News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Boost Button

Max Mosley who was once heard to dismiss overtaking as unimportant to the fans, has now done a complete U turn on the issue. Having heard the voice of the fans, he wants overtaking to be a major feature. It just shows you how out of touch these FIA types are to audiences.

Anyway, Mad Max has now proposed a boost button that when depressed, would give an extra power boost to the car to allow it to overtake the rival in front. The power boost works by storing energy released under braking into a battery. It would then be used to somehow give a quick squirt of power for the driver to overtake.

It sounds like a system used in Indycars I believe. But doesn't BAR already have an "overtake" button for its Honda engine?

Also, I agree with the Pitpass article. Whats needed is not artificial measures like these to improve overtaking but driver skill and bravery. Also, the aerodynamics of the car must be such that turbulence does not affect it so much as to render overtaking impossible.

A better proposal I think is to introduce measures to reduce reliance on front wing produced downforce. In fact, instead of reducing the length of the venturi tunnels as they did this year, it should be extended. In fact, they should use the Indycar / Champcar style aero that allows tunnels all the way to the front of the car. That way a very large portion of downforce is produced by the body of the car instead of the wings.

Sliding side skirts can still be banned. Think of the old Group C / Le Mans sports car style aero. If you discount the front bodywork, those cars in fact have little or no front wings. Think Porsche 956/962. It had no front wing (unless you count the bodywork itself) and a small rear wing but good downforce was produced by its long venturi tunnels running throughout the length of the car.

In fact Tyrell introduced the sliding skirted front wing in 1990 and was used by the likes of Williams and McLaren all through 1991 and 1992 before being banned in 1993. Or was it 1994? I can't remember exactly. The point is, those wings relied on ground effects to produce its downforce. The sliding skirts ensured that air was being sucked right through underneath the wings and channelled into the low pressure area behind rear brakes. The top of the wing was guaranteed to be at a high pressure, thus producing downforce.

The wings these days need lots of fresh air, which when its behind another car, is none existent. All this from the people who said that regulations should no longer be the premise of team technical directors. Dumb ass lawyer.

You see a lot more overtaking in Champcars and Indycars because they have "proper" aero. Yes, they have boost buttons in Indycars as well but it really isn't needed. If the aero on the car works fine drivers will find a way past. At moment, they haven't got the grip to give it a good lunge for an inside pass.

No boost buttons in karts but its overtaking galore there. Aerodynamics and downforce are nice to have and in a series like Formula 1 generates interest among the tech enthusiast. They just need proper ones. Its probably the only impediment left to a good show.

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