By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
Last Friday representatives from all 11 Formula One teams met with Charlie Whiting at Heathrow to finalize the 2017 rule book. It was a spectacular failure and since then the countdown to come to an agreement has begun ticking.
A second meeting held this week at Pirelli HQ in Milan saw Pirelli’s chairman Marco Provera and motorsport director Paul Hembery meet with FIA President Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone, multiple team bosses and a group of drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas. The group sat down to discuss the tires for 2017, the drivers keen to have compounds they can push throughout the race. But because the 2017 rules have not been finalized, Pirelli has no way to make a commitment and develop a testing regimen.
This means the powers at be have just one more chance to come to any sort of agreement for the much hyped and hoped for 2017 rule changes. Changes that are intended to reintroduce ground effect, widen tires, lower wings and cut lap times by up to five seconds in cars that will be louder, harder to drive and better to look at it. In addition to this idealistic wishlist the rules are expected to address the issue of driver head protection in light of last year’s fatal incidents of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson and to address the recently agreed to reduction in power unit costs.
As always in F1, personal interests are being put above the interests of the sport and those enjoying success with the current regulations are said to be quite conservative about stirring the pot on future technical regulations.
Noises from the Milan meeting suggest that some progress was made, with vague promises and assurances a solution will be reached.
No doubt that team principals, drivers, engineers and the like are busy talking to team and series officials because they have just one final chance to get this right before many changes will have to be pushed to 2018.
Both the Strategy Group and the F1 Commission are scheduled to meet on February 23rd in Geneva.
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