Since teammate Nico Rosberg began his current winning streak, new triple world champion Hamilton has been lamenting how difficult it is to follow a rival close enough to mount an overtaking challenge.
He says it is an aerodynamic problem.
“The guy in front is getting 100 per cent of the potential of the aerodynamics and the guy behind, his potential deteriorates the closer he gets,” Hamilton is quoted by the Mirror newspaper.
So it is with disappointment that Hamilton has heard on the paddock grapevine this weekend that the bulk of the predicted lap time gain for the new and faster rules for 2017 will be from aerodynamics, including bigger wings.
“I’ve heard people talking about changing the aerodynamics and that’s the worst idea and just shows people don’t know what they are trying to solve,” said the Briton.
“Drivers want more grip from their tyres and less wake from the car in front so we can get closer,” Hamilton added.
However, the precise rules for 2017 are still very much up for grabs, despite the fact that technical working group chief Pat Symonds announced in Abu Dhabi that F1’s decision-making bodies are about to be presented the plans.
“I think the conversations are still ongoing,” said Symonds’ boss at Williams, deputy chief Claire Williams. “I don’t think anything has been decided yet and I think they’re very early days in those conversations”.
Ferrari’s Maurizio Arrivabene agreed: “The chassis (for 2017) is still under discussion”.
Also still under discussion is how Pirelli will be allowed to prepare for the radical new rules, as the Italian supplier argues that it needs much more time to test the bigger and wider tyres.
“Ideally, we would like to start work in May,” said Paul Hembery, “but to build the kind of car that we would like to be able to use is I think impossible.”
He said one possible solution is an up to 10-year-old F1 car from “last decade”, modified to then simulate the aerodynamic loads being proposed for 2017.
Hembery may also share some of Hamilton’s concerns.
“As far as I understand,” he said in Abu Dhabi, “there are still doubts about the direction we are moving in. Will it make overtaking easier or will it in fact exacerbate the problem?
“As a sport I hope we can avoid making the wrong decisions,” Hembery warned.
In the end, F1 may ultimately decide that time is too short for 2017. Ferrari’s Arrivabene thinks it will be impossible for the manufacturers to ready the changes to the engines by then.
“We will try to do our best but I think even the Wizard of Oz couldn’t be able to do it for 2017,” he said on Friday.
So if the engine changes are delayed until 2018, would it not make sense to also delay the new chassis regulations?
“If we can get both areas right, then I think in 2017 – and if we have to wait until 2018 then so be it – it could make formula one a much more stable platform that we can all enjoy in the future,” said Claire Williams.