Teams are finding even more gains under the new rules.
Formula 1 cars are predicted to be more than two seconds per lap faster next season, according to the latest simulation data that Pirelli has been given by the teams.
The revamp of technical regulations in 2017 to make cars faster, more spectacular and harder to drive has delivered on its aim of cutting lap times by around five seconds over 2015 levels. Every track saw an improvement in pace this year, with the peak being the Malaysian Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton's pole position time was nine seconds faster than two years ago – although factors like weather, the time of year and track resurfacing played their part.
Although F1's aero rules have delivered in allowing the step forward in form, the teams' understanding of the regulations is still relatively immature – which means there remain gains to be had. Pirelli says indications are for another decent step forward in pace.
Pirelli's F1 racing manager Mario Isola said: 'At the beginning of next year they should be quicker by one second per lap, and during a year the normal rate of development is 1-1.5 seconds. So by the end of next year they should be quicker by two seconds per lap. If we go softer with the tyres, the cars could be ever quicker. But we have to remember that there is an additional weight with the Halo, and that will cost about three to four tenths of a second, because of the weight plus aero implications.'
The FIA has raised the minimum weight limit by 6kg in 2018 for the Halo, having already added extra weight in this year's regulations to take its introduction into account before an original planned introduction was delayed. Teams have found, however, that the Halo mountings and the work necessary to beef up their new chassis to pass the associated load tests has added even more weight, with a figure of up to 14kg mentioned by Force India.
In F1, it is widely accepted that an extra 10kg of weight is equivalent to roughly 0.3 seconds of lap time, depending on the track layout.