Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2016

F1 won’t be flat-out in 2017, says Hamilton

2017 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton doubts Formula One’s rules overhaul for 2017 will succeed in creating cars which drivers can push to the limit.

The Mercedes driver made the claim during today’s FIA press conference after Fernando Alonso said he is unlikely to continue after next year if he does not get more satisfaction from driving the new cars.

“I’ve been lucky enough to drive 2003, 2004, 2005 cars, even until 2009 the cars were in my opinion more extreme, more Formula One cars,” said Alonso. “Now when I see GP2 running three seconds away in FP1 it feels a little bit sad.”

Raffaele Marciello, GP2, Baku City Circuit, 2016
GP2 is too close to F1 speeds, says Alonso
“Cars are heavy, no grip, we save fuel, we save tyres, we save everything from lap one. So it’s a little bit against the instinct of the driver.”

“Next year is a big question mark. I think with the new regs everything will change a little bit. I think if the cars are fun to drive, exciting to drive, I will probably stay longer, drive more years in Formula One. And if the cars are still giving me the feeling I have had in the last couple of years probably will stop.”

“But it’s not related if you are competitive or not, if you are out of Q1 or you are winning a championship, it’s just you are enjoying driving the car or you are not enjoying. Right now in my opinion the cars are not enjoyable, but probably because I drove older cars. If you arrive now into Formula One these cars are very fast and very fun to drive. But not for me any more.”

Hamilton agreed with Alonso’s assessment but said he does not believe the 2017 rules changes, including wider wings and tyres and more durable rubber, will lead to more flat-out racing.

“In terms of the rules the car’s going to be the same next year, just a different looking car,” said Hamilton. “The same issues are going to be the same.”

2016 and 2017 F1 car designs compared
How F1 cars will change in 2017
“What Fernando is saying, we slow down as soon as we’ve done the start, got that out of the way generally. We’re not pushing 100% like perhaps they used to do, it was a more extreme race back in the day.”

“And for us all starting in go-karts that’s what it was from the get-go. Lights out, it was a sprint race to the end. Formula One’s not about that any more, it’s about preserving your tyres, preserving your battery power, preserving your turbo, preserving all these elements which are not what people tune in to see.”

“And the governing body’s continuing to push the car… next year’s going to be even more heavy. Probably not going to have great grip. The car will be faster but it’ll have the same characteristics that we have now.”

“I might be wrong, but most likely. And we will drive the same next year, just with a heavier car and have to save fuel, save tyres, do the same things.”

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Keith Collantine
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  • 40 comments on “F1 won’t be flat-out in 2017, says Hamilton”

    1. Hm, I get it that Hamilton agrees with Alonso on not being able “to push all the way” like they did when we still had refuelling. But him mentioning

      Probably not going to have great grip. The car will be faster but it’ll have the same characteristics that we have now.”

      when everything that is in the rules points to both greater mechanical grip (the huge tyres) AND more downforce giving more grip, kind of makes me wonder about his judgement.

      Maybe it’s all just nostalgia / pink glasses?

      1. Why would he be able to go more flat out becouse the cars have more mechanical grip and more downforce?

        Feels like you are missquoting Hamilton.

      2. maybe the extra 5kg of fuel will only be good enough to cover the wider tires and increased frontal area/drag ?

        Lewis is right, if you want flat out racing, you need to stop over regulating things like fuel. Allow refueling and allow teams to limit themselves. Allow competition between tire makers for better tires. It’s so obvious, but people keep wanting to believe in the guys writing the rules. #Tragedy

      3. the problem is next year cars will be 722 KG which pushes W/P even more so some of the gained advantage with new aero package rules will only serve them to have that extra additional luggage. Hence teams will be required to monitor tire durability and stint length along with fuel usage going up with additional drag the cars create.
        As long as the extreme reliability path remains in F1, no way we can see flat out racing.

      4. Mansell's Stache
        25th August 2016, 16:43

        I watched the 1998 Official Season Review the last few nights. There was no pink…only tears.

      5. @BasCB….

        Interesting you questioning his judgement but not that of Alonso, even though his comment is inline with what Alonso said.

        Also Alo referred back to 03, 04 and 05, Lewis started in 07, so what rose tinted glass/nostalgia would he be going on about?

        1. You completely misunderstand what part of his comments I refer to if you say that @kng11, same goes for @rethla, @xsavior, etc.

          I can fully understand and even agree with what Alonso mentions (and Hamilton agrees with) about the racing not getting better, the tyre/fuel saving still being a large factor etc. The tyres might be more durable next year, and hopefully allow a bit more pushing on them, but it will still be far from going full throttle wherever the track allows.

          The part where Hamilton is talking nonsense, is when he mentions that the cars next year will not behave differently and will not have much grip, just like now. Even with the current cars they are rather underpowered than undergripped. And next year the design will offer MORE grip because of both mechanical things (tyres) AND added downforce. So they will certainly not miss grip or downforce and they will feel quite differently in their handling than they do now because of that.
          Alonso does not mention they won’t change (in fact he mentions he hopes it will be better) in their behaviour, that is the difference between those statements.

          1. Always amuses me to see these armchair analysts who think they know better than professionals. A professional F1 driver, who has won the WDC 3 times, and who may well be on the way to win it a 4th time, no less.

            Yet you sit in your armchair and smuggly declare that he is talking nonesense.

            Now thats funny!!

            1. @stubbornswiss While of course it is hard to argue your point…what do we know from our armchairs…I do agree with @bascb too.

              From our armchairs it seems almost impossible that the cars won’t be quite different next year, particularly with respect to tires.

              Since the best I can do is speculate from my armchair, I get the sense from both FA and LH that they are being deliberately pessimistic to try to goad F1 into changing the right way. They’ve both admitted they could be wrong. We all know we will just have to wait and see. But so drastic are the changes, and especially if the tires no longer have this narrow temp window, things surely can’t be worse. Perhaps FA and LH just think it won’t be going far enough, but I think to imply little will change truly remains to be seen which is why both drivers have left room that they could be wrong.

              I also remain steadfast in my belief that if indeed there is little difference initially, these new cars will carry more potential to be tweeked for improvement than the current ones.

              For now though, I do find it kind of depressing that these two icons of the sport are hardly being good ambassadors with their lack of optimism, which again makes me wonder if they are being intentional with their shots across the bow aimed at F1.

            2. @stubbornswiss
              I agree, FA & LH are saying essentially the same thing. They hope it’ll be better but suspect it’ll be the same. Things where different when racing was last flat out, refuelling, tyre wars, multiple engines per weekend, lots of testing. Everyone now needs to save tyres in quali for the race, fuel in the race and engines over a weekend do they don’t take penalties in later races. It’s trying to be an enduro championship rather than the top formula all out sprint it used to be and that we all want.

          2. @bascb Don’t forget they talking (and experiencing) about an era with refueling. Lighter cars with lighter load means it push them more throughout the race. Also refueling eliminating most of the concern of fuel saving and tire wear, since they have more freedom to change their tactic during the race, depending on how situation folds out. Improvements in 2017 won’t push the drivers as hard as refueling era.

          3. @bascb – There’s a difference between a few percentage points more grip and “I’m having fun because there’s monster grip” which is how I read Hamilton’s comments. He’s saying that he doesn’t expect a significant, car-character changing upgrade. Which is a real shame if he’s right.

            1. sure, you can read into it what you want. But it is not what he said. And while I think the change in how the car handles will be significantly different, overall they will still be saving fuel (because it is faster than taking on a lot of it), they will still be saving tyres (because, well, track position) and they will be even harder to race close (maybe apart from getting a good tow on the staights due to higher drag from the tyres), so the racing will most likely not be much different overall.

            2. @bascb And thats exactly what Hamilton said.
              You take one sentance out of context and gives it another meaning than what he is really talking about. Then you critizise him for that which is nonsense.

              Its what headlinehunters on poor magazines would do.

            3. @bascb
              You just wrote exactly what LH said.
              Does your conclusion make you wander about your own judgement too?

            4. Guys, there IS a huge difference.

              Hamilton mentions that the CARS will behave almost the same and have little grip. Reality is that they will behave very differently and have a huge amount of grip. So no, he is not right. And no, we are not saying the same.

    2. The cars are definitely heavier, but that has got to do with current regulations. Just revert to the previous V8s, add a simpler hybrid system with less weight. Remove the turbo. Then add the 2017 aerodynamic and tyre rules to that. Then remove the fuel flow and fuel amount limits and let them rev to their max potential. That should make them push harder for sure.

      1. Also, the engine part limit is a bit counterproductive because while it does save money, every unit obviously will cost more since it has to last longer. Remove that and drivers can afford to spend more time pushing hard. Simpler engine regulations would give more spending money with which they could fund the increase in used engines per season.

      2. but the v8 was very weak

      3. The sport will never go back to V8 and keep its present manufacturers involved in F1. And Bernie wants manufacturers involved in F1.

    3. I’m amazed that anybody thought that it was going to be flat-out. Perhaps the tyres might have more durability but that does not mean that tyre saving will stop.

    4. Lewis, blame your team for the continued, significant fuel saving which will be required next year.

      Renault proposed abolishing I the race fuel limit, but Mercedes refused to agree hence the tepid compromise of increasing the fuel allowance to 105 kg per race –

      http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/f1-poised-to-raise-fuel-limit-for-2017-689216/

      1. It would probably have something to do with the fact Mercedes are good on fuel and Renault aren’t so good, I don’t buy Mercedes argument it’s to keep the environmental message nor do I buy Renaults that they only want to remove it for the ‘good of the sport’ as it’s what F1 is about, give me a break on both reasons. PR spinning at it’s worst.

        In reality though by removing the limit how much would that make the racing better? If fuel was no concern then they could push more, less lift and coast etc, but then that puts more strain on the engine, so they would need to manage that more as well, it would also put more strained on already very strained breaks, so they would need to manage those even more or add bigger brakes, adding more weight, the added weight of the extra fuel, the impact on the tyres. That’s the problem with Formula 1, fix one thing brake another, thats what happens every time.

        To have an F1 car where a driver can push 100% of the time at 100% then the car would need to have

        – No Fuel Limit Restrictions
        – Massive Brakes (Seeing as we are currently at the limit of F1 brake technology)
        – Super Reliable and ultra strong engines that could be pushed 100% of the time
        – Tyre construction that could cope with all track types and the loads they are put under and the extra weight of the car
        – Tyre compounds that offer maximum grip no matter what conditions they are in, out in front or in traffic, no matter the surface. If there were degradation of any kind the team would save tyres so they could save a pit stop if it was faster so
        they cant degrade at all while being pushed at 100%, meaning no more than 1 pit stop as required by regulations.

        Theres are probably a 1000 other things the cars would need to have in order for pushing at 100% for 100% of the race, but I don’t recall there ever being an era in F1 when drivers have had such cars? They have always had to save something…Engines, Tyres, Gearboxes, Fuel, The car as a whole etc.

        Would it be nice to see the cars pushing to the max a 100% of the time, if the issues above are sorted then sure why not, It would be pretty epic. Does that really solve the problems with F1, would that actually make the racing more competitive or exciting? Creating a Formula 1 where there can be true competition up and down the grid throughout the season with wheel to wheel racing from lights out to flag is what would be truly epic, but thats just as likely to happen as drivers pushing the cars to the max 100% of the time.

        1. The trouble with focussing on the fuel limit is this: The drivers still had to fuel save in the V8 era when the fuel limit wasn’t in place (with either wonderful and/or disastrous consequences in races like Turkey 2010). The teams have always put as little fuel in the cars as they dared to keep the weight down.

      2. Why should he blame his own team when he is winning championships with them and with the car.

        To be honest, I enjoyed this season more than last season and more than last 2 V8 seasons where Vettel won everything. At least ROS/HAM teammate combination giving more race action and drama since SENNA/Prost era.

        1. Last two V8 seasons? In 2012 Vettel won five races out 20.

      3. They don’t even carry the maximum of 100kg at the moment. So why should 105kg be a problem?

        It’s simply faster to take less fuel on board and gamble on a safety car to save some fuel (pun intended). Or otherwise go a bit slower here and there in the race to save some fuel.

    5. Be nice to have a minimum fuel limit set. Remove the advantage of underfilling the car and saving fuel…

      1. Then they would run fuel burning maps… :D #thisisF1

    6. Thank you Mr.Alonso,

      As a longtime fan of Formula One I want to say thanks for all you have done in your pursuit of becoming Drivers Champion.

      Today I read your comments about the type of Grand Prix car you have to drive and can say so many of F1 fans feel as you do that todays cars have become sorry examples of what we really want, a race car that tests the drivers abilities, one that screams at us fans and one that looks cool and goes like hell.

      Thanks, TED BELL

      PS i just wish the FIA would listen to what you drivers want, but we all know their hands are tied by the all mighty dollar

    7. This really surprises me.

      The tyres alone should definitely allow the cars to push harder, as they’re no longer designed to degrade.

    8. Just my 2 cents
      As long as the regulations are focused more on cost saving measures drivers and teams will naturally go into conservative mode, simply because it’s more efficient. The racing’s always going to suffer. It’s the nature of the beast.
      Limited development and testing, fuel/tire preservation, tokens etc…..sure it’s cheaper but it’s restricting the fundamental elements that make F1 great.
      It can only go one way.

      1. They spend almost half a billion on those cars every year. The money is most definitely not the issue. Quickly degrading tyres, fuel restrictions, no refuelling, ever higher car weights etc are things which keep the drivers from going flat out like they used to before.

        1. My point exactly….. it’s the regulations that are the concern.
          Of course it a it’s somewhat of a pretence, the whole money saving mantra of modern day F1. But for whatever the reason they’ve restricted certain crucial elements of the sport. (the exception being refueling which is more a safety measure….)
          I’ll give you an example-

          -Tyre restrictions- obviously, financially it’s much better the way it is.

          Imagine ……unlimited fresh, durable, sticky tires for FP/qualifying/race…..
          It would surely improve the fans experience- not to mention what it would do for the drivers’.
          If you could give them all the best rubber as standard, with a minimum manditory 2 stop race it would change everything.

          In the event of on track penilties- in FP it’s back to the pits for an allotted time- say anywhere from 10mins up until end of session, depending on severity.

          In qualifying a penilty sees you start the race in a slower/much slower compound tyre. Again, depending on the severity.

          For the race it sould be stricter- any penalties incur a punishment from SLOWEST tyre at the next pitstop to a stop-go

          If you want to go back to real racing you need to cut costs in other areas (perhaps BE’s salary would be a good start) and not scrimp on the fundamentals.
          Cheers

    9. Essentially this is teams unable to unlearn what they have learned…

      And they have learned, by providing car with limited cooling, breaking, etc… they are able to get faster quali times.

      Then by getting ahead under lower fuel, they are able to start faster, make a gap, and then save fuel, brakes, engine all the way to the end, and win.

      No team trying to win will now run a car that can push for entire race, because their quali laptime will be uncompetitive, having better downforce and lower weight is better than, more cooling and more fuel… for “more pushing”, when your tires dont last.

      Pirelli is promising longer lasting tires, we will see if that turns out to be true.

      Lets say that it does… how will teams approach races? Best bet is.. same as now, drive to the limit of least reliable component. Weight will still be 20% higher than 2004, so for sure slower in slow corners. Fast corners will be flat mostly, end of straights will be lift and coast to provide lighter fuel load. Or worse lift and coast out of necessity.

      Whatever the result in race teams wont run 580kg+50kg of fuel, but 722kg+70-90kg of fuel.

      Aero can be the redeeming factor or final blow… all depending on how following another car will work.

      Still physics are physics… weight hurts performance and downforce drops off in dirty air. So Lewis is right…

      1. But then again I don’t think it matters whether you drive a 605 kg or 800 kg race car. Flat out = flat out regardless of weight. They lighter car will be faster, but it’s all relative. If lift and coast is faster than topping it with fuel, thats racing.

        I don’t like the idea of returning in-race refueling. Yes you can drive a car faster on empty fuel loads, but there’s a certain challenge of managing a car with changing dynamics (due weight) and pushing it over the course of a race.

        As far as I’m concerned, the biggest problem are the tires.

    10. I really don’t care what driver says what about this year or next year. The current format sucks. I use to look forward to each race weekend, now I tend to not even tune in as its boring. This is not racing, it is not interesting at all.

      That is the sad part, even motogp has lost luster and I never thought that I would say that either.

    11. We have bigger problems than 2017 regs.
      All of the major OEMs, including Daimler, are aggressively pushing autonomous vehicle technology and promising to market level-4 vehicles by 2020, if not even earlier.
      The OEM’s interest in our sport is going to evaporate over the next decade, and FOM and FIA are making a big mistake tying the fortunes of the sport to the business interests of the OEMs.

    12. KAISER ZUGELHALT
      15th September 2016, 20:06

      Why is it that the main concern seems to be how much fun the driver’s are having? Same deal in NASCAR, commentators are always talking about, and asking the driver’s, whether or not they are having fun. Is the rest of the world population so concerned for the fun welfare of a hand full of lucky kids that get to live this incredible life, and get paid immense fortunes to do so? Heaven forbid if the fun meter isn’t pegged at full tilt 24/7. Maybe the rest of us can give up some of our own fun, any time a turn-in, apex, track-out doe not exude a feeling off euphoric fun and pure bliss, and donate it to these poor downtrodden driver’s. It breaks my heart, and brings a tear to my eyes, to see these unfortunate souls, agonizing for fractions of seconds, because they momentarily miss out on their full on fun potential, while sitting on top of the world.

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