McLaren racing director Eric Boullier and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff disagree on the impact the new regulations for 2017 will have on Formula 1.
The rules for 2017, featuring faster cars sporting different aero packages and with wider front and rear tires, were signed off by the World Motor Sport Council last month. Boullier believes faster cars are exactly what F1 needs and disagrees with those who believe the rules will make overtaking harder.
“We believe the cars now are slower than they were a few years ago and I think it’s good for F1 when drivers still have the ‘wow’ effect of driving these cars – which we may have lost a little bit,” he said. “The fans maybe won’t see the difference but these guys will be happier to drive a faster car with more grip. I actually disagree with some comments in the media from my competitors.
“The rule has been designed to change the regulations and has been drafted in a way that the car will generate more downforce and mechanical [grip], which should not hurt overtaking numbers. On top of this, the influence of the front wing will be less than the floor and the diffuser at the back which will be generating more downforce. Normally this should allow more overtaking moves.”
Wolff, however, remains adamant the new rules will not have the desired effect.
“The car look spectacular, wide, I can hide under the diffuser and it’s going to have much more downforce, it will go much quicker through the corners,” he said. “Unfortunately, it has an air wake behind the car which will make the problem even bigger than we have this year. The moment you approach, you lose downforce, you start to slide the tire – it cooks the tire and you can’t overtake.”
Wolff said he would have liked the rules to stay as they are, not because Mercedes is dominating, but because he believes that would have closed up the field.
“The longer you leave the rules alone, the more the field will come together and the performance will converge,” he said. “It’s clear also other teams out there will be saying Mercedes is optimistic and that it’s clear they want to leave rules where they are because they are doing well. It’s actually quite the opposite which is true.
“If we were to have a rule change, we are in a good place with our structure to do it [and be ahead] again. From that principle, we said we believe there is an inherent risk of the racing being more boring. I can understand some other teams want to roll the dice. We stated our opinion, we weren’t heard and that’s OK.”