My opinion is that it was and it wasn’t. I think to just flat out say it was a boring race is taking a very casual view without really appreciating what F1 is.
No, overtaking didn’t really happen in the race. Did the new regulations have a part to play in that? It quite likely did play a part but I think that in F1, overtaking will always be a premium because of the fastest cars qualifying at the front of the grid. Unless a driver in a fast car under-performs in qualifying, it’s hard to see where overtaking is going to come from.
The main argument at the moment is that the cars aren’t being driven to their full potential during the races which is a problem. In a sport like this, pure speed and performance should be at the top of the agenda, rather than looking after tires, engines and brakes. Those should come second to racing.
The ban on in-race refuelling has made the cars longer, heavier and slower (especially in the first part of a race). This makes braking late and generally manoeuvring the cars harder than normal, and makes overtaking very difficult especially when the faster cars and drivers are generally in front. I personally like this new rule, especially from a safety perspective. I think they should stay with this but change other aspects to improve the racing.
What most people are suggesting at the moment is a new rule which would make 2 pit-stops at least required during the races in order to make them more strategic and less processional. The others include abolishing the double-diffuser to allow cars to run closer together and improve overtaking opportunities, as well as tire supplier Bridgestone producing “racier” tires which would degrade quicker and prevent teams from running longer on a single set.
These all seem like good ideas and will surely help to improve things. Unfortunately, the double-diffuser, although they have been banned, haven’t been banned until next season. In the meantime, the possible mandatory 2 stops and less durable tires should go some way towards achieving the desired effect.
Of course, this won’t solve everything. You still need to do more to reduce aero turbulence behind cars and make the cars more even, especially in the engine department.
What I’ve not mentioned so far is that, of course with every new large rule change in a sport like this, there will be an adjustment period where the teams will struggle at first. That is what we’ve seen to an extent at this opening race of the year. I suspect that in the next few races we will start to see more differing strategies and exciting racing. If the teams, especially McLaren and Mercedes can bridge the performance gap to Ferrari and Red Bull which I’m confident they will do.