Jenson Button has teased the overhaul in technical regulations for the 2017 season will see F1 return to the days of when in-season development and upgrades will make a noticeable difference to results over the course of the year.
The current V6 Hybrid era has come in for criticism for car performance that it is weighted too heavily towards the ability of the engine rather than the chassis or the driver, while strict testing and cost regulations have limited the scope for development for teams that start on the back foot.
A format that has proven especially detrimental for the McLaren team, which has endured a very public struggle with its underpowered and unreliable Honda engine over the last two seasons, Button says the development curve is 'very difficult' within the stringent regulations, making it difficult to progress if you begin the year with a bad car.
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“If you start with a car that is quick you win races through the year, but if you start with a car that is not quick then it is not quick by the end of the year too! The development curve is very difficult with how restricted the regulations are. I think in terms of development we have done the best over the last two years, but we have also come from a low position.”
However, Button – who will be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne in 2017 as he prepares to take a sabbatical from the sport – has high hopes for the revised technical regulations, which place greater emphasis on the driver and the chassis thanks to tweaks to the tyres and aerodynamics that are set to make the cars much faster in 2017.
As a result, Button says F1 can return to the days of when teams could make up significant ground on rivals that start the year better with more influential aerodynamic upgrades, much like McLaren did in 2009.
“I think the big change next year is positive – that is great for the sport and you will see big progress through the year, which is also what people like seeing. Back in the day you could start with a car that wasn't so competitive and you could develop it and be winning races mid-season or towards the end of the year, like McLaren did in 2009. Whereas now you can't do that.
“I think that will be big next year, the amount of development through the season. That will make the racing a lot more fun, gone though are the days of putting on a second worth of downforce in one race and suddenly finding yourself in a winning position.”
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