Drivers strike differing views on F1's fastest lap rule
Ahead of the opening race of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the driver's have shared a divided opinion on the reintroduction of a point being handed out for the fastest lap of the race.
On Monday, the FIA was able to push through the re-introduced the rule after a 60-year absence; last seen in 1958, but with a new caveat of having to finish inside the top 10.
Some of the drivers have been able to welcome to the idea of being able to secure an extra 21 points throughout the season, while there have been others who don't agree with the idea.
"It would have been nice to have it last year," said Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. "I would have got quite a few extra points, I think it would have been enough to finish third in the championship, but once we know the new rule, now everyone can create some differences on the way the race will go.
"If, for example, you have a free pit stop close to the end of the race, you might go for it and try to do a quick lap at the end of the race. But if you’re fighting for the win or the podium, that will take a second role in what you’re focused on. It’s just one more thing to make things more interesting."
Racing Point's Sergio Perez believes there will be little change in how the team's go about their racing. "It’s very tricky," said the Mexican. "I think the tricky bit comes that someone out of the top ten can take it from you. So that’s a bit harsh I guess it probably gives an advantage to the - I’m talking about last year you know, I hope this year is a bit different.
"But, for example, last year, Red Bull was always far from the top two teams and far from the rest of the grid so they could have gotten the points very often but we’ll see. I think let’s see for the first couple of races how the way it pans out and then we make up our minds."
In his usual nonchalant manner, Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen shared the same sentiment's as Perez. "I’ve not been asked before they made the new rule," added the Finn. "It’s just now part of the rules and I don’t know how it’s going to play out.
"I don’t think it’s going to make any difference, but who knows? Maybe in some special cases, someone might do something different but it’s hard to believe that will happen.
"Everybody has done that over the years, back off for a bit and then push hard for one lap, to have some fun, but now with one point of the table people will do it more regularly. We’ll see how it goes."
The returning Robert Kubica feels it could change the dynamic of the latter stages of a race, potentially allowing to move up several positions if those ahead pit to try and get the point.
"I think unfortunately it doesn’t affect us a lot," said the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner. "At least for now. But yeah, extra point. It can unlock some strange scenarios at the end of the race with some cars pitting and it will open up. We’ll see three, four cars suddenly coming in. It will depend. It will be a kind of domino. But as I said, I was not really interested about it."
There were some drivers who sat on the fence, which included reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
"It’s 21 extra points, said the Brit. "I think it’ll be interesting to see how people try to get those points, so it should be interesting."
"I don’t expect much change," added Sebastian Vettel. "We’ll see after a couple of races if there is actually a change."
Renault's latest recruit Daniel Ricciardo thinks the restriction of making the point only available to the top 10 is a good thing, but is in agreement with Hamilton and Vettel that it may not make much of a difference.
"Yeah. At first, when I just heard, I thought it was the whole… it’s good that they’ve restricted it to the top ten. So you do have something potentially to lose if you go in to pit for a fresh set of tyres to get the fastest lap.
"Yeah, we’ll see. Haven’t really thought that much about it. See how it plays out. I don’t think it will decide a championship – could do, but I don’t think it will."
The drivers do seem to be divided on the idea, but this could change when the championship battle heats up at the front of the field, or even perhaps if the midfield battle becomes incredibly close which it is appears to be.