FIA jus­ti­fies aero tweaks for 2019

Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK - JONATHAN NO­BLE

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.”

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