The new technical regulations announced for the 2017 Formula 1 season, have been brought in to increase cornering speeds and produce quicker lap times, with some saying the cars will be up to five seconds per lap faster than they are currently.
Wider tyres will also be introduced to bring additional grip and downforce, with the hope that the changes will allow other teams to break the dominance enjoyed by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team over the last three seasons.
Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo however, is not so convinced the improvement will be that great, having tested the new prototype tyres himself in Abu Dhabi, at the end of last year. The Australian believes the cars will definitely be quicker, but feels the margin will be much less than predicted, as he explained to racer.com recently.
“It’s [the 2015] car and the team bolt on some bits to add a bit more downforce to it.
“The tires felt a bit stronger, the rear mainly you can push a bit harder on traction. But we’re still running the cars quite heavy and I don’t think it’s quite that representative to what we’ve got [in 2017].
“I think they will be a step quicker, but we’ll see. People talk about four seconds a lap quicker or five seconds a lap quicker. I’m not yet convinced it will be that much quicker but I’m sure it will at least be a couple. But four or five would be impressive if we get there.”
With the new rules focusing design towards the aerodynamic side of things, in contrast to the recent engine power centric regulations, the 2017 season really plays to the strengths of Red Bull, and will give them a strong chance of at least closing the gap to Mercedes, as well as challenging for the title.
Ricciardo still feels that Mercedes will be favourites, but is confident of being able to take the fight to the German squad this year.
“There’s only one of them now, so that’s a bit easier! Ricciardo joked. “It will be interesting to see the other seat… but I’m confident.
“Obviously right now Mercedes has the best car; I would say I’m confident we’re at least the next ones behind them so we’ll see what we can do in the winter and try to close the gap.
“I’m sure on day one at testing they’ll still be the favourites to be the quickest guys but I think we can close it up and hopefully enough to challenge.”
The Australian finished third in the drivers’ standings in 2016, with only the two Mercedes drivers ahead of him, and Ricciardo will be hoping that the change in regulations will also pave the way for him to secure more victories in 2017, and perhaps even have a realistic shot at winning the title.