Technical analysis: 2009 so far

Posted on | Author John Beamer

Front wing designs have become much more sophisticated through 2009
Front wing designs have become much more sophisticated through 2009

Why hasn’t overtaking improved in 2009 as planned? And have double diffusers really made that much of a difference? John Beamer looks at the major technical developments this year.

First of all a short apology – these columns were supposed to be a regular feature at F1 Fanatic but I ended up doing some contract work which forbade me from writing. That gig has now finished so I’m back.

Rather than bore you senseless with a technical rundown for each team let me frame some of the issues and innovations in five themes.

Overtaking is only marginally easier than it was

This was supposed to be the year overtaking returned in Formula 1. The first few races delivered but not thanks to the much-vaunted aerodynamic changes. At Melbourne it was largely because of the option tyre losing performance after a few laps, and at Malaysia and China rain mixed up the field.

Recently it is only the KERS cars that have done much overtaking – think of all the races where Vettel got stuck behind, unable to pass (although I suspect Vettel isn’t what we might call a natural born overtaker).

The truth is that the new aero regulations have had limited influence. This is for two reasons.

First, double diffusers allow better aero coupling between the floor and the rear wing. This ‘pumps’ the diffuser resulting in more downforce and a larger wing-diffuser wake. It is this wake which causes a trailing car to lose downforce, particularly in higher speed corners.

Second, teams have found other gaps in the regulations that allow flow conditioning devices – specifically pod wings and bargeboards. Flow conditioners are reasonably sensitive so any disruption to the airflow hampers performance.

However, even without double diffusers its doubtful we’d see much more overtaking. The fundamental issue is that F1 is an aero-dominated formula. At the start of the season the Overtaking Working Group’s objective was to cut downforce by 50%. Unsurprisingly, teams have clawed this back to the 80-85% level. You’d probably need close to a further two-thirds reduction to deliver significantly more overtaking.

Double diffusers are a damp squib

At the start of the year much air time was taken up with the benefits of double and triple-decker diffusers. Since Spain, when most teams rolled out a version the brouhaha has quietened somewhat.

Did it make a difference? Not really – McLaren, BMW and Ferrari didn’t immediately shoot to the top of the time sheets. Part of the issue is that an effective diffuser requires integrated design. It’s not as simple as cutting a hole in the floor. Airflow over the car is important to create low pressure above the hole to ensure the device is working properly.

The BGP001 was designed around the double diffuser concept whereas the RBR05 wasn’t – the pullrod suspension lessens the effectiveness of the double diffuser. Simply put, Brawn deploys the diffuser more effectively than almost every other team.

Conversely, the double diffuser is only worth 0.3s per lap. On many tracks KERS is worth at least that – and as we’ve seen with Brawn ‘switching on’ tyres is a critical to race pace. In 2009 it isn’t too difficult to find 0.3s from somewhere.

It’s all about the front wing

Aside from the double diffuser, the majority of aero development has been on the extremities of the front wing – notably the footplate and endplate. Two factors are driving this.

First, the outer part of the front wing has less regulatory constraint than many other parts of the car. Second, the wider front wing means that managing the wheel-wing interaction is more important than it has been in past year.

Last year the endplates were turned in to divert air inside the wheel. To clean up airflow around the tyres teams deployed horizontal vanes to control the air around the tyre.

This year the goalposts have moved somewhat. The central section of the front wing is flat which leaves the outer part to generate downforce. As such the endplates play a critical role both in downforce generation and in reducing drag from the tyre.

Take a look at the BGP001’s endplate, which is intricately designed (especially compared to the boxy BMW Sauber endplate pre-Singapore). The endplate is fulfiling three objectives:

  • Diverting air outside the tyres – look at the plan view of a 2009 F1 car and you’ll see the endplates tail outwards
  • The vanes set up many micro-vortices between the wing and tyre which keeps higher pressure air away from the wheel (so reducing drag)
  • Sealing the underside of the wing by creating a vortex under the footplate (the semi-circular duct is designed to capture and control this vortex).

  • Endplate and footplate design is the most aerodynamically exciting area of an F1 car – look for an off-season feature on the issue.

    Is the tyre war back?

    The advent of the control tyre from 2007 was supposed to eliminate rubber as significant racing variable. The move to slicks along with the wider spead between compounds ensured that tyres remained an important talking point for the first half of the season.

    On reflection it perhaps isn’t a surpise. It’s been over ten years since F1 donned slicks in anger and unsurprisingly the cars needed a little recalibration.

    Slicks have more surface area in contact with the tarmac so are more grippy. This means that front weight distribution was even more important than it has been in previous years. (Incidentally this is one reason why KERS cars struggled at the start of the year – KERS sits back in the chassis and makes forward weight bias harder to achieve.)

    The move to slicks was only a minor factor in this performance discrepancy, it was the wider compounds that had a larger effect. In short the target operating temperature between the two compounds didn’t overlap, which meant that drivers could only get one tyre to work properly (be it the prime or option depending on the day). Now that Bridgestone has narrowed the difference in compounds this issue has subsided – the operating windows of the option and prime do overlap which means that teams can make both tyres work.

    However the gap between the compounds will be widened once again at Suzuka (where they will use hard and soft) and Interlagos (medium and super soft).

    McLaren and Ferrari got it wrong

    Before the season began many observers expected McLaren and Ferrari to dominate proceedings. Although both cars are now reasonably competitive neither is the fastest on the grid.

    Many pundits speculated that the the intensity of last year’s title battle took the edge off 2009 development efforts. I think that is only part of the reason.

    McLaren was caught short by the radical aerodynamics of the Brawn in particular. In January the MP4/24 beat its Australia downforce targets so the guys at Woking relaxed a little. Unfortunately for them no one told Brawn. The impressive rate of development of the new car is a testament to the talent in the team.

    I’m a little more worried about Ferrari – it’s not the Schumacher years any more. The aerodynamic talent at the Scuderia isn’t as deep as it was in the days of Rory Byrne. John Iley was extremely capable, has a phenomenal track record but has been fired. Ferrari lacks the systematic approach that McLaren has or the divine inspiration of, say, an Adrian Newey to spur the team onwards.

    I’m sure they’ll be OK but that 0.6s from signing Alonso will come in handy…

    Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the technical developments from the Singapore Grand Prix.

    Aerodynamic changes have not created closer racing this year
    Aerodynamic changes have not created closer racing this year

106 comments on “Technical analysis: 2009 so far”

  1. good post very interesting

  2. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    29th September 2009, 10:13

    My fear for next year is that with no refuelling, coupled with the old chesnut of not be able to get close enough to overtake, we are going to some real dull processional races. If you thought Singapore ’09 was boring, then I’d suggest mowing the lawn for Singapore ’10!! Please FIA, cut Aero down more please!!!!!!!!!

    1. The prospect scares me as well… What also may happen is that a slower car has a great start which might result in the first couple of drivers flogging off into the sunset followed by a huge train (the rest of the field) stuck behind the one guy and losing seconds per lap.

      1. Flogging off?!?! I meant flying off! Damn you iphone autocorrection!

        1. Auto correction drove me mad too but i learnt how to take it off =). Go to Settings> General> Keyboard> and turn auto correction off!

          Unless you want to keep it but it drove me round the bend…was so happy when i learnt it could be turned off.

      2. I have so many bad puns about flogging off while watching a F1 race ready to go….. :)

    2. They’ll still have to pit a bit for tyres, but I can see it being a bit dull. I think FOTA should stop lobbying KERS, it may be the only way cars can overtake – tactical use of KERS and a bit of bravery!

      1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
        29th September 2009, 11:14

        Yes, but the different fuel levels in each car has been the key to when to pit.

        1. Not really, in some races (Brawn in Monaco comes to mind) tire wear has been the reason they pit.

          1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
            29th September 2009, 15:35

            1 race?? hmm, you’ve convinced me….not.

        2. Is it so hard to extrapolate from what I wrote that next year tire wear will be the key to entering the pits, just like fuel levels are now? Someone who will be more gentle to the tires might be able to have longer stints etc.

          Strategy will still exist, but it will be based purely on tire wear and management, instead of fuel and tires together.

    3. Remember though no refuelling means managing your fuel level – if you want to make up places then turn to a richer fuel mix and go faster – but make sure you don’t run out of the flammable stuff.

  3. IMO the Diffusers killed the racing,once they were on each car “bahrain”, well they were legal then tho BMW didnt have one till spain, anyway, since that race on there’s has been no passing again aside from KERS cars, also, they were meant to be able to “race” a car that was a second sloer as opposed to 2 seconds, trouble is, this year the field has been covered by about 1.5 seconds, which 4-5 yrs ago was the top 10 seperated by that much, also, the added “flip up’s” we see on the edge of the sidepods and the front wing have contributed to the problem, have a limit on 2 planes per rear wing, yet there has never been a limit for front wings, and thats the most disturbed part of the car when following another, and most relied upon part of the car for downforce……..give them front wings the size on the cars of the “indy500” in it’s heyday and watch them overtake…….. leave them as wide as they are now but have standard/flat ones

  4. If they removed the rear wing, vastly reduced the amount of “upper” body aerodynamics and relaxed the rules around on the floor of the car could they keep a similar level of aero and follow closer? I do appreciate the cars would probably be even uglier.

    1. And they’d be slower than a GP2 car.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        29th September 2009, 15:19

        So unlimit the engines!
        Let’s have monstrously powerful beasts with as little aero as possible so that they can get close to and then pass each other.
        Actually, if the floor rules were relaxed as Berties suggested, they would still be faster than GP2’s. Bit like the ground effects days.

        1. Frenzied passing is not going to erupt until all the cars are exactly the same and most drivers are error-prone hacks, a la, GP2. But that is not F1. Cars are different and drivers competent—the best car or two will qualify up front and usually run away with little chance that the drivers will stuff it or break down.

          Anyway, if you really want to limit turbulence, and allow more passing, put in massive tunnels and chop the wings to one element. It works for Indycars, it worked in Group C/GTP, its not a new concept. And require steel brakes–you can’t outbrake someone who can brake from 200 to 50 in a couple seconds. Its like catching a fly with your hand–most driver dont bother and those who do often end up with penalties for “avoidable accidents.”

          1. Frenzied passing is not going to erupt until all the cars are exactly the same and most drivers are error-prone hacks, a la, GP2.

            So you’re saying that all cars built before the early 90s were all the same and all of their drivers were error-prone hacks ?

            That’s not how I remember it.

            The last twenty years have seen aerodynamics playing a more important role with each new season, and with each passing season the entertainment has been reduced.
            If things carry on as they are in a few years time you wont have to watch the race as, barring failures, the cars will all finish in the same order as they qualified.

        2. Beneboy, do you really believe that the 80s or 90s were some golden age of passing? You had 4-6 seconds spreading the field, minimum, among those that made the time cut-off. The overall quality of the field—cars and drivers—was pathetic compared to today. Frequently, pole position was won by over a second, not a couple tenths. Competition was not that close, especially not at the front. And yes, the grid was packed with no-talent hacks funded by rich dads.

          1. I sort of agree DMW. But there were some gems in there too!

            As ever, a few classic overtakes and you’re in the F1 hall of fame. Because they are difficult and hard to achieve and so it should stay.

          2. I definitely agree with DMW.

            The other day I was feeling a bit sentimental and watched the 92 season review. I have to say I was shocked by just how big the gaps between the teams were. The slower teams were 3-4 seconds off the pace at every track, and “Our Nige’ took pole regularly by at least a second.

            I don’t necessarily think passing was any easier back then, you just had a situation back then were one quick car came up behind a much slower one, and drove right round it. If the driver in the slower car had a bit of skill, he put up a bit of a fight and the pass may have been labeled as a “great overtake” that we all remember now. If the driver of the slower car was Paul Belmondo or Pierluigi Martini, no one took notice of the pass. I think we all look back to the late 80’s and early 90’s with rose tinted glasses on because it is what we all grew up on, and when our love for F1 was born. I certainly do.

            These days the quality of the teams on the grid is far higher than it has ever been, and watching this video made me take my hat off to the FIA. The rules they have in place in respect of the entry of new teams is clearly ensuring that only quality outfits get into F1.

    2. eactly the ground effects gave them downfoce without the the negative effects thet the upperbody and rear wing do to the air for the guy following. Hell some of the cars in the last years of ground effects didnt even run a front wing as it had so little effect.
      Bear in mind though that whatever the rule makers come up with the engineers find way and loophole to get back what the car had and then they find is just the nature of the human spirit.

  5. Two things I’d like to know more about. First, the moveable front wings. We’ve heard very little about them, and have no idea where or when they are being deployed. Cant the FIA create a graphic like KERS so we know?

    Secondly, the new aero rules were supposed to get rid of all the apendages such as barge boards. The early ’09 Brawn shows this very well – smooth lines and the cars look great. now, the Brawn has various winglets and barge boards – some teams seem to have integrated this into their wing mirrors, but the Brawns seem to be stand alone barge boards. Keith, how is this allowed in the rules when the cars are meant to be smooth?

    1. AA – if you examine the 2009 regs basically what they do is place restriction as to where you can and cannot place bodywork. Problem is they used a 2008 car as a base. Teams have shortened the sidepods and then placed bodywork (smaller bargeboards and various flicks etc) in this region. Even without the shortening it is possible to place vanes in and around the sidepod area. You’ll notice that bodywork on top of the sidepods e.g., flip-ups etc. have been eliminated. It’s just a way the FIA wrote the regs — if you go back to my post about the 2009 regs you’ll get a feel for what the regs say. Not sure what the link is but am sure Keith will post it

  6. Through the first half of the season the aero changes did work. Cars were able to follow closes and there wer overtaking moves. Notably Button overtaking KERS cars on several occassions.

    Seems that the teams have now indeed developed the cars again and now they rely on clean airflow too much to really allow closely following cars.

    I doubt this is something that can be fixed. Isn’t this something that will always happen when the cars are developed to their fullest?

    Most importantly though. Overtaking depends on faster cars being behind slower cars. That is not the natural order of things during a race so lack of overtaking is almost a given.

    1. Not sure I agree 100% with that. The reason why overtaking was easier at the start was because cars were at vastly different stages of development (the KERS guys compromised too heavily on aero) and the wide spread in tyre compounds meant there were some wierd things going on with tyre temps.

      There is a fix and that is to radically reduce downfoce. Look at the pre-dforce days in the 70s … flatten the wings etc. and you’ll see a lot more overtaking

      1. The increasing difficulty of overtaking through the season can be at least partially explained by the increasing complexity of the front wings, as pointed out by John. We talk a lot about disruption to the airflow by the diffusers but ignore the fact that the tyres are what cause most of it. And that will always be true.

        The more sophisticated the front wing, the more sensitivity to airflow it will have. The only way to solve this problem once and for all is to outlaw wings completely and so, at a stroke, prevent F1 cars ever again being so dependent on aero-generated downforce. It might take us a while to get used to the look of the cars without wings but they would be able to run nose to tail again.

        And isn’t that what we say we want…?

  7. 0.6 from alonso? LOL! Is he super human or something?

    1. Is that 0.6 seconds ahead of Massa or does that only apply to Piquet?

      1. When Alonso was leaving Maclaren he said that he has help the development of the car and gained 0,6sec/lap. I think that John Beamer was pointing on that but i still think that is ridiculous and must be a team effort.

  8. Overtaking will always be hard!
    I always said it’s down to the braking aswell.. they brake so late and corner so quick, it’s really hard.
    Some track layouts will help with this tough.

    Another thing is the driver, not to many are great at overtaking. A few years back we had Montoya who I loved for atleast trying (and sometimes do a brilliant move).
    Now (hate it or love it) we have Hamilton, who’s the best at it imo.

    1. Hamilton is the only one that dares to overtake now. He will pull off fantastic moves. Need more drivers like him.

      Its hard to promote overtaking though because you get some kind of penalty if you slightly touch wheels or run off wide.

      1. oh then sutil’s daring overtake wasn’t daring at all? just optimistic at best?

        if drivers can get close enough they will overtake. its just a matter of getting there.

    2. KERS was supposed to be the overtaking solution, so in a way, it’s a pity that it’s being kicked into touch. But then again, if everyone had KERS, overtaking with a car with KERS wouldn’t be that easy.

      eh, never mind then…

      1. If everyone had KERS there would be more overtaking, say if you can pressure the guy in front to use his at the beginning of the lap then use yours later on.
        I’ve said it before but KERS has to be on every car or on none of them imo.

        1. it how they restrict KERS 6second boost for 1 lap better if it can be use freely. At the start of the car KERS battery is empty then the energy obtain from braking is use freely through out the race and the power can be varied by the driver. It will be a better race with drivers having different way using KERS.

          P.S. sorry for my broken english

  9. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    29th September 2009, 11:19

    Those enormous front wings cant help overtaking either. I dont necessarily mean from an aero point of veiw, the drivers must worry about them getting knocked off if they make a banzai move into a corner.

  10. I’m slightly apprenhensive about Ferrari too, take many teams and they have some ‘start’ behind the scenes who immediately pops out but Ferrari seem to be lacking slightly. That said they will have the best drivers, but so will Mclaren so they are going to need a good car. However, they have been developing it for quite a while now.
    I feel the best change is back to slicks but that tyres have been ruined by the two compound rule, it can even influence the championship. Why can’t the teams just pick?

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      29th September 2009, 11:30

      It’s always seemed a silly, contrived rule. How about have 2 or 3 (dry weather) compounds, and let the teams decide on what they use whenever they want during the race weekend. It could give some interesting results on race-day!

  11. I’m curious. Would it make any difference to the quality of the racing if the FIA proposed that all the teams to designed their cars to, say the 1990 technical regulations, banned all aero flip ups, barge boards etc of any nature, and allowed teams to used KERS if they so wished?

    I’m inclined to say no because the early 90’s technical regulations probably didn’t envisage the sort of dependance on aerodynamics we have at the moment, and we saw some wierd and wonderful solutions in the past, which suggests that teams had a lot of room for development.

    It seems to me that the FIA, and a lot of us, want to see the cars looking the way they did in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but I have no idea how we can get back to these days.

    I’m pretty sure that I’m going to get slated for this post, but what the heck! ;-)

    1. So I think you’ll find that the 1990 regs don’t prevent flip ups and all the paraphenalia

  12. GeeMac I like your post, though I am no technical expert. That said about the ‘good old days’ I’m not sure overtaking really was that good just maybe there was some spectacular moves we rememeber and that sticks in our minds.

    1. Agreed. I suspect some younger folk get an idea of the passing situation of yesteryear from YouTube clips of Senna at Donnington and the like. I woke up at 6am to see a lot of 105 minute processions in the early nineties and beyond. Those 14 and 15-win seasons for McLaren and Williams did not feature much passing at the sharp end and those cars looked like cough drops with wings compared to today.

      I suspect a big driver in agitation for passing has to do with who is up front. When Schumacher was putting 30 seconds on the field by midway, and the only action in the race was a Prost crashing into a Minardi, it was not a thrilling spectacle. But since most fans liked that outcome, it was all good. When red, and silver, are back in the pack—when people see their team—bottled up behind Force India, they got religion about passing.

  13. lol did Alonso write this? He couldnt squeeze .6 nore seconds out of that car then Kimi has.

    1. …and you base this opinion on what, exactly?

      1. Is there any proof to suggest that he can squeeze more than 0.6 secs out of that car as compared to Kimi?

        1. that was a sarcastic remark I think.

        2. The question is, what will happen next year with no refueling? We might see even more processional races, Monaco GP will be over after qualifying.

          Or maybe teams will have to design cars that are less sensitive to turbulent air when they no longer have “we can pass them by pitstops” option. Giving up a little efficiency for more robustness, that is the classic engineering problem.

          People suggest make cars less dependent on aero grip, I dont think it is doable any more. F1 cant unlearn everything they knew about aero after years of research.

  14. Actually I’ve had a think and I’ve decided I like aero and downforce should go so they can at least try 2 use a gap in air to slipstream. Either that or bring back the 80s as it was beautiful :P.
    Also I think track changes might help more than just cars and also if the cars front wings were maybe narrower.

  15. The cars have closed up but still can’t get close enough which is even more frustrating.

    1. I agree with this – I think we’ve seen an improvement, but not enough. And certainly not enough to justify a new generation of grotesque F1 cars.

  16. Has the idea of using metal brake disks ever been seriously on the table?

    (increased braking distances makes getting alongside into a corner easier to judge)

    They’d still be pulling several G’s of retardation.

  17. F1 is a victim of its own development. These cars have become too smooth to drive – look at older in-car footage and it’s amazing how much these guys used to get shaken around. What does this have to do with overtaking? Combined with stick shifts, and fatigue, driver errors were inevitable – not big crashes, just a missed gear here and there. Plus all the electronics now – oy! I would severely limit the electronic components, make shifting more difficult one way or another, and even limit the amount of information that teams relay to their drivers. I don’t know if any of this is coherent – but I think that the main reason we have not nearly enough overtaking is that the driver has become only one of many components in the car.

    Anyhoo – the ban on refuelling, I think, will indeed bring more overtaking. Neither the drivers nor the teams will have a choice now – and driving styles will become more important as tyre wear will be crucial.

    1. i’m skeptical on the even ‘the ban on refuelling, I think, will indeed bring more overtaking’

      if you look at some of the racing going on now, there’s plenty of cars stuck in a train behind another car with a heavy fuel load.

      the cars behind the heavy car have less fuel, so more speed to make the overtake but they still cant get close enough most of the time.

      if the cars behind are just as slow and heavy as the car in front, i think the overtaking situation will just be worse.

      1. Well, that’s true on a track like Singapore, but elsewhere?

  18. @John Beamer – thanks, makes sense now!

    Re they 2 tyre compound rule, I’ve always thought that to be reduculous. Just let the teams use whatevers fastest, otherwise you’re going down the same road that ruined touring cars – trying to artificially create closer racing through added ballast etc.

  19. Nice article, more similar please.

  20. A warm welcome back John, and another interesting article. An idea: when talking about specific parts of a car, it’d be incredibly useful if an image or link could be supplied to help us see what you’re referring to. For example, you talk about comparing Brawn’s front wing end-plate to BMW’s, but without visual reference it has little meaning.

  21. the main problem is the front wing is to stronge , half the size and make the tyres bigger to keep the speeds up

  22. I’ve made mention of this before but I will again which is to re-introduce the gearstick and do away with the flappy paddle gearboxes. That will provide some additional physical movement for the drivers when changing gears etc and therefore induce more mistakes which can throw unpredictability in the race.

    They also need to get rid of the aero dependancies and come back towards mechanical grip. The day the FIA finally do that things should work out better.

    Lastly the biggest factor is reliability. The current problem in F1 is that the cars are just too reliable, even if turbos had remained by now the teams would have had them working without ANY problems. Many of the exciting races of the “good old days” were helped by the fact that nobody was guaranteed to finish a race and again leading to unpredictable racing.

  23. Brundle mentioned it on Sunday – make the braking area bigger.
    I say keep the carbon / cramic disks for safety but reduce their diameter.
    2010 disks to be say 75% of now and see how it goes.
    Reduce further if need be.
    Nice and cheap!

  24. I really enjoyed reading this article, well done!

    I’d like an article exploring the possibilities of using ground effects safely in Formula One today. I firmly believe it’s the way forward if we want more overtaking in F1.

  25. 1) Cut down massively on the amount and complexity of aero, and do it properly; don’t leave these silly little loopholes like they exploited with the sidepod issues. Leave only a few things open to teams, such as the gradient/slope of the nose cone. If there are ways of forming the rules so that improving one aspect of aero will mean compromises in other – for example, improving front downforce through the front wing interfering with the rear wing airflow – do that as well.
    2) Claw back the downforce through mechanical means; limited ground effects, for example.
    3) I like the tyre rule, because it equalises the car. But it only works when there’s a big enough gap.
    4) Re-open development for things inside the car, most notably the engine.
    5) Either make the KERS power unlimited, or better yet get rid of the time limit. This will lead to tactical uses of it. If a driver uses KERS to get away from a chasing car which can claw back the advantage through a few corners and can then use its own KERS when the other guy’s running low, perfect.
    6) I don’t agree with going back to shift-stick gear changing, but certainly reduce any remaining electronic aids.

    1. And of course, change the engines to the kind of efficient dual-turbos VW are pioneering in their road cars. If the FIA want to limit speeds, then limit the power. The rev limit has proven counter-productive to overtaking; if you want the engines to last a few races, they have to be designed to and handled properly – the rev limit may reduce stress but it doesn’t make the engine last by itself.

  26. Very nice article.

    I’m mystified that Ferrari have stopped devloping the F60 for 2009. Surely any advances made on something like a front wing, will be very usable for 2010.

    John Iley was extremely capable

    I agree with you… Ferrari seem to have lost the plot when it comes to aero recently.

    1. Enzo Ferrari once infamously remarked that, Aero is for people who cannot build good engines. Poor Enzo, I am sure would have taken back his words if he were alive.

    2. The people at ferrari have run off almost all the people that made them dominate. There aero people are behind the curve and seem to have a copy the others and then modify to improve attitude.
      We can make rules whatever we want to..the good engineers are going to run us in cirles after they look at the rules.
      Limiting engine power and rpm was a mistake. Now everyone is almost the same so no one has the power to truly overtake. Also other than the red bulls hardly anyone is blowing engines. This leads to boring races and long processions of largely uncompetitive cars. They should open the engine rules back upo and let people stretch their legs, and when you ride the ragged edge of power sometimes you throw a rod. This brings the unknown back into the race.
      I dont want to see the old stick transmissios as more and more road cars dont have them, my C55 has paddle shift and I prefer it to the old crashbox.
      Brakes should be limited in size and thickness(probably at current levels) and allow them to try whatever they want.
      I would love to see the reintroduction of systemwide electronic for the shifting,theengine, and the suspension as well.
      The ban on refeuling is ok as long as they dont limit how much they can carry as they did in the early 80’s so a racer would lead the entire race and run out of feul on the last or previous lap and hand the victory to a lesser car.
      Tires should be run whatever you want and use as many sets as you want in the race.
      Let them have all the ground effects and limit the size of the front and rear wings with a stipulation that there are no winglets/bargeboards/or other littl bits hung on the car.
      Bring back in season testing so the teams can refine with some certainty that it is a good move.
      F1 is an expensive sport, dont ever think they can legislate a mandatory spending cap in this sport and it work.
      The more they legislate the worse the racing gets.

  27. thinking a bit laterally: change the circuits, slippy tarmac, bumps. ban street circuits they just dont work anymore. And yes maybe add metal brakes. Banning downforce would be impossible to police.

    Another and more controversially..employ some drivers who can overtake!!! Only Lewis & Alonso can do it effectively, maybe Webber when hes mad. The rest are just lucked in test drivers

    1. You forget: Raikonnen can overtake from outside when none of the stewards are watching. ;P

      But he won’t be at Ferrari next year, so would this affect his style? Stay tuned…

    2. Button has shown that he can overtake….on lap 1 or 2…

  28. My thoughts on overtaking….

    -Standard aero floor (a la Champcar)
    -2 element front and rear wings (a la Atlantic)
    -keep slicks (give them back the HUGE rears of the early 90s)
    -non-carbon brakes (lengthen braking distance)
    -don’t restrict power output

    Basically, make the cars faster in the straights, slower in the corners with longer more difficult braking zones and harder to hook up out of the corners.

    Make the drivers really WORK for their pay!

    1. -Standard aero floor (a la Champcar)
      -2 element front and rear wings (a la Atlantic)
      -keep slicks (give them back the HUGE rears of the early 90s)
      -non-carbon brakes (lengthen braking distance)

      It wouldn’t be formula one anymore. But I agree with your last point to lift the engine freeze rule.

      1. I disagree, it’s still F1, but they ould then be forced to develop the best mechanical package as a majority of the aero package is already specified. I’m not necessarily saying that we’d take downforce away, just change the method in which it is made and as a result how it affects the cars following.

        1. Technology is what has always been the driving force of this formula, you take that away and it becomes formula none!

          1. At what point did I say anything about taking away technology? There would still be TONS of areas for innovation, but the focus would shift from aero to mechanical and electronic. We’ve got to allow innovations like mass dampers and KERS etc and move away from the millions of little aero add ons.

  29. Am I the only one who is turned off by modern racing – at the age of 65 I find a modern GP less than entertaining. I might watch the start and finish, but find it increasingly difficult to sit through the whole, mostly rather predictable, race. Racing as seen at the Goodwood Revival is infinitely more entertaining – the cars all look different, large and small engined cars compete relatively evenly on the track, and a good time is had by all.

    I realise that Messrs Moseley and Ecclestone are mainly motivated by the returns from TV-land, and the 400 million odd viewers, most of whom know nothing about the cars and less about the technology. The result is a never ending rush of new regulations, very similar to the outpourings of a government, who feel it necessary to legislate for every tiniest possibility.

    Many years ago the technical regulations for the cars were enterprising and left a great deal of room for individual engineers and designers to exercise their skills and knowledge, and often their guile, to produce cars that won races, or, sometimes, failed spectacularly. The current regulations might just as well apply to A1 racing – the cars are all similar, the regulations ensure that no-one team will enjoy a major advantage due to superior brain power or skill in interpreting ‘the regs’.

    Will we ever see anything similar to ‘Formula Libre’ again? I have listed below a proposed list of regulations aimed at bringing the “Formula” back into Formula One.

    Proposed F1 Regulations Package for 2013
    Valid to 2020

    • Bio-Diesel, Petrol or Bio-Ethanol fuelled engines permitted.
    • 4 Stroke : Maximum capacity 3.00 litres, 8 cylinders.
    • 2 Stroke : Maximum capacity 2.00 litres, 12 cylinders.
    • Supercharged/Turbocharged 2 or 4 stroke : Maximum capacity 1.0 litres, 24 cylinders.

    Fuel :
    • Petrol Maximum Octane 98 RON. Unleaded pump fuel only.
    • Bio-Diesel
    • Bio-Ethanol

    Fuel Limitations
    • No oxygenated additives permitted.
    • Fuel Tank Size : 80 litres only, Petrol & Bio-diesel. 100 litres, Bio-Ethanol.
    • Max non cooling water allowed 10 litres.

    • Emission limits to be set and monitored full time.
    • Any excess emission leads to disqualification.
    • Catalyst – if preferred to meet limits.

    Transmission :
    • Manual operation only, with hydraulic assistance but no electronic control.
    • 8 speeds maximum.
    • Clutch to be foot operated only, with power assist but no linkage of any kind to gear selector. No auto or semi auto shifts permitted.
    • No traction or launch control permitted.
    • 4 wheel drive permitted with a mass penalty of 50kg. (Total mass = 550kg minimum.)

    Suspension and Underchassis profile
    • As at present, including board.
    • No ABS system permitted on brakes.

    Aerodynamic assistance:
    • Fixed Front and Rear aerofoils with end plates only.
    • Aerofoil max width – between inner tyre walls front and rear.
    • Aerofoil max chord – 25% of width.
    • No protrusions from a smooth bodywork line for aerodynamic purposes.

    Tyres :
    • Max width 450mm front or rear, slick or rain pattern.

    • Max Wheelbase As at present
    • Max Width As at present
    • Max Length As at present
    • Max Height As at present
    • Max Weight 500kg empty before penalties. 550kg with 4WD

    • As at present

    • No refuelling during the course of a race of 200km

    No practising lawyer allowed with 1000km of the pits.

    This formula could be extended to allow steam and electric cars, or limit fuel tankage based purely upon energy content.

    1. so if superior brain power is the objective – whatever team can build the most advanced machine, why go back 20 years to a manual gearbox and no electronics?

      technology is the future and the most underdeveloped area, there should be more done about kers and other energy sources rather than trying to find ways to burn fuels faster.

      why not allow hydrogen push to pass motors and other fuel cells.

      i’d much rather see technological advancements than turbo’s, supercharges and manual gearboxes.

      the last thing i’d ever want to see in f1 is a bio-diesel engine.

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      29th September 2009, 17:39

      “Max Weight . . .” Or do you mean “Min Weight”?

    3. I especially like the bit about lawyers…it needs to include some of the business managers and fia officials too.

  30. Love the technical side of F1. Thanks for the article.

  31. Nice article John, we need more technical stuff here. That would make F1Fanatic more enjoyable. The problem with F1 these days is that Aero rules. Aero is ultimately what gives you that performance edge. It is quite understandable why Ferrari & McLaren got it so wrong. They were fully pushing their resources into the 08 season. McLaren is said to have spent 5 million $$ for their rear wing update for Interlagos alone. What were the rest doing? The likes of BMW,Renault,Toyota had every opportunity to abandon their 08 car & to start working on 09 ones. BMW stopped developing their car midway, but they got it horribly wrong. Something must have gone wrong on the technical side. But I really like the way about have mclaren have gone about upgrading their car. Nice & methodical approach.

    I feel the problem of lack of overtaking can be solved by employing few of there points:-

    1. Lift freeze on engine RPM.

    2. It must be made mandatory that big corp like mercedes,BMW,toyota,honda can “only” supply engine & not bother about other things.

    3. Real f1 teams like McLaren, williams, Red bull must build only chassis & transmission & not bother about engines.

    4.Encourage innovative designs

    5.Bring back some classic tracks.

    6.Appoint Adrian Newey as the head of OWG.

    7. teams could be given an option, to choose a car developed around

    a) Aero
    b) Turbo engine

    A team that chooses Aero as their main priority will have to be content with normally aspirated v8 engines.
    But they could do whatever they want in term of aero.
    Whereas a team that chooses to design their car around the turbo engines will get the freedom to develop their engines as to their liking, but will have restricted or very little aero modifications.

    8. Voluntary reduction of wind-tunnel testing by the teams.

    9. Bring back two tyre manufacturers rule .

    10. Drivers must be asked to attend some workshop which focuses on building up courage, because some of the current drives absolutely don’t have the guts to pull off an overtaking move. At the end of the day it is the driver that has to pull off the move & most of them don’t seem to make an conscious effort.

    1. The only thing that I don’t agree with you is that 0.6 sec from Alonso. Do you know something that we don’t? ;)

      Mind you, even Ferrari have a spanish test driver, just like mclaren. So you never know with Alonso. Anything could happen.

      1. It’s something Alonso said he brought to McLaren when he got there :)

  32. Say it all guys of the FIA or the FOTA or the F1 teams, drivers and crews. What is to shout about with the aerodynamics? Is that really some technology that is so freaking stunning? I believe they are just some gizmos and waste of money to make the sport to look innovative with the funny bizarre designs and to make racing least close and yet boring to the utmost!


    These were the essence of racing, of Formula 1, which is the real Grand Prix racing what Murray Walker the voice of F1 used to say.

    Yes, we love ban of refuelling, but kindly bring back the wide-looking cars with almost no aerodynamics pieces but just pure clean looking chassis that a driver could sit on the thin sidepods instead of nowadays tall and fat yet curvacious ugly boons!

    Where did the low ride heights go? Now it’s so deceiving to see the cars at a high ride height and able to see the naked piece of wood plank and when there is bottoming out, we will see the ugly wood dust of brown ogre-ish colour and it contaminate the tarmac road with the stains of wood dust!

    Besides that, the front wing, isn’t it supposed to look clean and with almost no addition of silly flaps and extensions to it? Are they legal? How about those sidepods gates and bridges? And those bargeboards? Plus those wing mirrors that Ferrari introduced which looks so ugly and hard for the drivers to view just for the sake of ‘aerodynamic’ purpose. What about those wheel covers? All these have been a waste of resources and make no use to a great racing show but just a silly-berry joke to make F1 a laughing matter. Sadness.

    Where were the sparks that we have seen once upon a time that was so marvelous yet stunning? Where were the brake disc glows that we have observed once upon a time under-braking? Where were the clean-looking chassis with wide body shape and wide rear wheels with a sliding car and turbo-charged engines we last saw?

    Pity, those ugly high-rise nose cone makes F1 look so naked on the underside. We definitely need Ari Vatanen and a course of evolution!

    1. Wait a minute! that uncontrolled tone, that disjointed syntax, those hectic leaps of logic…. is that you, Murray Walker???

  33. Wake limits and performance testing is the way to go. How teams get under that limit should be up to them as much as possible so we get interesting solutions and a good mixup as it gets introduced.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      29th September 2009, 15:37

      I know some say F1 is boring, but limits on being awake sounds rather extreme! ;)

  34. Great article John, if these become a regular feature then F1 Fanatic will be the complete F1 site!!

    Does anyone know if the regs are being tightened next year to limit the aero any further by closing the loop holes that the teams have exploited this year?

    It does seem to me that part of the reason the OWG’s changes haven’t been as effective as they expected is that (some of) the teams straight away got around them…

    Either that or have they considered that when they tested them on the McLaren simulator that it was switched to to “Arcade” mode rather than “Simulator”…??

  35. Yeah very interesting post. And some great ammo in there

  36. Welcome back John, I have missed your posts this year.

    2 doubts:

    1. How does increased grip (due to slicks) mean that more weight should be shifted to front? After all, the increased grip will be at both front and back.

    2. Movable flaps of front wings have not been used by any drivers so far. They were introduced so that cars could follow the cars in front more easily by changing the front wing angle. I am assuming drivers don’t use it as it brings negligible improvement (or they are short of fingers with all the gear changes, KERS, steering; the movable wing is not worth the extra headache?)

    Thanks in advance :)

    1. 1/ It’s just a caracteristic of the tyres. Moving to the control bridgestone 2 years ago saw more front bias for the Michelin teams yet the tyre looked the same. Next year bridgestone is narrowing the front slick to try to redress some of this balance

      2/ It’s unclear exactly how much it is used. In dirty air I suspect that some drivers may tweak the flap to improve balance and grip but in reality it’s use is negligible. My understanding is that few if any drivers use it on every lap – although I at Monza in qualy it wouldn’t suprise me if a couple tried to when going through parabolica ….

  37. I’m sure they’ll be OK but that 0.6s from signing Alonso will come in handy…

    Let me know when you land back in Earth… How´s the weather on whatever planet you live?

    1. It’s so irritating when poorly informed commenters are unable to tell sarcasm from serious remarks.

      Are you really completely unaware of the highly publicized claim from Alonso, when he said he brought 0.6 secs to McLaren?

      The writer is being ironic here, you know… How’s the weather on your planet?

      1. MJ4 – thanks. For those who don’t understand the comment here is a link:

        1. How about cutting out the irritation, irony and sarcasm and lets just have the serious remarks.

  38. All this technical info is very interesting. It seems that at the rate we are going, it wil be the World Championship of Aerodinamicists. Instead of drivers, we can place robots controlled via videoscreen.

    We need more overtaking measures. I would limit the diameter of steel brakes, and make the front wheels a litle narrower.
    And by the way, what would happen if there where no front and rear wings ? would the cars just fly off or would we have better racing ?

  39. I think they should bring back the ground effect, but it should be the same design for each team and there should basically be a templated floor and diffuser design, as a safety measure active suspension should be allowed with the ground effect. This way the fia can control the amount of downforce from ground effects so it doesnt get out of control through the teams developing it like hell!

    Then they simply really tighten up the rules on bodywork, unfreeze the engines, make kers unlimited. When I say unfreeze engine, they should allow a turbo engine of lower cc, and the 2.4 naturally aspirated engines should not have fixed v angles etc. This will create cars that are faster in different ways, which is what you need for overtaking.

    The modern f1 car is safer than it has ever been, they shouldn’t stop teams going to fast because they might crash, drivers will crash whatever the rules. AS we have seen recently a driver is more likely to die from being hit by debris than crashing into the tyre barriers after going across an enormous run off zone. Plus less body work on top of the car leaves less to fall off it that could potentially hit another car at cockpit height!

    So to summarise. I say, bring back ground effect and active suspension, open up engines and kers, and severely restrict upper body work on cars.

    1. one more thing, i think adjustable front and rear wings with unlimited movements would spice things up.

  40. I’ve read all the comments here suggesting going back to how things were – ‘ban paddle shift’, ‘ban aero’, ‘bring back ground effect’.

    What they of course ought to do is stop drivers training so hard and make sure they stay out late partying every night.

    This would induce mistakes, making overtaking much more likely! James Hunt showed us how to do it, Raikkonen would gladly follow in his footsteps!

  41. well im all for more overtaking..but i dont want to see f1 become a glorified touring car race..F1 cars are and should stay the fastest cars out there IMO

  42. I’m sure they’ll be OK but that 0.6s from signing Alonso will come in handy…

    I’m afraid Fernando wasted his 0,6 Secs with McLaren, so he will join Ferrari “Dire Straits”. :-)

    Now, being a little bit more serious, If I remember well (and is easy I don’t), Fernando said he contributed to improve the car. I think it was Haugh who gave the figure.

    1. I forgot to tell you thanks for a great article, despite I cannot translate properly most of technical words you used.

      Will be great if somebody knows some link with a draw of a F1 car with all the names in English of its different parts.

  43. Instead of looking at the technical side why not bring back classic tracks.Only 1 track so far has provided racing that is Spa,it is not possible to have all tracks like Spa but at least 10 out of 20.

    Diffuser needs to be ban,as it is costing money.

    I don’t think banning refueling will improve racing,its good for the engine manufacturer as we will see who have the efficient engine but it was part of the show.

    They could have had a low fuel 1 shot qualifying with like we used to have in 2005.

  44. looks to me,
    that all the banned aero bits that were all over the cars in 2008 are now on the front wings…creating the same amount of dirty air…
    i say (again) take off the wings and diffusers,simple!

  45. I will make sure and bookmark this page, I will come back to follow you more.

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