Lewis Hamilton raises fresh concerns over 2017 regulations

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On the eve of the launch of Mercedes' new Formula One car, Lewis Hamilton has expressed concerns about the direction F1's new regulations are taking the sport.

This year's cars are wider, lower and will have significantly more downforce than last season as F1's rulemakers attempt to add speed and excitement back to the sport. There is a concern, however, that the extra aero will make the cars more sensitive to the dirty air of the car in front, making overtaking more difficult.

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Hamilton said discussions with his engineers at Mercedes had thrown up similar worries.

"My engineers say it's going to be a lot harder to overtake," Hamilton told the BBC. "If we see overtaking is worse, it's going to be worse for the fans, the spectacle will be worse so I'm hoping that's not the case.

"For example, I heard tyres might not be as grippy as we'd hoped but the aero downforce is going to be huge because it's a bigger, wider car so there's going to be more downforce, so the car behind will be affected even more than it ever was before.

"And I've heard the engineers said this would potentially happen and there is an alternative route but this is the route that's chosen.

"So we are where we are and I really hope that the engineers, who are the smartest guys, are wrong and I hope that the spectacle is greater and the most competitive that it's ever been and if it is, then I look forward to being part of that."

After three years of Mercedes domination, Hamilton said the new rules have the potential to mix up the competitive order this year.

"It's a completely new slate," he added. "It might be Ferrari at the front, it might be Red Bull, we have no idea. "I think the big unknown is Red Bull, I think they always create an amazing car and this is a new area of downforce and they're amazing at creating downforce so I think it'll be really interesting to see what they pull out and I'm hoping it'll be a real mixture of competition.

"I hope it'll be close so we'll be fighting with Red Bull and Ferrari. That's what the fans want to see."

Another major change to the sport this year is new ownership, with Liberty Media taking over the commercial rights of Formula One in January.

"I'm excited for the new owners who have come in and I hope they do something new and I really think they're going to bring new blood, new ideas, new ways of engaging the fans in a new and unique way," Hamilton said. "F1 is a bit outdated in the sense that if you look at other sports they're further ahead in the entertainment factor but F1 is catching up and I think there's a lot of catching up to do."