Romain Grosjean said the new rule is “for top teams” and is unlikely to affect the rest.
“For the midfield I don’t see it changing a lot. If you have a look at the stat for the last three or four years, 96% of the fastest laps have been done by the top three teams.”
Grosjean pointed out that if a driver has an opportunity to pit at the end of the race without losing a position and put on a fresh set of tyres, that will give them the best chance of scoring the point for fastest lap.
“Normally the top three teams pull away and they’ve got a free pit stop anyway. If you’re last of that leading group then you’ve got a free pit stop [over] the midfield.”
However Grosjean, who retired from last year’s Australian Grand Prix following a pit stop error, added: “When you take a pit stop there’s always a risk that the wheels are not tightened or something like that.”
Charles Leclerc believes any driver able to take a ‘free’ pit stop will do so in order to make a bid for the fastest lap point. “If you’ve got nothing to lose I believe we will try, yes,” he said.
However he suspects the difficulty of overtaking will mean no driver will sacrifice a position in order to make a pit stop and attempt to set the fastest lap.
“[It’s] difficult to say. We need to see how is the overtaking now with this new front wing. I don’t think anybody has a very clear idea of how it’s going to be until we actually race with this.
“If it’s the same as last year I struggle to think we would give up a position on track to set the fastest lap. It remains one point but looking at the change of points from one place to another I think it’s better to stay in front.”
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