FIA drops plan to reduce downforce in 2014

2014 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2012The FIA has announced a series of changes to its proposed 2014 regulations.

F1 cars will retain their 2012-style aerodynamic packages, the FIA confirmed: “Changes made to bodywork design, originally aimed at reducing downforce and drag for increased efficiency, have reverted to 2012 specification.”

The FIA has also amended the proposed rules for the new V6 turbo engines with energy recovery systems “with the aim of limiting technology in some areas in order to reduce development costs”.

A plan to make F1 cars run on electric power only when in the pits has been postponed from 2014 to 2017.

The minimum weight limit, which is already being increased for 2013, will be raised further in 2014 “to compensate for additional power unit weight”.

2014 F1 season

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131 comments on FIA drops plan to reduce downforce in 2014

  1. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 5th December 2012, 15:46

    Dang I was really looking forward to this. Oh well.

  2. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 5th December 2012, 15:49

    So it is essentially 2012 cars with minor tweaks and V6 turbo’s in 2014?

    • mantresx said on 5th December 2012, 19:29

      I wouldn’t say minor tweaks, the new engine package will be much bigger than what they have now, plus the new 8 speed gearbox, single exhaust, bigger KERS, bigger cooling, all those things will add up (aero-wise) and I still think we’ll see some surprises in 2014.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th December 2012, 20:08

        Its also likely that the lowered noses will be brought in, as they were on safety ground.

        And some also expect teams to run slightly less downforce (about Monza levels) because the slightly less powerfull powertrain can pull less drag without it getting too much of a disadvantage.

      • panache (@panache) said on 5th December 2012, 20:17

        Would someone care to explain why the new powertrains with 1.6l V6 turbo’s will be bigger and heavier than the existing 2.4l V8’s? Does most of the difference come from ERS weight? I have to say that is quite dissapointing if true.

  3. bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 5th December 2012, 15:52

    The lack of downforce/aero restrictions is a major disappointment.
    I say ban front wings fullstop, and sorry Mr Newey, you’ll need to find a new job. :)

    • Mads (@mads) said on 5th December 2012, 18:53


      ban front wings fullstop

      Oh please no! F1 cars, or any open wheeler without a front wing, quite frankly, looks horrible. The exception is of cause the old tube shapes from the 50’s.
      But on a just remotely modern F1 car, it looks sad and wrong.
      A slimmer and generally smaller front wing, yes. But removing it all together would look stupid. And of cause also mean that F1 cars would be going much, much slower.

      • bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 5th December 2012, 19:33

        looks horrible?…well it may well do. but do we care about looks?
        i guess not, because the hideous “stepped nose” seems to have been forgotten about after the 1st race.
        I think you’ll find most of us are more interested in racing.
        and can i suggest you go to Goodwood and visit the old school pitlane/garage area and see what real F1 cars looked like. :)

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 10th December 2012, 22:29

      @bsnaylor Then say hello to terrible handling and lots of safety cars.

  4. GT_Racer said on 5th December 2012, 16:06

    I’d just like to make a point regarding ground effects.

    A lot of people seem to believe that the scrapping of ground effects for 2014 was good because ground effects is too dangerous & would cause cars to take off & fly a lot easier. This is simply not true.

    What was proposed for 2014 was not the full on ground effects that was seen in the early 80s, It was a more limited form similar to what is been used in many other open wheel categories around the world (GP2 & the new for 2012 Indycar for example).

    Categories that use the sort of ground effects that was planned for F1 in 2014 are not more dangerous & do not see cars flying through the air any more often than is seen in F1 currently & its all down to wheel to wheel contact rather than cars simply taking off for no reason because there running ground effects.

    There were problems with ground effects in the early 80s, Problems caused purely by the fact cars were scraping the floor & had practically no suspension. Advances in technology & a better understanding of ground effects would erase these problems even if a full-on return with sliding skirts etc… was on the cards.

    If the designers/engineer’s believed the proposed ground effects rules for 2014 were dangerous they would never had proposed them & the FIA would never have accepted/implemented them.
    The reason the plan was eventually scrapped was purely because teams believed it would increase the cost’s too much as they would have to totally scrap current designs, plus they believe DRS is great & is working perfectly well so any big aero changes are no longer needed.

    • Ilanin (@ilanin) said on 5th December 2012, 17:10

      Ground effect is always unstable and dangerous simply because of what it is and how it works. There are ways to mitigate this danger. There are no ways to remove it. Cornering speeds in F1 are in many ways already dangerously high (and have been for a decade or so), and the only reason these speeds are relatively safe is because over-the-car aerodynamic downforce is pretty difficult to interrupt. Reducing this and relying on the much less stable ground effect definitely increases the risk of high-speed accidents.

      Is it an acceptable risk? Well, maybe. F1 cars and circuits are much safer than they were in the 1980s. But is it necessary to take that risk? Why would we, when even a nexus for complaining about the regulations such as this website rates the previous two seasons as the most exciting for years?

      • GT_Racer said on 5th December 2012, 18:36

        You say that but then why do other series like GP2 & Indycar (Among others) rely on a form of ground effects & suffer from zero problems as a result?

        The DW12 Indycar was praised for producing great racing this year & I have seen zero concerns, complaints & criticism’s about the fact it uses the same sort of ground effects that was been planned for F1 2014.
        Same with GP2, All 3 cars used in that series have generated a big part of the overall grip from ground effects rather than wing’s & there has again been no problems.
        Also the old Champcar series had run ground effects for years without problem, The last car they produced (DP01) was a very successful & very safe car.
        Superleague formula as well ran a similar concept to what F1 would have used & again there were no problems.

        What was planned for F1 2014 was a big reduction in wing generated downforce with a large portion of that got by via ground effects. Cornering speeds would have remained as they are currently.

        Like I said the problems seen with ground effects in the 80s was because of how they ran the cars, Scraping the ground with side skirts & rock solid suspension.
        They were not talking about that for 2014, They were talking about a shaped under-tray (keeping the plank preventing them from running cars as low as they did in the 80s), No side skirts & the suspension would remain as it is today.

        The plans for 2014 would not have seen cornering speeds rise, They would have remained as they are now if not been a little lower.

        The criticism’s about ground effects are looking at how it was in the 80s & not as it would have been in 2014.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th December 2012, 19:17

          The DW12 Indycar was praised for producing great racing this year

          I have to agree with that. Some of the best racing I saw this year was in IndyCar – and not just on the oval circuits.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th December 2012, 20:13

        Ground effect is always unstable and dangerous simply because of what it is and how it works. There are ways to mitigate this danger. There are no ways to remove it

        – You are right in principle @ilanin, but exactly the same is true for aerodynamics.
        But because materials and knowledge and understanding of aero effects, as well as capacity to simulate its flow, have greatly progressed in the last 30 years, the ground effect that was originally proposed would have been no more a risk that we now have of a rear wing breaking or a front wing flying off at high speed.

  5. Bookoi (@bookoi) said on 5th December 2012, 16:12

    Presumably this means the return to low noses I was so looking forward to has gone out of the window? Its a shame. Scarbs tweeted an image of what these might look like and they looked so much nicer than the current configuration – a lot like the Red Bull RB3.

    More disappointing is that we won’t get the shake up regulation changes tend to produce. The FIA will probably claim that its a move to save costs, but I suspect its more that they (and FOM) enjoy the ulta-close competition we’ve had over the last couple of seasons as a result of virtually spec-series aerodynamics.

    Its all about ‘the show’, as they’re so keen to remind us.

  6. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 5th December 2012, 16:17

    Genuinely disappointed ,so what’s the point to put a V6 engine into the same 2012 car I wonder what Luca will think of this change since we know that he has been complaining from the so “Aero Dependent rules”

  7. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 5th December 2012, 16:27

    I’m very disappointed because of this. The 2014 rule changes were supposed to shake up F1 to make it more competitive again and put the car more and more back in control of the drivers. I was looking forward to lowering to front nose again. I don’t dislike the current design but i think lower is better looking. So now DRS is becoming a permanent factor. I was never against DRS but because i knew it was only temporary. This makes me think i perhaps should have been more critical in the past about it.

    Stupid question: Wasn’t there also a change in KERS for next year of 2014?

  8. matt90 (@matt90) said on 5th December 2012, 17:10

    Hamilton will be frustrated…

    The idea that DRS will be relied upon is a bit sickening- the one good thing about it was that it was meant to be temporary. But I knew that it would stick around. Also, I wonder how much money teams have already spent on 2014 aero regs- probably not much, but I’m sure there will have been some R&D to look at some areas, particularly at Mercedes.

  9. dicksanchez said on 5th December 2012, 18:16

    The cream will rise to the top, both in cars and in drivers. Loss of downforce and grip plays right in to the hands of an Alonso and even though his car will stink, Hamilton will let it hang out. Button has good car control also. Others will suffer. I doubt that Vettel will repeat as champion although I think he has great talent, but he hasn’t had to work as hard to control his car as Alonso did. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 5th December 2012, 19:01

      I doubt it. Whether you can throw a car into a corner at 300km/h, or at 60km/h doesn’t make a great deal of difference, to a racing driver on their level, although the latter will give you more time to react. As long as the cars are balanced properly, which is down to the designers, then I don’t think that it would make a great deal of difference.
      Its not like a lack of downforce equals a car that is hard to drive. A lack of balance on the other hand, does. But that can happen at any downforce level, and at any speeds.

  10. SatchelCharge (@satchelcharge) said on 5th December 2012, 18:26

    I’m upset by this. I really wanted to see the teams juggle new engines and new aero design.

  11. Stan (@lufc4ever) said on 5th December 2012, 19:00

    Would the cars have been faster or slower with the new aero? Not counting the new engines.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th December 2012, 20:15

      The idea was to make them more or less the same speed, but less reliant on air over the top (wings) which is disrupted in traffic, and more from using the underbottom, so cars have less trouble following eachother, as well as having less drag (to compensate a bit for the somewhat less powerfull drivetrain)

  12. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 5th December 2012, 19:09

    Ah, DRS apparently fixes everything, so no need to address the real issue.

    • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 6th December 2012, 4:21

      Yes, that is a great point. I don’t have a problem with DRS as a stop-gap temporary solution, but I don’t believe it should be seen as a end-all fix to the problems.

      At least DRS will be less effective in 2013 with teams having less incentive to invest on improving their DRS without qualifying benefits.

  13. Michael Brown (@) said on 5th December 2012, 20:59

    What they can also get rid of are the fixed gear ratios.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th December 2012, 22:28

    “Changes made to bodywork design, originally aimed at reducing downforce and drag for increased efficiency, have reverted to 2012 specification.”

    I think that’s a mistake. The sport is far too aero-dependent these days, and abandoning the plan to cut aerodynamic grip will do nothing to cut costs.

  15. TheJudge (@thejudge) said on 5th December 2012, 22:55

    Again? We’re all sick of them playing with the rules. To be honnest,they are just trying to direct the whole thing and that is not good at all. This new aero rules at the start of 2009 and then the DRS,it’s just realy ridiculus. Once upon a time there was a developing sport with a freedoom to develop and compete in all the areas of the sport,now it’s just rules,no creativity at all.

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