Moving into 2017, Formula One faces numerous regulation changes. Last time this happened, in 2014, it completely shook up the field. So what should we expect this time? Hopefully, more exciting racing. Wider cars and tyres promise better aesthetics and faster lap times, with revised aero regulations hoping to improve the racing.
Most of the regulation changes are concerned with making the cars quicker, and the tyres will be one of the greatest factors. With an expected 4 to 5 seconds taken off lap times, about 2.5 seconds of that is going to be down to the tyres.
They tyres will be noticeably wider next year, with the rear tyres increasing from a width of 405mm from 325mm and the front tyres from 245mm from 305mm. This increase of around 30% will result in much more mechanical grip, which will help to reduce lap times.
In response to complaints from drivers and fans alike, the tyres next year will also aim to be much more durable and last a lot longer – allowing the drivers to push more in the races rather than having to manage tyre degradation. Hopefully these changes should improve the racing in 2017 and make for faster cars.
Aesthetics was a key consideration when the new regulations were written, attempting to make the cars look much more aggressive. The main way in which this has been achieved is by making the cars and tyres wider. The overall width of the car is increasing from 1400mm to 1600mm.
The front and rear wings will also be increasing in width, allowing higher amounts of downforce to be generated due to the greater surface area. However, there have been some concerns about this regarding overtaking.
Currently one of the biggest issues in Formula One is how hard it is to follow another car closely due to the need of ‘clean’ air for aerodynamic efficiency. With more downforce next year, some people believe that overtaking will be even harder as the disadvantage from running behind another car. However, it may not actually have as big an impact as some may think.
Firstly, there will be more mechanical grip from the tyres and secondly, the downforce generated by the front wing will be less important. This is because the regulations regarding the diffuser and floor have been changed, which will result in much greater amounts of downforce being generated here, which don’t rely on the clean air ahead in the same way as the front wing does.
This could mean we actually see an improvement in overtaking and the drivers becoming less reliant on DRS for overtakes.
Although there have been objections to the hybrid engines introduced in 2014, Ecclestone has confirmed that they will be staying until 2020 at least. This means very little will be changing regarding the engines this year, although some minor modifications have been made.
The engine token system, which limited the amount of engine development, has now been removed. This aims to allow the manufacturers currently behind to catch up more easily. In addition, in the attempt to level the field somewhat, a boost pressure limit has been enforced.