The rule changes introduced over the winter failed to slow speeds as much
as the FIA had planned, with lap times in Australia only a fraction longer
than in previous years.

Despite driving a narrower chassis, fitted with grooved tyres, Mika
Hakkinen set a pole position time just 0.7 seconds slower than Jacques
Villeneuve managed in 1997. Race times were also not far off the existing
marks. Both the governing body and many of the teams had expected as much
as five seconds difference between 1997 times and those set this season.

The FIA retains the right to add extra grooves to both front and back tyres
should speeds continue to exceed expectation.

 

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