Turbos and ground effect “back in 2013″

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1’s new technical rules for 2013 will include a return to turbo engines and ground effect aerodynamics, according to Autosport.

The two technologies, which were hallmarks of F1 racing in the late seventies and eighties, will be revived in an effort to make F1 racing more exciting for fans and more relevant for car manufacturers.

The use of ground effect could allow designers to maintain current cornering speeds while reducing the turbulent wake which develops behind a car, making it difficult for a chasing car to stay close.

However the turbo engines being considered are likely to be smaller and much less powerful than the 1.5-litre V6s last used in the sport. They are expected to have less power than the current normally-aspirated V8 engines, but will make greater use of energy recovery systems.

Turbo power was last seen in F1 in 1988. The era of ground effect aerodynamics came to an end when flat-bottomed cars were mandated from the beginning of 1983:

Turbos and ground effect

132 comments on “Turbos and ground effect “back in 2013″”

  1. This is interesting stuff. Will it have the desired effect?

    1. It definately sounds interesting. But I’m really dissapointed they’re trying to cut power again. If anything I’d have thought it’d be better for power to increase to 2005 V10 levels. For fans of speed anyway.

      1. I totally agree mate!!…they should be speeding things up not slowing them down (with safety in mind of course ;-)

      2. autosport.com says “On the engine side, draft regulations were circulated among teams a few weeks ago and the latest plan is for 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engines to become standard.

        The power units will be bolstered by numerous energy recovery systems, and should produce around 650bhp. Plans are also being considered to limit engines to just five per driver per season.”

        1. 650 is pathetic. I know whatever output they do there will realisticly be a few road cars with better power, but 650 is common among hypercars and I’m pretty sure most prototype sportcars and even GT1 sportscars are similar. Very dissapointing even if the way the power is delivered is different.

          1. That is indeed pathetic power output figure!
            Whats more, with less power, the cars will be easier to get out of slow corners – meaning less action. But more importantly this is F1 and its meant to be the best!

            And on the note of regulation changes – bring back active suspension, I think the tech has improved in 20 years and implementing active suspension nowadays should be easy even for the smallest teams, and active suspension should make things less of a ‘dark arts’ to get the suspension setup right for the whole circuit, where currently the big teams obviously have the upper hand. And most importantly, its a tech that deserves to be in F1, and F1 deserves and needs this tech to stay on top of the motorsport technology pyramid, because all these bans mean that F1 is falling back, while other series are catching up.

          2. Not only does this figure bring F1 back towards other seires and single seaters competitions, It brings it back enough so that the Ferrari and Pagani makes amongst others, of the standard automobile world will start to look down on F1…..

            Not good.

          3. I totally agree that 650 bhp isnt high enough and shud b much higher, but from a 4 cylinder 1.6 turbo thats a hell of alot for such a small engine, same size thats in a peugeot 207 gti and they only push out 175 bhp so that 650 bhp is pretty impressive. To be fair these Hyper cars and gt1 cars are running at least 3.4 V8’s so its no surprise that they run that kind of power. also u gotta facter in power to weight ratio’s which again will twice as much as a hyper or gt1 car. also the other thing is what kind of torque are these engines going to produce. all in all i think the cars will only b 2 3 seconds a lap slower so thats still alot quicker than most other series’ out there.

  2. about time! been calling for a return to ground effect with less dependency on wing-aero for so long.
    now lets get some nice chunky tyres on there too…

    1. Chunky tires? How come?

      1. Larger tyres give more mechanical grip so there is less need for aerodynamic grip. This reduces the wake behind the car which means closer folllowing is possible

        1. Guilherme Teixeira
          3rd September 2010, 18:56

          “Less need for aerodynamic grip” does not mean that cars will have less downforce. The engineers will still push to have as much downforce as possible, and if you give them larger tyres they will just smile for the added mechanical grip you gave them…

          F1 doesn’t need largers tyres, it needs tyres that last less.

          1. It needs harder tyres that grip less

          2. Aerodynamic Downforce = Drag

            If the cars have ground effect then the drag created by aerodynamic devices such as wings makes them more of a disadvantage as it takes an awful lot of energy to push them through the air at high speed.

            We already see this at tracks such as Monza where the teams run cars with much less aero than they would somewhere like Monaco, add in the additional grip from ground effect (and Matt’s suggestion about fatter tyres, which I’d happily second) and the cost of the drag starts to outweigh the benefits of the downforce.

            This is the best news I’ve heard in a very long time !

          3. beneboy, ground effects is like free downforce. It does not produce any drag.

          4. @ theTTshark

            Sorry if my post is unclear, I’m saying that aero such as the wings that are currently used would be less useful due to the drag they create if ground effect was brought back.

            I’m not saying that ground effect produces drag.

            Sorry for the confusion.

        2. If they just changed the tyre rules the teams would continue with the same wings, so the wake would remain the same

        3. No only do larger (fatter) tyres improve grip, they LOOK AWESOME, particularly when viewed from the rear. We also need a wider track (width between the tyres) and the picture is complete. It’s time F1 considers visual appeal of the racing cars as well.

          Here are some aesthetic elements to consider:

          Modern F1 races look so skinny. I’d love to get back to how the cars looked pre-1993, with plenty of changes undertaken for safety, though.

          Will ground-effects mean those ridiculous high noses will come to an end? Will we also get rid of the stepped floor and skid plank so we can see really low noses? And I hope those horrible shark fins sink into oblivion?

          1. “It’s time F1 considers visual appeal of the racing cars as well.”

            You make it sound as though people in F1 have never considered the visual side of things before.

            It’s only very recently that the cars have become so ugly, and I don’t know why the teams don’t do something about it. The ’09 wing regulations represent the first time in the history of the sport that the regulations have forced the cars to be very ugly. (I thought when the regulations raised the front wing in 2005, they were going in a bad direction, but it was nothing compared to the monstrous wings we have now).

            I seriously think a lot of people in F1 have gone soft in the head – how can a team like McLaren which is so full of trendy, visual-conscious people, simply allow the bean-counters at the FIA to impose regulations from above that so drastically alter the appearance of the cars without protest? You’d think someone at McLaren would have said in 2007/8 – “Bernie, Max, why would we want to make our cars look like this?”… Surely people who work in teams such as McLaren and Red Bull watch Top Gear and understand that when Jeremy Clarkson says a car is ugly, it really means something.

            How can people like Brundle sit in the commentary booth and mouth the mild criticisms that he did at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix when these cars were first seen on a race weekend? I remember at the time, he was saying things like “well, they’ll take a bit of getting used to”. He has a reputation for being plain-spoken and straightforward but I felt that at that moment he was being needlessly polite – going along to get along. He didn’t want to say “wow that thing is hideous” because he knew that if they did change them back, they would still be stuck with these cars for at least a year, because of the way the design process is. But it still needed to be said.

            The visual appeal of F1 has always been a big attraction. And we live in such a shallow age, so it’s more important than ever. Surely you would think the F1 teams would realise this and say something.

            And another silly thing about it of course, is that there are far more accidents because the wings extend so far out, it’s far too easy to knock your wing off on someone else’s front wheel.

            The reason given for the changes was to improve overtaking, we can see the changes haven’t done that much in that regard, so I don’t understand why the regulations haven’t been reverted.

            Watching F1 has been a less enjoyable experience for me in these last two seasons because of these regulations. I don’t admire these cars the way I used to. Only the Red Bulls have been anything like good-looking.

            Thinking about it, I’m really just stunned that they haven’t changed the wings back yet. Sadly, at this point it’s already far too late to change the regulations for next year because the teams will already have their designs well-advanced, or completed.

            Right now the situation in F1 is sort of like the Emperor’s New Clothes. Why can’t someone in an influential position in the sport just say, these wings still look terrible, and it was a terrible idea in the first place? Maybe they are just opposed to “going back”? But why would you think the current situation qualifies as “progress”? Sometimes you have to go back, and it doesn’t make you “stubborn” or “silly” or even “nostalgic”.

            Visuals are one of the biggest things which attract people to cars, that’s just a simple fact, one that the powers that be have totally failed to take into account, which is totally baffling in what is supposed to be a “glamourous” sport.

    2. No chunky tyres, i expect low profile tyres on 18″ wheels!

  3. yes, yes, yes, finally overtaking again! roll on 2013

    1. What have you been watching this year?…. there IS enough overtaking already! Does anyone out there agree with me at all or am I completely mad?

      1. I agree. I think overtaking this year has, on the whole, been brilliant. Bahrain being the only exception… although I blame where the cameras were pointed rather the track itself on that one

      2. I agree. There has been plenty of overtaking. But it is definately more difficult with the amount of dirty air produced than it used to be, and it is still fair to try and reduce this.

      3. Agreed, and it already stands to improve next year with the ban on double diffusers as that will reduce grip and reduce the turbulent wake somewhat. I can’t wait to see how much of an effect that will have. It certainly can’t hurt though to bring back ground effects and reduce some of the aero allowed. Anything that helps in overtaking is welcome in my mind.

      4. (I posted this on the forum recently but it’s relevant so I hope you’ll forgive me reposting it here.)

        Take a look at these statistics (You will have to register but it is free):

        They show that the average number of overtakes has reduced from over 40 in the early 80s to below 15 for the 2009 season, we’re on 31.69 so far this season but obviously there are now more cars at each race than we’ve had for a few years & it’s not been a full season yet. Amazingly it went down to just 10.74 overtakes per race in 2005 !

        This year has been very good but the overall trend since the 1980s has been a clear and dramatic reduction in the amount of overtaking.

        1. Maybe some of the changes are beginning to show effect now!

          But i also feel some ground effect, with less aero could help in offering more overtaking opportunity.
          And the bigger wheels (with low profile tyres) might help in increasing braking distances through their weight and characteristics (if not allowed to run bigger brake discs).

      5. I agree, but would also think that you were somewhat mad, not taking away from your point none the less…

        This year has been a great year for F1… I rather hope the FIA has worked this out…

        So, Engines will be unfrozen I take it?

  4. “as well as increasing crash protection at the front of the car by moving the sidepods further forwards”

    I know in the end it’s the sport and the competition thats more important but please don’t take us back to the cars of the early 80’s in terms of looks…. ugh!

    If they can edge back towards circa ’67 or ’94/’95 good, or if they can make it totally new and beautiful also good, but not early 80’s!

    1. Don’t take the cars back to how they looked in the early 80’s, WHAT! The early 80’s was my favourite era as it was the era I got into f1 as a child. If the cars ended up looking as they did back then I for one would be elated.

      1. Well, I hope they would be a lot less blocky, or they would be looking seriously outdated :-p

        But I am sure that it will still lead to teams working on optimal airflow over the car – if not for downforce, than at least for least amount of drag, so I think the cars would get a “new” look. If only because the engines will be a lot smaller.

  5. Nought wrong with the cars from the 80’s. Some beautiful cars were designed then.

    That aside, I can’t help but get excited by this news, it feels like the right direction for the sport, and I just hope that this proves to be the answer.

  6. Surely the cars cant be much uglier than this years cars? Massively wide front wing, stupid narrow rear wing and a narrow ugly chassis. Dont even get me started on the blown diffuser mess!

    The IndyCar series may be dull compared to F1 (I think it is) but the cars look a lot better.

    Any cosmetic changes they could make to the F1 cars in 2013, compared to the 2010 cars, can only be an improvement.

    I saw a 2009 Renault F1 car in a Basingstoke shopping centre some months back and, aside from the fruit salad inspired livery, it looked ridiculous. Very low down, very long and very ugly. It looked like a single bed on wheels!

    1. Well you were in a shopping centre, are you sure it wasn’t just a bed. LOL

      The IndyCar series may be dull compared to F1 (I think it is) but the cars look a lot better.

      Two parts to this statement and there both wrong. IndyCar is just as exciting as F1 and they are some of the ugliest cars on the face of this earth. I would much rather have a picture of a 2010 F1 car stuck on my wall than an ugly Indycar.

      And the new age of F1 cars don’t look that bad anyway. Having gotten used to them over the past 2 years, there no way I could go back to the old low winged cars, they just look like a giant has stood on them and squashed them.

      1. I dunno, I prefer the old low-and-wide look. There’s some pros and cons to the look of the 2010 indy cars. I don’t like the little bubble in front of the driver as it takes away from the sleekness and interrupts what should be a nice beautiful curve. But the low, wide profile evokes way more of the feel of open wheel racing to me than does the “chunky” feel of most F1 cars nowadays. If you ask me, the late 80’s and early 90’s had some of the best looking F1 cars.

        1. I’m with you on that one, the 80s and early 90s were the best looking F1 cars. F1 aesthetics are in a dire state in every way.

          I wish they would get rid of the narrow tracks and go back to the 2m wide wheelbase… and of course I need not even mention the hideous 09 wing regulations…

          1. F1 Cars never looked better than the JPS Lotus era as far as I’m concerned. But you can’t go back, only onto the next hot idea.

            Just wish we could rid the cars of all these aero appendiges which look very clumsy and artificial. they also have about as much to do with the cars we drive as lunar lander.

            Will lower profile tyres on bigger wheels come in in 2013 ?

          2. Best looking F1 car was the golden jordan, 96 maybe 95, with the two air inlets on one sidepod. It looked like a jetfighter

          3. Let’s campaign for wide-track. Back to the low and wide look, with the safety measures, though.

        2. Pretty much agree with you. Those indycars of the 90s were looking pretty good as well, nicely wide and low, small front wings.

          1. Looks like there might be some ride height issues there :-) .

    2. I saw it n Basingstoke too, but I don’t see what’s so bad about being low nor the length.

    3. I don’t understand why everyone is so down on the look of the current cars. They’re more muscular, evolved, advanced, technical, and sophisticated looking than they’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see what they’ll look like with less aero, more ground effects, and modern engineering… I imagine the basic shape may be similar to the early ’80s cars, but again they’ll be much more sculpted and sophisticated looking.

  7. G effect with a stepped floor? will this work? i think it works in gp2 as the cars are the same spec. perhaps a variety in engines, KERS and external aero will still make this a series of the top teams and the rest… i’m a cynic i know.

    PS: make the engines as powerful or more than the v8s… i’m saying 800PS

    1. I totally agree on the engine power bit. F1 cars should have at least 800 hp. Right now they are running 725-750 hp, and that just isnt enough. My opinion is that they should have huge power, and be difficult to drive. If the turbo engines have less power than the current v8s, then they’ll be too close to GP2 series’ cars (in power).

      1. With ground effects though they’ll probably want to play it safe for a season or two. There is, literally, tons of downforce to be gained, depending on how much they regulate and restrict it’s application and development.

        I’m not sure how a ground effect downforce against speed graph looks compared to a wing downforce against speed graph. Would be interesting.

  8. Good news. Ground effects create more downforce with less turbulence, and we satisfy the archivists who are offended by big wings and trim them down in chord. And no, the cars can’t get much uglier than now. The current cars are ghastly.

  9. I´d love to see the cars having the speed of the late V10 era.

  10. errrrrr…. ground effect? how are they going to do that without killing four drivers a year?

    1. [blockquote]They have been looking at that, as well as increasing crash protection at the front of the car by moving the sidepods further forwards

      -Patrick Head[/blockquote]


      1. lol! That’s one way to deal with I guess…

        But they were blacking out in the corners due to the g-forces before they banned it last time…

        1. That was at a time when they were running something like 1200hp engines though…

        2. Cornering speeds and G forces are higher now than they were then. The drivers are just more used to it.

          1. yeah that was back in the day when the drivers would also race in the support series and smoke a few cigarettes before the GP.

      2. (EDIT: deal with IT, I guess)

  11. great news, what f1 needs in this era is revolutionary changes, the emprirical development that has been a part of the sport for 20 yrs just suits the big teams with plenty of money. As Brawn showed, step change the rules and you can get an advantage by lateral thinking.

    I will always miss 12 cylinder engines in f1 but if we did we’d lose tracks like Spa, to safety considerations in fact we’d probably lose every track quite quickly.

    Can we assume that if we have ground effects we will have no aerofoils?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      3rd September 2010, 17:13

      If you mean silly wings, flaps and chimneys Antonyob, I hope so.
      If ground effects are to replace the increasingly complex front and rear wings, could we see a return to the unmistakable beauty of the Brabham BT49 with no front wing at all and a simple rear wing?

      1. Or even the Lotus 80 with no front or rear wing!

        But you need to read the statement in Autosport. They are talking of increasing the proportion of the downforce that comes from the diffuser and reducing the proportion that comes from the wings, rather than returning to full length venturies which is what most people think of as the ground effect era. With modern knowledge I hate to think how much ground effect downforce could be generated by a full length venturi and side skirts, when they can already create far more than that era from a flat floor with end diffuser. That would test the driver and tyres!

        1. With modern knowledge I hate to think how much ground effect downforce could be generated by a full length venturi and side skirts, when they can already create far more than that era from a flat floor with end diffuser. That would test the driver and tyres!

          That does worry me a bit as well. Undoubtedly there will be very strict regulations about the limits of what they can do.

          1. ‘Undoubtedly there will be very strict regulations about the limits of what they can do’

            That would be a 1st ;-)

  12. Turbos yeah great, GROUND EFFECT??? Huh? i mean it was fantastic technology but I thought the idea was to not kill people? Jeez, I hope its not spec haunted awfullness, that wouldn’t be any fun.

    Wow got to process this, it’s new engines in 2012 right? F1 is going to be drastically different by the start of 2014, can’t say I’m not excited.

    Wonder how this all pans out, all I want if for F1 to stay away from the horrors of Sepc racing, beyond that well no deaths and its all good.

  13. One word….. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Turbos = Renault strong point

    1. Well, 20 years ago maybe. Now BMW are probably the technology leaders…

      1. I think of those left on track it’ll be Ferrari vs Mercedes, not many Renault engine turbos. Still they’ll get there pretty soon. The sooner the development starts the flatter the manufactoror playing feild will be.

    2. lol, definitely wasn’t circa ’80 to ’82…

  15. Ryan Fairweather
    3rd September 2010, 16:54

    One word 650bhp. Lets hope they’re allowed engine development for a few years, before another archaic freeze!

    1. …3 numbers and 3 letters: 850bhp! :)

  16. So long as the ground effects are combined with taking away stuff from the wings, I’m all for it. Disappointed the engines will be powered down, though.

    1. Probably not for long huh? An overall horsepower should reach 750 again before too long.

      If they bring back ground effect and ban wings i’ll be mighty pleased.

      1. Yeah they are going to start pushing changes to add to the speed because “F1 is safer than 30 years ago”, and when 4 drivers are killed in one GP, they would start going backwards again, getting rid of the slick tires, and banning the turbo and so on… in 30 years the FIA geniuses will get back the turbo and again we will be happy because “F1 its gonna be like it was back in the ’10s”.

  17. ground effect aerodynamics? what is this can you give some more info for the people born in late ’80’s ’90’s and the people who aren’t so technically. :)

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_effect_in_cars

      And for what happens when it goes wrong… as ably demonstrated by Mark Webber: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow3rxq7U1mA (about 36 seconds in).

      1. Webber wasn’t driving during that specific one you linked FWIW.

        1. I remembered that about two minutes after I posted :) The same happened to him the next day, as remember…

          1. Webber’s Mercedes actually flipped twice – in qualifying and the warm up – before being withdrawn before the race. Peter Dumbreck flipped another Mercedes in the race, as seen in your video.

            The problem was not ground effect – it was put down to a design fault which caused air to build up in large amounts under the car’s nose, causing it to go light over crests. The car’s large flat floor did the rest, acting like a sail to lift the car up. Ground effect wasn’t to blame.

            There were other sports prototypes which experienced similar problems around the same time – including Yannick Dalmas in a Porsche 911 GT1 at Road Atlanta and a BMW V12 LMR at the same track in 2000 – but none so dramatic as Mercedes.

  18. How many people were killed with the current 750 bhp engines? None as far as I know, so no need to detune them. Less than 750 bhp is just too little… A year or so back you could buy an audi station with 560 bhp… A family car for crying out loud!!!

    1. Yes, but that is without ground effect, which increases speeds tremendously.

      Cornering speed because of much better grip.
      Straight-line speed because of much less drag.

      1. Not to mention the fact that that Audi weighs probably about four times what an F1 car weighs. You have to compare the power to weight ratio. Comparing power alone doesn’t really mean anything.

        1. Whoops, just noticed antonyob already said the same below…

  19. Oh dear, its not top gear, its about power to weight. A caterham beats a veyron round a track for that very reason.

    Yes agree brabham circa 1981 was beautiful. All venturi no wings would be great. And tho we don’t want japanese nissan skyline power drifts at 70mph some lift n drift at 150 would be nbice. I can’t remember if skirts allowed that style to be quick or even achievable? Anyone??

    1. I’m gonna say it’s generally a *bad thing*


    2. Yes very much true, but next year they will increase the weight limit. And I don’t think they will lower it again in 2013. So that means less power with the same weight, which decreases power to weight.

      1. But with reduced drag and increased grip (from less aero and more ground effects) will probably still mean a net increase in speed.

  20. For those of you who don’t like the looks of the ground effect era cars, go online and look at pictures of the Lotus 79 which was nicknamed “Black Beauty”, and not for nothing as it has been judged by many in motorsports as the best looking F1 car ever. If that is th kind of car appearance that we may return to, then count me in!!

    Also, as has been pointed out by many on this forum, ground effect cars with venturi tunnels are less dependent on the front and rear wings and do allow for closer racing and better passing. Several years ago no less than Mario Andretti tried to explain that to the “powers that be” in F1, but they wouldn’t listen!

    Finally someone is! I truely hope that it happens! Bring on 2013. Colin Chapman would be dancing in his grave over this! Finally the designers in F1 will have something new to do. Gordon Murray would also be pleased, and I’ll bet money that Adrian Newey will love this idea of returning to ground effects!

    1. Are you sure it wasn’t just because of the black paint scheme? The Lotus 79 is a seriously good looking car in JPS colours. But then I also thought the Stoddart-era Minardis looked quite good too, never mind how they performed on track.

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