F1 is still engine dominated and it's unhealthy: Adrian Newey

Red Bull Racing's chief technical officer Adrian Newey believes F1 should be 'a blend of engine, chassis and driver'.

Chennai: The 2017 Formula One season that begins at Melbourne next month will usher in a new era with the sport having undergone one of the biggest overhauls in recent years.

The commercial operation of F1 changed hands in January with Bernie Ecclestone leaving his position as chief executive of Formula One Group after 40 years and the US-based Liberty Media taking over the ownership. And with an objective of improving lap times, the governing body (FIA) has introduced a few changes in technical regulations.

Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey said the new F1 cars would be a lot faster. “The combination of more mechanical grip, more downforce and a heavier car means the amount of full-throttle per lap will be much higher. It certainly means that it’s actually even more of a power formula than before,” he said.

“However, what worries me is it is still engine dominated which is slightly unhealthy. It should be a blend of engine, chassis and driver,” added Newey, who is in Chennai to watch his son Harrison compete in the MRF Challenge.

Newey, who recently injured his left arm in a skiing accident during a holiday in Austria, said the idea of the new regulations was to make the cars more physical to drive. “We’re all used to now, over the last two or three years, watching television and when the drivers come on the radio, it doesn’t sound as if their heartbeats are raised at all. It sounds like they’re sitting and watching the race as well!” he said.

“So the idea of this extra downforce and extra grip is that the cars will then produce higher g-forces and therefore the drivers will have to work harder to brace themselves against. However, it could come at the cost of the ability to overtake and of close racing,” he added.

The popularity of F1 has waned through the past seasons and the new regulations are made to reinvigorate the sport which has been dominated by Mercedes AMG for the last three seasons. Mercedes, who have won all but eight Grand Prix in the last three years, clinched their third consecutive constructors’ title in 2016.

“It’s impossible to forecast who is going to dominate next year. Honestly, the hope is that the regulation changes will shake up the order a bit and perhaps allow other teams to come close and challenge Mercedes. The truth is nobody knows,” said Newey.

The most successful F1 engineer said Red Bull’s 2017 machine – RB13 – is in the final stages of assembly. “It will be ready for the pre-season test at the end of the month. We know what we’ve been up to during the winter. But we’ve got no idea what everybody else has been up to. That’s always why the first tests and the first test are when you start to find out,” he said.

Newey said the sport wouldn’t be where it is today without the former boss, Bernie. “He had the vision and instinctive ability to develop a smallish sport into where it is today,” said Newey.

However, Newey said the entry of Liberty Media, the new owners of F1, has the fraternity excited. “They have experience in media and know how to present it. Americans are generally good at that. What is less clear is how Liberty and and FIA will work together. F1 is unique because of separate technical and commercial bodies,” he said.

The British engineer who has designed many a championship-winning car said he takes inspiration from things around him in everyday life. “The 1997 Williams air inlet was inspired from looking out the window from a turboprop aircraft in the Caribbean. It’s always good to be looking around. What I find inspirational about India is the will to find solutions on limited resources. Great inventiveness in making things happen and work,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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