Webber: More bravery needed in new-gen F1

Tom Howard

Sunday 26th March, 2017 - 4:00am

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The Australian Grand Prix will push drivers to the limit

Drivers will have to be at their bravest to make up positions as Formula 1’s new era begins with today’s Australian Grand Prix, according to nine-time grand prix winner Mark Webber.

The former Red Bull F1 driver is predicting drivers will be forced to produce ‘ballsy’ overtaking moves due to the introduction of new regulations this season.

F1’s desire to create the fastest cars ever, courtesy of increased aerodynamics and wider tyres, will be put to the test for the first time in this afternoon’s 58 lap season opener.

Leading up to the event there has been widespread fears the new rules will impact the quality of the racing with the aerodynamics and subsequent turbulent air affecting the ability for cars to follow each other.

As a result, Webber expects overtaking to be limited, claiming that drivers will have to brave to make moves given the braking zones will be shorter this year.

The Australian former World Endurance champion believes watching the drivers being pushed to the limit in more challenging cars will be a fascinating prospect.

“I think it’s brilliant to see the drivers being pushed at a high level again, which they’ve always wanted, and we’ll see how that turns out in terms of the race,” Webber told Speedcafe.com.

“Obviously it looks like a one-stop, which might not be the most interesting race in terms of overtaking, but let’s see how it goes.

“They’ll (the drivers) have a short period where they might be able to get a move done but the braking points look very, very short so it’s going to be hard to get a full move done down the inside.

“The cars are obviously a lot wider. Keep in mind the drivers are a sniff rusty, they haven’t done a first lap for a long time, so that’s interesting how that will turn out.

“If they behave themselves on the first lap and then when they get in the groove, it will be hard to get a move done.

“The effect of the DRS will be larger, but they’ve still got to try and outbrake each other.

“They’ve still got to try and get the move done under brakes, so if you’ve got someone quite creative in front that can block you – because defending’s still in play, right, you can still defend your position.”

Webber’s view is shared by many in the paddock including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who expects the race to be decided by the first corner.

“In terms of driving, yes, absolutely, it’s a lot faster and a lot more enjoyable – especially in qualifying when you take out the fuel, in the high-speed corners it’s really hooked,” said Verstappen.

“But in terms of racing, I think it will be more boring because tomorrow who takes first into Turn 1 will win the race.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton remains the favourite to win today’s race starting from pole position with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel alongside.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is set to start from 10th, pending a possible gearbox change which will incur a five-place penalty.

The Australian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 1600 local time.