F1 and FIA begin project to improve racing amid overtaking worries

Formula 1 chiefs have started a joint research programme with the FIA in order to allow cars to race more closely, after concerns about overtaking during the 2017 season

F1 and FIA begin project to improve racing amid overtaking worries

Ferrari's resurgence has led to a closely fought battle at the front of the grid, but there has only been one overtake for the lead of a race this season - when Lewis Hamilton passed Sebastian Vettel on faster compound tyres during the Spanish Grand Prix.

F1's sporting managing director Ross Brawn said at the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday that the difficulties of overtaking had been acknowledged.

Brawn added that a group of engineers he had employed were working on how to create cars that were able to race more closely as part of their wider role.

He also expressed concern that there was such a big gap between the top three teams - Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull - and the rest of the field.

"If I am honest, we have been very fortunate this year that we've had two teams that are battling it out so strongly at the front, and I wouldn't like to claim any credit for that," said Brawn, when asked by Autosport for his perception on the racing spectacle. "It has just been good timing.

"But I think with the real recognition that there has to be some work done to consolidate that for the future.

"There is a slightly worrying gap between the front and the middle of the field that we need to pay attention to.

"We are still starting to understand the behaviour of these cars with regard to how well they can race each other.

"We have just initiated our aerodynamic programme to have a look at the design of these cars and see what we can do in the future to make them more raceable.

"That is something we are doing with the FIA, we are starting a research programme."

RACING NOT OVERTAKING

Brawn said that the close racing issue did not entirely focus on overtaking, and that there was a drive to maintain current downforce levels while also improving the spectacle.

"I don't want to call it an overtaking working group, because that is not what we are looking to do," he said.

"We are looking to create a group that can look at the design of cars presently and in the future to make sure they are raceable, because the feedback from the drivers is it is difficult.

"We know that we rely on the aerodynamics for performance of the car. There is a slightly naive view that we should get rid of the aerodynamics and then everything will be wonderful.

"The fact is it won't be as spectacular and they won't go as fast as they are if we get rid of the aerodynamics. There is no way of just putting on bigger tyres and hoping you will go as fast as they will.

"So we need to retain the aerodynamics but we need to do it in a way that makes the cars more raceable. You cannot guess that, you have to do work to establish it.

"But I don't think we are taking anything for granted. We are fortunate that we have got some great racing going on, and we need to make sure we can do that more consistently in the future."

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