Lando Norris says that safety car restarts won't be as exciting this year due to a slight change in the regulations.
In previous years on race restarts, drivers were allowed to overtake each other after they crossed the 'safety car line one', which is usually located before the start-finish line.
The rule for 2019 has changed, as Article 39.8 of the sporting regulations read that at the end of a safety car period, “no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the [control] line for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.”
This means that drivers can't pass until they cross the start-finish line, meaning it's likely that the leading driver won't accelerate away until late on the straight to minimise the effect of a slipstream.
“A lot of the restarts you saw last year, everyone was overtaking alongside over the start/finish line, so you have less chance to overtake or make places up,” Norris said.
“If you’re ahead I guess it’s better, less chance you’d get overtaken. If you’re behind, it’s maybe worse, less chance to overtake.”
During the first Formula 2 race of the weekend, then race leader Nyck de Vries took a safety car restart queue right to the start-finish line before accelerating away.
However, it did result in an incident behind as four drivers made contact, with Sergio Sette Camara ending up in the wall after being hit by Luca Ghiotto.
Carlos Sainz mirrored his teammate's comments and doesn't expect to see any major movements on any initial restarts.
“Basically there’s less slipstream effect because the leader starts accelerating at the start-finish line, which you only go up to fifth, sixth gear before you brake into turn one so there’s basically no slipstreaming, no overtaking unless you really go for it into Turn 1.”
“As Lando said, probably a bit less exciting, unless you are F2 and you start crashing into people before that, because in the F2 race it was a bit chaotic to see all the drivers bunching up before the start-finish line.”