Mercedes chief Toto Wolff insists new regulations increased competition
Formula One‘s new rules are ‘just what the doctor ordered’, even if rival teams have become more competitive, according to Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff.
2017 features one of the biggest regulation shake-ups since the introduction of hybrid turbo power units in 2014. This time bodywork and tyres are the centre of attention, with both getting wider in order to boost downforce and grip, making the cars both faster and physically harder to drive. In fact, a reduction in lap time of around 3 to 5 seconds is expected…
A rule change has been made to prevent drivers stockpiling spare power unit elements. During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty.
Wet-weather standing starts
If a safety car is deemed to be required for the beginning of a race due to wet weather, unlike previously a normal standing start will occur once the track is deemed safe to race. The process will see the safety car return to the pit lane and the cars assemble on the grid for the start.
Drivers must continue to use essentially the same helmet design at all races for easy recognition of the driver in the car. However, each driver is now allowed to use a special livery at one event of his choosing, such as a home race for example. Drivers will also be allowed to change their helmet liveries if changing teams during the season.
Wolff, speaking ahead of Sunday’s Australian season-opener in Melbourne, insisted Mercedes, the dominant team of the past three years, faced a big challenge under the new regulations.
‘We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules — but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before,’ said Wolff.
‘In a way, it’s just what the doctor ordered. To have such a challenge is good for the team.
‘We have done the best job we possibly could over the winter and, if we are not the fastest in Melbourne, then it’s about finding out why and what needs to be done to get us back to that top spot.’