Early indications suggest that F1 cars of the near future will produce around 30% more downforce than the current 2015 challengers and be significantly more exciting than today’s cars, as well. Which may lead the casual F1 fan to ask: why do we need that?
I’m glad you asked.
Ignore anyone telling you otherwise, because Formula One is a sport in crisis. After launching the current “hybrid” era a few years ago, F1 seemed to be leading the way in green tech while, at the same time, inspiring carmakers like Ferrari and McLaren to follow suit. Today? The hybrid-turbo era has escalated costs and the teams that make up F1 are in serious financial trouble, there’s talk of bringing an IndyCar-derived engine to the sport to reduce costs, and the once-dominant Red Bull Renault team will be running TAG-branded engines next year.
It’s chaos in the world of F1, in other words. It’s gotten so bad that even Bernie Ecclestone- the driving force behind F1’s growth over the last forty years- is looking to sell.
There is hope, however. And that hope is coming in 2017, when new regulations will bring wider tires, longer noses, and more effective aerodynamics to the sport and deliver cars that make the driver a bigger part of the equation by being more difficult to drive, in general, and separating the great drivers from the mediocre ones.
“They (today’s cars) are a lot easier to drive, without a doubt. They are significantly easier to drive,” said Williams’ performance Rob Smedley. “I think it is important probably from a sport entertainment point of view … if the cars are too easy to drive, then perhaps we don’t see the difference between the naturally talented driver and a mediocre driver.”
Although some of the finer points of the 2017 F1 regulations may yet be changed, the following changes have been agreed to by the teams, in principle, following months of discussions.
Key 2017 F1 Rules Changes, So Far
|FRONT TIRE WIDTH||245 mm||300 mm|
|REAR TIRE WIDTH||325 mm||400 mm|
|OVERALL WIDTH||1.8 m||2.0 m|
|REAR WING||80 cm||95 cm|
|FLAT BOTTOM DISTANCE TO AXLE||0 mm (in-line)||300 mm|
It remains to be seen what the cars’ final shape will be once the lights go out on the first race of the 2017 F1 season- and whether the cars will look anything like Andries Van Overbeeke’s “Echoes of a Nearby Future” concept art, above. But, if the new rules will help current F1 drivers challenge Juan Pablo Montoya’s all-time lap record, how can that be bad?
Source | Images: Motorsport, Andries Van Overbeeke.