FEBRUARY 8, 2017
F1 designer worried about 2017 rules shakeup
A well-known F1 engineer is concerned the sport is setting off down the wrong path with its radical new rules for 2017.
On social media, Carlos Sainz posted a photo demonstrating that he has drastically bulked up muscle in preparation for the much faster cars set to race this year.
But Luca Furbatto - a former designer for McLaren, Toro Rosso and most recently Manor - is concerned that the 2017 rules might not actually be good for the show.
Firstly, he is worried that the top teams will pull away from the rest of the field.
"In particular," he told Italian journalist Leo Turrini's blog, "Mercedes and Red Bull always build a better chassis than rivals with more modest resources."
And he thinks the new, bigger and wider Pirelli tyres, while increasing mechanical grip, will also favour the teams with the better aerodynamic resources.
"For the cars that generate higher downforce, their grip will be even higher, which will also affect the difference between teams even though everyone hoped that it would be the other way around," he said.
As for the 'power units', Furbatto worries that the importance of the complex technology will continue to dominate in 2017 even though the emphasis appears to be shifting to aero.
"I don't think we will see a change for the better," said the Italian.
"Actually, I think it's the opposite. A 2017 car will spend a higher percentage of the lap at full throttle, so the benefit for the teams with the most power will only increase."
He said the extra power could also mean drivers have to conserve more fuel, while many commentators are concerned that faster cars and shorter braking zones could make overtaking harder.
"I don't want to criticise the new regulations," said Furbatto, "but I look at objective data and the results of calculations.
"As for entertainment, in my opinion this is not directly related to speed. At Mugello for example, a MotoGP is 25 seconds slower than a F1 car, but I cannot say that a MotoGP race is less spectacular."
He said a better route for F1 might have been to follow the Le Mans direction, where designers have more freedom to design fundamentally different cars than their rivals.
So when predicting the likely pecking order in 2017, Furbatto said: "I expect victories to be disputed between Mercedes and Red Bull.
"Red Bull have always made an excellent chassis under the leadership of Adrian Newey, while the Mercedes car as a whole is very balanced with the best engine in the series.
"But I fully admit that we could see some surprises that could shake things up."
As for Ferrari, Furbatto concluded: "I will refrain from making forecasts, but I do believe we will see some results from last year's reshuffle in the leadership team."