Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Crunch vote today on four changes to aid overtaking in 2019

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Formula One teams will vote today on whether to approve four changes to cars which could make overtaking easier in the 2019 F1 season.

RaceFans understands F1 bosses are confident the proposed tweaks to the front wings, rear wings, brake ducts and bargeboards will have a positive effect on how closely cars can run together. The majority of teams have studied the proposals using CFD and shared their findings last week.

The proposals face a crunch vote today because any changes to the technical regulations for 2019 made from tomorrow will require unanimous approval. An electronic vote of the members of the F1 Strategy Group, F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council is being held. The changes require 70% approval from the commission to go ahead.

The changes are being voted on in two parts. The first is to approve changes to the front wing (reducing the outwashing effect), simplifying the front brake ducts (including a ban on winglets) and increasing the width and depth of the rear wing. A second vote will be taken on whether to simplify elements of the barge boards.

Increasing the size of the rear wing would potentially increase the power of DRS. This could prompt further changes in the position and length of DRS zones.

Teams have faced a short turnaround to approve the changes which were first proposed at the Bahrain Grand Prix. However F1 bosses feel the plans have benefited from more research than most recent rules changes.

RaceFans has also learned there is concern that failing to act now will mean the overtaking problem continues to worsen as the technical regulations remain unchanged and teams continue to find more downforce from their cars.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018
2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pictures
Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff praised the research which had gone into the proposal. “They did some really good work and there is some data which we will intensely discuss [today] in the factory and come up with a yes or no,” he said.

Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said the teams wanted the opportunity to research the changes themselves ahead of the “drop dead date” of today’s vote.

“My opinion is if you do it with scientific experiments and you have a better understanding of what the outcome’s going to be than just rolling the dice then you should wait because the better information you have the better the decision you have,” he said.

Szafnauer added there has been no discussion of a moratorium to allow the vote to be taken after today.

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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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28 comments on “Crunch vote today on four changes to aid overtaking in 2019”

  1. F1 Strategy Group is composed by (as per excellent @dieterrencken article ) Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams, RedBull, McLaren and Force India, if I understand correctly. So these are the teams voting.

    1. This particular vote is between the F1 Strategy Group, F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council. So every team gets at least one vote, though the teams you mention are the only ones who get to vote three times.

  2. How could the rear wing really be made any wider than it already is? TBH, there isn’t that much room to widen it even more from its current widths due to the how wide the rear tyres are these days.

    1. @jerejj The rear wing can overhang over the rear tyres.

    2. The problem is if the rear wing is even wider it will punch a bigger hole in the air, which is the idea to increase the slipstream and DRS, but will further weaken the front wing and bodywork aero in the corners. I understand it’s not the rear wing that causes the biggest disturbance with the air, but it doesn’t help. The rest of the changes sound good though.

      I hope the teams remember that without viewers F1 as we know it today would not exist. Sadly I have very little doubt they will vote against the changes

      1. It’s the diffuser which has been really shredding the air for the front wings. It might be that adopting a standard diffuser profile will be one option to improve following.

    3. a rear wing wider than the inside of the rear tyres would be appalling visually.

  3. Winglets on brake ducts should already be illegal under the ‘all aerodynamic surfaces must be sprung’ regulations.

  4. I’m really not getting my hopes up at all. The teams sounded very against these changes. I’m literally taking it as a ‘no’ unless we’re told otherwise, such is F1.

  5. I think another thing to bear in mind is the fact the teams can use all of this year’s data for next year’s design. There’s very little chance they’ll want to relinquish all of this ‘homework’ in favour of a brand new design, especially the front runners who’ll be casting their votes.

    1. @ecwdanselby I’m confident that these changes are relatively minor and won’t require brand new design. Brawn is not looking to cost anybody a ton of money revamping one-season to the next. To me, any team that is not dominating should want to have cars less sentive in dirty air.

      1. The rules changes fundamentally change how the front wings work. Not only are they heavily reducing the amount of vortex generators (the bigger teams love these – think about the sheer amount of staff they have compared to the smaller teams. This is their difference maker), but they’re essentially trying to make the air flow less efficient by inwashing the air as oppose to outwashing (ie. air being sent inwardly as oppose to being pushed outwardly around the tyres).

        The teams, especially the front runners, have spent millions on these current designs. I’d be stunned if they agreed to binning all of this in favour of simplification, which would greatly benefit the smaller teams with fewer staff and less of a budget.

        And you hit the nail on the head with your end line – yes, any time that isn’t dominating will love this. Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes will not, and they hold the most clout.

        1. **time = team

        2. @ecwdanselby, is it necessarily better for the smaller teams, or potentially worse for the smaller teams in the short to medium term? Those smaller teams are potentially worse off as a fairly sizeable change in regulations that requires a considerable change in design, and therefore incur significant costs, is going to take a more significant chunk out of their resources than it will from the larger teams.

          In the quotes above, it is is Szafnauer who sounds more cautious about the new proposals whilst Wolff sounds more relaxed – probably because Wolff has the resources available to him to be able to afford to change that front wing without having too much of an impact, whereas Szafnauer knows that it’ll probably force him to divert resources away from other parts of the car.

          If the costs associated with that redesign are significant, I wouldn’t be surprised if the end effect actually increases field spread and increases the gaps between the midfield teams and the top teams because those midfield teams don’t have the resources to compensate for those additional costs in the short to medium term. If expensive, and Craig Scarborough did note that the changes will require a substantial redesign of much of the car, which is likely to be expensive, then it could end up making things worse rather than better by creating even more of a gap to the big three in the short to medium term.

  6. Nothing needs to or should be done that makes DRS more powerful.

    1. What drs does is make the leader drive extra hard to keep 1 sec ahead. Without drs, the lead driver can play games with the pursuer like break checking on a slow corner and such , but with drs, it is all about speed around the track to maintain 1 sec ahead. If following was made easier, then this will play into the Mad Max style of driving. What fun! JMHO

      1. Sorry, but there’s zero way DRS makes for purer racing, as you’re portraying.

        1. It doesn’t, but DRS is here to stay, maybe lets work on that ridiculous front wing and barge boards

          1. I agree completely!

            Weirdly, I haven’t found overtaking to be much of an issue this year compared to last year. Could be the tyres?

          2. I have learned to live with DRS and it is here to stay for the time being. I just don’t like the fact that is allowed to be used all the time. Someone racing within a close group of several cars can use it lap after lap many times, while a driver trying to catch or get away from this group on his own may not be able to use it at all. The regs should restrict DRS use to three times a race and 50 times a season per each driver. Then it becomes a strategic tool rather than chance benefit.

    2. true. the closing speeds yesterday were getting to the point it was dangerous. without DRS we would have still seen a fair amount of action. if you increase the with vs. without effect of DRS, we will see some monumental accidents.

      it highlights the fundamental problem with DRS – when it works there is no contest (between attacker and defender). when it doesn’t work, there is still no contest.

      1. Seemed that everyone except Max was able to cope with the speed differentials…

  7. Crunch this

    Drop DRS and green light “Double Moves” under braking. Allow the drivers to instinctively behave while attempting to pass. This false method of creating a pass while introducing unnatural and limiting passing manouevers needs to end. The phony gains from using DRS gave us some pricey front wings and Grand Prix Cars that look different. Simplify the aerodynamic advantage and create new rules to enhance passing like the double move under challenge of braking. You end the mechanical advantage while sharpening the driver skills duals at corners. Are my ideas far fetched? Save money and return F1 to Drivers skill sets and the end of this very very poor idea of DRS.
    Could DRS be the dumbest thing ever brought to today’s Grand Prix Racing ??

    1. Allow the drivers to instinctively behave while attempting to pass. This false method of creating a pass while introducing unnatural and limiting passing manouevers needs to end

      I’ve been saying this for such a long time! We are told these are the finest racing drivers in the world yet they have actual rules to say what they have to do to defend or overtake in a straight line, it is utterly pathetic!

      It should be down to the drivers to keep it clean. They are halfway there with the rule that now says they will only penalise a driver who is clearly / predominantly to blame (or however they put it). Pushing another car off track or into a wall is obviously not acceptable, nor obviously is weaving across the whole track, but everybody knows this is dangerous driving. If you don’t know that clearly you’re not worthy of being an F1 driver!

      Look at Verstappen and Ricciardo, they both went for it and they both paid the price. I think it is fantastic we got to see that and it is brilliant the stewards didn’t intervene.

      1. Well said Strontium

        1. @strontium

          Moving under braking is not real racing. It’s uncivilised and dangerous. No driver of any level wants it and we as fans shouldn’t either.

          This rule was introduced because, if anything, the modern era of GP drivers were more racer than ever and a gentleman’s agreement no longer cut it. I agree that it’s sad we need a rule to govern it, but at the same time I also want each new generation of drivers to push the envelope and subsequently the governing body to keep things reasonable.

          Moving in braking zones has never been reasonable. It’s out of order.

  8. I am afraid this is an overreaction. I would approve the changes to the front wings if they meant getting rid of the DRS, not making it stronger at the same time. There have been three very good races in a row and – personally, I loved the Australian GP as well as it produced an unexpected winner. Why does F1 need to make overtaking easier right now? To make it even more difficult for a Force India to keep a Ferrari behind and thus make Perez’s rare podium finishes even less likely? I hope I am wrong here and the changes will simply cancel out the extra downforce the teams will find until 2019.

  9. Something that requires all teams to agree?????

    Surely the deadline for that would be April 1st not 30th lol

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