F1 fans speak: Give us more overtaking rather than faster looking cars

Although Formula 1’s new 2017 rules are now confirmed, there is clearly a concern among fans of the sport that the new regulations will not address its current problems judging from poll numbers that indicate that 87% of fans want rules that promote close racing more than faster cars.

The 2017 regulations, which were ratified by the FIA last week, will create wider cars (from 1800mm up to 2000mm) thanks to bigger bodywork, with wider front and rear wings, larger tyres and aerodynamic devices to work the air harder as it passes underneath the cars.

Red Bull wing

Eric Boullier has defended the 2017 rule changes; the package adopted was based on the proposals from his McLaren engineers, over other proposals including one from Red Bull.

“The car will generate more grip from the tyres, so it is mechanical. This should not hurt the overtaking numbers,” he said. “And on top of this, the aero, the influence of the front wing, will be less as the floor itself and the diffuser will be generating more downforce as well.

“All this normally allows more overtaking manoeuvres.”

The engine rules have been changed too, with the ultimate objective of convergence of performance, as happened a decade ago with the V8 engines. Other changes relate to the cost and supply issues with the V6 turbo power units. From next year, each F1 engine manufacturer has an “obligation to supply” customer teams and the units will cost €1m less than they do now, and this will fall by a further €3m in 2018.

The obligation to supply means that if a team does not have an engine deal for the following season, the FIA will tell the manufacturer with the lowest number of existing customers to arrange a deal.

Mercedes engine

This should avoid a repeat of the 2015 Red Bull engine saga, but the agreement will not apply to new manufacturers in the first season of their participation in F1.

The FIA will also require the manufacturers to supply a “homologation dossier” that is aimed at ensuring convergence between the power unit producers and making sure their customers are receiving exactly the same specification of engine.

The number of power unit components each driver can use before getting a penalty will also be reduced from 2018. This means every driver can only use three internal combustion engines, three turbochargers, three MGU-Hs, two energy stores, two sets of control electronics and two MGU-Ks every year, with penalties being applied if they go over these limits.

XPB.cc Esteban Gutierrez

The manufacturers are also conducting more research to make the engines louder and the FIA hopes this will be implemented for the 2018 season.

Fan feedback

Last weekend, we asked JA on F1 readers what was a priority for them when it came to watching F1: how the cars looked, closer battles and overtaking, or if they were unconcerned either way.

The poll results showed that out of almost 3,300 votes, 87 per cent of readers (2,880 votes) wanted F1 to promote closer battles and overtaking. The results also revealed that 281 readers favoured faster, sexier looking F1 cars, with the remaining 135 people unconcerned.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.11.32

This suggests that many fans of the sport feel F1 has, once again, potentially answered the wrong question with the 2017 regulations. if it turns out that the wider cars with more downforce, ultimately reduce overtaking as a result of drivers being unable to follow one another closely through corners.

F1 drivers concerned over 2017 rules

This is a view shared by some of the drivers. Speaking before last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, Force India’s Sergio Perez explained how he feels F1 needs closer competition between the teams, rather than pushing for more downforce with new rules.

Sergio Perez

He said: “I really hope that the sport goes in the right direction and we can see some more competition between the teams as we have seen in the past big gaps between the teams.

“I really hope we can have a much closer field and the regulations and the direction we’re going into can offer that and we can close up the gaps.

“That is what Formula 1 needs, in my opinion, more competition rather than more downforce.”

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg explained how the wider cars were not what the drivers, who hit out at what they called the “obsolete and “ill-structured” governance structure in F1 earlier this year, had wanted to see for 2017.

He said: “Our opinion was that it’s not the right direction to go and we were hoping that they would definitely re-look into it and make sure from a technical point of view.

“[But] now this is the way it is so all we can do is accept it and make the most of it and hope that there is going to be some surprises. Maybe we’re going to love the cars and enjoy driving them even more than now.

“Maybe all the grip is going to feel great or whatever. Now it’s just about accepting [it] and making the most of it.”

Kimi Raikkonen Sebastian Vettel

Leaving aside the changes to F1’s engine regulations, the 2017 aero rules will certainly make the cars look and travel much faster than they do right now and the wider tyres will mean the drivers can take their machines closer to the limit with more mechanical grip.

But, as explained by the drivers, the expected higher downforce levels will almost certainly make overtaking more difficult, a problem F1 has faced for some time and one that is clearly a major priority for the sport’s fans.


What do you make of F1’s 2017 regulations? Do you agree or disagree with the poll result? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to theJAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.