Ricciardo calls for more grip, less downforce

2016 F1 season

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Red Bull may be leading the call for higher downforce F1 cars but their driver Daniel Ricciardo wants the sport to go in the opposite direction.

He told Fox Sports that less aerodynamic downforce and more grip from tyres is what F1 needs for better racing.

“I think purely from the tyres we can get a lot more grip. I’d go about it that way,” he said. “Aerodynamic grip is good, but the problem is the wake of air that it leaves doesn’t let you follow as close, where with mechanical grip it doesn’t really disturb the air behind you as much.”

Recent reports have indicated the FIA will instruction Pirelli to drop the policy of producing high-degradation tyres, something Ricciardo also approves of – and which he says other drivers are in favour of.

“It’s something, in a way, I’ve enjoyed,” he said, “but for sure myself and everyone else would just love to push the whole time.”

Ricciardo said the current generation of high-degradation tyres has made it easier for younger drivers – such as Red Bull-backed Max Verstappen – to step up to F1.

“I think it’s a little bit too easy to make the transition now,” said Ricciardo, who arrived in F1 from Formula Renault 3.5 in mid-2011. “A lot of the rookies did very well in their first year, and that wasn’t always the case back in the day.

“Not taking anything away from them. I just think the sport should be a bit more intimidating up at the top.”

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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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42 comments on “Ricciardo calls for more grip, less downforce”

  1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    29th February 2016, 15:27

    Sounds like a trade-off doesn’t it? It isn’t…

    As I have vociferously argued this week (sorry folks!), we needn’t be seeing a 2015 pole lap some four seconds slower than 2013, and it is still possible to provide good racing. A move towards more mechanical grip solutions and/or an emphasis on ground effect and the floor of the car over the wings is the most complete answer to F1’s on-track maladies available.

    But the manufacturers don’t fancy that…

    1. @william-brierty

      But the manufacturers don’t fancy that…

      Manufacturers, or one specific non-works team with a particularly unhealthy investment in aero-facilities and the ear of the Commercial Rights Holder?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        29th February 2016, 16:21

        @optimaximal – Seems to me like one specific non-works team are fighting for aero and one specific works team are fighting against anything that will cut into their advantage. Both are right to fight their case – it will have a much larger impact on who the next champion is than car design, driving the car or anything else like that. This is the title fight for 2017 – enjoy it!!

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th February 2016, 16:31

        @optimaximal Yes, and I suppose that it’s no coincidence that a team that has recently invested in a former member of Adrian Newey’s aerodynamic squad has supported Red Bull’s motion…especially since increased grip would be a convenient sticking-plaster for McLaren’s power shortages…

        Although to be fair to Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have hardly been enthusiastic advocates of a shift away from aerodynamic design cultures – Ferrari has just been beating the vague and rather euphemistic sounding line of wanting “more spectacular cars”.

    2. @william-brierty

      I couldn’t agree more. It seems such a burningly obvious solution, but yet so illusive at the same time.

      The fact that they didn’t just agree on promoting mechanical grip over aero in the first ten minutes of the the first meeting makes me question the motives of those present.

    3. Pole laps are not slower with more aero, theyr’e actually faster. Additionally, have no idea where you’re getting a four second deficit to the pole times of 2013.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th February 2016, 22:12

        2013 Barcelona Pole Lap: 1’20.718
        2015 Barcelona Pole Lap: 1’24.681

        Deficit: -3.963 seconds, pretty close to 4 seconds, eh?

  2. Yes Riccardo, Unfortunately your bosses want more downforce to get their Aero superiority back and think we a fools by claiming it to be for the fans.

  3. Funny how they keep using Verstappen as an example without realising he’s not the benchmark for an average F1 rookie. Immediately going from go-carting to testing formula cars he was putting in really fast times (in both F2.0 and F3), Gerhard Berger said about that, he had never seen anyone jumping straight into F3 and be at the front of the field.

    The lower formula series do prepare the drivers pretty good these days, but Hamilton did also very well in his first year as a F1 rookie some time ago already (although after lots of testing mileage). I wish they would stop using Verstappen as an example in those cases to make a point, because even when they follow it by, “not taking anything away from them,” they still talk him down, and apparently Verstappen still was intimidated, or else he would not have said, “the Monaco crash gave him confidence to go faster.”

    So simply make your point about wanting the cars being more difficult to drive without implying that would have made a lot of difference for Verstappen, because there’s no proof that would have happened, you’re only insinuating it. He would be better off in saying, “I like F1 cars to be more difficult to drive so the better driver can distinguish themselves a bit better again,” however Kvyat still showed last year it wasn’t that easy to be just as fast him, so he’s clearly exaggerating to an extend.

    1. They should use him as an example to show other drivers that overtaking and following cars still is possible with modern f1 cars.

  4. I’m telling you, they should bring active suspension back, I don’t know why it has the stigma of being a driver aid when it just isn’t. It’s one of those technologies which can be transferred directly to road cars and be useful for everyone. And I don’t think it would be anywhere near as expensive to implement as it was 25 years ago.

    This and fatter tyres can probably give the 5 seconds lap time gains.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      29th February 2016, 16:34

      And why would anyone be worried about driver aids these days anyway?

      They already have a button they can press that moves their car ahead of the one in front. They can already make their own track up and speed through the run-off areas as they please. They already have all of the thinking done by the pit wall…

      1. Sad but true

    2. @mantresx

      That’s a good shout.

    3. I thought active suspension was banned because Ferrari couldn’t make it work…

  5. In some ways it is one in the same as downforce is transferred to the track through the tyres so you have more grip. It is the way downforce is currently produced due to the rules that is the issue with cars following one another as the front wing is so sensitive to allowing the perfect flows of air to the back of the car to produce the downforce. LMP1 cars produce more downforce yet can still follow each other. More down force and more grip from the tyres would be good.

    1. markp, you have to bear in mind that the bodywork regulations around an LMP1 car are fundamentally different to an open wheeled series such as F1.

      One of the most effective mechanisms that sportscars have in controlling their aero wake is the fact that they have fully enclosed wheels. An exposed rotating cylinder, such as a tyre, will create an extremely turbulent wake, and there is evidence that this in turn causes the floors of the current cars to stall, causing a major shift in handling balance (people focus on the front wing since it is a visible aerodynamic element, but there is stronger evidence to suggest the focus should be further towards the front section of the floor instead).

      If you really wanted to significantly clean up the airflow behind the cars, enclosing the wheels would have a quite significant impact on reducing the turbulent wake behind the cars (it wouldn’t eliminate it – the floor stalling effect is still encountered to some degree in sportscar racing – but the impact would be lessened). However, there would most likely be a fairly significant backlash from a number of traditionalists if you proposed enclosing the tyres with bodywork…

      1. Thanks I know. And LMP1 cars also have to open up the top of the wheel arch with ever larger openings for safety to negate lift. I do feel however that the front wing can be a far more basic design and the regulation freed up elsewhere further downstream to produce the down force. As it is the front wings are more complex than ever and make a bit of a mockery of the 2009 aero rule changes to clean the cars up, this effects the cars following each other due to the sensitive nature of these very complex front wings and they also look like all the bits that were banned on the 2008 cars being put into 2 small parts at the end of the front wing.

  6. I agree with Ricciardo. Maybe then there would be real racing and real overtakes vs this fiction we have with the drs.

    Ofc then the tyre supplier would have to make tyres not made out of recycled poop.

  7. Same old boring driver rants.

    F1 will never have less down force because that would then make it as slow as any other single seat racing series. It needs to remain a quicker road car than GP2/Indycar, etc, for it to keep its appeal/selling point as the quickest road racing series in the world.

    If you make them slower you will just get the old ‘these cars are too slow, this is suppose to be Formula 1’ rants from drivers.

    1. Bring back the fancar and the real turbos.

      1. @rethla, “Bring back the fancar”,
        Exactly my thoughts reading comments above wanting both downforce and passing. Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Way back in 197? someone decided fan induced downforce was too big an advantage and banned it, leaving wings as the legal way to press those tyres onto the track, so today 40 odd years and $Billions later the wings are as effective as the fan, but only for the lead car in any tight group, and that is the basic problem from which all the other problems in F1 arise. Pity they didn’t ban the wing instead of the fan.

        1. @hohum, strictly speaking, the fan car was never formally banned – Brabham had intended to use it in the next two races, but withdrew the car because Lotus threatened to launch protest after protest until the car was banned.

          In reality, the car was never legal given that it violated an existing ban on movable aerodynamics that had been in force for the best part of a decade by that time: it’s just that Brabham found a loophole in the regulations that allowed them to claim the fan was for the purpose of cooling (which it did technically do, since it did draw air through the engine bay and reduce the engine temperature).

  8. “Hi, my name is Daniel Ricciardo. I drive for the team that have cars with the best aerodynamics on the grid, and who just recently won 4 WDCs and 4 WCC on the trot with that design philosophy. Heck, if we had the 2015 Ferrari engine, we may have won a 5th WDC/WCC.

    So I think it’s only natural that F1 should move away from our strengths even more. We should have an engine and mechanical grip formula…”

    Alright then.

    1. Sounds like he may have the good of the sport in mind? Personally, I think the biggest problem is equity of payments to the teams. If this was fixed, F1 would be able to open development a bit on both sides of the equation. Meaning some more ground effects aero and “regular ” aero, (didn’t know what to call it) all the while keeping saftey paramount. Actually it’s all really aero, as without the air going around/under the car, “ground effects” are not possible.

      I think it’s amazing that F1 and many other series, minimally ask the actual participants, present/past, as to what is needed. F1 needs a governing body, where, at least past participants help make the rules. It also needs that body to think for the good of the sport.

      1. The problem is that F1 already asks its participants (but only a few of them) and they only support rules that will benefit them. There’s no “us” culture among the F1 teams, it’s “every man for himself”, and of the worst kind (the shortsighted, lemming-like suicidal one).

        The problem is that F1 needed a benevolent (and competent) dictator. One that would recognize the challenges the sport faces, and would come up with a plan to overcome the hardships. One that would stand against the teams, and tell them to leave if they don’t like the rules, while also encouraging new competitors to join the series. Because leaving it up to the teams clearly hasn’t worked.

        Instead we got Bernie.

      2. @jabosha

        “Sounds like he may have the good of the sport in mind?”

        He might, and I won’t be too cynical by excluding that as a very real possibility. Yet at the same time, we’ve seen the Honey Badger look to jumping ship (last year it reached its peak around Canada), and I believe he’s recently said Ferrari has an appeal if they have the best car out on the grid. I find that surprising, as Red Bull is one of the few teams with the resources to compete at the sharp end of the grid, and has a proven design team that has designed championship winning cars. Though if Max and Carlos are nipping at his heals… :)

        1. Cynism was the reason why there was a question mark at the end of that sentence instead of a period. The latter would have been me given Ricciardo complete benefit of the doubt. I’d love to afford Ricciardo this but with F1 politics one has to be cynical in the way you view the sport as we all know.

          1. “Cynicism”

    2. @uan Or Renault has a bloody good engine coming after this season’s break? :)

  9. We need better rules to see better races and overtakes.
    1. Less differences between cars in lap times. It is the basic of close racing and overtakes. How can we reach it?
    A, I think in short term we could use +weight/point system because it is a fast, effective, simple solution to decrease lap time differences. Nowadays Mercedes has too significant advantage and the domincance is always boring. Of course they worked hard for it and they deserve it. I think +weight/point system would be fair because finally win the best team (if you think about it) moreover the best team has to work harder to remain the best and as a result races would be more close and exciting.
    B, In long term we need little changes in technical regulations year by year and as a result differences will naturally decrease.
    C, F1 has to decrease money/recenue allocation differences
    2. Less dirty air (but fast cars.) -> more mechanical grip/aero downforce rate.
    3. We need rules where drivers can push on the limit as long (in time) as possible and save fuel, tyres, PU etc as short (in time) as possible.
    4. DRS? I think we should introduce DRS time/race or something other rule (or we don’t need DRS.)

    1. The basic of overtaking isn’t due to the cars being very close in lap times, it makes it even more difficult (why do you think there’s more overtaking in FE & F3 ?). The faster cars go, the more difficult overtaking becomes, especially when they are very similar.

      Having 3 different tyre choices is probably going to help somewhat. Tyres being in different conditions (the new tyres are slowly losing performance each lap) might also help.

      1. Ok. First of all the faster car has to follow the slower car. The more differences between cars it is the easier to overtake and the gaps grow bigger during races. When drivers have to drive on the limit and drivers are close to each other they can make more mistakes. I prefer quality of overtakes over quantity.
        The more close competition creates more exciting championship.

      2. I think it would be ideal if cars are close to each other in lap times but some cars are faster in straight and others are faster in corners.

        1. @patent Leaving us with…..Spain 1981? (of which too many wouldn’t be good)

          Ok. First of all the faster car has to follow the slower car.

          No, no reverse grids, no! :)

          1. I didn’t say reverse grid would be the solution. I said only that the faster car has to follow the slower car in order to see overtakes.

  10. My idea is that FOM look into introducing a mandatory identical ground-effect floor for all teams that produces 30-40% of the cars expected down-force. Further more, they could restrict the development of the front wings, with less elements or smaller design area. Take more of the “dirty-air” aspect out of the equation.

    1. @f1-yankee, you do realise that your proposal would most likely represent a net cut in the total proportion of the downforce generated by the floor of the car? CFD studies indicate that the floor of the current generation of cars produces in the order of 45% (possibly even slightly higher than that) of the total downforce of the cars, so your proposal would actually shift the aero balance towards the external bodywork, not away from it.

      1. Okay, 60% ? Whatever would be needed to shift the down-force to mainly the floor instead the front wing.

        1. @f1-yankee, in which case, you already have that situation given that the floor generates roughly twice the amount of downforce that the front wing does (which makes up around 20-25% of the total)

          1. @f1-yankee I always think they should just ban front and rear wings. This would do what you suggest pretty easily

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