There is no need to be an engineer to appreciate the raft of modifications brought about by the sport’s new technical regulations. Simply by comparing the current Renault R.S.17 to last year’s car, the transformation that has taken place over the winter is clear to see. Longer, and equipped with wider tyres, Renault Sport Formula One Team’s latest contender also boasts more striking front and rear wings.
While the new Pirelli tyres – 6cm wider at the front and 8cm at the rear – do yield a more muscular appearance, these changes have not been implemented just to make the cars look more spectacular. Indeed, these new tyres – which are also more durable – serve to significantly increase the level of mechanical grip available, enabling the drivers to make use of the 900-plus horsepower produced by Renault’s R.E.17 hybrid powertrain more effectively.
This evolution has been accompanied by another major change – an even more efficient aerodynamic package, with wings whose increased dimensions (15cm and 20cm wider at the front and rear respectively) generate greater downforce. This means that the cars are capable of tackling corners flat-out without risking coming unstuck. In the same vein, new aerodynamic appendages can be spied between the front wheels and the side pod intakes, designed to channel the flow of air with even greater precision.
Taken together, these changes have resulted in significantly higher cornering speeds than last season.
“It’s quite simple,” says Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Formula One Team Managing Director. “On average, the drivers now spend 20 percent longer at full throttle over the course of a lap than before!”
The first grand prix of 2017 corroborated that claim, with the fastest race lap recorded by the Renault R.S.17 in Australia being some four seconds quicker than that set by the R.S.16 a year earlier. At some circuits, this performance gain could transpire to be even more impressive – potentially starting this weekend in Shanghai, where the second race of the season will rev into life at 8am (CET) on Sunday.
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