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Melbourne organisers "open-minded" in search for overtaking fix

NEWS STORY
27/03/2018

Other than the fiasco that was ESPN's coverage of the season opening Australian Grand Prix, and Sebastian Vettel's fortunate use of the VSC rules, one of the main talking points at the end of the Melbourne weekend was the lack of overtaking, officially recorded at just 5 passes over the whole 58 laps.

While the aerodynamically aided elephant in the room is being ignored - at least until 2021 - race organisers in Melbourne have admitted to being open-minded in terms of how the track itself might best ease the problem.

Though the very nature of the circuit, which is located in a public park in the city, means track changes are limited, officials are willing to consider practical suggestions.

"It is not easy to change the circuit layout geographically around a lake and so many sporting fields," Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott told Speedcafe.com. "I think the layout will be as it will be.

"But we are always open minded to working with the FIA and Formula 1," he continued, "and if there are suggestions we will discuss and review them.

"We always do our due diligence and look at the pros and cons before we do them," he added. However, when asked about the possibility of altering the track at Turn 11/12, he said: "It was on the cutting room floor but it was one of the considerations and we haven't looked at anything beyond that.

"Someone mentioned that Christian Horner made some comments but we are focussing on applauding the guys and girls who have committed themselves 100 percent to put on this event."

Despite the failure of a third DRS zone to improve overtaking, Charlie Whiting confirmed the idea will be carried over to other circuits.

"We discussed changes to the track layout here with the AGPC, there is a project that could be realised but I'm not sure where they are with that," he said. "We just want to make things a little more interesting, so that's what we were doing and we'll do something in Bahrain and probably in Baku and in Canada. Those are the races we are thinking about at the moment."

While Max Verstappen claimed the inability to overtake made the race "worthless" and that had he been watching it on TV he would have switched it off, Fox Sports claims the race was the most watched F1 race ever on Foxtel with 304,000 average viewers, an increase of 36% on 2017.

"This is a fantastic result for Fox Sport and for Formula 1," said Steve Crawley, Fox Sports Head of Television. "We knew our ad-break free coverage of the qualifying sessions and race would be a game changer, and clearly fans loved it, with a 36 per cent increase on last year's race audience.

"The season has only just begun," he added. "Fans can expect more of our unrivalled coverage throughout the year, with every event from now on exclusively live on Fox Sport."

Back in Melbourne, Westacott was equally buoyed, organisers initially estimating a crowd of 94,500 for race day.

"I take an overwhelming sense of massive pride in the team of people who have been able to achieve what we put on," he said. "It is an immense credit to everyone involved.

"We chatted with F1 bosses all week in the same way the partners normally chat and what I would say is they just love our event as a season opener and they love the standard we set and the innovations we introduce."

Now all we need is some overtaking... and that has more about changing the cars than the tracks.

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1. Posted by Pawsche, 27/03/2018 10:56

"It's not the track that's the problem... It's the cars."

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