Formula 1 Management motorsport director Ross Brawn says the first race of the new season gave him encouragement that changes made to the cars to aid overtaking have worked.
The new F1 cars sport wider front wings with simplified designs and larger rear wings with more powerful Drag Reduction Systems. Other minor changes were also made to the car’s aerodynamics for the new season which were also aimed at aiding overtaking and making it easier for cars to follow more closely.
Brawn said the changes appear to have had a positive effect.
“Judging by the number of passing moves in the race – 14 this year, six without DRS – compared to three in 2018, the initial signs are encouraging,” he said. “Especially as apart from the actual overtakes we saw some thrilling battles.
“Clearly those weren’t all down to the new aerodynamics, as the performance of the midfield teams especially has closed up dramatically. However several drivers said the cars felt more neutral when following another when compared to previous years.”
The full effect of the changes won’t be clear until F1 has raced on a broader range of circuits, Brawn added. “The Australian track isn’t the most accurate test, so I’d prefer to wait for at least another three races before drawing any conclusions. However, the initial signs are encouraging.”
However Lewis Hamilton said the aerodynamic changes made “no difference”. Max Verstappen, who overtook Sebastian Vettel for third place during the race, claimed overtaking had only been made easier because DRS is now more powerful.
Brawn said the introduction of a new rule awarding a bonus point for fastest lap also added to the action in the Australian Grand Prix.
“In a race in which the podium positions seemed set from early on, the fight to claim that one extra point, in the knowledge that it could be vitally important in the closing stages of the championship, certainly livened up the closing stages of the race. That was exactly what we and the FIA had in mind when it came up with the idea.”
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