Pirelli and Mercedes win the day over the 2017 F1 regulations

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Aggressive looking, faster, wider bodied and larger wheeled cars was the promise of a new Formula one for 2017. There are less than two months for next year’s regulations to be accepted by the technical working group and then by the F1 strategy group – otherwise unanimous agreement is required thereafter.

Over the festive season stories were released suggesting the diffuser would be much larger than at present, allowing for more downforce to be acquired from underneath the car, rather than from the aerodynamics on top which create more turbulence for anyone following close behind. It appears a majority of those on the working party have now agreed to scale back a number of the proposed changes for 2017.

The cars will increase in width to the planned two metres, however the planned increase in body width from 140 to 180 cm has now been scrapped.

The increase from 12.5cm to 25cm for the height of the new diffuser has also been canned and the wheels will remain 13 inches high. The tyre widths will however increase from the current 305/325mm front/rear to 325/405mm. The wing sizes remain as proposed according to AMuS, front wing will be increased to 180cm, and 95cm for the upper element at the rear wind and the beam-wing is to be 84 cm wide.

The cars are likely to look quite strange having suspension extending a further 20cm either side of the body and an SUV style ‘step’ looking floor extending beyond the bodywork to the full width allowed.

Red Bull are reportedly unhappy about this and this is reflected by a number of Adrian Newey’s recent comments in the media. “The regulation changes that are being talked about for 2017, they are actually not that different to what we have now. Slightly wider tyres. Slightly revised aerodynamics regulations. No really fundamental differences,” Newey explained to the National.

The reason behind Newey’s negativity is clear from his other comments, “I have always enjoyed rule changes because it gives fresh opportunities.” Yet why do Red Bull require fresh opportunities given many F1 observers believe their latest 2015 chassis was still up there with the best of them?

The answer to our question is that Red Bull’s aerodynamics have been delivering a much smaller advantage – if any at all – when compared to previous years. Daniel Ricciardo’s comments are revealing when we look behind the today’s headlines which state, “Red Bull could win with Mercedes F1 engine”. The Aussie suggests the car was difficult to set up until modifications brought for the last race before the summer break in Hungary.

“Budapest was really where it turned. I’d honestly say from Budapest, if we had a Merc in the back we would’ve won a few races, to say the least.”

Yet the reality is no customer of Mercedes or Ferrari has won a race since the new V6 hybrid regulations came into force in 2014, so Ricciardo’s analysis is speculative at best.

TJ13 did reveal that Red Bull Racing had crash tested 63 noses in 2014 and interestingly Ricciardo would appear to give credence to our sources’ claims. “When we did have the new nose/wing combination at Silverstone, that was when it started going better,” he said. “That was a big one. I know they went through a lot of noses and we tried a lot of combinations”.

So why have the 2017 regulations been so watered down? Pirelli have been saying for some time that the regulations are too radical and it would be difficult to create accurate simulations to test these radical changes. Further, given the limitations of the tyres, the engineers expected gains would in effect be a mere quarter of the theoretical improvements the calculations were showing.

Mercedes too appear to have fallen in behind Pirelli and are supporting their concerns along with their customer teams. Of course, the smaller the changes in regulations for 2017, the less the opportunity for the status quo to change.

14 responses to “Pirelli and Mercedes win the day over the 2017 F1 regulations

  1. Can someone offer a drawing of the current versus a future version?

    And I suppose Ferrari won’t want to change the status quo either.

  2. just what a lot of people have been saying. the manufacturers have control of F1 and pirelli. a third party supplier who can manipulate the result by determining what tyres are supplied and at least one of those that must be used? surely the FIA and FOM have now lost total control over the series. exactly what shouldn’t happen. red bull see it all and they must stand up to it. all mercedes and ferrari customers will toe the manu line and we are worse off than expected. that’s what i call a farce.

  3. “no customer of Mercedes or Ferrari has won a race since the new V6 hybrid regulations came into force” This here quote says it all. This is the current state of F1. Everyone who thinks that F1 should further be tailored to suit the car manufacturers should bash his head against the wall until he gets a better idea.
    This is what happens when you allow the richest people in the “sport” make the rules for the said “sport”. Imagine if Barcelona or Man U had the option of revising the rules of football every single year and should anyone try to oppose them, they’d blackmail UEFA or FIFA by claiming they’ll quit? Do you think it would make the sport better? I don’t think so.
    Now you may say “Man U don’t invest as much in development each year as Ferrari or Merc”. So? There should be a mechanism present in F1 to make sure that pumping tons of cash into the team, while giving an advantage, simply does not pay. Unfortunately F1 is corrupt like an average communist government so until we see some of the main actors die off (and I’m pretty sure we all know of whom we’re talking about), nothing will change for the better. There is however a perspective of change for the worse…

  4. So the circus continues. Keep the few remaining fans interested by suggesting radical changes, then once the engineering bods and beancounters get around the table, they neuter the beast before it is even born.

    Mercedes don’t want to be beaten in an aerodynamic formula by others that are better than them at it (Red Bull, McLaren), so they play kissy kissy with Pirelli to ensure the status quo (engine formula, Merc at the top).

    I was really looking forward to the 2017 season. Now I’ll probably spend Sunday afternoons washing the car.

      • Yes, McLaren. When they get it right, they get it *very* right, and they will get it right again eventually, and probably even more likely, if there is a large regulation change. Prodromou wasn’t at Red Bull to make the tea, and he studied under the Master himself, Adrian Newey. It will come together. Honda are already saying they’ve found 200+ bhp in gains for their PU, so when the aero slots into place, they’ll be back up there at or near the front.

  5. I have seen somewhere written that the reason why it has been scrapped is because Mercedes, in collaboration with Pirelli, had simulated the kind of forces that would most likely act on the new tires and they came to the conclusion they couldn’t make tires that delivered the performance and be safety with these rules. This was presented in November to the rest of the teams and both Red Bull and Force India at the time said something that it was in Mercedes best interest that this was the result of the rule changes. Funny to see that the other teams have now changed their mind too.

    • I’m pretty sure any decent tyre company could make a tyre to withstand pretty much anything. Look at the tyres made for aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the loads they go through during landing, etc.

      If safety of the tyres is an issue, then it seems Pirelli don’t have the technical knowledge to deliver tyres up to the task.

      Time for another (or more than one) tyre company in F1.

      • mark webber and now hulkenberg have both confirmed the superiority of michelin tyres for racing. pirelli should never have been given the contract and at worst it should’ve been pirelli and michelin. as i said before mercedes/pirelli are controlling the show and that is wrong.

  6. My question is, why are the FIA stupid enough to believe anything anyone from any of the teams (and now Pirelli) says? They all operate out of self interest, not in facts, realities and honesty.

    This whole situation is such a farce. F1 is no longer a teams sport, it’s an engine manufacturers sport.

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