2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny

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Williams has tested a version of its car with a rear wing apparently designed to meet the 2009 F1 rules. Becken has pictures of it on his blog and here’s an artists’ impression of how the 2009 F1 cars will look (right, found on the F1Technical forum).

I knew from looking at the 2009 F1 technical regulations that the new rear wings would look small but I’m taken aback by how drastic the change is.

With the Williams pictures it looks as though the front wing of the car and the sidepods are still 2008-spec.

The 2009 F1 rules should reduce the complexity of the front wing and add an adjustable element, which provoked much debate here recently. The new rules will also get rid of the winglets from the sidepods, making the back of the car look much smoother.

Hopefully the questionable aesthetics will be more than made up for by much closer and more exciting racing. And it certainly looks a lot better than Max Mosley’s horrible CDG (‘centreline downwash generating”) wing did.

F1 2009 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “2009 F1 rules make rear wings tiny”

  1. I was hoping the 2009 aero bits ban would get rid of the horrible shark fins on the engine covers :(

  2. as much as I want to see overtaking in F1 far more often, that mini rear wing looks so stupid!

    Couldn’t they achieve something similar with a more compact one? in the sense of keeping the same width and depth?

  3. Or banned rear wings altogether but
    allowed uprated venturi tunnels.

  4. The ‘shark fin’ will compensate for loss of advertising inches on the rear wing whilst allegedly giving an aerodynamic advantage.
    It’s unlikely to go unless regulations say so…

  5. The ultra-small rear wing kinda makes me hope a team gets a major sponsorship with a company with a very large name, and have to try to squeeze it on there :-D

    All in all I’m not overly bothered what it looks like, as long as it significantly improves dry Formula 1 races, which are being painfully hampered by the aero problems (to the extent that even my friends who are just casual viewers have noticed the direness of the problem). I think it’ll probably look better when we see the whole thing – the hybrid Williams is a bit of a false picture.

    Anyway, you probably get used to the look of them. I thought the 1998 cars were quite ugly after the 1997 ones. Today’s cars are not beautiful compared to the ones of 2000. I want to see a straight, flat, front wing dammit! I don’t want these bucket things!

  6. Apart from the rear wing (ugly), isn’t the back of the car a little… anorexic?

  7. judging by the artist impressions, the rear of the 2009 cars will look like 1991 F1 racers.

    I keep thinking of the Jordan 191 when i see those pics, big droopy front end, pinched and high rear.

  8. Still surprised Max hasn’t announced his new “parachute wing” initiative yet.

    Why not just tape a wickerbill to the driver’s heads at this point?!

    ARRRGHH!! Beleive it or not Max wings, don’t only look cool, but work (possibly why nearly every open wheel race car (sorry formula ford) has them).

    and now some noises you’ll hear from me

    stomp stomp (That’s me going down into the basement)


    (me, in basement, smashing plaster of paris Max)

  9. Take some getting used to but,I don’t care what it looks like as long as the cars are going around each other instead of lining up to parade around the track.

  10. can’t the teams generate roughly the same amount of down force on the smaller wing by increasing the angle off attack on center section? while only increasing the drag marginally over a wider wing with less attack angle? all the changes do is make the teams spend more money and complain about cost. i hate to say it but maybe we should rip all the aero off them put in big engines slicks and drivers with some gonads and let them go at it. wait isn’t that where this all started?

  11. The car looks to be still quite narrow, not like the pre-1995 cars I was hoping for.

  12. Its interisting that this solution look is quite the opposite of the first CDG solution.

  13. Fred Schechter, please do not mention the words ‘basement’and ‘smack’ in the same sentence as Max……. ;) I have to sleep tonight, you know !

    I liked it (the car, not my first sentence). Looks a lot more like the 80’s/90’s cars. Sure the rear wing might be a little on the small side, but are you really going to see that when it flies past you at 280kph?

  14. Those sidepods look to to be at least 10 years old! Do the new rules stipulate anything about the sidepods (and the dramatic tapering like we see today), or am I reading too much into this basic rendering?

  15. I could get used to the narrow rear wing, honestly. I don’t think it looks bad or anything. Maybe a little odd, but nothing more than that. What really stuck out for me though is how wide the front wing will be. The fronts of these cars will look like airplanes. But then again, I suppose I could get used to that too. I could certainly see the benefit of a larger front wing.

  16. Can anyone spell “oversteer”? With the huge front wing and mini rear, regardless of angles of attack, how will they keep the ass end on track?

    The rendering also shows a reduced engine housing, I guess with KERS providing power who needs V8’s? A nice inline 4 cylinder 800 cc Fiat will do nicely, thank you very much.

  17. it does look stupid :|

  18. I like the first response in the other blog: “coisa feia!” (Ugly thing!)

    I would have rather seen them removed or see them enforced as the kind of teatrays Indy/CART would have run, and I expected the regs to limit the number of elements in front, too.

    I think both spectators and drivers will get used to it quickly. Remember that the return of slicks will increase mechanical grip greatly and that the cars will now be “lighter” as they navigate the track. Expect a lot of wheelbase experimentation.

  19. god its looks awful!

  20. I’m going to counter my first assessment of the narrow rear wing. The more I look at it the weirder it looks. It should be wider, and the allowable depth should be minimized.

    But I guess it depends on what the FIA are going for. Maybe a narrower wing produces less turbulence than a wider wing, regardless of the depth?

  21. I’m with GeorgeK. I would have thought there has to be some similarity to the width of the front wing compared to the rear. Then again I guess the shark fin negates this issue? I don’t have an issue with looks in terms as aesthetics however something doesn’t look right in terms of aerodynamics. I’m confused!?!?!?

  22. GerogeK – it is true to balance will move forward (not a bad outcome) but the rear wing won’t lose *that* much downforce.

    For a start it is higher than it is in 2008 so runs in cleaner air. That by itself gives more downforce. Second, the upper elements can be deeper, allowing teams to run a more cambered wing, clawing back some of the lost downforce.

    You can’t just look at one aspect of the car and say well … why have they done that it looks stupid, you have to look at the car as a system.

    As for the look I suspect we’ll get used to it pretty quickly. In two years time we’ll think the current, squat wings look stupid!

  23. It’s a step in the right direction because the competition will become more in the setup and driver skill than the additional aero “bits” which is more research and money based than a fight on the track. Hope the rules are kept in place for anumber of years thereafter , though , and Mosley’s “one engine” idea would be suicidal.

  24. Sure, the new narrow rear wings look a bit silly, but Robert McKay hits the nail on the head: “… I’m not overly bothered what it looks like, as long as it significantly improves dry Formula 1 races…”

  25. This new wing looks weird and totally out of place. It looks too skinny and narrow. They are going to take some getting used to.
    But I’m sure we all thought that the narrow-track cars looked weird initially when they were introduced, but they look normal now.

  26. Would it be possible to lose the rear wing entirely and use the under-car venturi(?) to give enough downforce? There could be small adjustable winglets along the trailing edge of the body above the engine (sort of like Audi TTs).
    The cars would look like big Formula Fords, but its another element of aerodynamics to keep a smooth profile and still stay on the ground….

  27. John Beamer – I can’t speak for GeorgeK but I don’t doubt downforce won’t be greatly affected. I may be clutching at thin air but would you think that in terms of straight line speed and horizontal forces and approaches to high speed corners, will be harder to resist/manage with the change in balance? I assume there is a way that they have, to direct the airflow from over the front wing and wheels to the rear wing? To stablise the car at high speed. This is where I’m confused because I can’t help but think there will be a lot of turbulence at and around the rear wheels either side of this wing.

    I also have a problem with your comment about cleaner air. Don’t the exhaust gases (dirty air) travel through the rear wing? Hence, if as you suggest to maintain greater down force the camber is adjusted to attack, won’t the same if not all the dirty air be caught in this wing?

    I have either shown I have some idea or none at all!!! I believe it’s called going out on a limb?

  28. With McLaren not able to make good use of shark fin and with a worse Mercedes engine than Ferrari’s I predict one more championship for Ferrari .Once again (like 2001) the rules are changing in favour of Ferrari.Aerodynamics , a subject that McLaren have an edge will make no vast difference in the car.I hope McLaren will make good use of KERS system along with slick tyres in order to keep a good momentum in the championship fight.One is for sure :With slick tyres and less downforce Hamilton,Kubica,Rosberg and Alonso will be brilliant.On the other hand drivers like Raikkonen, Heidfeld (despite what he said) Kovalainen and Truli will struggle.

  29. I’ve already gotte used to the small rear wing, and I actually like it. The super-wide front wing will take some getting used to, but at least they will become simpler and the wing has been lowered too.

    Just ban those shark fins! Its just advertising space!

  30. AussieLab

    You are right – cornering speeds will drop as the lack flow conditioners and smaller rear wing will cause downforce loss at the rear … slicks will of course help. That is the whole point of the new regulations as it should, in theory, encourage overtaking.

    The question of balance is difficult to answer because the entire car changes. The natural balance point will be further forward, which will result in a more oversteering car – should suit Lewis Hamilton down to the ground.

    As to the question of turbulence around the rear wheesl, yes, this will increase mainly because the flow conditioners in the mid-regions disappear. Not sure this will affect the wing too much though – it is narrower so is less influenced by this

  31. I’d agree with Eddie Irvine, these rule changes might suit Ferrari who seem to be ahead on engine development but behind on aerodynamics.

    The Williams looks bloody stupid, IMHO, but I’m willing to let that slide for the sake of improved racing. whether it’ll make much difference in practice…i’m not convinced.

    =( i’ll be sad when these rules come in, i love the aero bits and bobs. this year’s BMW Sauber is the coolest F1 car EVER!!!

  32. @Eddie Irvine & graham228221 – why are McLaren disadvantaged? The Mercedes engine is generally regarded to be pretty much up there with the Ferrari, and the benefits of shark fins seem to be pretty marginal. We’ve already heard rumours (possibly put about by Ferrari themselves) that the Italians’ KERS development work isn’t going so well.

    The teams that will do well next year are those which spend the most on development, so McLaren should be up there with Ferrari.

    My prediction for the biggest disappointment next year: Honda. They have staked their reputation on 2009, and unless they’re near the front, they’re gonna look stupid.

  33. John Spencer, add Williams to that list along side Honda.

  34. So much for the aero package to improve the look of the cars – that Williams rear wing looks like a toy charicature!

    Although I wish racing to be improved, I disagree that the cars shouldn’t look the part. Part of what got me into F1 was the cars, the designs…everyone doodled in class, and mine was mainly F1 cars. Bear in mind, sponsors who have to put their livery and names on those cars as well, I’d be interested to hear what they think of cramped logo names.

  35. Apart from KERS, what else is new here.
    First we change away from what was already there, then change back and we call it a great idea. We have just gone back to what the cars were like in maybe say 94/95.

    I just hope this is the last regulation change for the next 5 – 10 years, or else many more smaller teams will be forced to face the door.

  36. A1, GP2 and heck even Champcar all had cars that were capable of running close to each other to solve the perceived lack of passing in Formula One and none of these Formulas require such a comical looking solution. Not only does it make the cars look like a cheap knock off F1 car you might find in the Kmart toy section, it goes against the culture of commercialism in Formula One by reducing sponsorship space so dramatically.

    Personally I subscribe to Windsor’s point of view that there is nothing wrong with Formula One and wouldn’t change a thing.

    No, I won’t be ok with how these cars look even if the racing is fantastic. If I was concerned about arbitrary position changes every other lap I would watch GP2 or Nascar or IRL or whatever might take my fancy. Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of this sport, there are better solutions than this and no one should be satisfied with this one.

  37. I don’t mind most of the design, and if it helps the racing that’s fine, but the sharkfin and tiny rear wing make me sick. Period.

  38. Good God that wing is ugly!

  39. Current 2008 scenario is


    25% downforce from rear diffuser with strict anti ground effect rules
    (flat undertray and plank),

    33% downforce from rear wing

    My aesthetic vote goes for allowing more freedom in the venturi area, and
    scrapping rear wings altogether.

    Not sure how the disruptive effects of ground effect on following cars
    compares to wings, but my instinct is that it will be better.

  40. John, 2 queries :

    1. The flow conditioners around the mid-region of the car will now be disallowed. So, are all dumbo ears and small winglets booted out? What about Ferrari’s nose-hole?

    2. About turbulence, I feel I agree with Eric M and disagree with AussieLab and you; when you say that turbulence will increase. A smaller wing will produce lesser turbulence.
    And, I had read somewhere; that the primary reason for less overtaking is increased turbulence at the rear of the car. Why would FIA then implement a rule which increases turbulence..
    Why do you feel otherwise?

  41. I think the car looks quite good actually. The main thing after all is the overtaking and close racing, but its always fun to see how teams adapt to new rules and the pecking order changes. Maybe next year we could see 10+ winners instead of 6.

  42. REALLY ugly

  43. What strikes me the most about the drawing of next year’s car is how ridiculously large the front wing is.

  44. Sumedh

    Sorry there is a confusion. Turbulence from the rear wheels will increase a touch as the banning of flow conditioners means that flow isn’t cleaned up here. Turbulence from the wing will reduce because of the narrower shape.

    Dumbo ears are booted out. Nose holes will disappear as well, especially we now have a standard centre section for the front wing.

    You will always get turbulence (lots of it) from the back of an f1 car. The thing the FIA is trying to calm is upwash. This is what causes the following car to see its performance harmed. The goals are

    1) Cut upwash
    2) Make the aero less sensitive – hence the end of flow conditioners etc …

    Hope that clears things up

  45. That’s not a front wing, its a bulldozer shovel.
    With the wing being the same width as the tyres, many won’t survive the first lap (are you listening Nico.

  46. Want a nice rear wing that doesn’t affect following cars? If we are in a retro mode design wise, why not use a rear wing similar to what the CanAm cars ran? Large single wing on stilts, elevated a couple of feet above the car. Modified to suit the current chassis, obviously. Give it a moveable component as well; nearly flat on the straights, extreme tilt into cornering.

  47. The new rules are stupid. I still don’t believe the rear wing is the problem. It’s about the front wing. Due to the turbulence (which will always exist even without diffusers and rear wings) the front wing can’t work properly. But without a front wing there’s no front end downforce to lose.

    The FIA should ban the front wing, high noses and diffusers and allow a rear wing existing of a maximum of two wing elements and place it in a better (pre-1983?) position.

  48. Thanks John, looking forward to more posts about the F1 tech file on this site.

  49. I can’t help feel that there are too many rule changes, too often. Definately ban all the ugly winglets by all means, but the cars are going in the wrong direction IMHO.
    Slicks will help, but in science, in order to judge cause and effect, one variable is changed at a time, not 3 or 4.

    Do we need another 1994, with cars flying off left right and center, all because Max introduces too many changes at once and doesn’t weigh them all out.

    The cars can’t follow each other closely around corners, but will these reductions allow it to happen- even with movable front wings (another complete unknown).

    Look at it this way- there is a freeze on engine development, but no reduction in power output, in fact an increase in power due to kers- another rushed in rule change to increase the unpredictability.
    The cars have less aero=less drag=faster top speeds and then enter the corners with less downforce. Okay, slicks will introduce more mechanical grip, but I can’t see any proof that the cars are now not going to be upset by the upwash of the car in front.

    I could speculate that the higher wing may introduce problems for the trailing cars rear wing, as there is nothing breaking that airflow between the cars – meaning masses of oversteering cars coming out of the corners sideways. Great for TV, but a bit crap for racing. Just speculation, but these effects should be tested on cars trailing each other, not introduced on Maxs whim.

    And please- not that horrible CDG wing! I’ll never watch again! Don’t think I’d be the only one

  50. It really annoys me hearing people on this forum talking as if they are experts on the subject of aerodynamics! I think I believe the opinion of university graduates working in F1 teams and the FIA rather than people in this forum who think they know better.

    If there is anyone in this forum who is an expert in the field, feel free to comment as much as you like. :)

  51. “It really annoys me hearing people on this forum talking as if they are experts on the subject of aerodynamics! I think I believe the opinion of university graduates working in F1 teams and the FIA rather than people in this forum who think they know better.

    If there is anyone in this forum who is an expert in the field, feel free to comment as much as you like.

    It’s an absolutely fair point. But two things here: (1) the fact the CDG wing concept was dropped suggests the FIA themselves don’t entirely understand aerodynamics – it is a complex problem, to be fair – and (2) some teams are already coming out and saying “we don’t know how these changes will affect the racing”. There’s a bit of guesswork going on here.

  52. Let me add a couple of things Rob as well.

    Aerodynamics largely an art (as you insinuate) – in many instances teams don’t know why something works but see an improvement in handling/stability/speed whatever … CFD definitely helps understanding. Though this remains an engineering discipline rather than a theoretical physics discipline.

    The CDG wing is a fine idea on paper, and is sound – instead of producing upwash you produce downwash, which help maintain pressure on the front wing of a following car. The CFD – available on the web – didn’t show a huge benefit but I think the theory is reasonably sound.

    The other, far bigger, issue is that teams obviously don’t want to talk about this stuff. What you are left with are people who know what they are talking about based on a) prior experience or b) theoretical knowledge or c) amateur enthusiasm!

    In fact students working for teams etc etc etc will be so focused on one small part of the car that I suspect that won’t be able to tell you much about the overall 2009 regs. I’d trust someone on F1tech.net over some of them …

    At the end of the day until the 09 cars are on the track we are all in the realm of speculation. Nothing wrong with that is there!

  53. It looks very early 1990s to me, with Derek Warwick wearing a blue helmet.

    I have faith that the techs will tamper as much as possible with the rules, in order to gain some advantage. We must all withold our judgements until after we have seen the news cars race ofcourse. Whatever the design, a nice, fat V12 engine would surely make that car a whole lot more beautifull. Oh, and give us thirty of them instead of the usual, lame twenty. Thankyou Bernie!

  54. i bet F1 car in 2009 will look ugly with those stupid regulations.

  55. Man if I worked for the Overtaking Working Group that came up with these rules I’d be more than a little annoyed if I read some of these posts.

    They used McLaren’s simulator to test the results and data from Ferrari’s tests where they had 1 car follow another so I think they have actually done a lot of work on these. They weren’t just thought up by Max’s men off the top of their heads.

    Personally I’m of the opinion that the best way to introduce better racing would be to free up the technical regulations so engineers can do their thing and work out new ways to do things, but limit the spending of the teams so that the top teams don’t just throw billions at winning..!!

  56. Hi

    Don’t slam me too hard as this is my first post but i’m a long devoted F1 fan and have been looking around a few websites to find some insightful banter in regards to F1 especially the new rule changes.

    People saying that the flexible front wing approuch not making any difference would do well to cast their minds back a couple of seasons ago (I think 06) when Ferrari used a flexy front wing (while it wasn’t allowed) and was achieving good results in slower corners and then gaining an advantage on the straights (around 7kmh if memory serves) Then they got told to remove it.

    The rear wing situation is going to be compounded by other factors from aero being messed around with so I believe the cars will behave quite differently to the current crop. Bear in mind however minute the affect of grooved tyres over slicks in aero terms the grooved tyres will still have an aero effect.

    On the F1.com site there is an interview with the Bridgstone director of motorsport and I point at this ‘How a grooved tyre interacts with the road is different from the way in which a slick tyre works and for the drivers it was a new sensation’ Was this derived from purely the tyre, it’s aero effect or the fact the cars were dimensionally narrowerer to decrease downforce. Just as happened in ’98’ it appears that multiple adjustments will give us differing results that as a viewer of the spectacle may be unquantifyable to one specfic area.

  57. I’ve been an F1 fan for 40 years. I’ve watched the development and enjoyed most of it other than the grooved tires and the new computer generated courses. Going back in time with these wing changes and what appear to be pathetic cars trying to look like IRL or Indy cars, I’ve stopped watching Indy because of their changes with tires, fuel, wings and now all have the same engine. F1 seems to be going in this same direction. I hope Max and Bernie let all the engine manufacturers develop as they have done in the past and set the standard for world motor racing for everyone else to follow.

  58. About the shark fins. do they actually improve downforce? If they do then surely they are the way to go?(even if they are rather ugly!) I wonder if the size of the shark fins make any difference?

  59. I wish that f1 was more about the driver skill than the car too. It obviously is at least 80% down to the car, with lewis Hamilton not performing to his usual standard and Jenson Button winning every race so far* If it was down more to the driver f1 would be the most exciting sport on the planet!

    *my comments are correct at the time of wrighting. I apologise for any mistakes!

  60. Burton Bailey
    17th November 2015, 6:06

    Why, in the hell does the look of the car matter at all? The sport is supposed to be the pinnacle of track speed. If there are a thousand cardiffs, winglets, spoilers whatever on them to make them faster. Why do you really care? I just want to see balls out fast driving.

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