Formula 1 sporting boss Ross Brawn says the initial signs of how the 2019 rule changes impacted on overtaking figures at the season-opener in Melbourne has been “encouraging”.
A major change to the aerodynamic regulations for this year was introduced with the aim of restricting the amount of dirty air endured while in wake of another car.
Simpler front wings and bigger rear wings were designed in mind of improving the on-track action, but drivers are divided on opinion if the tweaks have made a significant difference to 2018.
Brawn believes it was a positive first sign that overtaking stats were up at Albert Park from last year but is keen to subside any conclusion on the new rules for at least three more grand prix’s.
“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, especially as apart from the actual overtakes, we saw some thrilling battles,” Brawn said.
“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.
“Here, too, 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.”
Brawn also praised the addition of drivers receiving a point for fastest lap which returned after a 60-year hiatus, an accolade Valtteri Bottas claimed on his way to victory in Melbourne.
“The return to awarding a point to the driver and team who set the race fastest lap livened up the closing stages of the race, as Verstappen tried to nudge out Bottas, who had his hands on that particular prize,” added Brawn.
“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.”