Romain Grosjean, Haas, Albert Park, 2019

F1’s new aero rules work but tyres prevent passing – Grosjean

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Romain Grosjean says new aerodynamic rules for the 2019 F1 season have succeeded in allowing cars to run together more closely.

However the Haas driver, who followed his team mate during the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix, believes the nature of F1’s tyres will continue to make it difficult for drivers to overtake.

“I was behind Magnussen,” he explained. “The new rules are great for following another car but the tyres are still what they were last year. As soon as you push, you slide, and then you lose the grip.

“So even though we can follow much easier than in the past overtaking is still very complicated.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr gave a different view on the effect of F1’s new rules. The McLaren driver believes the more powerful Drag Reductions System has done more to aid overtaking than the changes to the cars’ front wings.

“I think there’s been some overtaking,” he said. “I think mainly it’s down to the DRS more than the rules. That’s my first impression, because it was still tricky to be closer to a car in front.

“I was there with Stroll, I nearly got a look at him into turn one and turn three which last year would have been difficult. Maybe [it’s] a bit better. Still the cars are so fast and so dependent on downforce that it’s difficult to overtake.”

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen also expressed doubt whether the new front wings have made a difference. However Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn said the first race of the year gave encouraging signs the changes have worked.

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17 comments on “F1’s new aero rules work but tyres prevent passing – Grosjean”

  1. I have seen ppl talk about we have 200% more overtakes for Oz but if you had one overtake last year and 4 this year isn’t something to be cheering. I would like at the end if each race some stars on how many genuine overtakes on track too place. That would be mode useful.

    1. And yet people wants the v8 and V10 era back when there was like no overtaking what so ever.

      1. You sure about that?

      2. @marussi – So true.
        @socksolid – Yes, and that was the case especially during the V10 days which coincided with the refuelling era.

        1. @jerejj, the exact start of “the V10 era” is slightly debatable – whilst V10 engines weren’t formally mandated until 2000, the sport was effectively a V10 only format from 1998, as the only engines in production were V10 engines, and was pretty much a de-facto V10 series from 1996 (as only one or two teams used anything but a V10).

          Broadly speaking, the period from 1995 onwards, which pretty much encapsulates “the V10 era”, had the lowest overtaking rates in general in dry conditions since the start of available statistics (in 1981), with 2005 having the lowest number of overtakes per race on average.

          The situation in the V8 era was also reasonably similar – there was a statistically insignificant increase in 2006, but after that the trend reverted back about the same low level of overtaking until the end of 2009. Overtaking rates during the V8 era didn’t start to increase until 2010, peaking in 2011 and then starting to drop back down in 2012 and 2013.

          Now, there is the complexity of what role refuelling played, because the picture there is debatable. It is true that overtaking rates did start increasing after mid-race refuelling was banned in 2010, but whether that was just due to refuelling or due to the fact that it coincided with a period of wider regulation change, which was likely to shake up the grid and create the opportunity for more overtaking, is something that is unclear.

          That said, I would argue against the claim that refuelling was solely to blame for that fall in overtaking, which is what some people sometimes suggest. If you look at the historical trends on overtaking, you can see that average overtaking rates had fallen fairly consistently from 1984 to 1993, with the total drop over that period being about 40%.

          It is true that, between 1993 and 1995, the overtaking rate halved again before levelling off at at a prolonged low level, so the rate at which overtaking was occurring did start dropping more rapidly after the introduction of refuelling. Refuelling probably did have the effect of exacerbating that decline, but it came during a period where the rate of overtaking was generally declining anyway.

  2. Something for you to know Max said that he didn’t notice much difference BUT he notice when driving behind Lewis that be started to lose Downforce when he was 1,5 seconds behind instead of the 2 seconds last season.
    But that is not overtaking just to closeup the one in front of you.

    1. Indeed. The other problem is the overheating of the tyres. They rise immensely high when closing up towards someone. That’s why the slip and sliding Grojean is talking about happens.
      I think the DRS is indeed a bigger performance improvement than the frontwing. Also the lowering of the pre-heating of tires is not helpfull in fair but exciting fights on track.

      There are multiple decisions made and some might be ok and good for close racing. But I think the cocktail of all changes might be a bit too much. But Albert Park never is the most exciting race, so lets wait a few to make some decent conclusions. The Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes performance from all could be a 1 off. Same goes for these changes.

  3. In theory effect is not huge. So all these divided opinions are to be expected.

    Also top teams are likely to have found workaround and are still having the same issues around the sidepods, they probably see less of a benefit in new regulations.

  4. F1 had their chance to finally get rid of Pirelli. They didn’t take it. I know it’s not entirely their fault as they designed what was asked of them. However times have changed. How many years are we going to put up with this thermal degradation issue…? Change the brief or change the supplier!

    1. @ming-mong: Agree.

      But perhaps Liberty/FIA believe they have solved the designed to degrade tyres issue by giving out a point for fastest lap and increasing the effect of DRS.

  5. With both Grosjean and Magnussen now having said they feel a difference this year in the ability to follow closely, and mixed sentiments from others, maybe what this means is Haas have a particularly efficient front wing in dirty air.

    With the front wing having a huge impact on both how much dirty air is generated by the leading car and also how the trailing car is able to maintain downforce in its wake, it would make sense that different permutations of the ten different aero packages on the grid will result in different drivers reporting different levels of ability to follow behind different cars.

    1. @markzastrow – That is possible. But it is also possible that Haas didn’t have particularly great wings last year and teams like Merc and RBR did. So when they changed to this year’s specifications, Haas feels improvements of going from a poor(er) design to a good design. Meanwhile Merc and RBR went from good design A to good design B and don’t feel a difference.

  6. I am glad that Brawn et al are looking at ways to increase the ability to drive near each other and make passing a possibility. But I’m not sure how they thought this was the path forward.

    The car in front will always leave a wake of disturbed air. The car behind will always suffer because of that. I am not an aerodynamicist or physicist or engineer, but a lot of people in F1 are and nothing (that I have seen) has been proffered to day that allows close racing and high down force.

    It seems like you either have to have extremely high down force (Monaco spec+++) so you always have enough, or you need to have very, very low down force so that you aren’t dependent upon it on turn in. In either case, it seems the bulk of the down force you create (HIGH or low) needs to be non-aero down force. Until then, we are just looking at random gadgets and rules (remember movable front aero?, f-duct and DRS, small wing/big wing/small wing/big wing) that don’t get us where I think we are trying to get.

    1. *to date*

    2. Also, I used the term ‘down force’ a lot in the last paragraph where I meant ‘grip’ more generally. I.e. grip should be less aero-dependent. And what down force is being generated should probably be under-car (ground effect) low pressure suction rather than over-car high pressure pushing.

  7. In my opinion rules should be in F1:
    Principles F1 should follow: 1. safety 2. close racing 3. world’s fastest cars 4. efficiency 5. optimizing 1-4 points. The most fans want to see close racing among the best drivers in the fastest cars. How can we solve it? This is, decision makers and engineers should work for. I think it is possible with compromises.
    Some possibilities we have to consider:
    1. Less differences between cars in lap times.
    Some teams are better in PU and others in aero but we need less differences in lap times. I think we should introduce Plus Weight Per Point system in short term (for example +20dkg/point or ~+0,5 pound/point, less or more) because it is a simple, cheap, fast, effective solution to decrease dominance and differences and we don’t need unification or freeze development. Smaller teams get the same PU (hardware, software, etc) as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences and decrease costs. I think it would be ideal if cars are close to each other in lap times but some cars are faster in straight and others are faster in corners. The slower teams get more test days.
    2. Less dirty air and less sensitive cars for dirty air in corners but fast cars: more mechanical grip, less or same aero downforce, the sport needs make it easier for cars to follow each other closely during races
    A, simpler front wing and aero B, (more effective diffuser) C, better tyres D, more powerful and effective PUs (natural development) E, slight changes in technical regulation year by year (differences will naturally decrease) and more freedom in development until regulations allow F, DRS? (open DRS time/race and drivers manage it) G, refuelling? (Cars can be faster and drivers could push harder during races but there would be less safety and more ’overtaking during the pit stops’) H, narrower cars I, less weight
    3. Increasing the role of drivers: A, drivers make decisions on strategy B, less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons) C, minimum weight for drivers (for example 80kg with ballast less or more) but no limit for cars D, push on the limit as long as possible, and save (fuel, tyres, PU etc.) as short as possible -> faster lap times during races E, It should be more challenging to drive physically and mentally F, drivers manage ERS instead of a program (like they used KERS earlier) G, so more challenge mentally (drivers own strategy) and physically (more G force until it is safety) as well for drivers.

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