Most systems are now perfected on computer before they even hit the track which has to be the case due to the testing restrictions. As a result, designers are making the cars too good. Let's be honest you don't want to be overtaken, so what goes on behind your car is no worry of yours. If it stops the other fellow getting past then so be it.

Driver fitness is another thing. When was the last time you saw a driver pass out at the end of the race? Fitness levels are far higher than they used to be and as you've said the drivers seem to make fewer mistakes.

The whole sport has moved on to the extent that almost all of the variables have been ironed out. There is so much consistancy of driver performance, car performance, tyre performance, engine performance and aero performance that very little is likely to happen on the track.

It's very difficult to know what if anything can be done about this because you can't un-engineer things. Would there be any point in reverting to steel brakes etc. Basically you may just as well ask each team to and buy a pair of 1984 vintage F1 cars and ask the drivers to go out and race them.
Personally, I think the reason for the mundane nature of current F1 comes down primarily to track design. Gone are the great tracks of the past, and the road circuits, which had high-speed turns, long straights, elevation changes etc. All are replaced with Tilke (curse him) tracks which seem little more than enlarged kart tracks with runoffs that would do credit to Heathrow. This means that there is little opportunity for bravery to be shown in late-braking passes, the kind epitomized by Rindt, Siffert, Rodrigues and Gilles V. Until relatively recently, the cars were designed to handle the various tracks. Today, the tracks are designed to cater to the cars. A huge difference.

I'm not sure about fitness either. In the abstract it appears to be true, but in Fangio's day, the races were 300 miles long at minimum (Monaco was over 100 laps), the tyres had contact pactches smaller than the palm of your hand, the cars carried ungodly amounts of gas, usually in the tail which made for "interesting" handling. Plus, if you made a mistake back then, you would probably hit a rock face or tree, or fly off a cliff, so I imagine they had to be even more focused than today's drivers.
Sorry, SF, but I don't entirely agree with you. Many of those tracks are used by GP2, where they manage to overtake.

I wouldn't dispute though, that Tilke tracks are boring, I just don't believe they are the reason for a lack of overtaking.
Overtaking isn't the be all and end all of a good or even outstanding motor race. There have been countless very entertaining GP's at Monaco and even Hungary has provided the odd surprisingly good race. Obsessing over overtaking hasn't actually helped F1 and it goes back a long time. More often than not, when people try to change things they produce the opposite. It's Ying and Yang, cause and effect. For "New and Improved" read "completely buggered."

We need to apply a bit of Taoist or Yogic philosophy to the problems facing F1. We need to stand back and allow nature and natural evolution to work its own magic and stop this incessent Moselyst interventionism!

There isn't any overtaking in Rallying... :s
Whilst it's not the be all and end all, having the opportunity is nice.

The more rules and regulations lock down the cars to a spec formula, the more is spent on smaller gains the more sensitive elements of the car. In Bahrain, the top 8 on the grid finished top 8, with the only changes in order due to 1st lap shenanigans, a minor mechanical malfunction, and minor pit stop issues.

At no point during the race did any of those top 8 look like they could have got past the car in front.

This is what evolution has done, from 3.5l freedom to limited-rev, limited use standard 2.4V8, from tyre width reduction to grooves which shifted the emphasis to aero efficiency (the return to slicks placed too much grip at the front. So do they increase rear tyre width for more rear grip, nope, they continue the overall grip reduction by narrowing the front tyres..), from semi-auto gearboxes to seamless shift boxes, steel brakes to carbon/carbon brakes, the list goes on.

I'm not about to stand in La Place de la Concorde waving a placard around just yet, but allowing the rules to naturally evolve in one direction has given us, as Brogan posted initially, just what we should have expected. So, at what point do they/we stand up and point out the elephant in the room?
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