Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says that he is encouraged by the potential in new aero regulations aimed at improving overtaking after the rules were given their first true test at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
The difficulty of following another car due to turbulence has been a common complaint among drivers for some time. In an attempt to address the problem, F1 and the FIA introduced changes to the front wing, brake ducts, bargeboards and rear wing.
“Judging by the number of passing moves in the race; 14 this year (6 without DRS) compared to three in 2018, the initial signs are encouraging,” Brawn 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.
“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.”
Romain Grosjean spent a chunk of Sunday’s race in traffic and says the aerodynamic improvements were clear, but fears Pirelli’s tires still limit how closely drivers can follow each other.
“The new rules are great for following another car,” Grosjean said. “But the tires are still what they were last year – as soon as you push they slide, and then you lose the grip. So even though we can follow much easier than in the past, overtaking is still very complicated.”