F1 technical chiefs uneasy over proposed ‘revolution’ in 2017

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MONTMELO – A number of technical chiefs working in Formula 1 have expressed their unease over a proposed overhaul of the regulations for the 2017 season, believing that the sport should instead focus on the positive aspects of its current formula.

In 2014, the technical regulations underwent seismic changes in a bid to take the sport into a hybrid era, focusing on new V6 turbo ‘power units’ that replaced V8 engines.

The move did not please all within the sport, though. The new engines were far quieter than their predecessors, leading to criticism from ex-Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and even F1 Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

Over the winter, a number of ideas were proposed to revolutionize the sport including new-look cars and louder engines, but the teams agreed that they could only be implemented in 2017 at the earliest.

Speaking in yesterday’s FIA press conference, a number of technical chiefs expressed their concern over knee-jerk changes, and instead preferred to focus on refining the product that the sport currently has.

“There’s a lot talked at the moment about the rule changes for 2017, but I think people forget at the moment the racing’s actually quite good,” Lotus technical director Nick Chester said.

“There are some very good battles up and down the whole grid and as the cars’ performance is improving a lot – I think we’re seeing two seconds improvement from last year – do we really need a huge change of regulation?

“A huge change of regulation is going to open up the grid again. There’ll be bigger differences between teams and obviously it’s going to add a lot of cost.

“So I think we shouldn’t forget that [the] show’s actually not bad at the moment.”

Sauber’s Giampaolo Dall’ara supported Chester’s thoughts, saying: “I wouldn’t add much to what he has been saying.”

Despite being the focus of much of the criticism, the technology behind the power units has been a great success as the cars are now lapping quicker than the V8-powered models whilst using considerably less fuel.

“I think it would be foolish to mess around with the immense amount of good work that has been done on the power units,” McLaren’s Jonathan Neale said.

“Maybe some minor adjustments but it’s a much more efficient package, it’s got some great technology, it’s still maturing in the sport and the price can come down it it’s left to mature because we’re just not putting in the same R&D costs.”

However, Neale does think that some minor changes can be made to help improve the sport, such as making the step up from junior formulas to F1 more noticeable.

“We’ve spoken about a step change in aerodynamics, to make sure that these cars are difficult to drive and maintain that performance gap to other junior series, and F1 remains an out-and-out race.

“We can still have the efficiency, we can still have many other attributes of the sport, but I think it should just be a flat-out race.”