Red Bull RB13 and RB12, Albert Park, Melbourne

Side-by-side: F1’s wide new look hits the track

2017 Australian Grand Prix

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How you react to Formula One’s new breed of wider cars may well depend on how long you’ve been watching it.

Win this genuine, race-used F1 rear wing endplate
Win this genuine, race-used F1 rear wing endplate
For those who’ve been following F1 for 20 years or more, the move from 1.8-metre to 2-metre wide cars represents a return to how the sport used to look. Those who discovered F1 more recently may see it differently.

The wider bodies, wheels and rear wings on this year’s cars makes for a jarring contrast with the designs of 12 months ago, as the images below show.

As well as improving how the cars look, the changes have been made to improve their performance, and so far most of the drivers appear to be pleased with the results.

The early signs are the changes have made the cars quicker, too. Lewis Hamilton’s fastest time on Friday was already two seconds quicker than the best during practice last year. Times should improve further tomorrow if the track stays dry and continues to yield more grip.

F1’s new cars have passed the first test. The big question now is how good the racing will be. The next few races should give us our first impression.

Lance Stroll, Williams, Albert Park, 2017
Lance Stroll, Williams, Albert Park, 2017
Felipe Massa, Williams, Albert Park, 2016
Felipe Massa, Williams, Albert Park, 2016
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2017
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2017
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Albert Park, 2017
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Albert Park, 2017
Kevin Magnussen, Renault, Albert Park, 2016
Kevin Magnussen, Renault, Albert Park, 2016
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2017
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2017
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2016
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2016
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2017
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2017
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2016
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2016

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 37 comments on “Side-by-side: F1’s wide new look hits the track”

    1. Apart from the rear wings and tyres there isn’t really too much difference to me.

      The redbull in particular has a bit ‘thicker’ engine cover and maybe the bargebord is a little wider but the sidepods and nose proper look slightly tighter if anything.

    2. Jean-Christophe
      24th March 2017, 13:59

      When I see these pics I find those tall rear wings so ugly! The same feeling I had when they first came up

      1. Yup, now seeing the old photos makes everything look strange. On the other hand I’m bitterly disappointed to how the cars look on track. The camera work is still poor, the cars look too long, the chassis looks too high, Hulkenberg is seating too high, the cars look planted yet not nimble and quick.

        1. +50cm

          Was keen to watch the new cars on track – to enjoy the wider, more menacing cars. Instead viewed wider, longer, taller panel vans truddling around with the same old boring camera angles. While the increased down force makes kinks out of corners, the extra weight makes them look fat and awkward. 200kg heavier than the ‘wide’ cars of the early nineties.

          1. Yet lap records are set to be broken race after race.

          2. The view from the front of the cars makes the changes worth it all by itself. Forget the lengths. The change in width looks ace! And now nothing else on 4 wheels goes anywhere near as fast. Also don’t forget that Melbourne is essentially a unique street circuit, The high speed corners at silverstone, Suzuka and the like will be epic

    3. Great pics, wow, what a difference. Just need fire out of the tail and some fire in the bellies of the drivers and we will be cooking with gas-oline. 10 Max’s would help. 20 would be greedy but not unwelcomed. Clone him !

    4. 2016 cars look like GP2 to me now. New cars look much better.

    5. I forgot about the changes to the rear wing and tyres as after 3 hours of watching practice it felt like the cars had always looked like this. It took quite a while back in 1998 or 2009 to get so used to the cars. Shame when they are now looking into the banning the sharkfin and t-wing they are not also looking at getting rid of the damn thumb noses, like a hairy wart on an otherwise beautiful ladies face.

    6. To be honest, I prefer the high rear wings.

    7. Not much visibility for rear wing adverts as of now.

      I hope that does not become a factor for changing the regulations.

    8. I’m just glad the narrow rear wings are finally gone. They always looked out of place on the cars.

    9. at first glance the cars look very similer especially from the front, but a second and third look make the 2016 ones looks like kids toys. what an amazing transformation. we are back to a spot of man and the real beast. lets hope it gets better :)

    10. All we need is those hideous Shark Fins banned and F1 Cars will be beautiful looking again for the first time since the 90’s

    11. Easy winner there..

    12. They forgot to take the TV aerial out on bottas’ car today. That’s why lewis was faster.

    13. to anyone that doesn’t watch f1 every race, the changes are so small, the cars just look so similar. to diehard fans, we see the difference more. the main difference is the lower read wing, the 20cm difference in width of the car is not very much, and the wider tyres are not the first thing the eye sees.and the cars still sound crap. at least they are quick now. but being 120kg heavier than in 2004, they don’t appear quicker in turns, because they are not, the speed is with the hybrid power on straights.

      1. Suggest you watch the Barcelona comparison lap between the F2004 and the SF70-H that’s floating around on YT. The latter corners every bit as hard as the former and, taking into account this was testing and not full pelt, probably faster.

    14. I think this generation of cars has a more “natural” racing car look, which I like.

      1. Nothing is more natural on a racingcar than a TV antenna.

    15. There’s something extremely ironic about the title of the article mentioning the ‘wider’ cars, and the accompanying photo shows the Red Bull, which is wider only in terms of tires and front wing, but thinner across the body. Go figure.

      1. @hahostolze
        The picture of Nico’s Renault shows just how much empty space there is above the floor of the car. It’s almost like they’ve bolted a car on an oversized floor.

    16. Michael Brown (@)
      24th March 2017, 16:34

      I can’t look at a pre-2017 car without thinking it was squeezed to look taller and thinner.

    17. I couldn’t believe that I watched the old cars without thinking how ugly they were. I was only interested in racing factor. Looking at the comparison now I’m glad they’re gone. However, I’m afraid that good looks and good racing don’t go along. We’ll see.

    18. On the telly and on most pictures, there’s hardly any difference appart from the rear wing, which really stands out in the previous configuration.

      I couldnt’ watch FP1 a lot to really get an idea about how fast the cars “look” on track tho.

      1. I think it’s like night and day @fer-no65

        These cars just look right. Far better than the 1.8m width cars

    19. I think they look great! Particularly from the front at low angles, the width makes them look right, beautiful. I’m glad to see the back of the narrow cars

    20. No contest, the new cars look a lot better to me. Look more like the pre-1998 cars.

    21. Incomparably better. Overtaking between similar cars will be impossible tho. Except for overpowered DRS zones.

    22. I wish someone would explain why having (even slightly) wider cars won’t make overtaking at least a little bit more difficult?

    23. I think this is a superb comparison @keithcollantine, excellent work by your or your elves.
      Although I am a designer by profession, the aesthetics of how the cars look mean little to me; it’s the way they perform that counts.
      That notwithstanding, I think this season’s cars look more muscular, purposeful and altogether butch – if that’s not a rude word. Their high winged predecessors look precarious and silly in comparison, but it’s how they perform and race that’s important. Personally, I couldn’t care less what they look like as long as they provide real racing.
      But I still think the Brabham BT50 was the most beautiful racing car ever produced.
      Sometimes I have to get involved with horses – how they perform and look etcetera – with my partner. While horses do nothing for me personally, I have learnt to appreciate the signs of good breeding in terms of bone structure, muscle definition et al. While I would not suggest that horses and F1 are in any way comparable, it seems to remain true that “what looks well, performs well”.

    24. If you’re just talking aesthetics, then yes the cars look sleeker and more aggressive. Tires are massive and don’t degrade, but look comical to me anyways. Practice showed us virtually nothing – as soon as there was some momentum, someone either crashed / retired and disrupted the flow.
      Aside from the fact that it’s more than likely going to be another Mercedes 1-2 snoozefest this year (IMO).

    25. For me it’s as clear as night and day (bar the Williams comparison). Now all we need are lightly turbo’d V10 hybrids and I’ll be content.

      Love this website and the comments. A nice change from the Pistonhead drival.

    26. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      24th March 2017, 23:59

      What a difference, those tall wings are ugly. The cars look mean this year. Is it raining in Melbourne yet? Lol

    27. On Aussie tv, they’ve been showing old races all week. The year that reminds me of 2017 cars is 1997.

      Very nice looking shapes in both years, and both years had significant increases in lap times over previous years. Here’s hoping we get as much drama through out the season as 1997.

    Comments are closed.