The big question this year, heading into the first grand prix of the season on March 17, is whether or not we’ll really see a Formula 1 that’s slower than it was in 2018. In theory, it should be. We’re coming off the back of two years that have got faster and faster. The wider tyres introduced in 2017 led to a notable increase in cornering speeds thanks to the extra grip on offer, and so lap records crumbled almost everywhere.
But this year, the latest aerodynamic rules could potentially detract from cornering speeds, added to an increase in overall weight of 10 kilograms. This added weight alone, on an average track with all other things being equal, would cost between three and four tenths of a second. And yet at the pre-season tests in Spain, held at the end of February going into March, the lap times were actually faster than they were at the same test one year ago. And in many ways that’s no real surprise. Formula 1’s principal mission is to go higher, faster and further. Technical development is too advanced and the sport’s DNA too purposeful for it to be any other way. Don’t forget: it will get quicker still.