2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny

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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60 comments on 2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny

  1. Can anyone spell “oversteer”? With the huge front wing and mini rear, regardless of angles of attack, how will they keep the ass end on track?

    The rendering also shows a reduced engine housing, I guess with KERS providing power who needs V8’s? A nice inline 4 cylinder 800 cc Fiat will do nicely, thank you very much.

  2. it does look stupid :|

  3. I like the first response in the other blog: “coisa feia!” (Ugly thing!)

    I would have rather seen them removed or see them enforced as the kind of teatrays Indy/CART would have run, and I expected the regs to limit the number of elements in front, too.

    I think both spectators and drivers will get used to it quickly. Remember that the return of slicks will increase mechanical grip greatly and that the cars will now be “lighter” as they navigate the track. Expect a lot of wheelbase experimentation.

  4. Rob R. said on 19th September 2008, 4:33

    god its looks awful!

  5. Eric M. said on 19th September 2008, 5:47

    I’m going to counter my first assessment of the narrow rear wing. The more I look at it the weirder it looks. It should be wider, and the allowable depth should be minimized.

    But I guess it depends on what the FIA are going for. Maybe a narrower wing produces less turbulence than a wider wing, regardless of the depth?

  6. AussieLeb said on 19th September 2008, 5:48

    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!?!?!?

  7. John Beamer said on 19th September 2008, 5:53

    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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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…”

  10. 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.

  11. 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….

  12. AussieLeb said on 19th September 2008, 8:40

    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?

  13. Eddie Irvine said on 19th September 2008, 8:50

    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.

  14. Smitty said on 19th September 2008, 9:25

    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!

  15. John Beamer said on 19th September 2008, 10:10


    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

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