Ross Brawn says the Australian Grand Prix missed the “vital ingredient” of overtaking and that the problem won’t be fixed until Formula 1 takes a structured approach towards rectifying it.
Only five overtakes were completed in the season-opening race following the first lap and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said he would have turned the TV off rather than watch a “worthless” grand prix.
It came despite the fact the Albert Park track, known for being difficult to pass on, was bolstered with a third DRS zone in the hope of improving the wheel-to-wheel action.
Brawn, F1’s managing director of motorsports, admits that F1 missed out on a number of exciting battles in Australia because of the inability to overtake.
“One vital ingredient was missing, namely overtaking, as there were really very few passing moves in this opening round,” he said.
“It's vital that the cars are capable of getting close to one another and racing wheel to wheel.
“When there is only a small speed gap between two cars then it's almost impossible for the pursuer to get close enough to mount an attack.
“We saw that yesterday with [Lewis] Hamilton and [Sebastien] Vettel, Verstappen and [Kevin] Magnussen and again the Dutchman and [Fernando] Alonso and with [Daniel] Ricciardo and [Kimi] Raikkonen.
"Think of how much wheel-to-wheel dicing we missed out on. And, for the very first time, we even had a third DRS zone specifically to increase the chances of overtaking.”
F1’s current regulations were introduced in 2017 and played a part in the number of overtakes falling by almost 50 percent in its first year.
Brawn had set up a panel of independent panel of experts to better F1, including improving overtaking, and he says that a structured approach is needed to fix on-track passing.
“Until we take a structured approach to the problem, we won't really make any progress,” said Brawn.
“One of our aims, which we are looking at with the FIA and the teams is that, for 2021, we want to have cars that allow drivers to really fight one another on track.
“To that end, the FIA and F1 are carrying out an aerodynamic research programme with two car models, both in the windtunnel and using CFD.
“We need to evolve a car design that achieves close to the level of performance we now see but permits wheel-to-wheel action.”
Brawn added that pleasing fans is a big incentive to improve overtaking.
“Formula 1 fans want to see a better show and overtaking is the most exciting and spectacular element you can have on track,” he said.
“The whole Formula 1 community must make an effort to satisfy this need because the fans are our biggest asset.”