Formula 1 bosses promised a reduction in lap times of between five and six seconds in 2017 as a result of heavily revised rules, but that now looks unlikely following concerns raised by tyre supplier Pirelli.
The Italian tyre manufacturer conducted a study into the effects of increasing downforce by the proposed levels and found that their current tyre technology wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands placed upon them.
It was originally proposed that Pirelli would deliver a three second gain by increasing the width of its tyres, whilst revised aerodynamic rules would boost downforce, delivering the remaining two to three second gain.
However Pirelli found that it would need to create harder compounds and impose much stricter tyre pressures, roughly twice the present limit, in order for its tyres to cope with the increase in downforce.
But by doing so, the tyres would therefore be slower and wouldn’t deliver the necessary gain. That would leave the increase in downforce as the main driver behind reducing laptime, but with the added downside of making it harder to follow another car, therefore undermining the entire process of speeding up the cars.
It now seems a three second gain is more likely, with tyres delivering the majority of that, whilst F1 engineers will revisit the proposed increase in downforce levels and greatly reduce it, whilst aiming to retain the new aggressive styling.
Pirelli has however suggested it could deliver a slightly larger gain, around four seconds, if it were given permission to carry out the necessary testing it has so far been denied.
“Maybe a totally brand new tyre can be built,” a spokesperson told the BBC. “There is a lot of speculation about this process, but it is still at a very early stage.
“Everything will be calculated much more carefully when we start testing.”
It’s expected a firm set of rules will be drafted ahead of the opening race of the 2016 season in March, in order to give teams enough prior notice to begin development of their 2017 cars.