The technical regulations for the 2017 are near complete, despite calls from some quarters that current cars are fast enough and racing has improved by the pace of each team converging.
Still with a disparity of Mercedes leading Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams, behind the leading teams the race for the runners up spots is fierce with a number of teams battling each weekend for the final points paying positions. That combined with the new tyre allocation system, which gives teams three tyre compounds instead of the familiar two has given them a more interesting strategy call and has provided better racing in Melbourne, Bahrain and Shanghai.
A push to make cars faster and racier have been dealt with some negative comments, most recently from Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton was the first to go on record to say that faster cars doesn’t mean better racing, with Toro Wolff recently commenting in China that the team would be happy to stay with the current regulations as it has provided better racing.
A upturn in speed is expected to come from a number of areas. The track of the car will be increased to 2m from the current 1.8m, a return to what we last saw in the mid 90’s, which will come in a combination of more downforce contribution from airflow under the car and wider wings. The rear wing also lowered to pre-99 style.
Tyres will also be wider, and Pirelli will have the opportunity through 2016 to test their 2017 rubber. It is expected that drivers will be able to push more during stints by reducing thermal degradation.
Another major hope for the future is to secure more affordable engine packages for the whole grid. With the cost heading upwards dramatically for the hybrid engines, a new $12m cap is expected to be introduced for 2018, and prices reduced for 2017. Bernie Eccleston was never happy with the new regualtions, claiming they were over-complicated and had touted a lower cost, simpler engine package if the manufacturers didn’t agree. Noise and an obligation to suppy customer teams will also be on the radar.
Don’t expect any news on a revised form of qualifying or race weekend format yet, we might not hear anything until the end of the year.