Webber: F1 2017 will produce laptimes "like 10 years ago"

Mark Webber believes that the new Formula 1 rules for 2017 will produce laptimes similar to a decade ago, taking the sport “a good step forward” in terms of spectacle.

Webber: F1 2017 will produce laptimes "like 10 years ago"
Mark Webber, Porsche Team WEC Driver / Channel 4 Presenter
Sébastien Buemi, Red Bull Racing testing the new 2017 Pirelli tires
Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, RB3
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari, Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber F1 Team
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber F1 Team, F1.07 leads Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, RB3

Speaking at the Bathurst 12 Hours at the weekend, Webber told reporters that the more aggressive, faster F1 cars will be more spectacular to watch – and that engine power would be more important than ever due to the increased drag.

“The sporting side should be a good step forward, the cars are going to be quicker than they’ve been for a long time,” said Webber.

“The drivers will be earning their money again, and they’ll be sweating on the podium again, which will be great.

“They’ll be going back to laptimes like we used to do 10 years ago. I think that will be a good visual to watch.

“The cars are going to have a lot more downforce, but it’s going to be more power sensitive than ever. You’ll need a bigger engine more than you ever have done, because of wider tyres and more drag.

“The cars are getting quite heavy, with the wider tyres, which is a bit unfortunate – because it will slow them down.”

One negative Webber did suggest that hasn’t been addressed is F1’s continued use of small-profile tyres.

“The cars will look alright, apart from the rubbish-profile tyre,” he added. “We need a bigger profile tyre.

“They’re still quite small in that regard, but the rest of it looks pretty good.”

Speed comparison

Formula 1's rule changes for this year were prompted by a belief that cars had become too slow in the V6 turbo hybrid era.

Historical data from the Spanish Grand Prix highlights just how much things have changed - and shows why F1 chiefs wanted to turn the situation around.

For although pole positions times have not fallen away so much - thanks to increased downforce and engine power - it is race pace where the biggest difference is seen.

This drop in pace is down to heavier cars at the start, thanks to a refuelling ban, and high degradation tyres.

In a comparison of race pace between the 2007 and 2016, the fastest opening stint to the Spanish GP came in 2008 when Kimi Raikkonen led early on for Ferrari.

The Finn delivered a blistering sequence of laps when racing began properly following an early safety car restart: 1m23.035s, 1m22.934s, 1m22.703s, 1m22.947s.

Last year, race leader Daniel Ricciardo’s opening laps for Red Bull after the safety car restart were: 1m30.042s, 1m30.264, 1m30.506s, 1m30.577s

Have those two cars racing on the same track at the same time, and Raikkonen would have been nearly 30 seconds clear after four laps.

Here is how the pole positions time for GP2 and F1 compare since the current configuration of Barcelona track was used since 2007:

 Year

GP2 pole

F1 pole

2007

87.713s

81.421s*

2008

87.547s

81.813s*

2009

87.510s

80.527s*

2010

87.727s

79.995s

2011

90.473s

80.981s

2012

90.655s

82.285s

2013

88.706s

80.718s

2014

89.293s

85.232s

2015

89.273

84.681

2016

87.807

82.000

* – race fuel qualifying 

Opening laptimes

Year

Lap 2

Lap 3

Lap 4

Lap 5

Lap 2-5 total

2007

83.751

83.561

83.017

83.109

333.438

2008

83.035

82.934

82.703

82.947

331.619

* SC start

2009

84.325

83.898

83.849

83.744

335.816

* SC start

2010

88.430

88.074

87.990

87.608

352.102

2011

90.812

90.606

90.012

90.318

361.748

2012

90.597

90.382

90.011

90.248

361.238

2013

91.123

91.188

90.671

91.064

364.046

2014

92.010

92.104

91.913

92.028

368.055

2015

92.313

91.755

92.027

91.908

368.003

2016

90.042

90.264

90.506

90.577

361.389

* SC start

Additional reporting by Andrew van Leeuwen

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