Is 5-seconds the right goal for 2017 F1 cars?


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.

Immature Cars

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.

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Paul KieferJr

I don’t think the aero and mechanical grip changes are going to buy them the extra five seconds. Two or three, maybe, but not five. The rest has to come from the engine, and since that’s not changing, it’s not happening. Nice try, though.


Just because the cars are designed to go quicker doesn’t mean they will (beyond qualy) due to tire, engine, and fuel management. If you want them to go quicker, dispense with the restrictions on fuel flow/consumption, number of engine component replacements, and high deg tire wear. If you did that they’d probably be a lot quicker today without changing much else…..


Todd, you’re a luddite! – nah not really. You’ve probably listened to the recent Motorsport podcast with Pat Symonds, with typical scepticism he explains that there was no research or consensus in setting this ‘5 sec faster’ objective. He implies it was dictated by Bernie, and states that even the teams don’t know if its going to be achieved by the rule changes. As he’s said previously, the current cars are 5 sec a lap faster when lightly fueled in FP, than in race trim, and spectators can’t see the difference. It looks like F1 is just knee-jerking around trying… Read more »

Shane Phillips

F1 is always, and has always been a technological sport, today that is still true. I can’t work out why people go on endlessly about bringing back engine technology that is essentially a throwback to the 90s. I still am not convinced, and never have been convinced that the power units are responsible for the declining viewing figures. People always pedalling that line seem to conveniently forget that fewer and fewer races have been available on free to air TV over the past few years, and with that a decrease in viewing figures is inevitable. There’s no doubt that the… Read more »


I didn’t really enjoy the v8 engines after going to races with V10’s so there might be something to it. Declining attendance coincided with pay per view, higher ticket prices,and hybrid formula.

jiji the cat

In saying that though, the new specs should make it more physically demanding and hopefully that may lead to a bit more racing excitement, sort out the men from boys kind of thing.

More revs and better sounding engines would also be great.


Cars need to be pushed at 100% for the length of the race. There is too much managing going on.
5 seconds is a start, remember that F1 has been systematically slowed for years on the grounds of closer racing and safety. It needs to leap ahead of the nearest classes.
I want innovation as well as racing.

Dr. Bob

You ARE luddite. However, I’m biased since I’m a techno geek with an engineering degree and a 43 year career in aerospace and military systems development.


I think it’s the pay TV thing and high ticket prices that are hurting F1, although i have been waiting for the wider cars and tires before i payed up to see F1 live again.


The team(s) that exploit the rules best may well get five or more seconds faster, but others will not find that gain. The result will be a much bigger field spread than we have been used to recently. Backmarker teams will be lapped within ten or fifteen laps, and will spend most of the race slowed by blue flags. This will not improve the racing, but for the drivers in the fastest cars they may find the cars more satisfying to drive. However it does give the better funded teams the opportunity to out develop the opposition by throwing money… Read more »


Well said Dave.
F1 (FIM?) have lost the plot, again. The last set of rule changes were supposed to deliver closer racing and prevent run away spending. After three years when the pace of the teams was starting to converge, a new set of rules and the spending contraints thrown out the window!
If the changes deliver close racing, it will be a wild fluke.
If they don’t push three or four teams into bankruptcy, it will be a miracle.

Tim C

Do we really care if the cars are 5 seconds faster? I know I don’t. Just give me close competition and battles on track. And, as stated many times by Grace, just give me good racing . . . that’s what I want . . . good racing.

Purple Sector

Funny how peoples complaints keep constantly changing. One day they complain the cars are too slow or quiet. Then the cars get faster and they shift they’re complaints to poor on track racing. But then the racing on track improves. 2016 has been a great year for in track racing if you don’t have rose tinted nostalgic glasses. So when the racing gets better and the cars get better, will the complaining stop? NO! Moral of the story is you can’t please habitual whiners. They will just shift from one to another endlessly and proclaim they’re complaints are legitimate criticisms.


Or is it possible that the different complaints come from different groups of fans/whiners?
With an alternative moral of ‘you can’t please all of the people, all of the time?’
Merry Christmas purple one ;-)

Purple Sector

??? Its Dec. 29th. Try again please. Happy New Year?


And a happy new year, when it comes

Negative Camber