Mosley driven to encourage more overtaking

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The Independent Online

Having previously banned such things as hybrid technology, the president of the FIA, the governing body of world motor sport, is now investigating means of embracing it for Formula One, possibly as early as 2008. And having previously achieved negligible results trying to encourage redesigned aerodynamics to help overtaking, he believes he has found a new way of solving the sport's thorniest problem.

Much of Mosley's new vision came as a result of a survey that the FIA initiated in partnership with the software company AMD, a sponsor of Ferrari which also has partnerships with other leading teams. In the new spirit of peace that has broken out in Formula One, the governing body may finally be moving into line with the views of the media and fans who want more overtaking and less Luddite restriction on technology.

The FIA and AMD have now entered into a technical partnership that will enable the governing body to conduct its own aerodynamic programmes via AMD's computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation technology.

The major obstacle to overtaking is that once a following car gets within 200 feet of the one in front, it loses front-end downforce in the leading car's turbulence, thus creating the stalemate that sees so much follow-my-leader "racing".

Mosley says that the CFD tests will use "all sorts of different configurations before the end of the year so that we can publish new regulations for the future".

Mosley also plans to limit downforce by quantity rather than by prescribing bodywork dimensions. This year, downforce levels were reduced by 25 per cent over 2004 levels, only for most teams to claw that back before the season's midpoint.

As far as hybrid technology is concerned, Mosley spoke of an onboard system on each car which would store energy under braking and release it - perhaps the equivalent of 60 bhp - at the driver's command for up to five seconds on the following straight. This could happen several times a lap, rather like the push-to-pass boost system used in America's Champ Car series.

There were plenty of drivers in practice yesterday who could have done with another 60 bhp, and one of them was Michael Schumacher. The soon to be outgoing champion could have done with some more grip, too, after spinning his troubled Ferrari into the wall on the exit to the very fast Parabolica corner.

"When you are not as competitive as you want to be, you try everything you can to improve and my spin was partly the result of that," Schumacher said.

Disregarding Ricardo Zonta's unrepresentative fastest lap of 1min 20.531sec in the Toyota, McLaren-Mercedes again ruled with the three fastest times. Juan Pablo Montoya was fractionally ahead of his team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa. Williams-BMW, too, were strong with fifth and sixth-best times.

Perhaps Jenson Button noted that from a lowly 18th place in his BAR-Honda. The Englishman, who has initiated discussions with Sir Frank Williams, said: "I really want to sort this out behind the scenes. The talks are not yet to my satisfaction, but I hope we can reach agreement before the season ends." Word is that Williams have quoted a settlement figure of $25m (£13.6m), while BAR have pitched low at $5m.