In an interview with Mobil 1 The Grid, filmed at the Autosport International Show in the UK earlier this year. Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer for the Williams F1 Team previews the 2016 season and gives insights into what we can expect from 2017 and beyond
Commenting on the minor technical changes in regulations for 2016, beyond the increased cockpit protection, Symonds remarks the season could lead to interesting results with teams having more opportunity to refine design rather than revolutionise. Increased freedom in tyre specification available over a race weekend should have a positive impact on racing.
Symonds is keen to compliment the Williams driver line up and the benefits of driver stability can bring to a team.
When discussing the proposed technical regulations changes for 2017 Symonds highlighted no clear consensus around the regulations has been found, but the expectation is a move to wider machines with greater levels of downforce and mechanical grip. Formula One in the eyes of Pat Symonds should be at the forefront of technology and innovation. The Williams F1 team, as the lead independent team in recent seasons is supportive of such a direction.
In a meeting between leading figures within Formula One; from the FIA, Teams, Drivers and Formula One Management, held at the Pirelli headquarters in Milan earlier today, reports are emerging of positive progress regarding 2017 technical regulations, the role of Pirelli, and importance of a unified approach and agreement around tyre construction and usage.
The meeting is reported as having been highly constructive acknowledging the need to accelerate clear definition of the new regulations. Once defined Pirelli, with the support of the teams have agreed to develop prototype tyres and test them on circuit as soon as possible.
Pirelli have again stated the criticality of a clear and timely testing programme to ensure are parties are adequately prepared for the 2017 season.
A meeting will be held at Pirelli’s Milan headquarters next week in which key Formula One stakeholders will take part. The meeting will be to discuss target tyre performance guidelines in the light of the 2017 regulations.
Pirelli sees this meeting as being of vital importance in order to further consolidate the close collaboration that got underway last year with the FIA, FOM, and the drivers. Of the more than 250 championships in which Pirelli takes part worldwide, Formula One is the biggest challenge.
In 2017 the technical aspects will become even more complex, so Pirelli is even more convinced of the need to carry out more on-track testing.
This is a factor that has been extremely limited in recent years, despite the important evolution of the cars and subsequent increase in performance. All these are vital steps towards tyre development that takes into account the future evolution of the cars and added performance, which will be particularly notable in 2017. This will allow an even more effective use of the advanced technology that makes Pirelli the world leader in performance tyres.
Reports are emerging that the plans for radical change in the 2017 F1 Technical Regulations are being increasingly toned down over fears that cars may become too fast with the targeted 5 seconds per lap improvement in performance possibly leading to safety issues.
As reported on Auto Motor und Sport (German), in a Technical Working Group meeting, discussions around these fears have lead to a recalibration of the proposed regulations.
Proposals to increase the width of the car at the widest point, the tyres, to 2 metres have been retained, but the bodywork between the axles will not increase to the planned 180 cm but remain at 140 cm, leaving a substantial area of uncovered floor. Also shelved are plans for a larger diffuser and changes to the front and rear wings which under earlier proposals had been set from dramatic change, with the diffuser set to double in height and the rear wing increase in width.
With this proposed watering down of the regulation change it is anticipated that only 25% of the targeted performance improvement will be achieved. Sources suggest that leading non works teams have expressed frustration that the body work changes will be barely visable and the series will retain its reliance on Power Unit development leaving limited scope for aerodynamic developments.
Full 2017 regulations are set to be published in March this year to ensure teams have sufficient time to prepare for any changes. Until such time it is unlikely any clear view will be provided on how the next generation of Formula One cars will be set to look.