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PROCESSIONAL F1 RACING NEEDS TO FACILITATE OVERTAKING

Earlier speculation about the future of Daniel Riccardo was that he could take a seat with either Mercedes or Ferrari in the 2019 F1 Championship, but Ricciardo himself believes that neither team has moved in his direction.

That would mean that the Perth native is more than likely to stay on with Team Red Bull, but the switch from Renault to Honda engines for the next season concerns him.

What is sometimes lost in the mix is that Red Bull, with Renault engines, was doing quite well, thank you, until Ricciardo joined.

Team Red Bull, equipped with Renault motors, won four straight between 2010 and 2013 with Sebastian Vettel steering. Red Bull has been in decline since Ricciardo came on in 2014.

Which is not to say he is responsible for the decline. Red Bull and Renault got complacent, while Mercedes and Ferrari made significant improvements that resulted in a speed edge that is simply too dominant for any driver, even one with Riccardo’s obvious skills, to overcome.

Riccardo’s wins have come on the tight courses, where his driving, combined with Red Bull’s slight edge in downforce, permits him to stay on the gas longer, and go through the turns harder.

F1 racing has basically become processional. The cars on the front of the starting grid, barring crashes or mechanical issues, are typically the one across the finish line first.

The cure for this?

Wider courses, where at least for part of a lap, there is room for three cars to run abreast. That is the only way to facilitate overtaking. Too many of the courses in use now, even those with a more wide-open layout, squeeze down to corners where trying to overtake usually results in the over taker and the overtaken being taken out of the race.

That will remain the case, whether Riccardo stays with Red Bull, joins another outfit, or rides his bike.

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