Formula One has a boring track problem. Bad track design has given drivers too few places to pass each other, which sucks to watch. This year’s wider, more downforce-intensive cars made much fewer passes than in years’ past, and F1 finally wants to tweak its tracks to try and fix that.
Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media are already starting to look into what makes a good race, and how to encourage those elements of a good race through the designs of both the cars as well as the tracks, reports Autosport.
While the number of overtakes fell by almost 50 percent with 2017's harder to pass cars, that stat alone doesn’t explain why F1's tracks suck. F1 Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn explained to Autosport that good racing happens when you allow there to be a good on-track fight:
You have got to start to think about what is good racing, and it is two cars fighting each other.
It may mean the guy in front stays in front but you can have some great racing going on. It is a little bit more complex than counting the number of overtakes.
What we are seeing so far is the ability to take different lines through corners is quite important to help racing. So if you have got a hairpin and it is a narrow track, it is not that great.
If you have a hairpin and it is a wide track, where there can be some different lines going into it, then you can get something happening.
So far, circuit designer Hermann Tilke is on board with the plan to revise some of F1's dullest spots, as he already hinted that changes might be coming to the traditionally processional Abu Dhabi Grand Prix circuit.
Brawn also told Autosport that track surfaces would come under scrutiny, too, as ones that aren’t tough enough on tires can contribute to the dullness. Specifically, teams don’t have to think as much about tire strategy if their tires always work pretty well, and winning becomes too easy.
Melbourne already considered a tweak to its street circuit in hopes of adding another place to pass, but didn’t go through with it as they weren’t sure it would work. Still, the fact that they’re looking at this is a promising sign.
Boring tracks have been a complaint among F1 fans—including myself—for years. You just know that unless something insane happens, some races are better spent in bed—sleeping in. Tilke’s tracks in particular are notorious for feeling formulaic and offering too few places to pass. So, it’s about time, F1. Fix your tracks.