F1 rules overhaul unlikely to close up the field in 2017


World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Sahara Force India VJM09 - Sergio Perez ahead of Manor Racing MRT05 - Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Sunday 23rd October 2016, F1 USA Grand Prix Race, Austin, Texas – Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Digital Ref :1749LB1D3678

Despite the predictions of many experts, former Williams Martini Racing Technical Director Patrick Head does not believe the 2017 regulation changes will close the performance gap between teams.

Wider cars and tyres are being introduced this year in a bid to increase speeds, shake up the field and improve the show, but whilst implementing such radical changes is all well and good, teams with smaller budgets and lesser resources tend to lose out, as Head explained in an interview with the Guardian recently.

“If anybody was thinking of these rules with the aim of closing the field up then they’ve got rocks in their head.”

“Any time you make significant changes the advantage will always go to the bigger teams. Because they have more resources, they have more capability to parallel develop their existing car and work on design of their new car.

“When you have 750 employees or more against, say, Force India’s 300, of course the bigger teams can do more. Any idea it will close the field up is nonsense.”

Despite the regulation changes switching focus to the aerodynamic process this year, Head believes engine power is still set to play a key role, perhaps more than ever, so anyone expecting the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team to suffer, could be disappointed.

“There is no doubt about it that the drag levels of the car will be higher.

“But what makes the engine fractionally more important is that with more downforce, which they will undoubtedly have, your percentage at full throttle – the percentage of the lap at which you are power limited rather than grip limited – will be higher, so if you have that bit more power it will give a slight advantage.”

In terms of whether the updates will improve racing on track and the spectacle for viewers, Head is not convinced.

“If they wanted a formula that allowed for more overtaking without using artificial aids like DRS then they needed to go for a formula that reduced downforce levels but they have gone in the opposite direction.

“We’ll just have to wait and see. If they’re not successful, they’ll probably have another go.”