Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014

Three key changes expected on next year’s F1 cars

F1 technology

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Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014Nose design is one of three areas where the 2015 F1 cars will be significantly different from the current models.

Rules introduced this year intended to lower the height of noses led to some highly unusual and aesthetically unsatisfying designs, which has led the FIA to rethink the regulations for 2015.

Lotus produced one of the most striking solutions with their asymmetric twin-pronged set-up. But technical director Nick Chester expects teams to adopt solutions closer to that used by Ferrari and Mercedes with “a fairly standard, low design” next year.

Another significant technical change will occur underneath the cars, where the skid blocks are being altered to ensure they are made of a lighter material and are fixed in a way which will make them less likely to detach. This is primarily being done on safety grounds, though another consequence is likely to be more sparks being produced from the titanium blocks.

It will also change how teams set their cars up, according to Chester. “A change to the skids underneath the floor is quite significant,” he said.

“It’s drawn attention because of the sparks that will be generated by the car, but it will also mean that the car needs to run higher. That is another thing that will be a key factory in aero development.”

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheimring, 2014The complexity of the new power units means this year’s cars take longer to service than before. A car problem for a driver in final practice has become more likely to prevent them participating in qualifying.

But with a year’s experience of the current designs, teams are likely to make progress in this area next year. “This year’s cars are so much more complicated than the previous generation cars,” Chester explained. “There are simply more parts to be built so they definitely take more time to work on.”

“This is one element where we’re building improvements into next year’s car. It’ll never be easier to work on than a normally aspirated V8-engined car without all the energy recovery systems that we have now, but certainly it will be a step forward in this regard.”

Image © Lotus/LAT, Renault/DPPI

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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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34 comments on “Three key changes expected on next year’s F1 cars”

  1. So noses will be higher next year? By how much?

    And those titanium plates are not for show as was mentioned earlier this year? Interesting.

    1. If I remember correctly, the height stays roughly the same, it’s just the overall wording and measures regarding the rule being redone to prevent this season’s ugly noses.

      1. So the Mercedes and Ferrari noses are likely what the FIA intended, but they failed to foresee most teams would go with another design.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      17th August 2014, 15:32

      They weren’t ever meant for show. The current skid blocks have a habit of detaching on the kerbs which was suspected to have caused the numerous punctures last year. The media just took the sparks and ran with it.

      1. The FIA could have avoided all the confusion and uproar over sparks if it had explained to the world’s media the day of the test in Austria what the reasoning behind the change was, rather than let a bunch of nincompoops with press passes run rampant with wild speculation working F1 fans worldwide into a frothed up state of frenzy.

        Sometimes it boggles my mind who and what pass for “journalists” these days, with the backing of mega news corporations, while people with scruples like @keithcollantine are written off as amateurs because they run blogs and don’t travel to all the races. I know whose fact reporting I prefer, and whose hyperbole I do not. I can barely stand to watch NBCSN’s coverage anymore due to the artificial excitement they try to will into being. The racing is good enough. We complain a lot about the FIA, FOM, the strategy group, etc. trying to create artificial excitement, but there are certainly broadcasters in collusion as well. I don’t know how bad it is in other countries, but it’s pretty bad here. What I’ve seen of Sky is far more measured and down to earth compared with what we’re stuck with on NBCSN. I suppose that’s not going to change though in the age of 24 hour cable news networks and infotainment. That mindset has crept into sports journalism to the point that they now try to create story lines to push where there aren’t any. It often feels like they’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole. But I digress… simply put, sparks next year will just be a knock on effect of a safety precaution, which can’t be a bad thing.

        1. @us-peter. I don’t recall any statements from Bernie, FIA or technical working group stating that the changes were a safety issue, not a showbiz gimmick. To me it sounds just like one of Bernies sound-bites.

          1. @lite992, Thanks, I missed that one but it does say “notsolely for sparks” and I can well imagine Bernie seizing that feature as newsworthy.

        2. It’s better when commentators are excited. Here in Lithuania you can fall asleep during the races from commentators alone. And they keep making silly guesses about strategies, problems with cars etc.

    3. A typical F1 paradox (or oxymoron) that while promoting a responsible use of resources F1 allows titanium to be used as skid blocks where it can be worn away to dust, but for supposed cost saving purposes titanium can not be used in the engine where it can be inexpensively recycled.

  2. I do not expect much running in FP3 next year, due to a change in the parc fermé regulation. Hence, improving service time might not be that important at all.

  3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    17th August 2014, 13:49

    Sparks and beutiful noses, what is this, Miss World? What happens if they disturb the ground effect so suddenly (as I have seen many times was one of tbe causes in Senna’s accident)?

    1. @omarr-pepper
      Since when was it confirmed what caused the Senna accident?

      And what do you mean “they disturb the ground effect so suddenly” ? Like, over winter?:D

      And anyway, the higher the overall ride-height, the less strong and more stable the effect is.

      As for how the cars look, I don’t care as long as the engineers have enough freedom to come up with clever new solutions to extract performance.
      In my view the extremely restrictive regulations is a much bigger issue rather than the reasons for each of the restriction waves.

      1. I saw it on a National Geohraphic documentary. So it isn t my own idea.@mateuss . They explained that because tyres were cold for the previous SC, the floor of Senna’s car “cut” the airflow, thus creating an unstable condition that , added to the broken steering wheel column, led to the accident. And I repeat, is what the documentary explained

        1. The steering column did not break before the accident.

          The thing which caused Senna’s accident won’t happen again because the cars will not have flat bottom’s again.
          The underbody changes for next year is simply that the wooden plank underneath is been replaced by a titanium section of similar size. The teams will not be able to go back to running the cars as low as they were back in 1994.

          The accepted (In F1 & Motorsport in general) cause of Senna’s accident was the car bottoming out which basically sealing the airflow through the diffuser which caused a sudden & massive loss of rear downforce. The car stepped out, Senna corrected, the car gripped but from there he went to the wall.

          Every open wheel category looked at the data & moved away from running flat bottomed cars as most were doing at the time because this accident (And others in Indycar on ovals) highlighted the dangers of that configuration should airflow to the diffuser be lost via bottoming.

          The people who still believe the steering broke will continue to believe regardless of what the actual evidence (Which they have never even seen) showed.
          Its the same with those who insist the in-car camera acted oddly, They don’t understand how the system been used back then worked, If they did they would know it was entirely consistent with how the in-car system & the way it was operated at the time was.

        2. @omarr-pepper I’ve seen it, it’s all a bit of a speculation to what truly happened.

          Some kind of bottoming looks like might have played a part.

          But whats wrong then with increasing ride heights then? It would make such things even more unlikely as they already are. The cars don’t have a flat floor anyway.

      2. enough freedom to come up with clever new solutions to extract performance.
        performance yes Down Force no, i want to see these car driven by the driver not roaring around like they are on rails,
        we now have some of the best racing in the history of F1,
        lets hope the other teams catch up, i am sure they will and that can only lead to even more excitement..

        1. Uh… In the last round up there was an article on how downforce is still pretty much the same, os the racing is better because… I dont know, engine performance?

          1. @austus Power to down-force ratio?

            What I would do apart from mandating crush structure placements and things like that is regulate maximum bodywork area, car volume etc. That would give means to somewhat limit the aerodynamic performance of the cars, without tightening the regulations while homing in on the exact same shape.

            We could end up with different shapes, different rear wings, front wings etc. Teams could not run huge multi-element rear wing, wide front wing and a lot of winglets all at the same time, even though each of those things specifically would not be banned. I think this would allow many different car shapes and clever solutions to emerge.

          2. One article, pretty much, does not a fact make.

  4. Are there going to be less engines next year? If so, I suspect that to be quite a big factor next year too.

    1. 4 units instead of 5.

      1. Cian_DillonOfficial
        8th December 2014, 0:29

        Thought it was down to 5 not 4

  5. Noses, skid blocks… whats the third key change? Set up?

    1. Mr win or lose
      17th August 2014, 18:32

      Based on the URL it seems that the title has changed, but the third point is not really clear to me. The last three paragraphs are about the power units and their complexity, but no rule changes are mentioned.

      1. @austus

        The complexity of the new power units means this year’s cars take longer to service than before. […] But with a year’s experience of the current designs, teams are likely to make progress in this area next year

        1. Mr win or lose
          17th August 2014, 19:52

          So the complexity of the power units will change through a natural developing process. I was thinking too much in terms of rule changes. Still I’m afraid that without strict rules the noses may still look strange.

  6. It now seems every year we have a “nose” issue in F1. Too high, too low; too thin, too large; too ugly, too unsafe.

    I don’t even know what I’d prefer to be honest: 1990’s? 2000’s? 2010’s? 1960’s!

    1. @jeff1s, aesthetically it has to be the 60’s, whether shark-nosed or coventional for me.

  7. Keith are we going to see an update on the number of PU components used soon?

  8. I also think the nose of cars will be higher.

  9. And with all these changes what happened to cost saving?! More complicated is all I hear, and we all know that complicated equals more expensive. And by doing a changes after changes I wonder how the teams are coping with it.

  10. I like the fact that all the cars look different. I hope these change don’t make everything too uniform again next season. Sure they aren’t that pretty, but at least the cars look different.

  11. the skid blocks are being altered to ensure they are… …fixed in a way which will make them less likely to detach.

    Has this been a problem in the past? I saw a… I think it was a GP2 accident… recently on some random videoclip where it looked like the skidblock had partially detached, but that was the the first time I’d ever noticed that occurring.

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