FIA justifies aero tweaks for 2019
Formula 1 cars should lose around one third less downforce when following each other next year, according to the latest predictions from the FIA.
In the wake of difficulties in overtaking since revised aerodynamic rules were introduced last year, teams and the governing body agreed a raft of aerodynamic changes for 2019 to improve the situation. A series of tweaks, including modifications to front and rear wings, are aimed at helping cars to follow each other more closely.
Although the magnitude of the benefit the changes will make will be unclear until cars actually hit the track, FIA single-seater head Nikolas Tombazis said the change will be especially noticeable in mediumspeed corners. Speaking in the latest issue of the
FIA’S Auto magazine, Tombazis said: “We consider the critical position to be around 15 to 20 metres between the cars. That’s the distance we’d expect to see between cars running half a second apart approaching a medium-speed corner. With the current generation, the following car loses about 30% of its downforce in this scenario. We hope to reduce that by 10%.”
Although some teams are sceptical that the changes will make much difference, Tombazis said: “There is a general trend for teams to develop more downforce, which would exacerbate the problem. If we had not intervened, we feel that 2019 would be worse than ’18, and ’20 would be worse than ’19. We now believe that ’19 will be better than ’18, but no-one is expecting F1 cars to be fighting like touring cars.”
The FIA’S intervention is backed by Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who said he had long held concerns about the negative impact of the aero rules. “I was not a fan of the 2017 regulations which, I thought, were a backwards step for overtaking,” said Lowe. “I feel that not doing anything now would mean we’d have several years of a worsening situation, as the teams develop more downforce. The FIA and FOM were correct to act at this point and do something different for ’19 and ’20. I’ve got quite a high confidence in the technical aspects of what’s been done, that it will take us back in the right direction.”