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Bob Bell: 2017 development should have started six months ago

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Renault technical director Bob Bell says the teams that will be successful in 2017 are the ones that started development on next year's cars six months ago.

New regulations for 2017 will see cars with revised aerodynamics, a wider track and wider tyres. The basic concept of the new cars was agreed in February but the finer details of the regulations are not due to be published until April 30.

The changes are aimed at making F1 cars five seconds per lap faster than the current grid and could also bring a change in the competitive order. However, Bell suspects the best funded teams will get a head start and the winning car in 2017 will have already benefitted from at least six months of development.

"In aerodynamic terms and also, I suppose, mechanical terms it is quite a different car," Bell told ESPN. "Really, the team that will do the best job in 2017 is probably the one that started developing six months ago, honestly. There will be teams that have already been working on it for that period of time, if not longer.

"So it's a big challenge, but it's great for Formula One and a recasting of the regulations. I think that Formula One needed that and needed some change. Hopefully it will mix the order up a little bit."

Renault has not had the luxury of developing its 2016 car for six months, let alone its 2017 car after the French manufacturer took over the Lotus outfit over the winter. Bell said it will be crucial to pick the right moment to put his team's full development focus behind the 2017 car.

"The pace of development of the [2016] car will be slow in the early part of the season, but there is a development programme and we will bring upgrades to the car, but it probably won't be as strong a progression as we would do under normal circumstances. We have the added problem this season that 2017 is looming and it's a very different set of regulations, so at some point we will have to decide to make the significant switch from 2016 effort to 2017 effort, otherwise we will just get left behind then as well.

"It's going to be a difficult call and we will judge it over the first few races and decide where we are in the pecking order and how that meshes with our ambitions for the season and we will pace our development programme accordingly to balance 2016 and 2017 sensibly."

Another consideration for 2017's cars is the likely introduction of the Halo head protection device. Bell said it would inevitably impact on designs but stressed that it will be the same for all teams.

"It's the same for everybody and it will be a standardised part. All the cars will be heavier and have a higher centre of gravity with more inertia than we would ideally like, but it's done for absolutely the right reasons and it's the same for everybody, so it doesn't make a lot of difference.

"It will be more work for the engineers to integrate the device into the car and make sure it is structurally sound and iron out all those issues. But it's a good thing for Formula One and won't really adversely affect or give us an advantage."