Fernando Alonso, IndyCar test, Barber Motorsports Park, 2018

F1 copying ideas that work in IndyCar with 2021 cars – Alonso

2021 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso says Formula 1 is trying to follow IndyCar’s lead with its efforts to aid overtaking through its design direction for 2021.

Three concept designs for F1’s 2021 car were presented earlier this week. A key goal in the proposed changes to to drastically reduce how much downforce cars lose when following each other closely.

Alonso said this has been a problem throughout his career. “I think it has been a little bit the nature of Formula 1,” he said. “It has been always difficult to follow cars. I don’t think it is more difficult than 2004 or 2005, those kind of years.”

F1 previously tried to solve its overtaking problem by radically changing car shapes in 2009. Alonso said this had some positive effect until the changes were largely reversed last year.

“Maybe it was a little bit easier from 2010 to 16,” he said. “I think when we introduced last year the wide rear wing and the wide tyres, it makes it a little bit more difficult now.”

F1’s new owners Liberty Media has conducted research into why F1 cars find it difficult to run closely together at speed, which has informed its plans for 2021.

“If they did a study and they they check and they know this is going to be better in the future I think it is the way to go,” said Alonso.

2021 F1 car concepts
F1 reveals three concepts for new-look cars for 2021
“The cars, aesthetically, they look different, more like a Formula Renault or IndyCar and they seem to follow a little bit closer. So it’s good to copy ideas that work already.”

IndyCar introduced a new standardised aerodynamic kit this year which relies more heavily on the shape of the car’s floor instead of its upper surface wings to generate downforce. This appears to have encouraged better racing, particularly on road and street circuits. Alonso tested a 2018-specification IndyCar for the first time last week and is considering a move to the series next year.

Alonso’s team mate Stoffel Vandoorne suggested the final car designs will look very different to those presented this week.

“It looks, obviously, very different,” he said. “Whether it will be like that in 2021 is still to be confirmed I think. We are two years away and Formula 1 moves every day.”

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8 comments on “F1 copying ideas that work in IndyCar with 2021 cars – Alonso”

  1. I think it’s pointlessly to comment on looks because we’ve seen concepts of future cars thousand times before and they never correspond to reality. Knowing how engineers minds work the cars won’t follow any predetermined design, and rightly so.

    The main issue is overtaking and close racing, and that’s what media should be reporting. I’ve not read anywhere about the proposed solutions for closer racing. Maybe Ross didn’t even comment on it.

    It’s been all about the proposed looks, which as I mentioned, it’s academic.

    1. @fer-no65 Ross said this on the other day’s article:

      “Once the cars get within a few car lengths of each other, they lose 50% of their downforce. That’s a substantial amount of performance lost. So we set about understanding why that was and how we can improve it. I’m pleased to say we’re at about 80%.”

      But the sentence is a bit weird. I don’t know if that 80% now means that with their studies they have car templates which lose only 20% percent of the downforce (i.e., maintaining 80% of the total downforce), or if they are at 80% work. Either way that’s what he said.

      1. @toiago it can also mean that they are now at 80% of the previous deficit, ie. 80% of 50% loss which would mean 40% of downforce loss…

        Numbers without context unfortunately can mean anything and anyone can use them the way it better fit their speech.

        1. @jeanrien That’s true. That’s why I said the sentence as it is is weird, because it’s not clear what he meant, but it’s about the only thing he mentioned regarding their investigation.

      2. @toiago yeah, exactly what I took from it too. He doesn’t say anything about how they managed to get to that point. Nothing considering resizing of wings, more influence of the floor, or whatever. It was just a aesthetic presentation, which makes me feel very disappointed in Ross and Liberty. Why waste so much time in creating beautiful artistic interpretations of something that’ll not happen without talking about the technical reasons why cars will be able to follow each other more closely?

        1. I think you are expecting too much too soon in terms of the fine details from Brawn. We know they have two cars in line in a wind tunnel and continue to study at all times the dirty air effect. We can see from the concept shots, and they are just that, concept shots, wings that don’t have multiple levels to them nor added little winglets everywhere. Two of the concepts show narrower rear wings and one is wider and very low. They all show lower profile tires. I just think it is ridiculous to ridicule F1 for releasing concept shots and then to complain they don’t come with any explanation. For decades we had no choice but to leave it up to BE as to the shape of F1, and in more recent years the top teams have ruled the roost and had their way, and now we have a group who are genuinely trying to do a better job with F1. I’m grateful for that and have all kinds of patience and trust in Brawn and team. And least they are working hard on improving F1. The fine details will come with each month we get closer to a new chapter…the first real new chapter since BE left.

          1. F1 is beyond improving and it will never reach its glorious heights again. Nothing lasts forever. Like many other sports it is decadent.

  2. Copy ideas? I think Alonso forgets that these ideas stem from basic aerodynamic principles which have been already tried and tested in formula 1. Leave formula 1 gracefully Fernando.

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