The Australian Grand Prix ushered in a new Formula 1 era built around the sport’s fastest ever cars.
Sweeping regulation changes have produced meaner, faster, more aesthetically pleasing F1 cars, which are more challenging to drive.
The latest shake up of the rules has certainly met the brief on that front with the increased aerodynamics producing higher cornering speeds and quicker lap times.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was 5.5s faster than the session best in opening practice last year, while this year’s pole time was 1.6s faster.
However, the move to increase aerodynamics sparked widespread fears that the racing would be affected, with cars no longer able to follow each other closely due to higher levels of turbulent air.
Sunday’s race showed elements of this with Hamilton unable to pass the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
In fact overtaking was limited to just five moves in the race but Albert Park has predominantly been a difficult circuit to complete passes.
Drivers confirmed that it proved extremely difficult to stay with two seconds of the car ahead.
“Even years before it has been difficult to follow, once you get within one-and-a-half, one second, just because the turbulent air messes up the air in the mix of the car,” said Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
“That way you don’t have that much grip while following the car, and now as more of the grip from the car is reliant on the aero, it’s a bigger effect.
“I think the cars are wider, so I think there’s more turbulent air, so now I think it’s more like two seconds, or even two-and-a-half that you actually feel quite a big effect from the car in front and that way in the corners that it’s more difficult to follow.”
F1’s new owners Liberty Media have already stated that if the show is impacted to an unacceptable degree then changes will be made.
However, Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes judgement on the racing should be reserved until there are more test cases to analyse.
“I think we have to reserve judgement until after two or three races,” said Horner.
“I think Melbourne if you look historically, there’s never been a lot of overtaking here.
“Let’s wait for China and Bahrain which are two of the more easy circuits to overtake at before making any judgement. I think the positives the drivers were pushing all race.
“There wasn’t a lot of fuel saving going on, and certainly not a lot of tyre saving going on. That was certainly a positive.”
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