Addicted to aero (Making F1 better)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Aerodynamics are widely blamed for causing poor racing in F1
Aerodynamics are widely blamed for causing poor racing in F1

The “Making F1 better” discussion series started here last week has provoke a range of responses and ideas from fans.

But one particular complaint has come up time and time again: F1 cars are too dependent on downforce.

There may be no silver bullet which cures all F1’s ills, but kicking its addiction to aerodynamics could be the best way of improving the quality of racing. How can F1 do it?

Piece by piece

It didn’t take long after wings first started to appear on F1 cars for the governing body to step in to restrict them. The first wings, mounted high above the cars on tall legs, were prone to collapsing, causing huge accidents. These were banned, but soon teams got to grips with integrating them into their cars.

Throughout the eighties and nineties and up to the present day wing size, shape and position has become increasingly restricted. But as the teams’ understanding of aerodynamics has become more sophisticated they’ve been able to claw back the lost performance.

Today the leading F1 teams bring new aerodynamic components to every race – either refinements of existing designs or one-off versions tailored to the demands of a particular track.

The changes recommended by the FIA’s Overtaking Working Group in 2009 brought the most radical changes to the aerodynamic rules in a generation. These continued the practice of limiting what aerodynamic devices the designers could put on the cars, and where.

The oversight in the regulations which allowed teams to create ‘double diffusers’ will be fixed in 2011. Some designers have disputed whether banning double diffusers will increase the amount of overtaking.

Could the FIA limit the amount of downforce a car could produce? Hiring a windtunnel to measure it would be prohibitively expensive, and the cars would have to be checked at the tracks to ensure compliance, so this looks like a non-starter.

Is it possible to reign in downforce sufficiently by continuing the practice of limiting what the designers can put on the cars? The amount of development which has gone into front wings and pod wings this year suggests more aggressive tactics are necessary.

Standard components

It’s always controversial to suggest introducing any kind of standard components in F1. But as rules on what the teams can put on their cars become ever tighter, the value of retaining total freedom looks increasingly worthless.

It is impossible for F1 to have completely free technical rules – it would be too expensive and too unsafe.

Requiring the teams to use some standard aerodynamic components, such as front wings and rear wings, could free up their budgets to concentrate on areas that are more beneficial for the wider motoring industry and less likely to harm the quality of racing than piling yet more downforce onto the cars.

Over to you

How should F1 get its aerodynamic problem under control? Has the time come to standardise wings on the cars? Is more than just a ban on double diffusers needed for 2011?

Or perhaps you think the aerodynamic a debate a red herring, and there is a greater problem which spoils the quality of racing in F1? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: FOTA consider new 2011 downforce cuts

This is part of “Making F1 better”, a series of articles looking at ways to improve Formula 1. Fore more information see the introduction: Making F1 better: a discussion series

Making F1 better

189 comments on “Addicted to aero (Making F1 better)”

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  1. I think bringing back refueling would make F1 more exiting again, because all races this year (apart from Bahrain) have been influenced by rain, I fear that all dry races will be like Bahrain. Of course refueling won’t help on track action, but let’s hope banning double-diffusers will!

    1. You want refueling back because you think (based on just one race) that all dry races are going to be boring? Do I have to say more?

      1. One thing is for sure that refueling will provide more overtaking then without refueling.But I think thy people of F1 needs to think more on how to increase mechanical grip other then aerodynamics grip.

        1. paul sainsbury
          28th April 2010, 8:10

          But passing during pit stops is NOT overtaking!

          1. It is not about overtaking in the pits or not, it is about the uncertainty involved (fuel loads and strategy).

      2. his_majesty
        28th April 2010, 2:26

        I loaned him my crystal ball! Refuelling did make it more interesting and more team oriented. Seeing fuel nozzles going down pit lane was interesting as well! I say get rid of wings. Obviously more mechanical grip will be needed and road cars would benefit from that. Fuel should be monitored as well, instead of only giving them 8 engines or whatever though the year, give them less fuel for the race to put more emphasis on fuel saving, again real world improvements would show. Let them blow as many as they want, with no wings the money from there can be transferred to engine fuel saving development. Then they did away with kers, am I wrong in saying that the most exciting thing with last year was a kers car vs. non-kers? Not only that but that is in real world use as well, already, and it came from a car that didn’t even use it in race conditions!

        1. the engines are allready very effecient, there would be nothing to be gained by limiting fuel other than to slow the average speed of the cars down over a race, altho it could make for some interesting strategy, it’s not what we want in F1 :P

          If you include an unlimited kers system as well, it would get very interesting :D and actually have some real world relavance

          1. I’m not too sure if, what is it 2 miles per gallon is all that efficient. I’m not saying make them double their efficiency next year or anything. Just 1/4 to 1/2 mile per gallon per year. That would add up faster than you know it! Turbo’s would be a great reintroduction as well. MIT has made small engines with turbos being very very efficient. I believe engine sizes in F1 are small enough already though. I would sacrifice that engine noise for better racing and far better engine development for real world. What’s with the engine freeze anyways, isn’t racing supposed to help road car development? Can anybody tell me how that rule accomplishes that? I mean come on now, trying to cut costs in the most advanced form of motor racing? Did they ever hear of salary caps? F1 is cool and all, but the leadership just SUCKS! If they went to war, they’d get the whole platoon killed!

      3. Malaysia was the second dry race, and I’d say it was actually quite boring apart from the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s fighting back after their “mistake” in qualifying. In the top five, basicly nothing happened after lap one. With refuelling, at least we didn’t necesarily know who would win after the first lap if the race was dry.

    2. I doubt it…re-fueling should be an option if you want…not forced if anything.
      But the main fix for F1 woes in relation to following cars is quite simple. FIA should set a max wake allowance for all cars and then the aero wake of the car must be homligated and not altered for the rest of the season, why?
      Well as a aero guy I (well not me) could design a car to work in the set wake allowance and not grain or under-steer as they do now with zero control on any cars wake size or brutality of disturbance.

      So you can have all the BS, ddd, wings, etc but with fia controlled template…I now as an aero guy not design a car with the smallest drag and max wake with wicked turbulence disruption so cars cant sit behind or pass me. Which is what is happening in f1 today…trust me…they aint stupid. lol

      how can they control this limit …well it may need a bit of preparation to setup testing initially..wind tunnels software…how to control it..penalties for braking rule, and all loop holes and associated procedures.
      The FAI seem to be able to control engines, aero, suspension, parc ferme, safety regs and weight fuel as well as crash testes etc the list goes on….so it is a totally doable concept….and one that teams will whinge about and try and tie into cost cutting etc among other objections.

      But when you are designing next years car you spend a lot of man and comupting hours doing so any ways…so to design a cfm replication prior to building a scale model for the wind tunnel you just have to either limit the DF of the car to fit with in the regulations or spend more design time to find the ultimate balance of drag/ wake and downforce…

      I would think aero guys that pour over GB’s of data to find .10 per lap at every other race with tiny winglets and the like would find this quite exhilarating/exasperating complex and rewarding proposition.

      The teams and other media buffs and experts will cry and whinge and make this idea seem foolish and too hard, but who cares it’s not about the ‘teams’ or ther egos, is it; really!…it’s about us the fans…with out us and the ticket sales tv ratings, and merchandise purchases what is the sport anyways? We want a better, closer, faster, tighter more exciting and emotional roller coaster atmosphere for as much as the race weekend as is possible…this will never always be the case as it is motor racing and nothing always goes to plan ever! And I think we all accept and understand that

      If they dont like the easy concept then go to gp2 or touring cars because unless the fia does this style of concept we will still be whinging as fans for years to come!

      1. While I agree that your suggestion makes a lot of sense, the problem comes in when measuring this wake. As you said this will either require independent CFD simulations which will require team to provide their models or the use of independent wind tunnel testing, both of which are time consuming. Then we either fix the bodywork as before the season starts to make sure no changes are brought during season or test every car after every race with the package used during the race to make sure no infringement occur. Both of these again have their own problems.

        The FIA are well aware of the wake which teams cause deliberately and try to limit this by means which are easier to enforce such as maximum and minimum values on parameters of aero parts. While again this does not eliminate the problem since teams can try to find ways around the restrictions (i.e. double diffuser). The wake produced can be reduces by these means as well as the dependency on clean air, while still having a simple infringement test.

    3. I accept your suggestion, bring refuelling back, it will be more exciting in that no one will know fuel loads, unlike now! Double diffuser isn’t much of an issue now almost all if not all teams now have it.

      1. Enough already about refueling! It’s gone and good riddance. It’s much more interesting intellectually for the driver to conserve their tires or not and for the informed viewer as well.

        Refueling is an artificial way to create passing (in my opinion). Yes there is the team aspect of how long a stop takes. But that only goes against a driver who loses out. The driver who passes another in the pits can’t brag about that move.

        Limiting wake is key!! You still want maximum downforce on the cars as the most thrilling aspects of F1 is how fast they corner and how hard and late they can brake. Both due to downforce.

        Those two aspects also require the most of a driver’s skillset.

    4. Get rid of wings and diffusers altogether and also limit all other areas where downforce can be gained from. With virtually no downforce to start with, there’s no downforce to be lost when following another car. As long as the cars produce a meaningful amount of downforce, they will lose that downforce when trying to overtake someone. I struggle to understand why the FIA has been dumb, deaf and blind in this area for DECADES.

      All other racing series which do have wings/downforce but which still produce overtaking are doing so by other means:

      – super-high top speeds which allow for slipstreaming (IRL)
      – mediocre drivers making more errors (GP2, F3, …)
      – frequent “Caution periods” which bunch up the field for a restart (NASCAR, and to a lesser extent IRL)
      – engine disparity (FIA GT1 / Le Mans, and I don’t mean between different classes!)
      – wider range of car types / designs (FIA GT1 / Le Mans, and again I’m not referring to the different classes within one race but variety within every class)

      … and none of these circumstances could be simply “applied” to F1. “Who needs downforce anyway?”

  2. in my opinion standardising wings is absoloutly the wrong approach to curing the ‘problem.’ In my opinion there is no fundamental problem with f1, anyway once you start standardising parts where do ou stop? this is the same arguement with tyres when you standardize tyres in pursuit of fairness for each team, where do you stop? Do then standardize engines? or chassis’? variety in f1 is what, for me makes it best sport in the world. The best way to increase overtaking in f1 is to increase mechanical grip so that aero isnt as important, his could be done by making the tyres larger. Also the only reason insane aero developement came about was because the Fia banned engine developement. Other changes can also be used to make f1 more exciting such as changes in qualifying to only allow 1 lap per car per session and changing all session lengths to 15 minutes so that drivers get punished for mistakes and we get mixed up grids.

    1. The problem with simply adding mechanical grip is that cornering speeds would be increased (more danger for the drivers, who knows to what level), and braking distances would be reduced, which might end up counter-balancing the increased ability to follow a car through a corner.

      1. agreed, an increase in tyre grip alone wouldn’t solve anything; it needs to be tied in with a reduction in aero to get the balance right.

        spec wings would certianly significantly reduce the cost of running an F1 team competitively if no other changes were made to the rules. But maybe this is a step too far for now.

        Cutting the frontal area of both wings in half is all that is needed in my mind to get the cars closer together when following, which would solve the problem :D and make F1 near perfect again.

        1. the problem is the owg shot themselves in the foot by making the front wing bigger they should have kept it the same size. Now we have the situation where the front wing is the best place to gain downforce asid from the floor, they should have kept the front end the same as 2008 and changed the rear wing and difusor, also thy should ban any bodywork in the gap between the engine and the rear wing to get rid of those hideous shark fins. the renault one looked nice when they first came up with it but now they are hideous, bar the mercedes version.

        2. guinnesspuddle
          28th April 2010, 7:39

          Is “degree of turbulence” something that could be defined? If so, the FIA could develop a wind tunnel test that would examine the smoothness of a car’s wake. Specifying a maximum level would ensure the cars could run close together without hindering the teams’ ability to innovate.

          1. guinnesspuddle you are bang on 100% correct mate!

            This is the only solution…..!

        3. NO wrong worng wrong wrong sorry but aero isnt bad nor should we go back to the 60’s gp cars…

          Control aero with parameters a kin to engine regs…the fia dont control engines parts in the sense of a conrod is still a conrod but it has to be made with certain material and weight as far as I am educated and the conrod along with headers, valves cams etc makes an engine which could make inxs of 25,000 rpm with a fair level of reliability (depending on manufacture) LOL….But it mandated in rule to only allow to produce a max revolution rpm output of 18k…

          So keep wing size angles and current regulations in place but make team conform to a max (rpm) wake disturbance of x amount distance and a max level of total violent turbulent dirty air production..@ 2 level of speed to ensure there is less chance of circumventing regulations…(I say less because there is always loop holes).

          I will bang on about this for ever till I’m heard…! but designers can then design a car to work with in this regulated max dirty air specification…it will also stop aero guys from designing a car that produces wicked amounts of tornadoes at the maximum length they can to do nothing more than hurt any car that may be behind them….totally with in the rules as it stands but unashamedly devious.

          yer it’s not going to be simple for teams to design but the carry over to real world and production cars will benefit from this hugely in shape design to maximize fuel usage and be efficient on all part of a vehicle.

          1. Max dirty air is not quantifiable, and you can’t verify that it has not been tampered with, so you can’t police such a reg. It could never work. Every week we would be on here talking about which team had cheated on their dirty air spec to gain an unfair advantage by increasing the height of the driver’s helmet or something similarly ridiculous.

      2. This is F1 people we need danger. Without the very best won’t stand out. They overcome the danger via skill not bravery.

        If you don’t feel corner speed and late braking is key to F1 go watch a formula ford race.

    2. As an old F1 fan I had never suspected I would say it, but: bring on standard aero components.

      Under current regulations the dimensions of both wings are heavily restricted anyway. There is no chance for a major breakthrough in that area, but the teams keep pumping tons of money into these two elements. Make them standard, ensure clean wake behind the car and cut costs at the same time. Win-win.

    3. Other changes can also be used to make f1 more exciting such as changes in qualifying to only allow 1 lap per car per session and changing all session lengths to 15 minutes so that drivers get punished for mistakes and we get mixed up grids.

      They tried it in 2003 and, to be honest, although I rather liked one-shot qualifying I think most people weren’t keen on it.

      However it does create a problem of what order do you send the cars out in, because the track tends to get quicker as the session goes on. Reverse championship seems the most sensible option, but it doesn’t make for very exciting qualifying sessions.

      1. Artificial nonsense. Let the drivers duke it out all at once. Trying to find space, using the tires correctly, maybe catching a tow all good.

        Hell bring back qualifiers. If your old enough to remember you may agree that they added to the spectacle.

        The drivers had to deliver on tires which didn’t even last a full lap at max grip. Only the very best could do it consistently and the speed WOW! It was amazing to watch live.

        In comparison watching cart cars qualify: well just didn’t have it, something was missing. Maybe just knowing an F1 car was at it’s very limit an a cart car not so much.

        1. There are multiple problems with that approach – first if all the drivers are on-track setting their laps at once then some laps are going to be missed in the broadcast. That’s what one-shot was trying to solve and is partly why we now have knock-out qualifying.

          I can see the appeal of qualifying tyres but bringing them back will put costs up because once they’re used, that’s it. Is it a cost worth paying?

  3. F1 is supposed to be “open wheel” racing. The reality is that modern F1 aero essentially deflects and minimises the drag of the open wheels. Maybe they should mandate narrower front wings such that the wheels are exposed. They already narrowed the rear wing and with the ban on double diffusers, we should have cars that are not as aero dependent and easier to follow/overtake.

    1. I agree. I think that the wings should not be “standardized” but if they were made to be much smaller then I think that would improve the racing. The aero regs could simply define very small areas in both the front and rear of the cars and then designers could do whatever they wanted for wings within those small spaces (no active aero though). I dunno, thats my 2 cents.

    2. The reality is that modern F1 aero essentially deflects and minimises the drag of the open wheels.

      Another way this year’s narrower front tyres hasn’t helped.

      However I think that was a change that had to be made. I’d be amazed if they did what some people have suggested and make the tyres wider, because of the increase in cornering speeds. More likely they’d choose to cut back the downforce.

      1. theRoswellite
        28th April 2010, 16:13

        I’ve probably climbed up on this soapbox too often…however,

        As pointed out in the Introduction, you need to make rules that are enforceable, especially at the track…measurable dimensions work best, as Hallard suggests. This will work, and it is simple.

        Just increasing mechanical grip is not the idea. The point is to get a following car closer to the car in front, while in a “stable” condition. This is why wings, or any negative airfoil, must be restricted.

        The only reason mechanical grip must be increased is to replace the lost downforce, otherwise the cornering speeds drop off drastically.

        Avoid spec parts to the greatest degree possible.

      2. Amazed are you. Fatter tires equal more mechanical grip and thy mess with areo. Braking distances shorten so again the more skilled benefit.

        I feel you constantly missing the point here Keith. F1 is about corner speed and braking distances.

        Passing comes about if a car can follow in another’s wake without losing all kinds of downforce. Thus follow closer through corners to allow more slipstreaming opportunities.

        Straight line speed goes down and when your spinning off with the extra grip of a fat tire you scrub off speed at a higher rate.

        1. “Passing comes about if a car can follow in another’s wake without losing all kinds of downforce. Thus follow closer through corners to allow more slipstreaming opportunities.”
          This makes total sense to me. The wake turbulence is the problem, so a car has to be as independent as possible from it. Wingcars maybe ?
          Or some bolt-on device that straightens out the airflow – not sure how that would work though.
          With wingcars you could measure the pressure underneath vs the ambient pressure, if it’s too high then some sort of valve should open and decrease it. This could limit cornering speed again when it becomes too dangerous. I’m not an engineer, so feel free to grill me on this.
          What could also help is the existence of multiple racing lines instead of just one. Or the ‘marbles’ preventing the use of alternative racing lines. Some work for the tire manufacturers (as hard a tire as possible) and track refits.
          I like the F1 cars with wings, so I would be a bit sad to see them go. A spec wing would still generate some wake, wouldn’t it. As a car is a body which travels through air, this seems to be unavoidable.
          Would moveable front wings help to keep generating downforce, even in turbulence ? I would have to see some studies about it, I’m not so sure anymore.

        2. I feel you constantly missing the point here Keith. […]

          Passing comes about if a car can follow in another’s wake without losing all kinds of downforce. Thus follow closer through corners to allow more slipstreaming opportunities.

          That is my point.

  4. I would like to see the FIA ban all aerodynamic appendages on the cars including barge boards and turning vanes. The only realistic way of limiting downforce I can see is a standard spec underfloor which uses either venturi tunnels or a diffuser. As this can’t be seen it wouldn’t really have any impact on the appearance of the cars. Also allow the teams to have more freedom over the size and shape of wings but severely limit the amount of elements. If mechanical grip was maximised massive amounts of downforce would not be necessary.

  5. What about reducing mechanical grip?

    1. We want more mechanical grip as this grip should be available irrespective of the speed that the car is going. Grip from downforce increases as the car speed increases leading to a less safe situation IMHO. I think less wing/aero related grip and more mechanical grip (e.g. traction control, wider tires) is the way to go…

      1. I do want more mechanical grip from tyres but don’t want traction control to be back in F1.

    2. There’s certainly a good argument for it.

      Decreasing mechanical grip means greater braking distances. If you do it through harder tyres, it also means there are less “marbles” off-line, and so overtaking is again aided.

      But F1 cars are so dependant on aerodynamics, and so sensitive to the wake behind another car, that reducing mechanical grip would mean they would never be able to get close enough to pass.

      Now, if you cut aerodynamic grip drastically and mechanical grip slightly…

    3. They tried that with grooved tyres.

      1. Martin Bell
        28th April 2010, 9:40

        True. Haven’t the last few races shown us that cars can follow each other closely under the current aero rules, and that with their mechanical grip reduced on a wet track, overtaking is possible?

        1. I think it shows us that less total grip – whether ‘mechanical’ or ‘aerodynamic’ – is desirable. But I would still put the emphasis on reducing aerodynnamic grip.

          We see better racing when drivers have to cope with cars that have more power than grip.

          1. Good line of thought here. I don’t recall FOTA talking about less aero grip though, unless they mean the DDDs off course. The wings don’t seem to be touched.

  6. They should restrict and reduce downforce, but F1 needs to keep its superiority over other forms of motorsports otherwise it … well it isn’t F1. As much as people complain about ‘The Show’ there’s no way they can ever make these cars slower than another series.

    So they would need to implement rules which compensate for the loss of downforce so that the lap times wouldn’t tumble too much. Increases in engine power/performance, and mechanical grip etc..

    They’re sort of going down this route already, reintroducing slicks in expense for banning most aero devices. But they still need to do much more. Of which I guess I’m not properly qualified enough to give a good enough response to…

    I dunno, small simple wings. Wider cars. Bigger tyres. Better, more powerful engines. KERS and such…

  7. I’d live to see a standard aero pack or atleast a standard front wing but the teams are more than likely going to throw a hissy fit. After all they have windtunnels and they want to use them.

  8. Restrict aero, open engine development.

    If the FIA do a good enough job on the former, we won’t need standardised wings, and I’m sure there’d be enough left for designers to tweak with in different ways.

    Cornering speeds would be cut as a result, so F1 would also be a little safer. Less dependence on aerodynamics and less wake turbulence will mean cars that are better able to follow and pass each other.

    And think of the money that would be saved on wind tunnels!

  9. I have been saying this for years when this topic comes up… so here I go again!

    1: never mind banning double diffusers.. I would like no diffuser at all.

    2: A rule for maximum wing angles… but with less wing angle and no diffuser, I would then allow contoured floors for downforce generation. It causes far less turbulence behind the car and the car behind can follow closely through corners.

    3: BAN the ridiculously expensive carbon fiber brakes and go back to steel disks and a different pad material. This of course will increase braking distances and create yet another overtaking opportunity!

    1. F1 has to have some relevance to road cars. It has given ABS brakes, traction control, independent suspension, safety cells, electronic engine management and active ride control. F1 teams justify some of the costs with real time development and brakes are key to to this. Have you ever had the pleasure of trying to stop in a 30 year old car?

      1. None of them are given to motor industry by F1.

      2. ABS was developed by the aircraft industry, not F1.
        ECU and traction control were developed by Daimler Benz for their road cars.

        And carbon brakes could never be used on road cars.
        Carbon brakes only start to work at 1000C and a road car could never achieve those temperatures.
        The vast majority of technology on road cars, in reality comes from sports car racing.Not F1.

        1. I can’t think of anything that has come from sports car racing, anyone want to enlighten me ?

          I can think of a few things that have come to road cars as a result of being used in f1. and a few other things that have come from rallying

          1. You can.
            Disc brakes from aviation.
            ABS aviation indudstry.
            Traction control, Daimler Benz sports cars.
            ECU. that comes from the road car industry.
            Active suspension.See Citroen DS 19, or Austin Maxi

    2. The brakes are carbon-ceramic, not carbon-fiber, and the advantage they present over traditional steel discs is NOT in outright stopping power, but rather in consistency and durability. So it is on some level a safety issue. Many people think that steel brakes would increase braking distances and improve the racing, but the real issue with braking distances is the aero grip, not the brakes themselves.

    3. TDC brake are another area innovation has crippled racing…now brakes go bang rather than fade…or massively over heat…

      Smaller metal rotors and pads will allow for braking overtaking more to a fair degree.

      Allow engines development and allow tyre choice per team…spec tyres, wings etc is not f1 and it really doesnt produce any better racing…other series it does but the talent isnt the worlds best in every car in every team talent is a major factor in a lot of spec series IMHO

  10. The problem is aerodynamics, but it is not double diffusers and wings that are the primary source of the problem.
    F1 is an open wheel series.The open wheel design causes the largest amount of turbulence. Not the wings and DD.
    The problem is that the cars are far to dependent on aerodynamics for grip.You cannot expect a machine, capable of running upside down,to perform in the same manner as a car.
    The answer is to reduce the cars dependendcy on areodynamic grip, and increase the amount of mechanical grip.
    Wings should be removed comepletely.Downforce should only be generated by the underside of the car.
    I am not advocating a return to “ground effect” but until the cars can be made capable of following each other, and retaining their grip, the problem of overtaking can never be solved.

  11. Why not just get rid of wings completely, then change the engine specs to something a lot more manageable … say, 1.5 turbo engines rev limited to 10k rpm? That’ll reduce top line and cornering speeds quite nicely while having a side benefit of quietening the cars down :)

    1. wum, you have got to be joking, quieter cars are definately not a benefit.

      1. How are they not a benefit if only to stop local residents complaining? Wasn’t Spa threatened with closure for this very reason?

        1. Franton makes a good point. It’s a big problem for circuits here in Britain.

          1. Then we would be complaining that the ‘sound of speed’ isn’t there anymore !

    2. Getting rid of at least the rear wing is not a bad idea, there is plenty of downforce with out it. After all early in the ground effect era the Lotus 80 had no rear wing. Ok it was not a very successful car but it’s problems were to do with too much downforce (for the time) not too little. No rear wing, no huge turbulence, easier overtaking. If not getting rid of the rear wing, why not simplfy the wings make them single plane, rather that the complex animals that they currently are. Again that would cut turbulence and aid overtaking.

    3. what?! you want the cars to be quieter?! Please tell me that youre being sarcastic…

      Also they would have no problem getting the same level of power they have today from a 1.5 liter turbo engine. Look at the old 1.5 liter BMW turbo engines used in the 80s, for example. In fact they could probably get even more power, with modern turbo and intercooler technology.

      1. On the contrary, yes I do. The turbo will muffle the noise a bit, but certainly won’t get rid of the distinctive noise of an F1 engine. It’s more to stop the floods of complaints from local residents that the testing circuits get every time the F1 circus moves in.

        (How much quieter did you think I meant? There’s no real way to really muffle 850hp engines!)

      2. Yep they’ll get the same amount of power, but not in a constant power band as in the current range of normally aspirated engines.

        The BMW powerplant you refer to was extremely lumpy in it’s power delivery. Gurneyflap is quoted as saying you went from 450hp to 800hp in just 1000rpm. That’d make life fun for the drivers!

        (see )

        1. Ok, you had me worried there. As far as turbo power delivery goes, modern turbo technology allows much more consistent power delievery, flat torque curves, and almost non-existent turbo lag. I used the old BMW engine as an example for power levels, but in the last 25 years they have become MUCH CLOSER in character to naturally aspirated engines. Dont get me wrong, I think small engines with turbos are the way to go in F1, but rev limits make me sad…

    4. lol go and midget at the speedway mate because f1 is wings and aero and highest levels of technological motoring innovation…or it should be!

      I say no to gpl style f1 cars in 2010 and beyond.

      1. Can I have that reply in English please? I’m unaware of a verb “to midget”.

        1. MuzzleFlash
          28th April 2010, 9:29

          I believe this is what he is referring to.
          The wings shoulnd’t go completely, but rather be of a single plane without endplates, rear wing wider and adjustable over 5 or 6 degrees. Front wing shorter and swept adjustable over 10-15 degrees.

        2. sorry not being nasty LOL

          The midgets speedway cars…no wings big HP unlike the sprint cars with the wild wings on the roof….

          My bad..I was on iphone and that dam auto correction I never even noticed…but in saying that I aint the worlds greatest speellller either..

  12. They(FIA) already know what to do, but they are pressured by the teams, not to make it just a drivers championship, they need their own validation for wining, engineers wont be happy if they get their wings shortened by almost total restrictions on aero,engine or compound development!
    It is a fine line to make a win win for both spectator and constructor.

  13. Interesting article and as I see it the goal is to make F1 better. Is overtaking the number one problem leading to dull races? Do we really want cars overtaking each other all the time?

    My only frustration on this subject is that even a superior car cannot overtake another car unless it is significantly faster. Cure? Reduce downforce, F-duct, KERS, Other options?? Maybe the teams will have a bunch of options and can only pick a few that way we will get variety and the differences should make it more interesting.

    I don’t want to suggest any technical changes to the cars, cause I don’t have much insight into it plus much of it might have been thought out by FIA and the teams themselves already. However standardizing is not the way to go, it can make interesting races for a few seasons and then it gets dull and boring and nothing new to watch.

    Another option is that because engine development is frozen for a given period, there is probably no need to limit the number of engines. That way they can rev up and risk blowing the engine during a race but would have a chance to overtake. Or maybe have no rev limit 3-4 races per team and they get to decide which races to use this.

    1. Interesting idea on the no rev limit for a couple of races, but all the teams would end up using them at the same races: Spa, Monza…

  14. I reckon they could do a few things:

    Restrict the width of the wings and make the tires and over all car wider. This means more is to be gained from finding mechancal grip improvements than aero.

    Free up engine development – more power means cars are harder to drive, more throttle control is needed and more mistakes may be made by the driver.

    Funny – this reminds me of the cars from yesteryear…

    1. I whole-heartedly agree with everything you just said, dasman.

  15. I wonder if we are being a bit narrow in our attempts to identify a single ’cause for the lack of ‘action”. Is it possible that what is more important is the balance between mechanical and aero-induced grip ?

    If the thinking is that aero is currently too dominant then maybe rather than worry about how to reduce aero we can rebalance by increasing mechanical grip (eg wider slicks, lower profile tyres).

    The teams will then be able to make trades between aero-induced drag and downforce within a context where rivals have enough mechanical grip to pass them if they get it wrong.

    1. Thats definitely the idea, but if we increase mechanical grip without decreasing aero grip, then there are concerns that the cars will be so fast that safety will be a major issue.

      1. I agree that this would increase speed. However, isnt going as quick as possible exactly what racing is about ?

        Anyway, we have seen massive increases in safety over recent years with new crash testing and super strong carbon fiber construction. If increasing speed knocks current ‘safety levels’ back to something equivalent to the late 1990’s would that be unacceptable ?

        Racing drivers are after all very well paid professionals who can drive right up to the limit. A degree of danger will always be involved – otherwise they arnt trying hard enough.

        1. I totally agree, and I have to say that I personally wouldnt be concerned if the cars were faster (just not excessively so), but the authority figures (so to speak) in F1 are definitely trying to keep speeds down.

  16. So far in 2010, the only interesting races where hit affected by rain. Naturally, the scramble to chose the right tire for the conditions changed the order quite a bit, but in those conditions, overtaking was possible.
    Just as an example, Hamilton could not pass Kubica in Australia when the track dried, but he was able to in China under the mixed conditions. With this in mind, the argument for lower mechanical grip seems to be the right approach to promote overtaking. A quick way to do this would be to re-introduce grooved tires or we could revert to the much harder compounds used in the 2005 season (when tire changes were banned). If the FIA chooses to use only one tire supplier, this could easily be accomplished.

  17. The best races this year have been when mechanical grip has been at a premium i.e. when it’s been wet – so reduce both mechanical and aero and stick a smaller diffuser on with a rear wing that makes a decent hole in the air with minimal turbulence for a car that gets close enough out of the corners to have half a chance on a straight and under braking which will favour the brave – and historically those are the drivers we’ve all craved for and remembered guys who are just as happy with acar going sideways if it means they make a pass for positions and those who had the nuts to carry it out in a sometimes win it or bin it almost cavalier fashion….. namely – Gilles Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Jacque Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Fenando Alonso, Jenson Button in Brasil 2009 even !

    Like these….

    Mansell / Senna Barcelona 1991 still gets me going: :)

    Mansell Berger Mexico 1990

    Senna, Prost, Schumacher at Silverstone ’93 – I was there !! :)

    Jaque Villeneuve doing Schumacher at Estoril


    Gilles Villeneuve v Rene Arnoux arguably the best laps in F1 EVER !

  18. Standard front and rear wings could only lead to one conclusion, standard cars. Because there would only one set of resulting dimensions for all the other ‘body work’ components.

  19. Accidental Mick
    27th April 2010, 20:24

    Keith, I think you are wrong in saying that limiting the turbulance left by a car would be too expensive to measure and police.

    All the teams bar one already test in wind tunnels so all it needs is an independant observer at one of the tests to take the required measurement.

    From that moment on, no aero changes are permitted for the rest of the season unless those changes are measured in a wind tunnel (which the team would have to pay for).

    Leave it to the teams to police each other – any of them would howl if they thought someone else was fudging.

    1. Yes ! I was going to say this before I read your comment. Can’t see why that wouldn’t work.

    2. any of them would howl if they thought someone else was fudging.

      They’d do a lot more howling than that. Any time they thought they might be able to force a rival team to get something off their car they’d have a go. Remember the diffuser row last year? It’d be like that all the time.

  20. “Hiring a windtunnel to measure it would be prohibitively expensive, and the cars would have to be checked at the tracks to ensure compliance, so this looks like a non-starter”

    This is completely not true (the non-starter bit). It IS viable to downforce check each car after the race, the same as mass. To measure overall downforce at some single speed is a much much easier and cheaper thing to do than to do the sophisticated measurement and analysis of a lab wind tunnel. You could build a single speed open section wind tunnel out of the trailer of a single semi truck out of a large powerful fan and scales. That is completely ‘good enough’. Having a downforce limit at 150 kph only is completely adequate to control the whole range.

    They don’t use many-post rig to measure mass in post tech, just scales. They don’t need a research level wind tunnel to measure downforce either.

    1. without the wheels spinning and the ground moving, the air wouldn’t flow correctly over the car

      1. True, but there would be a correlation to rolling downforce, which is all that you’d need. It does not need to be the accurate absolute numbers for 150kph on track. It simply needs to correlate in a reasonably consistent way (wrt approaches teams take to game it). The bottom line is that if the cheapo-tunnel numbers are set low, the real on track downforce will be low too, and hence aero push will be less, hence racing will be better.

    2. It’s not really that simple, teams don’t even use full scale models for testing themselves, but you expect the FIA to use the cars? And create a steady, controlled flow, out of a portable trailer?

      And you can’t expect teams to knock up 1/2 scale models (and you’ll need a decent sized scale to achieve dynamic similarity without supersonic flow speeds) along with every update of the car, whilst expecting them to ‘reduce costs’. It’s absurd.

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