Todt defends 2019 F1 aero changes following driver criticism

2018 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt has defended the aerodynamic changes which have been agreed for the 2019 F1 season following criticism of the plans by drivers yesterday.

Changes to the front and rear wings of F1 cars were approved last week in order to allow drivers to follow each other more closely. However yesterday Sebastian Vettel said it was “comical” the sport has again changed course with respect to aerodynamic development.

“In 2009 we went, ‘let’s go less aerodynamics and better racing’ and so on,” said Vettel. “In fact I think it didn’t change too much.

“Then we said ‘the cars are too slow, let’s put more aerodynamics and make them wider, more spectacular’. All the drivers’ feedback was ‘thank you very much, spectacular, that’s what we would like, more challenging, you see us more exhausted after the race’.

“And now we want to make them slower again. It’s a bit like cruising to America and changing direction 100 times.”

Other drivers have also raised concern about the planned changes and complained they were not consulted about them. However Todt said the problems drivers face overtaking had to be addressed as soon as possible.

“I feel that if you understand something is getting wrong you should try to find a solution,” he said in a media briefing at the Circuit de Catalunya. “We all say we want to have a better sport, to have a better show, so let’s do something.

“So on one side we could say let’s wait [until] 2021. And it’s at the start of the 2018 season so it means we wait ’18, ’19, ’20 , knowing there is a problem which is damaging the sport. So in this case we ask some relevant engineers to address the problem.”

Research conducted on the problem revealed drivers need a lap time of advantage of more than one-and-a-half seconds to be able to overtake a rival, said Todt. “So then you speak to the engineers and you say ‘do you think we can do something to improve the situation’. And then they come they say yes.”

“So to try to make the sport better we try – using the proper governance, which as you know is not the easiest thing in Formula One – to make a proposal. So that’s why we made this proposal and by miracle it was accepted.”

Todt made it clear he is unhappy with the negative response to a change he feels is intended to improve the sport. “We need to promote the sport rather than putting people against each other,” he said.

He also insisted he is available for the drivers to raise their concerns with him. “I’ve always, all the time in my life I’ve tried to hear what the drivers were saying. The drivers, I invited to participate, I invited to do something. If we speak about the Halo, I did not invent the Halo, I was urged by the drivers to do something because they felt unsafe.”

He promised, “any driver who wants to see me from the back of the grid to the top of the grid, he will be able to see me within 48 hours.”

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2018 F1 season

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 20 comments on “Todt defends 2019 F1 aero changes following driver criticism”

    1. Can they not just get the 2008 cars back and dump the hybrid pu in them?
      The cars looked great, they followed each other fine and the season was close all the way through!

      1. The 2008 cars are by far my favourite. I thought they looked stunning, they were fast, and they raced quite well

        1. @strontium Oh come on. The 2008 cars were the most preposterous ever. They were covered with little flaps everywhere. It’s like the smeared the body with glue and ran them through a random pile of carbon fibre parts.

          The current cars look massively better.

          Otherwise give me the clean cars of the early nineties. Especially the McLaren of 91 or 92.

          1. @patrickl I agree there were too many flaps and it was messy, but the overall form of the car, the shape and proportions of it, and the way they drove, I thought was amazing.

            I do like the current cars (ignoring the halo), but visually I find the front end is hideous. The nose ‘cone’ is square, has a sharp angle where it goes down, and the front wing is hanging on by a thread of carbon fibre.

            I realised I had forgotten the early nineties just as I pressed ‘post comment’. They were really stunning, especially the McLarens.

      2. Why ruin the 2008 cars with these bad engines…

      3. they followed each other fine

        But they didn’t, That was the entire reason the aero regulations were changed in 2009…. To try & get cars able to get within 7 tenths-1 second of one another.

        1. @stefmeister, exactly – I can remember how everybody was complaining about how the cars were “sprouting these ugly winglets” and were apparently a hideous mess because they had too many aerodynamic appendages.

          Equally, I can remember how there were widespread complaints that the cars were unable to follow each other because all of those “ugly winglets” were disturbing the airflow behind the cars, leading to drivers being unable to get close enough to make a pass. Now, apparently, those cars “look great” and “there were no problems following another car” – how short the memories of the fans are.

    2. I’m torn on this.

      On one hand the aero changes make sense from the perspective of the “show”, but I sympathise with the point regarding speed. The 1:16:1 yesterday was exciting; I want to know these drivers are pushing for track records even if we’re way past the point of this being the quickest construction an engineer can put on track. I don’t buy the argument that ultimate speed makes little difference – this is F1, speed is probably its defining characteristic. Karting has closer racing, does anyone care?

      I say simplify the aero somewhat but cut the weight significantly. Shorten them too while you’re at it.

      1. Stable regulations for several years will solve all the problems drivers and teams are facing. Only rich teams are able to adress te constant changing regulations and are the ones that improve the most.

    3. i am tired with everyone’s obsession with overtaking. I agree with Vettel here, its as if people have no memory at all.

      I say just remove the DRS (and Halo – in my dreams) and leave the cars as they are. i think overtaking and following other cars is not bad at the moment. drivers always complain!

      the FIA talk about cutting costs and then completely rewrite the aero rules for next year, making all teams having to run two parallel operations. this will help the big budget tams get an advantage again in 2019 as the smaller teams will have to compromise more between this years car and next years. Instead of a stable set of regulations where we already see a convergence of performance and great races, the FIA is betting on something that might not even achieve the goal of better racing and will cost teams a fortune.

      1. @vjanik ”I say just remove the DRS (and Halo – in my dreams) and leave the cars as they are. i think overtaking and following other cars is not bad at the moment.”
        – Wrong, it indeed is as bad as people are saying, so DRS has to stay at least as long as the following problem exists to as great extent as now and has been for a long time already.

    4. The current cars are dangerous if Verstappen’s slight move caused Riccairdo to crash with lost down-force.

    5. I wonder if SV had more to say than just the quotes provided because I am surprised his criticism is about them slowing the cars down. That remains to be seen, and was not the motivation for the changes. It’s about closer racing. If he thinks there will be less challenge because of slower cars, I would have thought the challenge would still be there especially if they are spending more time like Max and DR did last weekend…like there was a blanket over them. I guess I can’t knock a driver for wanting his car to be hard to pass, but at the same time you’d think they’d welcome more overtaking opportunities.

      Anyway, not like they have a choice, and us fans will win out with theoretically more gladiator vs gladiator stuff and less hanging back out of dirty air and parading around, to preserve tires.

      And tires is something that has not been discussed for next year. Much work can be done there to improve the racing too. What will next year’s tires be like and how will that play into the new combination of wings etc? Will they actually make the tread wear deg tires that they said they were going to make, instead of the finicky thermal deg tires that the drivers (and we) are still suffering?

    6. Sush meerkat
      13th May 2018, 13:41

      In my opinion when you are given a brief or project in a business environment you go to the person that is the one using the project goal in mind.

      When you mess up the project then the person using the finalised product has an absolute right to dictate what you have done wrong because they are the one in the hot seat, they are the ones having to use your failure.

      Jean Todt saying his door is open is a poor excuse, dude, ask the drivers! They drive the things and can tell you how it feels to drive behind another car.

      Now here is an example that while the execution is different, the concept is the same, it’s an extreme example though.

      My wife and myself needed a new washing machine when our son was 3 weeks old, she’s a stay at home mother, she washes the clothes and she didn’t want a washing machine, she wanted a washer dryer so she didn’t have to hang up the clothes to dry.

      I did not do a Jean Todt with consultants and made a decision based on what myself and a committee decided, I payed for what my wife wanted.

      She’s in the driving seat you see
      When me and my wife needed a new washer dryer to wash our clothes

    7. Jean should not say the door is open, he should be saying the door is open, for you to come and discuss this situation, We need your input so we can improve the product.
      A good boss starts the dialogue, and listens to the ideas of the argument, so that everyone agrees in the end.
      It is called negotiation.
      It seems Jean just wants to sit and have coffee, because his door is open.
      It would be nice to see someone other than Jean Toad in control.

    8. As mentioned above, the late 80s, early 90s cars are actually a very good template for what the regs should move towards. I would love to see…
      – 2 element front wings, with endplates in line with the inside of the front tyres (i.e not outwashing)
      – A ban on the ugly stub noses
      – A return to the low-downforce 2016 bargeboard and diffuser regs
      – Lower, smaller rear wings
      – Lighter and shorter cars (e.g. a max length of 5 metres)

      This would be no more complicated than the proposed 2019 regs, and likely produce better results + far more attractive cars!

    9. Mark in Florida
      13th May 2018, 22:55

      Let’s all see how this shakes out first. Maybe the racing will improve and the outwash problems will be diminished. Yes it will compromise the smaller teams more so than the bigger ones but do you think that anyone other than the bigger teams will win regardless of the rules in place ? The rules change in Indy car have made for very exciting racing and a lot of passes in the race. The cars are less stable but it’s the same for everyone. They do have push to pass but everyone can use it to either defend or pass at the same time. Unlike DRS where the car behind you can use it and you can’t. As long as the changes can allow the cars to get close enough to make passes possible nearly everywhere maybe DRS will go away.

    10. i agree with the drivers here, making the cars sand less challenging & interesting to drive is just as big a nonsense as creating tyres that are not fitting for the pinnacle of the sport.

      drivers were very vocal of the past decade about cars been less challenging, less physically demanding due to been slower and these opinions got louder due to the tyres.

      i fear that slowing cars down again will just revert them to been dull to watch, dull to drive and overall uninspiring. f1 should be pushing the boundaries & limits of what is possible, not catering to the instant gratification brigade & there need for constant gratification!

    11. The problem isn’t the aero levels, it’s how the downforce is produced.

      They need less upper surface downforce and more under the car. Similar to ground effect. In fact, they could probably pretty much leave the external aero regs as they are and just focus on making the cars produce more floor downforce which is far less sensitive to travelling in the wake of another car.

      If they can get a higher proportion on the floor, Not only will they be faster, they’ll be losing a smaller proportion overall in turbulent air. You’ll never completely fix cars getting to a certain distance behind and feeling turbulent air, but such a change would limit the difference felt.

      If we look at the top 3 teams now, we see Mercedes pace suffers more behind another car than a Ferrari or a Red Bull, it’s just more sensitive behind other cars. If you look at all 3 cars, Mercedes run a flatter profile, Ferrari and Red Bull run rake. Mercedes seem to create proportionally more surface downforce, Ferrari and Red Bull seem to work their floors harder. The 2 working their floors harder than the surface are less affected by turbulence.

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