Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Better racing in 2017? “Don’t hold your breath” says Hamilton

2017 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton remains unconvinced the new regulations for 2017 will deliver more exciting action on the track after his first runs in the new Mercedes.

The Mercedes driver had already warned before the new rules for 2017 were introduced that it would make overtaking more difficult. After driving the W08 for three days Hamilton believes overtaking will be more difficult this year.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
F1 testing day three in pictures
“Now the turbulence is easily twice as powerful from the back of the car,” said Hamilton. “So that’s twice the issue, it magnifies the issue we had before.”

“We’ve got all this downforce and we need more mechanical grip, better grip from these bigger tyres, and less downforce, whereas it’s gone the other way,” he added. “Let’s hope the racing’s fantastic but don’t hold your breath.”

Hamilton’s first impression of Pirelli’s new tyres was that the change from last year is very noticeable.

“Hopefully with these tyres Pirelli have provided a tyre that is reliable and pretty solid,” he said. “You can do so many laps on these tyres, they’re probably the hardest tyres I’ve driven.”

Hamilton added it was difficult to gauge which of the two major changes for this season had the biggest effect on lap time.

“It’s difficult to quantify how much of it is just downforce and how much is tyre performance,” he said. “I’m told there’s not a lot in tyre performance, half a second or something like that to last year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 23 comments on “Better racing in 2017? “Don’t hold your breath” says Hamilton”

    1. According to Lewis following and therefore, overtaking will be harder this year, while according to Max it won’t. I guess we’ll have to wait and see until Melbourne at the very earliest to be sure although I think the venue for Round 3: Bahrain International Circuit will be a better indicator of the ability of these cars regarding follow another car and close racing etc. as it’s a more ‘racing-friendly’ circuit than the two preceding ones (Albert Park and Shanghai International Circuit).

      1. I suppose it will also depend on whether the slip-streaming effect is increased with these new rules. If so, then I can see circuits like Monza where with both slip-streaming and DRS, overtaking should be easier.

      2. The Mercedes is pretty very bad at following in the wake of a fairly competitive car. The Redbulls have consistently suffered less from wake turbulence. Which puts them on a good stead in those corners preceding a straight.

        1. Very good point!

      3. @jerejj I’d rely on Hamilton’s point of view given his experience and that he’s also a very active guy in terms of overtaking. Not dismissing Max’s opinions, but Hamilton has driven very different iterations of F1 cars (and other formulas) compared to Max who only has 3 seasons in motorsport.

        Lewis said last year the exact same thing, and that’s disappointing because he surely realized his point of view was correct. And it also shows that all the drivers sort of know what direction the cars should go, and F1 went the other way.

    2. I remain convinced they needed to make these changes. Just knowing they aren’t doddling around on gadget tires is a lot. Knowing they’re working harder in the car means a lot too. And I remain confident that these are great changes to have made as a base for further tweeking. Tires too hard? They can easily change that. Still too clean air dependent? They can change that too. But for me the cars and their potential are exciting, and I don’t think there will ever be a perfect formula that will please everyone. I know I certainly was never expecting that these major changes were some sort of guarantee that they’d nail a new formula, but as I say I believe it is a great start.

      1. @robbie my opinion isn’t worth much, but I’m 100% with you.

        Would subscribe to every single one of those words

    3. When Max talks about it being the same he’s probably had a play about behind midfield cars in what could be a front runner.

      I suspect Hamilton is hypothesising about being behind his team mate, Red Bull, and Ferrari.

      Given the changes made I don’t see how it couldn’t be harder than last year. More turbulence and more aero dependent.

      So overtaking the midfield shouldn’t be much different as long as there is a performance delta. But overtaking a car with performance parity must be more difficult.

      1. @philipgb You could add that we might have more drivers pushed to make mistakes which is also part of putting pressure and good defending and could produce great racing. In the last few years, they were driving well within the car and the driver capabilities thus we had not many driver errors leading to passes, it might change this year. Hopefully.

        1. @jeanrien

          I’m expecting fewer mistakes with the more powerful aero. 2014-2016 we saw the cars with more power than grip, less so towards the end of the rule era. So you had drivers occasionally having the car step out on them and generally looking like they moved around underneath them more than the old V8 days.

          With this big step up in aero I’d expect the cars to behave more planted, and there to be generally fewer mistakes made.

          1. Haven’t seen it that way but it holds… Let’s hope not however. Still Stroll accidents and Hamilton’s comments tend to say that driver could be pushed to mistake.

    4. Wider tyres. Less aero.

      1. Arie Kanarie
        1st March 2017, 21:00

        Wider knowledge, less kicking open doors.

    5. Michael Brown (@)
      1st March 2017, 21:36

      Translation: the Mercedes still sucks in dirty air

    6. Well good thing I’m not holding my breath or I’d probably pass out. I still like the idea of these supposedly indestructible tyres though. Hopefully they can be pushed hard enough (or pirelli can edge it in that direction) to the point of dropping off just enough to allow some strategic variation.

      It’s all hopes and wishes right, as he says. It’s the best we can do. Seems like he’ll be campaigning pretty hard for less aero, which is a good thing mind. Just hope it’s not wasted breath, can be just as fruitless as holding it.

    7. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      1st March 2017, 22:30

      We need better racing to counter the appalling effort Craig slater puts in on any voice over he does on Sky F1. I almost switched off the test roundup before it finished. His monotone news reader style does nothing to excite the viewer one single bit. *phew rant over*

    8. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      2nd March 2017, 3:42

      I rate Lewis above any other driver on the grid bar Alonso but he does moan about turbulent air far too much. The annoying thing is that of the drivers that are capable of overcoming it he is one of the best. Just shut up and get on with it son.

    9. We fans are way too experienced to assume things before the seasons progresses.

      Motorsports is interesting, sometimes the smallest of tweaks makes a major difference, take the rule change with tyre allocations/choices last year. That produced quite interesting midfield battles. If the performance gap throughout the grid was closer, it’d have made a massive difference.

    10. I don’t have a problem with F1 trying something new (even though lots of fans suspected the new rules would result in poor overtaking when they were first announced), but why should I have to pay for a whole season of F1 races with almost no overtaking? If fans can suspect there is a problem, and top F1 people suspect there is a problem, then maybe there will be a problem. I think F1 needs to have a backup plan: what are they going to do if the racing at Melbourne is less racing and more parade? You can’t realistically expect the teams to bin their current cars and go back to their 2016 cars, so F1 needs to have a plan that utilises the positives of these rules and changes the bits like the rules that result in excessive turbulence and are detrimental to overtaking.

    11. I watched like 2 F1 races last year, I don’t think it can get much worse. I reckon that with realistically degrading tyres and aero that actually is made to do something the racing will be better or at least less artificial. Overtaking is not everything.

    12. “We’ve got all this downforce, and we need more mechanical grip, better grip from these bigger tyres, and less downforce, whereas it’s gone the other way,”
      – The real problem is how the downforce is implemented, not the amount of it, so easing the ability to follow another car closely doesn’t necessarily require less downforce, but just a less clean air dependent way of producing it, for example, more floor-dominated (i.e., GE-style) downforce would be better in that regard than wing-dominant downforce, in which F1 has primarily relied on since the mid-90s at least.

    13. There’s something fundamentally wrong when the two highest paid drivers, Hamilton & Alonso, continue to badmouth the formula even before a wheel has turned in anger. Their massive pay days come courtesy of the sport they are belittling and I think it behoves them to perhaps act a little more positively when discussing the future. Constructive critique is one thing but it should be aimed at the governing body not bandied around in the popular press knowing that they will get headlines..

      Frankly, Alonso’s attitude stinks, and whilst I understand his frustration over the current situation @ McLaren/Honda almost every-time he opens his mouth it seems to be a negative. He does seem to create a corrosive atmosphere wherever he goes. I am a longtime fan of his driving prowess, but it saddens me to hear his constant criticism of a sport that has treated him well. Lewis, on the other hand, is a tad more laid back in his approach, but they are still negatives before the season has even started. I cannot think of another major sport where two top achievers bite the hand that feeds them quite so much.

      These guys are lucky to still be getting their massive pay days whilst the rest of the sport is starved of cash..

    Comments are closed.