Speaking after the launch of the Red Bull RB10 Newey said he had doubts over FIA rules requiring designers to build cars with lower noses.
Part of the rationale behind the change was to reduce the possibility of cars being launched into the air after contact, as happened when Mark Webber hit heikki Kovalainen during the 2010 European Grand Prix. However Newey is concerned the lowering of the noses may introduce other risks:
“Personally I am concerned that the opposite may now happen, that cars submarine, effectively, so if you hit the back of the following car square-on you go underneath it and you end up with a rear crash structure in your face which is a much worse scenario.
“There have been accidents where you think ‘would a low nose possibly have made things much worse?’ There was an accident we had a few years ago where Schumacher spun at the first corner and somebody mounted him. They might have made that worse.
“I guess it’s like all these things – it might help in some scenarios, it hurts in others. It’s one which I must admit, personally, I’m not in favour of.”
However Mercedes’ executive director for technical Paddy Lowe believes the solution is the “best compromise” available.
“This is subject that’s very complicated which has been discussed by the TWG [Technical Working Group] over the year but mainly under the guidance of the FIA Institute who do a lot of research in this area. They’re the ones who’ve come up with the recommendation that the low nose is the best solution, the best compromise for the range of different types of accident or incident that a car can experience.
“There is no one perfect solution to every single type of impact. You need to consider all sorts of interactions around other cars, particularly looking at impact onto the rear tyres. We saw Mark Webber in Valencia where the launch is the real risk, and that’s a particular one where the low nose is very helpful.”
Newey also queried new restrictions on the positioning of batteries for the energy recovery system. Red Bull previously located the batteries in and around the gearbox bell housing. Newey said this was “a significant packaging advantage allowed us to carry the weight at the rear”.
“That unfortunately has been removed because the battery now has, by regulation, to be in front of the engine under the fuel tank.
“I think that’s a shame really. I’m not quite sure why putting the battery under the fuel tank is safer than putting it behind the engine.”
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