Mercedes questions 2017 rule changes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has made it clear that he doesn’t support the 2017 F1 aerodynamic changes which are expected to be rubber stamped by April 30.

High downforce and wider tyres are part of a package that in theory has been agreed, but could yet be postponed given that lap times are already much faster this year. New engine rules, specifically relating to customer prices and guaranteed supplies, are also supposed to be signed off by the end of the month.

There are two weeks to go until we have our final commission and strategy group meeting in order to come up with the regulations,” said Wolff. “On the engine front we are pretty much there. We have an agreement which needs to be ratified by the stakeholders, but there are lots of benefits for most of the teams in that agreement. So I am hopeful that they will be done.

And in terms of the 2017 regulations, we voted for them and we voted for the so-called McLaren proposal a while ago. There will be discussion around it, if it is the right way forward. Of course, but I don’t think that will get the necessary majority to turn it down again and come up with something else.”

Wolff is adamant that the racing is closer this year because the rules have been stable.

You remember what we always said. Even if it is uncomfortable for the commercial rights holder [Bernie Ecclestone] that we have been running away with lots of races and the two championships, the longer you keep regulations stable the more the performance is going to converge between everybody and this is exactly what is happening now.

The engines are converging, the teams are converging, the gains we are making are smaller as the curve flattens out and the others are making bigger steps so I think we are having an ideal situation with great racing. Three great races in a row now, are we capable of reacting quick enough and acknowledging that, and reverting to regulations which seem to be okay now. I don’t know.

We are going to change it. Somebody else or us is going to run away with the championship next year because it is in the regulations, everything starts from the beginning. More downforce which you won’t see just on pure laptime, less overtaking because the wake is much more extreme. There is nothing to be sold on that. There is no selling proposition in those new regulations in my opinion. We should just leave it alone.

And maybe speaking against ourselves because clearly we don’t have the advantage we had last year, but the racing is great and will become even greater if we leave the regulations alone.”


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8 responses to “Mercedes questions 2017 rule changes

  1. chris1603

    Wise words from Wolff.

  2. Mick

    I like Toto but he wouldn’t be saying that if he wasn’t managing the dominant team. Engine performance will eventually converge but changing the aero rules etc.will reset that half of the performance equation and give others a chance to overtake Mercedes.

    The changes do need to be right though.

  3. Brian

    Being lectured by Wolff on this topic feels like being lectured on nutrition by the head guy at MacDonald’s. There’s just enough sanity in what he says to make you want to forget that Merc’s self-interest is still the number one priority and that he’s about as far from being a dispassionate, objective, “outside observer” as you can get.

    Horner has it right when he points out that what Merc has done is to drag out the “talks” re: engines until the deadline for change the rules is passed with nothing having been changed whatsoever.

  4. GeorgeK

    As self serving as Toto’s opinion may be, he is correct on the aero implications. How will overtaking be increased if the cars have a higher reliance on aero down force? I thought the point of increasing mechanical grip (bigger tires) was to REDUCE the need for aero down force, not to increase it.

    And certainly the big teams, (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, and maybe Renault) can invest the resources to overhaul the basic aero design of their cars, but it will likely take the rest of the field another 3-4 years to evolve and catch up yet again.

    What other motorsport is constantly “reinventing” itself in this fashion? Ludicrous and bordering on insanity.

    • Brian

      The “reinventing” is a direct result of turning the competition into an entertainment corporation. Once that corner was turned it wasn’t long before the tail started to wag the dog. (see: “cliche'” :))

      Once you take a company public all the rules and priorities change. Instead of worrying about what “we” think, now it’s what “they” think.
      As long as the majority shareholders are happy with the *quarterly* profit take, the rules stay (mostly) the same. But as soon as the numbers start to drop you get concern followed by semi-panic in the board room.

      In this case, the numbers started to drop *because* they changed the rules and eliminated much of what we all wish was still a part of it all – the raw energy, the mega-sensory experience, the (relatively) easy-to-understand technology, etc. Enough fans said “Boo!” to the new changes (or just yawned and went back to watching YouTube videos of the X-games) and all the stakeholders clamored for a fix. That’s what all that musical chairs qualifying BS was about – more spectacle brings more eyeballs for a longer time which means better ad rates…

      If they do change the rules and the the new changes don’t work re: profit numbers, expect more of this craziness. And probably worse.

  5. peterg

    Has Toto replaced Ron as the perpetual “why is F1 and the world against me” team principal? Everybody just loves a poor winner.

    Ron obviously has been quiet of late, but when Honda improves their PU, he may have some competition as best in class for self-centered TP.

  6. **Paul**

    Toto is the new Horner. Doesn’t want anything changed, and comes up with absolute rubbish when his team doesn’t score an easy 1-2.

    I think the 2017 rules will be no bad thing. 2014-16 is pretty much an engine dominated formula, that needs adjusting back to become slightly more aero focused. Red Bull will naturally be happy with that, Mercedes far less so given their history on that front. Ferrari? Probably somewhere in between. The fact Red Bull can have a killer aero package on their car and still be over a 1s off the pace purely because of a power unit makes a bit of a mockery of things.

    Ultimately though, I like the idea of the 2017 cars because they look more like the cars I grew up watching. Low and wide, rather than the current narrow and tall efforts of recent years.

    • GeorgeK

      Ha! We don’t need a new Horner, the current Horner continues to bleat, wail, moan and bitch, all because RB screwed themselves. Not once, but several times.

      When RB was in the midst of their 4 title runs, didn’t they have tire compounds changed to suit their cars? Now Horner has the balls to complain because the current rules may not change fast enough to suit his underperforming cars?

      Meteschitz and Bernie are linked at the hip in a power struggle against the big 4 engine suppliers, too bad Horner has to be a shill in that struggle.

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