Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Wider 2019 front wings will make risk of damage “even worse”

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams will have to strengthen their 2019 front wings to guard against potential damage, according to Force India’s technical director Andrew Green.

As part of a package of changes intended to aid overtaking, next year’s front wings will increase in width to 2,000mm – the same width as the car. The increase in width was agreed to offset the loss in downforce from the removal of other parts of the wings.

Upper front wing elements and outwash-generating endplates, which are blamed for making it harder for cars to follow each other closely, will be banned from next year.

“I’m personally not a fan of wide front wings at all,” Green admitted in an exclusive interview with RaceFans. “One, they break, they’re susceptible to damage. And two, I think aesthetically it just looks wrong.”

The increased width will also make it more likely drivers may damage them, said Green. “We will have to be reinforcing them significantly.

“You’ve seen the in the last few races the damage that gets done. It’s going to be even worse next year. Extra reinforcement’s going to be required. There’s only so much you can do when you’ve got a wing that wide. But we’ll do what we can.”

However Green believes the simpler design of the wings could save teams up to half a million dollars per season. This is because the wings will be easier to manufacturer and teams will have more limited scope for introducing upgrades.

“The manufacturing of the front wing will be significantly cheaper,” he said You’re talking a magnitude less work involved.”

“Obviously there will be development and potential loopholes that teams might find and the complexity might go up. But I think overall it’s going to be a much reduced complexity front wing.

“I think the development space, the playground that you have in the front wing, has been reduced massively. What you can do with it is very small, what effect it has on the car now is going to be relatively small. Wing updates will obviously be a lot cheaper but I think the desire, the need to bring lots of front wing updates, is going to be massively reduced as well.

“So overall, from a cost perspective, I think it’s going to be a good thing. I can’t see it being anything else.”

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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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  • 26 comments on “Wider 2019 front wings will make risk of damage “even worse””

    1. It is indeed interesting that going hand in hand with wider simpler wings that inwash and might be more susceptible to damage, is the concept of closer racing. Not that I’m expecting these wings to be the complete answer that will close the field right up or anything like that, but still it will be very interesting to see. I wonder if Pirelli will make tires that can handle a bit of dirty air too. One would think Brawn and team would be insisting on an improvement on that area from Pirelli.

      1. @robbie

        I wonder if Pirelli will make tires that can handle a bit of dirty air too.

        The tyres aren’t affected by dirty air. The aerodynamics are, which results in less downforce, which results in tyres sliding more and being damaged by that. There’s nothing Pirelli can do about that.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          24th July 2018, 13:15

          But the tires should be able to stand sliding around a bit

        2. @drmouse Yes that is more accurate than to word it as I have, but I was cutting to the chase and certainly understand it to be as you say, as should most of us by now.

          But I am almost astonished to hear you say there is nothing Pirelli can do about it. Surely the concept of the front end moving around in dirty air due to the reduction in effective downforce is not new, yet tires that can’t handle it are. These tires are designed a certain specific way which is to be very sensitive to a certain optimum operating temperature that is difficult to maintain in what appears to be all but the ideal situations. Start moving them around in dirty air and we have all been seeing the effect. There must be a hundred other combinations of compounds and their designed way of degrading, including getting completely away from thermal deg and back onto tread wear deg where F1 has been before.

          Oh I agree dirty air affects aero which affects tires, so we have less dirty air to look forward to with the new front wings, and I project much more reduction in wake for the real changes for 2021, and on top of that tires that will not degrade in such a way that is so negative toward close racing. Sure one can always argue that aero affected by dirty air is going to bother the front tires. To claim there is nothing Pirelli can do to adapt is to ignore what tire makers have done in the past, which is to make tires that don’t get destroyed behind a car such that they have to hang back a couple of seconds in order to maintain their day’s strategy.

          I also believe that when in the last few races we have seen top cars cut through the field with so little resistance from the mid field, that has not just been because their fight is only with the ‘Formula B’ part of the grid, it is also because trying to defend for too long can take the tires out of their window.

          1. It’s physics. You have a limited contact patch of rubber being acted on by all three axes– forward / back from acceleration/braking, left / right from steering, and up / down from suspension travel.

            Those lateral loads can reach 5g in the corners, and the linear loads can be +/- 3g under acceleration / braking.

            Add to that a rough track surface that’s deforming the rubber, and the tire is always going to be the weak link. I have no idea what switching to lower profile 18″ tires will do to their durability, but it’s going to be a factor.

          2. I also believe that when in the last few races we have seen top cars cut through the field with so little resistance from the mid field… it is also because trying to defend for too long can take the tires out of their window.

            I think this has more to do with the fact that battling costs time. If you think a car is going to get past you anyway, why fight them and cost yourself lap time taking sub-optimal lines through corners, driving on less used and dirtier parts of the track? Far better for your own race to let them past quickly and get on with your own race.

            That’s not to say they wouldn’t damage the tyres, but I doubt that is very high on the list of things they would think about.

        3. Believe it or not even ‘slick’ tyres actually have a tread pattern, and this pattern can be made more resistant to lateral forces i.e, sliding around so yes, Pirelli can contribute to this area without hardening the actual compounds, if that is their aim of course.

        4. OK, I’ll admit I know little about tyre design. Maybe Pirelli could do something about it, then.

          However, the main point was supposed to be that aero is what needs working on. Even having tyres which could stand up to the lack of downforce better than the current ones will not help much if the car behind is significantly slowed by being within a second or 2.

          I will come back to an idea I had a couple of years ago: change the regulations to make the engineers figure it out. My suggestion would be a change in qualifying to a reverse championship order sprint race. The best cars would then have to overtake to get a good grid position, so would both design their cars with that in mind AND lobby for changes in regulations to help. As it stands it doesn’t really benefit the top teams to make overtaking easier.

          1. That could work the other way, though. The teams already have an incentive to build an efficient front wing since they all run in each other’s wakes. Seems to me the added incentive would be for slower teams to devise an aero package that makes it as difficult as possible to overtake!

            1. @markzastrow

              Maybe so, but IMHO 2 things would outweigh this:
              – The smaller/slower teams have lower budgets. They don’t have the resources to throw at this, and would find it very difficult to make their cars difficult to overtake while remaining fast enough to compete with cars around them.
              – The bigger teams, who would have the most incentive to make the cars as easy to follow as possible, have the most power (politically with FOM/FIA). They would lobby to get the regulations set so that the cars became easier to follow, and their voices carry much more weight than the smaller/slower teams.

            2. @drmouse Perhaps. I take your point that it would certainly change the tenor of the conversation because it would be an untenable embarrassment to F1 if even a reverse grid fails to produce any excitement.

      2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        25th July 2018, 17:07

        Bigger wings just seems counter intuitive to me. Surely the smaller less effective the wing the less it will be less affected by dirty air.

        I understand why they would want to keep the balance the same but there other ways, less affected by dirty air. It just seems plain wrong to me.

        It’s not just extra potential for wing damage its the extra potential for tyre damage… scary.

    2. Wait a minute- they are making front wings *even wider* next year?
      It ist starting to feel like they are actively trying to get me to quit following…

      1. Why obsess over the width when they are also being simplified and are meant to help promote closer racing by reducing some wake by inwashing air rather than out washing it? Who cares if they’re a bit wider if the racing is better?

        1. @robbie Precisely.

        2. @robbie if they get any wider they will poke out over the width of the fugly 18inch Formula e wheels. All i want is a liiittle bit of matching proportions. FWs should be no wider than rear wings…

          1. @ I don’t like that they are getting wider either. Aesthetics matter, as does reducing the chance of contact (resulting in punctures and nose swaps) in close quarters racing – something we’ve seen a lot of this season already.

      2. @mrboerns Didn’t they become narrower relative to the car last year?

    3. I wish Mclaren to hire a mid team genius like Andrew Green than simply trusting one or two management guys sourced from a top team.

    4. I remember when the wings were made wider in 2009 everyone went into the first weekend expecting lots of damaged front wings at turn 1 but it ended up been fine & I don’t think we have seen any more damaged wings since 2009 than we did before.

    5. They’ve been telling us that they wings are going to wider for a couple of months. Remember back a few years when the wings were wider and punctures and other damage from close racing was a frequent thing? They made the wings narrower and those punctures, etc. were *much* reduced. I understand that they’re going to wider in 2019 for aero reasons but as far as the punctures and damage go, it looks like we’re back to 2012. It could be that any costs saved by the teams could be consumed by needing more front wing replacements. Sometimes it seems like F1 just can’t get out of it’s own way. I was initially pretty excited about the 2019 reg changes but I’m getting kind of pessimstic now.

    6. the front wings should be 2 elements only with a plain end plate, no wider than the inside of the wheel rim.

      1. This. It also looks so much better aesthetically with the endplate in line with the inside of the tyre.

    7. With the front tires going from 305mm wide to 270mm*, I seems like a one step forwards, one step backwards dance to me…


    8. Well, we asked for more safety cars…

    9. Racing is a risk … for all involved. Want no risk and a money-back guarantee? Stick with late-night info-mercials, “ACT NOW !!”

    Comments are closed.