Oliver Rowland, Williams, Hungaroring

New aero rules ‘biggest change since 2009’ – Lowe

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In the round-up: Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the scale of the aerodynamic changes being made for the 2019 F1 season shouldn’t be underestimated.

What they say

It is a big change. It’s not quite as significant as 2009 but it’s in that bracket. I think 2014 and 2017 [changes] were much less significant.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

It’s the summer break, so what better time to really get down between and indeed half or fully over the lines – we’re :

i do not get the constant whining about the track limits, i do not see it as that big of a problem at all.

i do not see this is too big an issue however, in fact in the past such things were seen as a part of the sport, drivers pushing the limits & looking for any advantage that is allowed and they were praised for doing so.

nigel mansell at spa in 1990 for example was using the runoff at la source, going over the kerb and onto the tarmac area every lap towards the end of the race and rather than complain and call for penalty he was praised for it for pushing the limits.

i attended many f1 races at brands hatch in the 70s/80s where drivers would regularly put all 4 wheels off at paddock hill when they had tarmac on the exit and again there was no complaints.

most recently at austria in 2003 when drivers were using a lot of the runoff at turn 1, was no complaints over the weekend & if a driver could run off & gain from it they were praised. that weekend martin brundle who is a regular complainer now also felt it was fine.

was the same on many other circuits where you had a bit of tarmac on the exits, if it was there drivers would push limits & get praised for doing so.

so question is what has changed? why has it become a big issue for people now where they have to constantly complain everytime anyone tries it? go back and watch stuff from the past including some examples i list & you will see it was not always the case that it was seen as issue and frowned upon.

On this day in F1

  • 25 years ago today Damon Hill scored his first F1 win in the Hungarian Grand Prix

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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30 comments on “New aero rules ‘biggest change since 2009’ – Lowe”

  1. JohnnyRye (@)
    15th August 2018, 0:42

    Re: COTD
    I think the biggest difference between then and now is the amount of runoff. Everything is paved now, creating ‘concrete jungles’.

    Is the argument pushing the limits and thereby finding an advantage, or about finding the advantage? If it’s finding the advantage, then why not cut the corners at Paul Ricard or Abu Dhabi?

    Ultimately it comes down to how much runoff there is in comparison to the past.

    1. Indeed, why have chicanes if the drivers can cut them ? The run off areas are there for the drivers safety, not to turn the track into an “Oval”

      1. Or change the name from ‘run off’ to ‘run on’ ;)

        1. I think it’s because the stewards issue drivers with penalties for leaving the track now, so if an unpopular driver leaves the track and gains an advantage, fans who don’t like them call out for a penalty, because their driver got one in he past.

          1. The track limits and what is defined as exceeding them vary from track to track, one group of stewards to another and often are different on different days of the weekend. Its a mess and needs standardising.

            The criticism above about the concrete run offs rings true and it does seem some drivers are penalised when others aren’t – basically inconsistent stewarding.

            Drivers will take any advantage they can, its the nature of the beast, so firm and clear stewarding of clear rules is essential.

    2. FlyingLobster27
      15th August 2018, 6:51

      There’s also an element of “genius” the first time someone uses the runoff to gain an advantage. Zanardi’s pass on Bryan Herta at Laguna Seca 96 was extraordinary, because it was new and risky, but then you have to ask, “what if everyone does that? is it safe to allow everyone and anyone to do that, in junior formulae, in amateur racing?”
      IMO, it’s like alpine skiing: the white lines are a continuum of gates that you mustn’t straddle. You may not get injured by going wide, but it does show that you were unable to keep on the course. So rather than creating awe by pushing the boundary, the consistent inability of some racers to not overshoot the white lines reflects either laziness or poor driving skill.

  2. Dear @racefans, glad you have discovered MotoGP, not only is the racing better but it is also more accessible worldwide than F1, how it compares with modern Indycar I can only guess as there is no Indycar coverage in my country.

    1. It doesn’t compare in the SLIGHTEST to Indycar – which is a pathetic series with terrible racing (and fans)

      1. I must be pathetic then.
        Serves me right for liking F1 and Indy Car and Moto GP and BTCC and F3. Clearly I must choose one.
        What an idiot I am.

      2. Well, you’ve got the art of vitriolic hyperbole and baseless hostility down– But you’re not quite insulting enough to qualify as a troll yet.

        Keep it up, though, I’m sure you’ll make it.

        Let me guess… you think IndyCar and NASCAR are the same thing?

        1. If he thinks they are the same thing, how does that affect you? And you accuse him of being hostile. RaceFans and YouTube are NOT the same.

      3. Probably my favourite racing series Indycar. Am I a terrible fan in that I’m a bad person or is it that I don’t wave flags & buy merchandise?

  3. Sad to see Fernando leave, not as sad as seeing him pot around in the lower reaches of the points though. In a way, I’m glad that he’s had enough.

    The last link to the previous era of racing will now officially be gone.

    I’m sure this is not what Mclaren wanted. The only reason they have remained remote credible to sponsors is Fernando. The only reason they have as much points as they have is because of Fernando. Mclaren will be at a massive disadvantage regardless of who they drop in the seat. All their reshuffling WI probably only yield results in 2020.

    Good luck and all the best to Fernando though, he will be sorely missed.

    1. Kimi also drove the V10s… he might be the last one to have driven in the V10 era in 2019.

    2. Fikri Harish (@)
      15th August 2018, 7:54

      “The last link to the previous era of racing will now officially be gone.”

      This might be the sickest burn Kimi has ever gotten from anyone.

    3. > The last link to the previous era of racing will now officially be gone.

      Kimi’s not gone yet…

      Still, crazy to think Hamilton and Vettel are the old guard now.

      1. And unless I’m completely mistaken, the next drivers with the most experience would be Hülkenberg and Pérez. And Ricciardo/Grosjean after that.

  4. I beg to differ with Lowe. The 2017 changes definitely were more significant and quite a bit than the changes for next season will be (2021 should see even bigger ones than 2017). I’m not really attempting to underestimate them too much but the changes for next season are basically nothing but interim short-term solutions in preparation for the real changes concerning the aero set for 2021.
    – Concerning the COTD: I couldn’t agree more with it.

    1. The changes are actually big though.

      It’s forcing a complete refactoring of every part of the aero design because the air flow from the front has been radically changed.

      The thing I find most unfortunate about the whole “short term solution” is that as a general rule changes like these are generally adapted to by the teams with the large budgets so I’m expecting the gulf between the top 3 or 4 teams and the rest to be even larger when it was starting to close up a little.

      1. Merc have such a simple front wing compared to everyone else. Maybe their aero concept will be changing a bit less and so have a head start on developing the new concept…

    2. SparkyAMG (@)
      15th August 2018, 6:59

      @jerejj the 2017 changes chamged the dimensions of the cars and provided teams with more scope to control airflow in the bargeboard area, but otherwise kept concepts the same and allowed teams to build on what they had.

      2019 rules are forcing teams to pursue a different concept and the impact of that on the whole car ia huge.

      1. @sparkyamg OK, now I get it a bit better.
        @dbradock – You have good points as well especially in the last paragraph of your reply. The gap between the largest teams and the rest could indeed increase to some extent from what it is now due to these somewhat rushed changes. Of course, it isn’t a given that this would indeed happen, but due to these aero alterations, the probability of it happening is now higher than it’d be if the technical regulations would remain entirely stable from this season to the next.

    3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      15th August 2018, 11:13

      After this season, I don’t put much stock in what Paddy Lowe says tbh.

  5. Re: COTD

    The thing that has changed is the risk associated with exceeding track limits.

    Sure, track limits have been ignored in pretty much all series for a long time, but the huge difference is that where there was grass/gravel there was a high chance of a DNF (usually because of a crash)

    I have no real problem with the changes being made for “safety” reasons but because the consequences of leaving the track now are so negligible, that’s why people talk about it a lot more. There used to be (and IMO still should be) a consequence, it used to be potentially fatal and we’re all glad that’s not the case but surely we shouldn’t be allowing limits to be exceeded without consequence “just because they can”. These are supposed to be the best drivers in the world.

  6. Alonso in a slow McLaren is a much sadder state of affairs than Alonso off to Indy, IMO. I’ll be following that series a lot more closely (as I’m sure many others will be).

  7. Erm, sorry @hazelsouthwell… ‘On this day’, shouldn’t it be the Hungarian GP? Could have sworn Damon won in Hungary in ’93 first?

    Happy to be wrong though. Loving the extra content you’re bringing to the site for us!

    1. @scottie oops, good spot! Thinking about too many GP at the same time, it would seem.

  8. COTD –

    nigel mansell at spa in 1990 for example was using the runoff at la source

    It was 1989 while he was chasing down Prost towards the end of the race although he’d been doing it at other points of the race also & I think may have also done it in qualifying.

    I think they removed the kerb the following year & that bit of runoff became part of the track which everyone used up until the 2007 modifications.

    most recently at austria in 2003 when drivers were using a lot of the runoff at turn 1


    I think another one is the exit of Ascari at Monza, They have been running over the white lines since the 90’s yet it’s only been the past few years where you hear people complain about it.

    I think part of the change has been driven by the media & internet. In the past if a driver put 4 wheels off it would maybe be picked up by the commentators (Although mostly wasn’t) & quickly forgotten. Today however commentators pick it up & constantly hammer the point home, Then it gets analyzed & discussed further in pre/post session coverage as well as by fans on the internet & I think in certain cases all this does is turn things into a bigger deal than they are.

    I think it’s the same with other things, The media & the internet are driving the talking points & there focusing on stuff that may not have been given as much attention in the past.

  9. It is a bit disappointing to read time and time over again about track limits how the whole issue is oversimplified to just cars driving on kerbs. There are two types of different instances where cars go off track. One is when they cut through the apex or cut the track. Going straight through the chicanes in monza or verstappen’s pass on kimi. This is a clear cut case of cutting the track to gain a position or time.

    The other type is where the driver uses the runoff on corner exit or in some cases even on the entry of the corner to straighten the corner. This is deservedly much less illegal of the two and ever since the 70s various tracks have added runoff on corner exits for the specific purpose that cars can drive over them. Most of the time the runoff is slower so it is not used by f1 but in some cases it is faster.

    One of the problems with track limits is in the circuit design. The problematic corner type is this corner profile where the corner becomes tighter in the exit. The corner radius decreases throughout the corner. Going wide on exit in such corner allows the driver to carry more speed even if the runoff material is slippery or bumpy or both. It is a problem with the corner profile. If you look at tracks like baku and singapore you can see the kerbs on the exit of the corners being several meters of the walls. Austria clearly has this problem as well. For drivers this simply becomes a question of how much kerb can I take before I start losing time. But the issue is caused when the track is artificially shaped into tightening corner that excessively rewards driving over the kerbs.

    And becomes even worse when you have tracks like the circuit of america where you can’t even tell if the runoff next to the kerbs is meant to be used or not. Some series have ruled that you can’t use it while others allow it. Clearly the problem is the track here. It is incredibly difficult to make consistant rules when the tracks are so widely different.

    In the 60s and most of the 70s the job of the kerb was to define the track limits. Kerb was something you were not supposed to drive on. Then they started adding runoff on corner exit. Nowadays the kerbs are designed to be driven on. They are not deterrant for leaving the track. They are the track. Of course the situation is challenging when the same tracks need to be drivable for trackdays and other racing series. F1 could run really really harsh kerbs that break the car but if your trackday visitor or junior formula driver breaks the car everytime he goes over such kerb you’ll soon find nobody except f1 wants to use your track.

    I still don’t understand why f1 doesn’t use sausage kerbs that could be bolted on top of existing kerbs to make them more rough. Then when f1 leaves just go around the track and remove them and use them when you need.

    But my point is there are two different kinds of ways driver can go off track. And one is much much more serious than the other. Cutting the track is much more serious than momentarily leaving the track after a corner while taking a longer route. Not saying the latter is not an issue but there is a huge difference between the two.

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