Carlos Sainz has raised concerns about the ‘raceability' of current F1 cars, believing they are “starting to become worse again”.
Following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations at the start of last year, the claim was made that the racing would be closer and there would be more overtaking.
With the cars switching to ground effect, the wake of a leading car would be significantly reduced, allowing for a driver following behind to get closer and hopefully make a pass.
But over time, as the aerodynamicists and engineers within the teams have discovered ways to add downforce, in turn, that has made following and overtaking more difficult.
“As the races have gone by with this generation of cars, it's getting quite bad to follow again,” stated Sainz.
“I don't know how long this raceability from this new generation of cars is going to last because they are currently getting more and more tricky to follow, and on top of that they (the FIA) are reducing the DRS zones.”
Assessing whether F1, via its working group led by Ross Brawn, had taken the right direction with the ground-effect cars, Sainz said: “In the short term it delivered. The cars were a lot better to race.
“But now it's getting to a point that they're starting to become worse again, and also there's not a lot of slipstream effect.
“So it's a combination of not a lot of slipstream – the other generation of cars was producing a lot of slipstream – and to follow now it's becoming quite tricky.
“These cars are quite stiff, quite heavy. I would personally love to go back to a more compliant car – but does it mean we all end up with lower-back problems and all that – and a narrower, lighter car.”
DRS and overheating tyres add to the mix – Sainz
The issue surrounding DRS was raised ahead of the Azerbaijan GP, with the FIA shortening the zone by 100 metres, which made overtaking noticeably more difficult going into Turn 1.
For this weekend's Miami Grand Prix, the two DRS zones have both been reduced by 75 metres at a circuit where overtaking was already an issue last year.
The suggestion is that when it comes to the DRS zone, there are teams that would prefer them to be shorter, others feel an increase is required. It all depends on the car they have beneath them.
“It's difficult for the drivers because we know there are cars with more DRS than others (such as Red Bull),” said Sainz.
“If you go driver by driver, team by team, one team will say more DRS, others less. I think we are all a bit biased.
“But if I were to forget about which team I drive for and I just looked at the benefit of F1, and how difficult it is starting to become to follow, at least I wouldn't shorten them, I would leave them as they are.”
Another reason for the lack of overtaking is the fact Pirelli's tyres are overheating.
“The surface especially is overheating,” assessed Sainz.
“As soon as you are behind a car and you lose a bit of traction, a bit of braking grip, the tyres start slipping.
“At the next corner, it means you have less grip, and you're only able to follow for one or two laps., and then you have to back off.”