The opening Grand Prix of the 2018 season in Australia saw the addition of third DRS zone for the first time, in an effort to help overtaking on the historically tough to pass Melbourne circuit.
Of course the FIA and organisers should be commended for trying to address a longstanding problem of the Albert Park circuit. Sadly come race day the extra DRS zone between turns 12 and 13 had little real impact.
Whilst it was acknowledged early that the zone was not likely to lead to overtaking into turn 13, it was hoped it would allow the following car to close up through the tighter turn 14- 16 section and therefore put them in striking distance on the front straight.
In the end it simply didn’t came to pass and both the home straight and the run down to turn three were not long enough and cars simply couldn’t follow that close behind anyway.
So certainly in the case of Melbourne adding the extra DRS zone had little effect.
It would be tempting to write that off as a function of the Albert Park layout. Indeed after the event AGPC boss Andrew Westacott said that his organisation was open to discussing changes with F1 and the FIA, having shelved plans to make changes to turn 11 and 12 last year.
"The investigation didn't produce anything conclusive that was going to lead to a marked change in overtaking on the circuit," he told Autosport.
"There might have been some potential upsides, but there may have been some negatives associated with impact on drive-ability.
"If there are some thoughts that others have got, people astute in racing like Ross Brawn and Charlie Whiting, then, like everything, we'll collaboratively talk about it with them and see whether it's worthwhile pursuing or reviewing further."
However I think track changes, welcome as they may be, are not the real reason for the current overtaking crisis in Formula 1.
For me the more important factor is the design of the modern day F1 car and its overall aero package.
Despite recent changes to the cars, designed to assist overtaking, it is still the case that a modern Formula 1 car can not sit in the disturbed air of the car in front . Both handling and engine temperatures simply don’t like it.
You could be tempted to think well that is that and there is only some much rule makers can do, after all no matter what they write into the rules the teams pay their design teams big money to make the cars as aero efficient as the rule allow.
Those designers are not given too worrying much about how the disturbed airflow will impact the car behind, just so long as it isn’t upsetting their car!
A counterpoint to the Formula 1 tinkering, is the recent redesign off the chassis in Verizon IndyCar series that was unveiled earlier this year and had its first outing at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
The new IR-12 chassis from Dallara has been undertaken with one of its guiding principles being in lay terms that they have taken aero off the top of the car and replaced it with a new floor that increases grip. The overall effect is cars can follow each other and hence overtaking is expected to improve.
Now it has to be acknowledged as well that the IndyCar series has an advantage, as all teams use the same chassis. So making changes are much easier and teams are then not able to go and vary the design. That is of course a long way from the world of Formula 1, where each team designs their own car and modifications arrive on a pretty much race by race basis.
So sadly for Formula 1, it likely is not until 2021 until we are going to see any further major changes to the current chassis. This will allow any redesign to be tied into the new power unit regulations. Given the massive amount spent by teams on their car design, it is also understandable that they need sometime to get a return on that investment and constant changes run counter to that.
So until then we are sadly in my view, left with looking at things like extra DRS zones to try and liven the show up. The series will also no doubt continue to work with Pirelli to make the tyre compounds less durable. That however is in my view always just going to be a bandaid on a cut that needs stitches. Lets hope I am wrong and at this weekend Bahrain Grand Prix sees more on track action than Albert Park did.