Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Albert Park, 2019

Brawn sees encouraging signs 2019 aero changes have worked

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 Management motorsport director Ross Brawn says the first race of the new season gave him encouragement that changes made to the cars to aid overtaking have worked.

The new F1 cars sport wider front wings with simplified designs and larger rear wings with more powerful Drag Reduction Systems. Other minor changes were also made to the car’s aerodynamics for the new season which were also aimed at aiding overtaking and making it easier for cars to follow more closely.

Brawn said the changes appear to have had a positive effect.

“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,” he 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.”

The full effect of the changes won’t be clear until F1 has raced on a broader range of circuits, Brawn added. “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.”

However Lewis Hamilton said the aerodynamic changes made “no difference”. Max Verstappen, who overtook Sebastian Vettel for third place during the race, claimed overtaking had only been made easier because DRS is now more powerful.

Brawn also claimed the introduction of a new rule awarding a bonus point for fastest lap added to the action in the Australian Grand Prix.

“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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Brawn sees encouraging signs 2019 aero changes have worked”

  1. I’d like to see some data on the subject, but it seemed to me as if there were more cars following more closely this race than before.

    1. @knewman, visually it definitely seemed so to me. A lot less backing off from the hot air.

      1. I had the same vibe.

  2. the battle for 7th, which had 5 cars running less than a second apart for many laps, was a clear indication that they can follow more closely. The tire age and compound was pretty different among these cars, so in the past that would have easily put those on older rubber at a disadvantage and would made them drop back.

  3. the fight to claim that one extra point, in the knowledge that it could be vitally important in the closing stages of the championship

    Which is exactly why I don’t like it.

    The championship should not come down to something as arbitrary or as largely irrelevant as bonus points the fastest lap given how many factors can play into who actually gets the fastest lap & how many silly games can be played with it.

    It’s shortsightedness at it’s worse, 5 minutes of potential artificial spice at the end of a race at the expense of the sporting integrity of the championship standings & eventually it’s going to come back to bite them… I hope this year so we can be rid of as soon as possible.

    1. Is fastest lap arbitrary though? Points are being rewarded for being quickest – isn’t that why we’re doing all this? I think it’s a positive addition to the championship. Drivers and teams taking risks to prove they are fastest.

      1. What I think @stefmeister is saying, and it is an opinion I agree with, is that points are already awarded for being fastest. They are for being fastest to complete the total laps for a race. Awarding an additional point for one particular lap—one that already figures into the final result—seems redundant at best. Please correct me if I’ve misinterpreted.

        @knewman – The fastest lap point is the definition of a gimmick. In my opinion, Formula 1 is about finishing more races ahead of your rivals than behind. Getting pole position facilitates that. Having quick pit stops facilitates that. Driving quickly on one or more laps facilitates that. The end result each race is where the positives and negatives are totted up via the finishing order (and potentially penalties), and points are awarded.

        And we know who the fastest is on a given weekend already, because qualifying exists.

        1. @hobo
          “In my opinion, Formula 1 is about finishing more races ahead of your rivals than behind.” – In other words, you’re not down with the scoring system in general.

          1. @krxx – No, that’s incorrect. I think people can reasonably quibble about particular point amounts tied to positions—e.g. should first be worth 10, 25, some other number. But I am fully behind points for finishing position.

            Is it possible that you could finish just behind more often and way ahead a few times and still win? Sure. But I’m okay with that, that’s part of the calculus of pushing during each given race. If the end result is you finished higher on average, you win. And the way you count that up is points.

          2. @hobo
            Ok, thanks for the clarification. Well, up until your second last line that is: “If the end result is you finished higher on average, you win”. This, as you clearly point out yourself (“Is it possible that you could finish just behind more often and way ahead a few times and still win? Sure. But I’m okay with that, that’s part of the calculus”), isn’t necessarily always the case. So that second last line, by my understanding, negates the rest of your comment.

            Let me ask you in general, would you like to see the points scoring system changed or not? To me, if the objective is creating a scoring system in which “If the end result is you finished higher on average, you win” (unless it is meant by ‘finished’ the avg POINTS per race position scored), we’re talking about a same-points gap-between-positions-system, eg 20-19-18-…-1 points awarded to 20 cars (with may be the condition of a % of the race, season or whatever that has to be completed).

          3. @krxx – I think my position is fairly consistent; but I’ll use an example to explain why I think that is the case. Let’s look at ROS and HAM 2016 because it was a close season and because some argue that HAM should have won the title because he won more races. I disagree with that.

            Looking at average finishing position, ROS was ahead. For DNFs, you can use 11th or 24th to calculate the average, and ROS is ahead on average finishing position. [2.7 vs 3.0 in the former and 3.3 vs 4.2 in the latter.] The only way HAM has a better average is if you do not include DNFs, but that doesn’t make any sense.

            Looking at average points, ROS is ahead (18.2 vs 18.1). Which says to me, based on a very close average finishing position above, that the points are closely aligned with finishing position.

            I don’t think that I want 1pt gaps for every position, but maybe? I haven’t thought about it much.

            I imagine that under the current system there are possibilities where someone finishes on average behind but has more points, but I feel like those are very unlikely. Perhaps that needs to be addressed, again, I haven’t explored extreme ends of the current system.

          4. Ok, understood.
            “I think my position is fairly consistent”. Yes it is, from the beginning onwards, but it’s just that I was “exploring extreme ends of the current system”, that’s why my annoying questions.

            And speaking of the ROS-HAM case, the ones who argue that HAM should’ve won it bc he won more, conveniently forget that had that rule been in place, ROS wouldn’t have backed off in the last 4 quali’s and races in which he only needed three 2nd places and one 3rd in the race. He was leading HAM 9-6 after 17 races, that’s a massive 50% more.
            And they also don’t speak about ’08.

      2. @knewman The purpose of a race isn’t to be fastest over 1 lap, It’s not even necessarily to be the fastest at all. It’s to have the best package to get to the end ahead of everyone else.
        As many greats & ex multiple time world champions have said in the past, The object of a race is to win at the slowest possible speed (In order to preserve your equipment).

        The thing for me is that while it didn’t happen in Melbourne i’m pretty confident we are going to see scenario’s where drivers just pit late for fresh soft tyres & with a 1-2 second a lap performance advantage grab the fastest lap by default. To me doing that isn’t deserving of a point & should not be a deciding factor in the championship (Especially given how its open to abuse/manipulation it is with teams playing games with team mates & B-teams).

        For me the championship should be based purely off points based off where you finish. Any bonus points be it fastest lap or anything else just starts to devalue the championship.

    2. @stefmeister,@hobo, Agreed, although it’s probably the least egregious of the raft of gimmicks foisted onto F1 over the years, as a positive it does give the commentators something to talk about in the closing laps when the podium order is unlikely to change, but Ross B must have borrowed my rose tinted specs to be enthusiastic about 1 failed attempt by MaxV and a response by ValB that we would not have noticed without the (staged ?) pit-radio declaration by VB that he would defy orders and go for it.

      1. @hohum – If they have to do this to make the last 5 laps interesting, the fact that they are boring is the problem. Not finding a way to add more points.

        Get rid of aero and let cars follow, that will be interesting.

        1. @hobo, you don’t have to preach that message to me, I’ve been banging that drum for decades, although I admit that it is not that simple anymore due to the fact that aero has been so developed now that losing it altogether would make for a huge increase in lap times, there would have to be an alternative source of downforce to gain universal acceptance.

          1. Apologies @hohum, no preaching here. More commiserating, I guess.

  4. what else is he going to say? :-) that it didnt work?

    1. I’d hope he would say that, if it was an obvious utter failure. Bernie did when they tried that crazy qualifying idea a few years back.

      1. changing the qualifying format is different than changing the technical regulations. you cant just back track, like with sporting rules. the teams invested millions in a time when half of the grid is struggling to survive.

        even if the race had zero overtakes i doubt Brawn would admit anything. he would say Australia is a unique circuit and we must give it a few more races.

        this is all just an expensive knee jerk reaction to last year’s Australian GP.

    2. I don’t feel the Championship is devalued one iota with a point for fastest lap. The driver with the most points, as with the team with the most points, wins. There are now 21 extra points to be had in the fight to achieve the most points and win the titles, and that is by driving fast. Sounds like racing to me. Drs for example is truly a physical gimmick that makes passing easier and nothing devalues the Championships more than that gimmick.

      Wolff didn’t even want his drivers to go for it, so it all remains to be seen how this will play out, but so far it seems the incentive to go for this near the end of the race did add an element of excitement when it otherwise would have just been the running out of the race, drivers holding pat to conserve.

  5. i agree with james. its good to see teams and drivers pushibg at the end. thats why we watch the sport. to see the cars go as fast as possible

  6. My issue is the number of overtakes does not necessarily reflect the quality of racing. They need another metric to quantify it properly — something like the average gap between positions would probably be a better indicator of if it is easier to follow more closely for longer periods.
    A long battle for position without a pass is more interesting than breezing by without any effort, as often happens if a top driver starts from the back due to bad qualifying or penalties.
    The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix had Gilles Villeneuve successfully defending his lead from faster cars lap after lap after lap (67 laps in fact!). Keith’s article here:

    If there’s a complete list of passes-per-race, it would be interesting to compare it to the RaceFans Ratings to see how much correlation there really is.

    1. @mtlracer I agree.

      A race long close fight for position featuring some failed overtaking attempts but with no overtake actually happening at the end is far more exciting to me than a race that featured 20-30+ easier overtakes that had no good fight for them.

      Ideally you want a formula where overtaking is possible but not a guarantee. Where drivers can defend there position and where it’s upto the driver behind to find a way past be it a great out-braking move, Clever car placement or pressuring the driver ahead into a mistake.

      1. For whatever reason I wasn’t bothered when we first heard of the extra point, and didn’t consider it a gimmick so much as an incentive. Livening up the closing stages of the races was exactly their intention as he states. And I think that comes from the fact that teams have to conserve so much. So, for me, as opposed to knowing much of the time the order of the finishers well in advance of the finish of the race because they are just going to settle in and cruise it home, there is now an element that can literally liven that up.

        Wrt gimmicks, note that Brawn seems prideful of the fact that there were fewer drs influenced passes. Brawn has spoken of more passes for the sake of the quantity, and rather he is about closer racing and closer battles even if they don’t result in passes. It’s the battles he knows we want to see, not quantity of passes nor easy passes.

        Winning in the slowest manner possible is of course a successful formula, and this extra point does not have to change that. Bottas for example could have greatly slowed and won the race by only 10 seconds and had even more tire under him to get the fastest lap at the same time. Let’s see how it all plays out, but I am ever mindful that Brawn is just tweaking cars that need to go, and the new chapter will have cars much less dependent on clean air and therefore not needing drs.

  7. If the ’19 concept was to reduce the ability to outwash air, can someone please explain why they made the front wings wider?

    1. I may be wrong, and someone please correct me if I am, but I believe they were made wider in order to gain back some of the downforce that was lost when they reduced the number of wing elements and simplified their design.

    2. Pretty much they made the cars not open up as big of a gap in the air so the following car can get Marie air flow onto their car so the amount of downforced lost was not as high thus making them not burn up the tires as bad and to follow closer in the turns That’s as simple as I can explain it

    3. Racecar is racecar backwards
      20th March 2019, 2:19

      I’ve also been wondering about this. Seeing as most downforce comes from the floor/diffuser and rear wing, the front wing is more for balancing the car and guiding the air to where the aero designers want it to go. Outwash does not generate downforce itself, it pulls the tire wake away from the rear of the car to clean up air flow to the diffuser. The Alfa Romeo front wing design shows that at least some of the teams do not need the full width of the front wing to generate enough downforce as the outer section is purely designed for outwash.

      It may have been that the FIA thought that having a wider front wing would mean that the downforce generating part of the wing would be further from the middle of the car where most of the turbulent air from the car in front would be.

      1. Racecar is racecar backwards
        20th March 2019, 2:24

        It may also be that the FIA thought that if the wings were as wide as the tires, the teams would not try as hard to outwash than if they had to push the air out and round the tire as they had to when the wing was narrower than the tires.

  8. Get more*

  9. The number of overtake is less important to me. But we could see there were much more battles this year, even though many of them didn’t work. Especially, the battles in turn 3 is the most surprise to me. In my opinion, the overtake only contributes little to increase the highlights. But the battles, especially the wheel to wheel battels do. But now it was just the Australia. We will see how it goes in the following races.

  10. BlackJackFan
    20th March 2019, 9:07

    I would rather he’d have said: “are working”… than, “…have worked.” – which rather implies he feels he doesn’t have to worry any more… which seems not to be the case.

    1. Well he made his move with the reg changes for this year, to try to help cars follow a little more closely. The debate is on as to how much it has helped. Frankly I think some cars will be harder to follow than others, when we have had the likes of Wolff say they have found other ways to outwash. Perhaps the Mercedes will be harder to follow closely than other cars. And it is going to depend on the track.

      But what really prompted me to respond is that let’s face it there is only so much Brawn can and will have the teams do to these cars to improve them, for they were not designed for close racing. They were designed for bad tires and drs and to be overly clean air dependent. He has already limited the changes so that it wouldn’t cost the teams an arm and a leg, and if anything I’d expect only another relatively minor change for next year. It’s just putting lipstick on a pig. The real changes will be for 2021. He’s not trying to solve the issues with these cars, just help them along a little until they can build cars that truly can battle closely and not need drs.

      1. BlackJackFan
        21st March 2019, 1:53

        Hi Robbie… Cannot disagree with anything you say here. My problem is with the semantics (as usual… lol.). Looking at the article again it seems possible that the, “have worked” words might not be a direct quote from Brawn but a headline from Keith… as Brawn is later quoted: “… the initial signs are encouraging.”, which is what I would have expected.

  11. Reports from the top teams saying it’s no better indicate to me that their front wings are further developed and are more sensitive than much of the midfield.

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