New 2019 F3 car

F3 to introduce limit on downforce to improve racing

Formula 3

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The new Formula 1-supporting Formula 3 championship will limit downforce during races to encourage closer action.

Speaking to the FIA’s Auto magazine F3’s technical director Didier Perrin confirmed drivers will only be allowed to use maximum wing angles during practice and qualifying. “We’re going to limit the downforce of the cars for the races,” he said.

“For free practice and qualifying, the drivers can use the full potential of downforce, but for the race we will reduce it by limiting the angle of the rear wing to make sure the braking distance will be slightly longer.”

The series hopes the changes will improve the quality of racing in the championship while ensuring it provides valuable experience for aspiring F1 drivers.

F3 revealed its new Dallara-designed chassis at the final round of the GP3 championship, which it has replaced. Drivers will still be able to use DRS, but there will no longer be any restrictions on how frequently they can activate it. The new car’s engine is largely unchanged from the 400bhp 3.4-litre Mecachrome V6 used in the GP3/16 chassis.

The new F3 series will appear on the F1 support bill at the Spanish, Monaco, French, Austrian, British, Hungarian, Belgian, Italian and Russian rounds on the 2019 F1 calendar.

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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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10 comments on “F3 to introduce limit on downforce to improve racing”

  1. Something F1 should do too.

  2. I feel like this is quite bizarre; the new F3 car already has relatively low downforce compared to F2 and certainly F1, unless this is an experiment to check the viability of downforce variants over a weekend. The entire chassis was aerodynamically optimised for overtaking according to its own designers, so lowering the downforce further seems bizarre.

    At only 380bhp, if you lower the downforce then the lateral G that drivers can pull into a corner will become ridiculously miniscule compared to other series. Assuming drivers will be paying somewhere around €800,000 for a ride in a ten-meet series, making it unlike the ones that they’d be using it as a stepping stone to seems ridiculous. Especially as ‘excessive downforce’ has not been an issue in the new F2 cars (which this loosely follows, aerodynamically) but very, very specifically the terrible new clutches have been. The very definition of fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.

    I also think it presents some risk, depending on the actual extent of the reduction, of cars becoming airborne – much more likely during contact in the race (which there’ll be plenty of) than in free practice or qualifying.

    1. @hazelsouthwell It is indeed surprising. Maybe this move aims at having real world data to support the F1 overtaking group work. Also it is a good way to experiment different downforce control processes in a real situation too. I didnt say it is a good idea but I’d use lesser categories to do some experiments if I were them.

    2. @hazelsouthwell, I’d agree that the reasoning behind this change seems strange and that they seem to be trying to solve a problem that wasn’t there in the first place – especially given how proscriptive the regulations are on the design of a Formula 3 car.

    3. @hazelsouthwell
      That’s nice of them. Tin hat on, but feels like an FIA ploy…
      After effectively killing off the European F3 championship (F3M and the Italian ‘regional’ F3 championships are inferior replacements), they just revert the new all singing and dancing International F3 back to an equally inferior GP3 product with a new name.
      Fixing hypothetical problems before they are verified.

  3. So not only are they retaining DRS but there removing the usage limit that actually added a bit of strategy & a bit more driver input into it’s use.

    I still don’t think junior categories should have DRS & I still don’t think F2/GP3 even ever needed it because in F2 especially the racing was always brilliant.

    It also kinda goes against the purpose of the junior categories which isn’t about providing lots of (Push of a button) overtaking, There purpose is supposed to be to highlight the pure ability of the young drivers so that fans & teams higher up the ladder can see who’s good & who isn’t. There supposed to be about young drivers showcasing & honing there racecraft, Learning how to defend, attack & pull off overtakes & I have always felt that DRS removes a part of that skill-set.

    In F1 I don’t like DRS, I don’t like what it’s done to the racing & I cannot stand it when it makes things too easy… However I get the argument for it even if I don’t 100% agree with it. In the junior formula’s however I don’t see any valid reason for it to be there & the same is true of the high-deg tyres.

  4. I see F3 as a real potential test-bed for F1 changes. What if the cars had no front wing, much bigger ground effect tunnels and a small rear wing to balance out the car (similar to the GE cars of the early 80’s)? From memory the first generation of GP2 cars had most of their downforce from the underbody and they passed fine without DRS. Lose the front wings altogether and it surely couldn’t hurt the racing could it?

    1. Well, it depends– do you want F1 cars to be slower than IndyCars and LMP cars?

      I do agree that some limited underbody effects, and a simpler front wing would benefit everyone except the big 3, but I don’t think we’re quite ready to go back to the 1960’s in terms of aerodynamics.

      I don’t believe F1 needs massive changes to the rules. We’re already getting some fantastic racing, we just need to balance out the midfield and the leaders, and close up the racing a bit (Although other than a couple freakish years between 2010 and 2013, F1 has always been a two-class racing series).

      I think major changes to the rules *only* benefit the teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes– the teams that can spend their way around any “cost reductions” that the FIA imposes. The big three can actively develop three different wing designs in the time the smaller teams can design *one* wing.

      Only allowed one set of gear ratios for the season? Good money says the big teams ran some serious, hardcore computer simulations to determine what the most effective set of gear ratios would be for all the tracks on the calendar.

      Force India / Racing Point, if allowed, could cheaply run their car at Silverstone, and be more competitive. The last time Lotus / Renault was successful, it was because they took their chassis over to WindShear in North Carolina and did full-scale wind tunnel testing… Now that that’s been outlawed, everyone has to build 60% models to use in the wind tunnels which have to be re-calibrated for 60% scale while using 100% scale air.

      Yes, Ferrari needed to be stopped from running an entire secondary team for testing, but the new rules punish the bajeezus out of the smaller teams.

      You can’t apply one-size-fits-all rules to the idea of cost reduction and expect it to work– but that’s exactly what the FIA and Liberty are doing.

      1. Great points.

        Expect the big 3 have developed 60% scale air molecules to run in their wind tunnels. Which makes it even harder for the smaller teams to catch their breath.

        What is more worrying, there’s fewer ‘small’ independent teams than big teams. Toro Rosso is part of RBR. Haas is linked tightly to Ferrari R&D. Not as tight as Sau…er… Alfa Romeo. Racing Pointers appear to be following the Haas model with Mercedes parts. Renault is the last ‘independent’ auto company contestant without a B team.

        McLaren and Williams are the only pure independents left. Is it too late for a budget cap to help?

        1. Clearly you are not in the loop.
          Otherwise you would know that there are “a number” of teams interested in entering the fray and “several” manufacturers looking to build engines, sorry, Power Units for the new 2021 formula/
          All that is needed is a Budget Cap.
          Ironic isn’t it, that Ferrari announced (today by my news service) that they were increasing their F1 budget.

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