F1 speeding into 2017

The garage door is firmly shut on an exciting 2016 F1 season and teams up and down the paddock are now focusing on developing their cars in readiness for the highly anticipated changes that are being introduced in the 2017 season. The future is bright within the world of Formula 1™ and new drivers are breaking through from testing into the seats of the big teams. The upcoming season will no doubt be fiery and mark a new era for the sport, with a number of proposed changes to the cars to help make the competition more challenging for drivers and teams, but also add extra spice to the wheel-the-wheel action on track.

Here, we take a look and dissect the ‘projected’ new look Formula 1™ cars of 2017.

Tyres

At first look, the teams have agreed on newer all-around tyre widths, which means there’ll be more rubber on the track and an interesting retro look to the modern day Formula 1™ car.

Front tyres will increase in width from 245mm to 305mm. This will help the drivers reduce understeer and give the front tyres more mechanical grip (low-speed grip on the car before aero-grip dominates at higher speeds).

Rear tyres – they’ll also increase from 325mm to 405mm, which will mean more mechanical grip on slower tracks such as Monaco and help the racers cope with the increased cornering speeds on tracks like Silverstone.

The aim for the ‘fatter’ tyres is simple. More rubber = better grip at higher speeds, allowing drivers to brake deeper into corners and allow them to get on the throttle harder and earlier, accelerating earlier than before. Despite these changes, the cars will still have a 13” rim diameter.

Chassis

The proposed changes to the 2017 Formula 1™ cars will mean that they are expected to run 22kg heavier than the 2016 versions. Not only due to the added weight from the tyres but also the fuel capacity will be increased by a further 5kg, taking it from 100kg to 105kg.

Car track size is currently set by the FIA at 1800mm, but in 2017 this will also increase to 2000mm, giving the cars a wider span on the track. The thought of the impact of this change on narrower race circuits such as Monaco and the Hungaroring is puzzling – where will drivers seize the opportunity to overtake? Will they be able to overtake?

There are many fundamental changes to the car, which will be designed to increase mechanical grip and speed through cornering. Next up are the revisions for two-parts of the car that will effect the downforce changes set for 2017.

Front Wing re-profile

Perhaps one of the more significant changes is the redesign of the front wing. In 2017, Formula 1™ cars will carry wider front wings, increasing in width from 1625mm to 1800mm. The left & right side of the front wings will be pushed back slightly giving the centre part of the front wing a 200mm point.

The aim is to make the car less sensitive to the ‘dirty air’ when stuck behind a slower car. It should also allow for closer racing.

Rear Wing re-profile

The newly proposed rear wing design and dimensions will mean it will be lower and wider, measuring in at just 800mm in height and 950mm in width.

Adding to this will be a larger and more effective diffuser, with wider barge-boards (1600mm) that will create a ‘ground effect’ to help with the downforce that everyone is looking for.

For example at Maggots and Becketts, the current speed of the 2016 Formula 1™ car approaching these corners is 105mph, but in 2017 this could be as high as 130mph, which is similar to the 2004 V10 cars (minus the sound).

Engines

One of the unchanged areas of the Formula 1™ cars next year is the engine. The cars will still use the hybrid-technology at the current spec. The only rule changes will limit drivers to four power units instead of this season’s five. Tokens will be replaced with a boost pressure constraint (more details on this to follow).

There are many discussions up and down the F1 paddock with some teams in favour of the changes and some against. Scuderia Ferrari has been able to give the changes a chance already and have dedicated time to help Pirelli record and analyse key tyre data for the upcoming season. Scuderia Ferrari was using a modified SF15-T with a wider front and rear wing to simulate the 2017 proposed changes in a recent test session at Montemelo at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.

Only time will tell if the changes for 2017 will create the impact on the sport the teams and fans are hoping for. Overall our thoughts here at Kaspersky Motorsport are that these changes will bring a retro feel to the modern era of Formula 1™.

We’d love to hear from you, so you’re all welcome to share your comments and views on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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