A change for the better: double diffusers likely to be banned in 2011

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The double diffuser was an important part of Brawn's BGP 001

Autosport reveals the F1 teams are planning a change in the technical rules to ban double diffusers – but not until after the 2010 F1 season.

The thinking is this will help keep cornering speeds down and hopefully reduce the turbulence coming from the back of F1 cars, allowing them to follow each other more closely.

However with the teams already deciding to get rid of them in 2011, it does suggest a feeling that double diffusers may hamper the quality of racing this year.

Most if not all teams are likely to have an interpretation of the double diffusers on their cars. Teams like Red Bull and Ferrari, who did not have them on their cars at the start of 2009, will be able to fully integrate the designs into the 2010 designs.

Providing the teams can agree on a suitably tightly-worded rule this time, I think the double diffuser ban is a sensible decision. As I wrote earlier this week:

The design of the cars has a serious effect on how closely they can follow each other. If that’s going to be improved, the FIA needs to look at long-term changes as well as quick fixes it can make in the next two months.

Electing to get rid of double diffusers at the end of the year, when everyone has ample time to design revised cars to meet the new rules, makes a lot of sense.

While they’re at it, can they also do something about the less consequential but still quite ugly pod-wings which appeared on most cars last year, despite hopes we were going to see the return of clean sidepods?

Double diffusers

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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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63 comments on “A change for the better: double diffusers likely to be banned in 2011”

  1. This is a good sensible decision…But I wonder why they did not think it earlier so that they could have implemented it in 2010 season also!

    1. I wondered that. But in order to give the teams enough time to design the 2010 cars without double diffusers they would have to had done it very soon after the decision in April to allow them. That would have looked very hypocritical!

      1. Pedro Andrade
        7th January 2010, 15:30

        I don’t think it would’ve been hypocritical. By doing that the FIA would be admiting they got the rule wrong, making up for it next year, but not penalizing others for their mistake.

        Oh, right, they’ll never admit they’re worng…

        1. exactly pedro, why does every thing have to be made harder than it is in F1. When all the fuss was about in the first place it would have been extremely simple to ban them for 2010, thus allowing it to be integrated into the 2010 cars. Death by a thousand committee meetings

      2. Yeah the last thing the FIA would want is to look like two-faced double dealing hypocrites.

      3. From some of the reports at the time, I thought there had been an agreement around April to remove the slotted-floor loophole. Obviously the FIA’s emergency budget cap announcement and resulting talk of the manufacturer breakaway meant they never got around to it.

        Incidentally I do think that the diffusers were given far too much credit for (a) speed advantage and (b) overtaking disadvantage. There’ll be more overtaking at the start of 2010, as there is at the start of every season, then performance disparities will start to disappear, new drivers will fully dial in to their cars and we’ll be back to more processional races after the first few laps.

        1. D’oh, an agreement *between the teams* to remove the loophole *for the 2010 season* I mean. Closing it immediately (in 2009) would have been grossly unfair on the teams that found and exploited a totally legitimate loophole.

    2. thats good news for several reasons finally kills the difuser discution it isnt a very visible part of the car so being all the same or similar is not going to have a big impact on the car stetics and less downforce equals more fun

    3. The IRL mandated changed aero by the next race at one point last year.

      1. True, but all their cars are the same specification, making it much easier to do than in F1.

  2. I hope they do get banned :) shame they couldn’t have got their acts together to do it for this year but it’s a step in the right direction.

  3. Pedro Andrade
    7th January 2010, 15:28

    In my view, they were right to legalize the difuser in the beginning of the 2009 season: Brawn just took advantage of the fact the rules were not explicit enough, they didn’t break them. Nice to them. However, when that decision was made, they should’ve taken to opportunity to make it illegal for 2010 – it was still early and wouldn’t have compromised the designs.

    So, right decision, maybe a bit late.

    1. Further more to that, Ross Brawn even told the teams and people involved in the FIA’s overtaking group that the rules could be easily interperated in such a way that even the then Honda team could have won races.

      How the teams laughed at him at the time…

    2. yer they were right to totally destroy the season with dirty air syndrome…

      Increase the rear wing area (width) as they makes bugger all effect on following car as it has updraft and while there is small effect the disturbance is not interfering with the low front wing.

  4. While they’re at it, can they also do something about the less consequential but still quite ugly pod-wings which appeared on most cars last year, despite hopes we were going to see the return of clean sidepods?

    I thought F1 was supposed to be about racing not design aesthetics.

    While I can see the logic in the reduction of turbulence to aid overtaking is it not a technologically retrograde step? F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of automotive technology but it has already fallen behind the most advanced consumer road cars, shouldn’t something be done to readdress this?

    1. But what does a double diffuser, or any of the complex aerodynamics used to create downforce on a modern F1 car have to do with road car technology??

      Let’s have the teams working to be the most advanced team they can, but let’s have it be in areas that are relevant…reducing drag, increasing engine efficiency without compromising power etc…

      1. Too right Adrian !

        The teams have had a vested interest for years in spectalular aero-technology specifically designed to give any following car a hard time…equals scarce overtaking as we all know. But that was in the days of money-to-burn budgets which we all hope are gone forever.

        Now all F1 teams are going to have to slash their huge aero-tec teams to keep in budget. So why can’t we get rid now of ALL the aero-gizmos ? The racing, which is what we go to see, would be spectacular !

      2. tbh, F1 can’t be the pinacle of technology anymore because the pinacle would most likely kill you dead.

        However I think its safe to assume that we want F1 to be the pinacle of motorsport which in many ways it still is.

        I think getting rid of the diffusers is certainly a good idea, but, aerodynamics in generall has run its course, every year the designs produce more downforce an more tubulance because their working the air harder, special regulations can attempt to counter this but the teams will still be searching for better shapes, an aerodynamic thingies, to stick on their cars for downforce. Whenever this happens the air behind becomes more turbulent and it becomes harder to follow. Simply put, overtaking will always be rare in f1 if the teams are consticted to finding performance mostly from aero.

        Now, there have been a few suggestions that now refuelings gone, teams will be encouraged to find ways to get their cars past on track. This is in my mind a but of an off chance, an really depends on how the new race dynamic works, an how much time is still going to be lost and gained in the pit stops alone.

        However in my opinion, an refer to Keiths banned! series for better info, there are lots of ways to start slashing aero grip and heightening mechanical grip, while maintaining F1’s technological preeminence, and importantly keeping cornering speeds at a level where they won’t kill the drivers but will be faster then anyone else.

        If the FIA where to unban many of the mechanical things to have been banned over the year the teams would start to focus more on this area, more mechanical grip innovations would come as a result, partly because teams wouldn’t be scared of the FIA banning any good ideas an the ratio between aero and mechanical might start to shift.

        Once mechanical is more important than aero you simply don’t have to worry about turbulance in the same way.

        an thus my two penneth

  5. Double diffuser is very important part in my car Polonez Caro (polish construction). Greetings from Poland

    1. You will be competitive this year

  6. Good news. The only shame is that the FIA didn’t sort the loophole out before the 2009 season like any competent governing body should do.

    Double diffusers contributed towards one of the most tepid seasons in years in 2009, and I fear that they could have the same impact in 2010

  7. Don’t know why this took so long. Guess we’ll have to wait till 2011 for the good racing we got a sneak peak of in Melbourne 2009. At least we’ll get it one day though

    1. A lot of that was put down to tyre compounds, it did seem a little odd though, i’m sure i saw cars with the same tyres following each other through bends.

      When you think about it the DDD really exacerbates the sensitivities of the front wing. It’s a very low, high turbulence device that pushes air up right from the area the front wing might otherwise have been working.

      It makes it more annoying that people didn’t people didn’t twig this when Ross raised it, as the front wing is given a higer ratio of downforce to produce in relation to the 2008 cars compared to the rest of the body.

  8. I hope they do get banned, when it became apparent that they had left loopholes in the 2009 regulations I thought the FIA would have tightened up the 2010 rules. I also hope they take the opportunity to get rid of the pod-wings.

    The idea was to get rid of those sort of aero pieces with the changes for 2009 but when Ross Brawn pointed out the rules were not tight enough when they were being written up no one listened.

  9. Got to love Racing. No other sport changes rules like Racing.

    1. no sport changes rules like F1.

      the pinacle i hear they call it.

  10. I wonder if we’ll see triple or quadruple diffusers this year…

    1. I heared there’s a chance of really extreme five decked diffusers.

      Buuut I also heared that the concept might start to loose the goose a little even beyond double decks.

  11. I just hope they don’t change anymore rules for 2011. It’s almost a tradition to change something every year. Are the regulations really that bad? Goodness. Its already hard to follow as a mild Fanatic, can’t imagine for the casual viewers.

  12. shame they didn’t do it earlier. Also, a bit unprofessional if you ask me. It’s “too little, too late” now.

  13. I’m just glad it’s happening at all. I don’t mind waiting as we have the refuelling ban to encourage overtaking. It would be better to happen sooner rather than later but at least we know the odds are that the ddds are on their way out.

    1. It is slightly odd they didn’t sort it out sooner but I reckon it might have something to do with the choas gripping the sport at the time.

      It’s still weird they didn’t sort it, seems so simple when you think about it.

  14. Ferrari claimed they had to redesign their gearbox and other stuff to fit in the double diffuser, so they probably will have to redo everything as will several other teams. I guess it does have some cost implication

    1. Yeah I saw the autosport complaint as well, meh. Not banning the DDD because it costs to much is barely an excuse even in these times.

      Especially considering no one will be directing serious recources at 2011 challengers at the moment.

      The season hasn’t even starting yet if they can’t move a gear box in 14 months they’re in the wrong buisness.

  15. The DD should have been banned for 2010 but they wanted Button’s title to look somewhat credible.

    1. Boring, three other teams had DDD an what did they manage.

      1. Scribe, it was three teams including Brawn, not three plus one. And you should know better the story of the little Red Bull team and how they kept themselves in the race.

        Toyota did all their podiums during the very first grand prix of the season. Williams did nothing. Not a surprise.

        It remains that the title was won thanks to the diffuser advantage. Fair or unfair that is not the question. It was a collective mismanagement of the technical regulations.

        This is why the DD was not made illegal asap.

        1. Sorry for the belligerant response but I took you for yet another bore questioning the worth of Buttons championship.

          Incidentally Button didn’t have a championship at the point they legalised it for the season and or when they had the oppourtunity to ban it for next season, so the question of the credibility of Buttons championship wasn’t an issue. While it was a procedural error that resulted in the loophole there was no reason not to make the DDD illegal for the 2010 when the new regulations where released around the time of the Bahrain GP.

          Unless it’s a giggle, I might point out that Redbull is not a little team, while it’s certainly not the biggest team they were spending at least 200M a season back in 2006 and the whole thing is backed by a multi billion empire and Dietrich Mateschitz, himself a billionaire.

          Also didn’t Toyota gain P2 in Singapore and Suzuka? The second entirely on merit.

          Finally you are right, it was three teams only with DDD’s, my grammar slipped, thank you for correcting me.

  16. This will keep cornering speeds down… Why do they have to make f1 slower all the time. Isn’t it supposed to be the pinacle of motorsports? And yes I know there is a limit on what the human body can take but still. And for it being a loophole, it’s great that some teams found it. That’s what I want to see. As far as I see it F1 is all about technical innovations. Not technical limitations (As long as it is safe, I do not want to see a driver getting killed each year).

    1. See my earlier post for a for a full size rant on aero and innovation in F1 (nt the 1 to martin) but this move is more for cutting turbulence than downforce.

  17. No DD and smaller steel brakes is the way to go

    Also : make the cars shorter !!!!!!!! they look like a train. At least half a meter shorter, and let the best driver win.

  18. HounslowBusGarage
    7th January 2010, 20:34

    I think I’m quite pleased with this rule change. But I wish that someone with the ingenious and devious brain of Ross Brawn was in charge of the F1 rules and regulations. If Ross could see the problem, as could the designers at Williams and Toyota, the FIA regulations must have been very badly written.
    So when he retires from being a team principal at Mercedes after six straight WCC wins, I’d like Ross to become technical head bloke at the FIA. I think he’d enjoy that and I’m certain he could close all the loopholes before they open.

    1. His job title should definately be Technical Head Bloke.

      1. That’ll be the type of job title they have at (Sheffield based) Virgin Racing I hope…

        …instead of Technical Director it’ll be Head Design Fella…

        …Team Principle will simply be The Gaffa…

        …and the mechanics will now be known as The Lads…

  19. Oh I see, NOW they’re illegal!! :|

    1. Well…not yet…

  20. Hooray! Shame it can’t be for next year, but never mind.

    I’d go even further than Keith and ban not only the ugly side-pod wings, but all the little add-ons to the front wings and make the rear wings simple too, the shark fin (Toyota’s effort for Singapore 09 made me want to vomit), and the spinners which I think are going anyway.

    Take the rev limit off the engines (to aid overtaking – if you have a rule that requires engines to last, the drivers will turn their revs down anyway), have bigger tyres, and of course limited ground effects. Maybe then we can even go back to lower rear wings for the sake of aesthetics.

    1. How about, one unbroken section of bodywork to make up the entire outer chassis, and no apedages at all. Can you immagine? A widened nose swoping up around the driver down over the engine and up again forming a scoop for rear downforce.

      And manufacturors are free to get their tyres from anyone, at any size and tuned mass dampers, active suspension brake steer etc are all unbanned.

      So long as the undersides where flat and without slots, or maybe you could even have a DD in this form of the sport, the effect on the front wings wouldn’t matter so much, an most of the air going to the DD comes from under the car anyway so it might not be effected that much by the guy in front.

      Anyway this way you could massively slash downforce, aerodynamics an the problems that come with it, while massively boosting mechanical grips importance to keep up the innovation.

  21. Prisoner Monkeys
    7th January 2010, 23:05

    About time. I was reading the other day that conservative estimates suggest that by the middle of next season, the cars will be generating more downforce than they were at the end of 2008.

    And the designers complain about the circuit design, claiming that the circuits are the ones responsible for the lack of overtaking. Typical of them: they know that more aerodynamic grip produces a better car, so they then pile as much of it on as possible and do anything they can to protect tat advantage.

  22. Younger Hamilton
    7th January 2010, 23:26

    what do you mean ugly pod wings and clean pod wings explain to me keith please!!

    1. The tall wings in front of the sidepods. Some cars had them at launch, others didn’t, but most (in fact I think all) teams adopted them by the end of the year:

      Launch-spec Ferrari F60 with pod wings
      Launch-spec Renault R29 with clean sidepods

  23. Younger Hamilton
    7th January 2010, 23:30

    its good the FIA are getting rid of Double Diffusers when i started watching F1 i was wondering why Brawn(Now Mercedes) were so quick i was thinking it was kind of a Computer chip that makes the car fast but i knew that was very silly thinking

  24. the more aero removed from race cars, the better the action is. i hope they go after wings next.

    1. Stupid. How developed the aero is the only reason F1 cars are as they are. Otherwise they can’t accelerate as well as they can, corner as well as they can, brake as well as they can. Just cop the effects of heavy-aero-based cars on the chin.

      1. next you’ll be telling me the hubcaps were a good thing

  25. It’s a good decision but they should have ban it in 2010.

  26. Can anyone tell me whether the Anvil (shark) Fins are allowed in 2010???

  27. I would love to see the cars go back to how they looked in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

  28. I take it 2011 is going to be another big stepping stone in the cars design. I know its abit to early but have they said how many years there running no fuel stops for?

  29. I have to say that I would like to see more data showing the difference the ‘with or without’ double diffuser has made to following and cornering etc. Like you say, some cars did not have the double diffuser at the beginning of 2009 at yet I personally did not notice that much of a difference…

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