Major reshuffle of F1 pecking order unlikely - Smedley

A major reshuffle of Formula 1's competitive pecking order is unlikely in 2017 despite sweeping rule changes, believes Williams performance chief Rob Smedley.

Major reshuffle of F1 pecking order unlikely - Smedley
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 leads team mate Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW38
Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance, Williams Martini Racing, is interviewed on the Autosport Stage
Start: Jenson Button, Brawn GP leads the field
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Rob Smedley, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance
(L to R): Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW38 and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31 battle for position
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 Team testing 2017-spec Pirelli tyres

This year will feature more aggressive-looking cars with wider front and rear wings as part of a revised aerodynamic rules, and the cars will be fitted with wider tyres.

F1's two most recent major rule changes both shook up the established order among teams, with Brawn GP and Red Bull ousting Ferrari and McLaren as the top two squads in 2009 and Mercedes emerging as the sport's dominant force in 2014. 

But Smedley doesn't expect a similar thing to happen this time around, although he remains hopeful that the 2017 regulations will at least allow for a greater number of potential winners in each race.

“I hope it’s going to shake things up a bit but I don’t think we’ll have a complete change in pecking order,” Smedley told Motorsport.com's sister title Autosport.

“In F1, no-one ever won a world championship without a substantial budget. Money does count, at least in this era of F1. 

“But that is not to say the intra groups - the front, midfield and back - are not going to get shaken up a bit and you’re not going to have more people in that top group. 

“It’s really important you get more people up in that top group and we’re starting the weekend with it not being entirely clear who is going to win the race - that is what turns the fans off. 

“If you go into it thinking four or five drivers can win here, that’s really exciting and I hope that’s what the new regulations do for us.”

With teams starting 2017 with all-new concepts, there is an expectation development will be relentless and consistent throughout the season.

As a result, Smedley believes a car that starts off as the quickest in Australia will not be the same as at the final in Abu Dhabi.

“I don’t expect the fastest car in Australia to be the fastest car in Abu Dhabi," said Smedley. “What that allows is some change in the pecking order through the season. 

“If that happens, the rules have ultimately been successful.”

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