In an exciting twist, the upcoming championship is set to break away from tradition. For the first time in over a decade, the infamous low-speed Turn 14-15 left-right chicanes will be eliminated, restoring the thrilling two high-speed open right-handers as the final challenge to complete the lap.
This daring alteration has resulted in a remarkable increase in the apex speed of the final corner, reaching an astonishing 170mph. The primary objective behind this modification is to enable drivers to closely pursue their rivals onto the main straight, harnessing the power of slipstreaming and seizing the perfect opportunity for an exhilarating overtake.
During the Friday practice sessions, as cars gracefully manoeuvred the circuit individually, a wave of excitement swept through the drivers.
Their enthusiastic feedback echoed throughout the paddock, praising the alterations that promised faster lap times. However, despite the initial thrill, these skilled racers remain sceptical about the changes actually aiding overtaking manoeuvres as intended.
Formula 1 fans have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming race, but with a perceived lack of overtaking so far in 2023, many are wondering what factors will come into play.
AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries believes that the Pirelli tyres will be a major factor this weekend. While the tyres have been more limited by overheating rather than degradation, de Vries is confident that his team is behind him and ready to tackle any challenges that come their way.
With his rookie season off to a rocky start, de Vries is determined to prove himself and make a name for himself in the world of Formula 1.
“Let’s not take to conclusions but obviously the main reason for the change is for better racing,” said the Dutch driver.
“I’m not sure whether that will provide us with better racing… the left front suffers a lot.
“The duty on the fronts is just tough. You can feel it now, during a long run when you’re behind other cars that it’s so difficult to follow.
“Now there is a lot of emphasis on the front axle whereas previously, there was a bit of both… They did [the changes] with the right intentions, let’s put it that way.”
In an attempt to enhance close racing, the transition to ground effect was envisioned as a solution. However, the rapid progression in car development during the winter months has unintentionally led to a surge in turbulent air levels.
As a result, drivers have expressed their frustration, highlighting the noticeable challenge of maintaining proximity to other cars this season when compared to the previous one.
“Faster is always more fun. [But overtaking levels] are going to be the same. It’s difficult to follow in the last corner,” said Valtteri Bottas when speaking to Motorsport.com.
“It’s just faster, but I don’t think it’s going to improve overtaking. It’s slightly bumpy over there.
“So, there’s a bit of movement, which makes it more challenging, but it’s quite a cool corner. It’s super high-speed. Definitely a bit more challenging but also for the tyres.
“It feels like the tyres are going quite a lot through those two corners.”