2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Williams has tested a version of its car with a rear wing apparently designed to meet the 2009 F1 rules. Becken has pictures of it on his blog and here’s an artists’ impression of how the 2009 F1 cars will look (right, found on the F1Technical forum).

I knew from looking at the 2009 F1 technical regulations that the new rear wings would look small but I’m taken aback by how drastic the change is.

With the Williams pictures it looks as though the front wing of the car and the sidepods are still 2008-spec.

The 2009 F1 rules should reduce the complexity of the front wing and add an adjustable element, which provoked much debate here recently. The new rules will also get rid of the winglets from the sidepods, making the back of the car look much smoother.

Hopefully the questionable aesthetics will be more than made up for by much closer and more exciting racing. And it certainly looks a lot better than Max Mosley’s horrible CDG (‘centreline downwash generating”) wing did.

F1 2009 season

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61 comments on “2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny”

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  1. I’m with GeorgeK. I would have thought there has to be some similarity to the width of the front wing compared to the rear. Then again I guess the shark fin negates this issue? I don’t have an issue with looks in terms as aesthetics however something doesn’t look right in terms of aerodynamics. I’m confused!?!?!?

  2. GerogeK – it is true to balance will move forward (not a bad outcome) but the rear wing won’t lose *that* much downforce.

    For a start it is higher than it is in 2008 so runs in cleaner air. That by itself gives more downforce. Second, the upper elements can be deeper, allowing teams to run a more cambered wing, clawing back some of the lost downforce.

    You can’t just look at one aspect of the car and say well … why have they done that it looks stupid, you have to look at the car as a system.

    As for the look I suspect we’ll get used to it pretty quickly. In two years time we’ll think the current, squat wings look stupid!

  3. It’s a step in the right direction because the competition will become more in the setup and driver skill than the additional aero “bits” which is more research and money based than a fight on the track. Hope the rules are kept in place for anumber of years thereafter , though , and Mosley’s “one engine” idea would be suicidal.

  4. Sure, the new narrow rear wings look a bit silly, but Robert McKay hits the nail on the head: “… I’m not overly bothered what it looks like, as long as it significantly improves dry Formula 1 races…”

  5. This new wing looks weird and totally out of place. It looks too skinny and narrow. They are going to take some getting used to.
    But I’m sure we all thought that the narrow-track cars looked weird initially when they were introduced, but they look normal now.

  6. Would it be possible to lose the rear wing entirely and use the under-car venturi(?) to give enough downforce? There could be small adjustable winglets along the trailing edge of the body above the engine (sort of like Audi TTs).
    The cars would look like big Formula Fords, but its another element of aerodynamics to keep a smooth profile and still stay on the ground….

  7. John Beamer – I can’t speak for GeorgeK but I don’t doubt downforce won’t be greatly affected. I may be clutching at thin air but would you think that in terms of straight line speed and horizontal forces and approaches to high speed corners, will be harder to resist/manage with the change in balance? I assume there is a way that they have, to direct the airflow from over the front wing and wheels to the rear wing? To stablise the car at high speed. This is where I’m confused because I can’t help but think there will be a lot of turbulence at and around the rear wheels either side of this wing.

    I also have a problem with your comment about cleaner air. Don’t the exhaust gases (dirty air) travel through the rear wing? Hence, if as you suggest to maintain greater down force the camber is adjusted to attack, won’t the same if not all the dirty air be caught in this wing?

    I have either shown I have some idea or none at all!!! I believe it’s called going out on a limb?

  8. With McLaren not able to make good use of shark fin and with a worse Mercedes engine than Ferrari’s I predict one more championship for Ferrari .Once again (like 2001) the rules are changing in favour of Ferrari.Aerodynamics , a subject that McLaren have an edge will make no vast difference in the car.I hope McLaren will make good use of KERS system along with slick tyres in order to keep a good momentum in the championship fight.One is for sure :With slick tyres and less downforce Hamilton,Kubica,Rosberg and Alonso will be brilliant.On the other hand drivers like Raikkonen, Heidfeld (despite what he said) Kovalainen and Truli will struggle.

  9. I’ve already gotte used to the small rear wing, and I actually like it. The super-wide front wing will take some getting used to, but at least they will become simpler and the wing has been lowered too.

    Just ban those shark fins! Its just advertising space!

  10. AussieLab

    You are right – cornering speeds will drop as the lack flow conditioners and smaller rear wing will cause downforce loss at the rear … slicks will of course help. That is the whole point of the new regulations as it should, in theory, encourage overtaking.

    The question of balance is difficult to answer because the entire car changes. The natural balance point will be further forward, which will result in a more oversteering car – should suit Lewis Hamilton down to the ground.

    As to the question of turbulence around the rear wheesl, yes, this will increase mainly because the flow conditioners in the mid-regions disappear. Not sure this will affect the wing too much though – it is narrower so is less influenced by this

  11. I’d agree with Eddie Irvine, these rule changes might suit Ferrari who seem to be ahead on engine development but behind on aerodynamics.

    The Williams looks bloody stupid, IMHO, but I’m willing to let that slide for the sake of improved racing. whether it’ll make much difference in practice…i’m not convinced.

    =( i’ll be sad when these rules come in, i love the aero bits and bobs. this year’s BMW Sauber is the coolest F1 car EVER!!!

  12. @Eddie Irvine & graham228221 – why are McLaren disadvantaged? The Mercedes engine is generally regarded to be pretty much up there with the Ferrari, and the benefits of shark fins seem to be pretty marginal. We’ve already heard rumours (possibly put about by Ferrari themselves) that the Italians’ KERS development work isn’t going so well.

    The teams that will do well next year are those which spend the most on development, so McLaren should be up there with Ferrari.

    My prediction for the biggest disappointment next year: Honda. They have staked their reputation on 2009, and unless they’re near the front, they’re gonna look stupid.

  13. John Spencer, add Williams to that list along side Honda.

  14. So much for the aero package to improve the look of the cars – that Williams rear wing looks like a toy charicature!

    Although I wish racing to be improved, I disagree that the cars shouldn’t look the part. Part of what got me into F1 was the cars, the designs…everyone doodled in class, and mine was mainly F1 cars. Bear in mind, sponsors who have to put their livery and names on those cars as well, I’d be interested to hear what they think of cramped logo names.

  15. Apart from KERS, what else is new here.
    First we change away from what was already there, then change back and we call it a great idea. We have just gone back to what the cars were like in maybe say 94/95.

    I just hope this is the last regulation change for the next 5 – 10 years, or else many more smaller teams will be forced to face the door.

  16. A1, GP2 and heck even Champcar all had cars that were capable of running close to each other to solve the perceived lack of passing in Formula One and none of these Formulas require such a comical looking solution. Not only does it make the cars look like a cheap knock off F1 car you might find in the Kmart toy section, it goes against the culture of commercialism in Formula One by reducing sponsorship space so dramatically.

    Personally I subscribe to Windsor’s point of view that there is nothing wrong with Formula One and wouldn’t change a thing.

    No, I won’t be ok with how these cars look even if the racing is fantastic. If I was concerned about arbitrary position changes every other lap I would watch GP2 or Nascar or IRL or whatever might take my fancy. Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of this sport, there are better solutions than this and no one should be satisfied with this one.

  17. I don’t mind most of the design, and if it helps the racing that’s fine, but the sharkfin and tiny rear wing make me sick. Period.

  18. Good God that wing is ugly!

  19. Current 2008 scenario is


    25% downforce from rear diffuser with strict anti ground effect rules
    (flat undertray and plank),

    33% downforce from rear wing

    My aesthetic vote goes for allowing more freedom in the venturi area, and
    scrapping rear wings altogether.

    Not sure how the disruptive effects of ground effect on following cars
    compares to wings, but my instinct is that it will be better.

  20. John, 2 queries :

    1. The flow conditioners around the mid-region of the car will now be disallowed. So, are all dumbo ears and small winglets booted out? What about Ferrari’s nose-hole?

    2. About turbulence, I feel I agree with Eric M and disagree with AussieLab and you; when you say that turbulence will increase. A smaller wing will produce lesser turbulence.
    And, I had read somewhere; that the primary reason for less overtaking is increased turbulence at the rear of the car. Why would FIA then implement a rule which increases turbulence..
    Why do you feel otherwise?

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