Stella defends F1 rules: Low-drag tracks are now a problem

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has explained how the new ground-effects Formula 1 regulations can unintentionally work to reduce overtaking opportunities at low-drag circuits such as Monza.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, leads George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

To help reduce the dirty air produced and allow cars to follow one another more closely, the design rulebook was reset for 2022 to move to ground-effects and away from complex top surfaces.

Aerodynamic development for this year has reduced the effectiveness of the shake-up, with reports it is again harder to chase through corners, but the consensus is that the rethink has been a success.

However, with the FIA reducing the length of DRS zones in the early races, combined with the dominance of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, the races have drawn criticism for a lack of excitement.

But Stella says this does not show the limitations of the ground-effects switch, but instead reflects straight-line limitations that are most prevalent at low-drag tracks like Jeddah, Spa and Monza.

The Italian engineer explained: “I wouldn't talk about limitations of the regulations.

“I think what we have observed already last year with this new generation of cars is it's definitely easier to follow in the corners [with the estimated 30% reduction in dirty air].

“So, some tracks where it was very difficult to overtake, like Hungary for instance, they are now tracks in which you can follow.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“Then in the [corner] complex where you have the corners and then once you can go out of the last corner, you are actually close to the car ahead and then you can attack thanks to the DRS.

“So, I would say this aspect of racing has been helped very much by the new generation of cars.”

Stella reckoned with ground-effect cars now cutting a cleaner whole in the air, the effectiveness of the slipstream has been markedly reduced to make overtaking in a straight-line more difficult.

He continued: “When it comes instead to configurations like [Spa] or Monza where you need to have a lot of towing effect to overtake, I think with this generation of cars you have less, let me call it, suction from the car ahead.

“So, in this kind of circuit, it has actually become slightly more difficult possibly.

“So, if you want, this is the two faces of the same medal. But I would welcome the fact that we now can follow cars more easily than it was possible with the previous generation of cars.”

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