Downforce cut ‘has been successful’ – Paffett

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Gary Paffett, McLaren, Valencia, 2010In the round-up: McLaren test driver Gary Paffett believes the new 2014 regulations have helped reduce downforce levels.


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Gary Paffett Q&A (Sky)

“It is going to be exciting, the cars are very different to what we have had for the last few years. The downforce level in particular is a lot less than we have had – in the past the FIA have tried to reduce that, but this year they seem to have successfully done that – and the cars are a lot more difficult to drive, especially with the different power unit and the amount of torque that the turbo engines produce – even the medium to high speed corners are difficult without the blown downforce we have had in the last few years.”

Desafio das Estrelas de Kart 2014 – Melhores Momentos da Bateria ??nica (YouTube)

Vitantonio Liuzzi won Felipe Massa’s annual kart race. The race organiser finished third behind Sebastien Buemi after knocking rival Lucas di Grassi off the track at one point.

Sutil: Hulkenberg form no pressure (Autosport)

“Sure, he did a good job. but I don’t see that as pressure.”


Comment of the day

Out of several great suggestions for the latest Caption Competition, including those from AlexF1Man, Jack and Andae23, here’s my favourite from @MatthewRacing:

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2013

Vergne gets carried away with his driver number selection

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Denny Hulme scored his final win 40 years ago today in the Argentinian Grand Prix as the 1974 season got underway.

The year before Hulme had disappointed a Swedish crowd by taking victory off Ronnie Peterson on the last lap of his home race. Now he did the same by depriving Carlos Reutemann of a home win, the Brabham driver suffering engine problems late in the race.

Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni completed the podium in their Ferraris.

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66 comments on Downforce cut ‘has been successful’ – Paffett

  1. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 13th January 2014, 0:04

    I quite excited to see these new regs in action. Less downforce, more power and straight line speed and more durable tyres.

    Should make for some pretty good racing :)

    • Jake (@jakehardyf1) said on 13th January 2014, 5:01

      More power? No, not at all.

      More torque, similar power, more weight, less downforce; slower laps.

      It will be great to watch, though

      • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 13th January 2014, 6:57

        In this interview Sutil says they will have more power.
        It won’t lead to faster laptimes, because of the reduced downforce level, but it thought because they have double the KERS power plus the turbo chargers, they’d have more than the 750hp of the V8 engines.

        I can’t remember where, but I read a while back that the new engines were supposed to have around 800bhp.

      • KaRn- said on 13th January 2014, 14:42

        Power can be higher through the MGU-K which gives up to 160bhp extra for 33 seconds a lap, ie. on straights and so on. It can also be used in different modes so 80 bhp for 66 seconds a lap (which is near enough all of the time throttle is open on a lap). Roughly though 600-650 bhp (all still speculation of course) these engines could make plus 160 bhp = 760-810 bhp. To reiterate its still unknown, direct fuel injection plus the turbos mean its a little up in the air the power production of the engines. It won’t (likely) match the 720 bhp of the V8s without its ERS though.
        It is possible (if not for the gear ratios) we will see higher top speeds at Monza for example and break the 200 mph barrier again and possibly a drop in lap times there too although that’s unlikely anywhere else due to longer laps (less MGU-K usage) and more downforce needed.
        The cars will likely generate less drag. A. Because of the need to conserve fuel (less drag = more efficiency) B. Smaller wings and removal of lower beam wing (less drag generation). C. The engines are more heat efficient meaning the possibility of smaller radiators (the engine itself will likely only need one rather than two) although the addition of an inter-cooler means 2 radiators will still be present. Basically the footprint shouldn’t increase and configurations like the 2013 Sauber with the lower drag side pods could still exist. (There is speculation an air box in the roll hoop might not be needed too actually reducing the footprint and giving better airflow over the car and to the rear wing)
        The cars will weigh the same on the grid but more at the end of the race. 700kg + 100kg of fuel as opposed to the 642kg + 160kg of fuel both roughly weigh 800kg on the grid.

    • Roald (@roald) said on 13th January 2014, 6:21

      They will definitely not be faster on a straight. The cars are heavier and have the same amount of bhp as the current engines do. Besides that, the gear-ratios will be fixed so no more Monza-only long gear setups either.

      • @roald shouldn’t the reduction in downforce and therefore drag make the cars faster on the straights?

        • jonathan102 (@jonathan102) said on 13th January 2014, 8:35

          I don’t think drag level is lower with the new regulations. The 2014 cars need to have significantly bigger air intakes for the new powertrains. They would produce quite a bit more drag than previous cars.

          • KaRn- said on 13th January 2014, 14:49

            Its thought (by techies beyond me) to be the opposite of this, the lower drag was certainly intended in the regulations.
            The aim was to create less turbulent air and more efficient cars hence the removal of the lower beam wing, a particularly draggy device (and directly in the path of following cars).
            On top of this more drag means more fuel usage, a very important factor with the new engines.
            Also the engine is more thermally efficient so requires less cooling itself, keeping the ERS cool is important but doesn’t look like it will increase the cars footprint with all the space free’d up in the side pods.
            Theoretically these cars could produce more power (for 33 seconds a lap with ERS) with less drag, they could go faster in a straight line. Whether they will is a different thing though with needing to ration out the ERS etc.

      • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th January 2014, 8:57


        Besides that, the gear-ratios will be fixed so no more Monza-only long gear setups either.

        That’s what I thought at first as well and wondered how that could work at all both in Monaco and Monza.

        However, I believe that the final drive ratio can still be changed at each race. This means that only the ratios of the gears to each other are fixed; however, the total transmission ratio from engine to wheels is still variable.

        • Juzh (@juzh) said on 13th January 2014, 11:02

          This was part of the old regulations. New ones say you have to nominate a single gear ratios for the entire season, with one change permitted during 2014 if you got it totally wrong the first time.

        • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 13th January 2014, 11:30

          @mike-dee we forgot a bit about that rule and that’s strange to introduce it this year as this may prove win or lose for some teams. I also believe it’s the length of each ratio which is fixed but they will probably all hit the limiter at Monza … Could change the picking order depending on the track though.

        • effone said on 13th January 2014, 22:22

          However, I believe that the final drive ratio can still be changed at each race.

          @mike-dee The nominated ratios are from crankshaft to driveshaft and cannot be changed except to be renominated once in the 2014 season only.

          9.6 Gear ratios :
          9.6.1 The number of forward gear ratios must be 8.
          9.6.2 Each competitor must nominate the forward gear ratios (calculated from engine crankshaft to drive shafts) to be employed within their gearbox. These nominations must be declared to the FIA technical delegate at or before the first Event of the Championship. For 2014 only a competitor may re-nominate these ratios once within the Championship season, in which case the original nomination becomes immediately void. Ratio re-nominations must be declared as a set.

          • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 14th January 2014, 14:13

            @effone – but wouldn’t the final drive be between drive shaft and wheels? So as long as this ratio can be chosen, we will still be fine I think.

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 14th January 2014, 14:18

            @mike-dee – The final drive is inside the gearbox.

          • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 14th January 2014, 14:26

            @raceprouk Maybe I am using the wrong term. I am talking about the connection between drive shaft and axle.

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 14th January 2014, 14:38

            @mike-dee – That would be the differential ;)

          • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 14th January 2014, 14:40

            @raceprouk OK, thanks! So can’t you change the ratio in the differential then?

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 14th January 2014, 14:41

            @mike-dee – Diffs don’t have ratios to change.

          • effone said on 14th January 2014, 16:21


            but wouldn’t the final drive be between drive shaft and wheels? So as long as this ratio can be chosen, we will still be fine I think.

            No, there are basically 8 fixed ratios between the engine rpm and the rear wheel rpm. again from the Tech Regs:

            9.5 Gearboxes :
            9.5.1 A gearbox is defined as all the parts in the drive line which transfer torque from the power unit output shaft, as described in Article 5.3.2, to the drive shafts (the drive shafts being defined as those components which transfer drive torque from the sprung mass to the un-sprung mass). It includes all components whose primary purpose is for the transmission of power or mechanical selection of gears, bearings associated with these components and the casing in which they are housed.

          • effone said on 14th January 2014, 16:38


            Maybe I am using the wrong term. I am talking about the connection between drive shaft and axle.

            The driveshafts (left and right) are defined as the two shafts that exit the gearbox casing and are attached to the rear wheels by splines.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 13th January 2014, 6:22

      I’m not only expecting to be shocked by how car will look like but also how they will behave on track and how drivers will manage their 100 kilos of fuel… can’t wait for Singapore :)

    • Jason said on 15th January 2014, 20:59

      Amen, to that

  2. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 13th January 2014, 0:08

    Oh my, the Caption Competition winner is a real classic, I laughed so so hard. :DDDD

  3. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 13th January 2014, 0:16

    Agree on the Caption Competition. I tried to get a good one about salary, but I knew after reading that one it was all going to be in vain. Good one!

  4. Hairs (@hairs) said on 13th January 2014, 0:48

    I don’t think McLaren are necessarily the go-to guys on car performance quotes…

  5. andae23 (@andae23) said on 13th January 2014, 7:05

    [Paffet:] “… and the cars are a lot more difficult to drive, especially with the different power unit and the amount of torque that the turbo engines produce – even the medium to high speed corners are difficult without the blown downforce we have had in the last few years.”

    That’s fantastic! Starting to look forward to this season again! :D

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th January 2014, 7:18

    The problem with cutting downforce is that the teams make it up pretty quickly. When the rules were overhauled in 2009, the objective was to slash downforce levels. And it worked … for a while. Conservative estimates suggest the teams had made up the difference (and then some) within eighteen months.

    It is this relentless pursuit of aerodynamic grip that is driving up costs past the point where they are no longer sustainable. Everyone from Luca di Montezemolo to Martin Brundle has commented on the resurgence of pay drivers, but no-one seems to realise (or maybe admit) that everything comes back to the way teams like Marussia and Caterham have to spend fifty million dollars per season. Fifty million dollars for the privilege of trundling around in eighteenth place. Is it any wonder that the sport is filled with drivers like Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic and Max Chilton?

    • Roald (@roald) said on 13th January 2014, 9:00

      @prisoner-monkeys Yes, but in 2009 the bodywork generating downforce was completely overhauled. While the rear wing got smaller, the front wing grew considerably in size compared to years before. Aerodynamics were just completely changed. This time around, with the shallower rear wing, removal of the beam wing and the narrower front wing, all that changed compared to last year is that bodywork got smaller or even non-existent. I wonder if they’ll be able to claw that back.

      Scarbs, who knows infinitely more about such things than I do, recently predicted a 5-6 second loss per lap compared to last year’s, reduced to a 1-2s loss by the end of winter testing. Making it all the more worrying Lotus decided against participating in the first test…

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th January 2014, 9:05

      But short of an enforced cull of every engineer in every team, how do you stop it? Some of the cleverest people in the world are not just going to ‘unlearn’ how to ply their trade.

    • Sumedh said on 13th January 2014, 10:08

      Good point!

      But here’s the thing. If you try to make too many rules to curb the rising downforce, then F1 gets panned for “restricting creativity”. Newey comes out saying that F1 rules are too over-bearing (I believe he has done so already).

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 13th January 2014, 12:05

      A lot of the recovered downforce was also due to blown diffusers, which have now been outlawed.

    • Robbie said on 13th January 2014, 14:03

      I don’t see it as a problem but rather a positive, that they have cut downforce and that it may take 18 months to claw it back. I am greatly encouraged that Paffett described it as the FIA having ‘successfully’ reduced downforce. Much better than hearing him say that ‘unfortunately’ the FIA has reduced downforce.

      I just hope that with the restrictions in place, and hopefully more to come, their tools are now more diminished in terms of quickly clawing the downforce back.

      I get the likes of Newey lamenting restrictions to what he and his ilk can do, but we all know as does he that without restrictions costs escalate, not to mention it becomes a money game and predictable as to what teams will always be on top, with no chance for the mid to bottom runners to get off the ground. Besides, even working within restrictions that Newey may not like, the challenge is still there, and the teams with more money still have a better chance of innovation within said regs. We’ve known for years what kind of whacky and wonderful things they COULD do if they had unlimited free rein, so in that sense I’m sure Newey et al have always been highly restricted from what they know they could do, and should be accustomed to working within an entity that is there for a greater good than just their own success.

  7. Sennapart2 said on 13th January 2014, 7:24

    Surely these new regulations should bring abouth the end of the RedBull domination, if not we might as well relocated to MotoGP land…..more exciting.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th January 2014, 7:47

      It’s more likely that breaking up Red Bull’s design team will give teams more of a chance at beating them. But remember, they started out 2012 with a relatively weak car, but still managed to dominate the end of the season, so they will be sure to fight back if others start making up ground to them.

    • Bumfez (@bumfez) said on 13th January 2014, 8:56

      I moved to MotoGP land around September. Seems like a much friendlier, interesting and exciting place to be so far.

      • Roald (@roald) said on 13th January 2014, 9:04

        @bumfez While I’m a huge MotoGP fan, MotoGP has it’s own problems to cater to. They’re basically running two seperate classes in races, with the CRT machines and the prototypes. I agree there’s plenty of action, but it’s far, far from perfect.

        • Bumfez (@bumfez) said on 13th January 2014, 11:31

          Very true. But I like watching races where there’s a battle for the lead, not races where the guy in first has a 2 second gap at the end of lap 1 :p So it’s that mainly which gravitates me towards MotoGP these days.

          • Steven (@steevkay) said on 13th January 2014, 14:55

            While I didn’t catch many races this season, I did read about them, and with Marquez/Pedrosa/Lorenzo battling it out at the front, it sounded like it was a heck of a season (especially with Marquez winning his rookie season).

            Here’s hoping that that will be the case with F1 in 2014. With this many world champions on the grid, you would expect every race to have 2 or 3 of them battling for a win…

  8. Downforce cut? More power? Hmm… We shall see once we get to Spa…

  9. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th January 2014, 9:00

    So Paffet says that downforce has been cut.

    Let’s hope that we do not hear from Buemi next telling us that downforce levels are similar to last year!

  10. It will be interesting to see the lap time comparison to GP2 cars and im hoping for the sake of the sport that F1 is still faster. If people dont find F1 exciting any more then just check out GP2, i was watching a singapore re-run on sky last night and its was very cool, loads of overtakes and cars 4 abreast for lots of the race.

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 13th January 2014, 13:55

      As I spent the weekend alone, I watched quite a few of the GP2 re-runs on Sky. The racing was superb even though some of the on-track behaviour was occasionally questionable. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and resolved to watch more of the category next season. It certainly didn’t seem to suffer through being a ‘spec’ series and the two race format with limited tyres for the weekend certainly made the strategy choices interesting.

      • Steven (@steevkay) said on 13th January 2014, 14:58

        This is it: when you’re watching GP2, you can tell pretty quickly that the calibre of driver isn’t as high as F1, and you do see a lot of questionable defense moves (i.e. some weaving/blocking, pushing cars off track, etc.); these are typically penalized fairly (from what I’ve seen, anyway) but the racing is so exciting to watch.

        I think F1 will still remain faster, and even if it’s not that much faster than GP2 at the start of 2014, it will get faster as teams recover lost downforce and develop their power units further.

  11. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 13th January 2014, 21:25

    less downforce + more torque = better driver control needed

    Please let this equation ring true!

  12. I like the fact that the karts in this clip from Massa’s race all have the drivers’ last names printed clearly on their lower front license-plate zone; and the racing number on the back of the kart, too. Very good production value. smart.

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