NASCAR listened to its drivers and cut downforce. Will F1?

2016 F1 season

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NASCAR and Formula One are poles apart as racing disciplines go. But both know the action on the track needs to be exciting, which makes NASCAR’s recent change in downforce levels significant for F1.

NASCAR drivers raved about low-downforce tweaks
“I think it’s significantly better than what we had last year,” raved NASCAR racer Jamie McMurray after the first five races of 2016. “And I can’t find anybody that thinks differently.”

This week Formula One is expected to sign off rules which will see downforce levels rise in 2017. But NASCAR has just gone in the opposite direction, mandating changes to the rear wing, front splitter and underbody of its cars to bring downforce down.

“You can race a little bit closer,” McMurray continued. “The car in front of you doesn’t mess up your car as much. So, I have nothing but really positive things to say about it.”

Twelve months ago NASCAR faced a pressing need to inject more action into its races. The sport’s governing body was leaning towards a high-drag aerodynamic kit to bring the cars closer together, but drivers preferred the low-downforce option.

Both were put to the test: high-drag at Indianapolis and Michigan, low-downforce at Kentucky and Darlington (see full races below). The verdict was overwhelmingly in favour of the low-downforce approach, and that’s what the cars are running this year except at the Daytona and Talladega superspeedways.

The verdict was positive from the first race. “I could run closer to people than I have for the last couple years,” said Carl Edwards after the low-downforce package was used for the first time this year at Atlanta.

Decades after the phenomenon of downforce was first understood and applied to racing cars, the question of whether it has a negative effect on the quality of racing is being debated more earnestly than ever.

IndyCar may drop its aero kits
The World Rally Championship planned higher downforce cars for 2017 but is now concerned the action will be less spectacular next year. Moto GP bikes have begun to sprout wings this year, provoking concerns that its racing will be spoiled. IndyCar is considering getting rid of its downforce-increasing aero kits, which were introduced at great cost just last year.

While its tightly-restricted NASCAR has cut downforce levels by around 25%. But the looser F1 regulations could see an increase in downforce of anywhere from 30% to 80% according to Toto Wolff. F1’s downforce rise for 2017 was proposed by the Strategy Group almost 12 months ago as part of a package of changes intended to slash lap times.

One of the foremost advocates is Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “You’re going to give [the driver] much more of a workout,” he said in China.

“The drivers have been crying out for cars that are more challenging to drive. The cars that we have at the moment, it’s been discussed whether they are too easy to drive and I think that by making the cars edgier, by making them quicker you will get a bigger variance of drivers, the teams will get better value for money out of their drivers and they’ll have to start going to the gym again.”

F1 drivers want less downforce too
However Horner’s own driver Daniel Ricciardo is not ‘crying out’ for more downforce. He wants any increase in performance to come from the tyres, not the wings.

“The problem is the wake of air that it leaves doesn’t let you follow as close,” he explained, “where with mechanical grip it doesn’t really disturb the air behind you as much.”

Ricciardo deserves credit for not toeing the party line on this matter. Freer aerodynamic rules would certainly play into Red Bull’s hands.

It’s perhaps less surprising that Lewis Hamilton does not want to see a rules change which might jeopardise Mercedes’ advantage. But he, like Ricciardo, appears to be more concerned about how good the racing is. “I think we need more mechanical grip and less aero wake coming off the back of the cars so we can get close and overtake,” he said last month.

Concern over F1’s downforce direction for 2017 was clearly a motivating factor behind the drivers’ letter urging an overhaul of F1’s governance. The sport’s willingness to listen to this vital constituency is about to be put to the test.

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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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87 comments on “NASCAR listened to its drivers and cut downforce. Will F1?”

  1. It’s obvious that Horner wants more aero as they have Newey and arguably the best aero team in the field. Therefore this’ll benefit RB more than others.

    1. I am not sure that is actually true. What Horner wants is change in the rules. More downforce, less downforce, who cares. As long as the rules change sufficiently enough for them to show their skill. Closed rules are what RB hates.

      1. Pretty sure he wants more downforce… :D And engines with equalized performance.

    2. knoxploration
      26th April 2016, 17:56

      It’s a sad indictment of F1 when we’re holding up roundy-roundy racing as an example, and yet I find myself *agreeing* with the point. This “sport” has lost the plot, completely and utterly.

  2. Downforce should be cut they can get the speed from improving engines and better tyres, this is MOTOR racing not aero racing. Problem with this is Red Bull but they could always leave and apply their aero to their AERO plane racing series which is more suited.

    1. Do you believe that Red Bull Racing are the only team attempting to use aerodynamics to improve the performance of their cars?

      1. The way the rules are and because RBR has such good aero then the other teams had to also develop their aero to maintain their position.

      2. Everyone does but Red Bull are more heavily slanted to aero. Their budget is probably equal to Ferrari or Merc but they want an equal engine for spending 5% of their budget on an engine and 95% aero. Ferrari and Mercedes are more evenly spread between engine and chassis so therefore more balanced and rightfully reap the rewards of their engines which they build. Red Bull would have them spend loads of budget on an engine they get negligible gains on so they could out do them on aero. Merc and Ferrari cannot stop building engines but Red Bull are forcing F1 into these heavily aero biased rules.

        1. This is a misunderstanding. The budgets for the F1 operations of Ferrari and Mercedes don’t include the development costs of the power units. In fact, in real terms, the budget of the Mercedes F1 team is spent entirely on developing the car, and does not include any power unit costs at all. Whereas a significant chunk of the RBR budget goes on paying for engines. Effectively, Mercedes have more money to spend on aero development. Something borne out by the fact that not only is their car great in a straight line, it’s among the best in the corners as well.

          1. So how do you come to the conclusion that Ferrari and Mercedes teams’ budgets don’t include power unit development costs?

          2. @drycrust

            If you subscribe to Autosport, you can see Dieter Rencken’s excellent budget breakdown by team

          3. @mazdachris I am sceptical of the claim that neither Mercedes F1 team nor Ferrari F1 team don’t have to budget for their power units, nor for Research and Development of the power units. I would expect them to have to budget for these items, but I can accept they may pay less than the customer teams.
            However, I don’t see any point in arguing on this because it simply isn’t worth the effort.

          4. @drycrust

            At the very least, the figures for Mercedes are available thanks to the fact that they are a publically traded company. The RnD and production are handled by Mercedes High Performance Powertrains which is a separate company with a separate budget to the Mercedes F1 team. Mercedes HPP doesn’t just make F1 powertrains, they also do all the RnD for AMG and are financed by Mercedes as the parent company.

            HPP turned over £150m in 2015 for their entire operation including the DTM project. Of that, a whopping £100m was funded solely from the sale of power units to customers. The F1 team don’t pay anything for their engines, so their 2015 budget of £230m was spent entirely on developing the car. Whereas the RBR 2015 budget of approximately £200m also included a significant amount spend on their engines.

            Effectively, Mercedes have both the benefit of being a manufacturer, and the benefit of having significantly more money to spend on their aero and chassis development. It’s not hard to see why Mercedes are dominating at the moment.

          5. @mazdachris Below is the link to an article from Racer website with an interview with Toto Wolff from last year. In this he claims Mercedes (I guess he means the Corporate group) actually make a loss selling engines to customers.
            “Customers” is a loose term, but I think Wolff in that article is referring to teams like Williams, Force India, and Lotus, but that doesn’t mean the customers referred to in your article about the High Performance Powertrain accounts doesn’t include the F1 team. I would expect it to because the F1 team is a customer of HPP.
            According to the figures you supplied above, it appears at least 50 Million Pounds income wasn’t from the sale of power units. We don’t know why Wolff said what he did, but that shortfall, which is far more than the cost of engines to a team for a year, could easily be the reason.
            According to that article the cost of engines for a year is about $22M, which is about 15 million pounds. There were 4 F1 teams using the Mercedes PU106B hybrid power unit: Mercedes, Force India, Lotus, and Williams Martini. If Mercedes HPP charged the 100 million pounds to all 4, then that would be 25 M pounds each, while if they apportioned the cost to just three of them, then that would be around 33 M pounds. Both amounts are far more than the 15 M pounds HPP charge the customer teams, so if the 15M pounds per team is correct, then HPP were selling to non F1 teams as well.
            Considering how little complaint we get from the customer teams about the price of their engines, my guess is Wolff is easily able to justify his claim to them.

    2. RB aren’t just good at aero. DR is talking up the RB brakes this season and their cars stability under braking. Surely that has more to do with the suspension and chassis. They are also the fastest through a lot of the corners despite carrying lower downforce so they can still be fast on the straights.

      RB are good at making everything in their car except the engines. RB want engine parity because it is something they can’t control. As for the rest of the car, rule changes (whatever they are) will probably play into their hands. They have arguably had the best car on the grid (apart from the start of last year and a few other minor blips) for the last 7 years.

      For the people who think the Merc may be a better car. I am sure that it is as long as it is running at the front of the field. However, Hamilton has been stuck behind people he shouldn’t have been this year. It reminds me of Webber when Vettel ruled all. Vettel sailed off into the distance, but Webber couldn’t pass properly. Back then, the RB car was set up to win from the front in clear air. I bet the Merc is the same right now. RB have had to innovate and that is the reason DR can overtake drivers at will and Hamilton can’t.

      1. Hard to say as Hamilton has been trying to overtake with a damaged car. No point arguing who has the best chassis which I personally believe is Mercedes, the only thing we can comment on is who has the best package as born out by the results and this is certainly Mercedes.

        A question for MazdaChris, is it certain the Ferrari budget in F1 does not include all the engine costs? Is there information available on the how much Mercedes spend on the engine and chassis and Ferrari for that matter?

        In the end being motor racing you should be building your own engine if you can afford it, if not you stand a high chance of never being competitive in F1. Red Bull have the money but it will take time but so did their aero department so if they have an issue with engines they should set about building one.

        1. Yes, I am certain. Dieter Rencken publishes very accurate information about team budgets each year. Not only do Mercedes and Ferrari not charge their F1 teams for the power units, it appears that both teams actually make quite a decent bit of extra money from selling their power units to customers.

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that RBR develop their own engine. Of all the auto manufacturers in the world – who inevitably have the best resources and the biggest pool of knowledge on such things – only four have decided it’s worth the investment. And of those four, two have failed to make a decent power unit. What that suggests is that even if you did spend the hundreds of millions it would take to set up an engine operation, you’ve got at best a 50/50 chance of it being anywhere near competitive. It’s telling that no independent engine manugacturer wants to get involved with this formula because of the cost and the huge technical challenge it entails. And that’s against a backdrop of a political situation whereby *at best* the current power units will only run until 2020, but could potentially be ditched at any point before then on a whim by FOM. Very hard to construct a decent business case for investment on that basis.

          1. Brabham\Repco 1966. Just saying..

          2. I appreciate what yo are saying but by the same token only 3 manufacturers feel it is worthwhile to have their own teams and design the aero as well. Red Bull would not even have to pay for all the engine as they could pay for half or more from an established engine builder. Red Bull started withoud a good aero department but spent millions and it took a few years and they made great cars, the same could be applied to the engine, if they are not happy to do this then I just see it as a risk they will not be competitive and tough luck. As for the Renault and Honda engines I strongly believe their performance will increase sharply, especially without the crazy tokens rule.

  3. It’s a majority vote so it’ll go ahead. F1 is going down. Albeit it does so from still so high up in terms of publicity and reach that it’ll not be a major issue on the short term.

  4. It’s simple: make rear wings wider and lower (for aesthetic purpose, because I hate current wings), make front wings smaller (for overtaking purpose), so the general downforce level remains the same and just put wider tyres. The performance will increase by several seconds (not considering natural development). Then we will have greater racing and faster going cars. That’d be wonderful compromise, wouldn’t it?

    1. @osvaldas31

      It’s definitely not simple. For a start, the wide wings were introduced in 2009 at the recommendation of the Overtaking Working Group because they identified that a larger working surface would be less susceptible to dirty air. And it worked. In 2009 the number of overtakes was far higher than in 2008, and the level remains much higher to this day, despite clearly diminishing since. There’s an argument for simplifying the front wing, because that has been one of the major changes over the years since 2009.

      Also, the rear wings were raised so that their aero wake would have less impact on the front wing of a following car. Again, a change brought in for 2009 ont he recommendation of the Overtaking Working Group.

      There are a lot of armchair experts here who want to proclaim how easy it is to improve things by making changes. If it was easy to improve, then those changes would have been made by now. The racing is still fundamentally very good – each race this year has been cracking so far, and there aren’t many years you could say that through F1 history.

    2. …. and you just made the racing worse. More turbulent air off the rear wing, less downforce on the front wing, and you’ve duplicated what happened when they shrank the front wing a year or two ago.

      Between 2009 and 2013, the racing wasn’t too bad– And really, even 2014, it wasn’t too bad for following (look at Hamilton v. Rosberg in Bahrain), but the 2015 nose changes, and the clobbering of FRIC meant that following was much more difficult last year and this year.

      Personally, I say double the DRS gap, and watch Keith’s head explode– but you’ll have a lot more passing. ;)

      1. Have they not suggested having more grip on the front tyres to compensate for this by having softer front tyres than rear? Could this work?

    3. @osvaldas31
      Thank goodness you don’t run F1 in that case. Because long and low rear wings coupled with smaller front wings is exactly what we had circa 2007-08, and the on track action was almost non-existent. 2008 had the least amount of dry overtakes on average per GP. With your aero rules, you’d have cars struggling to follow one another within 50 meters.

      Rear wings should be short and high. I could not care less about how aesthetically pleasing they look, those are the best for racing. Front wings should be wider, and the nose of the car should be higher.

  5. A few weeks ago Stefan Johansson published an opinion piece on the state of F1 and, among other things, he made a very simple proposal: cap the downforce. It’s something feasible and it would solve lots of problems: overtaking would be easier, and bodywork rules could also be less restrictive given that – at the moment – they mostly regulate donwforce-generating areas. Imagine that: cars that look different from each other, unlike the current crop of cars that are basically identical. Another bonus is that, with downforce capped, engineers could only focus on mechanical grip and drag reduction to improve performance, with those two areas being highly relevant to the auto industry as opposed to downforce.

    1. This! I said similar. Cap downforce… Teams would fast focus on mechanical grip and overtaking galore…

    2. I also said similar:
      Allow active aero, with a maximum that can be achieved. Mack the max low enough following cars can achieve it.

  6. So much knowledge and experience in F1, but lack of management and leadership makes it all go to waste.

    Another side to this downforce-topic are the tyres. As Pirelli already have indicated that tyre pressures might need to be increased in order to cope with the 2017 downforce levels. This will lead to further decreased mechanical grip. If F1 wants faster cars, in my oppinion they should focus on reducing car weight and thereby decreasing the load on the tyres. Give Pirelli the possibility to improve the tyres, and reduce pressures. The increase in tyre-size is one step in the right direction, but not if the proposed aero regulations are applied.

  7. FlyingLobster27
    26th April 2016, 13:28

    IndyCars look overloaded now IMO, somewhat awesome, somewhat silly. They look like they should be sportscars. In terms of quality of the action, in the WRW video of the Barber race, it seemed that no overtake was made without contact and a piece of one car falling off.

    “The World Rally Championship planned higher downforce cars for 2017 but is now concerned the action will be less spectacular next year.” Er, what? The WRC doesn’t have overtaking in it. Perhaps they’re worried about going back to a Group B situation, in which someone could say, as a Michelin engineer had at the time, that “the judge is not the car, the tires, or the drivers – it is the road. They cannot go any faster!”

    1. In the WRC the concern is the cars won’t look as spectacular through the corners – that the trend away from drifting and towards cornering ‘on rails’ will be increased by adding more downforce.

      1. @keithcollantine I’ve heard that the cars feel a lot more like Group B cars. From the little teaser video Citroen released, it looks like that to me. A lot more extreme and powerful.

  8. They want more speed, yet there is no magic way of achieving it.

    Grippier “racier” tyres = higher pressures in the name of safety/reliability
    More aero = difficult to overtake therefore worse racing
    Lighter cars = probably refuelling, with all the cost and danger that comes with that (even if they have minimum pit stop times)

    Although I think it plays into their strengths, Toto was probably right in suggesting they retain the current regulations for a bit longer. Through changing nothing, the teams will invariably a) converge on performance, and b) go faster in the name of trying to gain an advantage. The PU technology will mature and approaches will change – compression/ignition types, improvements to energy recovery and “H to K” performance. The only risk to that is from The FIA/FOM with their absurd independent (and therefore two-tier formula) engine idea.

    I don’t think any fan watching at home/at the track could perceive a 3-5 second faster car unless it was all in low/high speed corners. Even then, does chasing lap times really matter if it means predictable races?

    1. Grippier “racier” tyres = higher pressures in the name of safety/reliability

      That may be the case in F1 at the moment with its current tyre supplier, but we’ve had tyres which coped with higher levels of performance without a corresponding increase in pressures in the past.

      1. With cars that weighed 100kg less and on the verge of being even more heavy next year…

      2. Agree Keith, the tyres Pirelli has made use heat as the mechansim for degrading. Wider tyres, with more testing to allow Pirelli to move away from this mechanism is probably the only major thing missing from F1. I like the racing, I like the technology and I love the personalities too. I think that F1 has never been better since I started watching in 1999.

      3. @keithcollantine Well pointed out. It seems obvious some of the politics at play here, aside from each team having their own opinions and vested interests, is from Pirelli. They may need to raise pressures to handle the loads in 2017, only if they are still making tires that degrade the same way the current ones do, which is becoming very tiresome, pardon the pun.

        I strongly believe Pirelli and other makers could easily make tires that could handle higher car weights and downforce loads (assuming F1 simply must force those things through in spite of the objections) without raising tire pressures and risking tire performance, but then they would have to make reasonable stable tires that degrade differently to do so, and then they wouldn’t be the story of F1, and wouldn’t be centrally discussed, and wouldn’t have the marketing impact for Pirelli that having F1 be all about the tires does.

  9. Why is it people see the ‘action’ in refuelling when the evidence shows that refuelling took the action away from the race track. There were fewer overtakes made during races when refuelling was available than there were without.

    Adrian Mewey may have been the best at incorporating aerodynamic downforce in his designs, but, I feel that there are a few equally good designers around.

    1. Because people like you are looking at one aspect of the refueling era, and ignoring all the other aspects that contributed to the largely processional races with little or no on-track passing. 2009 had quite a few overtakes, and yet had refueling.

      Everyone complains that the F1 cars are too heavy– But they don’t want to allow the teams to knock 50-60 kg off the weight of the car by allowing refueling.

      I think with three tire choices, refueling, upping the fuel flow limit to 120kg / hr, and some fairly minimal tweaks to the current aero package, we’d have some amazing races. Since it’s not going to happen, though, I doubt we’ll ever know.

      1. ”2009 had quite a few overtakes, and yet had refueling.” – yeah, but the number of on-track passes doubled from 2009 (the last season of refuelling) to 2010 (the first season after the ban of in-race refuelling, and the last before the introduction of DRS).

        1. @jerejj – 2010 had the f-duct and the copycats, which were essentially restrictionless DRS. So, it’s not a great comparison year to year with 2009.

          1. @hobo, that’s a bit different, in 2010 the cars could use their ‘Fducts’ to get a speed advantage all the time, whether in front or behind or on thir own, not the same as DRS at all really where only the following car can use it and only when close etc.

          2. RaceProUK (@)
            27th April 2016, 0:06

            And the F-ducts were useable not just by the chasing driver, but also the defending driver; DRS only applies to the chasing driver

      2. A far better way to reduce car weight would be to throw these silly power units in the bin and go back to having small capacity, high revving naturally aspirated engines. The gubbins required for all of the electrical recovery and deployment are bulky and heavy, and the same power figures could be achieved using conventional engines. They’d need more fuel, but the bottom line weight would be a lot lower and the cars a lot faster.

        1. @mazdachris But that seems like a waste of billions already spent on PU’s that are much more economic and relevant fuel wise, no? Strictly to save weight you are advocating a backwards move to much thirstier engines that would require much weight added in fuel to start off the races, assuming no refueling.

          Surely these PUs will advance further and perhaps become lighter, or at least surely the teams can find other ways to reduce weight, or at least stabilize the weight at some level.

          1. @robbie

            You’d think so right? But actually the batteries the cars use aren’t that advanced in reality. It’s not an area of massive development in F1. In fact, for advances in battery tech, you need to look to Formula E, and the general road car industry, where the tech is genuinely being pushed forwards. The only things which are really being pushed are the harvesting and deployment sides of the tech, but even then there are other areas where the tech is being pushed just as hard, if not harder.

            Sure, I take your point that it’s a backwards step, throwing tech in the bin. But the question was one of weight, and this is the best, easiest way to achieve that. These power units are white elephants. In terms of ‘THE SHOW’ they really provide nothing. People talk about lots of torque making the cars harder to drive, but that’s not really true. These cars are drive-by-wire with intelligent power delivery systems which provide exactly the amount of power the driver asks for with his right foot. The reason lots of power used to be a challenge was because it used to be delivered in a non-linear way, where a driver would put his foot down and there would be a delay, then suddenly a massive surge in power. These cars don’t have that characteristic and so are no harder to drive in that respect than a powerful naturally aspirated engine.

          2. @mazdachris Fair comment. If they can’t reduce the PU weight perhaps they can reduce the weight of the cars and keep them from getting heavier overall.

        2. @mazdachris You fund the engines then. It’s easy to say when you’re not investing on the engines but we need this engine formula because the manufacturers stand to gain more from it because of its relevancy to road car technology compared to the V8’s or V10’s. They spend a $100 million every year on developing its engine and not all of it are recuperated from prize money and customer teams

        3. @mazdachris – “Small capacity, high revving naturally aspirated engines” generally are not high in torque, especially at the low end. If making the drivers work and the cars harder to drive is a real goal (and I realize that you did not say that here), then your solution does not seem to address it.

          Also, it would seem to me that if faster cars are a goal (which you did mention), then making them more powerful–both horsepower and torque–would be necessary and weight is a secondary concern. I say that because power can be added through increased fuel/fuel flow, easing ICE development restrictions (which they have by scrapping the token system), easing other PU restrictions, etc. Whereas focusing on weight reductions to achieve faster cars would be both less fruitful (my opinion) and put further pressure on driver weight, which is already too much pressure as is. Soon we’ll have jockeys.

        4. Well, they could easily make the cars quite a lot lighter by shortening them, and I´m pretty sure that they could do that without compromise their safety.
          That would not only make the cars lighter, it would lessen their (rear) downforce levels too, and if they also made sure to restrict the front wings flaps and so on too (think early 90´s frontwings), alongside more power, I believe we´d get both faster cars and more exiting racing too. That said if Pirelli produces suitable tires with better grip and less (heating) degradation which they most likely can do if asked to.

        5. @mazdachris

          Very good :).

          The big efficiency leaps are being made on the combustion side, NOT the electric.

          In the past couple of years, the efficiency of these race engines has gone up from 40 to 47% (ish), whereas it’s taken the road car industry the thick end of 117 years before that to go from 17 to 30% (again, ish).

          Conversion efficiency through the hybrid systems has only gone up from around 85 to 95% in those 2 years, so it’s pretty clear where the scope for gains resides.

          Bearing this in mind, the fact that F1 has always been a privateer-inclusive Formula, and that the WEC, Formula E and road car engineers are all working on electric/hybrid, I’d like to see F1 really take the lead on the combustion front, by taking a more conventional engine, and then starving it of fuel by regulation.

          The outcome would only be benefits that are relevant to our road cars immediately.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th April 2016, 14:22

    As always, I have the answer for this too. Enter the ARS – the Aero Reduction System. The car behind will be able to remove all aerodynamics and take off to pass the car in front of it. When the car lands, hopefully in front of the other car and not on top of it, the ARS will shut down. The races will be spectacular.

    1. That just sounds like an extreme form of DRS.

      1. It’s a joke obviously

  11. Will F1 listen? of course not.

    Aside from “the sho”, it’s funny the direction they are taking. From one side they want better safety, but then you increase downforce so the cars are faster in the corners. And with the massive improvement with these engines, expect them to be equally fast (or at least close to current standards) on straights.

    Less aero would make cars much faster on straights, and much more difficult to handle on corners. That’s the good stuff… cars got easier to drive because they are heavier than before, they’ve been gaining downforce ever since it was trimmed down in 2009 (slightly, because of the double diffuser) and they are less powerful than before.

    But the engines are coming together nicely. They only need to make the cars lighter and avoid increasing downforce. Besides, it’s very bad for the economy of the teams to keep changing the rules like this. Bigger tyres and more downforce all together… how are the smaller teams going to cope with those changes? You need a revolution of your car, not an evolution. Teams alreayd had it difficult when they changed the noses because it affected the whole car – imagine if the change was even bigger!

  12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th April 2016, 14:46

    @fer-no65 Good point. When you make any change to the car, it actually affects the entire car’s performance. What are the economics of downforce in F1? I assume removing downforce would be less expensive but that assumption might not be entirely correct because you have to remove it in a way that keeps the car’s performance balanced. I’m not an aerodynamicist by any means but I imagine that adding downforce that keeps you competitive must cost much more per pound than removing downforce and staying competitive. Obviously the drivers want less downforce so the choice is obvious. But even from a financial point of view, they should do some analysis of the cost of adding extra downforce versus removing downforce.

  13. Neil (@neilosjames)
    26th April 2016, 15:00

    In an aero-dominated set of regulations, the teams that can afford to invest heavily in this area will invariably be the ones at the front. Aero-domination solidifies advantages for the cash-rich because they’re the only ones able to do masses of R&D work to find the best solutions. The only way a smaller team can compete is through the presence of an unusually brilliant designer, and that doesn’t happen often.

    More aero = good for richer teams.

    Unfortunately for us, the richer teams are the only ones with any real power in the rule-making process and they’re all out to protect their own interests – the quality of racing doesn’t really matter to them as long as they have a higher chance of being at or near the front and making more money.

    Them voting for less aero would be like a turkey voting for Christmas, so the likelihood of F1 ‘listening to drivers’ is approximately zero.

  14. I’ve been saying it for 20 years? The faster lap-time should come from mechanical grip and engine development only. You increase the downforce you kill the racing. Unless you specify reverse grids. Which in turn would force teams to design cars optimized for overtaking. But that will not be a sport anymore just a WWE-type fake show

    Keep it simple, stupid! Larger, grippier tires, smaller, simpler wings, maybe a wider track like before 1998. How hard can it be?

    1. Wings with loads of slats may work better as a simple single plain wing produces more down force but is prone to stalling, the slats help keep the air attached to the wing so maybe better in turbulent air, if they got rid of turning vanes and cascades this may work, front wings would look like a Gillette mach 5 though.

      1. @markp F1 employs some of the cleverest people in the world(and it’s not an exaggeration) . I’m sure that the only thing needed is to stipulate the problem correctly and they will find the solution to the issues you mentioned. But they’re given the wrong tasks and therefore the solutions will be wrong too

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      26th April 2016, 16:14

      @montreal95 – Whilst I don’t completely disagree with what you say in concept, surely if improvements only came from tyres (Pirelli) and engines (manufactures), what is the point in having racing teams?

      1. @petebaldwin If it seems from my post that I think all aero development should be banned then I apologize. Of course the teams can make the difference. But it should not be stipulated in the rules for 2017(or any other year) to raise up downforce by 25%(or any other figure). The aero development will take its course but the rulemakers should strive to increase the portion of mechanical grip and engine power(for obvious reasons) since that’s the area which can make the racing more exciting(and more relevant too, since the downforce as employed in F1 has few applications in the real world). Going in the opposite direction, i.e. increasing the percentage of downforce generated grip will only serve to create a procession. Rosberg may not be impartial in this matter but he’s right. If the “forced” increase in downforce for next year goes through in the end, don’t expect close racing next year

  15. I’ve been enjoying watching the MotoGP in recent years. It’s raw racing; rider versus rider; racing at it’s rawest. One simple reason – no DRS!

    1. But they have wings now!

      Good thing they’ll probably ban them next year.

    2. Apples and pairs. The slipstream effect on motorbikes is so powerful the bike behind flies past the bike in front on the straights. The last Moto GP race was not as good in my opinion as any races in F1 so far. The other thing with bikes is you can see everything the rider is doing which would not be possible in an F1 car. Watching them live is no comparison for me as Moto GP looks so slow (relatively speaking), they lap Silverstone the same speed as GT3 cars they sometime look like they are cruising back to the pits but the lean angles in the corners is cool.

      1. +1. Altough. Motogp laps slower mainly because of the corners and not because of the straights. They can achieve 350 kph on long straights to just like f1.

      2. No downforce in MotoGP…

        1. @jureo There is now, with the winglets. Here’s hoping they’ll be banned from next year

          1. Thanks for all the replies. I didn’t know about the wings on their bikes. Like many other F1 Fanatics, I’m no fan of DRS. I love watching a driver’s skilful pass in a tight corner or under braking – not with the press of a button. A great passing manoeuvre is what stays with you after a race – it’s what made F1 great and, to me, why it’s falling out of favour.

  16. petebaldwin (@)
    26th April 2016, 15:18

    NASCAR listened to its drivers and cut downforce. Will F1?

    You mean the “windbags” who are “in no position of power”?

    In that particular interview, he also said (about the windbags) “Really their discussion is with their team. They are only saying what their teams have told them to say.” I presume that’s why RIC’s comments are almost exact copies of what Horner said….. Or not perhaps?

  17. Bring larger tyres to increase mechanical grip and increase the car width to 2 metres.
    Leave the wings and diffusers as they are, they simplified them for better overtaking and because of costs.
    Stop improving the show by artificial means and remove current ones as soon as possible.

    I also started liking MotoGP a lot recently, partly because as @danieljaksa said it is raw. You don’t have trilion of strategies and three compounds being used during the race, you have simply racing on the limit.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      26th April 2016, 17:07

      @michal2009b – That’s the thing tough – the front wings are more complicated now than they ever have been! We remember the 2008 wings as these super-complex pieces of engineering brilliance but when you look back and compare them to the 2016-spec front wings, they aren’t even close!

      Here’s a 2008 wing:

      Here’s a 2009 wing:

      Here’s a 2016 wing:

      1. @petebaldwin
        It’s a pity that teams have been reduced to spending billions of dollars (since 2008) on developing pointless little winglets and such.

        Imagine how the front wings will look like in 2025.

      2. @petebaldwin
        And I think that’s the answer why following another car haven’t become noticeably easier despite recent reduction in downforce.

  18. Aero and downforce is the cancer at the heart of F1. They should just freeze it altogether and focus solely on the mechanical aspects of the car to improve performance.

    1. Maybe, design a standard aero package for everyone, then develop mechanical parts all you want.


    Here is something with low-0 downforce, little overtaking.. no DRS… but really good to watch.

  20. Um… full races free on youtube? Hello F1… see that?

  21. Do Mercedes really need another half a second in hand? I am sure it would help Ferrari, and it would improve the drama between the fake competition that is going between those two manufacturers.

  22. I’m just curious what they will do if the cars will become ridiculously fast. I think there is rather high chance that rule-makers underestimated the potential of the new rules. More aero coupled with unrestricted engine development may give the cars much more than 3-5 seconds a lap…And I can’t even imagine what will happen in 2018 and further when teams will exploit the rules more.

    1. Very interesting question… What if RBR finds 90% more DF and Mercedes only 65%?

  23. I don’t think so.

  24. Cameron Keen
    27th April 2016, 0:31

    F1 doesnt need anymore Downforce. Look at the times from this year in qualifying, they are faster than some of the V10 times. F1 needs to be faster during the race. The drivers need to push flat out for 100% of the Race. Race fastest laps should only be 2 to 3 seconds a lap slower than Quali not 5 to 7 seconds. The question is how to achieve this. Racier tyres that the driver can push all stint would help? Fuel stops would help as well with the lighter car in the stints? Raise the fuel flow from 100kg/hr to 130kg/hr? Wider tyres for more mechanical grip? What other Ideas?

    But then even if they go with these Idea, F1 is so fickle and will complain anyway. They wanted tyres that degrade, then they want tyres to last. What do we really want……..? Everything……lol

  25. As someone famously once said, “remind me of the problem statement…”

  26. Is the rush for more aero simply a result of Dietrich Mateschitz having quiet words with Bernie and Jean telling them that he’s going to withdraw his 4 cars if it doesn’t happen?

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