Williams F1 Blames Circuit Designs for Lack of Overtaking

Although the International Automobile Federation (FIA) worked closely with the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) for the improvement of overtaking in the sport, the 2009 season saw few such maneuvers during its 17 Grand Prix weekends.

The Overtaking Working Group (OWG) set up by the FIA in order to develop the necessary aerodynamic tweaks to increase overtaking has failed in producing the awaited results, but some argue that it isn't their fault to begin with. Although the new aerodynamic package was designed to allow the trailing cars to make an easier pass on the trailed one, this kind of maneuvers are apparently prohibited by the design of the circuits rather than the new cars.

As much as one would redirect the airflow at the rear of a car in order not to affect a trailing car when passing it, if the circuit doesn't allow you to make a move on a rival, then overtaking is undoable. That's the simple argument of Williams' technical director Sam Michael, who exemplified the overtaking dilemma with the different types of layouts in the F1 calendar.

If you look at tracks like Barcelona where nobody overtakes, and take exactly the same cars to tracks like Monza, Hockenheim etc, there's plenty of overtaking. The difference is circuit layout. Organizers need to look closer at creating slower speed corners which feed onto straights, and at removing chicanes.[...] You can't keep blaming car design,” said Michael.

The Williams technical agrees with the FIA's decision to ban wheel fairings for the upcoming season of Formula One, as he believes the effect of that will be less wake behind the car. Therefore, the trailing car will not have to tackle the same amount of turbulence from the car ahead and will be able to travel better when passing it.
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