The prize for the best lap is interesting!March 25, 2019
The decision that the rider, who drove the best lap of the Grand Prix, will receive an additional point if he finishes in the top ten, it was made just before the start of the 2019 season. The news attracted attention, although it was not immediately clear how to treat it, how would it affect the course and tactics of races?
But after the Australian Grand Prix, in which Valtteri Bottas earned 26 points, i.e. 25 for the victory and one more for the fastest lap, it became clear that another rather interesting aspect appeared in the races. We witnessed how, shortly before the finish, the three riders of the two teams attempted to earn this extra reward point, but in the end he was awarded to Valtteri.
Purely theoretically, almost all teams can get involved in the dispute for this bonus, not just Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, except Williams is beyond its power, and there can be many scenarios. For example, if one of the top teams cannot claim the best lap itself, it gives instructions to one of its customers (meaning, Ferrari negotiates with Haas or Alfa Romeo) to spoil the mood of their opponents and take away their additional score And the racer of such a client team, if riding on fairly fresh tires, will add speed and fly one lap at the qualifying pace.
In Melbourne, we have not yet seen this, but already there it was quite entertaining. But the team engineers are obviously not happy with this new idea, because in the last few laps, you need to take care of the car, because the stakes are high and the life of power plants and gearboxes is severely limited.
To drive a really fast lap in the last stage of the Grand Prix is to subject the engine to additional loads and risk. In addition, the driver, wanting to earn an extra point, must estimate the extent to which he will use up the tire resource, realizing his plan, and whether this set of rubber will make it to the finish.
But there are other, more complex aspects – such as battery power, which is hardly reasonable to spend for the sake of one fast lap, if at the same time you are fighting hard with rivals. Who knows, maybe it should be kept safe to repel the attack? Of course, if you proudly go ahead, like Bottas in Melbourne, then you can try, but there is a risk of flying off the track.
In general, it will be interesting. When teams get used to the new rule, they will be more active and boldly using it. Surely the strategists are already thinking how to envisage the possibility of fighting for an additional point in their tactical schemes.
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