Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says the 2018 season opener represented another missed opportunity for the sport due to the difficulties faced trying to overtake with the current generation of cars.

The former Honda, Ferrari and Mercedes F1 team boss says the Australian Grand Prix miss out on a potential classic race because of the lack of overtaking possible despite the addition of a new third DRS zone introduced specifically to increase passing chances.

Brawn has pinned the problem on drivers being unable to follow rivals close enough in the current F1 cars which is something the sport’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media and the FIA have been analysing with the goal of solving the issue in the 2021 technical regulations.

But Brawn warns the current trend is unlikely to change until the next big rule shift is installed, which won’t be possible for the next three years due to contract agreements, but the F1 motorsports boss is eager to use that time to perfect regulation changes to solve the problem.

“Think of how much wheel to wheel dicing we missed out on,” Brawn said. “For the very first time we even had a third DRS zone specifically to increase the chances of overtaking.

“It's vital that the cars are capable of getting close to one another and racing wheel to wheel. We saw that with Hamilton and Vettel, Verstappen and Magnussen and again the Dutchman and Alonso and with Ricciardo and Raikkonen.

“Until we take a structured approach to the problem, we won't really make any progress. 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.

“The FIA and F1 are carrying out an aerodynamic research programme with two car models, both in the wind tunnel 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.”

After seeing Liberty’s mooted rule changes for 2021 hit with criticisms by Ferrari and Mercedes, albeit with greater focus on the engine regulations, Brawn has called on the “whole F1 community” to take action.

“F1 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.”

 

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