F1 2017 optimists have 'rocks in their heads', Patrick Head feels
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, February 10th 2017, 12:43 GMT|
Anyone expecting the 2017 Formula 1 rules overhaul to close up the field has "rocks in their heads", reckons former Williams technical director Patrick Head.
The comprehensive changes to F1's technical regulations this season - headlined by aerodynamic improvements designed to make lap times five to six seconds faster - have been tipped to shake up the order.
But Head believes it is inevitable that richer teams will come out on top given the resources they have to tackle such a change.
"If anybody was thinking of these rules with the aim of closing the field up then they've got rocks in their head," he told the Guardian newspaper.
"Any time you make significant changes the advantage will always go to the bigger teams - because they have more resources, they have more capability to parallel develop their existing car and work on design of their new car.
"When you have 750 employees or more against, say, Force India's 300, of course the bigger teams can do more.
"Any idea it will close the field up is nonsense."
Pirelli has some insight into potential 2017 form has it has been given data by teams to help prepare this year's tyre specifications.
Its motorsport director Paul Hembery concurs that there will be a spread of teams, though one or two may be close to each other.
"We have some estimates of data, and I guess we will all see in Melbourne," Hembery told Autosport's sister publication Motorsport.com.
"There are groups of people that are very close, but there is a spread.
"The top 10 is going to be very crowded.
"Will someone get a step ahead? You would have to say yes, that has always been the case when there is a big regulation change.
"So you would have to imagine that will be the case again."
There have also been growing suggestions that despite the focus on aerodynamics, the new rules could end up rewarding engine power even more - a theory Head agrees with.
"What makes the engine fractionally more important is that with more downforce, the percentage of the lap at which you are power limited rather than grip limited will be higher.
"So if you have that bit more power it will give a slight advantage."
He also doubts the new rules will improve the racing.
"If they wanted a formula that allowed for more overtaking without using artificial aids like DRS then they needed to go for a formula that reduced downforce levels but they have gone in the opposite direction," he said.