FORMULA 1 SPEEDS
higher – exaggerating the advantage of
extra horsepower. Given their respective
engine situations, it was easy to see why
Mercedes-powered Williams favored it,
and just as easy to understand why
Renault-powered Red Bull was against it.
It would be fair to say that not everyone
was convinced any change was needed.
But once Ecclestone had decreed it and
the strategy group had been tasked, the
governance procedure insisted that it was
set in motion. An informal show of hands
early this year suggested eight of the 11
teams would have been in favor of not
changing at all. It will create more expense
that the smaller teams can ill afford, but
even big-budget, currently-dominant
Mercedes has not been in favor.
“I think it’s the wrong direction,” says
Mercedes’ technical director, Paddy Lowe.
“The cars will become heavier because as
well as being wider, everyone will also
make them longer so as to retain the
same aero balance. The tires and brakes
and uprights will all have to be heavier. It’s
making F1 cars more truck like in concept
and placing extra strain on the tires.”
The minimum weight has indeed been
increased from the current 702kg
(1,548lb) including tires, to 722kg
(1,592lb) without tires – so realistically
around 760kg (1,675lb) unfuelled.
HOW WILL THE RACING BE AFFECTED?
Sometimes F1 doesn’t operate in a very
joined up way. The impetus for change
The technical yin to
Toto Wolff’s yang at
Mercedes F1, Lowe
has overseen the
grand prix racing.
As Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds noted, the 2017
F1 cars will certainly look faster and more purposeful, thanks to
swept back front wings and sidepod openings. They’ll be quicker
out on the track, too, in the order of four to five seconds.
was not based on any holistic view of
what the category needed, and the
changes to make the 2017 cars faster are
largely undoing the changes and
restrictions made since ’09 to improve
the passing. By definition, a car with more
downforce has shorter braking distances,
and two ’17-spec cars side-by-side will
take up 400mm (16in) more track width
than before; neither conducive to passing.
That said, some consideration has
been given to passing in formulating
these regulations – although only in
a common sense way, rather than by
extensive research or simulation. The
lower rear wing should shorten the
turbulence area to the following car,
allowing it to get closer before losing
front downforce. Additionally, the larger
gap between the front wing and the front
wheel axle line should reduce the wing’s
sensitivity to turbulent air.
But until we see it play out, one opinion
is as good as another. Here’s reigning
World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s: “More
downforce is the last thing we need. I
think we need more mechanical grip and
less aero wake coming off the back of the
cars so we can get close and overtake.
Give us five seconds’ worth of lap time
from aero and nothing will change – we’ll
just be driving faster.”
McLaren team director Eric Boullier
disagrees: “There will be more mechanical
grip – more downforce acting upon better
tires. The influence of the front wing will
be proportionally less, because there is
more from the underbody and rear wing.
Red Bull Racing’s
ideas for a 2017 aero
package included a
return of ground-effect venturi
after the ’ 82 season.
F1’s last ground-effect champion was
father of current
Mercedes star Nico.
“The cars will be heavier. It’s
making F1 cars more truck
like in concept and placing
extra strain on the tires”