F1 stars pre­dict that de­vel­op­ment bat­tle will help spice up 2017

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook Pho­tos: LAT

Next year’s For­mula 1 reg­u­la­tions will bring about the sport’s first true de­vel­op­ment war for al­most a decade, which could be a boost for the com­pe­ti­tion.

The 2017 rules de­mand that cars will be wider, more pow­er­ful and with greater lev­els of down­force, mean­ing all teams have had to start from scratch to de­sign cars with far greater per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters than the cur­rent batch.

The rule changes bring an end to three years of sta­ble reg­u­la­tions, since the hy­brid en­gine era came into ef­fect in 2014 and Mercedes rose to promi­nence as the sport’s bench­mark team.

For next year the cars will have wider Pirelli tyres, wider front and rear wings and in­creased free­dom for ad­di­tional aero­dy­namic com­po­nents like barge­boards and dif­fusers. The FIA has also opted to scrap the cur­rent up­grade to­ken sys­tem that re­strains en­gine de­vel­op­ment, mean­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers are free to bring up­grades as and when they wish.

Wil­liams tech­ni­cal chief Pat Sy­monds said the new cars brought huge po­ten­tial for teams to de­velop across the course of next year.

“Up­dates [next sea­son] are go­ing to be re­lent­less,” he said. “It is go­ing to be like noth­ing we’ve seen since we were mak­ing dou­ble [deck] dif­fusers in the back of the truck.

“The big­gest change is that we’ve got less true de­vel­op­ment time, both time [since the new rules were agreed] and wind­tun­nel runs. Back in 2009, it was a huge change, but we were talk­ing about it for ages and there were draft reg­u­la­tions handed around and we were run­ning wind­tun­nels 24-7.

“This time we got our wind­tun­nel tyres in late Fe­bru­ary and it’s been 65 runs a week, as well as hav­ing work to do on the 2016 cars. The de­vel­op­ment [for next year’s con­cepts] is very im­ma­ture, and that’s why it will con­tinue.”

Not one team started the sea­so­nend­ing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with any up­grades, sig­nalling that the en­tire grid has al­ready fo­cused on 2017.

Al­though tak­ing a sab­bat­i­cal next year, Jen­son But­ton be­lieves the rules re­fresh can be good for the sport.

“The big changes are pos­i­tive,” said But­ton. “You’ll see bit progress through the year, which is what peo­ple like see­ing.

“Back in the day you could start with a car that wasn’t so com­pet­i­tive and de­velop it through the year like what Mclaren did in 2009. You can’t do that now. You ei­ther start with a car that’s quick and win races all year, or start with a car that’s slow and it’s still slow at the end of the year.

“That’s what’s miss­ing, de­vel­op­ment through the year. And that’ll be big next year and will make the rac­ing a lot more fun.”

The last true de­vel­op­ment war came in 2009 sea­son Sy­monds: up­dates “re­lent­less”

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