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F1 Rule Changes Simplify Aerodynamics

Formula One ratified new rules on car aerodynamics to promote closer racing. The new aero changes aim to ease overtaking maneuvers and reduce crashes.

F1 AERO CHANGES: Simplifying Formula 1 car aerodynamics has several purposes in mind. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobil (FIA) said it should have ‘a positive impact on racing’.

It should promote closer racing lines and make overtaking maneuvers easier and safer. The results, approved by e-vote, include:

  • A wider and deeper rear wing.
  • Simplified front brake duct with no winglets.
  • Simplified front wing, with a larger span, and low outwash potential. The outcome means more air gets directed ‘inside’ the front wheels.

The modifications to the aerodynamics of the cars follows extensive research. They wanted to find ways of making it less difficult for a car to follow close behind the one in front. Even so, some teams expressed opposition to the rule changes.

The end decision followed a presentation made to F1 teams at the venue of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The official proposals were to promote closer racing and more overtaking.

The vote followed a lengthy period of research into initial proposals made by the FIA. But, even though F1 rule changes simplify car aerodynamics, they are separate to further ongoing work being undertaken. They will be introducing new Formula 1 rules and regulations for the year 2021 and beyond.

Note: The F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council have already approved the car aero regulation changes for the start of the 2019 season.

The FIA continues to assess and evaluate a range of other measures in addition to the car aero changes. They hope more F1 rule changes will encourage closer racing and boost overtaking.

They brought forward a raft of other measures aimed for 2021 to be ready for the start of the 2019 season. F1 motor sport plans a major overhaul of technical and financial arrangements in the future.

But, the most immediate changes includes things like:

  • A separation of driver weight from the car weight, ending a disadvantage for heavier drivers.
  • A requirement for drivers to wear biometric gloves during the race.
  • Increased race fuel allowance allowing drivers to race longer at full power.

Reasons behind F1 Car Aero Rule Changes

The season-opener took place in Australia. That race played a large part in the decision to make aero changes.

In fact, only five overtaking maneuvers took place throughout the entire race in Melbourne in March 2018.

Those who opposed the changes made a point that overtaking is always difficult on that particular track. They said subsequent races featured better, and more competitive, racing.

But, there is a general acceptance that F1 rules introduced in 2017 are to blame. Making the cars faster seems to have made it more difficult to overtake at close quarters.

FIA and F1 research discovered an issue with the current front wings. They have a major impact on the ability for a car to follow close behind another.

In Formula One terminology, the wings create an ‘out-wash’ effect. It directs air off the front wing around the outside of the front tyres. The purpose is to create optimum aerodynamic downforce. But, spilled air from out-wash effect has a harmful effect on the car behind. In fact, it reduces the following car to create downforce.

Less downforce means the car behind has less grip. In turn, that also means the trailing car cannot go as fast through the corners. Thus, the driver would struggle to get in a position that is close enough to overtake.

A simplification to car aerodynamic rules should ensure a lead car creates less disturbed air. It will eliminate out-wash from the front wing by simplifying its end-plates. The outcome – we have yet to see it in practice – means the car behind can follow much closer.

Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA)

The Formula One Grand Prix Drivers’ Association welcomed the ratification. A tweet from their chairman on Twitter shared the motor racing news with fans and supporters saying:

“This is a success for F1 and the GPDA! The drivers’ body has been lobbing this direction since years! Thanks Ross (Brawn) and co for listening and getting this moving!”


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Formula 1 Rules on Aerodynamics to Ease Overtaking Maneuvers