Formula One’s 2017 rules package was introduced because Bernie Ecclestone believed Max Verstappen’s success had made the sport look too easy, according to former Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds.
Verstappen made his Formula One debut in 2015 at the age of 17. He won his first race one year later after joining Red Bull.
However Symonds told F1 Racing magazine Verstappen’s rise to prominence had already become a cause for concern among the sport’s bosses. Before the 2016 season began new rules for 2017 were announced to make F1 cars faster.
Symonds said the decision to make the cars quicker did not come from a desire to improve the racing. “In my mind, this premise of going five seconds a lap faster has no basis in entertainment at all,” he said.
“I know it came from Bernie [Ecclestone] and through the Strategy Group. He felt affronted, initially, that a 17-year-old could get into a Formula One car and drive it.”
“I actually think the opposite. I think it’s great that a 17-year-old can get in and drive a Formula One car. If you want to attract a younger audience, you need younger drivers.”
“The feeling is that if they were five seconds a lap quicker, they would be that much more difficult to drive and a young driver wouldn’t be able to do it. Facts don’t really come into these suppositions that are made.”
The introduction of wider wings and other aerodynamic upgrades plus larger tyres has contributed to a reduction in lap times of around four seconds compared to last year. Drivers have reported the cars are now more physically demanding but have raised concerns over the effect they will have on the racing.
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year