The changing roar of the throttle
The memories of Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher still gives us an adrenaline rush. Watching their machines negotiate chicanes and scorch the tarmac makes us dream of catching the Formula 1 action first hand. There has been a lot of transformation in the format of the Formula 1 game since its inception back in 1950.
A few brands we always associate with are Ferrari, McLaren Honda, Mercedes and Red Bull TAG Heuer. “Everyone wants to see Ferrari winning the championship. This season, they have an edge over the others, because of the speed their V6 1500 cc engines can generate,” says Ajit Devadason, a motorsport enthusiast.
Pushing the gas pedal and accurately cornering turns are not the only essential skills in Formula 1 racing. There are a lot of mechanical, technical and tactical issues that needs to be resolved to achieve a desired end result. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has now altered a few rules and regulations pertaining to the F1 vehicles, thereby changing the dynamics of the sport.
The 2017 season features one of the major regulation shake-ups since the introduction of hybrid turbo power units in 2014. This time, bodywork and tyres are the centre of attention, with both getting wider in order to boost downforce and grip, making the cars fast but, physically hard to drive. Apart from this, the manufacturers are allowed to use only four power units throughout the season, as compared to six units till 2016. “This is more of an advantage for the manufacturer, where they can showcase the reliability of their machine along with its performance,” he offers. However, there are a few disadvantages also that come in with the changes. “As a driver, losing a race because of some technical failure in the engine will be the last thing he wants. This time, with limited units for the whole season, there are high chances for technical failures,” he added.
The wheel bases are around 25 per cent wider now than it was in 2016. The rear width is up from 325mm to 405mm, and front width raised from 245mm to 305mm. Tyre diameters have also increased slightly, though the wheel rim size remains unchanged at 13 inches. “With the introduction of much wider tyres, we can surely see better grip on the track along with some swift turns around the sharp corners of the arena,” adds Devadason.
The front wing span stands increased from 1,650mm to 1,800mm. This has also changed the overall width of the car from 1,800 to 2,000mm. The height of the rear wing is reduced to a maximum of 800mm, which was previously 950mm. However, the diffuser is now more powerful – all thanks to the increased height from 125mm to 175mm along with the width from 1,000mm to 1,050mm. “The extended dimensions help the vehicle to be more grounded and generate more speed. Basically, it is the opposite of an aircraft now,” explains Vinay R, another motorsport enthusiast. Apart from this, the sidepods are also wider from 1400mm to 1600mm. This has, in turn, affected the overall weight of the cart, which is now increased from 702kg to 722kg without tyres.
With just one race into the 2017 season, and Sebastian Vettel proving his mettle in getting back the shine to Ferrari's pit, this year can take us back to the days when Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello dominated the pole positions. However, it still is an early stage to overlook the capabilities of Mercedes-Benz and Lewis Hamilton.