Barcelona, Spain – Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds believes delays in changes to the sport’s rules for 2017 will create the lack of competition they are intended to solve.
A meeting between F1’s strategy group and commission in Geneva on Tuesday (Feb 23) delivered agreement on a radical new knockout style qualifying system for this season, which begins in Australia on March 20.
However, the deadline for a decision on a series of technical changes for 2017 intended to add more unpredictability after two years of dominance by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes has been delayed until April 30.
And Symonds believes teams like Williams – who have finished third in the constructors’ championship for the past two years – will struggle to put a competitive car together for 2017 if they have to wait until May to start their development.
“I was surprised that they couldn’t reach a decision yesterday,” Symonds said on the third day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Wednesday. It has a much bigger delay on smaller and less well-financed teams – that is a fact.
“If you have a very big team, lots of people and very good manufacturing facilities you can react to late changes quicker. It is much more difficult for Williams than say for Ferrari or Mercedes.
“In two and half months we’ve seen three very distinct sets of regulations. If we don’t really know until May that is really difficult for the smaller teams.”
However, Symonds is a fan of the proposed new qualifying system, which he hopes will spice up race day even if some of the drama of qualifying itself is lost.
The proposal will see qualifying split into three segments with the slowest driver eliminated at 90-second intervals until the final two contest pole position.
“I don’t think it is going to improve qualifying itself, in fact I think qualifying might not be as exciting. It might not build up to that final crescendo,” he said.
“But what it has a good chance of doing is improving the race because it is quite a difficult situation.
“I think all of us are going to make mistakes, particularly early on and that means there will be occasions when cars are out of position, so we will see some of the quicker cars further back which we all know has given us some great races.”