Tech Analysis: First look at F1’s ‘fastest ever’ 2017 cars –

Posted: Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Formula 1’s 2017 cars are set to deliver more downforce than any other time in the sport’s history, according to early data produced by the teams.’s technical editor Giorgio Piola has drawn the above impression of what the new cars will look like – featuring the wider wings and tyres that have been a hallmark of the concept.

Early indications suggest that the cars will produce around 30 percent more downforce than the current 2015 challengers – which are already close to delivering at historic peaks.

It is estimated that drag levels will only increase by 10 percent too – contributing to the step forward in speed that was the key motive for the new design.

Wider machines

Although some details of the cars may yet be changed, the basic dimensions have been agreed by teams following months of discussions.

The tyres will be wider, going up to 300mm at the front (from 245mm) to 400mm at the rear (from 325mm).

The overall width of the car will increase from 1.8 metres to 2m, with the nose of the car being 20 centimetres longer.

The front wing will be 180cm and more rounded, with the rear wing widening from 80cm to 95cm – and being lowered to just 80cm from the ground.

Downforce will also be boosted by a much larger diffuser, which goes back to the kind of performance that was delivered prior to the 2014 regulations.

The flat bottom will end 33cm in front of the rear axle – rather than in line with it as happens now. It will also be deeper – 22 centimetres high rather than the 12.5cm we have now.

There will also be more scope for design innovation around the sidepods, with strict rules on the floor dimensions.

Harder to drive

The ultimate aim of the design is not only to make the cars faster, but also much more difficult to drive.

Williams performance chief Rob Smedley said recently that he was in no doubts the current cars were not challenging enough for drivers.

“They are a lot easier to drive, without a doubt. They are significantly easier to drive,” he said.

When asked if the challenge of harder cars was vital, he said: “I think it is important probably from a sport entertainment point of view.

“If the cars are too easy to drive, then perhaps we don’t see the difference between the naturally talented driver and a mediocre driver.

“They are not as physically demanding, the braking points are a lot earlier, corner speeds and techniques are slower and easier respectively. 

“So I think whether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing, you have to answer from that point of view. Are we seeing the difference between the drivers we should be seeing?”


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