Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Overtaking changes for 2019 to make F1 cars 1.5 seconds slower

2019 F1 season

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Formula One cars will lap around one-and-a-half seconds slower in 2019 as a result of aerodynamics changes designed to increase overtaking.

Last week the FIA approved changes to the cars for the 2019 F1 season including revised front and rear wings which are intended to allow cars to follow each other more closely. However they will also reduce aerodynamic performance and increase lap times.

The FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis described how the changes will reverse some of the performance gains found when the cars were made wider in 2017.

“We expect this new change to be approximately one-thirds of the way less performance of the delta between ’16 and ’17,” he said in a media briefing today. “So we expect to lose about one-and-a-half seconds, that sort of order.

“It’s a bit difficult to predict the amount of development the teams will put on. But we certainly expect to lose performance.”

The rules changes for 2019 arose from research which is being conducted for F1’s post-2020 regulations overhaul. Tombazis described the modifications as a “halfway house” and expects more significant changes in three years’ time.

“There’s work going on at Formula 1 with the collaboration of the FIA for 2021. This work is still ongoing and covers a lot of more complicated areas of the car which need frankly a lot more work before we can define regulations.

“These regulations for 2019 were an extract of some of the lessons learned already at Formula One. They obviously had to be implement-able for ’19 and therefore they only cover specific areas of the car that are a bit more simple.

“The underlying lessons that we have learnt with F1 about how cars perform in the wake of other cars have been used but let’s say it’s only a halfway house. I don’t want it to be confused with the work that’s going on for 2021 in the future because obviously they’ll be more extensive and hopefully have much more time for research.”

Tombazis added the amount of research which had gone into the proposal was “more than virtually any regulation change in aerodynamics that has taken place” with the exception of the one-off 2009 changes instigated by the Overtaking Working Group.

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39 comments on “Overtaking changes for 2019 to make F1 cars 1.5 seconds slower”

  1. Ah, F1, how you annoy me so.

    2008: Our aero hinders overtaking. Let’s simplify aero, for the sake of the show.
    2016: Our cars are too slow. Let’s speed up the cars with crazy aero, for the sake of the show.
    2018: Our aero hinders overtaking. Let’s simplify aero, for the sake of the show.


    1. But don’t you see they have indeed made up their minds? Keep in mind Liberty is still dealing with what they inherited from the BE era. One of the first things they did was to have Ross Brawn assemble a team to study closer racing, and they are doing that in a way that has never been done before, and they will actual institute changes based on thorough study. These changes for 2019 are a stopgap measure to help a little, while the major changes will come for 2021 after the teams have had ample time to adapt, design and build completely new cars that I predict will have wings shaped unlike anything we’ve seen before. These will be the first real non-BE era cars. For now this is what they have, and as I say Liberty and Brawn immediately started to work on the aero/close racing file upon taking over F1. They obviously had their minds made up before they even took over as to a general plan to improve the show. So your last two capitalized lines, are, well, out of line.

      1. +1 well said.

        It’s like some fans genuinely believe that one person sits in a room and changes the regulations on a whim due to how he’s feeling that day.

        1. To be fair that’s pretty much how it was for a long time.

          1. @justrhysism except little Bernie had no input on the technical aspect and cried endlessly about the new formula in 2014 so… no.

          2. RB14, I believe @justrhysism was referring to the Max/Bernie era, where for 2 decades, the head of the FIA and FOM tended to run serious ideas past each other before proposing them to the teams. While teams often complained about this, it had the effect of reducing things to a maximum of two belligerents: Max/Bernie/supporting teams and whichever teams dissented.

            Since Max left his post, Jean and Bernie disagreed on quite a number of things, which led to the FIA imposing the 2014 changes on everyone, making it clear as early as 2011 that the only negotiating room was on minor points. Bernie was increasingly shoved out of the picture. The teams bickered, but couldn’t do anything constructive about the situation. Especially after half of them lost part of their voting ability.

            By the time there was next anything important to argue over, it was early 2016 and Bernie was sufficiently out of the loop for the teams and FIA to proceed, effectively, without him. It was all a prelude to Liberty coming on board and trying for harmony through working with, rather than against, teams and the FIA. Even if they all have different visions of what the sport is or should be doing.

    2. Pedro Andrade
      10th May 2018, 14:09

      100% agree, but I’d say the glodfish-memory-problem is mostly with many fans, that tend to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses.

  2. That’s fair enough and no big deal, but it doesn’t take into account what the tires might be like, and does point out that teams will develope their pu’s and cars in general. Lighter cars would help keep the speeds up too.

    1. 1.5s/lap means 30min more F1 per year.
      And I assume we don’t even have to pay more for that – it’s free ;-)

      1. Oh I do like freebies @coldfly

  3. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
    10th May 2018, 13:57

    Maybe it’s time the phrase “ground effect” was removed from F1’s list of dirty words.

    1. I think they’re calling it “inwash” these days…

  4. In terms of enjoyment, absolute speeds are not too relevant, and relative speeds (and speed differentials) are what matter.

    So if the aero changes that are proposed for 2019 makes the cars a tad slower, it will be a shame from the pedantic/record-keeping sense (fewer FLAP records at tracks), but if it means that cars can tail one another more aggressively, then I’m all for it.

    I do like the idea of interim aero changes for 2019, its a good way to see in the real-world what works and what doesn’t. Trial and error can often be criticized if its done in a haphazard way (e.g. the ridiculous qualifying format a few seasons ago), but for someone like Brawn & team who are working through this systematically & methodically, trial and error is an invaluable tool to be able to course-correct.

    1. +1 Ultimate speed does not make that much difference and as others have said the deduction may be offset.

  5. Good. Longer lap times means more time for… overtaking.

  6. In the back of my mind i see and read all this talks about close racing and after the 1st happy feeling that i get inside me i can’t stop thinking how this will really affect the close car to car racing and driver behavior? of course i want this but which drivers have really the ability to behave correctly and respect the other driver in a closed battle?
    We have the old drivers like Alonso, Kimi, Vettel which are maybe good in closed fights but recent events and driver errors showed that even they can make mistakes. Imagine now all this rookies that jumped to F1 early what will happen when they will race?.
    We have in our minds the golden era of f1 where the old f1 gods had the ability to be near each other without a problem but i suspect this will be a problem in the new era of drivers.

    Either way i wait eagerly for this and i am happy that at least Liberty is trying something in the positive side.

    1. @bluechris – you raise an interesting point, and I also acknowledge that you’re not opposed to the proposed changes. Here’s my take on this.

      The only way drivers hone their close-racing skills is by close racing. Yes, there will be incidents, not a few of which will be caused by hot-headed youngsters.

      But they will be “schooled” well by old hands like Alonso and Hamilton. I hate to bring up a named example since it has the potential to deviate from the general point I’m making into a discussion of the specific incident, but think back to China, where Hamilton caused Verstappen to go off the track, without doing anything illegal, unsporting or even ungentlemanly. Just as these old hands are champions of hard but clean racing, they are also champions of teaching a lesson to youngsters who are too impetuous.

      Bring it on :-)

  7. Does anybody care how fast they are going as long as they are very visibly the fastest? I mean if F1 was 5 seconds per track faster than last year due to a regulation change I’m not at all impressed. If the rules stayed the same and we gained loads of time like from 2014 to 2016 that’s impressive engineering. Cars going faster should come from year on year evolution rather than just allowing something to make them faster…

    1. @flatsix, it would seem that there are quite a few who do care about such things, as I can recall that there was a quite vocal contingent of the fan base who were complaining that F1 cars were becoming too slow a few years ago.

      There were those who complained that there was not enough of a difference in performance between a GP2 car and F1 cars and exaggerated complaints about how slow F1 cars were becoming, so it seems that there were those who thought that, even if they were already the fastest formula series, F1 needed to do more to differentiate itself from junior racing series.

  8. It’s funny that when the FIA spent most of there time trying to slow the cars down from the late 90’s onwards pretty much everyone from drivers to fans were complaining about it…. Yet when they reached a point last year where they finally did something to make them faster a lot of the same people who complained about them been made slower then complained about them been made faster.

    I personally do not like the change because overall performance is for me is important & i do not wish to be going back to times when the cars were slower & easier to drive with drivers talking about been pushed less and it all been less of a physical challenge.

    F1 should not only be fast but it should also be pushing the drivers, Challenging them both physically and mentally. F1 been slower is not a positive step in my view.

    1. Bring back manual gear boxes then!

      I think the fact that they will (hopefully) be able to follow closer and fight more often for longer will mean they ARE pushed both physically and mentally. Look at Indycar – probably 5 -15 seconds slower than F1 but those drivers are pushed to the limit every single race!

  9. Ok so a field of cars like the 919 Evo will lap faster and have better wheel to wheel action than F1 cars. Good job. Just leave this sorry celebrity formula behind already.

    1. What are you even trying to argue here? No kidding the 919 Evo is faster. It’s a Porsche LMP1 that’s been modified to its fullest potential and is well out of the WEC regulation range. It’s not even a competition car anymore. If Mercedes did that with last year’s W08 it would blow the Evo away.

      1. F1 died with Michael Schumacher.
        It’s time to completely revolutionize the pinnacle of motorsport.
        Cars like the 919 Evo prove this.

    2. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but the 2018 F1 cars will beat the 919 Evo, and I say that as an avowed endurance racing fan. Much of the gain between 2017 and 2018 was down to better tires. The 919 Evo was quicker than a 2017 F1 car around Spa, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope of that record still holding after qualifying for this year’s Belgian GP.

  10. Still quicker than the 2016 cars, so I’m okay with that. Though I much prefer the look of the more complicated front wings, and there’s definitely an argument after the past 3 races that overtaking is better this year… But hey…

  11. I’m sorry,

    I just see this as another opportunity for the big budget teams to extend the gap further between them and the rest.

    Just when things level out some, let’s bring in a new set of regulations that will favour the teams that have the resources to work out how best to exploit them.

    I expect that next year we’ll see a number of teams fall behind while RBR, Ferrari, Mercedes and possibly Renault & Mclaren will continue with virtually no difference.

  12. Neil (@neilosjames)
    10th May 2018, 16:32

    Extremely small (near-zero) price to pay if it means the cars can follow even a tenth or two closer than they do now… just hope it makes that much difference.

  13. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    10th May 2018, 17:10

    Evolutions in other areas and technologies will cut this deficit somewhat I would imagine. Plus these figures always tend to be fairly exaggerated. That being said I couldn’t care less if it improves the dirty air situation.

  14. To be perfectly honest I think this & any other attempt to simplify things to get cars to follow closer is always going to end up been completely pointless & ineffective.

    Just because an aspect of the car is simplified isn’t going to mean the engineer’s are suddenly going to stop looking for performance gains in that area & that will inevitably result in things becoming more complex again over time. For instance look at the front wings from the start of 2009 & compare them to what was around by the end of 2009 and then into 2010.

    I think even if they were to go down a ground effects route for 2021 within a few years we would start getting into the same problems with turbulant air etc… because the engineer’s aren’t going to stop looking for performance from wings, Flaps etc…

  15. What i only care about is mclaren, this team has been a midtable team for the least 3 seasons, this is not acceptable at all, they posted a pic thag that new parts have arrived.
    Until i see significant gains towards redbull im gonna hold my horses because the team as it is now is not acceptable at all, and some heads need to change especially at top management, a team with legendary status look at where they are, totally unacceptable….!!!!!

  16. I for one am happy to have slower cars with closer racing.

    Speed is only one aspect of racing cars.
    Close fighting of teams and drivers is why we watch, we hope to see more of that, and I would imagine the teams will all quickly learn and exploit new ways of designing this aero.

    This is also a nice phased introduction for teams to get a new skill set in mind for the new regs so hopefully no one will be completely screwed come the change.

  17. Hopefully not. At the very least, I hope they’d still be faster than 2016 and all the other pre-2017 aero-reg seasons. BTW, 1.5 seconds slower compared to this season’s pole time on any given circuit or last season’s equivalents? If this season then it’d mean that the pole time for Bahrain GP, for example, next season would be approximately the same as in 2016 as this season’s pole lap there was about 1.5 seconds faster than the 2016 equivalent lap.

  18. Would the majority care if modern F1 cars were the speed of those 1989 McLarens?

    Dancing on the edge, dramatic, loud, brutal, drivers changing gears manually? Yes they were nearly 10 seconds slower but infinitely more impressive and exciting.

  19. WRC cars look fast in videos even though they are slow comapred to F1, and F1 cars the other way.,why is it so? It will be geeat if they can show the true speed of f1 cars.

  20. The significance of this, to me, is that this gives a test for the 2021 ideas before the teams commit to them. If it turns out that the research is wrong and this makes things worse (something that happened in 2009), backtracking is possible. If it turns out to be correct, it can be augmented in 2021. This is a logical approach.

  21. Okay, so a field of cars like the 919 Evo will lap faster and have the better wheel to wheel action than F1 cars. Good job. Just leave this sorry celebrity formula behind already.

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