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Chinese GP: first real test of new F1 regs

By Owen Fishwick | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-03-30 10:06

Formula One flew into action for 2017 at the Australian Grand Prix with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel taking the victory in the first race of the championship's new era.

Many were excited at the prospect of racing in the new season after the biggest shake-up of the F1 rulebook in almost a decade, gave us bigger, faster cars with more grip than ever before.

However after the chequered flag, a lot of fans expressed their disappointment about the lack of overtaking in the race from the new generation of cars.

This is not surprising. Albert Park is not a traditional circuit and has never been known for having lots of overtaking action.

Several drivers, including triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, had already predicted that overtaking was going to be difficult in 2017 because of the new aerodynamics making it even more difficult for cars to follow each other and get past.

"Even in the years before it's been difficult to follow once you get within one and a half, one second just because of the turbulent air," said Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas."Now, as more of the grip from the car is relying on the aero it's a bigger effect and the cars are wider.

"So, now I think it's more like two seconds or even two and a half [to feel the turbulence] and in the corners it's more difficult to follow."

But some are not so worried, including Red Bull team principal Chris Horner, who believes people shouldn't make judgments until after the second and third races of the season in China and Bahrain.

"I think we have to reserve judgment until after two or three races," Horner said. "I think if you look at Melbourne historically there has never been a lot of overtakes here.

"China and Bahrain are two circuits which are much easier to overtake at before drawing judgment."

As a more traditional F1 race track, China will be the first real test to see if the cars will have much of a chance of getting past each other this season, or whether races might end up processional.

Last year's grand prix at the Shanghai International Circuit was one of the most spectacular of the season with more overtakes than any other race in 2016.

The Hermann Tilke designed circuit has one of the longest back straights in F1 as well as some of the trickiest corner combinations on the calendar, so if the drivers can't get past each other in Shanghai, it won't bode well for the rest of the season.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who wowed F1 fans with his overtakes in 2016, said after the Australian Grand Prix, "It was hard to follow and drive close behind others. I think as soon as you get within two seconds you can really feel it and could destroy your tires."

The Chinese Grand Prix gets underway at the Shanghai International Circuit in Jiading district on April 9.

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