Is Formula One suddenly too complicated? Not a chance.

Posted on April 12, 2011


The thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix has left some asking if Formula One has suddenly gone too far in pandering to calls to spice up the show.

Is the blizzard of pit stops making things too complicated? Credit: Sauber Motorsport

It’s been suggested the addition of DRS and KERS plus the introduction of fast degrading Pirelli tyres has made the sport too complicated, with the 50+ pit stops and dozens of passing moves on Sunday exhibit A.

Opinion has been split, with some commentators suggesting it has all gone too far. Kevin Eason at (£) The Times has admitted losing track of what was happening, but James Allen reckons it’s bang on the money – and his poll of readers would seem to agree.

I certainly can make no complaints about Sunday’s race. I thought it was great, one of the best since Canada last year, itself a feast of overtaking. That said, I was keeping a close eye on the live timing screens and making brief notes to help with writing a blog later – probably not typical fan behaviour.

The tyres are fantastic and Pirelli have done exactly what was asked of them. Fragile, but safe, tyres make for fun racing as different teams and drivers run strategies in an attempt to reach the chequered flag first. The best drivers will still be racing at the front for the win but it all adds an extra element on uncertainty and excitement.

Equally, while it’s an odd technology KERS is worth pursuing. I’d like to see the rules opened up to allow the teams to innovate – though that would be expensive it would open the door to some clever ideas.

But I’m still not persuaded by the DRS. Last year, the McLaren f-duct created an arms race to achieve the same stalled rear wing and, importantly, that was not constrained by odd rules limiting its use. The idea of having a switch to make the car faster but only when one second behind a car in front, and only on a specific part of the track, crosses the line into bring artificial.

Yes, it creates overtaking but some of it is pretty low value – we saw some drivers swapping places several times on Sunday. Kobayashi and Schumacher seemed to be battling for an age, swapping places on the straight every few laps. I’d rather see one of them make a decisive move and then get ahead or himself come under attack and have to defend.

Turn the DRS off and between the Pirelli tyres and the KERS plenty of overtaking will still happen this year.

And it will all be down to one driver beating another.

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