Guenther Steiner calls for overtaking difficulty talks but warns against rules overhaul

Henry Valantine
Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner walks through the F1 paddock in Bahrain.

Guenther Steiner walks through the paddock.

Guenther Steiner believes Haas were among the first to flag concerns surrounding overtaking this season, and wants to see the teams get together to discuss how it can be improved.

Despite that, however, the Haas team principal warned against overhauling the rules completely, given the amount of time and resources that have gone into developing the cars as they are at present – with Formula 1’s budget cap limiting how much the teams will be able to change mid-season.

Drivers and teams have complained about the additional difficulty they have faced in following other cars so far this season compared to last, with the move to ground effect aerodynamics in 2022 brought about with the aim of improving wheel-to-wheel racing and allowing cars to race closer together more easily.

There was a general increase in overtaking last year compared to 2021, but the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last time out proved to be a processional race by recent standards, particularly on a circuit where overtaking is usually possible.

With that, Steiner hopes to see the teams talk about how to improve the racing spectacle this season, but does not want to see wholesale regulation changes that would fundamentally alter the cars.

“I think we were one of the first to say something because our drivers complained quite a bit, saying it is worse than with the ’22 car and we were told it was mainly our car,” Steiner told reporters in Baku, as per RacingNews365.

“But now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and saying it is more difficult so at the beginning we were standing alone when we mentioned it, and said there are only one or two teams finding it more difficult, maybe they have developed the wrong direction.

“I think it is in general with the change of regulation last year, it didn’t get any better. The other thing is we are shortening the DRS zones. I tried to find out why we are doing that and I still haven’t found and answer.

“I don’t know why it was decided, I don’t think it is dangerous – if someone can explain to me why then I am prepared to listen but I never had an answer.

“So we need to start to look at why overtaking is more difficult, maybe it has to do with the change of the floor from last year to this year, maybe it is because everyone has more downforce now and that makes it worse to follow… it could be a combination.

“We have to be careful that we do not turn the regulations around again in August for next year. That is annoying because you put a lot of money and development into a car and then you need to change.

“It needs to come on the table and talked about, not try to push it away.”

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Guenther Steiner: More downforce makes F1 cars harder to follow

The relatively stable regulations from 2022 to 2023 has enabled teams to add downforce to their cars for this season, which in turn has brought quicker lap times compared to last year overall.

But the effect on the cars in race conditions is such that, in simple terms, the more downforce they are able to generate, the more ‘dirty air’ comes off the back of them and in turn, makes it harder for cars behind to race in close quarters.

Steiner explained that the engineers have been doing their jobs in adding as much downforce as they can to the cars up and down the grid, and the quality of racing it produces is not their primary concern.

“We know from history that when you try to find more downforce, it always damages the people which are behind,” he said.

“They do their job to make the cars faster which is putting more downforce on, they are not worried by if you can follow.

“If you are slow because you have good wake and cannot follow anybody, you are not overtaking anyway.”