Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

2017 cars will be ‘four to five seconds faster’

2016 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

The FIA has revised its expectation of how much quicker Formula One cars will be in 2017 following changes to the planned technical rules for next season.

According to a statement from the World Motor Sport Council today the sport’s governing body expects lap times to fall “by approximately 4-5 seconds on most circuits” next year.

The Strategy Group originally envisaged a gain of five to six seconds when it announced its plan to overhaul the technical rules next year.

Since then it has emerged next year’s cars will weigh more, a planned reintroduction of refuelling will not go ahead and the planned aerodynamic changes have been scaled back. These would all have the effect of making the cars slower, but the FIA’s revelation today suggests the effect on car performance will be kept to a minimum.

The final technical regulations for 2017 have still not been finalised. However the WMSC today agreed to extend the deadline for framing the regulations until April 30th 2016.

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34 comments on “2017 cars will be ‘four to five seconds faster’”

  1. So they have more time to try to get it right. Won’t matter if the cars are faster if dirty air still handcuffs the trailing driver. Won’t matter if the tires are better as the leading driver will still have a huge advantage in clean air on his theoretically better tires, until they make the cars less dependent on clean air. So I’m glad to hear them speak of scaling back aero plans, except that I couldn’t envision what that would be like once they are racing in anger in 2017, not do we now know what the revised plans for aero will be. Just please lean the ratio of mechanical to aero grip a bit more to the mechanical side and give the trailing driver some confidence in the car, as well as less concern that actually attempting to pass won’t ruin the tires and the whole day’s computer model of race optimization. Ie. They still, as Horner has been pleading, have a great opportunity to get some things right, and I think it starts with simplifying.

    1. @robbie
      Best post I’ve seen in a long time. Totally agree on all points.

    2. Less aero, more mechanical, slower cornering speeds. Makes sense! Funny thing is that’s exactly what 2014 brought us, oh wait 2015 too..!

      oh wait…

      1. Less aero? Nope. Hardly. More mechanical grip? Sure…maybe…for 2 laps per stint. Slower cornering speeds? Who cares. The racing has suffered and hence the overwhelming movement for change including the calls for BE’s head. The only common denominator in the modern era is that every time they have tried their intentionally small reductions in aero, which has never stopped their massive amounts of wind tunnel and simulator work, downforce has been clawed back by the end of the first season of the reg change. Good grippy long lasting tires or grooved or plain old 2014/15 bad. Processions have still existed across the reg changes, including with bandage, fake DRS meant to mask aero processions and failing miserably.

        Aero downforce is a fascinating field that unquestionably makes cars faster…it’s just not good for close racing. Even with the best tires in the world, the lead driver has the same best tires in the world as the trailing driver who will always be handcuffed in dirty air until the cars are less dependent on clean air and a driver can rely on sustainable grip even after racing hard behind another car.

        More and more aero is financially unsustainable, makes it a money game, and is detrimental to close racing as we’ve seen year in and year out. Simplifying it would be better for F1 right now, combined with better tires which they have suggested will come next year. They should toss out DRS as it adds nothing and has likely only cost F1 it’s integrity. A greater ratio of sustainable, workable mechanical grip to aero is the only way to go. More ground effects? Sure. Just still make sure useful sustainable grip from tires is there too.

        1. being forced to buy noncompetitive equipment is financially unsustainable. Aero is one dimension of a system equations, which is slowly being eroded (made more simple/limited in dimension) by the FIA in it’s attempt to bring ‘equality’ (really mediocrity) and a ‘viable show’ to the masses.

          The problem is, F1 is anti-competitive, if F1 valued competition, it would forsake the easy money and start letting teams and drivers DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES, instead of the FIA dictating who will win and who will lose, because they do, and they will, and that is the real problem. Mediocrity is not very appealing to watch, unreliable cars, over regulated nonsense, all caused by people who are to in love with their own illusion (control), and the yes-men and blind masses that follow the machine.

        2. Robbie, I applaud your enthusiam but you’ve again proved my point for me. You say you don’t care about the cars having slower cornering speeds.

          Did you know that means they have less aero?

          Appreciate you taking my side once again mate!

          1. Yup we can agree too much aero is a problem which is why they occasionally cut it back a bit. Problem is the teams haul it back before long but at least F1 acknowledges it gets out of hand between reg changes.

    3. When you look at the current range of F1 cars, their designers have all made extensive efforts to shield the wheels from the air. If there was a requirement for the wheels to be unshielded, like F1 cars in the past, so they created drag, then that puts the leading car in a group at a disadvantage compared to the cars behind it. I don’t see this drag as being enough to offset the disadvantage the cars in dirty air have, but it will at least partially compensate for it. Below are links showing a 1970s Ferrari 312 and the 2016 Mercedes. Note the differences in the front wing and the placement of the radiator grill:

      1. F1 designer have long known about the drag caused by the wheels in the airstream, the 6 wheeled tyrrell being probably the ultimate example why back 40 years ago

        1. westy, whilst there is a common perception that the Tyrrell P34 used smaller diameter tyres at the front of the car to reduce drag, it isn’t quite correct.

          In reality, because the rear tyres were the same size, the frontal area of the car wasn’t significantly smaller and so the drag benefit was quite limited.
          The main advantage was actually in terms of aerodynamic stability – by using a pair of smaller tyres, and placing the second set in the wake of the first pair, the total lift generated by the front tyres was reduced, thereby increasing the stability of the front end of the car. Similarly, if you look at cars such as the Brabham BT44, where the front wing was designed to partially cover the front wheel, whilst it is commonly misconstrued as an attempt to reduce drag, Murray has pointed out that it was in fact to disrupt the turbulent wake around the front tyres to cut down on front lift.

          That said, there may have been a slight drag benefit from the fact that the reduction in total lift therefore meant that the team could run with a lower front wing setting to generate the same amount of downforce, reducing drag that way. However, it was a consequence of that design philosophy, not the driving force behind it.

          1. I’m sorry, I don’t know where Murray’s comment is, so I can’t read it. A link would have been helpful.
            Whether the reason for moving the air around the tyres is to reduce lift or to reduce drag, the fact remains when you do this the leading car of a group has the advantage while the ones behind are disadvantaged because they get the turbulent air that is moving at almost the speed of the leading car. You can see this effect when you watch cars when it is raining. The moving air means the cars behind the lead car have less aerodynamic downforce than the leading car, which means unless they are going accelerating or travelling at a constant speed and travelling in a straight line they are at a disadvantage.
            There isn’t any reason why the rules shouldn’t be such that the lead car has a disadvantage compared to the cars behind.

          2. @drycrust, it was in an old magazine article so unfortunately I can’t link to it, but it was simply an article where he talked about the BT44.

            On a wider level, I think what you are asking for is to some extent physically impossible – virtually any body moving through the atmosphere at speed will create some form of turbulent wake, such that the trailing driver will always find themselves at a disadvantage. And why would it necessarily prove to be more of a disadvantage to the leading driver than to those trailing behind them? Why would they not be similarly affected by the drag issue?

  2. So the cars will be faster. Big deal, if nobody is watching because the rules are rigged in favor of one or two teams, idiotic and unsporting gimmicky rules are introduced, and the wishes of the fans and drivers are ignored at every opportunity. And that, sadly, is the situation we’re in now.

    If a car goes faster and nobody sees it, does it make a sound?

    1. @gweilo8888, there were a lot of posters here and elsewhere who were complaining that there was not enough of a speed differential between F1 and other open wheeled series.

      Rather than being ignored, the changes are being brought in precisely because there was a large subsection of the fan base that constantly and vocally complained that the cars had become slower – and, all other things being equal, aerodynamics offers the greatest performance improvements compared to other measures.

  3. Guybrush Threepwood
    4th March 2016, 20:12

    We should all be in favour of any change that moves the formula back toward a teams championship as opposed to an engine manufacturers championship.

    1. – Adrian Newey

  4. Speed doesn’t necessarily translate into a better quality of on-track racing.

    1. Speed is the only pinacle F1 can hope to claim. Better quality… Well you get most speed per fuel spent… How is that for quality.

      Saddly other series offer more sporting equality, closer racing, etc.. But only F1 is fastest.

    2. 2014/2015/2016 will be the most recent years in which we had reduced aero AND more mechanical focus AND slower speeds.

      How did the racing turn out in the past few years? I think we can count the passes for the lead over 2 years on our fingers….

      Sucks how evidence works huh?

      1. Except that I don’t think we should take your word for it that they had reduced aero. Perhaps reference where you got that information, particularly where the cars were aero wise from the starts of the seasons to the ends of them. Every year they claw back any downforce and then some that may have been intentionally only incrementally adjusted downward slightly by F1’s design, due to their aero addiction.

        Also there was no mechanical ‘focus’…just bad tires good for one or two hot laps per stint and then conservation.

        1. @robbie, to be fair to Mr. X, I would say that he is most likely correct when he states that there was a net reduction in downforce figures, at least at the beginning of the current rule set. For example, in an article on the regulation changes for 2014, the F1Technical site estimated that total downforce figures reduced by around 10-15% between 2013 and 2014.

          Similarly, there was a simulation by one of the users on the F1Technical forum that, when comparing the race data from the 2012 and 2014 Australian GP’s and adjusting for the factors he could adjust for (such as the increase in weight), suggested that downforce levels were around 17% lower in 2014 than in 2012.

          Gary Paffett also gave an interview to Sky in January 2014 (an article which was featured on this website, as it happens) where, although he didn’t quantify the exact cut in downforce, made clear that his experience in the simulator with McLaren’s 2014 car showed that there had been a definite cut in downforce levels between 2013 and 2014.

          All in all, I would say that the balance of evidence suggests that, when comparing the 2014 cars to cars at a comparable stage of development in 2013, the net downforce produced by the 2014 cars was lower than the 2013 cars.

          Unlike Mr. X, I am not certain that statement automatically holds for 2015 given the uncertainty about how much of an improvement the teams made between 2014 and 2015 – however, I would suggest that he is most likely right that 2014 at least did see an overall reduction in downforce figures and therefore most likely a net shift towards mechanical grip making up a larger proportion of the overall performance of the cars.

          1. Exactly.

          2. @anon Thank you for the info. I’ve not denied that there have been occasional small reductions
            in aero downforce throughout the years. The references you include speak more of changes made when they totally changed the cars with the new pu’s. The articles speak of predicted initial reductions due to new regs, but don’t speak of what they clawed back as the seasons went along. They don’t speak of how high downforce levels had gotten before they took 10 or 15 percent away. So it is interesting that they do frequently attend to the problem of too much aero but that there is never a real genuine effort to truly make a big difference.

            Mr. X likes to claim one season of racing that was no better in spite of some vague and minimal changes to aero, without taking into account the many other variables, as proof to him that more and more aero is better, when there has yet to be a real and sincere effort to seriously curtail downforce and bolster meaningful and sustainable mechanical grip.

      2. What about when Michael Schumacher was winning all his races? How often was there an overtake for the lead then?
        Surprisingly, there is a Wikipedia page showing a list of F1 records, and one of the records is for the fewest overtakes in a race, and the record is no overtakes in a race (0), and that has happened three times (at least according to the article), and those were the 2003 Monaco GP, and 2005 US GP (the one with 6 cars in the race), and the 2009 European GP.
        However, when you read the race reports there were passes in both the 2005 US GP (although it might have been a pass done during refueling and not an overtake) and the 2009 European GP (although it might have been a case where Jenson Button got a place improperly and then handed the place back).
        The point being is overtaking in recent times isn’t worse than it was in the past. While you stipulated overtakes for the lead, the problem with that is most teams have some sort of team orders in effect regarding the lead, meaning if they are running first and second in the race, then the front car more or less stays there unless it pits or breaks down. This isn’t a recent phenomenon, it has probably been happening for decades.

      3. I think we can count the passes for the lead over 2 years on our fingers

        Well, obviously that’s because Mercedes has been way ahead.
        If you single out for the lead, that’s why there’s been little passing.

        If you don’t, passing has been rather high the last few years.

  5. I believe one of the Team Principals (either Toto or Symonds I think) was saying a few weeks ago that “it really makes no difference if the cars are faster as they can’t even tell on the teams unless they look at the time sheets. When visually watching them, they can’t tell if a car is fully loaded with fuel or on a qualifying run so going faster without making the racing better is a waste of time”.

    I think that is totally true. It’s nothing but bragging rights when you look at the time sheets because I’ve been to many races and you can’t tell the difference watching a car make a run early in the race when their full or late when they’re empty. They look exactly the same coming around the corners or down the straights. BUT…can they pass each other or do the aerodynamics wash out so badly that they can’t get close enough to try???

    1. Yep @daved it was Pat Symonds. And very true.

      I’m just waiting now for the circus to come to the realisation that the new, fatter, draggier cars are going to be slower down the straights.

      They’ll also have more traction with the same torque: less drama on corner exits.
      They’ll exit onto the straights faster and slow down less into the following corner: less braking, less time for passing, less speed change.
      It’ll be harder to follow as we all know.
      It’ll still be Mercedes vs Ferrari with their ex-Red Bull aero gurus.

      There’ll be a stronger tow, let’s hope that helps. Otherwise it’s more DRS ‘authority’, at best.

      1. I’m not sure you can make that prediction yet as there are so many variables like the actual tire compounds and behaviour, ground effects from some sort of rear diffuser and floor work etc.

        But anyway my initial reaction to your comment about fatter draggier cars making for slower straight-line speeds is good…then they might be forced to run less wing to reduce aero drag and make up for said draggier cars, which would then make them less dependent on clean air.

        This was JV’s opinion nearly 2 decades ago when he called the new grooved tires a joke. ‘Give us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s which created so much drag down the straights you had to run less wing to achieve respectable speeds, thus killing two birds with one stone…more mechanical grip, less aero grip.’

        1. Well I remember them talking about the 1.8m cars having a higher top speed @robbie, when they were introduced, also they’ve been talking about 10% higher fuel consumption.

          I reckon they’ll all run the same amount of wing. The whole idea is more downforce, and that has to mean more drag, and more wake now they’ve lowered the rear wing again. I suppose the wider tyres might help with following onto the straight.

          But I thought it was obvious the changes were going to be worth more than 3s a lap, from my high tech armchair, so it’s not encouraging that they’ve only just worked out it’s 4-5s after all. There’s not much sign they have a clue what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it.

          I don’t think it’s going to help the drinks company, even, who can’t even start designing around a known engine yet. And as far as my schoolboy physics can see low power/high drag is if anything worse than low power/low drag, given the squared relationship with speed.

    2. If a few sec laptime makes no difference then its the same for the torque vs traction argument you guys are making. Is anyone here seing more interesting corner exits at the start of the races when the cars have a lower grip vs torque ratio?

  6. Michael Brown
    5th March 2016, 15:36

    I hope that this extra time will allow them to #MakeF1GreatAgain

  7. I’ll believe it when I see it. They’ll probably need to double the run-off area and straighten out all the corners before something like this can be rubber-stamped.

  8. Bring back ground effect less areo on front wings

  9. Wider tyres… less aero… is it… finally happening!!!???

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