With the 2016 season over, and another world champion crowned, driver and teams are looking towards the next season hoping to start on the correct foot for a promising season. Teams have to adapt to new rules and regulations, but one of the most important change seems to be one that is to be adopted by Pirelli.
2017 will see tyres approx. 25% wider with a larger diameter, this would inevitably impact the tyre footprint and account for more grip. Testing has been underway throughout the summer with 3 current F1 teams providing Pirelli with test cars that simulate the down-forces that will be generated in next years cars. Down-force is thought to increase by up to 20% so newer technology must be applied to next years tyres.
Testing was concluded at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix during this weekends race, with the new tyres being presented at the Yas Marina Paddock earlier in the week. A new tread design has also been unveiled for the intermediate and the wet tyres.
The combination of a larger footprint and higher down-force means that 2017 cars are expected to complete laps up to 2 seconds quicker than 2016 cars and up to 5 seconds quicker than the 2015 cars. Pirelli is also focusing its effort on 2018 when cars are expected to completed laps even quicker.
As an engineer I am excited at the concept of pushing these incredible machines even further to their limit with improvement being made to technology every year. I also feel the increased down-force and increased footprint would make the sport so much more exciting, from an engineering point of view it makes total sense. From a Formula 1 fan point of view I feel like the cars look better with the wider tyres, they remind me of how F1 used to be... they're the best of where we came from and the best of what we can expect.