Bob McMurray: Logos overtake common sense
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Fans of Formula 1 are sick of seeing monstrosities whizzing around the track, all in the name of the cars being more aerodynamic.
This desire to cut through the air, to reduce friction, has blinded designers and left us with carbuncles that look like they were designed by Picasso. What racing fans are seeing now are at the very root of the demise in grassroots interest in the sport.
Fans and drivers have said how much they dislike “ these sculptural masterpieces” because of how they affect overtaking.
These contraptions may look fine in a Transformers cartoon but they would be ridiculed if they were to appear on a road car.
The fantasies of these aerodynamicists are harming the sport.
News is that the Formula 1 Strategy Group was presented with the opportunity to simplify, by regulation, many of the parts on a Formula 1 car that force the drivers to follow — not overtake. Specifically, the focus was on the aerodynamic effects of multiple bits of carbon fibre “managing” the air around a car.
The chance to simplify these bits was not, as one would think, driven by the wish to make overtaking easier but by the perceived need to make them simpler to display sponsors’ logos.
No wonder interest in the sport is waning.
The Technical Working Group, seemingly yet another Formula 1 version of a government quango, had earlier looked at other parts of the cars and recommended adjustments, notably the “barge boards” on the side of the cars and the rear-wing end plates, to once again make sure that sponsors’ logos are not “compromised”.
Have these people gone mad?
Figures from the 2017 season show that overtaking had been reduced by something like 50 per cent so I would surmise that the boredom level of the casual watcher of the sport went up by a similar amount.
It is reported that in making the front wings simpler (with the hope and wish that they would have less effect as well as being more attractive for a sponsor), the Strategy Group considered it would have too great an aerodynamic impact to justify doing it on “non-technical grounds”!
The opportunity to improve the racing has been ignored.
These “experts” chose to snub the wishes and hopes of the fans and ignore the need to improve the racing, not to mention the plea of some of the poorer teams to try to cut costs.
If a driver destroys the elements of a front wing, not unheard of in the first-corner melee, a team is looking at the thick end of a $200,000 bill.
Surely the simplification of these intricate, expensive aerodynamicists’ dreams would answer all of those questions.
In a flash of brilliance, Mario Isola, the motorsport boss of Pirelli, supplier of tyres to the sport, said last week: “We should have more mechanical grip and less aero grip. With more mechanical grip you encourage overtaking, it gets easier. Because when you’re following another car you lose less downforce and it’s easier to try to overtake.”
When did one of the movers and shakers of the sport wake up to that which mere mortals have been preaching for a long time and why is it that, although the sentiment is shared in public forums, driver interviews and every possible outlet one can think of, this golden opportunity to correct the wrongs has not been taken for the right reasons?