Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Aerodynamicist's solution: Reduce Mechanical Grip

James Allen has an article where aerodynamicist Frank Dernie makes the case for reducing mechanical grip, not aerodynamic grip.

His view of the problem:
[...] that the “overtaking problem in F1″ is not the aero, but the mechanical grip from the tyres and the lack of mistakes made by drivers on gearshifts due to semi automatic gearboxes.
His ideas as a solution:
  • Manual gearboxes. If you miss a change, the car behind gets a chance.
  • Rock-hard, spec, no-change tires. If the tire is required to do a full race distance, it will have to be rock hard. It won't degrade as much, but since it has to last it won't be as grippy either. This has a knock-on effect that since the tires are not degrading, fewer marbles are getting created and there's less rubber bedded in to the racing line. Both effects reduce the penalty for driving off-line.
  • Less effective brakes. Longer braking zones give drivers more chances to get in front and more chances to make mistakes.
  • Single lap qualifying (my hero!). Drivers get one chance to set a qualifying time. Naturally, some will make mistakes, meaning you'll have "faster" cars mixed in with "slower" cars, a situation which can lead to passing opportunities.
Interesting ideas.