26 SPRING 2017
rear wing with swaged endplates; and
unchanged bodywork (extending 1.4m/
55in from the chassis’ centerline) on a floor
widened to create a more streamlined look.
Let’s hope that the old cliché, “If it
looks right, it is right” still has teeth.
Certainly the class of 2017 will
reinvigorate F1’s potency. The seven
remaining lap records that have stood
since the “sprint” 3-liter V10s of 2004
can be set wider and will feature stacked-
device complication. The diffuser’s changes
are conservative in comparison, for fear of
generating too much unsettling wake for
the car behind: 50mm/2in wider (1.05m/
41.5in), its entry is 175mm/7in further
forward, in front of the axle line, and its exit
rises to 175mm/7in, a 50mm/2in gain.
The devil in those details...
The number of cornering “events” will be
reduced; Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey
expects the likes of Silverstone’s Copse
Corner to be taken without lifting, even in
race trim. And the remaining braking
“episodes” will be shorter for cars that
are 20kg/44lb heavier (722kg/1590lb,
plus tires) and carrying 5kg/11lb more
race fuel (105kg/231lb) to compensate
for extra drag, but which are more stable
and take up more of the road due to a
200mm/8in increase in track; for the first
time since 1997 they will be 2m/79in wide.
Got all of that?
This all means that the percentage of a
lap that is power- rather than grip-limited
will be greater and the power units,
therefore, will be even more important.
Step forward Mercedes-Benz, winner of
51 of 59 Grands Prix since 2014. Though
the controversial token system introduced
to reduce costs at the expense of ongoing
development has been scrapped, the
rejection of an artificial convergence of
engine performance, in favor of a gradual
natural alignment (these 1.6-liter V6s will
be with us until at least 2020) means that
M-B is expected to maintain an advantage.
In F1, major regulation changes have
historically tended to favor teams with
greater resources. Yes, Brawn Grand Prix’s
double diffuser blew an unexpected hole
cascades that the F1
teams are running on
their front wings (see
BELOW LEFT) reminded
us of something – the
heroic failure that was
the 1904 Phillips
Phillips’ epic structure
was built for lift, not
and his understanding
of flow interaction
between elements was
rudimentary at best,
but we’re just saying...
“My guesses are that the
gaps at the front of the field
will increase, and there might
be a mid-pack shuffle”
are expected to tumble when a
25 percent hike in downforce – a
consensus figure as teams fill “sandbags”
with the usual pre-season BS – is
transmitted by equivalently fatter Pirellis.
The predicted gain is 3-6sec/lap.
The front wing, swept back at 12. 5 degrees,
is wider by 150mm/6in (1.8m/71in) and
mounted on a nose of unchanged height,
but extended by 200mm/8in to provide the
necessary clearance. The upper element of
the raked rear wing is lower by 150mm/6in
(800mm/31.5in), but 200mm/8in wider
(950mm/37.5in). The floor’s maximum
width has been let out by 200mm/8in
(1.6m/63in), its minimum by 100mm/4in
(1.4m/55in). Cockpit bargeboards,
emasculated since 2009, have returned
with a vengeance: now rising to the
chassis’ full height and stretching much
further forward from the sidepod, they
shows how the
2017 rule changes
wings and sidepod
intended to make
the new breed of
cars look faster.
(ABOVE) Red Bull design chief Adrian Newey
predicts more flat-out cornering, even in race
trim; are ever-more complex aero solutions
ever going to provide a satisfactory solution?