IN THIS ISSUE
“The fastest in Australia won’t last”
Team bosses are split on whether this year’s new rules package has the ability to shake up the Formula 1 formbook or not.
This season will feature some of the biggest technical changes to chassis for a decade, with cars allowed to be wider, more powerful and with significantly greater aerodynamics. Pirelli will also supply wider tyres. The combination is expected to make cars a handful of seconds per lap faster than the first generation of V6 hybrids.
Some top team bosses expect the changes to make significant difference in the grid pecking order this year, but some are yet to be convinced.
Williams’ former technical director Patrick Head told the Guardian last week that he wasn’t expecting much to change.
“If anybody was thinking of these rules with the aim of closing the field up then they’ve got rocks in their head,” he said. “Any time you make significant changes the advantage will always go to the bigger teams – because they have more resources, they have more capability to parallel develop their existing car and work on the design of their new car. When you have 750 employees or more against, say, Force India’s 300 [employees], of course the bigger teams can do more. Any idea it will close the field up is nonsense.”
However, Williams’ current performance chief, Rob Smedley, believes the new rules allow a greater scope for swings in performance within the season.
“We’ve developed our car, and done a reasonable amount of development in the windtunnel,” he said. “Over and above that, the key thing for 2017 is that we’ve got a good base upon which to develop going forward.
“I don’t expect the fastest car in Australia to be the fastest in Abu Dhabi. If that happens, the rules have ultimately been successful.
“I think the new rules will shake things up a bit, but we won’t have a complete change in the pecking order. In F1, no one ever won a world championship without a substantial budget. Money does count, at least in this era of F1.
“But that is not to say the intra-groups – the front, midfield and back – are not going to get shaken up a bit.”
Former FIA president Max Mosley has questioned the rule changes. He told ITV: “My personal view is that they’ve [F1 bosses] gone in the wrong direction. I would have gone for less aero and perhaps more mechanical grip.
“Deliberately setting out to make the cars quicker is questionable because all of the rules for the last 40 or 50 years that have been brought in by the FIA have been to make the cars slower – either slower and safer, because speed equals danger obviously.”
New cars will run much wider tyres and bodywork
Smedley: development opens