Call me a luddite but I’m not really sure the increase of speed for the 2017 cars is at the top of my wish list for the upcoming Formula 1 season. It’s been the talking point since the teams were rattled for changes due to waning interest in F1, reduced television viewership numbers and a radically reduced sound from the power units.
When confronted with such tangible examples of a waning consumer base, presumably, F1’s teams pondered the situation and decided that cars needed to go five seconds quicker per lap. They also thought the cars needed a bit of a throw-back look with wider track, wider tires, lower and wider wings and an aggressive look.
I would have argued that the cars need a spec rear wing, reduced aero, more mechanical grip (wider tires, lower and wider wings, less aero disturbance for trailing cars) in order to promote closer racing and a new engine formula that would allow for a more visceral experience, more power, higher revs and quicker lap times. As I say, call me a luddite who just isn’t in touch with this wacky world of those “authentic” young consumers who place electric motors and car company business direction over actual racing.
I understand that keeping Mercedes in F1 could be dependent upon the series being road relevant for the manufacturer, but I’m not sure I care quite that much. If they’re not jazzed that F1 isn’t always pushing the R&D for road car hybrid engines, that’s not my problem because at the end of the day, I watch F1 for entertainment value, not to figure out which hybrid car I’ll buy next because it’s the best in F1.
I’d be more excited if a privateer like Manor, Sauber or Red Bull started winning races with no interest in the tech that could be transferred to a road car as they don’t make road cars…they came to race. Admittedly, that’s a very immature position because all things need to be considered in a series that is reliant on manufacturer participation and you cannot ignore the financial investment that Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault make toward F1. Regardless, pinning our hopes of a better series on the singular goal of making the cars 5-seconds quicker doesn’t seem to be a master plan.
Williams F1 technical boss Pat Symonds says that the 2017 cars will be immature as they started late with wind tunnel simulations and that doesn’t bode well for the 5-second goal or competitive, entertaining racing but I am completely willing to be surprised and eat crow.
Two things do come to mind. The power units aren’t changing and that’s still a bugbear for the series. The lack of restricted development will be a potential knock-on effect in that the big teams will develop far quicker than mid-field or backmarker teams. This will prolong the social media call for equity amongst prize money payout models and prompt more whinging. Something the sport doesn’t need right now.
How important is 5 seconds? There could be a big element that I am missing in that the charge to go 5-seconds quicker will naturally bring forth the kinds of chassis designs that will actually prompt more entertaining racing. The call for quicker laps times coupled with wider tires and wings may actually achieve what I called for above and it could be my lack of an engineering degree that is clouding my understanding of the situation thus supporting your reason for calling me a luddite…you’d be perfectly justified in doing so.