Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

Outwashing front wings targeted in bid to increase overtaking in 2019

2019 F1 season

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Teams may have to replace their ‘outwashing’ front wing designs under plans to improve overtaking from the 2019 F1 season.

The designs, which have been in use since 2009, are believed to play a significant role in the difficulties drivers experience in following each other closely.

Outwashing front wings were created in response to changes in car design which followed a study by the Overtaking Working Group. The OWG recommended reshaping front and rear wings along with other measures intended to reduce total downforce.

However within a few races teams discovered the outwashing front wing design. This allowed them to better manage the air flow around the front wheel and recover much of the lost downforce.

The OWG ceased after one season. Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who participated in the project, said it would have addressed the outwashing designs had it continued and he is pleased the sport is doing so now.

“I think it is fantastic the new owners of F1 are invested in central research to properly study and develop regulations based on science,” said Lowe.

“If you look back, had it existed back then, having created the OWG cars in 2009, what would have been perfect in retrospect would have been to have a follow-up programme a year later looking at the cars that had actually been produced. Because one of the most interesting things [is] immediately those cars came out the teams invested outwashing front wing endplates which were never studied in the OWG programme.

“What they’re finding now, the hypothesis is, that those outwashing effects are highly detrimental to the process and the structures that had been identified by the OWG.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2009
Outwashing front wings appeared in 2009
FOM has now asked the teams to use their resources to investigate whether replacing the outwashing design would help drivers follow each other more closely.

To stand a realistic chance of being approved any rules changes for 2019 need to be before the end of April, after which unanimous agreement between the teams is needed. Lowe said the proposals met with “a range of views” when they were presented.

However Renault’s chief technical director Bob Bell said in China there is “still time” to reach an agreement. Meetings of the Formula One Strategy Group and F1 Commission being held today and FIA race director Charlie Whiting said they are “acutely aware” the they are running out of time to agree the changes.

“It’s something we think we should continue discussing,” he said. “We’ve had two good races of late but I think it was fairly clear that it wasn’t easy to overtake.”

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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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45 comments on “Outwashing front wings targeted in bid to increase overtaking in 2019”

  1. Interesting read, I vaguely remember the OWG but completely forgot about it.

    The biggest issue with the CVC / Ecclestone era is highlighted here, was there immediate benefit? No, then cancel it!

    As Pat says, if they continued then it could have been adapted and refined and maybe (a small maybe perhaps) we wouldn’t have quite as much messy air that we do have at the moment.

    1. Yeah there just was no motivation for the teams to do anything other than what they did, which was to counter the OWG work with what would instead help them have more downforce. Instead of the OWG (Overtaking Working Group) BE handed more power than ever to the top 4 teams over the last decade of CVC, and said four teams were not going to harm themselves with less downforce unless forced to do so, so they became the OWG (Outwashing Wing Group) that was only motivated to keep their own aero edge.

      1. F1 Engineer
        18th April 2018, 8:28

        BE didn’t hand over anything, the teams took what was rightfully theirs. The teams make the cars and pay the drivers and will therefore not allow others to dictate how they spend their money.

        F1 can exist without the FIA(replaced or not), F1 would thrive without LM or CVC, but it can not exist without the teams. Nobody in the history of F1 has bought a ticket to watch BE or any FIA official.

        1. Not true. The teams will take what is rightfully theirs when allowed. And BE allowed four teams and no more, the bulk of the power. If ‘teams’ dictate things, then why are the lesser ones struggling as they are, and why do that have little say from the last decade of BE’s reign? BE handed four teams the power to dictate the current formula F1 races in now, while giving the lesser teams no say. So ‘they’ is actually four teams, and they took what they wanted as allowed. The rest of the teams weren’t allowed to put ‘rightfully theirs’ into their vocabulary.

  2. What is an Outwashing Wing Design? What washes out?

    1. Same here.. a bit explanation would be nice..

        1. Thank you, that was very useful @seth-space

    2. The simple explanation is how you steer the airflow around the front tire. Outwashing wings direct the air away from the car while inwash wings direct it between the front tires. In both cases the air is directed around the tire. Other possibilities are front wings with no end plates. One example of that is a straight wing with no end plates at all. Other type is a wing that basically doesn’t have end plates but has some complex shape where the endplates would be. The indycar front wing is almost that although I think the indycar wing steers the air inwards (inwash). And of course it is possible to have narrow front wing with straight end plates, see 1996 f1 cars for example.

      Then there is also a wing that doesn’t have the empty spot requirement in the middle. There is a small area in the middle of the front wing where rules don’t allow you to have any wings which was added in 2009 or 08. This new empty area that was required then created the Y250 vortices which is an important consideration for front wing design. Before that the wings extended from left to right with no neutral section in the middle. The goal of the change (I think) was to reduce the effect of dirty air as the center section of the front wing is most sensitive to dirty air. Making it flat should in theory cause less downforce loss when following other car. Although I do not know speficially which is better. The fragile T250 vortices or full width front wings.

  3. long overdue… i believe teams won’t be too happy about that, cause these front wings aren’t cheap. another example of the disaster that f1 has become…

    1. On the contrary, @zad2 , from a pure cost angle, teams might be happy about this, as front wings are often the most tweaked and altered part of a car (they often build and run different front wings on Fridays to decide if they make that a part of the race package). However, teams might be unhappy just in terms of how it impacts their aero balance, but as that is something that affects all cars on the grid, it might be acceptable.

      1. @phylyp
        as i understand the build the whole aero around the front wing, so it´s a big redesign of the whole package, so i was assuming they´ll see lost revenue to investment allready made. i hope you´re right and everybody will be happy.

        i still consider it a desaster as the problem of not being able to follow the car in front is as bright as the sun, an they still didn´t change the phylosophy for a decade. i really hope ross get´s the technical regulation aspect of the show right, because i´m drawn to the conclusion that if he´s the best person for the job, and the show is far from enjoyable from the passionate point of view…

        safety car roulette isn´t really a good way of “improving” the show.

        1. Speaking of design philosophy – why even go there? Not that I am against improved design, just that if the wish is to improve overtaking, why not simply set the DRS window from 1 second to 1.5 seconds, or where ever the car in front impacts the performance of the car behind.

          Mean time we have these high performance cars carrying these with deliberately designed ‘air brakes’ to offset there performance.
          If you want to make the sport purer I would start with removing those ‘drag inducing’ systems.

    2. Well, I don’t think they’ll be asked to throw the current wings out. Just that hopefully next year they will have a different look and will be less sensitive in dirty air. It’s a two sided coin…they may lose some downforce…but they will also be able to follow more closely and not have to sit back in dirty air monitoring their tires temps all the while. I don’t see the need for the word ‘disaster’ in any of this.

    3. If one team is not happy with the proposal then it will not be happening for 2019. All teams have to agree…..good luck with that.

  4. I, and lots of other people, have been talking about tweaking the front wings for years to aid following another car.

    I don’t know much about the outwashing stuff, but I think that getting rid of the designs featuring many elements should help as well. Simplified wing designs with less flaps and straight endplates that probably create a lot less overall downforce, but are less disturbed by turbulence would be very welcome.

    1. @sham That and I suspect that for the redesign for 2021 the rear wings and diffusers will be a shape we have never seen before, as they will be meant to create much less wake ie. dirty air behind them. They have a lot of knowledge and experience with the science of aero downforce, and that can’t be unlearned, so I don’t necessarily envision wings that look like they did 20 years ago, but I do think there will be a good combination of wing work and floor work that will greatly improve things and cause the elimination of the ‘need’ or ‘desire’ for drs.

  5. jonesracing82
    17th April 2018, 16:48

    They need to go further than the end plates. Get rid of all the 66888643799864 flip ups these wings have. The racing in the 1st couple of races in ’09 wasn’t too bad then these flips ups started to appear as well as the double diffusers & it was back to the way it was. Do away with bargeboards etc as well.

  6. Very interesting. If you look at 2008 and earlier, those cars could follow nose to tail through corners, it looks amazing. Compare that to the understeer in China whenever a car was close behind.

    I’d like to ask, what would be the effect of banning endplates altogether? Wouldn’t a simple front wing with no endplate would make the front wing for downforce balance and nothing else?

    1. The strange thing to me is that we had the 2009 regs introduced to…. make following another car easier!

      So I do find it slightly strange that we’re going back to a concept we last saw in 2008, but clearly there’s a little more to it than that. Just quite ironic!

      1. @ecwdanselby Well it is ‘simply’ that the teams were never motivated to do anything other than pursue their own aero work through hundreds of millions spent on and in wind tunnels, which has made them go around a track quickly due to the downforce they can generate, no doubt more efficiently than ever, yet to the detriment of close racing. Close racing has been a concern for years, but only a marginal concern, as teams have been moreso allowed to just look after themselves, especially the top four teams in the last decade, handed too much power by BE. If they can go fast with downforce and disrupt the air for the car behind at the same time, then…have at it…

        Now there is a neutral team in place to actually affect science based research into closer racing that will be able to dictate to the teams (after much consultation with them) that they will be creating less sensitive cars to dirty air, while I predict also creating less dirty air to begin with through rear wing and diffuser work.

      2. I think all and any gains that were to be had from the 2009 rules was just destroyed with the double diffusers. And you also had the kers systems, re-introduction of slicks (f1 had grooved tires before that). The 2009 rules also introduced the adjustable and wider front wing. There was a lot going on.

    2. @strontium Following with the pre-2009 aero regs wasn’t really any easier than it has been since, though. Following another car has been a big issue in F1 for a very long time already. Long before either of the two most recent significant technical regulations changes primarily focused on the aero.

      1. @jerejj following pre-2009 may not have been great but it was certainly much better than post-2016 (i.e. now)

        1. @strontium It’s actually about the same.

          In 2008 the OWG concluded that around Barcelona the dirty air began to start badly effecting a car when it was 1.5 seconds behind another & that to overtake a car needed to be at least 2 seconds a lap faster.

          There the same gaps/laptime differences that are brought up in relation with the modern cars.

          The aim of the 2009 changes were to reduce both by at least half as it was felt that cars able to run within about 7 tenths of one another & need to be around 1 second a lap faster to overtake around Barcelona was acceptable.

          They used Barcelona as the test case because Barcelona was/is one of the most aero critical circuits due to it featuring primarily high/medium speed longer radius corners. It was therefore felt that if they aimed to get things to an ‘acceptable’ level around Barcelona it would mean things would be even better on most other circuits.

          Also worth mentioning that one of the key things the OWG aimed to do was to ensure that overtaking was possible but not too easy. They wanted it to be down to driver skill & for a leading driver to still be able to defend again by skill…. I feel that whatever is done for 2019/2021 should maintain that principle.

  7. This is outstanding. Just the thought of bringing in change to the whole Front Wing situation.

    It just needs to go, asap. Dump the whole Y250 rule, regulate how much Air can be outwashed and watch magic happen.

    For best results science should be applied, and end results not geometry should be perscribed. Then teams would do their magic, it might also seriuslly interupt.current balance of power. Also good.

    1. Y250 is a different aspect of the front wing to outwashing at the endplates though.

  8. Wow. Just the 10 years to come to the same conclusion many of us made in 2009. I might try and dig up some old comments on this site..! Better late than never I guess. This is good news.

    1. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      17th April 2018, 20:10

      Might be fun to dig up some old race footage from the mid-80s and listen to the commentators lamenting the difficulty of following another car in turbulent air. Not such a recent phenomenon as some people seem to think.

      1. Some years ago I saw some highlights of the 1972 Austrian Gp which included some footage & interviews from practice/qualifying. At one point they were talking to Graham Hill about the importance of a good starting position & in 1972 he was talking about how difficult it was to follow & overtake in F1 cars.

  9. “I think it is fantastic the new owners of F1 are invested in central research to properly study and develop regulations based on science,”
    – Honestly, when will people (I mean most have, but the rest as well) realize to stop misusing the word ‘new’? Something that has happened over a year ago isn’t technically ‘new’ anymore, i.e., it doesn’t meet the definition of the word anymore. Everyone should have by now at the very latest stopped using the word ‘new’ when talking about/referring to the ‘current’ commercial rights holders of the sport. ‘New’ is, for example, something that has happened very recently and or something that hasn’t been used before when talking about objects and or some other type of stuff.

    1. @jerejj I think the word new is appropriate here, because F1 is still very much dealing with that which BE left them. BE was there for 40 years, so it is still very much early days in terms of what impact Liberty will have, and that has just begun with new thinking, such as the two cars in a tunnel to study overtaking, and actually take from that evidence and affect change to the cars, which has not been done in earnest before. Liberty is new, their approach is new, and they’re heading toward a new and improved F1 ahead of a new era post-2020. I think it is fine to use the word new to help segregate that which came from BE.

      1. @robbie Although I get your point, I still find it a bit wrong to use the word ‘new’ on something forever. The fact to the matter is that the change of ownership of the sport took place 15 months ago, i.e., not too recently anymore, so, therefore, the word ‘current’ is more fitting in this case than ‘new.’
        ‘Current owners,’ not ‘new’ anymore.

  10. The solution to many of F1’s problems is to bring back qualification cars. They would have complex and expensive wings and barge boards that are modular and come on and off. 50% of constructors points would be awarded for qualification. The race would be run with cheaper and simpler wings. The race could also be run with restricted engine modes.

    The rich teams could target performance in both qualification and the race and then the poorer teams could strategically target performance in the race. The races would become more competitive and exciting to watch. The qualification car could be marketed as the ultimate race car on the planet. Hell… why not have the drivers in g-suits and bring back fan cars? Stick jet engines on the top and have 5000 element wings . Go to town on the technology in qualification, but just have good races.

    1. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      17th April 2018, 20:24

      Go home Bernie, you’re drunk.

  11. Step in the right direction I suppose. As usual teams that have made the most efficient front wings will be opposed to it and vice versa. But let’s hope that they all agree that closer racing will bring more audience to the sport, thus, increase overall revenue.

    Also, why doesnt FIA/FOM use F2 and F3 as test beds to see what works and what doesn’t?

  12. The stupidness of Bernie becomes clearer for every move the new owners make.

  13. They are desperate, they dont know what to do… what a joke f1 has become

  14. How is it that any committee needs to actually think about the issue of the damage that front wing dependent cars have done to the sport . F1 has become mostly a “follow the leader” event. . Everyone knows that qualifying should be just to make sure that the best cars don’t have to deal with passing the slower ones and thus having the outcome possibly determined by the luck of who you are or are not stuck behind.
    The fact that anyone has to THINK about this is disturbing. Anything which interferes with the battle on the track has to go.
    The present day front wings are horrible. The best parts of a race are the duels between well matched cars and their drivers, the games of wits and courage to see who can pass and who can defend . The race should NOT be determined in the qualifying sessions with only a couple of overtakes over a 2 hour period-pathetic!
    Indycar went the right way -reduce down force ,let the cars run with one behind the other fighting for however long it takes to make an over take or defend and pull away, not this F1 way where a driver can follow for a lap or two and then drop back because his tires are wearing out. Further,less down force means more need for good driving. Where the car is glued to the track the driver need not fight to maintain the attitude of the car. Don’t we want skill to win out ?
    Give everyone a chance to win and not just the drivers who drive for a rich team ,the three (3)who will spend the millions needed to have the best front wing tech.
    From 2014 to 2016 is was mostly watching a Mercedes car sit on the pole and then pull away on the 1st lap and with clean air stretch out a lead that no one could possibly make up . Half way through lap 1 the race was over and the suspense was finished when Q1 was done .
    F1 could be described NOT in a word but, in a letter :Z as in ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ .
    Its gotten a little better but very little. There is still so little over taking that the events are boring when compared to other forms of auto racing .
    Add to this the fact that because wing technology and development is so expensive we still have a three (3) team race . If you don’t have half a billion to spend each season you are just there to fill up the grid cause you have NO chance to win and not much of a chance to get to the podium .
    Case in point , ask these questions : does Alonzo have the skill to compete for a win or even a podium ? Does he have a realistic chance at a win or even a podium this season ? Additionally ,ask yourself when was the last time he had such an opportunity .
    Excessive front wing,or not IS a no brainer but, we may be asking it of those who don’t seem to use theirs .

    1. @rikdi I think most would agree with you as do I, but I think Liberty is already on it. They are already making the moves to start the process of getting their way out of what BE’s last 10 years in office created. But they have said all along, no more knee-jerk reactions that will only cost a ton of money, not really solve the bigger issues, and only disadvantage the lesser teams.

      They are doing as you would suggest, but they simply cannot just snap their fingers and make it happen. They have to do it in a deliberate and well thought out way so that it is fairer for everyone to adapt, and so that they get it right.

  15. The front wings look very similar to IndyCar’s front wings (especially Honda’s) during the start of Aero Wars. A jillion vanes, elements… Simplify the aero on the entire car, make it harder to control, better looking & put it back in the drivers hands.

  16. I’m sure this is a sign of my ignorance on the subject, but I don’t see why an outwash front wing end plate on a leading car would reduce the downforce on a car behind. I can see it would enable the leading car to have less drag, which would make overtaking more difficult, and I can see it would move air to the side instead of just up. but none of these would reduce the available downforce a trailing car has access to in comparison to not having end plates.
    This doesn’t mean I oppose the removal of the end plates, I don’t have a problem with that at all, because it will increase the drag experienced by a leading car. I just don’t see the removal as helping the cars behind to follow closer than if the end plates were present. I’d rather cover the wheels up completely so as to reduce the lift generated by the rotating wheels, and to have some sort of aerodynamic fairing on the rear of the wheels so as to reduce the turbulence behind the car. However, F1 is an open wheel racing series, so wings are necessary to counter the lift generated by the wheels.

    1. SparkyAMG (@)
      19th April 2018, 10:25


      Wakesurfing, F1-style

      There are (at least) two aspects to this: the first is that the outwash front wings will increase wake left by the car by pushing air out and away from the racing line, and the second is that the aero structures that are set up around the car and depend heavily on the outwash design just fall apart when following another car, although arguably this would apply to any type of front wing.

      Tyres cause a huge amount of wake but as you’ve alluded to, being an open wheel series it’s unlikely it’ll ever change.

  17. F1 should go back to simpler, smaller wings like the ones used in the 90s or in current Formula E or Indy cars, and fix the turbulent wake cars leave behind.

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