Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Hamilton: New aero made “no difference” when following other cars

2019 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton says the aerodynamic changes for the 2019 F1 season have made “no difference” to the difficulty drivers experience following other cars closely.

F1 introduced new rules simplifying and widening front wings for the new season in a bid to allow cars to race together more closely. Rear wing dimensions were also increased, making the Drag Reductions System more powerful to increase the potential for overtaking.

But Hamilton’s verdict after the first race in the new cars is the problem is “no different” to how it was in previous seasons.

Hamilton had little opportunity to race wheel-to-wheel with other cars during yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix. However he did come close to other cars when lapping them and repeatedly called for “blue flags” on the radio.

Max Verstappen, who overtook Sebastian Vettel on his way to second place, also felt overtaking had not become significantly easier.

“It is still very hard. The only positive thing what we improved is the DRS effect. As soon as it opens, it’s a lot more powerful than last year but following is still a lot of turbulence.”

Data compiled by Mercedes indicates there were 14 overtaking moves in yesterday’s race, one fewer than last year.

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2019 F1 season articles, F1 newsTags ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 52 comments on “Hamilton: New aero made “no difference” when following other cars”

    1. What? – he wasn’t chasing anyone!
      The only overtaking he did was lapping back markers.
      Let’s hold off on judgement till after a few races shall we? ;P

      1. @nullapax As mentioned he did have to lap several cars. Also the race wasn’t the only time he was behind other cars last weekend.

        1. @keithcollantine Yes, but lapping other drivers isn’t the same as overtaking for a position, so not really a fair comparison.

          1. Why NOT?!?!
            Because following the backmarker involves the whole new set of physical laws, right?
            It is almost like being in alternative dimension…

      2. Initially I thought he’d let Bottas through at the start just to do some immediate research on following and overtaking. Proved not to be the case :0)

      3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        18th March 2019, 11:47

        Haha, this is priceless.

        No lets not hold off judgement. F1 has been doing this for years.

        Was anyone really expecting these piddly little changes to have an effect. Dear oh dear, I can’t believe F1 has come to this.

        There is no other way to put this, if we want F1 cars to follow each other closely in corners we must massively reduce the downforce. Every other attempt by another means has failed and will continue to fail.

        The only solution is for F1 and all of the lower formulae to reduce downforce substantially. The more the better.

        I already know the response this post will get. People will whine that is will slow the cars down too much. Well those people need to ask themselves the question, are they happy watching cars whizz around with little or no proper overtaking (DRS doesn’t count) or do they want to real racing with overtaking?

        For goodness sake F1, wake up.

        1. Well, Grosjean said the aero changes did help to follow other cars, but that tire heating made it hard to overtake. That would explain the train behind Giovinazzi. In any case, no, I don’t want to sacrifice a lot of corner speed to help overtaking. I trust Brawn and his team will find a good compromise.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            18th March 2019, 16:41

            Well I hope you are right, really I do, I like the look of the cars and marvel at their cornering performance.
            But I wouldn’t hold your breath. I think Ross and his team will need to break the laws of physics to get a reasonable result.
            Mario Andretti has the right idea.

            1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              18th March 2019, 16:41

            1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              19th March 2019, 8:58

              Exactly yes, Indycar made a big reduction in downforce. The result is better racing. Enough said.

        2. Not so @sean n – no need to reduce downforce; just bring back the ‘fan’ car (Brabham BT46)

        3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk F1 woke up when Liberty took over and were smart enough to hire Ross Brawn who was smart enough to put a team together and cars nose to tail in a wind tunnel. He has said this year’s changes are very small compared to what they will have for 2021. F1 does get it. The rest is just waiting for existing contracts to run out, but Brawn has always wanted the teams, particularly the lesser ones, to have time to adapt anyway.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            19th March 2019, 9:02

            I hope you are right but I wont be holding my breath. The elite teams have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. They’ll fight big aero changes.

            1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk I don’t get that impression. I’m pretty sure the teams know the big changes are coming and are not fighting it. Even the initial fighting they did was over things like budget caps and money distribution but that seems to have waned too. I think at this point they are just ready to get the new regs for 2021 and proceed accordingly. Pretty sure they’re all quite a bit on the same page and know what to expect when the announcement comes.

      4. I would be inclined to take Lewis’s word for it, he is in a far better place to judge than any of us.

        1. What do you mean? I could clearly see from the onboard camera that it was easier to follow. What does he know!

      5. petebaldwin (@)
        18th March 2019, 17:14

        Perhaps he’s “bluffing” or playing “mind games” again….

      6. Well since these rules were basically a knee jerk result of Melbourne last year, and since there was one fewer overtake this year… I expect them to announce before the next race that starting next season cars following will be able to use DRS, but also fire a rocket motor to help with overtaking. The following driver will only get to fire the rocket 3-times per lap though, we don’t want the overtaking to seem contrived.

        1. I disagree that this was knee-jerk. It was a small way to try to help borne of findings from their research, but these cars are inherently too clean air dependent and ultimately need to go. Following might have been even more difficult this season had teams the freedom to make their front wings outwash even more than they did last year.

          1. I didn’t say they weren’t helping, just that the appearance of the wider front wings and deeper rear wing were almost certainly pushed forward because of the race last year.

            These were developments for the 2021 concepts, but were rushed ahead to try and at least get something to help sooner. Doesn’t mean they were born from ignorance or anything. They were well thought out designs to help lessen the outwash and turbulent wake. What was a knee-jerk reaction was pushing them forward by 3 years because of a poorly received opening round in 2018.

            Ross Brawn said himself that he was more or less only hoping to keep the dirty air from getting worse with these updates, not so much fix the car following problem.

            1. Ryan B. Fair points but I just don’t think it was knee-jerk because of last year’s Australia. We have been observing for several years of this hybrid era the difficulty in following. I don’t see this as a pushing forward, because the new cars for 2021 will be night and day different in every way. This was a small effort to help cars that need it badly wrt the close following file.

    2. Apart from the fact he wasn’t really following anyone, has he ever been positive to any change ever? I can’t recall it.

      1. joe pineapples
        18th March 2019, 11:06

        He had to follow each back marker for a period of time (like all the front runners do). I guess he was comparing that to previous experience of doing the same.

      2. Possibly in 2009, although the McLaren was a dog that year. Most of the time, his complaint is that the change isn’t going to have the effect it’s supposed to– and he’s been right most of the time as well.

      3. He seems arguably positive about the introduction of KERS and DRS in this article:

        (Don’t really know why I remember things like this…)

    3. The Haas-pair and Checo think otherwise.

      1. Raikkonen was a bit positive and even Verstappen said it was slightly easier to follow.

        I trust the guys who actually did some following more, especially as it fits what I’m hoping for ;)

    4. So reading the above comment, I assume we are discounting what Max said; and just going with the Hamilton ‘no difference’ quote?

      1. Max said basically the same – following cars in turbulent air (through corners) was still hard. However, when the DRS opened he felt much more of an effect.

    5. Bottas said the same thing plus from watching the race didn’t see anything different from previous years.

      1. Maybe Mercedes struggle more than other teams in turbulent air, that was always a rumour a few seasons ago. The midfield teams did seem to be able to drive pretty close to each other, 0.5 of a second for laps on end, but overtaking is always difficult at Albert Park.

    6. It might have been similar to last year but if the changes weren’t made then it probably would have gotten even worse so probably still a change for the better even if the drivers can’t necessarily feel the benefit

    7. I don’t think Lewis is the most appropriate one to ask, he’s always pretty negative about literally everything (and then he makes poles and incredible races).

      Max is the only one AFAIK of the top drivers who made a move on another top driver. His opinion has much more weight to me. Also, he overtook Vettel on a difficult track.

      We had cars queued behind Giovinazzi but I didn’t noticed teared tires or drivers complaining about following close.

      Let’s see how it goes in the next races; we urged for a change last year judging poor races on poor tracks, we later had good racing on suitable tracks. If we have some more interesting races than last year, it will be good to me. Australia is quite always boring (and we have to admit that the fastest lap created interest in the final stages…).

    8. In my eyes the passings in this race where much more than every other old race i remember in Melbourne.
      @keithcollantine can you back it up with some stats if you have them?
      Either way my eyes saw also the cars closer in the corner exits than before and in corner entry i feel the same.

    9. I’ve seen the midfieldpack following each other at close distance for a whole while with stable looking cars. That they didn’t overtook each other is another topic but the way I see it the goal (following each other closely without loosing too mich downforce) was achieved. And they didn’t appear to have a lot of trouble with overheating tyres. So looks like the changes do work. I have not been in the cockpit though.

      1. @nasiboring Intuitively that sounds right. If the cars can at least keep closer without overheating tyres that would be a huge advance.

    10. In the midfield we clearly saw following was better than last year. Although on a circuit like Albert Park a DRS-train makes overtakes impossible. I hope the DRS isn’t to powerfull though, but we’ll find out in Bahrain and China. Especially China’s long back straight will be a good indication in the power advantage of DRS this year. If it’s too powerfull maybe the FIA has to remove some DRS-zones which they introduced last year..

    11. Please do not consider data provided by Mercedes. They are totally random, they include change of position at pit stops and in the first lap.
      I cannot recall more than 3 overtakes in last year’s and race.
      This year the figure is better only because Giovanazzi stayed out on the track with done tyres.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        18th March 2019, 17:16

        Is this the same “Mercedes data” that Lewis says he was given that stated Ferrari had the fastest car in the history of F1?

    12. I thought this years changes were to prevent it from getting worse and not curing this problem?

    13. “Data compiled by Mercedes indicates there were 14 overtaking moves in yesterday’s race, one fewer than last year.”

      Ouch. Front wing idea was great on paper, but most likely teams diligently worked around the issue and recreated all the lost effect with barge boards, y250 vortex, channeling all that air straight to the sides and recreating any lost downforce.

      I would like to see the airflow on these badboys, how much of planned change to the flow was actually achieved?

      From the armchair observer seat, it seemed very similar to last year, except Max Verstappen overtake, but that was all down to DRS… the one overtaking tool we fail to love.

      1. But there was exciting overtakes. Give me 14 great passes over 15 dull DRS ones anyday. This is what F1 is supposed to be. Difficult

    14. You will never get good passing here. The other drivers said it was a big help with following so Lewis is the only one who seemed to think this and also he didn’t even try racing anyone so he isn’t the best of judge. Cars would have been even worse this year if nothing changed. Wait till next week and see how it goes be Lewis is not one to ask this sorta question it’s the midfield that you need to talk to

    15. I think everyone here has got it wrong, you need to read between the lines. He was saying is that Merc did not bother with the modifications to reduce turbulence, as they have no intention of having to pass anyone. They are going to lock out the front row and run flag to flag for the rest of the season. :)

    16. Well, since they revealed after the race that the car was actually damaged, I don’t think we can take too much from Hamilton’s experience in this race.

      From the comments from other drivers I’d say the changes overall probably helped a bit – but no world changer. At least not on this track where it’s tight and hard to pass anyway.

      1. @bascb Was going to say the same. If LH’s car was that badly damaged that it was the reason he lagged so far behind, his is not the car to be used for judging. That said, this was only a small effort to try to help, and may have at least just prevented things from being worse. I recall a number of weeks ago Wolff saying that they would look for other ways to outwash since they couldn’t do it with the front wing. Max’s comments confirm that it is still difficult, and I think we all knew that was likely. Still, some cars may be feeling the difference more than others ie. affected more or less than last year in dirty air depending on how their new cars work aerodynamically.

        It’s one race and perhaps the changes will show themselves more at other types of tracks. The bottom line is that these cars are inherently meant for high clean air dependence, so there’s only so much they can do with them, or even want to when they are this close to the sweeping changes for 2021. I’m confident that the regs will be such that things like finding other ways to outwash will be much less possible and effective, added to cars that will be less clean air dependent.

    17. Is there any scientific evidence we can analyse i.e what were the gaps like between the midfield compared to last year. This race definitely felt more exciting and closer than last. Surely Max getting past Seb counts for something.

      1. Yes, but I wouldn’t give credit for this to the aero changes, I’d say it’s cause ferrari is nowhere compared to red bull this year, last year they were close enough to defend themselves from them (raikkonen on ricciardo).

    Comments are closed.