With the 2017 field about to head into pre-season testing and with all the cars about to be unveiled the anticipation is building. The narrative for the new 2017 rules is that cars will be wider, bigger and faster with some saying that the cars will be 4-5 seconds a lap faster. Hence, several circuits on the F1 calendar have been advised to beef up their safety measures and increase the layers of armco at some high-speed corners.
The cars will look very different this year too. The most noticeable changes are the wider and lower rear wings and the wider tyres. The general idea behind these changes is to make racing more exciting for the fans by making the cars faster and tougher to drive which will make it more physically demanding on the drivers.
The Front Wing
The front wing is undoubtedly one of the most important aerodynamic pieces on an F1 car. It is the first component to receive airflow and it affects other aerodynamic elements behind it. The front wing channels the air under, over and around the sides of the car to be used by the other components such as the barge boards, side pod wings, diffuser and rear wing.
For 2017 the width of the front wing has been increased to 1800mm , up from the 1650mm from 2016. The overall shape of the wing will take on a deltoid (swept back) shape with the middle of the wing further forward than the outer most edge.
The overall width of the car has been increased from 1800mm to 2000mm and further back, the maximum width of the floor and sidepods has been increased to 1600mm, up from 1400mm. The increase in width means an increase in the size of the barge boards to better deal with the tyre wake from the front wheels.
The 2017 tyres have been drastically changed by the F1 tyre supplier, Pirelli. In order to aid the faster cornering speeds and faster cars, the tyres have been made wider and bigger.
The front tyre width increases from 245mm to 305mm while the rear tyres increase in width from 325mm to 405mm. The diameter of the front and rear tyres has increased by 10mm. However, the rim size of 13-inches remains unchanged.
Rear Wing & Diffuser
The rear wing will look very different this year as well. The rear wing structure for 2017 has been moved 150mm rearwards and 150mm lower, down from 900mm which will give it a swept back look. In addition to the lower rear wing the overall width has also been increased from 750mm to 900mm. The new rules make further provision for the rear wing to start narrow and curve outward to the wider width.
With the swept back rear wing, the height of the diffuser will be increased from 125mm off the ground to 175mm off the ground. Teams will now be able to start the incline of the diffuser 175mm ahead of the rear wheels compared to right at the rear wheels in 2016.
The plank length under the car will be reduced by 100mm as well.
With all the modifications and the wider tyres, the minimum weight of the cars is set at 728kg. This is a considerable increase when considering that in 2016 the minimum weight of the cars was set at 702kg. The increase in weight should mean slower lap times, but the increased mechanical and aerodynamic grip on the cars has effectively cancelled out the loss in time and has actually translated into a gain in lap time.
Demand on Drivers
The faster cornering speeds expected this year places a bigger physical demand on the drivers. The cars are expected to be harder to drive and with the added weight of the bigger tyres, harder to steer.
Mi tipo de “siesta” este invierno… 🤔 // my kind of “siesta” this winter… 😅🤔 pic.twitter.com/OEeq7xQvKS
— Carlos Sainz (@carlosainz) February 9, 2017
Ahead of the 2017 drivers have been giving us a sneak peak of their training regimes. The faster cornering speeds expected this year require the neck muscles of the drivers to be much stronger. There have been some interesting exercise techniques being used by drivers to strengthen their neck muscles ahead of the start of the season.
One thing’s for certain. The drivers this year will be the fittest and the strongest they’ve ever been.