Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn believes the introduction of a fastest lap bonus point has been a successful one.
On the eve of the 2019 season the FIA confirmed a regulation change which saw an additional point be made available to the driver that sets the fastest lap of the race, providing they finish inside the top ten positions.
It added another level of intrigue to the end of the Melbourne season-opener as a number of drivers battled to secure the extra point, and a similar scenario occurred in the closing stages of the Chinese Grand Prix, as Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly snatched the fastest lap away from Sebastian Vettel on the final lap.
“I was particularly pleased to see that the innovation introduced in partnership with the FIA for this season, that of awarding a point to the driver setting the fastest race lap, is beginning to have an effect,” Brawn said in F1’s post-Chinese Grand Prix release.
“The lure of an extra point, as long as it’s set by a driver who is in the top 10 at the flag, was driven by the desire to add a bit of spice to the final stages of a race, especially when the order seems more or less set.
“China worked out just that way. The top six positions more or less decided, but with Pierre Gasly a healthy amount of time clear of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, his Red Bull team decided to exploit the opportunity that gap gave for a free pit stop. They pitted the Frenchman for a set of soft tyres and sent him on his way for a crack at the fastest lap.
“It was great to watch the timing screens on the penultimate lap, seeing Gasly post personal bests in all three sectors to eventually steal the fastest lap from Sebastian Vettel.
“Prior to Gasly’s stop, you could also listen to other drivers discussing their options in the closing stages with their team on the pit wall, even though none of them took any extreme risks.
“This was a rule invented to please the fans and I think that today we saw that it really works!”
Brawn also pledged to continue F1’s push to improve the sport, with negotiations about the next major regulation overhaul – planned for 2021 – well underway.
“Now we start another ‘millennium’ but more importantly, we are in the crucial phase of defining the future of this sport,” he said.
“Along with the FIA and the teams, we are listening to what the fans have to say as we put together all the pieces of the jigsaw.
“We hope that like the 1000 pieces we have put together so far, that it will continue to enthral millions of fans around the world.”