Formula One next season is expected to lap at around 5-seconds-per-lap quicker and is optimistically hoping to tighten up the pack. But one team principal isn’t expecting as drastic a change as others and expects Mercedes to continue dominating.
Monisha Kaltenborn is Sauber’s team principal. The team haven’t had much to cheer about this year, but the reset button in the winter months always allows for the chance to gain tenths and climb the order. But Kaltenborn believes the running order may be more stable than we’re anticipating.
“This (2017) is an opportunity for all the teams who have a certain development possibility to approach Mercedes. But it will probably take another two years for the manufacturers to get close to the Mercedes engine.
I have expressed my doubts from the outset. The fact that the cars will be faster and be harder to drive will not be noticed by the spectator. If the difference would be 10 or 15 seconds per lap, they would notice it, but not if it is five or six seconds. So I’m concerned about that.”
– Monisha Kaltenborn
The Sauber boss does have a point in terms of 5-seconds being visible to the spectator. In Bahrain Qualifying, Hamilton’s pole time was 5-seconds quicker than Felipe Nasr’s Sauber. It wasn’t a gap that was significantly obvious whilst watching the sessions unfold at the time.
Foresight is a tricky game, and Kaltenborn’s perception that Mercedes will remain a dominant force is exactly what the sport is hoping to step away from with these drastic regulation changes. Dominance of any team is bad for the spectacle and can go on for so long that even F1 driver’s lose perspective.
It’s a case of “wait and see” for 2017. It’s hard to offer judgement on something that is a few month’s away, but the certainties are that the cars will look more aggressive and diverse, they will be harder to drive and they will be much faster. Let’s start talking about dirty air after Melbourne?