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Digital Subscriptions > F1 Racing > February 2017 > Why 2017 is F1’s most important year – ever!

Why 2017 is F1’s most important year – ever!

This season’s new machinery will be better to look at and faster and more physical to drive, testing drivers’ skills as never before. But have all the implications of the changes been fully anticipated? Was the sport really so broken that it required such a massive ‘fix’? And what changes are F1’s new owners planning to make – assuming they get to buy it at all?

As a new year dawns, so does a new era of Formula 1. And this time it’s grand prix racing on steroids. This is a major shift in the sport’s focus, born of a desire to boost its ‘wow factor’, and an abrupt reversal of 50 years of history: not since the 1960s have rule-makers actively sought to make the cars quicker.

The new rules are intended to make cars run up to five seconds a lap faster and look more dramatic. They will be wider, with big, fat tyres, arrow-shaped delta wings at the front, and low, aggressive-looking wings at the back. They will test drivers physically in a way they have not been tested for at least six years, and increase cornering forces by up to 1G in fast corners.

So why is all this happening? Put simply, it’s to return the ‘hero factor’ to F1. The sport’s bosses felt it needed spicing up following concerns about a decline in television audiences.

Not everyone is happy about it, though. In November 2015, Mercedes made a last-ditch attempt to stop F1 adopting the new rules that will change the face of the sport this season. In a meeting of technical chiefs before that year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the world champions questioned the desire to reduce lap times by five seconds when cars were already approaching historic highs in terms of downforce, and raised concerns about the ability of Pirelli tyres to cope with the increased speeds.

But the other teams rejected Mercedes’ complaints, believing them to be rooted in a desire to keep a competitive advantage, and seeing in the change an opportunity to peg them back after three years of domination.

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F1 2017 STARTS HERE This season’s new machinery will be better to look at and faster and more physical to drive, testing drivers’ skills as never before. But have all the implications of the changes been fully anticipated? Was the sport really so broken that it required such a massive ‘fix’? And what changes are F1’s new owners planning to make, assuming they get to buy it at all?