Adjustable wings – a change too far?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1 wings will be movable in 2009
F1 wings will be movable in 2009

The 2009 F1 rules are a source of great interest with several radical changes aimed at improving overtaking.

Along with bring back slick tyres and reducing wing sizes, teams are expected to be allowed to use adjustable wings.

I’m not a fan of the idea. What do you think of it? Cast your vote below…

The planned rules for 2009 will allow teams to create elements in their front wings that can be adjusted by the drivers while the car is moving.

This was experimented with when wings were first used by F1 teams in the late 1960s and the benefits are clear: a flatter wing profile will give less drag and more speed down a straight, a deeper wing will give more downforce and better cornering speed in the bends. They were originally banned on safety grounds, but the thinking now is that F1 teams should be able to make them safe enough.

However the FIA has also stipulated a maximum number of times the wings can be changed: a driver may make no more than two adjustments per lap with a different of up to six degrees.

Why limit the number of changes per lap? It seems to be completley arbitrary. In fact the whole ‘adjustable wings’ idea seems to me to be a variation on the ‘push to pass button’ idea, where a driver gets a limited number of horsepower boosts to use per lap to aid overtaking.

And I expect it will have the same kind of effect: in series that have ‘push to pass’ (such as A1 Grand Prix and, formerly, Champ Car) the driver in front is just as likely to use their power boost as the driver behind, cancelling out any advantage the chasing driver will have.

So what will adjustable wings achieve except add yet more artificial complexity to F1? I’m not sure.

My concern is that, with so many changes planned for next year, it might be hard to tell which are having the desired effect and which aren’t. The FIA has, rightly, identified the difficulty experienced by one car when following another closely as being a problem.

Finally they have chosen to attack the problem by bringing back slick tyres and reducing wing sizes (which is exactly what the FIA Advisory Experts Group told them to do almost a decade ago). But with the added complexity of these adjustable wings, to say nothing of KERS and other changes, it might be hard to see which rules have the desired effect and which don’t.

Should F1 cars have adjustable wings in 2009?

  • Yes (30%)
  • No (59%)
  • Don't know (11%)

Total Voters: 274

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2009 F1 season

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107 comments on “Adjustable wings – a change too far?”

  1. John Beamer
    28th July 2008, 7:21

    The implementation might be flawed but the idea isn’t that bad, I don’t think.

    Back in the 60s these things were banned for safety – the technology wasn’t avaialable to make adjustable wings work safely. Now engineers can make these things work safely.

    I don’t actually think it is like the push to pass button where both drivers will adjust at the same time. When the following car is in the dirty air going around the corners the idea is that they can steepen the angle of attack to get more downforce. The front car will benefit far less (if at all) if it follows suit because it is running in clean air. In theory the car behind benefits far more.

    Obviously the implementation remains to be seen, which is why I use the word “theory” a lot in the paragraph above. I think wait and see is the call here …

  2. I have voted ‘yes’ but I do that from a standpoint of less restriction in general not because I approve of using artificial means to boost the entertainment. I am a firm believer that F1 should set a budget and let teams do anything they want within specified margins of safety.

  3. I think it’s a rather silly gimmick, and the purpose of the 2 adjustments per lap is unclear. I don’t know what it is about this idea, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it just feels so asinine. I’d like the drivers to simply drive, instead of constantly fretting in the cockpit trying to “optimise the package”.

    It seems like yet again they’re adding another layer of complication which could baffle or bemuse “casual fans”.

    On a bit of a tangent, I also fear the rear of the car will look a tad ridiculous next year, with the cars being 2m wide, but the rear wing being reduced to 75cm.

  4. “So what will adjustable wings achieve except add yet more artificial complexity to F1? I’m not sure.”

    fuel efficiency. less drag, less consumption = greener f1.

    presumably in the future they’ll do the same for the rear wing too?

  5. I voted yes..but it realy remains to be seen how the teams adjust with the new regulations. And yeah, I do agree with Andrew, FIA should set a budget to make competition steeper.
    A hard time coming for the drivers, I guess!! :D

  6. The only way we can know if it increases overtaking, is that if we put it into practise.

    Try it out at a winter test session in 2009 perhaps? If it increases overtaking significantly, then great. If not, scrap the idea.

  7. I don’t have a problem with adjustable wings but any restrictions on their use would seem to be an unnecessary complication.

  8. But if the drivers are allowed to adjust the wings to help with drag, fuel efficiency etc, why not allow the suspension height to be adjustable too? It seems that the FIA is carrying on the only way it knows how and making arbitary rules just for the sake of it before they understand what is and isn’t required.
    By the end of 2009 most of this will be outlawed again, just as the teams are gearing up to make better use of the possibilities!
    I think the budgets will be capped once the FIA have discovered what the ‘theorical’ car is capable of. At the moment its spend what you want to make sure the cars are actually built, although you notice there have been no announcements from Peugeot, Ford, Volkswagen or GM about them making new KERS systems for any of the teams, and nothing similar from the teams themselves. I say this just to remind you that KERS was announced as a way to bring in new manufacturers as well as new technology. If its the same group of Manuafacturers and they aren’t allowed ‘Customer Cars’, won’t that mean smaller grids?
    (end of lecture)

  9. Sean Newman
    28th July 2008, 8:48

    Crazy, crazy, crazy. What are they playing at? We don’t want this kind of stupid artificial fiddling. Slicks and very low downforce are all that is needed. The old GP2 car was the perfect example of how to make cars that can overtake. The new GP2 car is aerodynamically like a F1 car and as a consequence they can’t overtake very easily. For heavens sake the FIA are losing it BIG TIME! This make me mad. My favourite sport is being ruined.

    KERS – Another really BIG mistake.

    KERS is an interesting and worthwhile technical exercise, but NOT for formula one.

    Here’s why:

    COST

    The cost of formula one is too high already. This will just add to it. Formula one is a sport. It doesn’t need to be so expensive. The powers that be need to decide what they want formula one to be, an exciting and closely fought racing series or a test bed for technical innovation. Despite what the decision makers think those things ARE mutually exclusive.

    SAFETY

    As we have seen already, another element of danger is being added. Also it will make drivers actions more unpredictable. As some drivers have pointed out, they are being increasingly overloaded with systems. At 200 mph they should be driving the car not pressing buttons.

    GREEN ISSUES

    This one is ridiculous! The KERS systems we see on F1 cars will be ‘token’ green system anyway. It will simply not be as efficient as a road car system. If the FIA seriously wanted to be greener then it should just slow the cars down. Slower cars will need a lot less fuel. Also the FIA should not stage races in countries which have a poor pollution record.

    OVERTAKING

    KERS is an expensive and unproven way to improve overtaking. Slicks and low downforce is a cheaper, safer, greener and proven option.

    What on earth are the FIA thinking?

  10. I have no idea whether adjustable wings would work or not. In theory they might, but with this arbitrary “can only change twice per lap” rule they might not. I don’t know. I think we just have to wait and see.

  11. @DG
    *end of lecture ???????? :D

  12. I’ve to admit I don’t know if it’ll work or not in 2009. But if the idea remains unchanged for the following seasons, then adjustable wings can be useful to F1.

  13. I voted yes, BUT the drivers should be able to adjust the wings as often as they like… to dial out over/understeer themselves and to provide more downforce in the corners, than in the straights.

    I doubt it will increase overtaking, as the car in front will have greater straight-line speed with the wings set to flat, than the car behind with the wings set to create more downforce. The smaller rear wing will reduce the downforce of the following car as much as they will create less wash.

    If they want to increase overtaking, it’s simple. Allow more tyre producers (one per team? maybe two?) and take away the rev limit. Let the engines rev as high as they will go, but keep the two race rule.

    Have we seen more overtaking thanks to the T/C ban? Not really because the following car is just as compromised as the leading car. Slicks will bring back some of the overtaking, but the cars will still be rev limited, so slipstreaming is still basically out of the question and even the advantage of movable wings will be negated by the rev limit.

    Does anybody know if the KERS system will allow the engines to rev over 19K? Or is it a torque thing?

  14. 2 times per lap! Another element for teams to challenge on.
    I’ve voted “No” as I do not want to see a race decided on one car being penalised because the driver changed his wing too many times on lap 33!

  15. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 9:43

    The purpose of this is absolutely not to reduce drag in straight.

    It is to re-claw the downforce lost on the front wing by increasing the camber of the exterior wing sections (the central part being standard and with no flaps), just like flaps on an airplane.

    The purpose of this thing is to MAINTAIN THE BALANCE (correct any understeer).

    Except if set up for that, a car in front using it will only get oversteer.

    I said except if the car are set up for that, well that’s why you have a Two time limit. To prevent teams from using it on performance purpose.

    Now depending on how the driver handles his balance behind someone, there’s definitely the possibility that they use it in straight line, but not in corners.

    Reducing the angle makes the car understeer that’s why in straight line there’re no problems using it, but getting overtseer in mid corner by increasing the flaps is the last thing you want.

    A couple of other thing:

    Only rear wing is smaller; Front wing and diffuser are all larger than this year.
    It is not relevant to have small wings except the rear if you’re following someone.

    In contrary to a popular belief you need to have very efficient aerodynamics not to loose too much when following someone; that why while being smaller the rear wing is placed higher to have more efficient feeding.

    The cars are not 2meters wide, they stay at the same size.

  16. Something like 5 times in a race would be a better option IMO, there would atleast be some strategy to it. This is just going to make the lives of drivers and their forearms even more difficult… What next? Outlawing power steering for 1/3 of the race?

  17. The first thing that pops into my head is that this is obviously a moveable aero device designed to generate downforce in the corners.

    Therefore if this becomes legal then surely Renault can re-use that mass damper as that was banned for being a moveable aero device?

  18. Sean Newman
    28th July 2008, 11:01

    The Renault mass damper fiasco! Another example of the FIA being STUPID! They said it was an aerodynamic device. RUBBISH! if a device is not in the airflow it is not aerodynamic. End of story. However the damper worked by using it’s mass (it’s ballast wieght) to improve the MECHANICAL handling of the car. Moveable ballast (whilst moving) is banned ro the device was illegal but not for the reasons the FIA said. IDIOTS!.

    Moving wings are not needed. Just have low downforce and slicks and hey presto – OVERTAKING. Simple.

  19. Sean Newman
    28th July 2008, 11:11

    Sorry I just read at the bottom of the page I can’t insult anyone. Of course the FIA are not stupid. No one would agree would that would they?
    Lets just say they are to close to the problem. They take too many things into account. The should go back to basics. What makes a car which is able to overtake other similar cars?
    One more time …. LOW DOWNFORCE and SLICKS. That will do it trust me.

  20. Sean – you can insult the FIA, that’s fine, happens all the time. Just be nice to the other readers :-)

  21. I understand comments that say this will help drivers dial-out over/understeer, and I know track and air conditions conspire to alter the balance of the cars, but being able to ‘actively’ adjust balance smacks of babysitting the driver to me.

    Of course drivers will want a tweak of wing here and there to get the balance right, as we see during
    pits stops now. But it seems to me, if drivers can’t get their cars set up properly during a few hours of practice etc, something’s not right. Understeer and oversteer are a part of racing, and how the drivers handle them makes the spectacle more exciting, for me at least. I don’t really want to see beautifully balanced cars parading around when I can watch drivers hanging it out and mastering an untame beast.

    Just my random thoughts. I may just be blabbering and full of rubbish :)

  22. I think this rule will actually be quite interesting, and is more designed for tracks like Hockenheim. With the first 2 sectors being high speed, low downforce, the cars currently run the entire race at that setting, effectivily compromising themselves in the final sector with is a high downforce sector.

    With this new moveable aerodynamics we’ll still see the speed on the first 2 sectors, but the downforce in the last giving the drivers more confidence to try a move around the outside of one of the turns.

    We could then also see drivers taking a risk by changing earlier or later than the track demands, giving them more grip in a corner to try and jump by someone, but then compromise them up until the more usual high downforce areas.

    I think for that very reason it’s not so much a push-to-overtake system, and is why it’s limited to 2 times a lap; once to go to high downforce, and once back. Not every corner high downforce, back to straight low downforce.

  23. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 12:23

    @Noel:

    The balance problems are not related to set up of the car.

    When you follow someone your car lose some downforce (even if you had 3kg of downforce), but the loss is never uniform, that is, some parts of the car lose more downforce than some others.

    For instance you can lose more on the front wing than on the rear wing.

    If you lose on the front wing, you car will exhibit understeer behavior which, in a corner, is a “crime” as you can’t simply turn enough anymore.

    Thus by allowing the driver following someone to increases the wing camber you can increase your downforce and thus re-claw your balance.

    As said above, that system is limited to two adjustements per lap, that is one increase then back to normal (or possibly, lowering it for one long straight then going back to normal for the corners).

    Thus this system is meant to help correct the effects of wake on the balance of the car.

  24. Robert McKay
    28th July 2008, 12:28

    It’s a stupid idea. It’s an over-complicated solution to a problem that could be addressed in a much easier way, which is exactly the sort of thing Formula 1 does these days. It’s a bit like the (untrue) allegations of NASA spending millions of dollars in designing a special pen to work in zero-gravity when the Russians just used a pencil.

  25. F1 vmax without wings could reach almost 500Km/h. The cars and drivers remain stucked by that aerodinamic.

    The old F1 carisma was that you thing that everything in the car was conceived to make it faster. Performance and ecology have the same path. Why not?

  26. I voted Yes and my reason is this will enable the drivers to use more of their skills. Now rather than seeking the holly ballance between the slow and fast parts of the circuit the car will be tuned optimally for both. Then it is up to the driver to really extract the maximum out of it and not risk being stuck for the whole race with some stupid compromise configuration. I’d even go further and drop the 2-times-per-lap limitation :-)

  27. @ogami, I hear you buddy. I did say I might be talking rubbish :)

    But I thought that was what next year’s aero regulations were designed to sort out? Clean-up the airflow from the leading car to allow the car following more grip and balance, hopefully leading to closer racing and more overtaking.

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but this new idea sounds like overkill to me. Do any other series allow this kind of thing?

  28. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 13:16

    @noel:
    without entering too much details, the 2009 regulations aim at reducing the effect of the wake.

    You can’t suppress the loss. Even if the leading car had no downforce at all (no wings, no ground effects), the following one(with wing and/or ground effects) would still lose downforce and balance because the air is disturbed.

    So it is only possible to reduce the effects.

    The next thing is that the problem is very complex.

    You have the problem of knowing how much total downforce you’ll lose, and then how this will be shared by aerodynamic devices (I.E: how much each wing/diffuser will lose).

    There’s a complex correlation between quantity (how much downforce you lose/total grip) and design (how the tyre will react to that loss) which is very difficult to assess.

    It will vary according to conditions so the idea of having adjustable wings is pretty simple yet efficient.

    The OWG has thus worked on the two main areas: Diminishing the total loss and allowing to retain the balance (they also did some works to ensure the balance loss would be less than this year without the front wing adjustment).

  29. Sean Newman
    28th July 2008, 13:53

    Ogami can you explain?

    To quote you

    “Even if the leading car had no downforce at all (no wings, no ground effects), the following one(with wing and/or ground effects) would still lose downforce and balance because the air is disturbed.”

    So just so I understand you, even if the cars have no downforce they can still lose it when following another car?

    The cars of the 1950’s had no downforce so could follow each other through corners. Why not now? If todays cars had little or no downforce the problem would be solved.
    Anybody out there gonna deny it? It’s undeniable!

  30. I haven’t had time to read the comments yet but I will later so if I am repeating what everyone else has said I apologise.

    The whole concept is idiotic. How are the FIA going to know how many changes someone made and for that matter what constitutes a lap. Is it a lap only at the start finish line or for example if someone makes two changes on the second half of a lap can they make another two changes at the start of next lap so that in effect they have made four changes in less than a lap. If someone makes a change at a corner and the following lap they make the same change 10 metres earlier is that the same lap or another lap?

    This is yet another false way of creating position changes which it will not do. The drivers have way to many toys to play with as it is and this combined with push to pass means they are going to spend even less time concentrating on the job.

    Max has clearly learned nothing from this season. Despite howls of protests from people who think that F1 should be open to any technology the ECUs were simplified and traction control was banned. The electronics were dumbed down a bit and the racing improved massively so now we are going to add complexity which will make the racing worse. The logic is stupid beyond belief.

    It is the easiest thing in the world to write a set of regulations that allow cars to overtake and follow each other through corners. Numerous championships of all levels in every country in the world manage it every year. The reason overtaking is difficult in F1 is because the aerodynamics are so complex and in addition they generate way too much downforce. Personally I would like to see the wings ripped off but they could be simplified enough to give great racing.

    The standard spoon section all teams must use next season is another idiotic idea that is way to complex. All that the regulation had to say was that only single element wings were allowed and the section must be the same along its width. That leaves the teams scope to use different wings for different tracks but reduces the effectiveness of them and reduces their sensitivity.

    It is a well established fact that F1 wants to keep sizeable wings on the car because sponsors like them. It is perfectly possible to have large wings that produce little downforce. You simply ban endplates. Single element wings would be more popular with sponsors because their names or logos would be much clearer than at present when they are spread over a number of elements.

    Max and co need to analyse what they are trying to achieve and work to that end rather than introducing constant knee jerk reaction changes that often contradict the previous season’s knee jerk changes.

    They should now be planning to introduce a completely new set of regulations for 2012 with the plan of allowing cars to follow others through corners and encourage racing. If the wheel to wheel racing is good enough no-one gives a damn about the technology or anything else. Despite the complaints at the end of last season that F1 wouldn’t be F1 any more because they were dumbing down the electronics I have not heard a single complaint all season that the cars are too simple to be proper F1 cars or that someone would be as well watching A1GP because it is just the same. Those were the arguments used when those changes were announced and I have no doubt someone will write the same in response to my comments here. F1 is about the best teams and the best drivers racing each other. F1 does not die if some of its current features are banned. We have seen turbos, ground effects, twin chassis, 6 wheelers etc all banned and no-one has expressed an opinion that F1 is no good now because they have been banned and I certainly haven’t heard anyone say that this season would be better if the Ferrari had six wheels and the McLaren had two chassis. Don’t be afraid of restricting the excesses of F1 engineers. Sometimes as with the electronics the racing gets better.

  31. michael counsell
    28th July 2008, 14:10

    You’re all Luddites…

    Drivrs can change their differential, engine mapping etc during a race so changing the front wing angle isn’t that big a deal.

    The point of changing the front wing angle is not to reduce drag but to reduce understeer when following another car which is the main problem when any car follows another.

    No would deny that cars without wings would follow each other through corners but they are also much slower like Formula Ford cars.

  32. William Wilgus
    28th July 2008, 14:20

    Adding a device to increase the angle of attack or camber of a wing, or `extend’ a flap on a wing doesn’t mean that the lift (down-force in this case) will increase. Increase it too much—even in clean air—and the wing will stall; i.e., lose all lift (down-force). There’s no telling what would happen in the dirty air behind another car: each team’s cars produce different disturbed air patterns behind them, and those patterns change with changes in the car’s attitude. Any change in the leading car’s front wing camber or flaps would result in a sudden change in the following car’s handling. Not exactly what you want if you’re the following driver.

    What happened to keeping the costs down?

    Whether you flex the wing or add flaps, you’re increasing the possibility of a failure of the part(s) involved. Coupling that thought with those of my first paragraph, what happened to safety?

  33. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 14:31

    @Sean Newman:

    ““Even if the leading car had no downforce at all (no wings, no ground effects), the following one(with wing and/or ground effects) would still lose downforce and balance because the air is disturbed.”

    So just so I understand you, even if the cars have no downforce they can still lose it when following another car?”

    Read again my sentance:

    “Even if the LEADING car had no downforce at all (no wings, no ground effects), the FOLLOWING one(WITH wing and/or ground effects) would still lose downforce and balance because the air is disturbed”

    As long as you have aerodynamics dependent (and that includes even streamlined bodies) bodywork, what ever you follow, you’ll still alter your aerodynamic balance and lose whatever the aerodynamic force is.

    If you have wings to create downforce, then following someone, even if this car don’t have any wing/diffuser to create downforce, you’ll lose some simply because of the slipstream.

    If you have a car designed for high speed created to have a balance (so have aerodynamic loads repartition studied for that) you’ll lose balance.

    After that all is matter of how severely the leading car is creating turbulence (this depends on design) vs how much you rely on aerodynamics.

    Put into a mathematical equation that would be:

    % of Grip loss due to aerodynamics= (Aerodynamics sensitivity*(aerodynamic grip/mechanical grip))/turbulence factor

    Balance loss= Integral (Grip loss due to aerodynamics* X axis)

    That is only for aerodynamics; Tyres do also experience loss of grip under certain conditions like going onto the marbles and it is again a quesiton of knowing how severe are the marbles vs how the tyres will behave onto them.

    To make it clear, your solution of low downforce would only work if:

    -you accept the cars will be slower (by a large margin)
    -you can guarantee that the following car will create at max the same turbulence AND the following car will lose at max the same proportion of downforce.

    Only in those cases the mathematical approach of lowering the downforce/tyre grip work.

    If you can’t guarantee it then you can end up with as much problems as before; See nascar Cot, designed to be less dependant on downforce that still has the same understeer problems than before and even worse in some cases…

    The same happened to CART when the handford device was used.

    To the opposite, the Indycars running on oval have a lot of downforce and no problem at all because they have a high downforce/loss of downforce ratio which means they lose not so much compared to what they have so end up having spare grip anyway.
    (That’s not what i call a sound racing situation because that means they drive flat out often but that’s to illustrate the physical problem).

    Ones need a good balance between all of this and….And then nothing is guaranteed…to many people focus on aerodynamics and believe without them it would be perfect racing…Actually what makes the grip are the TIRES.

    (there’s long to say onto them ..)

  34. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 14:56

    @William Wilgus:

    “Adding a device to increase the angle of attack or camber of a wing, or `extend’ a flap on a wing doesn’t mean that the lift (down-force in this case) will increase. Increase it too much—even in clean air—and the wing will stall; i.e., lose all lift (down-force).”

    That’s why the wing is lowered to 7,5cm to the ground and widened to 180cm, to precisely run below it’s max Cl angle of attack so that you can increase the camber without stalling it.

    And that’s precisely why increasing it in front air would result in overtseer.


    There’s no telling what would happen in the dirty air behind another car: each team’s cars produce different disturbed air patterns behind them, and those patterns change with changes in the car’s attitude. Any change in the leading car’s front wing camber or flaps would result in a sudden change in the following car’s handling. Not exactly what you want if you’re the following driver.”

    The wake pattern’s changes that are of primary importance are vorticity rotation and gradient of pressure.

    The pathlines may effect the car but that’s not a problem since the effect will be linear.

    Today they’re not, because you have a lot of vorticity and a lot of coupling from the diffuser and rear wing.

    Next year the coupling is reduced, the diffuser is made cleaner and lower to the ground, the central part is ment to prevent vortex lift to be used underfloor and finally the rear wing is narrowed to decrease the spread of turbulences.


    What happened to keeping the costs down?”

    What do you mean??? this is just a simple flap actuators pair that’s all..


    Whether you flex the wing or add flaps, you’re increasing the possibility of a failure of the part(s) involved. Coupling that thought with those of my first paragraph, what happened to safety?”

    I think you’re over-reacting from a simple device that enables to change the angle of attack of the flap by 6°..

    This doesn’t bother you for planes isn’t it? so why for cars??

  35. I bow to Ogami’s technical knowledge of these areas which, as usual, is far superior to mine.

    At the moment those who are oppose the wings outnumber those in favour by about two to one. I wonder how many of us think the wings will work as intended but don’t want them, and how many think they won’t work as intended and don’t want them?

    I’m not totally convinced they’ll work and, as I explained above, I’m not sure we’ll be able to tell if they do. Perhaps Ogami could shed some light on that?

  36. Sean Newman
    28th July 2008, 15:21

    Sorry Ogami I did misunderstand you a little but you are still wrong.

    You say “the cars will be slower (by a large margin)”.
    Are you sure? Don’t forget slicks will offset some of the speed lost in the corners. Also the cars will be quicker on the straights. So it may not be by a large margin. Besides close racing is surely what we all want? So what if it’s slower?

    And yes the following car will always be affected aerodynamically but if it is less reliant on aerodynamics it will be affected less and be able to follow more closely than now.

    So back to the original question the answer still has to be NO because although it is a solution it is not the best solution.

  37. OK, this conversation has gone WAY over my head now. I’m not really interested in aerodynamic equations and whatnot. I just want close racing, overtaking and exciting Sunday afternoons. If movable wings achieve that, yay! I voted ‘no’ because this just sounds like a rule change too far.

    Soon will come the days when rule changes won’t be discusses because the FIA will have sorted their bloody act out and created a standardised set of rules which create good racing and close championships…

    Wait… we’ve already got that…

  38. …and it’s called GP2!

  39. Wiley E. Coyote will now be able to call up the Acme F1 Company and order custom cars with:

    1. Movable wings for grip and incidental braking.
    2. Expanding wheel base widths to block passing.
    3. KERS devices to power up these mechanisms
    4. Rocket assist for additional passing.

    And he STILL won’t catch the road running Ferrari’s and McLaren’s!

    Seriously, how can movable wings work when the cars are set up for specific levels of down force. Tire pressures, camber settings, dampers, bushings, fuel loads, etc. are all effected by down force levels. Change the down force and what happens to all the rest? Just to find out the answers to those questions would take up an extraordinary amount of computer time, wind tunnel and track testing, no?

    There are seriously knowledgeable people who have responded to the issue, I’d like to know their takes on how changing the down force would effect the other variables.

  40. I think if allows creativity and you have the garagist making good. Like Mclaren was and Lotus, Brabham, March,Tyrrel.

    If you take out liberty, you will have in the grid only the ones backed by lots of money, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Renault, Bmw, and that unspeacheable horse cigarettes biggest company . I hardly believe that Willians is still dear. The only creative that managed to do it until now was Red Bull.

    In those carismatic romantic days,liberty and anarchic days you could be surprised by Lotus, Le Mans Jaguar, Chaparral, Fangio, Piquet father.

    The big money problem was only to have the engine. Ferrari and Ford managed that. Know the money problem is every were and will get worse.

    In the last 10 or more years you had to be a little sado-masoquist to see f1. Now for the first time there will be a real slight move in the natural direction…

  41. If this is really an effective method of increasing overtaking, shouldn’t this be something the teams can work into the car, i.e. an automated feature? That seems more in keeping with F1’s technological reputation – instead of some guy flicking a switch on the dashboard every 2 minutes like someone with OCD trying to get the “right” amount of air-con.

  42. Its not easy to make predictions. I would like to know what will happens with that wings. If there was an airplane “neural” system, imagine, how fantastic was to see the better driver with less wing in the corners.

    For instance, in a quite diferent problem: It´s easy to outlaw, a variable speed box, for obvious reasons. The same thing for traction control.
    But what would happens with these 2 things together?

  43. I’m not sure what Brar just said but the idea of watching two drivers each push themselves to run on lower wing levels to outdo each other might be both exciting, and potentially dangerous.

    Of course, twice a lap wouldn’t come close.

  44. It´s quite the oposite Andrew!. In the “neural” system, the system understand what you want to do. If you lost rudder, the airplane´s turbines (or the diferential in a car) will help you find your way.

    A system like that would understand what the driver wants: like going faster wearing less tyres, energy etc. And will act on the wings like a bird.

  45. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 18:37

    @sean newman:

    “You say “the cars will be slower (by a large margin)”.
    Are you sure? Don’t forget slicks will offset some of the speed lost in the corners.”

    Okay first of all, don’t mess the cases: we are talking about your proposed solution of “low downforce or no downforce” aren’t we? We’re not talking about next year, since next year regulations doesn’t follow your proposition (it lowers the ratio of downforce/tyres grip but only after taking care of the design of the cars).

    So first of all let me tell you than a GP2 car is certainly not a low downforce car; they produce about 1 ton of downforce at 240km/h in high downforce trims.

    So to simplify and be more precise let’s take a “no downforce car”.

    Tyre grip is measured via the tyre friction coeficient.
    This coefficient is not real quantity, it is rather an indicator of how could a tyre can translate the loads on it to the ground.

    This means that a tyre that would have no loads at all (including its weight) would not grip at all.

    Thus the grip is defined as the tyre friction coefficient times the loads on it which in equations means:

    Grip=Cf*loads.

    In the case of a current F1 car that is:

    Grip=Cf(Weight+downforce)= (Cf*weight)+(cf*downforce)

    So as we speak about a car without downforce this translates into Grip=Cf*weight.

    “Grip” here is just the same than “G’s” or “times the weight of the car”.

    If a car weights 600 kg and have a grip of 1200kg, it can corners at 2g’s, if the grip is 1800, 3g’s etc..

    This is actually an interesting result. Since the weight of the car (the mass) timed with speed indicated the amount of grip necessary (the heavier your car is, the more grip you need to achieve the same cornering speed) that means the Grip in the case of a non downforce car is only dependant on the tyre grip coefficient.

    A tyre grip coefficient of 1 will give 1g max acceleration, 1.7, 1.7g’s, 2, 2g’s etc..

    Now what you want to know is what are the values of a modern slick tyre friction coefficient?

    from 1.8 to 2.5…there you have it at best a tyre alone would give you 2.5g’s.

    And unfortunately as speed grows the tyre grip coefficient decreases and it can vary a lot, dropping from 2 to 1 for instance.

    So you compare your car with a max cornering acceleration of 2.5g and a F1 car where the average cornering acceleration is 3.5g’s topping at 5g’s (and it has been higher some years ago).

    Now let me go back to the downforce case to show you one thing:

    Grip=(cf*weight)+(cf*downforce)

    A modern F1 car produces in corner (not at the end of a straight line) under dynamic conditions about 1200kg of downforce max.

    The downforce has something superb: it is a virtual weight, that means it does not increases themass of the car and the astonishing result of that is that the grip needed to turn your car will still be based on his weight so the downforce will come as a extra grip with no penalty at all.

    Look at the number itself: 1200kg…the downforce itself produces already 2G’s of acceleration!
    Now look again at the equation, the downforce amount is timed by the friction coefficient and even more it is added to the same friction coefficient times the weight..

    In numbers, two cars with the same weight same tyres, one case no downforce, the other downforce
    (friction coefficient assumed to be 2)

    No downforce:

    Grip=2*600=1200

    Downforce:
    Grip=(2*600)+(2*1200)=3600

    In the first case you simply have 2G’s..the other one 6g’s…

    So to sum up in no way a no downforce car can be as fast as a downforce (especially high downforce) one.


    Also the cars will be quicker on the straights. So it may not be by a large margin.”

    Don’t be fooled by the popular belief cars with downforce are slower in straight line, They of course drag more (thus require powerful engines) but the downforce gives them incredible acceleration (up to 2,4g’s in a F1 car) which translates at the end of the straight by a higher top speed/longer time at top speed..

    And if you want to know what can be the effect on lap time of a quicker car in straight line this is very simple:

    Take the total length of straights on a track, then total length of the corners, compare the difference in speeds.

    With a no downforce car you could even not reach the same top speed.
    It may seems incredible but dragster are actually very high downforce cars. But let’s be very optimistic and say it could; you would have what?? 20km/h advantage on 200meters?

    With 6g’s cornering opposed to 2g’s you just have 100km/h or so on a distance that would be about 3 or 4 times the distance the straight line help you with.


    Besides close racing is surely what we all want? So what if it’s slower?”

    Now that’s a good question. You have all rights to love 60’s style racing; i believe there’s no one unique form of good racing.

    The problem is that high speed racing is a type of racing form.
    F1 car are driven specifically because they can accelerate (which includes cornering braking and accelerating away) so fast.

    What actually makes the difference and variety of racing is that hopefully, no cars are driven the same, no series involves not only the same driving but also the same race craft.

    So there’s no scientific answer to tell you we should not get slower; only the fact that by doing that you would make the F1 come back to a level every other low budget series is able of today.

    You would normalize racing to a vision you think is THE good racing while actually you have many series with different styles.

    There’s an argument however in favour of F1 being the fastest.
    When you do race driving, you choose a style (rallying, stock car, single seaters, GT etc..) and when you’re in there’s always one thing: you start with smaller lower car to the most powerful and powerful means also the cars that brake better and corner better.

    Why is that so? simply because driving at higher speed makes things difficult and that the goal of a driver, being more and more potent (this is actually fun too).

    You have to replace in the context the F1 you seem to love: in the 60’s driving those F1 was hell of a challenge, with all dangers coming with.

    Today it would be another formula ford.

    finally to speak about downforce, downforce has one benefit drivers love: it increases with speed (and it even increases with the square of speed) so it actually make some corners very interesting to take because you have to exit the previous corner with enough speed to take the next one (since downforce increase with speed, some corners can be taken at 200km/h but not at 150km/h…crazy isn’t it?)..

    This makes driving so much more subtle..


    And yes the following car will always be affected aerodynamically but if it is less reliant on aerodynamics it will be affected less and be able to follow more closely than now.”

    That’s wrong and i explained you why (see the equations).

    @GeorgeK:

    “Seriously, how can movable wings work when the cars are set up for specific levels of down force. Tire pressures, camber settings, dampers, bushings, fuel loads, etc. are all effected by down force levels. Change the down force and what happens to all the rest? Just to find out the answers to those questions would take up an extraordinary amount of computer time, wind tunnel and track testing, no?”

    Hopefully physics are not so demanding on the cars that if you take away a little balance your car just go right into the wall.

    Already now loads balance vary a lot and among the things that set appart ferrari and mclaren from the rest is that they sorted out a number of balance related problems.

    Now back on a simpler logic: your car is on balance, you follow someone, you loss downforce on the front wing, so this NOW that you have a problem with balance, you increase the camber,the downforce is again here…where’s the problem??

  46. Playing Devils Advocate for a minute – Sometimes I wish the car designers and technicians were given a relatively free reign, just to see how far (in design and technical terms) and how fast they could get the cars to go.

    Having said that I know I’m probably one of few who think this years cars are just as good looking as previous years. What can I say, I’m a fan of evolution in almost all its forms and am constantly amazed how they dream up ways to squeeze more out the cars.

  47. *head explodes*

  48. Lets think about this a different way. What about active airfoil positioning (think active suspension if you’re old enough. Air flow sensors will tell the CPU to trim the front wings to maximize downforce when following another car closely. This enables (maybe) the following car to stay close and draft past after a fast corner. It might make overtaking a little easier than at present.

  49. ogami musashi
    28th July 2008, 19:52

    GaryC: That’s proposed for 2011 rules for the ride height and wings adjustments as well.

  50. My question is where are they going to fit this onto the steering wheel?
    With all the current switches and buttons there is very little room for more without a gloved finger activating another button that may be bad for their car. Then you have the new Mclaren invention of manual traction control. So the drivers are going to have to know and react correctly with all these new switches and leavers.

    So from there we ask – Are the drivers looking too much at the steering wheel?

    What was the result of the FIA risk analysis onto increasing the level of complexity and the number of changes that are necessary for a drive to completed for each lap?
    Each time the driver needs to make a change it is a distraction from watching what is happening in front and what is behind.
    The FIA are making too many changes. In management classes they talk about trying to turn the Titanic around. You need to do this in small increments otherwise you may capsize the boat. By making so many changes they are going to cause arguements and KAOS. Let alone the ingenuity of the teams. They will be able to push every limit of the rules. I hope that the FIA has good procedures in trying to maintain fair racing with all these new rules.

  51. David G – hang on a minute, perhaps the solution to ease the problem of all those buttons is to bring back that stick thing that used to be on the right-hand side – what was it called again? Oh yes, a gear-lever!
    Its a wonder if you think about it that no team has managed to introduce fighter-plane style head-up displays into the helmets, to help the driver concentrate on the race and still control the car….

  52. Sean Newman
    29th July 2008, 8:29

    @Ogami

    Why are GP2 cars, particularly the old design, able to run more closely and overtake more than F1 cars even though they don’t have a moveable front wing?

    Also I’m not talking about taking us back to the 1960’s and not against technology in sport so long as the sport remains entertaining. The whole point is we all turn on our TV to watch and be entertained. Low downforce cars are more interesting to watch even when they are not overtaking!

    The fact is we legislate excessively in F1 already to slow the cars down for safety. So the whole idea of F1 being the fastest and a pinnacle of technogoly are severely compromised anyway. What show never be allowed to happen is for the interests of technologists, programers, engineers, designers, drivers, team owners, race promoters etc to come before the enjoyment of spectator.

    Inevitably more complexity of design (such as a moveable front wing) will bring a wider spread of car performance from the front of the grid to the back. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what we need.

  53. Honestly, going back to a stick shift would be a shame (to the technology minded F1). And I’ve heard Ralf Schumacher in his Williams days used a Schuberth that had a display in the line of vision of his visor.

  54. Question to OGAMI: what does a turning vane do different from a barge board?

  55. @ogami musashi:
    “so it actually make some corners very interesting to take because you have to exit the previous corner with enough speed to take the next one (since downforce increase with speed, some corners can be taken at 200km/h but not at 150km/h…crazy isn’t it?)..”

    How sure are you about this? Do you have an example of such a corner or you just speculate?

    What about the other forces which act on the car during cornering? Some are also proportional to the square of the speed, some also depend on the position of the center of masses, etc.

  56. Sean Newman
    29th July 2008, 8:53

    Ogami I’ve been looking at some of your equations. Now I’m a driver not an mathematician but when I plot on a graph of your equation…

    “% of Grip loss due to aerodynamics= (Aerodynamics sensitivity*(aerodynamic grip/mechanical grip))/turbulence factor”

    .. I get a straight line. Does that mean any reduction in aerodynamic grip has a proportional reduction in grip?

    I’m just trying to understand your view point!

  57. ogami musashi
    29th July 2008, 11:20

    @Sean newman:

    “Why are GP2 cars, particularly the old design, able to run more closely and overtake more than F1 cars even though they don’t have a moveable front wing?”

    Because they use venturi channels, because they use slick tyres that allow for more low speed grip.


    Low downforce cars are more interesting to watch even when they are not overtaking!”

    That’s your opinion, not the everyone’s one.

    The equation was not correct:

    % of total grip lost= (aerodynamic grip/total grip)/(aerodynamic sensitivity*turbulence factor)

    total grip is Cf*(weight+downforce)
    Aerodynamic grip is the downforce
    aerodynamic sensitivity is an averaged value (under the form of a coefficient) that relates to the effects on the wing the turbulence will have.
    For example, for a given turbulence, a higher placed front wing will have a greater sensitivity.
    Turbulence factor is also an adimensionnal coefficient relating to the severity of the turbulence.

    Thus it means, the grip lost will depends on the ratio of downforce over total grip and the how much this ratio will be affected by a given turbulence (this varies according to the design of the car).

    @ukk

    “How sure are you about this? Do you have an example of such a corner or you just speculate?”

    Turn 7 at istanbul, Turn 8 at the same track (but turn 7 is more important).

    The reason is that your mechanical grip basically drops with speed while your downforce grip increases with speed.

    Thus some corners can’t be taken until you have enough downforce to take them. Since it increases with the square of speed (while mechanical grip drops linearly) you can take some corners at one speed but not below (of course if you slow down a lot you’ll take them, we’re talking about a hole in the speed range).

    By the way, that’s a pretty much known fact.

    “Question to OGAMI: what does a turning vane do different from a barge board?”

    Turning vane does the same job than bargeboard’s first part that is deflect some air.

    But just like today bargeboards it also creates some vortex to manage to flows over some parts of the car.

    It is impossible to say the precise use of a part because it depends on the philosophy of the car.

  58. Surely a curved underbody, producing a bit of Ground Effect (but not as much as the skirted Lotus 78 and cars of that era) would produce grip that is undisturbed by the leading car’s turbulence? Not being au fait with the finer points of fluid dynamics, I might be missing something, but the problem with relying on exterior wings to produce downforce is that the resistance of the air flowing over the wings is reduced when that air is turbulent (like trying to row a boat in frothy water). One would think that a curved underbody, which basically turns the entire car into a wing, would suffer less from the effects of the car it is following and therefore have grip when trying to overtake?

    Of course, all the cars would have the same amount of grip…AND STILL NOT BE ABLE TO PASS THANKS TO THE REV LIMIT!!!!!

  59. Sean Newman
    29th July 2008, 12:12

    @Ogami thanks,

    I knew that equation wasn’t right. I know you won’t agree but I think the old GP2 car should be the aerodynamic model for the future F1, because it looks good and allows good racing. Simple as that.

    Thanks for your technical insight I’ve enjoyed hearing your thoughts and theories on a sport that we obviously both enjoy enormously.

  60. Ogami: I should’ve phrased my question like this: “where is the turning vane located in an F1 car?”

  61. ogami musashi
    29th July 2008, 12:31

    @sean:

    The GP2 car is a good example indeed.But it was not low downforce, it was simply a well balanced (between tyre grip and downforce) car.
    Next year F1 will be like that.

    @Sriran:
    Depends but genrally just aft of the front wheels, prior to the bargeboard.

    However people usually switch names for what they speak about so if “turning vane” means something different to you, please show me a drawing pointing at what you want to know

    @Alastair:

    Turbulence affects less ground effect cars,unfortunately the slipstream does affect them more than wings.

    Thus cars with venturis can also be affected, however the balance of the car moves less.

    Again, one solution is to balance wings, ground effects and tyre grip.

  62. Ogami: I’ve heard Toyota using the term ‘turning vanes’ a lot in their press conferences and I couldn’t really get to see it all. That’s why I asked you and thanks for your answers!

  63. I´m quite sure I have seem Schumacher in a especial Ferrari Tv Discovery stile program, saying that it was possible to reach 500Km/h in a F1 without the drag caused by wings and down force.

    Alan van der Merwe reached near 400Km/h in Boneville with the Honda F1 V10 in 2006.

  64. ogami musashi
    29th July 2008, 13:22

    @Brar:

    Bar the rear wing (if you talk about the bonneville attemp), it stayed the front wing and all the underfloor aerodynamics.

    Not really a no downforce condition.

  65. @Ogami: theoretically there could be a gap in the speed range, however this will practically happen when the mechanical grip is drastically lower than normal, i.e. if you’re driving slicks on a wet track and you have a super efficient aero. Then theoretically the car could understeer out of the corner.
    In practice I’ve never seen such case on the telemetry, but this was long time ago so if you have more concrete details I’ll be quite interested to learn from your experience.

  66. Ogami: For something because of that they didnt´reach the 500Km/h, that Schumacher said.

  67. William Wilgus
    29th July 2008, 16:49

    Top Fuel Drag racing cars have about 7,000 horsepower, so I think that the amount of drag produced by their wings is rather moot.

    Ogami: Finishing with drag racing, the highest acceleration rates are in the first 400 feet; the main reason for top fuel’s wings is because the slicks grow at speed, severely narrowing their contact patch with the asphalt.

    As yes, wake turbulence. The front wing’s angle of incidence RELATIVE TO THE AIRFLOW and IN THE WAKE of a LEADING CAR is going to depend upon the distance from that car and the aerodynamic properties of that car—which will depend on the attitude of that car (understeer, oversteer, etc.). Since all of those factors are in a constant state of flux, the downforce generated by the wing will be in a constant state of change. Through the waterspray left behind a moving car, it’s rather easy to actually see the turbulence a moving vehicle leaves: some of the air spirals and some of it `tumbles’. It’s safe to assume, then, that at some moments, a wing in the wake of a car will stall due to that turbulence. More significantly, it is a given that the airfoil’s angle of incidence in that wake turbulence will be constantly changing. That will result in constant changes in the amount of down-force being generated and the structural load on the wing. Since increasing the lift of a wing increases it’s load, adding flaps or a camber altering device to the front wings of an F-1 car isn’t simply a matter of adding a couple of actuators. Because extra strength in a component translates to extra weight of that component, such things as front wings are designed to be only strong enough to last the race. A front wing flap / camber adjustment device will bring about more front wing failures . . . and more accidents.

    Movable aerodynamic devices were banned for a reason, and it’s still valid.

  68. ogami musashi
    29th July 2008, 20:33

    @william wilgus:

    I know what is an effective angle of attack thanks..that doesn’t change the fact that a wing operating lower than its clmax will be less prone to stall than a fixed wing near that Cl.

    The load variations are not new, and adjusting the camber will help.

    Now, if the attachement of flaps this year work fine with twice the downforce (hence far greater loads) i don’t see why actuated flaps attachement would not sustain those loads with half (or so) the downforce.

    In addition there’re strict deflection tests carried on by the FIA.

    In case of a failure of the actuator what would result is a simple lock of the flap so again i don’t see the problem.

    In contrary to you technical directors don’t see that problem either.

    @ukk:

    I reckon most of the time this is to be rather a problem of taking the corner at the optimal speed (the highest possible) than taking it or going off, but still that happens.

    As for data, i’ll ask a friend at michelin competition but last time we talked about it it was no question of looking at the data, as you know their are strictly confidential.
    however i’ll ask for more precisions for hard data facts.

  69. Ogami Musashi: After reading your posts for several times I finally understand it.

    And so, now, I will try to explain it to the others :-).

    All the misunderstanding that happens in the case is that everybody at first glance think that the adjustable aerofoil is conceived to be used to achieve higher speed in the straight. But that for sure is not the case (the two cars will lower front aerofoil and no one overtakes no one)

    But as you already explained in your first post (15) it´s not that.

    Let us imagine, for metaphoric communications reasons that nothing had changed. Then arriving at the last corner, in Hungary, Spain or even Monza, the driver that is trying to pass can move his front aerofoil, up! He will not understeer and will get closer and come out of the corner in the mood to take a tow and overtake.

    The front driver for obvious reasons will not gain nothing with more aerofoil´s camber because he will imbalance his car, even oversteer it, and be passed.

    The maneuver security is assured because the driver is increasing the aerofoil camber. Its, awfull to say that, I agree, but FIA made it just right.

  70. michael counsell
    30th July 2008, 2:39

    Front wing angles are adjustable and are done so every pitstop cheaply and safely with an allen key. An actuator mimicing the allen key linked to a contol on the steering wheel would do the trick and cost very little.

  71. William Wilgus
    30th July 2008, 6:40

    Well, yes, I suppose that you could just mimic the Allen wrench action. Those adjustments work fine for clean air running. But you still have missed the point that increasing the angle of attack of the wing or changing the angle of a wing flap does not mean that downforce in the wake of a leading car will increase the down-force. It might actually decrease it by passing the optimum angle of incidence. Don’t forget that lift (down-force, in this case) decreases as the airfoil approaches stall; loss of lift isn’t a sudden event, but a gradual event that becomes a sudden loss of all lift at the stall angle. (Further, as the angle of attack increases, drag increases. So you’d need more locomotive power to stay close.)

    There is no driver controlled device that is capable of dealing with such constantly changing apparent angles of attack. Dealing with it would require extremely sensitive sensing devices and a very high-performance computer. An example of this can be found in modern fighter aircrafts’ `fly-by-wire’ systems. (To increase maneuverability, they’re designed to be unstable; no pilot has the skills necessary to perform the minute and rapid adjustments to the plane’s control surfaces that are needed to keep them from going out of control.)

    Let’s get back to acceleration and downforce. The greatest acceleration of a wheel driven vehicle is obtained when the driving wheel(s) are just barely spinning; i.e., `burning rubber’. (So having the wheels `glued’ to the road isn’t what you really want. Of course, too much wheel-spin is totally un-acceptable.) That means applying the exactly correct amount of power throughout the acceleration period. It’s true that more down-force on the drive wheels will allow more power to be applied without excessive wheel-spin. However, the more the car weighs, the greater the inertia the car must overcome to accelerate—so weight isn’t the answer. Aerodynamic downforce isn’t the answer either: at low speed, there isn’t enough downforce produced to do much good; and at higher speeds, any gain in traction produced by the increased down-force is more than offset by the increased aerodynamic drag that the aerodynamic down-force produces. Remember, Drag increase as the SQUARE of the SPEED. (How do Top Fuel dragsters get away with their wings? 7,000 + horsepower.)

    As far as adjustable front wings go in relationship to increasing the ability to pass in F-1, you’re looking for a free lunch—and there ain’t no such thing.

  72. William Wilgus
    30th July 2008, 6:50

    One more regarding flaps:

    Since you would have a left and a right flap, you’d need 2 actuators. What would happen if one failed and the other didn’t? Therefore, you’d also need an asymmetry detection system—just like on airplane wing flaps—to prevent out of symmetry situations. So much for simple, cost-effective systems.

    Ogami: How would changing the wing camber help relieve the wing’s structural requirements? I don’t understand that one.

  73. ogami musashi
    30th July 2008, 8:43

    @william wilgus:

    “Well, yes, I suppose that you could just mimic the Allen wrench action. Those adjustments work fine for clean air running. But you still have missed the point that increasing the angle of attack of the wing or changing the angle of a wing flap does not mean that downforce in the wake of a leading car will increase the down-force. It might actually decrease it by passing the optimum angle of incidence. Don’t forget that lift (down-force, in this case) decreases as the airfoil approaches stall; loss of lift isn’t a sudden event, but a gradual event that becomes a sudden loss of all lift at the stall angle. (Further, as the angle of attack increases, drag increases. So you’d need more locomotive power to stay close.”

    Two points you’re missing:

    Do you know what is a wing designed to run below its Clmax?

    That is a wing that run below it’s maximum angle of attack.

    So in anyway, compared to a 140cm, 15 cm high wing, a FLAP of a wing running 180Cm wide and 7.5cm will behave better.
    And increasing the camber of a wing is NOT like increasing the angle of attack; the flow pattern is not the same.

    We do that for planes not only in landing approach but for supersonic flight on fighter jets (where your have compressibility and a lot of load variations) and there’s no problem.

    Do i say the wing would never suffer from load variations??? no of course, the situation is not perfect, but believing the wing will stall is not realistic..

    -The second point is that most of the variation in relative angle of attack is just the opposite of what you think.
    by FAR the most common pathlines pattern is an upwash, which result in DECREASING the angle of attack, so increasing the flaps will only help.

    “Let’s get back to acceleration and downforce. The greatest acceleration of a wheel driven vehicle is obtained when the driving wheel(s) are just barely spinning; i.e., `burning rubber’. (So having the wheels `glued’ to the road isn’t what you really want. Of course, too much wheel-spin is totally un-acceptable.)”

    No no no. A tyre grip is the best while there’s a part of sliding in the contact area but the part of that area that is griping is non sliding of course!
    And, apart from tyre load sensitivity, the more load on it, the better the traction.

    So downforce is of course important..a funny car produces more than 6,5tons of downforce at 400km/h why do you think it does??

    “any gain in traction produced by the increased down-force is more than offset by the increased aerodynamic drag that the aerodynamic down-force produces. Remember, Drag increase as the SQUARE of the SPEED”

    The “square of speed” is a time rate of change not a level.

    the Cl/Cx ratio is relevant; here Cl means the downforce.
    Just like braking (and appart from the pure aerodynamic braking) no F1 car would accelerate like it does without downforce, just like no dragster.

    Of course at low speed (but very low speed) the tyres are important.


    Ogami: How would changing the wing camber help relieve the wing’s structural requirements? I don’t understand that one.”

    I don’t understand what you mean.

  74. William Wilgus
    30th July 2008, 18:23

    ogami:

    When I wrote about acceleration and wheel-spin, I should have said that THRUST is maximum with a small amount of wheel-spin.

    The square of speed—it certainly is a LEVEL change for Cdrag; it has nothing to do with time.

    Down-force and acceleration, top speed, and lap times: Years ago during an Indy 500, A.J. Foyt showed that a non-ground effects car was faster than a ground-effects car by literally running away from the rest of the field. Did he win? no, he blew his engine. At least for Indy cars at Indy, the advantage of downforce is higher cornering speeds at the cost of lower straightaway speeds—yielding greater reliability of engines. Yes, you’re right that aerodynamic down-force is wonderful in the corners, but it’s a disadvantage on the straights.

    Funny cars: the circumference of the slicks increases with speed, which has the result of narrowing the tread. The huge amount of down-force they have is required to overcome that—and due to their short wheelbase, prevent the front of the car from lifting (at higher speeds).

  75. ogami musashi
    30th July 2008, 21:29

    @ William Wilgus:

    “When I wrote about acceleration and wheel-spin, I should have said that THRUST is maximum with a small amount of wheel-spin.”

    This is a technic, not a physical situation. A wheel spinning even for a bunch of tenths of a second does not provide with the best grip.

    This technic was(is) used in some cars because their tyres and engines mappings can’t provide for progressive acceleration.

    Don’t confuse the micro sliding into the contact area and a wheel sliding.

    And in any case, that is only relevant for starts, not for accelerations.

    So that has no relevance on our discussion about downforce and acceleration.

    If you think downforce doesn’t allows for better acceleration, then ask yourself why in monaco you run at highest downforce trim with so many 1-2 gear corners.

    “The square of speed—it certainly is a LEVEL change for Cdrag; it has nothing to do with time.”

    I said “time rate of change” but wanted to say “rate of change” short..thus it is not a level, it is just an indication of how fast it grows..well that’s a derivee.

    So in this case the following pragraph:

    “Down-force and acceleration, top speed, and lap times: Years ago during an Indy 500, A.J. Foyt showed that a non-ground effects car was faster than a ground-effects car by literally running away from the rest of the field. Did he win? no, he blew his engine. At least for Indy cars at Indy, the advantage of downforce is higher cornering speeds at the cost of lower straightaway speeds—yielding greater reliability of engines. Yes, you’re right that aerodynamic down-force is wonderful in the corners, but it’s a disadvantage on the straights.”

    ….means nothing. You’re talking about an oval race with little accelerations times.
    We’re talking about road tracks, and we’re talking about cars with downforce vs cars with no downforce which is absolutely not the case here.

    In addition, if i tell you that drag raise is only an indicator of how fast it grows, it is that i tells nothing on the drag level.

    Hence that’s why i said the “Cl/Cx” ratio is relevant here.

    You can have a car with 500Kg of downforce draging less than another car with less downforce or even no downforce.

    “Funny cars: the circumference of the slicks increases with speed, which has the result of narrowing the tread. The huge amount of down-force they have is required to overcome that—and due to their short wheelbase, prevent the front of the car from lifting (at higher speeds)”

    What do you think the downforce does then???? increasing the loads on the tyre.

    Even if there was no centrifugial effect on the tyre carcass you would still need downforce to maintain the grip as with speed the coefficient of friction decreases.

  76. William Wilgus
    31st July 2008, 1:58

    ogami:
    Wheel-spin. I’m not talking about a time duration of wheel-spin, I’m talking about a rate or amount of wheel-spin. Whether it’s a technique or not, a small amount of wheel-spin produces the greatest amount of thrust. Note that the words thrust and traction are synonymous here.

    How is a start different than an acceleration? Please enlighten me.

    I don’t doubt that you’re knowledgeable in the subject we’ve been discussing, but if you aren’t willing or able to admit that drag increasing `with the square of the speed’ refers to the amount of drag—indeed, describing the rate at which the amount of drag changes—there’s no hope of having a meaningful discussion with you. (You’ve also failed to either grasp or admit the significance of other comments I’ve made in this thread.)

  77. ogami musashi
    31st July 2008, 9:59

    ” (You’ve also failed to either grasp or admit the significance of other comments I’ve made in this thread.)”

    I always find funny people complaining that their interlocutor don’t understand what they say why even asking themselves if they understand what HE says.

    “Wheel-spin. I’m not talking about a time duration of wheel-spin, I’m talking about a rate or amount of wheel-spin. Whether it’s a technique or not, a small amount of wheel-spin produces the greatest amount of thrust. Note that the words thrust and traction are synonymous here.”

    Then i tell you this is wrong.

    “How is a start different than an acceleration? Please enlighten me.”

    That a wheel spin is used to hook the contact path area in case of a start because there’s no motion so there’s no micro sliding into the contact path area yet.

    That means, while you can do wheel spin at a start and have good acceleration, you can’t do that from a non zero speed to a greater speed.

    Traction control is all about not spinning the wheels, that’s not just for fun.

    “hat drag increasing `with the square of the speed’ refers to the amount of drag—indeed, describing the rate at which the amount of drag changes”

    *The drag that increases* is a level, but *with square of speed* is a RATE.

    Don’t play on words, you’re telling me a non downforce car will have greater top speed than a downforce one “because he’s trading straight line speed to cornering (because the drag increases with the square of speed)”, i say NO, not necessarily.

    Simply because you don’t know the coefficient of drag and more you don’t now the downforce/drag ratio.

    So indeed, for a fixed car, if he trims the wings for more dowforce it will trade off straight line speed, but you can’t compare two different cars saying that “because the drag increases with the square of speed” the downforce car will drag more, that really means nothing.

    In this case, i just could say that 2004 cars should have been slower in straight line speed that 1988 cars, 2004 cars produced less horsepower while having far more downforce…however those one were doing 370km/h at monza, while to other were doing 340km/h… guess why?
    the 2004 one have a far better Cl/Cx ratio.
    Which means they can use their downforce for traction yet having less drag.

  78. William Wilgus
    31st July 2008, 17:52

    You fail to credit me with the assumption that when comparing the top speed potential of 2 cars, one with little aerodynamic drag and one with significant aero drag, their horsepower should be equal. Then you would have me believe that changing the angle of attack of a wing changes the camber of that wing. It doesn’t. Changing the angle of a wing’s flap changes the camber—and it also changes the cord.

    Structural strength: static load testing does nothing to determine a wing’s ability to endure flexing / flutter. Further to flutter, how about flutter harmonics and at the proper rate, it’s ability to cause wing failure?

    Call it micro-sliding if you wish; I’ll still call it a small amount of wheel-spin.

    On the rest of this discussion, I’ll just put you down as a troll and give up trying to get you to admit some basic truths.

  79. William can we calm things down a bit please. Healthy debate is fine but I don’t want any personal insults or name-calling, we can do without that.

  80. ogami musashi
    31st July 2008, 19:26

    “You fail to credit me with the assumption that when comparing the top speed potential of 2 cars, one with little aerodynamic drag and one with significant aero drag, their horsepower should be equal. ”

    I don’t understand what you mean sorry.


    Then you would have me believe that changing the angle of attack of a wing changes the camber of that wing. It doesn’t. Changing the angle of a wing’s flap changes the camber—and it also changes the cord.”

    I think you didn’t understand what i wrote, read again..
    i said just the opposite: changing wing camber is NOT changing angle of attack, but it does the same thing: increasing the Clmax, so a wing designed to run under its clmax should have no problem at all increasing its camber.


    Structural strength: static load testing does nothing to determine a wing’s ability to endure flexing / flutter. Further to flutter, how about flutter harmonics and at the proper rate, it’s ability to cause wing failure?”

    Well again you didn’t properly read what i wrote as i talked about “deflection tests” which is “flexing” tests.

    If you had read the regulations you would know that flexing is among the test.

    The flutter bit is funny, do you really think we design wings with a natural frequency so close that it can withstand any load variations??


    Call it micro-sliding if you wish; I’ll still call it a small amount of wheel-spin.”

    Well a micro sliding is a sliding of the contact path which is clearly not the wheel spinning at all, it in fact is a stretching of the contact path area.
    If the wheel slided that would mean no point of the contact path would have zero velocity in relation to the ground hence the adherence would drop.

    Now let me tell you that if your next message contains any personal insult, don’t except me to answer it.

  81. ogami musashi
    31st July 2008, 19:27

    read “increasing the Cl” (only camber increase Clmax, which is just why the wing will change their camber)

  82. I think the adjustable wings are a step too far. It a part of the very complex rules that will be introduced next year. I don’t think this is the way to go.

    Formula 1 should focus itself on engine, tyre and chassis development. Free up the tyre rules, re-introduce the tyre war and introduce a fuel formula. The aerodynamics should be restricted in such way that only a small rear wing can be used to create downforce. Front wings, bardge boards, diffusers, etc should be banned in my opinion.

  83. For sure, nowadays the f1 cars have a better down force/drag relation then 20 years ago.

    But, Ogami Nosashi, in other way you need to say that its impossible to achieve down force, without achieving drag.

    You want the lowest drag possible, for sure. But if you increase down force, you necessarily will increase drag too (even if it is little bit, more little as time goes by).

    For sure you Know that quote: “The final speed hadn´t changes so much from 1950. They almost reached 300Km/h at that time”

  84. ogami musashi
    1st August 2008, 11:32

    “You want the lowest drag possible, for sure. But if you increase down force, you necessarily will increase drag too (even if it is little bit, more little as time goes by).”

    Of course downforce comes with drag; But since the CL/cx is by definition a ratio and then will definie the level of drag for a given condition, you can’t say that a downforce car will drag more than a non downforce car (if their design are different of course) and you can’t say the top speed will be less (at the same HP rating).


    For sure you Know that quote: “The final speed hadn´t changes so much from 1950. They almost reached 300Km/h at that time””

    That’s not true; for sure they reached 300km/h but most of the tracks were really different consisting of far more bends than corners, with long straights.

    At monaco the 2004 cars reached more than 300km/h out of the tunnel, it was not possible with 50’s cars.

    My point is indeed that you can’t say a downforce car will drag more than a no downforce car.

    In addition, a downforce car will benefit from that very downforce in accelerations and in braking, were they’ll be able to brake later thus accelerating for longer time.

    So all in one there’s no possibility a no downforce car can match the lap time of downforce ones.

    If it was not the case, they would certainly not bother spending millions in aerodynamics R&D as in the regulations , nothings forces you to employ wings!

  85. “If it was not the case, they would certainly not bother spending millions in aerodynamics R&D as in the regulations , nothings forces you to employ wings!”

    Of course they are not perfect idiots! (neither everybody here)

    Osami Musashi. No one here is telling you, that you are wrong.

    I understand what you are saying. The thing here is not to stay arguing with each other and arrive no were. The intention is to achieve knowledge, observing things, perceiving, change informations. We can even “compete” with each other if in the end we arrive in a better level, that´s learning.

    Everyone here knows that you need aceleration to achieve speed. If you have better brakes (let´s say “negative” aceleration) you will go “faster to”, you will have better lap times wich is an obvious thing the auto world made it more clear with Le Mans Jaguar. And every one knows that down force make the car acelerate more in all directions and senses and thus have better lap times.

    If you race in a airport in straiht line(let say a Silverstone old airport) with a 1950 car in one direction you will arrive at the 300km/h. If you take a vehicle specially designed like an airplane, you will reach the same speed even with less power because you will reach a zero lift in some time and the tyre rolling resistance will be zero allowing the vehicle to have a higher final speed.

    What you are saying, and everybody will agree with you, is that if this airport race changes to a race consisting in going to the end and then coming back, the downforce formula 1 wins.

  86. ogami musashi
    1st August 2008, 14:50

    “If you race in a airport in straiht line(let say a Silverstone old airport) with a 1950 car in one direction you will arrive at the 300km/h. If you take a vehicle specially designed like an airplane, you will reach the same speed even with less power because you will reach a zero lift in some time and the tyre rolling resistance will be zero allowing the vehicle to have a higher final speed.”

    Okay, this is a matter of level of course.

    Let’s make it clear, a car needs more downforce for corners than for straight line accelerations, that’s for sure.

    So we basically agree that if you want to beat a straight line speed record you need to cut some downforce.

    What do you mean by “shape like an airplane”?
    Roll resistance is never zero;
    Both in the case of an ancient tyre, if rolling resistance was decreased, loads also so less acceleration resulted.

    In new tyres, rolling resistance is decoupled from grip but you still need loads.

    So i don’t understand what you mean sorry.


    What you are saying, and everybody will agree with you, is that if this airport race changes to a race consisting in going to the end and then coming back, the downforce formula 1 wins”

    I’m saying both. Be it race or airport, if you have downforce you’ll go faster.
    Of course if you run the race track you’ll need more because you need lateral accelerations, but in both case you’ll need downforce.

    But that said, the topic back at the origin was to talk about the solution of “no downforce” car on a race track.
    Some people think those cars would not be far slower than actual one, i just answered why i think they would be far slower.

  87. In the airplane example the tyre rolling resistance aproach to zero, and is zero at the exact instant the airplane takes of.

    With a live axle if you don´t have tyre rolling resistance you will not achieve aceleration.
    In the straight line record you start with v=0 and maximum aceleration using maximum grip (the reaction equal to rolling resistance), until the end when you reach V=max and zero aceleration (and you would want zero rolling resistance at this point and no downforce if that was possible (it´snt) and F1 aerofoils are working against you at this point. Will be nice to have an adjustable one to avoid this. But that´s not the case now and that´s not FIA aim is it is well explainded in post (15)Ogami).

  88. ogami musashi
    1st August 2008, 20:31

    Ah yes i see what you mean okay.

    However rolling resistance is not anymore linked to downforce and friction coefficient.
    Rolling resistance and grip occuring at totally different frequency ranges, modern tyres are built to have little mass deformation (rolling resistance) while still allowing high surface deformation (grip).

    At least if you talk about “rolling resistance” in the scientific term (that visco-elastic mass deformation).
    A problem that occurs at high speed with loads (like downforce) often mistaken for rolling resistance is the carcass fail.

    That’s another problem.

    It was totally true however until the mid 90’s that a tyre with more load (of even friction coefficient) used to have more rolling resistance; but even at that time a properly set tire only had rolling resistance in small proportions and at those times Drag was the most important limiter.

  89. To accelerate you need to have down force and friction coefficient. And the price you will need to pay for it, is rolling resistance.

    They are related for sure. As rolling resistance is the reaction to acceleration.

    In a dragster, in the starting moment you want carcass deformation, grip, and you will pay it with rolling resistance

  90. ogami musashi
    2nd August 2008, 11:16


    In a dragster, in the starting moment you want carcass deformation, grip, and you will pay it with rolling resistance”

    Why would you want carcass deformation?

  91. William Wilgus
    2nd August 2008, 18:04

    Dragster slicks’ carcass deformation:

    It gives a larger contact patch while the tire is not rotating and `softens’ the shock of sudden torque application to the tire. As rotation speed increases, the deformation decreases due to the `centrifical force’ [inertia] of the tread. These special slicks are called `wrinkle-wall slicks’ because the sidewall wrinkles at the tire rotational speeds mentioned above. (They’re also inflated to very low pressures.) Here’s a photo of one:

    http://www.hotrod.com/techarticles/general/drag_slick_tire_tech/photo_01.html

  92. Because you need to mechanically increase the grip.

    So for that, the dragster tyre before the start have a visible carcass deformation looking like deflation.

    This deflation give you big patch area. When the movement began the tyre “inflates” by rotation, and this increase the car load over the road. It´s like a “mechanical down force”, and you achieve by this more traction.

  93. ogami musashi
    2nd August 2008, 20:58

    Yeah thanks for the photo,

    The carcass deformation may feature rolling resistance increased, but it is not because you have more contact patch area, it is because the whole tyre is deformed.

    Thus,this has nothing to do with friction coefficient.

  94. When you have deformable bodies like tyres and rubber surface patch area increases grip.

  95. christopherlewis
    3rd August 2008, 10:08

    What a headache! Through a tight hairpin, accelerate out, don’t forget ‘new fangled flap thingy button’. Two main reasons i don’t like it are that driver skill is not based the optimum time to press the ‘cheat button’, and that i think it gives another advantage to the bigger teams who will obviously plough money into the perfection of the system.

    Does anybody remember that fantastic advert where the driver had to get out of the car at a pit-stop, spin round ten times and get back in?

    Brilliant website by the way

  96. ogami musashi
    3rd August 2008, 20:34

    “When you have deformable bodies like tyres and rubber surface patch area increases grip”

    Yeah…hum..excuse me i think we just don’t understand each other.

    Let’s let this for another time, as i’m sure the question of “downforce over tyre grip” will come again.

    See you.

  97. Ok.
    Sorry for my “Shakesperean English”.

    Deformable rubber “penetrates” asphalt, and for that you have accelerations bigger then 1g wich would be impossible if we were speaking about rigid bodies in a car whith “zero down force” when contact area size doesn´t change Grip. When you have surfaces like rubber and asphalt a bigger contact area incrases grip.

  98. ogami musashi
    4th August 2008, 12:57

    I know that brar; We don’t understand each other because we’re not speaking of the same thing.

    But that comes from both of us, and surely more from me as my english is not my first language and sometimes have difficulties employing the correct words.

    I can assure you that sooner than you think a topic talking about the very same thing will pop up here again.

    It pops up every time on every forums that talks of F1.

    We will start from fresh arguments and that will be easier to follow because i think now we’ve diverted too far from the original point.

    Thank you for your patience and politeness.

  99. This time I will not agree with you. I think we understand each other very well. This subject is one of the nicest things in estate of the art in auto racing. I hope we continued writing about it for sure.

    Thank you for the talk too.

  100. ogami musashi
    6th August 2008, 11:22

    Well okay let’s continue but i think we need to re center our arguments.

    The context of the discussion is “A car with less downforce will have less rolling resistance thus going faster in straight line”.

    My answer to that is “no, not necessarily” because “it depends on the construction of the tyre because it will depend on the softness of the tyre in the particular frequencies of sollicition of loadings”

    That is we now develop tyre with silicium; The mixes make that the rubber doesn’t deform so much in the frequencies of rolling resistance thus it decreases it, while it deforms a lot in the frequencies of grip.

    So “Grip and rolling resistance are decoupled”.

    Now that’s between one tyre and one another that are different.

    If you now talk about the same tyre, one case loaded with downforce, the other not loaded.

    In this case “Rolling resitance will increase because of the downforce, but only because of the downforce”.

    Thus “Contact patch area has no influence on rolling resistance”.

    In addition The forces of rolling resistance are very small in regards to the forces developed by grip so by far he most important thing that slows down a car with downforce (we talk about the same car with the same tyres, one case run with downforce, the other without) is the aero drag.

    The final top speed will depend on the ratio of drag/traction.

    That’s why in my posts above i said that “There’s no guaranty a car once run without downforce and once with will be faster without”.
    It depends on the what you need as acceleration.

    In the single example of wrinkle slicks the carcass deformation does increases the rolling resistance but not the fact there’s a larger contact patch area (see my explanation in the beginning of that paragraph).
    This is simply the fact the whole tyre deforms.

    So to stay in the context, we can’t say that a downforce car will go slower than a non downforce one.
    It depends mainly on ratio offered by drag/traction.

    This true that you would need to decrease the downforce as speed goes up (as you need less acceleration) but in the case of a no downforce car, this one would have some problems accelerating right from the start to the middle speeds.
    A F1 car still accelerates at 1,4G at 240km/h!

    The example by william of the Indycars ran with less ground effects is too vague, i’ve seen the account from the pilot, so many things could explain it, but rolling resistance is very small in comparison of drag so even with ground effecst that offer less drag than the wings, you still have drag, so less ground effects, less drag.

    That alone can account for the higher top speed.
    Also the tyres were not as good as now so, again going back to the subject, a no downforce car would be dead slower that a downforce one.

    Especially in high speed cornering.

  101. I think the problem here is that you are saying faster and slower when you are talking about acceleration, not overall speed.

    A car with no downforce will eventually reach a higher straight line speed than a car with downforce (that’s common sense, as there is less drag). It could however take longer to get there as it may not be accelerate as fast due to the fact that it’s tyres may slip over rather than grip the track, whereas a car with downforce would be pushing the tyres into the road. It would also have to slow more for the corners.

    ogami musashi is right, it’s just the way the arguement was delivered.

  102. ogami musashi
    6th August 2008, 19:13

    No I am talking about overall speed.
    Where you’re right is that of course it is taken on a given distance, if you run a infinity of course the car with less drag (so if the car are identical the one with no downforce) will finish at a higher speed.

  103. Osami: to make it awfully clear: You are talking about the integral of the instant speed, (at each instant) overall the circuit.

    I don´t want to put this like an argument. This is not the matter here. The matter here is to achieve understanding.

    For sure that a car with fixed wings angle will have better laps time. It is obvious, too, that if you have a variable wing you will make an even better lap time.

    The problem of a variable wing is that if you had a failure in rising the angle, then (you will have no reaction like the almost 5g in braking and cornering and this is the same effect of losing brakes or ground grip). Because of that they were banned.

    The central point of the topic here, you have already explained in (15). The device is not an (dangerous) adjustable wing, but, a variable flap that will recovers active security (down force) allowing the back car to aproach the front one in the corners.

    In the past years FIA was, lets say, going in the wrong way. The front wing was rised and the aero sensivite was so that the car in the turbulence looses grip and overtaking for that was pretty dificult.

  104. Here’s an idea that wouldn’t be difficult to implement on top of this crazy adjustable wing idea;

    Give each driver a random number of wing changes from 3 to 7 per lap. The drivers don’t know how many they have, the number changes each lap.

    They would have to attack / defend all of the time, and it’s garunteed to bring more overtaking ;)

    Of course it’s still completely arbitrary, and not based on skill.

  105. wait, I’ve got it! If we alter the camber of the adjustable, uhh, the adjustable… – ok, I guess I don’t have it.
    worst of all, I NEVER will.

  106. Martin #105:

    I don’t think anyone else actually has it either, Martin—even though they say they do. ;^)~

  107. nononononononononooooooooooooo…….. what happen to my beloved sport!!!

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