Valtteri Bottas has estimated Formula 1 cars in 2017 will be 'two to five seconds quicker' depending on circuit characteristics and is eagerly anticipating if his prediction translates from the simulator to genuine track action.
The Williams driver has confirmed he's been heavily involved in 2017 simulator work to get an early feel for next year's car in preparation for the open aerodynamic regulation changes plus Pirelli's wider and fatter tyres.
Early predictions had estimated F1 cars going an eye-catching six seconds per lap faster and despite not completely ruling it out, Bottas has opted for a more conservative guess and says tracks with plenty of high-speed corners will see a more aggressive increase in speeds.
“It depends on the track. On average I think between two and five seconds but not more than that but I hope it will,” Bottas said. “Two seconds could be at Monza with straight-line speed but at tracks like the downforce tracks it is obviously going to be more. We are just guessing with the tyres in the simulator as we don't know how soft they are going to be.”
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With the extra grip and downforce the new cars are expected to create Bottas outlined performance gains through higher speeds carried through corners, while he also believes the cars will be more exciting as it will become harder to find the edge between ultimate speed and crashing.
“It has been quicker. It feels a lot, lot better with more grip mechanically and from the aerodynamics,” he said. “Slower in the straights but quicker in the corners so lap times are quite a lot quicker which is good. But it is simulated driving so initially it feels nice and should feel that way with every team trying it in the simulator.
“I like it in the simulator but need to prove it at a real track. Honestly, the driving style doesn't change that much, you can just carry more speed in the corners and can be some smaller differences in lines throughout the corners but it is not like you need to change your driving style completely.
“It is slightly more challenging to get every single bit out of the car as you need to push harder to find the limits, then when you have more downforce and carrying more speed in the corners if you go over the limit the mistake can be bigger than now. But that is just speculating, it is not a massive difference.”
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