A n the beginning there was great enthusiasm. In 2017, wider cars with wider tires should come. There was a concept from Red Bull, one from the FIA, one from McLaren and in the end it was decided to strike a happy medium. The McLaren proposal increases downforce by around 25 percent. The tire width increases to 30 centimeters at the front and 40 centimeters at the rear.
After careful consideration, teams and drivers are no longer sure whether Formula 1 is not going astray again. The current cars set the second fastest pole position lap of all time in Melbourne and broke the all-time record set in Bahrain in 2005. So why new cars when overtaking is already difficult enough?
Half of the time saved through mechanical grip
FIA President Jean Todt and Race Director Charlie Whiting explained in Bahrain why they still want to stick to the new Formula 1. 'The task for us was: Formula 1 should be the top of motorsport again, the cars have to look aggressive and there have to be more overtaking maneuvers. There have been countless meetings, we have consulted engineers and drivers, we have a lot of work to find out The result is a good middle ground. '
Eight of the 11 teams are no longer convinced of that. And some drivers also have doubts. 'What we need is more mechanical grip and less downforce. So that you can follow the car in front again,' demands Lewis Hamilton.
Whiting replies: 'Half of the time savings will come from the wider tires.' Sebastian Vettel adds: 'The current cars are fast enough for one lap. It is important that the lap times in the race drop again.' Many engineers don't believe in it. The tire will again be the limiting factor with the new formula.
Pirelli wants test guarantees in the FIA contract
Whiting calms the mind: 'Pirelli has committed to deliver the desired tires. In our rules we have extra test days during the 2016 season built for Pirelli. The teams have suggested making 2015 cars with modified aerodynamics available as test vehicles. What we don't yet know is how many teams are taking part. '
2017 FIA wants faster cars again for the first time
Pirelli only wants to carry out the tests with cars that meet the expected increase in downforce. The engineers wonder if this is even possible. Nobody is ready to build an extra car for the tests. 'That would cost 10 million euros. Teams that are fighting for the World Cup like Ferrari and we do not have the capacity to design their own cars on the side,' says Mercedes. Further down the field there is simply no money.
There is resistance at the base as well. 'Who pays for the test drives with modified cars? Do the wind tunnel tests that you have to carry out for protection count towards the 25-hour quota?' Asks Force India. Whiting replies: 'Pirelli wants to add money for every kilometer.'
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe brings an interesting point into play. 'In the history of Formula 1, every rule change so far has been designed to make cars slower. Now, for the first time, we have been given the task of building faster cars.' Which leads to a fundamental problem. The tire manufacturer does not have to test for slower cars. For faster ones, yes.
Several engineers in Bahrain agreed that the 2015 cars did not have enough leeway to increase downforce by 25 percent and strap on wide tires. The mechanics are not designed for this. The opponents of the new cars are now hoping that the reform will reach a dead end. If nobody can or wants to build test cars for the tires, Pirelli will not build new tires either.