FOTA consider new 2011 downforce cuts

F1 cars are now producing almost as much downforce as they were in 2008

F1 cars are now producing almost as much downforce as they were in 2008

The Formula One Teams’ Association is considering further restrictions on how much downforce F1 cars can generate as the 2010 cars are already producing almost as much downforce as they were in 2008.

The changes introduced last year at the urging of the Overtaking Working Group have not succeeding in reducing downforce levels.

FOTA is considering going beyond the banning of double diffusers in 2011 to cut downforce further in an effort to encourage more overtaking in F1.

Speaking during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In the team’s engineering director Paddy Lowe explained why overtaking has become even more difficult for F1 drivers in 2010:

I think things are getting worse in terms of how close are we to getting to the intentions of the Overtaking Working Group.

Principally, that’s because the cars are generating much more downforce under the floors than was ever envisaged, and that’s driven by the opportunity you get with the double diffuser interpretation.

One of the intentions with the OWG package was the downforce generated from the floor should be much lower, and this helps overtaking for two reasons.

One, the cars have less downforce altogether, and there is a direct correlations between the amount of downforce cars have and the weight of the problem. That’s obvious because you lose downforce in the wake of another car, and if you have less to start with you lose less.

The second one is to do with where the downforce is generated, and generating it from the floor is a bad characteristic because of the wake it generates.

So we’ve gone in the wrong direction. Downforce in these cars is approaching where it was in 2008.
Paddy Lowe

Not everyone agrees with Lowe’s analysis – Red Bull designer Adrian Newey claimed in January that banning double diffusers won’t make it easier for cars to overtake.

However the teams have already agreed to ban double diffusers in 2011 – and may go further:

We’ve agreed to ban double diffusers next year and also reduce the height of the diffuser, both of which will significantly reduce floor downforce.

That’s correct for the same two reasons: less downforce is better and less floor downforce is better for following cars and therefore overtaking.

We are looking at whether that is sufficient, and that’s an ongoing discussion as to whether even more should be planned for next year. But I think what we’ve already agreed are very big steps and absolutely correct for what we’ve learned from the OWG.
Paddy Lowe

These are not the only changes being considered for the 2011 technical rules. The teams may also have to accommodate a change in wheel size from 13 to 18 inches which could further increase development costs.

Michelin are talking to the FIA, FOTA and FOM about a return to Formula 1 for 2011-2013 and 18-inch wheels would be a requirement. They feel those wheels are more contemporary in terms of appearance and technology, similar to high performance road cars.

It depends how we manage it as to how big a problem it could become. The teams, I hope, will agree to certain constraints so that we don’t expand the development into any envelope that’s freed up by that.

I think we can do it in a way that manages the cost.
Paddy Lowe

Both changes could be positive for F1, potentially improving the quality of racing and making F1 more useful for tyre manufacturers. Do you think this is the right direction for F1? Have your say in the comments.

Double diffuser ban and low profile tyres

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179 comments on FOTA consider new 2011 downforce cuts

  1. taurus said on 14th April 2010, 17:12

    ban the fancy front wings – one flap only, and dead straight endplates. ban high shark noses too, though thats just cos i like drop noses better…

    i reckon if there were no radios or pit boards to tell drivers who was where/what tyres rivals are on etc etc etc we’d see them going all out. which would equal a few more do or die manouvers.

    radio communication limited to pit-in and emergency messages.

  2. martinb said on 14th April 2010, 19:23

    Mandate a minimum speed through the speed trap in qualifying. If it’s 320 kph now, make it 360 kph, or even 400 kph. They’ll be forced to reduce the downforce (to cut drag) and increase the gearing. Less downforce means slower speed through corners means safety, and wider gear ratios might create opportunities for overtaking as drivers are caught in the wrong gear.

  3. Jay M said on 15th April 2010, 9:07

    Here’s an idea of mine, I like to call it the Tunnel Downforce System ;)

    It is like an airvent or scoop that has aerofoils inside the tunnel that creates the downforce and then shoots the air out nice and undisturbed, allowing cars to travel closely to each other. All With the benefit of the car not looking horribly bad style wise.

    I have no idea how to work a CFD Program but it would be nice to see if my idea would actual work.

  4. Jay M said on 15th April 2010, 9:46

    heres another one,

    my webcam is a bit crap so it looks a little distorted :P

  5. Chaz said on 20th April 2010, 18:02

    Sounds like a good idea but the OWG never seem to go far enough to improve the overtaking issue. Hopefully that will change. I guess standardising the undertray would be a step to far lol…

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