“F1 cars in 2017 will be a lot more ma­cho”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

on­sider this: in 2017, Turn 3 at Barcelona is likely to be ‘flat’. Yep, this al­ready quick fourth-fifth gear right-han­der, that curves up­hill and forces driv­ers to ex­plore the grip lim­i­ta­tions of their chas­sis at around 145mph, will be­come a ‘nailed down’ 5g 160-plus mph screamer.

Driv­ers’ necks and shoul­ders will be tor­tured as they haul around its con­tours, as they will when they tackle Suzuka’s many high-speed sec­tions (the Esses, 130R) or the com­plex at Sil­ver­stone.

Nigel Mansell once noted that in his mighty 1992 Wil­liams FW14B, he pulled “16g” through Mag­gotts-beck­etts-chapel – that be­ing the to­tal of 4g left, 4g right, 4g left again, then an­other 4g right.

Well, sorry Nigel, but next sea­son, by your maths, driv­ers will be pulling 20g as they blast through Sil­ver­stone’s sweep­ers. How so? Well, the ex­ten­sive changes to the 2017 tech regs, aimed at mak­ing the cars four to five sec­onds per lap faster, will re­sult in down­force in­creases of as much as 30 per cent. This will be trans­ferred to as­phalt via much fat­ter Pirelli slicks, con­structed to a low-degra­da­tion brief in a new range of com­pounds.

The net re­sult of these changes, along with a likely in­crease in power as fur­ther ef­fi­ciency gains are found by Mercedes, Re­nault, Honda and Fer­rari, will be cor­ner­ing speed in­creases of up to 25mph.

So far, so grippy and to give due credit to Pirelli, which has fre­quently been a whip­ping boy since its re­turn to F1 as sole tyre sup­plier in 2011, it is tak­ing ex­tremely se­ri­ously the greater de­mands the new regs will place on their prod­ucts.

“We have had to adapt to a to­tally dif­fer­ent phi­los­o­phy for 2017,” says Pirelli’s motorsport rac­ing man­ager Mario Isola. “When we came to F1, our brief was to pro­duce tyres with high degra­da­tion that would lead to lots of pit­stops. Now we have been asked to pro­vide low degra­da­tion tyres that al­low driv­ers to push hard through­out a stint.”

‘Mule’ cars built by Mercedes, Red Bull and Fer­rari (2015 chas­sis roughly adapted to run 2017-spec tyres, with higher down­force lev­els) have al­ready gen­er­ated sus­pen­sion load­ings 10-15 per cent greater than any­thing seen cur­rently.

“There is a lot more grip,” Nico Ros­berg con­firmed to MN when quizzed about his ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing the Merc ‘mule’. “A lot.”

And that’s in a part-de­vel­oped car with­out op­ti­mised aero.

So there’s lit­tle doubt that 2017 F1 cars will be a lot more ‘ma­cho’ and place far greater phys­i­cal de­mands on driv­ers. What ef­fect the changes will have on rac­ing, though, re­mains a bit of a touchy sub­ject. More grip will mean shorter brak­ing dis­tances, while higher cor­ner­ing speeds will re­strict op­por­tu­ni­ties for tak­ing any­thing other than the ideal line. Faster? Yes. Bet­ter? We’ll see…

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