F1 Strategy Group pushing through technical revolution for 2017, other changes planned as early as Belgian GP


The FIA has issued a statement following the F1 Strategy Group meeting in Biggin Hill, England on Wednesday confirming its desire to push through changes for new technical regulations for the 2017 season.

After agreeing earlier this year that seismic changes were required to take the sport away from its current formula, the six-team body met with the FIA and Formula One Management to discuss further changes.

A ban on some driver aids including those used for race starts is planned as early as the Belgian Grand Prix in August, whilst tire selection and weekend format could be set to change for 2016.

Here is the statement in full from the FIA.

The Strategy Group met yesterday in Biggin Hill, as planned, to follow up on the package of measures proposed at the last meeting and assess new directions for the future of Formula 1. It was a very constructive meeting, which led to approval of important decisions and innovative evolutions.

Increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching received unanimous support and will be rapidly implemented, starting from this year’s Belgian Grand Prix – with a particular emphasis on race starts – and in 2016. These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing races’ excitement and unpredictability.

Following the Austrian GP, an overhaul of the power unit penalties has been unanimously agreed and will be submitted to the F1 Commission via an express fax vote for an adoption at the World Motorsport Council in Mexico City next week, together with changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise for 2016.

Furthermore, it was agreed to allow an extra power unit power driver in the first year to any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season.

Mandate has been given to the FIA and FOM to propose a comprehensive set of measures for power unit development and cost of supply, including full review of the token system, increase in race fuel allowance, limits on the usage of engine dynamometers etc.

Increased freedom of choice for tire compounds has been confirmed and the modalities are being finalized with Pirelli for 2016.

A new set of regulations aimed at achieving faster and more aggressive looking cars for 2017, to include wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce has been outlined and is currently being assessed by the teams.

Several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated by FIA and FOM for a 2016 introduction.

Let’s go through that bit by bit.

The ban on some driver aids is something that has been coming for some time in F1. Last year, the sport tried to implement a blanket ban on information that can be given to drivers over their radios, but rolled it back to a partial ban.

One of the biggest desires for fans at the moment appears to be for a return to ‘back to basics’ racing, where drivers can truly display their skills and the best will rise to the top. This is all part of that push.

The change in how power unit penalties are applied was expected, particularly after McLaren racked up 50 places worth of grid drops in Austria. Although the extra power unit components will come in handy to Honda, the fact that it is already over its limit means it will matter little this season.

Changes to engine noise are, again, widely discussed. The sound of the V6 turbo engines clearly isn’t doing enough for the fans of the sport, and a louder F1 is one that would certainly improve the show.

Alterations to the way in which tires are selected and allocated have also been discussed in the past, even if Pirelli has expressed its uncertainty. It appears a compromise could be reached to please all parties, though.

The technical overhaul for 2017 is being pushed on with in a bid to make the cars look better and the racing more exciting. If it has the desired effect, then it would, of course, be beneficial. That said, the costs involved are likely to leave some of the smaller teams less impressed.

Finally, we have a change to the weekend format for 2016. This is perhaps the most exciting proposition, particularly if it is along the lines of NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton’s information.

Like it or not, the winds of change are blowing within Formula 1 at the moment.