Our panel of ex­perts talk tyres, teams and reg­u­la­tions – and make their pre­dic­tions for the win­ner of this year’s cham­pi­onship

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS -


Back in 1911, Miche­lin opened their UK head­quar­ters on the Ful­ham Road in West Lon­don. Now known as Ter­rance Con­ran’s Biben­dum restau­rant, it’s a tting lo­ca­tion for us to pre­view a new sea­son of F1.

On the side of Miche­lin House are mo­saics fea­tur­ing his­toric driv­ers, cars and races from 1906. Ap­pro­pri­ately enough, there’s a Mercedes, a Re­nault and an en­grav­ing of the Cir­cuit des Ar­dennes – a des­ti­na­tion that F1 still vis­its for the Bel­gian Grand Prix more than a cen­tury later.

The din­ing area still gen­tly slopes down to­wards the road, where me­chan­ics used to roll tyres into a tting area. Sit­ting around one of the ta­bles to­day are three For­mula 1 ex­perts, ready to of­fer their views on the year ahead.

Join­ing us this late Fe­bru­ary lunchtime are Sky Sports F1 an­a­lyst and com­men­ta­tor Martin Brun­dle, for­mer Williams tech­ni­cal chief Pat Sy­monds, and re­spected writer and broad­caster Peter Wind­sor. F1 Rac­ing’s James Roberts is also present to chair the de­bate.

There are a mul­ti­tude of changes for our pun­dits to dis­cuss, from the new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions to the ar­rival of Valt­teri Bot­tas at Mercedes. Here, then, are their thoughts on the new sea­son.


James Roberts: Pat, what was the mo­ti­va­tion for the new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions and what can we ex­pect to see this year?

Pat Sy­monds: The start­ing point was the no­tion that the cars needed to be ve sec­onds a lap quicker. Where that idea came from and be­came the thing we were chas­ing, is de­bat­able. Ini­tially there was a sug­ges­tion that the wider cars and tyres would be very retro, and I was

con­cerned that we were just go­ing back to some­thing from 20 years ago. But luck­ily a lit­tle bit of styling came into things, and we have Red Bull to thank for that. They did a good job with the con­cept that the car should look fast even when it’s stand­ing still.

The cars have in­creased to two me­tres in width, which they haven’t been for a long while. The body­work is wider, the dif­fuser is big­ger, the front wing is wider in line with the body­work, while the rear wing is nar­rower.

Peter Wind­sor: Why didn’t the tech­ni­cal group just ask Pirelli to cre­ate faster tyres?

PS: Well, ini­tially, when we were look­ing at why the cars are slower, we found it’s be­cause we’ve put 100kg on them since we’ve gone hy­brid and that ab­so­lutely kills per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly in the quicker cor­ners. Yes, we could have just added grip, but is that the right thing to do? I don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree that if you take aero­dy­nam­ics away and add me­chan­i­cal grip, you get bet­ter rac­ing. There’s no ev­i­dence to sup­port that.

Martin Brun­dle: I’m look­ing for­ward to this year, but then I’m the eter­nal op­ti­mist. In the­ory it seems like we’ve gone the wrong way, giv­ing it more grip so the car will stick to the road. For me, a car that is slid­ing looks faster, and go­ing faster isn’t ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. I can get su­per-ex­cited watch­ing a Cater­ham bat­tle on tele­vi­sion or even an old For­mula Ford race.

Valentino Rossi goes around the Cir­cuit de Catalunya just un­der half a minute slower than an F1 car, and that still looks in­cred­i­bly im­pres­sive. So I don’t think it’s all about speed – it’s about cars

Left to right: F1R’s panel of ex­perts, Martin Brun­dle, Peter Wind­sor and Pat Sy­monds

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