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F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023 Toto Wolff after the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 26, 2023.

Wolff: More flat-out races like Qatar needed in 2024

A big concern within the sports is the lack of overtaking due to tyre management reasons, having to control the temperature of the tyres after following a car

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks Formula 1 should have more “flat-out” races like the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix due to worries about a lack of overtaking because of tyre management.

Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix 2023Start of the race 01 Max Verstappen of Netherlands, Oracle Red Bull Racing, RB19 - Honda RBPT, action 63 George Russell of United Kingdom, Mercedes - AMG PETRONAS, W14 - Mercedes, action 44 Lewis Hamilton of United Kingdom, Mercedes - AMG PETRONAS, W14 - Mercedes, action during the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix from 5th to 8th of October, 2023 on the Lusail International Circuit, in Lusail, Qatar.
Qatar had drivers forced to do a three-stop racing, leading to the drivers pushing flat-out for the entire race (Image Credit: Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Drivers have had to back off from many battles due to their tyres overheating after staying in the dirty air. The Pirelli tyres has the rubber prone to thermal degradation – forcing drivers to back off for cool air to manage the tyre temperatures.

Pirelli believes the issue is the amount of development the teams have done with their new ground-effects car. The tyre manufacturers believe that the developments have made cars have more turbulent air when following one another. A new design to combat this issue may not be available until 2025.

With all teams focusing on the 2024 car, concerns are rising about DRS trains forming, leading to a lack of overtaking. The worry of having DRS trains would mean that the spectacle would not be enjoyable for the fans next year.

More “flat-out races” required

Wolff believes the fix is to have more “flat-out” races like in Losail. Drivers were required to have a maximum of 18 laps for a stint due to concerns of the kerbs cutting the rubber.

Overtaking has been a big topic over the past years. 2022 saw Formula 1 change to ground-effects cars in the hope of better wheel-to-wheel racing. Wolff was asked by Motosport.com about the issues.

“I wouldn’t see it negatively here in November in Abu Dhabi. We have got to wait and see what happens in Bahrain next year, and how the season is going to pan out.

“Let’s wait to see how it goes, and I think let’s see how the Pirelli tyres are going to handle next year’s cars. But, at the end when you’re looking, overtaking has gotten worse.”

Then the Austrian says that races like Qatar would create a better spectacle for the fans to watch in 2024:

“It’s all about thermal management. So, I’d like to have races like Qatar where you just go flat out.”

F1 Grand Prix of QatarLUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 8: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A522 Renault during the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 8, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar.
Drivers were seen struggling after going flat-out during the race in Losail (Image Credit: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)
What could be the issues with flat-out races?

Pirelli boss Mario Isola believes creating a tyre too durable would be a problem. The Italian believes that drivers would push 100% for the whole race. This would lead to teams having the same strategy, meaning there would be no variation for overtakes.

“We need to take the right time to discuss it properly, involving the teams and their strategists, because when you change, for example, the level of degradation, the risk is that we have all the races on one stop, all the teams doing the same strategy.”

The 2023 Qatar Grand Prix also created a controversial topic. Many drivers fell ill after the race in Losail after pushing 100% for the entire race.

However, this was due to the extreme temperatures at the desert. The temperatures were extremely high, leading to drivers losing a lot of body weight in water due to sweat.

Williams driver Logan Sargeant was forced to stop racing as the American felt too ill to continue in the race. Many other drivers were seen struggling to get out of their cars after the race.

However, the Qatar Grand Prix has been pushed further back in 2024. This will allow for a cooler race next year.

Feature Image Credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

 

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