Brawn to set up panel to work on improving F1 spectacle and overtaking

Ross Brawn, Mercedes, FOTA Fan Forum. © 2012 Octane Photographic Ltd/ Carl Jones. Ross Brawn, Mercedes, FOTA Fan Forum. Digital Ref: 0395CJ7D8138

Ross Brawn plans to set up a task force of experts with the sole responsibility of setting out clear plans for the path that F1’s future should take, in his new role as Managing Director of Motorsport at FOM.

Improving the show is high on the list of things that would be assessed by the new panel, as well as working on ways of improving overtaking, and other ideas to improve the overall spectacle of F1, as Brawn explained to recently.

“We’ll have some experts; industry recognised people, working within FOM, who I think people will respect.

“It won’t be a big team, just five or six people, but there will be enough capacity with my experience and knowledge to be able to create and get a proper reasoned argument for what we want to do and have an input into the process.

Last week Liberty Media held talks with F1 teams, to advise them of their plans, and what their strategy for the sport would be going forward, making it clear that any decisions to implement a change would purely be done because they add value to the show, and not just on some whim, like the change to the qualifying format last season.

“What I want to make sure is that, over time, there is always a consideration for the quality of the show and the racing and its cost.

“So there are some boxes that need ticking every time we make a decision in Formula 1.

“There may be a very strong sporting consideration where, for the integrity of the sport, it’s a decision that has to be made and I understand that.

“But there will be other decisions where someone holds up a flag saying, ‘Have you thought about what the fans will think, how much it will cost or if there’s been a thought about the impact on racing?'”

The overriding issue that Brawn wants the panel to focus their attentions on is making overtaking better, especially in light of the recent rule changes which many believe will make this action much harder for drivers as they follow in the dirty air of other cars.

“It’s a complex problem. We don’t want the cars to be slow, so we want the levels of grip that we have, but we want it in a way that doesn’t cause disruption to the car following. So is there a solution to that?

“If we put the right sort of people on that task and gave them a year, 18 months, to find a solution, can we design Formula 1 cars in a way that a car behind could follow?”

Brawn did allude to a group being set up to work on this very issue previously, however he felt they did not have the resources available to them at that time, to fully come up with a constructive solution.

“I know we had a go at it before with the Overtaking Working Group, but I don’t think we had the knowledge and capability that teams have got now. CFD has made a huge difference.

“We were trying to carry out physical experiments in the wind-tunnel that was never designed to have two cars in it, so it was compromised.

“We had the two models and we were doing things to the one in front to see what it did to the one behind. But the one in front had to be in the front of the tunnel and the one behind had to be on the scales. So it was all a bit compromised.”

With the more up-to-date, state of the art machinery available today, Brawn believes they have a much better chance of coming up with a viable and positive answer, though emphasized that this could still be a tough task.

“The CFD now gives new opportunities to look at all of that. Because if you could create a car which had decent levels of aerodynamic grip, but left a wake that was benign…there’s lots of people who will tell you that you can’t do that but I don’t think we’ve really put our minds to it.

“Otherwise, there’s not a solution. You can’t just get rid of all the aerodynamic downforce. You can get some back with tyres and chassis grip, but you can’t have cars as quick as this.

“And if you want cars as quick as this, you’ve got to find another solution. So that’s the sort of stuff that we will be involved in initiating and supporting to make sure that we can do it.”