“Spectacular” 2017 F1 cars to be unveiled this month, but concerns aired on close racing
Renault 2016 F1 launch
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Feb 2017   |  2:35 pm GMT  |  232 comments

The new 2017 F1 cars will look ‘spectacular’ according to one leading team boss, but the team technical chiefs have been discussing concerns that the drivers will find it hard to follow each other and to race, due to the increased aerodynamic effect of the new rules.

At a meeting of team technical bosses yesterday at the FIA in Geneva, concerns were aired about the fact that the front wings are even more important than before and that one car following another, losing airflow and therefore downforce on the front wing, will find it hard to stay close enough through corners to try an overtake at the next braking zone.

This is not new, these views have been aired before, but the fact that the discussion comes just weeks before half of the teams will roll out their new cars, shows that the concerns have not gone away, despite extensive simulation in the teams’ factories.

Mercedes Red Bull 2016

It has also become clear through the simulations that, although there is a greater emphasis on aerodynamics, a powerful engine is still very important to push the ‘draggy’ car through the air. It is for this reason that Red Bull boss Christian Horner has been saying that he still believes Mercedes will have the edge in 2017.

It also appears that Ferrari has not been successful in its quest to ban the advanced suspension systems that create a shift of ride height between corners and straights, to optimise front wing downforce in the corners. Ferrari is late to the party on that, compared to teams like Red Bull and Mercedes that have advanced systems. A technical directive from the FIA is expected to clarify this situation imminently. It is not a promising situation for Ferrari, that underwent much upheaval last summer with the departure of James Allison and his replacement as technical director by Mattia Binotto at the time when the really important work was being done on 2017 cars.

The Italian is highly regarded and is seen as an excellent co-ordinator, but he faced an uphill task to rebalance and refocus the technical forces around 2016 development and 2017 innovation.

Mattia Binotto

Meanwhile there is optimism that the cars will make a positive impact visually when they roll out later this month. Renault, Force India and Mercedes all pull the wraps off their cars between 21 and 23 February, with McLaren and Ferrari unveiling their own challengers a day later. Toro Rosso has announced it will reveal the STR12 on 26 February.

Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff reckons the 2017 cars are going to look visually impressive as a result of the regulation changes, while former Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds has welcomed the fact that the championship won’t face repeat of the ugly noses many cars have sported in recent years.

In 2012 and 2014, F1’s regulations forced some teams to create striking approaches to their nose designs and this caused a storm of criticism directed at the look of the cars. In 2012 this took the form of awkward steps midway up the nosecones, while two years later many cars featured unsightly protrusions hanging over the front wing as the teams tried to create as much downforce as possible from that area and still comply with rules implemented to lower noses overall to reduce the risk of drivers getting injured in side impacts.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing -  Abu Dhabi Test - Day One - Abu Dhabi, UAE

“I am most excited to see how the new cars are going to go because we expect them to be much faster,” said Wolff. “They look spectacular, and it is going to be much more physical for the drivers.”

The last major overhaul of F1’s chassis rules in 2009 was also attacked for producing ugly cars, by Symonds believes the 2017 changes have avoided such a scenario.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, he said: “I think the cars look great. I’ve said before I was really worried that they’d look quite retro, but they don’t. They look quite nice.

“As with all these things, we could have tidied up a few areas and done things better to improve the aesthetics of the cars. But it’s not like the horrible [stepped-noses] things we had in 2012 or that sort of time.”

What do you make of the comments on the expected look of the 2017 cars? Do you think there will be a problem with close racing this year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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I quite liked the look of the 2009 cars with the wide front wing!

It will be interesting to see if there are any differences between the cars come Melbourne. I'm hoping we'll see different interpretations of the rules, particularly Red Bull. Here's hoping!


Newton's 2nd law - (down)force equals mass times acceleration............but..........

Newton's 3rd law - for every (downforce) action there will always be an equal and opposite (aerodynamic buffeting) reaction

According to good old Isaac's 3rd law, if BigMac slicks and a "barn door" rear wing is producing air that is deflecting downwards, then inevitably the same barn door rear wing must be producing high pressure that is deflected upwards..............right into the path of a following car! And not only is that turbulent air coming off the barn door rear wing "dirty", it's also very hot as well, causing tyre pressures on the following car to increase (i.e less mechanical grip) and for the hot air to be sucked into the radiators, denuding cooling and therefore producing less power. It's all Newton's laws of energy and conservation (see his magnus opus, Principia*). Are the gentlemen in Paris drafting the regs actually aware of good old Isaac and his laws of physics and motion?

Air, water and hydrocarbon fuel/oils are all Newtonian fluids, meaning they have a consistent viscosity at consistent temperatures - they expand in cool weather and "get thinner" in hotter conditions. So if the hot, dirty air coming off a barn door rear wing and Big Mac slicks increases the temperature of the air of a car following in the wake of another, it means the viscosity of the air drops, meaning less downforce, less grip, inability to overtake.............


Gaz dude, what are you talking about? The rear wing does not deflect the air downward, as if it does, it would be an aircraft wing creating lift and not downforce. Newton's laws of energy and … what? Air, water and hydrocarbon fuel/oils expand in cool weather? Only in your book.


John; you're right, the wing does initially deflect the air upwards, but since the car creates an area of lower pressure immediately behind, that air immediately rushed downward to fill that area of low pressure.

However, this happens way above the front wing of the following car so it isn't really an issue. That's why a lot of people are now saying that the answer is to simplify the front wing.

However, I think they've forgotten how small and simple the front wings were before the 2009 regulations made the rear ends of the cars look like vaginas, since back then the fans were advising the FIA to simplify the rear end, get rid of the diffuser, beam wing and anything else that creates "dirty air".

Personally I've had enough of this nonsense. I just want proper, pure uncompromised F1, as opposed to the F1 that doesn't quite know what it wants to be due to it's half-a**ed attempt to capture the unicorn that is a million overtakes per minute, which, by the way, F1 never had, not even in the pre-downforce era.


It's not mass times acceleration. It's mass times acceleration squared. With that being said the lowering of the rear wing and other rules to lower the disturbed air behind the car will not help. Even if the disturbed air behind the car would not be worse the breaking distances are much shorter.

This means passing will be terrible.


You are incorrect. Force = mass * acceleration. Energy = 1/2 * mass * velocity(squared).


Or lack of air behind a car because it displaced and relocated much of it thus resulting in less usable air for DF and cooling needs for the car following. Don't they call that the slip stream or something or another?


Devils-advocate.... Last time I looked the 'Renault Clio Cup' doesn't have much aero downforce and the racing is nose to tail!... but neither does the series possess many ultimate lap records or indeed packed grandstands so who knows what people want!? I guess F1 has chosen ultimate speed above all else... If F1 u-turned on aero how would it guarantee the status of fastest show on earth?


Richard Mee; the Renault Clio cup also has near-identical cars that are 50 seconds per lap slower than F1 cars and amateur drivers who make loads of driving errors.

That's why the racing is close and the grandstands empty.

As to what people want? The answer is, they always want what they don't have -- the grass is always greener on the other side.


@ Luke C....sometimes taking a long hard look at the lush green grass provides inspiration to 'have some of that'...hahaha


we will the outcome when the racing proper starts.
simulators are old in f1 so those who decide the rule changes could've used simulation software to understand the effect of those rule changes before implementation.


Well said - Is this a "motion" to eliminate wings and other down-force generating tweaks so as to improve racing in a 'pure' form?

Is there a second from the floor?


Yes. Make the front wing a single plane, like, tomorrow and then see the real drivers following each other and making passes.
So great! They made F1 look sexy again. That is after all whT it should be about. The fans complained loudest about the proboscis so now we have good looking cars that still can't race. Bernie would make it a single plane front wing tomorrow, so what will liberty do? If they don't react immediately it's an epic fail and not very "traditionally" f1. What do u expect from a company that is happy to sell naming rights to corners now! Corners ARE the heritage of F1. For sale to the biggest brewery, oil conglomerate, bank or telco...
BTW... fans were also complaining pretty loudly about the racing.
Is Liberty listening?


I you want to watch very close nose to tail racing with daring overtakes then watch touring cars. If you want to watch the best and fastest cars with the best drivers in a procession, watch f1
Simples 😀


If Newton was alive today, what would he recommend for the dreaded dirty air problem?

Probably more underbody generated downforce via ground effect venturi tunnels and sliding skirts, together with active suspension, multi element front wings to be banned (just a small strip with one element), and a skinny latte rear wing I guess. GE derives directly from Newton's 2nd law, the law of acceleration and energy conservation. The advantage is that the aerodynamic turbulence is trapped in the diffuser and underbody, rather than spoiling the airflow of a 10 element front wing. AS provides a consistent ride height that can adjusted electronically (and could be used by all constructors by a standardised actuator system).

I ask again, do the rule makers actually know Newton's laws? Do they know something good old Isaac didn't? If I punch a brick wall very hard, Newton's 3rd law of reactivity says I'm going to break my hand - do the gentlemen in Paris think they can rewrite Newton's 400 year laws of physics?


No, Gaz Boy, the rule makes don't know anything about the occult knowledge that is Newton's Laws. Nor are they familiar with Newton's texts on the subject of esoteric alchemy.


"I ask again, do the rule makers actually know Newton's laws?"

I think Mr. Bernoulli might have a couple questions for you 😉


Well I'd like to think so. Marvellous that as we get closer to the start of season the rocket scientists suddenly realise the effect of their changes. Geniuses, NOT.


Petes, nobody knows what the effect of the changes will be, not even rocket scientists....


I care less about what they look like, and more about how the competition will be between them.
The even increased dependence of the cars' overall aero function on the front wing, does NOT bode well for overtaking, but maybe somebody will find a way.
It seems very strange, and yet another bad example of the rules governing and enforcement that while the FRIC was banned, the 'cheat' FRIC-like system is going to be allowed (why not just allow the FRIC? there would probably be cost savings associated with it compared to the 'cheat' FRIC).
It's this stuff with the FRIC/'cheat' FRIC which antagonizes me; GAMING THE SYSTEM!
Whoever makes these rules is under the influence of the teams that have a well-developed 'cheat' FRIC; so they can game a half a season or so, over those who don't have it.
But by the end of the year, all the top teams will have HAD to invest and get the system going.
When the unfair advantage is over for the forerunners, I bet then, we'll see the ban on the 'cheat' FRIC.
And they talk of cost caps?!?
What a sour joke.


Sounds awful close to a 'second' if Gaz' comments were, indeed, a motion to ban/truncate aerodynamic aids.

If there is no further discussion, am calling for the question.

All in favor vote "Aye" All those opposed, same sign.


I am not a Gazboy....
... I am... a ...deancassady!
But I think his posts on this topic are illuminating and correct.

I'm not, per se, against anything, except the useless, irrational... much worse than incompetent, rules governing and enforcement, which, in front of the turbulent churn of political machinations, idiotically jeopardizes the sport, typically rewarding the 'gamers' (maybe you'll want more traction on what I mean by 'gamers'; you could look at: https://urblurb.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/gaming-is-taking-the-world-down/ ).
Now, I know it's been all about 'gaming the system' for years, but I don't think the enterprise can afford it anymore.
Last season was terrible!
2015 - pathetic!
2014 - strange, but not in a good way, and ultimately uncompetitive.

You can see the trend.
It's not good.

I'm hoping that Ross can completely re-engineer this system (I can recommend a very proficient business process engineer).

The 'cheat FRIC-like' system should be banned, if not, FRIC should be allowed.
What's the diff?!?


Disagree. Those years saw an intensity of rivalry we'll be hard pressed to come across again this decade. Unless max v dr turns out to be completely cold-blooded! What an era!!


James, I refer to the comments made by Phil Charles last week on this website. He said that because of the shorter braking distances it would be much harder to overtake, comparing it to an ever decreasing target. I think that will lead to a big gap between the haves and the have-nots in other the words those drivers who are able to overtake in a clean way as opposed to using brawn.


Yes, the faster the cars, and the better the braking performance the more difficult it is to pass. This is as true in karting and formula ford as it is in F1.


If we measure one straight and one corner then yes. However a track is a series of those and if, for example the 2017 cars can go flat through Turn 3 where 2016 had to lift, then they will carry more speed onto the next straight and the next braking zone. And it could well be that this braking zone into hypothetical Turn 4 will in fact be longer than previously.


Indeed - seems like peak deceleration could increase by a full "G" which will shorten braking zones dramatically.

Another corollary of the shorter breaking distances, shown by the simulations, is reduced energy recovery on many circuits.


reduced energy recovery on many circuits....

I'm not saying you are wrong, trying to start an argument, or claiming any level of expertise. But if the stopping distance is shorter and the speeds higher then wouldn't the energy required to slow the car be greater? Is it a limitation of the recovery systems which is the problem , i.e. they cannot 'grab' the energy in a shorter time?


Initially I expect (guess) the cars will be slower on the straights due to more drag. They will also carry more speed thru' the corners thus the available energy that can be recovered will reduce. This may be offset somewhat by the additional mass of the new cars however this mass then has to be accelerated again so will not be a net benefit.
Cars with more power and more efficient energy recovery could trump cars with better aero.


I've thought a bit about the cars being slower in a straight line due to drag increase from aero. I wonder about it though since they will be able to be on throttle out of corners much sooner and more aggressively with more mechanical grip from the new tires, especially the ones where it's point and shoot Tilke corners. So they should be up to speed much quicker, I guess it depends how much power they're making to push the car thru the drag.


I read somewhere that one of the TP's (I think it was anyway) was saying 2017 will still be an engine formula. Personally I think that's good and how motor racing should be - I appreciate not everyone will agree with me though 🙂


Won't the extra downforce help slow them down though?


I believe it would - I seem to recall Brundle saying years ago, that the retardation from the aero on an F1 car was roughly equivalent to the braking force in a family saloon. That was way back when Brundle started commentating so I would imagine the family saloon stops a fair bit better now but I don't know about the F1 car aero. Something else he used to say was the cars could [in theory] travel on the roof of the tunnel at Monaco - do they still develop that kind of downforce ?


@C63 - I had the same thoughts when I read the analysis (by Furbatto, ex Toro Rosso engineer). I am assuming that because the cornering speeds are higher, the speed shed in braking will be lower, so coupled with the shorter time under braking the energy "captured" will be less. Just a guess - maybe one of the boffins here will weigh in?


@redline...are there any boffins here.....?


Maybe pure captured braking energy, but I would guess a lot of the captured energy isn't captured during braking. Just like when KERS was first adopted.


Higher cornering speeds etc - these are points I hadn't considered. As you say, we need a boffin.

Gareth (the Philadelphia one)

Double Extra Drag Reduction System to the rescue!


DEDR System, double fakeness to allow racing, but how would it work...

How about the lead car's DRS wing opens during the corner and the following car's opens on the straight but only when in the slipsteram...


Suck and blow at the same time!


Yayy, processional racing for another season. Might as well keep hibernating until at least March 2018 or probably beyond. I suppose there's a greater chance of crashes if the cars are more brutal .... that is if the tyres allow the cars to be pushed to the limit!


You couldn't make this up: Teams agree on rules to make overtaking easier then complain when they realise they were wrong!


These rules weren't created for easier overtaking.


The brief I think was for more aggressive cars and reduced lap times. There were many engineers pointing out the obvious negatives at the time but the were ignored as usual.


Jakethesnake; essentially the brief was to return these cars to their former glory, so that they can be worthy of the F1 moniker again.

This was the only rational direction to take given that the downforce stripping and speed reducing trend that characterised the last 8 years simply did not work, and actually made F1 less appealing and less exciting.

An improvement in aesthetics was also long, long overdue, and the fact that viewers will no longer have to avert their eyes every time they see an F1 will also help.


Perhaps having the teams agree on overtaking isn't the best way to go, as those teams won't particularly want to be overtaken easily!


Indeed they agree on rules to make overtaking easier in 2009 and they turned it to be wrong.


Quite simply if as the article states the cars are even more dependent on front wing aerodynamics then the close racing is going to suffer and if it is dependent on engine power the we could be looking at same old same old,If Renault do have a completely new design of ICE then that could be an issue for RBR especially at the start of the season,there V8 design needed a lot of help to catch up after the rules were frozen and I think there initial hybrid design speaks for itself,hope not but Mercedes could the dominant force yet again.


F1 is full of gamblers. Like with the engine change they agreed to it all then scuttled away convinced they had the best sneaky ideas.
Obviously many will be wrong but they can then whine its all so unfair and all the names involved in the process will be brushed under the carpet again and everyone will blame Bernie especially as he's incommunicado growing coffee somewhere.


I'm a fan, I couldn't care less if the cars are a few inches wider or the noses are different. I WANT TO SEE REAL RACING!

In no particular order: Genuine (non DRS) overtaking, tyres that can be pushed rather than 'managed', less interference from the stewards.. If the cars are a bit of a handful - even better!

I can't believe that going into a new season we are STILL talking about the same problems. This is symptomatic of what has gone before, come on Liberty, I dare you to sort this mess out.

Hopefully Ross Brawn has a cunning plan.....


It is what happens when you have relatively open regulations and unlimited budgets. It has always been processional racing in F1 aside from the tires Pirelli made to make the racing a coin toss. Watch NASCAR or Indy if you want lots of passing.


You won't get close racing this year.
Firstly the dirty air will make it difficult to overtake even with the fake DRS.
Newey at Red Bull may love aero but aero also creates bad air. Which is impossible to overtake in.
Engine power is the main issue.
Heavy cars need bigger engines. Renault has not got the same power as a Mercedes engine. Mercedes power units will be the things to beat.
Mark Webber states that the engine is the overall factor.
Mercedes will be still in a better place than the rest.

Tornillo Amarillo

Some bets put Renault ahead of Force India and Williams.


Are they ever going to get around the dirty air conundrum? They could refine these cars to the nth degree, but a car moving through the air is always going to create a wake.


BigHaydo. You hit the nail on the head, all they can do is reduce the damage done by increasing the mechanical grip, by widening the track and fitting wider tyres for example.....


Or just increase the reliance on pure mechanical grip without the downforce.


Spectacular & nice from Wolff and Symonds, with Tim Goss saying the cars are mean and cool. Apparently tiring to drive due to higher G forces - which are also sustained as many corners will not require any braking. Tyres that are meant to last much longer. Difficult to overtake due to aerodynamics.

If all the above is true, it would seem that the fastest car in qualifying, should win most every race. Luckily we will be able to enjoy the spectacularly nice cool meaness as the cars rotate in a procession.

Does anyone else feel that F1 seems to be caught up in a sporting equivalent of groundhog day? Weren't all the changes over the past years made to avoid this?

Oh well predictions have been wrong many times lately, so I hope these are too and the racing is close. As it would have been anyway if the rules were left alone thus allowing the teams to catch up with each other.

Tornillo Amarillo

But Max is unpredictable, maybe Alonso will be back in contention, Bottas will do a lot for the show, Hamilton breaking records, Vettel will lost his mind... It would be fun anyway!


Oh my goodness. This was as predictably foreseen as anything could be. The new regs are laughable now as they were on introduction, and a giant step in the wrong direction. No surprise. Still photos may look good? Racing?
Forget it. F1 is in ICU.


At this rate, we may once again have to rely on the mid-field for racing action or when one or two of the top cars find themselves out of position and have to fight through the pack.
I have to say, I've got a very bad feeling that Ferrari will struggle, I hope I'm wrong.


Then let's reduce the size of the front wings !!!
And make the cars much lighter, too. They are heavy, and you can see it on TV (in partic compared to the 2000-2008 era !)


Is that your knee I see jerking?


Babinski; there is knees jerking all over this comment section. If you ask me this is very disrespectful to Ross Brawn, who vowed to never implement knee jerk ideas.


So FIA is responsible for the sporting and technical rules and regulations of the championships under their supervision.
If that's correct, I never got it why did F1 needed to lower the noses in 2014 and beyond (on the safety grounds), while GP2 and GP3 cars still didn't have to. If it is dangerous to have it high, it is dangerous in every form of motorsport just as well. Or I'm missing something?
In F1 there's too much talk and concern about safety, and I can understand why.
But at the same time rallying is done on ice, gravel, mud etc, with trees and spectators alike hanging next to the cars going insane speeds.
Where's the safety concern there?
FIA are bunch of hypocrites, to say the least.


Thing with rallying is....look at Monaco a spectator died this year. The crowds in Rallying hang out in clumps close to the cars. Which is all part and parcel of rallying. In the mid 80s it was a major danger as spectators played chicken against the onslaught of the super powerful British group cars. Similar scenes you get at the Tour de France on the Hill and mountain climbs where spectator interaction is a nightmare with urine being chucked at the cyclists or the annoying back slap that saps more energy of the cyclist. So health safety has a place in motor sport and other sports.
I do agree that too much safety will destroy the soul and look of F1 especially with the giant sandal flip flop roll cage (which needs to be kicked out asap). DRS needs to go as should too much aero . Engines should be cracked up unlike what the Toro Rosso team Principals is saying. He wants Mercedes to freeze their engine development so Ferrari and Red Bull could catch up. What madness you'd never have Red Bull or Ferrari doing that if they were winning. Dr.Marko using Tost as the mouth piece of Red Bulls A Team. That's sad .


I know that's the part of rallying heritage, but never the less it was just as well part of the F1 heritage a while ago, but gotten changed. If one governing body takes care of all aspects of motor racing, then at least safety rules should be deployed all over their jurisdiction.
They cannot go and say, this and this is done in F1 in the name of the safety, but the same thing doesn't apply to the very next step in their own hierarchy.
BTW I'm a keen hobby cyclist for decades (I cycled a lot as a part of my rowing practice - in rowing I did some serious competitions - 3 times at Olympics among others), and every year I enjoy watching big tour races. Always I feel horrible for the poor guys pushing as hell on those mountains, with all those morons running and pushing, throwing stuff etc. all over them.
But to do the same thing in front of a rallying car one have to be a idiot.


Krako, Yep only complete idiots play fast and loose in front of an oncoming Rally Car.


It does on the paper at least looks exciting towards the beginning of 2017 season to begin, however Mr Allen perhaps will answer my point in question ?, " Why " 13 inch rims are regulation of 2017, one would thought the 13 inch rims of early 60 / 70 are beyond their use by date . Why not the 17 inch plus, plus, La Mans type Reg, would look good, safer and better racing.


That big tall tire sucks up a lot of vertical motion when it hits a bump. With a low profile tire all that compliance (and there is a LOT of it - watch a tire in slow motion over the kerbs) has to be replaced with bigger springs and dampers, and I don't think the teams want to try to get all that extra mass and volume inside the bodywork. And I kind of like the look of them, but that might just be because I have been looking at them for decades 🙂


You think bigger rims will make for better racing? O.o


"This is not new, these views have been aired before, " Yes indeed that is what many of us said last time, but of course no one took any notice, nor have they this time. Although the diffuser has been increased in size and presumably downforce effect at on the back half of the car. But to balance that the front wing needs to be more aggressive than before.
So in fact we can expect there to be no close slipstreaming. but perhaps there will be sufficiently still (relatively) air to the side of the car in front, Verstappen may shine here in finding downforce, where others dare not go. However the cars are 8 inches wider and there will be less space to pass.
It may therefore look like a Formula Ford race at times! Many "offs" Much will depend on the new stewards' guidelines. An engraved, embossed, gold leaf, invitation to pass may not be needed this season. Let us hope not anyway.


Why don't we just wait and see what happens? If we want cars to be able to follow each other without any problems, then just ban all downforce and they will be able to do that easily. The cars would be around a minute a lap slower than they are now, but hey we solved a problem!
the new cars will have more mechanical grip from the wider track and tyres, waking them less aero reliant than before, and if Pirelli have kept their promise, the drivers should be able to lean on those tyres more than previously was the case.
My prediction is that complaints from fans will be based on who is winning, performance convergance only comes when rules are left alone for a significant period.



Make the cars very light, by getting rid of PU in exchange for light N/A loud engine. Less than 600kg. Let's go for 550kg, nice number.
Put enormous diffusers on the cars, go down ground effect route.
Ban intricate front wings, have a simple front wing.
Get 2 tyre suppliers (tyre war is realistically only way to achieve this) to produce the most advanced and brilliant tyres that produce unprecedented amounts of grip.
I reckon the above would lead to pretty fast cars that aren't 1 minute slower.

Top teams would reject this if course because they love their wind tunnels and close racing doesn't feature on their list of priorities.


NickH, the teams would need their wind tunnels even more to optimise those diffusers, and they would still be less efficient when running in dirty air than clean. 550kg wouldn't be achievable with the high cockpit sides and crash structures that the rules demand, and who is going to build those engines? You think the current manufacturers would want to stick around having invested so much in the PUs? I think making the best of what we have is a far more sensible option. The engines will get lighter, so will the chassis, it's what F1 teams do.


You think the current manufacturers would want to stick around having invested so much in the PUs?

Well if audiences and interest continues to fall then yes I think there is a chance they would. Mercedes might leave but I can see the rest staying.

Right so basically the teams need to stop having so much influence on the rules. Which other big sports have so much swing in what rules they do and don't like?! It's like Man City arguing over which players Man Utd can or cannot buy. Brawn and co should devise a set of rules with no input from the teams whatsoever and tell the teams to get on with it.

I thought Brawn wants to change the engines in 2020/21 anyway?! And the weight of the cars dramatically increased directly because of the PUs in the first place.

If the tyres are brilliant next year then this might save the season. If the tyres are good enough to completely offset the turbulence and stop cars sliding around behind another car then I'll be happy. If they are not then I would ask why aren't they?! Bridgestone were putting grooved tyres on Schuey's Ferrari that would blow the offerings from Pirelli out of the water, and that was about 15 years ago.

Surely this is the answer. Make the tyres so good, that turbulence does not affect a car's grip when following another car. If there is no aerodynamic solution, then I don't really see many other alternatives. I would welcome a tyre war, it would be fascinating to see what they could produce these days bearing in mind what Bridgestone and Michelin were producing well over a decade ago.


@ Nick H...As you probably well know, i have been a staunch advocate of multiple tyre suppliers for many many years. I really did want to see michelin back in to the F1 supply chain. I recall mark webber saying just how good michelin tyres were and how hard he could push them. Some people, who have a dislike of anything webber says argued but then Hulkenberg went on his way to co drive a win at le mans and he said the same, just how great those tyres were. They, or at least one other supplier must get a run sometime in the future. That would also help this current dilemma...if there really is one!


Nick, Im not so sure about levels of interest and audiences continuing to drop. tv ratings peaked in 2009 and started to fall thereafter, but I believe they have stabilised somewhat since then. I really doubt that Renault and Honda would want to stick with a formula that has cost them so much, for so little up to now. If the Pus hadn't been introduced it is unlikely that either of them would be involved today, take them away and they would be long gone.
Making tyres so good that the aero doesn't matter is not possible, you can reduce the effect of dirty air by increasing mechanical grip, but you can't remove it.
I'm a bit undecided on tyre wars to be honest, there are up and down sides in my view, what if we have a situation like the Ferrari?Bridgestone era when you have the best supplier designing bespoke tyres specifically for the best driver who already has the best car? You end up with even more domination than we have now! I saw an interview with Monisha after one of the races last season where she said that Bridgestone used to pay Sauber to run their tyres. This was done to satisfy the FIA regs on the minimum number of teams that have to be supplied, without ending up supplying McLaren or Williams who may have been a threat to their primary customer if they had the same tyres. This kind of scramble to supply one quick team, and as many backmarkers as possible isn't good for the sport.


Hey Tim, as an aside and not related to this debate (but worth noting IMO) - did you see that VW have announced they are abandoning small diesels in their model range and replacing them with..... wait for it.... petrol/electric hybrids! Not full electric, but hybrids - it raised a smile when I read it 🙂


C63. I guess they might have spoken to their customers and were told that not all of them have a garage, or a drive, or even get to park outside their front door! I was thinking the other day about full electrics, and what would happen if everyone switched to them. How much would it cost to fit every parking bay in a multistory car park with a charging point? How many cars pull into a motorway service station for fuel in an hour? How many charging points would be required to replenish all of those vehicles? Remembering that a petrol pump can give a car a 400 mile range in a couple of minutes. All big questions that need to be answered, but never seem to be by our resident expert on these matters.
Did you read about Honda's solar powered hydrogen filling station? It generates it's own product on site, in sunny Swindon! Fuel cells would appear to be the answer for people who live in apartment blocks and terraced houses, or need to travel more than a few hundred miles in a day.


You have raised a very good point there and not one that I had considered - to be fair I spend almost none of my time considering the problems of a world were all the cars are electric 🙂 In London alone there must be tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of cars which are just parked on the road in whatever space the owner can find. How would they charge their cars? It's kind of ironic when you consider it, as London would probably benefit most from electric vehicles and it's also a place where they would work well. Thats quite a problem to overcome - one amongst many. On your other point I had heard about the Honda thing and in the back of my mind I seem to recall that is an area they are getting into big time (I think they are doing it as some kind of joint venture, can't remember who with).


C63, I think the future UK car fleet will be a mix of various power trains depending on peoples needs. Full electric will work for some, but not others, hydrogen fuel cells will be a more expensive, but more convenient option for those who can't get on with electric, and hybrids will feature heavily. Diesel is the current default option for fleet buyers who make up the majority of new car buyers, but with more cities banning their use, higher taxation levels and the increased costs of manufacturing derv burners that satisfy ever more stringent emissions regs, these will very soon become much less financially viable. As soon as a hybrid becomes cheaper to run than a diesel, their sales will skyrocket.


Well I am willing to wait and see - although I admit I'm doing it with just a bit of skepticism. I am hoping that as the aero/mechanical grip proportion tilts more toward mechanical racing will improve, but some other changes seem more likely to lead to parades.
And I don't have a favourite driver now anyway, so as long as the winner gets the win through hard racing I won't have anything to complain about 😉


PatM, a very small percentage of all the Grand Prix wins have been earned through hard racing, an inevitable by product of allowing different cars to be raced against each other.


I know Tim, but the hope that the next race win will be a result of hard racing is what keeps me tuning in from week to week 🙂


Pat, yes we all look forward to those races, maybe the new rules will lead to more of them, maybe not, who knows?!


I hope so, and we will see how things turn out. I am kind of sad to admit it, but no matter how the racing turns out I will be watching anyway - been watching too long to stop now.


PatM. I watch and enjoy all the races, for me the different layers the sport contains is what makes it so enthralling. Sometimes the race is exciting, but even if it isn't there is always something going on. If the front runners are just cruising around, there may be a battle down the order, even if there isn't the comparison between team mates and individual teams keeps my interest.


TimW; these people are not interested in waiting and seeing what happens. They are hurt because the F1 regulations have binned their expert aero recommendations. You know, the ones that that gave us those amazingly exciting, beautiful cars that could overtake easily since 2009.


Luke, Ha ha, yes how I will miss those stunners, and all the great races they brought us! I watched an old clip from a Long Beach GP in the early eighties the other day, James Hunt was doing the commentary and went into great detail about how difficult it is to follow another car through a corner as the dirty air cause your own wings to lose downforce. He was talking from first hand experience of this problem when he was driving in the seventies!


@TimW - Not that simple with the tyres it seems. They've been designed for the target downforce at the end of 2017 to account for in-season aero development. Apparently cars that are deficient in downforce may struggle to get the tyres to work optimally, particularly at the start of the season.


redline, if I thought Pirelli were capable of designing tyres to that level of precision I would be concerned!


If the cars will struggle to get heat into the new tyres then surely the answer is more downforce, not less. Either that or go back to the crappy high deg tyres.


LukeC, or just soften the compound. I think without the artificial thermal deg problem the free choice of tyre will come into it's own this season.


Or just make amazing tyres that offer fantastic grip all the time.


NickH, but then everyone would be flat out all the time, you need some deg.


OK, amazing for 15-18 laps and then severe deg. Not this gradual deg we have had for years.


Nick, sounds good to me.


Tim 🍻.


Errrr, yes that's exactly what I said - low downforce cars may suffer. T


Sounds like an even better "second" to the question posed by GAZ above.


Garrett, if you mean using ground effect instead of wings, then I'm afraid Gazboy is mistaken in believing that would solve the problem. If a racing car is using the air in any way to generate downforce, then that air being turbulent will have an effect on the cars ability to generate that downforce. The problem is only solveable by not having downforce, but then the cars would be painfully slow and it wouldn't be Formula one anymore.


My prediction is that complaints from fans will be based on who is winning...

Twas ever thus 🙂


C63, sure was! A Mercedes cakewalk wouldn't go down well, but I see no reason for it not to happen.


Frankly I don't care too much what the cars look like, or what actual speed they are doing, as long as there is decent competition and the drivers are actually racing, not driving miss daisy for 90% of the race as they can't afford to ruin the tyres. 20-odd ugly cars all with a chance of victory and close racing is much more appealing than a 20 car high-speed nose to tail procession.


Yes, we've all heard this before. " I don't care what they look like, I don't care what they sound like, I don't care if they race on bicycle wheels and I don't care if they are slower than the family saloon, as long as the drivers are actually racing. "

Come on.


I confess I miss the Gatorham... had some good laughts on that nose. xP
Engines hv more weight this season bcs {on passenger cars}:
Drag = Cx * {Frontal Area}

Since Frontal Area will increase due to the wider tires and beefier suspension arms in order to handle more tire grip, total drag will increase too.
On the other hand winged formula cars have wing drag too and since the rear wing goes lower {hidden}, the rear wing drag will decrease.
What will result from the sum of these opposing drivers/vectors ?
For sure I predict some overtakers to loose it's tail and crash into the overtaken car.
Eg: Vettel crashing into Button at Spa.


The funny thing is, the photo above isn't even the one in its' most awkward guise...


It's like a fueling pillar for a fighter jet. Or a way to artificially insemination an elephant 😄


Prototype for Mr Buzzy?!??


I take it that the cars punching a slightly wider hole in the air isn't going to help provide tows down the straights? You barely hear drivers talk about slipstreaming any longer; just its evil twin, dirty air. Is the effect smaller than ever nowadays or is it just insignificant compared to DRS?


So they won't be able to race each other, but at least the cars will look nice. Great!
In truth, they'll still look like they fell out of the ugly tree, but they might have hit slightly fewer branches on the way down. We've forgotten what a genuinely good-looking racing car is. 1967 is so long ago.


Good example, TimW - that Matra MS7 was a nice looking car in 1967! Then in about '69 someone had the bright idea to rivet a tea tray to either side of the nose. And they put that shelf on the rear, which I'm sure was a handy place to lay out your tools when working on the engine, but it didn't improve the looks!


They will look nice, but how will they sound? It's all good to have a pretty singer, as long as she can sing!


Can Usain Bolt sing?


Singing doesn't require excessive volume, of course. It has been nice to hear some subtle notes in recent years, compared to the deafening scream of the past.


Subtle notes...

Yes I suppose that is definitely one way of describing these engines.


Sebee; apparently we now no longer care about what the cars sound like, what they look like, and how fast they are. As long as they are actually racing.


But that's what it comes down to. People fail to grasp this point LukeC. I raced a guy to the coffee line up by walking more briskly. Just racing isn't Formula 1. What we want is balls to the wall, human limits forces racing in machiens that are faster than humans. And F1 just isn't supplying this.

They constantly take aspects of marathon distance race and try to insert them into 100m sprint, where they don't belong. What they are doing is basically saying "OK boys, go out there and have your 100m race, as long as no one finishes in a time faster than 10 seconds." And to me, this is disgusting, repulsive, and fake. F1 viewers know something is wrong when they watch it. They sense that something just isn't right. This is basically what it is that is wrong. Well, that and the fact that some of those allowed to race the 100m in a time of 10s or more only aren't allowed to have sprinter spike shoes.


Luke, have we ever had all three at the same time? Sound and look great, and close racing? I can think of times with two, but not all three.


I think the racing was fine in the mid to late nineties. I think 2007 and 2008 were very exciting -- infinitely more exciting than anything we've had since the 2009 regs were adopted. 2009 was reasonable but the aesthetics were gone with the new regs at that point, So yes, I can think of times when we had all three.


07 nad 08 were definitely exciting seasons, but I always thought the V8 cars sounded ok, rather than great. The aesthetics in that era were for me, a bit over fussy as well, I never did look at a 1.8m car and think "wow that looks great". The nineties probably have the best claim, but close racing was far from guaranteed in those days. I have enjoyed all of the thirty plus seasons of F1 I have followed, but I think I will enjoy next year a little more than the last few.


Im no aerodynamicist but surely the fia should be looking to put regulations in place so that the rear of the cars produce a little wake/turbulence as possible. I haven't heard this theory discussed but have heard ground effect, less sussetable front wings.

Ready to be shot down on this point.


As I understand it, the cars don't leave as much wake as they did twenty or more years ago. When the teams' knowledge of aerodynamics was far less advanced they say that you could get a tow from about fifty metres behind the car ahead, if I remember correctly. That is now more like ten metres.

Another possibility could be that allowing cars to take alternative lines around corners could help reduce the impact of dirty air. If you're obliged to run on one racing line due to the amount of tyre marbles accumulating during the race, opportunities to pass will become limited. Tyre and track design could potentially help.


They should have at least instigated some testing, track and sim, to identify the best methods of targeting the wake/turbulence/dirty air penalising the following driver, effect. To see if they could target the rear of the lead car as well as say altering front wings of the following cars for less disruption.

The dirty air effect seems worse in recent years, highlighted by the big gaps between cars and teammates struggling to race against their car infront.

Heck, start testing by comaring the current (7 blade curves and flicks and puncture endplate blades) monstrosity and sticking on a 1990s Senna front wing. Follow a teammate and gather the data, do it for all the teams you can.

The greater aero reliance seems like a necessity to combat the gap to the Mercedes pole getting PU, or at least give Newey a chance to close up to Merc. So the extra aero reliance combined with the PUs may very well lead to less wheel to wheel action, requiring different strategies and Pirellis, and Max to spin to the back early on, just for some action!

It's a vicious circle, PU gaps, more aero, dirty air effect worse...

It's back to the Merc PU, again, it's like playing rock paper scissors then along comes Merc with their PU and no matter if you say 'rock' or 'paper' or 'scissors', they always get to say 'shotgun', and the game is ruined...


I agree. The over regulation of precisely what the teams can do also deters new ideas, improvisations and innitiative. Rather than being more and more prescriptive around wing dimensions, heights and rakes, why not say that they can effectively have whatever wings they like (within some limits obviously) and regulate the EFFECT. So F1 Team, go and build what you like, but to comply with regulations your drag, or dirty air or whatever turbulence measure can be implemented, cannot exceed a set amount. You'd presumably have to have max turbulence at various speeds and at min/max wing setup. Put the car in the tunnel on max setup and measure it at 50, 100 & 150mph. do the same on min setup. something like that!


Not only have, "these views have been aired before," but it was completely obvious that this would be the result of the new rules. Well, at least the cars will look better for the parade and, since they are to be faster, it won't last as long.

Maybe the new management can turn this around, but rule making in F1 has lately been a complete disaster for the sport, and no one ever listens to the obvious. This is exactly like the situation with knockout qualifying last year -- the strategists told them exactly what would happen but they ignored that and went ahead with it anyway, and exactly what was predicted is what happened. Now, they ignored what was predicted based on the new design rules, and suddenly they realize racing will be even more boring as a result. Oy!


Why has the rule making been a disaster for the sport? They've been dong pretty much what the fans have been asking for, particularly with regards to the aero regulations.

Why can't anybody see that they've pretty much gone as far as possible in that direction, and short of banning aero altogether nothing more can be really done to make overtaking easier. And if there is a solution, no one knows what that souktio is. Except the aero experts here and other F1 forums, of course.


Why has the rule making been a disaster for the sport? They've been dong pretty much what the fans have been asking for

I'm confused. Your question seems non-rhetorical, yet you then go ahead and answer it in the next sentence...


Which fans have been asking for this? As far as I've seen, most fans have been asking for less aero, not more.


Iceman; that's what I'm talking about: less aero. They have been doing what the fans have asked for since 2009 and it didn't improve F1 one iota.


Quite. There's an extraordinary amount of F1 fans on these fora blessed with "CFD Eyes" that should be pitching their services to Newey & co or the FIA rule committee.


As pointed out above, knockout qualifying was a disaster. Engine development rules (relaxed now) gave us three years of uncontested Mercedes dominance. And the current rules governing car development are likely to limit overtaking even more and lead to even more boring races. The DRS gimmick, as a way to increase overtaking, has cheapened the sport as gimmicks always do.

The problem with "doing what the fans have been asking for," is twofold. First, the way the fans' requests have been interpreted and answered has not led to more interesting racing, but the opposite. Secondly, the fans want more interesting races, beyond that it's pointless to ask them specifically how that should be achieved because they don't really know. Faster, better looking cars won't make for a more interesting race.

But, you're right, what they need to do is severely restrict aero (something most fans have not been asking for), because aero is the enemy of interesting races, and the current rules are a big step in the wrong direction.


Anonymous Pi; the biggest enemy of intersting races is performance disparity between teams, especially when combined with the kind of predictability we've had to put up with for the last three years.

Every era of F1, regardless of the aero situation has thrown up interesting and dramatic races. And every era produced some amazing overtakes, again regardless of aero.

I really don't belle that aero is as much of an issue as some people will have us believe.


@ lukeC have you asked the drivers if they think aero is an issue?


Kenneth; I know that some drivers have been complaining about aero being an issue since the mid 70s. There have also been drivers who have complained about white lines being too slippery in the wet, bumps making it too uncomfortable for them, kerbs being too high and steering too heavy.

At the end of the day these guys are being paid obscene amounts of money to drive racing cars, and they need to learn deal with and overcome the challenges, aero buffeting included.


One thing that I'm worried about are the tyre regulations that force the top 10 into starting on the Q2 tyre and also then forcing them to put on another set of the "mandatory" tyre. What this means is that for one stop races there will literally be zero variety in tyre strategy. We've seen over the years, especially in 2010, how these two rules can really ruin a great race as strategy doesn't become a factor.


spectacular action and car control would come from skinny tyres and small wings. The people involved in all these rules must have looked at a 5-9 years old childs toys.
will be big accidents if a usually on rails cars crashes.
maybe thats the idea.


Duh! Sometimes you really have to wonder about F1.

"concerns were aired about the fact that the front wings are even more important than before and that one car following another, losing airflow and therefore downforce on the front wing, will find it hard to stay close enough through corners to try an overtake at the next braking zone."


Here's some basic physics: wider cars on the same already narrow tracks will make it more difficult to pass other cars without hitting them! Duh!


I look forward to a return of the lower and wider rear wings. The current ones always looked ridiculous. The release of the Manor scale model is promising that we will have some very striking and good looking cars. The aerodynamic effect was always going to be predictable when they didn't announce any changes to the front wing designs to stop their complexity. However I hope over the course of the year we see a solid plan put in place by Ross Brawn on rule changes for car design to encourage close racing. Fingers crossed anyway.


I'm SO sad they have missed the boat AGAIN... reducing lap times by 5 seconds really won't be noticeable, while the aero/overtaking problems still persist. Makes me mad. They should have changed the other way - work on reducing the aero/following/overtaking problem, EVEN if it meant drastically reducing aero/wings etc and even if it SLOWED the cars a bit. Let the drivers earn their $$$$$ driving the car even if it has less grip - a least then we (and they) can enjoy more-natural (and non-DRS-aided) overtaking. But... too late now (again). Sigh.


They have been reducing the aero for 8 years now. It did nothing of any significance. The cars were only marginally quicker than GP2 cars in the corners and the drivers found them boring to drive. This is not what F1 is supposed to be about.


For how much the looks of these 2017 cars have been hyped up, the better look beyond spectacular.

It'll be typical 21st century solution to improving a product - "look everyone, look at our shiny bobbles, look how amazing we look," meanwhile, doing absolutely nothing to fix core issues, improve fundamental aspects, and base dicesssions off of attracting new, fly-byy-night casual fans all while taking the regular and core fans for granted.

It's like F1 has been taking business tips from leading videogame publishers.


One thing I brought up a while back and has been talked about before, yet no real movement on it, was to limit the number of front and rear wing designs that a team can bring to the track. If we limit the number to say 5 for the whole year, that includes the rear as well, then cost would come down. The team can bring as many of the 5 designs to cover breakage to the track etc.....We have a limited number of PU per driver, per season, same with gearbox's, plus in a limited way tyres. So why not limit the number of new wing designs a team can use. The team can interchange the wings - mix & atch them to suit the track they are on. Get it wrong and you lose, get it right and you win. More of a lottery, with the little boys a fighting chance.
What it will do is bring back a chassis with a lot more mechcanial grip, and driver skills. We the fans don't see any of the $ millions that are spend on aero - wing designs, and really have very little to do with cross over to the average street motorcar, so why spend all this money on something, that has little to no cross over. It is a mad way to spend money. (F1 is good at that)
We want to see over taking done by the driver, now it would appear the aero impact on the front wing means if they are right - that over taking will be very limited. Not a good show.


was just thinking something very similar! Let them create two or three wings with no ability to adjust them. The teams need to weigh if they should target best config for certain tracks while expecting to be slow at others or find a general config that works for all tracks but might not be the best. Could be an interesting experiment and would definitely mix up some race orders.


It has been said a few times on TV that each new wing the teams bring is worth about $250,000 per wing and some teams bring 5 or 6 new design wings to each GP, and in some cases never run them. What a waste of money.
If we return to the chassis doing all or most of the work, then the aero effect is low, and the driver is back on control of the car. Also most of the chassis work - development can be crossed over to the average motorcar, where as wings, well we don't see them on cars do we? Maybe planes, but I though this was a road race, played out on the ground not in the air.


"shows that the concerns have not gone away, despite extensive simulation in the teams’ factories."

Despite extensive simulations? Concerns have increased precisely because of the simulations I would guess. Not a good sign. F1 decision makers.... brilliant, clever and completely unable to see past the nose on their face.


Unfortunately we're likely to see the return to lift-and-coast and other such fuel saving strategies. Full throttle usage will apparently "on average" increase from 50% to 65% of a lap. So fuel consumption will likely increase by the same order of magnitude. Unfortunately, fuel capacity has only increased from 100kg to 105kg (5%) so fuel consumption is going to be a bigger issue than in the past.

Apparently teams are simulating the use of DRS as a fuel-saving strategy :-/


Everybody who has watched F1 for more than a few years would be able to tell you that the over complicated design of the front wing is harming the close racing, so why don't all the experts know this, or if they do, why do they still insist on making the front wing so integral to the aero? It makes no sense.


I too have been concerned for a while that the new regulations, while making the cars visually exciting would make actual racing difficult. However it has occurred to me that with increased downforce there may be more than one racing line in some corners. We often cite those 'ballsy' on the outside overtaking moves and I wonder if they will become more prevalent given increased grip levels.


Oh joy, just what we all wanted - less racing!

So we'll have faster cars, potentially closer performance between different but also potentially less racing.

I can't understand how we got to this point and only now the light bulb has come on. Let's just hope this is the last knee jerk change of regulations in F1.


Harder to overtake does not equate to less racing. Less of a 'show", maybe. But cars that are harder to drive automatically mean you get more racing. Overtaking is not the same as racing. The 20 best drivers in the world shouldn't be able to pass each other easily. If they can then they're either *not* the best racers in the world, or they're simply not racing.

I personally think these regulations are a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, fuel limits (hello lift and coast) and DRS are likely to undo any of the good work that have gone in to the new regs.


They haven't been able to pass easily, without DRS, for some time now.

Limiting overtaking to such an extent pushes the teams to race on a Saturday and also to chase the undercut aggressively. I'm not sure about you but I want to see overtaking done on track and not in the pits.

You are right that overtaking is not the same as racing, but racing isn't following someone from lights to flag despite being a much faster package.


For a sport made great by its full-on visceral assault of the senses, the recent phallic noses and hybrid "PU" noise (or lack thereof) have done the world's premiere form of open wheel (and open cockpit -- no thank you, HALO) racing no favors.

It shouldn't be so difficult (or costly) to design badass open wheel (and open cockpit!) race cars that look great, sound even better, and are eminently race-able.

To meaningfully re-engage the paying customer, that's where I'd start.


Where were all the people talking about the overtaking issue when the news regs were being drawn up? Fascinating that a "sport" with so many intelligent minds decides to increase aero grip and be surprised when overtaking is more difficult.


Classic F1 at its best. Even I a complete moron knew the outcome would be less overtaking...so why do the powers that be insist on doing such a silly change


At last; how do you know that the outcome will be less overtaking? Are you able to somehow see the future, or do you have a time machine? Honestly, I'm curious.


Incredible. The cars haven't even turned a wheel and already there are comments upon comments spouting nothing but fear mongering about the sky falling in because the rear wing is going to be a little bit wider and a little lower.

Don't get me wrong, everyone should be entitled to an opinion, but at the end of the day that's all it really is: opinion and conjecture. And the direction F1 has been directed by opinion and conjecture for far too long with borderline disastrous results.

I also can't fathom why people keep asking for less and less downforce. Hasn't this been tried already? I mean how much more downforce should they take away? To F3 levels, F4 levels? And ultimately did this downforce stripping trend of the last 8 years make F1 better? The answer is a resounding "no".

So for those amateur aerodynamicists for whom stripping downforce away seems to be some kind of fetish, put a sock in it. Your ideas have been tried already and given a fair run. The results were nil. Actually worse than nil.

At the end of the day this needs to be a pinnacle of Motorsport and therefore aero is indispensable in achieving that. Therefore overtaking will always be more difficult than in a non-aero formula with slower cars and longer braking distances.

It's possible that something can be done to allow the cars to follow each other more closely, but if a solution does exist, it will be found by experienced aerodynamicists through a scientific method that involves extensive experimentation and testing, and not by pretend aerodynamics who shout the loudest on F1 fora such as this one.


Great post. Couldn't agree more


@LukeC - when exactly did they significantly reduce downforce in F1? Banning Bernie's fan car don't count.

It appears you are the only person who enjoyed watching the Truilli Train, we don't need that nonsense to return, but it appears all the teams are predicting we'll have to put up with racing vacuum cleaners in the coming year.


Rodger R; In 2009 they reduced the aero by something like 30-35% as advised by the fans.

They put the rear wing up in the sky, where it would not affect the airflow over the front wing of the following car.

Furthermore, they removed all the appendages on the bodywork, which according to the fans was causing turbulence that did not allow cars to follow each other.

They put adjustable flaps on the front wings to make them less susceptible to dirty air, which they subsequently ditched.

In subsequent years they whittled the rear diffuser down to almost nothing.

Then the removed the beam wing which once again was supposed to make it easier to follow.

As a result the cars became almost on par with gp2 cars in corners. The drivers find them boring to drive and following and passing has not been any easier. To the spectator they look as if they're on rails and they trundle through the corners as if it's wet.

Need I say more? Clearly this direction is a dead end and it would be pointless and potentially destructive to pursue it further. Enough is enough.


2009 - the year they left a gaping hole in the regs that by the end of the season practically all of the aero was back where it had been in 2008. If Brawn is involved in setting regs, with the aim of massively reducing aero, I believe the teams will have their work cut out regaining what the regs will have removed.


The aero in 2015 and 2016 was nowhere near the levels it was between 2000 - 2008. Plus all the things that supposedly caused dirty air ( rear wing, diffuser, beam wing) were either removed or moved out of the way. And yet following and overtaking didn't become any easier. Why is that?


The rear wings were never an issue.

It is these over the top 'Christmas tree' front wings that provide extraordinary levels of downforce given the perfect 'undisturbed air' conditions.

It's the fact that the more intricate a front wing is, the less and less likely it is going to work properly unless it has perfectly undisturbed air consistently washing over it. If they ran simpler wings then they would not be so reliant on clean air as in theory the simpler wing would still operate even if the air is disturbed.

If you're concerned over speed then make them lighter and bolt some serious tyres on.

(I will look forward to your sarcastic comment re me being an aerodynamics expert)


NickH, even a very simple front wing, one that produces very little downforce, will be affected by disturbed air and will put the following driver at a disadvantage. That's why drivers have been complaining about turbulence and loss of downforce when following since the mid 70s when the cars had very simple wings and very little downforce.

The issue here is not whether less downforce and a simpler front wing might improve the situation. Yes, it's possible that if you reduce the downforce to F3 levels the situation might be improved by 5-10%. But that will still not deliver the amount and the kind of of overtaking that the fans are demanding without the DRS -- plus you will have overpowered F3 cars as the supposed pinnacle of Motorsport.

This is the big picture that many people seem to have difficulties grasping here. Everyone is just demanding more overtaking, and more overtaking, and more overtaking, like some monster that cannot be satiated. I think that's a very myopic approach.


Which formula have you been watching for the last 8 years? You haven't noticed the £100k Christmas tree front wings the big teams bring to every race? I hardly call that stripping away downforce. Dreadful tyres have also contributed.

The reality is that the big teams don't give a damn about 'competition' and 'close racing'. They have a resource advantage over smaller teams in the aerodynamic department so have no interest on giving this up.

Last year Martin Brundle layed out some simple ideas for a set of regulations that would help. Massively reduce the complexity of the front wing, increase downforce from underneath the car and have tyres that produce extraordinary mechanical grip. Doesn't sound such a bad idea to me.

Fernando 150% Alonso

Agree with every word above. Don't forget about the nose cone. It seems that with this aerodynamic the cars have this days, the closer to the ground the nose of the cars is, the more difficult will be to follow the car in front. I understand safety, but how difficult will be to study in the wind tunnel how the height of the nose cone is influencing that, and to make a compromise safety /aero?!


NickH, Martin Brundle is no more qualified to lay down ideas for regulations than are you or I.

Pat Symmonds was asked about whether reducing the complexity of the front wing would make it easier to follow. His response was that they do not know, but probably not.

When asked about whether generating more downforce from the floor would help, he gave the same answer. Don't know, but probably not.


"Martin Brundle is no more qualified to lay down ideas for regulations than are you or I."

I would say he knows more than me. You obviously hold yourself in quite high regard.


NickH; I hold myself in quite a high regard as far as clear, rational and realistic thinking are concerned.

I think many "F1" fans would do well to take a leaf out of my book and stop acting like children.


@ Luke C...you have stolen precisely what i was about to post. Well said. How many holders of aero PHD's are posting? The designers will know full well what they are expecting and how they will go racing. When we see the results and effects of the first few races then possibly we'll see where the direction needs to go if anywhere! Until then it is all speculation and as such should be treated with a high degree of scepticism.


Kenneth, until somebody actually does a proper extensive study on this, backed up by extensive testing with actual cars on the track we will never know.

At the end of the day you can't cheat physics and we must be prepared for the possibility that there is no solution to the problem as long as F1 is an aero formula.

With something like F1, which is all about cars that are characterised by insane, out of this world performance, and driven by the best drivers in the world, it should not be surprising that overtaking is going to be more challenging than in formula ford, for example. And to try to coerce the formula to be that which it isn't by its very nature, might actually be counterproductive.


Well said Kenneth.

Once again I agree with you.

Incredible that's twice just this year.

More than the previous six!


@ DRG...it's the new rules and regs that must have done it hahaha'


Your first paragraph seems to ignore that this is what the article is about.

So I would ask, where are the serious articles and informed discussions on the issues that F1 faces with regard to Aero and overtaking? In the absence of information people will always speculate. And by your logic if you deny them this, you should leave comments to professional journalists only.

And lastly, isn't it the experts that keep pointing to front wing dependence as the issue.


@ Offcourse...yes. where are all the serious articles and informed discussions from real life F1 involved specialists? You know, the people who actually design and build these cars. the people who understand the black arts of aero under real conditions, the people who actually are responsible for framing these rules and their justification in securing a solution? I wish that they were here and we could then ask questions and maybe get some answers that make sense. For example...DRS was introduced to solve the 'passing' problem but as has been mooted, maybe that won't suffice in the new cars. So why can't a similar "movable'device be added into the front wings to boost the DRS effect over a shorter distance?

Otherwise it's the blind leading the blind.


OffCourse; again the answer is that the experts simply don't know, because they have not done any experiments or tests.

Therefore when they point to the front wing dependence, for example, they are simply engaging in speculation. It may be informed by some knowledge, but from a purely scientific standpoint it's still speculation due to the absence of data to back it up.


@ Luke C...I would've thought that the teams and their boffins have carried out tests and experiments and that they have a good idea as to where they're headed. They are just not saying anything until real driving tells them the complete story. Before they actually build a front wing they would need to know what 'state' the air would be in when following another car so there would be some simulation IMO of course. It will be interesting to see who has what config on both front and rear but it would be my guess that we'll see very similar arrangements on the expected 'top' three or four teams cars. Now that i've said that they will all be radically different hahaah


Kenneth, aerodynamicists are only interested in creating as much downforce and as little drag at possible. They are not concerned with making it easier for other cars to follow and overtake their car. Why would they? It would counterproductive. In fact, if possible, they would like to make it as hard as possible for the overtaking car to get to their car.


@ luke 818...any relation to luke C? Of course aero guys are more interested in downforce but if you have no understanding of what 'state' the air emanating from the rear of the car in front actually is then your 'front wing config' would have to be suspect. As i have said in another post, playing around with the 'state' of the air after extracting the maximum downforce at the rear of the car may also be possible. A pity that we don't seem to have anybody with professional F1 aero credentials posting to whom we could direct our queries.


Kenneth; indeed Luke818 is LukeC. It turns out that it's possible to post under a different name with the same email address.

Anyway, with regard to aerodynamicists possessing an understanding of the state of the air emanating from the rear, that's not really the problem. I mean, they have a very good idea of what's going on there and they formulated the 2009 regs based on that understanding, which did not work. Given that fact I would be willing to bet that they are as stumped as we are.

With regard to playing around with the 'state' of the air after extracting the maximum downforce at the rear of the car. Even if that were possible, no team would design their cars that way because they don't want their cars to be easy to overtake. You would need to prescribe the aero package, or a significant part of it. And if you're going to do that, you might as well give them indycar style aero packages.

You could also reduce the downforce to F4 levels, which might improve things somewhat, but it would be optimistic to think that would deliver even as much passing as what we see in F4, given the fact that F1 drivers make fewer errors and there is a lot more performance disparity between cars. Plus you would have overpowered F4 cars as the pinnacle of motorsport, which would be very iffy.


@ luke C...... I don't think that you understand what i am actually saying but then again maybe it's because i did not repeat myself as i had posted this thought in another thread. My point was two fold. firstly i was saying that i would be pretty certain that the 'state' of air emanating from another car, in front, and the 'state' of that air would have to be taken into account when designing a front wing. Secondly my other point was that 'after extracting the max downforce' could the exhausted air at the rear then be further altered to mess up up the front wings of following cars. A 'spoiler effect' meaning to 'spoil' the air passing over the wing of a competitor/ following car?
As a footnote, do you have any aero credentials that we should be aware of?


Kenneth; thanks for clarifying. My understanding is that the rule makers did take the state of the air emanating from the back of the car ahead into consideration, and the front wing regs as they have been since 2009 are the result of that.

As far as individual designers working for the teams, indeed, logic would suggest that they would also endeavour to make the front wing as immune to turbulence as possible.

As to your final point, I don't know.

As to my credentials in aerodynamics, my knowledge is limited to a few electives at university which consisted of a lot of theory and some wind tunnel work, so I'm definitely no Adrian Newey. However, I do know enough to see that what the fans are asking for borders on pure fantasy. I really doubt that it will ever be possible to achieve what they want, and we might have to accept that the DRS is the only way to have the amount of passing that people want without resorting to F4 levels in F1, which I think you'll agree would be quite lame.


lol I find it hilarious that the F1 powers are still making the same mistake we've been complaining about for years. More aero means less overtaking, I think we've all said at one time or another why not have more mechanical grip or ground effect or anything but a heavy reliance on aero but they haven't listened.


I always look forward to the beginning of each new F1 season, and hopefully the new look of the cars will add some extra wow. Safety regulations have made the cars increasingly ugly since the 1998 overhaul imo. It's a given that we all want a competitive F1 with close racing, but let's embrace a step forward in aesthetics, too. Lets face it, if all we cared about was close racing then there would never be any need to venture beyond the lowest junior formulae.


Bring it on!!!!!!


Must admit that I was/am a bit confused how increased tyre sizes, wider cars, and corresponding increased cornering speeds was gonna increase overtaking possibilities.
Wider cars means correspondingly less likelihood of cars being side by side.
Bigger tyres means more marbles so less useable track surface and shorter braking zones.

Having said that, best to wait and see what happens.

If it turns out that the sceptics are correct and it becomes (even more) processional then perhaps next "solution" should be to reduce brake sizes/effectiveness so that the braking zones are significantly lengthened ?


Craig: Exactly what I was thinking. Overtaking in street circuits like Singapore will be more difficult and in the arrow confines of Monaco next to impossible. But as you say we will have to wait and see, especially what risks drivers will take to effect a pass.


But isn't bigger tyres and more mechanical grip what the "fans" wanted? The cars' track has increased by a measly 20cm because of the wider tyres designed to yield more mechanical grip.

At this point, if I were in charge of the rules, I would be tearing my hair out.



Well I guess if you asked fans what they would like to see from F1 as a result of the new regulations you might get different responses. For example, fans of the sport (who don’t have a favourite driver or team) might like to see closer racing between the combatants and not one team dominating like RB and Merc have over the past eight years but I don’t think we’ll get that because of the money the wealthier teams have to pump into development and driver recruitment and therefore the status quo will largely remain.

Did the FIA survey the fans as to what they would like to see or did they just act unilaterally? Doesn't really matter I suppose because either way they're in charge.

Seemingly we’re going to get bigger (better looking?) and quicker cars but just like any change there might be unintended consequences but we’ll just have to wait and see. Personally I’m pleased that they’ve done away with the token system which limited in-season development but even this may only advantage the wealthier teams.


Adrian; Yes, the new regulations and general direction for F1 was informed by surveys.

Not only did the fans almost unanimously agree that more mechanical grip via bigger tyres would be a good thing, but they also chose the nineties as the best, most appealing period of F1, and the cars we are about to see next week were designed to reflect those sentiments.


@ Adrian...where there's a will there's a way...around cars in monaco. Just ask ricciardo [raikonnen will help explain] how to do it except when hamilton drives you into the wall if you don't back off and when hamilton cuts the corner of a chicane at the swimming pool!!!



Did you have to bring up Monaco mate? I mean to have the wrong tyres ready to fit is one thing but to have NO tyres ready to fit is beyond …………whatever adjective you want to use. Unfortunately the uniqueness of Monaco’s Pit Lane where as you know the teams’ Pit Walls are located above their garages didn’t help not that this is any excuse. He sat stationary for 14 seconds! It is what it is!


Adrian; indeed, overtaking on some circuits is more difficult than on others. Always has been and always will be. What is your point?



"What is my point?". I was agreeing with the sentiments expressed by Craig in Manilla.

Personally, like a lot of fans, I'd like to see more overtaking and more wheel to wheel racing but whether or not the new regulations which mandate wider cars and wider wheels permit this I guess we'll have to wait until Melbourne (being a street circuit) and later on purpose built racing circuits.

Seemingly it might be more difficult, than it is now, to effect a pass in Singapore and Monaco because of the new regulations.


@ Adrian...just to follow up on your original point.which i agree with, if each car is now some 20 cms wider [ ? ] the two cars equal 40cms which is getting close to half a metre! In the narrow confines as mentioned this will certainly take extra precision when racing and attempting passes. I get your point.



That’s exactly what I was trying to get at but you’ve put it more succinctly. Obviously without a corresponding widening of the track overtaking in Monaco won’t be impossible but more difficult and it will be interesting to see what risks drivers will take (or the skills they will need to utilise) to effect a pass. Perhaps Riccardo would not have attempted that pass on Raikkonen at Monaco in 2015 (where the two cars made contact) if he was driving a 2017 spec car.


@ Adrian... that pass on Raikonnen in monaco !!! It was pure hard racing IMO. We all know that some drivers are supreme opportunists eg ricciardo and verstappen both fall into that category. Give either of them the merest sniff of an open door and they are 'in like flynn'. no ifs, no buts, no maybe's. Where would we be without a level of good old 'derring do' as the brits are wont to say? This year, if the doom and gloom merchants are correct, and passing becomes even harder then we should see even more drivers fling one up the inside/outside out of sheer frustration! That will be exciting to watch and only the brave will reap the benefits [ or demerits]. Can't wait to see what happens.


@ Adrian ..yes, in concept you are quite correct. If narrow confines at some tracks call for precision placement then pure logic will tell you that two cars side by side, both of increased width, will make those passes even more difficult.


Let's hope it means the racers will try new lines. Might be quicker around the outside of some turns instead of the regular racing line.


Nah, the tires will still shed rubber balls, even more so now that they have a larger surface area so there won't be much options on racing lines. It'll be a procession.


It's the same old story. I think every year fans want closer racing and more passing based on driver skill. I hope the new management actually puts fans interest foremost, above team interests for a while. It would be a nice change. We've always given our opinionbut I think that has always been managed with monetary interests paramount.


It seems the 2017 cars were designed simply for the F1 purists i.e.

The cars are faster

The cars are visually spectacular

The cars are more physical

The tyres are more durable

And overtaking is more difficult just like the pre-DRS time


And overtaking is more difficult just like the pre-DRS time

If only they actually got rid of DRS...


@ The New JC

Aah but DRS has some of it's fans after the Trulli train scared many people


The front wing is an ugly thing. The bigger new front wing makes it even uglier. On top of that they are too fragile and even the slightest touch to them requires a car to pit and ruin a potentially good race. Wider cars will mean more collisions. I can even imagine a change in design rules will come into effect before the season is over because of this incredible oversight.


The question is - once it is clear close racing is absent and overtaking are close to impossible (I have no doubts about that) - what will all these geniuses do?
Tear up regulations after the first 5 races?
Implement new artificial measures? ("fan button"...)


Who was responsible for the rule changes - Red Bull, because it's obvious they are most likely to benefit from the changes. As others have said, looking agressive means nought, it's the fight that matters. I don't care if the grid looks like a line up of prizefighters, if they can't get close to each other, the races will turn into handbags at dawn events.

Let's hope with the little man gone, we can expect to see a more sense from the F1 rulemakers, otherwise we'll have to continue to watch BTCC for some close racing action, even if the cars are 70mph slower and look like they're owned by hairdressers.


Red Bull and McLaren, I believe. Two teams who were not doing well at the time the rules were planned. Coincidence?


@ Rodger R...i am looking at your statement that it was red bull who were responsible for rule changes? You might like to elaborate on that a little as i was completely unaware that they, RB, were in total control of rule changes. Source.....


Rodger R, so if you don't care about anything other than close racing, why bother with F1 at all? Why not watch formula vee, formula ford, formula 4 or touring cars?

This is something that I'm not fully understanding, admittedly.


So it's an "aero" package in terms of achieving unhindered good lap times, but when cars are trying to overtake it will all be down to who has the most powerful engine.

I'm no expert, but I fail to see how this will do anything other than REDUCE overtaking and make races more boring. I really hope I'm wrong.


Interesting to consider that if the cars are some 4/5 secs faster what happens to that increase when they presumably have to tuck in behind a slower car?


Fuel may become an issues this season. The regs allow 105kg as opposed to last year's 100kg, to be consumed during the race. But the indications would seem to show that more may be needed if the engines are to be run flat (a relative term I know) for longer than last year. Also the increased drag has a huge effect upon the power required. If there is any increased speed this year it will again have a dramatic effect upon the amount of fuel consumed.
So we may see cars running out of fuel, we may see races made boring by fuel saving. In fact it is quite probable that fuel will be the limiting factor in 2017 while tyres are seen to run almost the whole race and indeed would do so if the regs allowed.


Exactly. While everyone is up in arms about aero and wider tyres, the one thing that is most likely to destroy the racing has flown under the radar.

Unless the manufacturers have made *incredible* gains in effeciency, we're going to be hearing the words 'lift' and 'coast' making their way through the radio waves an awful lot.


The New JC; I actually brought this up a couple of times. No one seemed particularly interested and all I got was couple of comments about how we're destroying the earth.

Don't underestimate the power Al Gore's propaganda.


I'd like to see some stock parts issued. No idea how to implement it of course but a standard FIA front and rear wing that all of the teams have to run; the rest of the car down to their interpretation as usual. The package formula of mid 90's CART produced some fantastic racing and I think if some parts could be standardised, it might help.


Well yeah - but we've ALWAYS known this was going to be the case, this isn't news! This comes from fans being told what they want (often by Bernie), and then responding in kind when they fill out those fans surveys.

"you want louder cars, even though you can't tell the volume on TV, and the pit lane coverage is better now"

"me want louder car! screw the future of F1 and the amazing potential of the new engines"

"You don't care about racing, or overtaking, you want fat rear tyres and wider cars"

"yeaaah, me want big tyre and big car! Drive in a line for 90 minutes!"

"we've known for decades that the thing preventing overtaking and close racing is the focus on aerodynamics, but don't you think Mercedes have been a little too dominant lately...?"

"more aero! more aero! more aero!"

we've nobody to blame but ourselves.


I am unaware of the strident call for more and more aero as you are suggesting? I am aware of the consistent call for more grip though


" It is not a promising situation for Ferrari, that underwent much upheaval last summer with the departure of James Allison and his replacement as technical director by Mattia Binotto at the time when the really important work was being done on 2017 cars."

See? Like I said.. It's just 1991 all over again at the [Mod]. :p


I see more collisions in the corners. Every track will be different than before. I hope nothing serious is the result of desperate attempts to overtake.


What is this obsession with the looks of the car? Is there any F1 fan that says they aren't going to watch F1 because the cars look rubbish? Or are there more fans that say they aren't going to watch because the cars can't follow, overtake naturally, lack of exciting driving thus races are boring? Hopefully with Ross B and the other newbie management we can get the proper shift in perspective here.


It's depressing that these concerns are being aired now. Firstly it is a let down for the season to come and, more importantly, it is an indictment of the teams for not spotting this when they were agreeing the rules for this year. I mean, really? You are going to tell us this now when you should have spotted it a year ago and now we are in for another year of crap racing with Mercedes 1-2. This new era of stupid hybrid engines has to end!!!!


The only reason for huge front downforce is to make best use of phenomenal brakes. Reduce the brake ability and you won't need the huge downforce. You will create longer braking zones and with less dependant front aero you will allow closer following through corners. Overtaking will then be more organic than pressing a button for DRS.... I guess overtaking working group won't think along these lines though, very sad.


New cars, same old problem, only worse! This sounds like it might be a step backward if the trailing car loses that much cornering downforce. I mean this has been an issue for years and now it's going to be even more problematic! Why race if everything is going to be decided in qualifying?


@ Robert NYC....the last three seasons have been exactly that, They've been decided as a result of qualifying....


So reading between the lines then, more of the same for 2017?

Ferrari get a grip.... $100M every year for turning up and you still can't be anywhere near the front


I am excited to see the new cars! I wonder why F1 has such a problem with close racing when Formula E and Indy cars don't seem to have as much of a the problem. If they are so delicate from backwash maybe they should go back to the drwing board. Formula E and Indy cars all have similar front wings for their respective. I think Honda does the Indy car series and manage to have passing and tight competition. If spending a zillion dollars on a winglet to go a tenth quicker but you can't overtake then why spend the money? To save costs I have long been a fan of SOME standard parts (I know the purists groan). How does custom $75,000 steering wheels, wire harness's, brake-by-wire systems, mirrors, rims and brakes add to either the visual appeal or racing performance? Now I am not saying go to the auto-parts store but perhaps the teams could supply a prototype and have it voted on by the teams or the FIA could make the decision if it is too contentious. There are probably more stuff: nuts, bolts, and dare I say it - front wings etc. and still keep what makes F1 special. Less money spent on winglets and closer racing make more sense to me and will dramatically reduce costs. They need to stop RB and Merc using the ride height system which provides an unfair advantage and stop the "bending of the rules" BS. It is unsportsmanlike and should be punished severely as in loss of position and heavy fines. Get rid of quick degrading tyres, remove fuel restrictions and add refueling (more expense) to allow for full all out close racing which is what the fans want anyway. I think most of us are tired of one team dominating whether it is Merc, RB or Ferrari back in the day. I want to see close races and teams trading podiums. Why have 1000 hp engine when you have to conserve fuel, tyres AND passing may be worse? I will love the look of the cars but will it make a difference? If not go back to the drawing boards.


In my opinion form should follow function. So when Mr. Wolf describes how great the cars look , its concerning. First he failed to make his driver line up exciting, when Nico handed them an early Christmas present, so his initial comments regarding the rule changes are equally as puzzling.

As long as we have team bosses that think Liberty is a step in the right direction, and that the cars " look good", then we have taken the first steps to seriously damage the sport of F1.

All this reflects in the mindset of many of the drivers. It makes them complacent. So yes passing is a concern. You need both risk and talent in ample amounts if your in a car that demands it in order to race it. Otherwise many will just drive them around the track. Racers or drivers ? There is a big difference.


Pretty annoying that the one things the fans hav really said they wanted to see from the new regs was more actual overtaking.

I hope we are not going to be disappointed by this. If F1 can't get this right I'll really have to reconsider whether I am going to continue to pay for Foxtel.

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