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Faster cars and fitter drivers but will F1 2017 inspire new fans?
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  06 Oct 2016   |  1:29 pm GMT  |  77 comments

Formula 1’s 2017 dramstic regulation changes are expected to make the cars much faster and more difficult to drive, which in turn will mean the drivers will have to be physically fitter to take them to the limit.

For the first time in the modern era F1 is introducing rules to make the cars substantially faster, not slower.

F1 cars will feature wider bodywork and front wings, wider and lower rear wings, and bigger front and rear tyres, which are all expected to make the cars look and perform faster.

Pirelli has already begun to test its new tyres with the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes teams ahead of next year, when downforce levels and cornering speeds are expected to rise considerably.

Former F1 racer Sebastien Buemi, who recently tested the 2017 tyres in his role as a simulator and development driver for Red Bull, even said that new drivers would be “scared to jump into the car” after he sampled the new rubber on a 2015 car set up to generate the anticipated increase in downforce.

Senior engineers also believe that the new cars will be a significant challenge once the wider tyres are combined with the full new chassis and aero packages that are under development for next season.

Conversely, it is not yet known what percentage of the time the tyre compounds will allow the drivers to be pushing the handling limits of the car, and, as an extension, their own physical limits.

Carlos Sainz

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who was speaking at the pre-event press conference at the Japanese Grand Prix, explained that the conditions at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix – where new asphalt and virtual safety cars allowed the field to push harder for longer throughout the race – had reiterated the need for the drivers to be as fit as they possibly can be.

“It’s not a secret we will need to do a step in our physical condition for next year,” he said. “Already [in] Malaysia this year we were in qualifying nearly as fast as the lap record; the race, because of the tarmac change, was three-to-four seconds per lap quicker than last year and you could already feel it.”

The physical preparations F1 drivers make are always competing with many other demands on their time and the 2017 pre-season will be perhaps the most important block of training time since the mid 2000s.

Kimi Raikkonen Japanese Grand Prix 2005

This may turn out to be especially toughfor the handful of young drivers – several with late adolescent musculature still maturing – who have recently made their F1 debuts or will do so next season.

But Sainz, who began his F1 career at the start of the 2015 season, reckons the added pressure of needing to be physically fitter could actually turn the situation into an advantage for some drivers.

“It’s a challenge that I always welcome. It means more time in the gym, more time on a bike – but it means that also in the race a physical limitation comes into play and it’s where you can make the difference.

Carlos Sainz

“So, I will welcome it. Also the challenge of driving a faster car is always more difficult, always more selective with drivers, so it can only do good for Formula 1.”

Speaking separately to JAonF1, Sainz described his belief that F1 drivers in the current era no longer enthuse young fans in the way that the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost did in the past.

With next year’s cars expected to look visually more aggressive and be harder to drive, 2017 provides F1 with an opportunity to showcase the inspirational heroes that Sainz feels are currently not reaching fans.

Carlos Sainz Daniil Kvyat

“When you are between 10-to-20, to 25-years-old, what you need in life is something like an idol, a figure, a hero,” he said. “Nowadays, F1 drivers, we don’t create that sense any more in a younger audience.

“There is the digital [market potential], and there are the social networks that can help a lot, but mainly and primarily I would say that that [hero] figure is what you need to create in young people. [Give them] people to look up too.”

Raikkonen: “too early” to say how much faster 2017 F1 cars will be

Speaking alongside Sainz at the press conference in Suzuka was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who has already tried some of Pirelli’s 2017 development tyres in testing for the Scuderia.

Esteban Gutierrez 2017 tyres

The 2007 world champion described the new tyres as having more grip than the current designs, but stressed that the full nature and speeds of the 2017 cars would not be definitively known until the start of winter testing.

He said: “There’s a bit more grip but to be fair it’s very early days for Pirelli’s new tyres, so I think we are only going to really see what we have once we have the proper cars next year and the tyres in the first test and the cars are far from what they will be next year, what we’re using in [2016] testing.

“I think it will be faster, but how much and how it’s going to be, how the car is and the tyres together, it’s too early to say.”

Earlier this year, former Ferrari technical director James Allison told the FIA sport conference that the new cars will be visually “very appealing”, which may help to attract fans put off by the current designs.


What do you make of Sainz’s comments on the 2017 cars? Will more challenging cars provide F1 with an opportunity to attract new fans? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Todays F1 cars look so static, all look the same and also look like a cigar on biscuit tyres. and totally in exciting to watch. The new format of fat tyres, wider bodies and hopefully screaming engines, with tail wagging in corners with drivers DRIVING and not fully controlled by a crew sitting on their butts, will be the best thing for us armchair viewers.


Perhaps those “old guys”, Kimi and Alonso, takes command!
The new regulations suits them.


I think MB are too dominant. It kills the interest. Many of us want to see Ferrari and McLaren winning again. MB are killing F1.


Car culture is dead amongst the younger generations. No longer are kids eager to get their drivers’ licenses. Cars are so complex, the home mechanic is getting rarer and rarer. So too the interest in auto racing, except on the XBox or Playstation.
Race attendance needs to be promoted as an experience. Access to drivers and cars needs to be expanded. Big date & family promo with track activities aimed squarely at them.
Noise isn’t a factor at all. All who think that is a cure for the problem are kidding themselves. I’ve never heard someone say, “I’m not going to go to an auto race because the cars aren’t loud enough.” The turbo cars of the past weren’t as loud as today’s cars and they attracted fans just fine. (I concede the E series is a bit odd with no noise except of breaking carbon fiber…) But, the sensory immersion is a good hook for attendance. You haven’t experienced racing unless you’re there!
The key is the drivers as personalities. End the PR speak and let the drivers speak their minds—without penalty. Rivalries. Nationalities. Glamour. Glitz.
Social media. Encourage people to post clips and comments. Involvement is essential. As is a presence on the important social media sites. It has to be fun! Award prizes for the best clips. Get schools involved with promo competitions. Posters, commercials, ads, etc. that appeal to the young. Talk it up. Make it THE place to be. Find a way to lower ticket prices so young people can afford to attend.
There are a myriad number of ways to get the younger generations interested, but they have to be nurtured and intrigued.


The way forward…simple, CCNC. Cost ,Competition, Noise, Communication.


Hi everyone,
If the product (the racing) is good people will watch (if they can paywalls).
Faster and harder to drive cars sounds good, which should lead to more driver mistakes and hopefully also more passing opportunities.
However with most circuits being the way they are with tarmac run offs, removal of gravel traps, tarmac on outside of kerbs etc I fear that just like now all but the very biggest of errors will continue to have very little effect.
So we may end up with more of the same but at least the cars will look good.


I’m confident that the new cars will inspire new audiences. In fact, it was the extreme nature of the cars that inspired me to follow f1 in the mid 90s.

The problem with f1 at the moment is that it is not extreme enough. The cars look like ugly gp3 cars, they sound as though the engines are on the verge of packing it in, the drivers don’t seem enthusiastic about driving these cars– and who can blame them.

However, even though the new look, faster cars are a step in the right direction, the other elements such as noise and the ability to drive on the limit need to be brought out. And there is an easy fix for that– just get rid of this ridiculous fuel flow limit, and give them durable tyres.

Sadly I don’t think that will happen; Al Gore says “no”.

James not Allen

History is littered with formerly glamorous professions that now lie by the way-side. Astronauts, cowboys, train drivers… As I’m not a youth (childish, yes, but no longer young) I don’t know what inspires young people today, but I do sense that there the stock of the geek appears to have risen (Musk, Jobs, Zuckerberg), and so perhaps rather than yearning for faster, harder, stronger the focus should be on how freaking amazing these cars are and what influence the driver does have on the equation.

They say ‘never meet your hero’ which could perhaps be followed by ‘never yearn for yesterday’s’. Mercifully, my hero’s are safely confined to history (Turing, Chapman, Armstrong, John Harrison), but my word the guys and girls of the teams engineering departments are doing a good job, if only someone could tell me more about it.


Maybe, but what the sport needs is personalities. Apart from Ricciado, and Kimi’s monotone the rest are just stale because of the need to uphold the corporate image.

The sport needs more people like Montoya, Irvine, Villeneuve.


Montoya yes, but Irvine?


yes Irvine! he had a kind of loose-cannon aura about him!


Irvine could make things interesting. Ayrton senna would testify to that, if he were still alive.


Every time I see these new wide tires, I want to give them a hug, I miss them so much. Based on initial photos, the overall proportion of an F1 car is already much better, I just hope halo will not come in to destroy it.

And next year I might go to Montreal to watch the race live and see these beautiful machines.


Unfortunately these new rules will make overtaking more difficult than with the current cars and young people want to see wheel to wheel racing and exciting races which I don’t think it will be the case next year. F1 could lose more fans next season rather than gaining new ones. Other factor to take into consideration is the ridiculously high tickets which are putting off a lot of fans and casual viewers to attend gps.


If we want new fans, tell them what F1 actually is, not what we want it to be. F1 is a strategic game, not a race and has not been for some time. It’s all about managing tires, fuel, engine settings, etc. to survive for 300km, not about wheel to wheel racing. How do you make that exciting?


I keep saying this but “attracting fans” is really a far bigger marketing and commercial function which Liberty have to work on for a few years. F1 is competing against many sports and the product and its heroes changing next year will definitely help but it will be insignificant if you do not a) Put it in front of more people and educate them about it . b) Give them affordable viewing options c) Involve the teams/stars in more interaction- I understand is starting show more behind the scene stuff which is good.

From a pure racing perspective yes it will be faster- a few tenths in each corner & – traction zones beyond. But it will lose about 10kph in top speed because of the drag associated with increased width,loor & weight .The net effect will be initially 3.5-4 sec gain Im guessing (increasing to 5sec very quickly) on circuits with 20corners and 2 straights. The cars will be very difficult on tight tracks/ narrowing corners especially because they are heavier/ wider- I reckon we might see lots of carbon bits flying everywhere next year. Is this good??- not sure I want to see that in F1.The drivers will be able to fight closer because the lower wider rear wing will create more turbulence but nearer the back of the lead car compared to the narrower longer displacement of the current high wings and Im guessing this will be offset by following cars bigger tyres/mechanical grip. It will be very demanding physically because of that extra df & traction but I think it will be the guys 25-38 y/o who will handle it better as they have better developed muscles and have had experience with high grip/ DF cars in the past but as Carlos saud -“its an opportunity” for any driver to make a difference if it is more limiting physically.

If one team does in 2017 what Mercedes did in 2014 it may be a problem. If its Mercedes again it will be a bigger problem. Personally I think its what F1 does behind the scenes that will be more important and I think they went a bit too far on the size of the tyres and the cars width/weight.


Many knowledgeable fans have agreed on this site that f1 needs to have that wow factor in order to attract younger generations to the sport. F1, as many have said it, lost that wow factor once hybrid engines were introduced. Myself (a young fan and definitely not as knowledgable and informative as other fans on this site,) can speak on this matter because is directed to me (as the younger generation of fans). What attracted me to the sport was noise, speed, aesthetics of the car. In addition to it, the charisma of the drivers. Someone you can look up to. Someone you can admire. Having said that, f1 lost all the things that fascinated me and gave me passion for the sport. For you gentlemen, it might be a little harder to see these things because you are from a golden generation and are more technical and knowledgable about f1. Therefore, those things might prevent you from what perhaps attract this younger generation that is already too convoluted with technology, gender identification and so on… I am a Motogp fan as well and let me tell you folks, it keeps my palms sweating and Holding on the armrest of the couch. There have about 8 different race winners for the last 9 races. Overtakes, too many for me to handle. I have not closed my eyes once watching Motogp. I can’t say the same about f1. I have fallen asleep in every race of this year. That by itself should tell you what’s wrong with f1. Not to mention what motogp has created with #46, #93 and others. In conclusion, I just want to see some close battles, screaming machines and lots of overtakes. And thank you to many fans here, some of you know your stuff very well. And thank to the writers here as well.


I’m not sure that changing the cars will make a difference in attracting young fans to the sport, but it will help keep them when they do stumble across the sport. Personally I can’t wait to see the return of the two metre cars, they will finally look right again, and if they are a bit more beastly to drive, then more to the good.


The problem with F1 is accessibility.
F1 has lost fans from over priced events & no F1 on free2air TV.
I’m most of us have probably grown up with the BBC coverage, even those not in the UK like myself.

F1 has also become too corporate. Like other corporations; its all about revenue & making a bigger profit every year, which always squeezes the life out of anything.


Will someone please stick some proper sized rims (at least 18″) on these cars to make them look like something from this century?


Can I just mention the liveries, some of them could really be much cooler. I find Ferrari e.g. somehow quite hard on the eyes, Sauber is without any creativity or effort etc.. Some of the designs go around the net are much better. I know this is not the most important and I know there are many factors which come into play when designing the cars, but there is a big room for improvement there.


Well it all depends on whether Bernie [Mod]
Whoever gets it right will be the next leader for 4 years before we get the same moans from fans regarding Mercedes today. Mercedes deserve their success. Whoever gets it next time will deserve it too. I just hope it’s not Red Bull and it’s Mclaren or Mercedes again.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it’s Mercedes again.
I will laugh my socks off it it’s Mercedes.
Come on Mercedes 👌
Regarding more fans in F1. Well that’s going to fall even more when Sky gets their dirty fingers on the Sport and it goes behind their ugly pay per view wall. That will be the end and a more obscure sport forgotten by the next generation. Abit like boxing most youngsters don’t know who the champs are in each weight category. In the 80s most school kids knew the names of boxers like Ali, Foreman, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, [Mod] Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Tony Sibson, Henry Boom Boom Mancini, Hector Comacho etcetera etcetera . Now a days even I wouldn’t know who the champs are as there are so many Boxing Councils with so many champions. It’s all about Box Nation and pay per view. Limited audiences and big bucks.
Who knows what will happen to F1 in 2017 in 2019 it’s going Pete Tong anyway .


I an curious, are there REAL F1 fans who stopped watching because the cars were ugly? I would suspect the processional nature of F1, the continued use of technical gimmicks like DRS, the complicated aerodynamic structures that prevent one car from following the other closely, the fact that teams are saving fuel and brakes at almost every track may be some of the reasons we are getting disillusioned. If the F1 cars were butt ugly and I believed a driver starting in the top ten could use strategy and racing aggression to win the race, I would be more likely to believe F1 will change. But I suspect we are going to get the same racing we have now, but with wider tires and wings. So here is my prediction: 1or 2 teams will hit the sweet spot and win all the races, 2 or 3 teams will be there or thereabouts (but never good enough to win – ahem! Williams), and the rest will be racing for scraps and TV time. Very much like this year, except I expect Red Bull to be closer to Mercedes in 2017.


Is your problem with DRS the rules regarding its use or the whole DRS concept?
I think DRS is awesome, its just the stupid one second rule I hate. The rule should be if you’re brave enough to open it you can, anywhere anytime.


DRS was introduced to aid overtaking ONLY, it has no other value to the race. Simplify the front wing aerodynamics, and improve the tire life and most cars will be able to slip stream and and overtake naturally.


But if anyone can use it anytime and anywhere they like it cancels each other out. It then becomes advantage to the bravest drivers willing to open it up earlier than the others.
Not to mention the fuel savings it could create allowing drivers to race harder for longer.


I appreciate your preference for DRS, but I would be happy to live in a world where F1 and DRS do not coexist 😎. I really do not like the concept in principle.


I didn’t stop watching, but I’ve been collecting F1 model cars for over 25 years and stopped buying any F1 models after the 2009 rule change. Nowadays I only buy F1 model cars from the 80s/90s.


Absolutely not. No way!!

Sorry, but anyone who thinks that slapping a few inches of rubber on a fart machine will have any effect on attracting a younger audience is entirely out of touch with the youth market…this is the exact kind of misunderstanding of young people that got F1 into this spot in the first place.

For young people, F1 is too sterile, too over regulated, too much big business at the forefront, too many rules, dull personalities (in front of the camera)…the list goes on and on. Anyone who doesn’t see this is trapped inside the F1 bubble and lacks the larger perspective.

You know who the driving heroes of this generation of young people are? Daigo Saito, Masao Kawabata, Masashi Yokoi, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Fredrick Aasbo, Forrest Wang, Mad Mike Whiddett, James Dean….or 16 year old Jack Shanahan…that’s right, pro drifters. Drifting is currently one of the only forms of motorsport showing growth, and it’s not that hard to understand why.

Compared to any form of racing, drifting is easy to get into. Picking up a used RWD something or other for around 3 grand, another couple of thousand for some parts and tires, and you’re ready to hit the track.

Grass roots events are popping up all over the place. Look at events like East Coast Bash, Gatebil, or Ebisu’s 72hr Matsuris. Access is simple, cheap, and gets you right up to the action. You can wonder the pits, chat with crews and drivers….actually ask for tips on your own driving or car. You can go for rides with the pro drivers in their demo cars. Or, if you have your stuff together, you can get out on track at the same time as them, even go door to door with them if you show the competence. And afterwards, you can go back to the pits and share some beer and bbq with everyone. Where can you get anything even close to that in F1?

The cars are inspiring and relateable. What kind of gear head doesn’t get chills down their spine hearing a 900hp twin turbo V8, or a 1100hp 2JZ, or an 800hp 4-banger from a Toyota Sienna mini van…with a 300 shot of nitros on top!! And even though I may not be able to buy or build myself a 1000hp motor (yet!), I’m still wrenching on the same 2JZ motor that Yokoi and Saito have piloted to multiple championships….the connection is massive!!!

THAT is the kind of stuff that gets young people exciting. Not shaving an ambiguous amount of time off an ambiguous lap time at some billion dollar car park on the other side of the world.

F1 has completely lost touch with the reality of the average young person….and judging by the music most of the drivers listen to, even the young ones, that won’t change any time soon.

And I really think F1 needs to wake up to the fact that one of the only reasons it did so well in the past is because it was the only show in town. Hardly the case anymore…you’ve got to compete with Pokemon Go now lol.


@James Allen.

One last thought on this subject (one I’m quite interested in, can you tell??). I realise you are a busy man, but what would be the chances you or Alex could get yourselves to an event like one of the Gatebils, or Global Warfare at Mondello Park in Ireland….or even to the Fall Drift Matsuri at Ebisu in Japan. Go to an event that is chalk full of young petrol heads, and ask them if they watch F1, and if they don’t, why not? Ask them how they might make F1 more attractive to people like them.

Honestly, I think you’ll find much more interesting perspectives from those people than you will from the average person in the comments section (no offence folks).


Not related to the new 2017 regs, but in relation to attracting young people in general.

If F1 wants to attract youth, it needs to figure out a way to get out of the rut it is stuck in. Namely, much like Pro Golf, F1 is a sport of and for crusty old white dudes (I’m white, not a race thing), and is where youth trends go to die. Let’s look at a few examples.

Not specific to F1, but more in golf….bright colours. Bright, bold colours were all the rage back in 2012, ’13. Rorey MacElroy is the first to go with bright coloured golf clothes. By the time the rest of the tour catches up, the youth are already on to the next.

In F1, the flat brim, fitted hats that all the drivers wear. Bulky flat brims were all the rage from about 2005-2010. Starting around ’10 ’11, we start to see popular youth icons starting to wear low profile, snap back style hats (like Odd Future). No one in F1 is wear snap backs.

Another example, Lewis Hamilton “dabbing”. I can’t remember which race this year (it was after Canada), when Lewis won and climbed out of the car, he “dabbed”. “The Dab” WAS a popular dance, brought to the forefront by The Migos around 2014. Cam Newton, QB for the Carolina Panthers, made it main stream by using it as his touchdown dance during the 2015 NFL season. First time anyone in F1 “dabbed” was half way through 2016…..and now I see that dance move in nearly every 2016 F1 montage I see.

So now put yourself in the position of a young person…even in the context of watching Hamilton (who I think is most connected with the youth of all the drivers, more than even Max). Watch one 30sec montage, and I see a guy in a flat brim hat from 5 years ago doing a dance move that my friends and I were doing 2 summers ago…..Ya this is a sport for crusty old people who try to latch on to our trends. Yo lets go do something (as opposed to sitting around watching other people do things).


Carlos seems to be talking very sensibly about 2017. He is turning out to be much better both as a driver and a commentator than many expected – me included. I think he will continue to be a worthy ‘go to’ an F1. Sincerely hope you are correct Carlos and lets face it, he will know much more than the fans can dream of appreciating about the wonders of F1.


I believe the new tyres will only make overtaking harder. If we want good overtakes and pure racing, we should get rid of the electronic gearboxes and grippy compounds and race with manual gearboxes and one, hard compound.


I say – a resounding “NO”. it won’t attract new fans and it will do quite the contrary – alienate long-standing fans.


Kevin Magnussen needs to crowd fund his ride for next year.
Looking forward to the faster cars but fatter tyres and more downforce is just making up for extra weight! 722 kg is getting closer to a ton than a feather.


Good point about mass. Exactly 10 years ago, the weight limit was 600 KG, and with refuelling permitted, everyone usually 2 stopped running skinny fuel loads, around 50KG to 60KG per stint, so the heaviest a car was after a pit stop was only around 660 KG.

As well as the 722 KG, there is also 100 KG of fuel, which means at it’s heaviest [the start] in 2017 will weigh at the red lights 822 KG. Using Top Gear Maths (C/O Professor Jezza Big Ape) that is a weight difference between the class of 2006 and the class of 2017 that works out at 162 KG……….even both cars at their lightest, there is still a difference of 122 KG.

122 KG is 122 bags of sugar (or [Mod]). Next time anyone goes shopping, try filling your trolley with 122 bags of granulated sugar and see how “easy” it is to steer, accelerate and brake. If you do manage, you can imagine how all that weight is going to affect the performance of a car trying to navigate the world’s racing circuits.


I still pine for cars that weighed in the 500 kilograms range. That was real formula 1. These bloated, overweight hybrids are merely a testament to the fact that in physics you can’t have something for nothing.

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