Following meetings between bosses, the 2017 Formula One season will see a number of new car modification rules introduced, which are designed to make cars wider, but yet quicker. Following consultation with the FIA’s technical team, Formula One bosses believe the modifications should help cars to deliver lap times three to six seconds quicker than they are currently.
The changes, which will see increases in the sizes of the front wing, floor shape, diffuser and rear wing, have been met with approval from the majority of teams and were voted through at a F1 commission in February. It is believed that Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso voted against the motion, which they see as the ‘McLaren Proposal’ – giving cars 25% more downforce in order to increase speed, which plays to the British team’s strengths.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been vocal about the changes, which he views as a ‘mistake’ following an exciting start to the 2016 F1 season. Following the Chinese Grand Prix, the man in charge of the team which current champion Nico Rosberg and British driver Jenson Button currently ply their trade at was asked about the overhaul in 2017 and was quoted as saying: “There is no selling proposition in those new regulations in my opinion. We should just leave it alone. And maybe speaking against ourselves because clearly we don’t have the advantage we had last year, but the racing is great and will become even greater if we leave the regulations alone.”
Mercedes has been the team to beat in a period of the sport dubbed as ‘the turbo era’, so Wolff obviously has a vested interest in any rule changes that may challenge his team’s dominance (the first three races of 2016 saw Rosberg and Mercedes win). However, Wolff believes that a stable set of rules will eventually allow other teams to ‘catch up’ and constant changes will only give a more technically-competent team more of a leg-up, allowing them to continue to dominate the F1 circuits. He continued: “Even if it is uncomfortable for the commercial rights holder that we have been running away with lots of races and the two championships, the longer you keep regulations stable, the more the performance is going to converge between everybody.”
Meanwhile, online opinion between supporters has been generally welcoming to the news. Most fans of the sport are seeking a more competitive edge between drivers and teams, which will only help to increase the popularity of F1 among a wider audience. The promise of quicker cars will lead to a more entertaining spectacle no doubt, but those who are against the changes believe that wider cars will mean less overtaking, slightly souring the spectacle, something which Wolff also brought up in his interview.
It remains to be seen what impact, if any, the rules will have on the sport. Will it indeed become more competitive as it becomes quicker?