New tyres and aero shouldn’t harm overtaking – Hembery

2017 F1 season

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says the changes to F1 cars and tyres in 2017 shouldn’t make overtaking much more difficult.

This year’s cars will have wider wings and more powerful aerodynamics, prompting fears drivers will be unable to race each other closely due to the increased turbulence.

Interactive: How F1 cars are changing in 2017
However Hembery says the combination of more durable tyres and the aerodynamic changes should mitigate that problem.

“The package of aero that’s coming for this season is intended to reduce, if you like, that impact,” said Hembery at the Autosport International show.

“The tyres themselves, we’ve made them so there’s less thermal overheating of the surface and the idea of that is you’ll be able to push harder if you’re trying to overtake somebody.”

“So between the two the intention is that should be sufficient to give us stronger overtaking.”

New lap records

Hembery expects V10-era records will fall
Hembery believes the 2017 cars will quickly achieve their lap time performance target.

“You’ve got a 25 percent increase in the width of the tyre so you’re going to say at least 25 percent [more grip], because we’ve also changed a lot of the technology in the tyre itself,” he said.

“The objective we had, as a package between ourselves and the car, was a five second a lap improvement compared to Barcelona in 2015. You saw last year maybe a two, two-and-half second improvement already. So I think we’re going to get very close to that very early on.”

“I think the drivers are going to have quite a tough time,” Hembery added. “Their neck muscles are going to have to be well prepared for next season.” He predicted the new cars will be “flat out in a great number of corners”.

“We’ll start beating lap records that have stood since 2003 when we had refuelling and everything was quite open and free,” said Hembery. “We’ll be going back and beating records with cars that actually weigh 180 kilos more than those days. The performance is substantial and the cornering, 1G more in corners, these are big numbers.”

Fewer pit stops

However Hembery warned fans can expect to see fewer pit stops during races this year.

“We feel that the overheating aspect will be such that [there will be] less degradation, probably fewer tyre changes. That wasn’t the brief the first time around, we were asked to basically not go quicker in corners, create thermal challenge, create a challenge. Now we’ve almost moved in the opposite direction where it’s less thermal degradation, more stability.”

“The problem we’ve got is we’ve been testing with cars that are five seconds slower than what we’re actually going to see in a few weeks’ time in Barcelona. And that for the compounding aspect is a bit of a challenge for us because it’s a very small window that we’re working with. If the numbers aren’t what we’ve been told they’re going to be than we might have been a little bit conservative.”

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Keith Collantine
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18 comments on “New tyres and aero shouldn’t harm overtaking – Hembery”

  1. I still feel they’re completely in the blind creating a new tyre, although having zero relevant opportunity to test them on an actual fast car.

  2. My concern is more aero + more grip = Shorter braking distances and LESS overtaking.

    1. Will Pirelli still require minimum tyre pressures?

    2. Yeah, and the faster they go, the more narrow the track becomes. Yet the cars just got wider AND faster.

      1. Faster they go the narrower the track ? Is that relativistic length contraction?

    3. @asanator The shorter braking zones may be an issue for overtaking as there will be less room to outbrake someone……… However the wider cars/tyres may actually counteract that to some extent as the cars will now be a lot more stable under heavy braking.
      The cars in general will be a more stable platform which gives more room for drivers to really lean on them & throw them around which may actually help overtaking by giving drivers more room & confidence to have a go at outbraking someone as well as trying moves in places you don’t often see.

      The narrower cars seen since 1998 were a lot less stable & a lot twitchier in certain situations which left less margin for error under late braking. Additionally the narrower cars were far more prone to snap oversteer which limited what drivers could try to do when looking to get by someone.
      The wider cars seen up until 1998 were far more stable, Gave a bit more confidence & lost grip in a more progressive/controllable way which allowed drivers to try things they were less able to with the narrower cars.
      Same is true with the tyres.

      There’s some little details with the new rules that people are overlooking. The theory that more aero = harder to follow & therefore worse racing isn’t as straightforward as that. The increase in overall grip, Especially the extra mechanical grip from the tyres & increase in downforce been generated by the floor/diffuser may well make following closer a bit easier & the more durable/less temperature sensitive tyres should allow cars to follow closer for longer. And the wider cars/tyres and the more stable platform they give will do as I describe above.

      1. Thanks again @gt-racer for a great summation and a positive spin on things. This is how I have been trying to think of the new direction they are going in spite of a lot of negative assumptions being made just because of wider wings. Even if there is still some processional racing due to the simple fact that all these cars will always perform better in clean air, the increase in grip should help to negate that somewhat and at a minimum we will know these drivers are working harder and performing greater feats. We’ve seen cars with these dimensions before, but not with these torquey PUs.

        1. Thank you @gt-racer. As Robbie says this is a really good summation of how the changes will effect the cars and racing (hopefully). Especially for the less technical among us.

        2. I hope that what you say turns out to be true, however historically lower, wider rear wings and bigger diffusers have created ‘dirtier’ air which is why the 2009 changes came into being in the first place. This combined with shorter braking distances makes me worry that overtaking will be nigh on impossible as it was pre 2009. I suppose we will still have the DRS passes though ;).

          The cars can follow each other at present better than they have ever been able to. The problem is the thermally degrading tyres which overheat as soon as the car starts sliding and kills ALL grip.

    4. Who cares if we see a dramatic fall in overtaking if the new rules enable Red Bull or another team to compete for first place.

      I’d like to see at least one pass for the lead between teams this season.

  3. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    12th January 2017, 12:05

    … as if Hembery is going to say the opposite. Even if he really knew overtaking can be compromised, he wouldn’t admit to it.

  4. Could Pirelli not build their own 2017 spec car so they could get representative data. It must be difficult with mule cars that aren’t gonna be like the real thing. Having said that when was the last time F1 had a set of rules to go quicker. I’m really excited to see the new cars. I hope it works

    1. Yeah usually stability in the rules sees the cars go quicker and then they change the rules to slow them or change the dominance of one team. The new cars will ‘only’ bring them back to speeds or lap times they have achieved in the past, but now they are in safer cars on safer tracks. I share your excitement.

    2. F1 teams spend many tens of millions of dollars building a car. I guess Pirelli could have bought a chassis and made their own car, and then passed the cost onto the F1 teams. It would be far easier and cheaper to build a simulator and simulate the loadings they expect on the tyres by the end of this season, but ultimately they need to put the “rubber to the road” or people won’t believe their tyres are any good. Which is partly why they did the testing last year. I’m not sure if the cars used during the testing were going fast enough though.

  5. “The tyres themselves, we’ve made them so there’s less thermal overheating of the surface and the idea of that is you’ll be able to push harder if you’re trying to overtake somebody.”

    this is absolute nonsense. everyone will be pushing to whatever limit the tyre imposes (or any other factor) for any given point in the race. it is ridiculous to think that everyone’s chugging along at 7/10ths until they need to overtake someone.

    turbulence will surely be just as much of an issue as it was in the bridgestone days.

    1. Which Bridgestone days? The ones with narrower cars and non-torquey engines? Was there refuelling then? I think we should wait and see what the product is like, and I like to think that if they still can’t pass, at least these cars have more potential to be tweeked for improvements.

  6. Does anyone know if the wheel tethers have been improved for 2017, considering the wider tyres will be heavier?

    Also, should we expect pit stop times to be slightly longer with bigger tyres that may be more tricky for the pit guys to handle?

  7. It’ll probably be no different than what we’ve had in previous years. However, one thing is almost a guarantee. It’s going to be a beautiful procession.

    /end wishfulthinking

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