This season the FIA and Formula One Company have enforced changes to the cars mainly reducing the down force. If we think about all the aero dynamics on the Formula One cars they are there to force the car down into the ground making it stick on the track. Over the last decade teams have perfected this with research and development resulting in lap times tumbling each season. How fast could they go before we see something really go wrong?
These are the qualifying times from the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend and below is the qualifying times from last years Portuguese Grand Prix and there is a significant drop in times this year compared to last year. I somehow expect by the end of the season teams will have advanced so much that the 2 seconds lost will be minimal. Mercedes were meant to be underdogs to Red Bull this season and already have taken the lead and look to add a record breaking 8th title this season.
We all know why the changes are happening and that is to try and reduce Mercedes dominance in the sport. The thought is the lost downforce will slow the cars down and reduce Mercedes dominance as lets face it they are clearly head and shoulders above every other team. The tools they have to work with gives them an advantage and it should be up to others to try and catch them.
The thought process was to slow the cars down making overtaking a possibility by removing the dirty air.
The FIA and Formula One are trying to change rules due to one team dominating, but forgetting one very important factor. Toto Wolff is the main reason who was involved in the dot.com bubble and knows all the high tech companies especially in gaming. He is a VC specialist investing in software companies and knows the latest and best technology. He is a shareholder in many of these startups and why they are that far ahead in simulators and anything involving virtual reality. They wont pull him back or Mercedes by changing things as they have shown they can adapt.
The problem is the Toto Wolff affect is spurring development so fast they are leaving the other components of the car lagging behind. Tyres are an obvious worry and at the current rate of development Pirelli are being shown up. The FIA gave Pirelli unrealistic targets back in 2016 and instead of slowing the cars down back then the cars were possibly 2 years ahead of where Pirelli were. That gap has just grown and why we have seen these drastic changes this season.
If we look at the underneath of the car it is clear to see the area where down force has been lost. The rear end has lost 20% or close to it of possible down force.
The one thought process is the teams are developing so quickly that the speeds the cars travel through the corners is putting serious pressure on the Pirelli Tyres. Pirelli must have raised concerns regarding the side walls of their tyres not being able to guarantee the safety which would make more sense. This was the one change that never happened this season as if you can recall they were meant to have 18 inch vs the 13 inch they currently race with. Safety is paramount and why the tyres have only had thicker sidewalls added this season.
Pirelli have been tasked with making a tyre degrade quicker than we are seeing currently forcing teams to have multiple pit stops during a race. This would add extra interest as tyres would play a much bigger role than they do currently. I still think whatever they do Mercedes will still come out on top due to the superior research and development that they obviously have. Mercedes is pushing Pirelli quicker than they can develop and at some point there has to be a slow down.