Mercedes de­feated in 2017 rules bat­tle

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

Moves to add down­force, boost speed and cut lap times will go through in spite of cham­pion con­struc­tor’s protes­ta­tions

Ri­val teams and the FIA have re­jected Mercedes’ ar­gu­ments that For­mula 1 might be go­ing too far with its plans to speed up the cars for 2017.

The sport is work­ing to­wards new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions with the aim of mak­ing the cars five sec­onds a lap faster. But Mercedes ar­gued at a meet­ing of the tech­ni­cal work­ing group in Novem­ber that the changes were un­nec­es­sary and that much of the step could be ac­counted for by much smaller changes. They also raised con­cerns about Pirelli’s abil­ity to design tyres that could cope with the in­creased speeds.

Mercedes say cur­rent cars are ap­proach­ing or have reached his­toric highs in terms of down­force and power, and that lap times are slower than in the past only be­cause the cars are heav­ier and the tyres are not as good. The pa­per they pre­sented also claimed that Pirelli were al­ready strug­gling to cope with the forces cre­ated by cur­rent cars, so there was a risk of prob­lems if aero­dy­namic loads in­creased by 50 per cent, as some es­ti­mates sug­gest.

“We have to be care­ful about putting on more down­force,” Mercedes ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paddy Lowe said. “We have never done that be­fore. All previous rule changes have been about keep­ing it in check.”

How­ever, Mercedes’ con­cerns about the rules were dis­missed by ri­vals, who felt that the world cham­pi­ons were sim­ply try­ing to pro­tect a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. Mclaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier went as far as to say the move was “pretty des­per­ate from Mercedes”. In­sid­ers at Mercedes re­jected this claim, in­sist­ing their con­cerns were gen­uine.

Nev­er­the­less, teams and the FIA are now press­ing ahead with plans to change the cars as pre­vi­ously agreed. This will in­clude widen­ing the car’s track from 1.8m to 2m, adding a wider front wing swept back from a cen­tral for­ward point, a lower and wider rear wing, big­ger dif­fuser and wider floor and wider tyres.

It has been es­ti­mated that lap times will drop by 3-3.5s from aero­dy­namic im­prove­ments, and up to 2s from the tyres.

Mercedes ar­gued that down­force lev­els must be kept in check. Their ri­vals claimed they were merely try­ing to pre­serve their ad­van­tage

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