Hulkenberg believes F1 will “correct” aero problem in 2021

2021 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg believes Formula 1 has found a solution to the aerodynamic problem which prevents cars from bring able to run closely to each other.

Before the French Grand Prix the Renault driver accompanied Lewis Hamilton to an FIA meeting where the sport’s plans for 2021 were presented, including drastic changes to car aerodynamic intended to aid overtaking.

Hulkenberg said he is encouraged by what he said. “I have faith that on the aero side, which is the most important, that will be corrected and adjusted in the right side.”

He said he spent much of Sunday’s race stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo and was unable to make an attempt to pass despite being quicker.

“[These cars] are fast and they are spectacular. The problem is that you can’t get close to a car and this is one of the worst tracks for it because it’s always third or fourth gear. The speeds are quite high and the aero effect is just massive. I mean that’s what I did just spending one and a half I was experiencing that shit.

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“But I think for the 2021 rules that hopefully will be addressed properly that you know we can have a track like this but with much better racing.”

Hamilton also said he is encouraged by the work F1 managing director Ross Brawn is doing to improve the quality of racing. “Ross and his team are working – for the first time – on a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact on following,” he said.

However Hamilton warned other aspects of F1’s plans for 2021 are “nowhere near where it should be in my opinion”, including a likely further rise in the minimum weight level.

“One of the issues that we have is that our cars are too heavy and so the brakes are beyond the limit, they’re always overheating and they’re talking about going heavier in 2021 which is the wrong. I promise you is the wrong direction.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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34 comments on “Hulkenberg believes F1 will “correct” aero problem in 2021”

  1. Hulkenberg said he is encouraged by what he said. “I have faith that on the aero side, which is the most important, that will be corrected and adjusted in the right side.”

    Shouldn’t the aero also be corrected/adjusted on the left side of the car?

    (I’m sorry, I’ll see myself out.)

    1. LOL @phylyp (when you return eventually of course ;-)

    2. georgeboole (@)
      25th June 2019, 9:58

      @phylyp not needed. Passes will be made from the right side just as Ricciardo demonstarted.

      1. @georgeboole – some drivers may feel left out, and might not be willing to undertake an overtake.

        1. georgeboole (@)
          25th June 2019, 15:51

          @phylyp I m still waiting for someone to point out that British and Australian drivers will have an advantage as they are used in overtaking from the right on normal roads (rhd) and add something about a fia conspiracy.

  2. “One of the issues that we have is that our cars are too heavy and so the brakes are beyond the limit, they’re always overheating and they’re talking about going heavier in 2021 which is the wrong. I promise you is the wrong direction.”

    I’m not a fan of the continued increase in the weight of the car, but if its brakes that are the issue, surely they can upsize the discs? With the 18″ rims, there’ll be adequate room for that, wouldn’t there? (And yes, bigger discs increase the weight – more importantly the unsprung weight – but will help in slowing the cars).

    Also, has the overheating of brakes been an issue since we went to these wider cars? I can’t seem to recall it being a persistent issue (granted, the odd tear has got stuck in a brake duct).

    1. (granted, the odd tear-off has got stuck in a brake duct)

    2. @phylyp As I said below, the fact bigger disks help slowing the cars down faster might be one of the reasons they are currently not bigger, as the idea was that working to make those braking zones a bit longer would help overtaking.

      And then came the rules with these wider, heavier, more DF cars to counter that, bc. DF also reduces braking zone length through more drag and higher apex speeds, which is covered by Hamilton’s “years of bad decisions”, and Hulk’s talk of cars being hard to follow. But indeed, that also probably made those brakes properly limiting, because otherwise the braking zone would be even shorter I suppose? Eh, Lewis, not quite sure that would help racing then, according to the theory, mate.

      1. the idea was that working to make those braking zones a bit longer would help overtaking

        @bosyber – very interesting, I didn’t know that. Thank you.

        1. You could solve the heating issue by using Carbon-Ceramic brakes.

          Far more heat resistant, and will make braking zones longer. Less efficient, and may reward different approaches to overtaking and braking. Carbon-Carbon is seen as the pinnacle of performance but maybe we need a bit of a change here so drivers can lean on the brakes hard and rely on their talent on the brakes, rather than carbon to help!

      2. the idea was that working to make those braking zones a bit longer would help overtaking

        @bosyber – The reason the brakes aren’t bigger is because they cannot be any bigger – the tiny 13″ wheels restrict the size of the disc and caliper.

        The engineers also want to keep unsprung mass (and all other mass) to a minimum. This is why they were against going to 18″ wheels, as they are bigger/heavier.

        That being said, longer braking distances will aid overtaking. If they went to steel/iron discs, it would absolutely increase braking time each lap and make it easier to get alongside someone. Trouble is they are heavier, which starts up the debate of what fans want from the sport.

        1. No, they could be thicker @racerjoss, I know that wider ones wouldn’t work currently (though they would with the bigger tyres), but thicker ones, which can handle longer, stronger, loads, just aren’t allowed; indeed, the unsprung mass is one reason teams have been further reducing the size of the disks on the rear axle, as you say.

          Yeah, a lot of things are currently working to increase the weight of the cars, not an easy thing to change around I think.

    3. Also, has the overheating of brakes been an issue since we went to these wider cars? I can’t seem to recall it being a persistent issue

      Everything doesn’t make it to the internet you know.

      If the guy who has mastered every aspect of these machines better than any other person says it’s an issue, then it’s an issue.

  3. Yes, Lewis, then they should use larger brake disks and not rely on the unfair advantage that starved lighter and smaller drivers have.

    1. We have min (car) weights for the drivers so you point is wrong.

  4. Hülkenberg:
    “[These cars] are fast and they are spectacular. The problem is that you can’t get close to a car …”

    I am glad that he sees that, because if I recall correctly, he was on of the drivers quite strongly saying the previous rules were not good, too slow and easy.

    But, I am quite glad that both he and Hamilton are largely positive about the 2021 aero direction. The cars getting heavier, I guess that’s not so easy to solve when keeping safety and reliability demands, as both tend to ask for extra material being added, but I did think Brawn had a side project looking at reducing the weight of (standard?) components. Am I wrong in that?

    Though what Hamilton mentions about the brakes, I do think they could easily increase the size of them with the 18″ wheels, but on the other hand, don’t the rules limit the brakes on purpose to make it harder to faultlessly brake? And also: I think it is the teams who limit the rear brakes, to save weight now that the MGU-K usually takes most of the load, so perhaps Hamilton should tell this to his team (perhaps he regularly does, but we do not hear it) instead?

    1. Yes the brakes are limited, if they had the choice and the human body could take it, they would run vented brake discs. I think Racefans ran an article a while ago on the how the brakes are currently restricted and what 18inch wheels will mean for the new discs.

      1. Yep, that’s my recollection too.

  5. I’m not that confident the new rules overhaul will be all that effective. The old saying “A camel is a horse designed by committee” springs to mind, there is just too much involvement from multiple different parties all with their own agendas.

    If anyone’s interested in a little game I’ll write down 5 rule changes I’d most like to see. The next commenter pick one of those rules to “implement” then write down your own 5 rule changes. Repeat and see what horrible formula we end up with. (For added fun if you’ve had an account for 5 years or more you can veto any previously “implemented” rule changes)

    1. Remove power steering
    2. No car to pit telemetry all information to the engineers while on track must be relayed by the driver
    3. Concessions for new teams (more testing/engine components). It worked for MotoGP
    4. Reduce track hosting fees. If hosting F1 is profitable tracks can be optimised for racing not track days (Abu Dhabi) or Testing (Paul Richard)
    5. Open up engine design (Only set a max fuel use amount anything else goes) but to keep things more equal every 6 months you must share your engine design with the FIA and other teams

    1. @yossarian Id’e like to see manual gear boxes used again.
      A change in the tyre restrictions dictating which tyre the teams start on. And try to find a way to remove the fencing between the fans and the track.

    2. @yossarian
      @johnrkh
      I’m not in favor of getting rid of the power steering nor paddle-shifters. I don’t see anything wrong with them, especially the latter. Furthermore, technically, the gearboxes are and have always been manual, though. The definition of manual-transmission is that the person behind the steering wheel of any given vehicle does the gear-shifting him/herself regardless of whether it’s done by simply flicking fingers as is the case with the paddle-shifters as mentioned above, or by taking one hand off the steering wheel.
      ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

      – Here are the things I’d like to happen, i.e., my wishes for an ideal F1 (car).
      1. Significantly more followable cars (which hopefully is going to be the case in 2021).
      2. Stable lap times similar to how they’ve been since 2017.
      2. Lower minimum overall weight, i.e., lighter cars. They don’t have to be 600 kg as they used to be, but at least closer to 700 would be an improvement already. These are my three wishes for an ideal F1 (car).

      1. @jerejj Regarding the manual gearbox, I’m talking about a proper manual gearbox with a foot operated clutch no electronic assist e.g. rev matching. The driver would need to learn how to heel&toe and not crunch the gears. Starting would be harder as they would need to have brilliant eye hand co-ordination. Tracks like Monaco would be really hard work.
        It’s not about “fixing” it’s about making the racing more exciting the drivers use their skills.

    3. Regarding your first two options, I completely agree with them.

      #1 makes the car difficult to drive, and these cars ought to be physically demanding, drivers are doing 90-minute sprint races: they should work it out a bit more, plus a tired driver should make errors, one problem with F1 is that top teams aren’t making errors, and thus you have perfectly planned races for the first 8 finishing drivers.

      #2 might be difficult to enforce because teams are going to cry “safety”, so the FIA should calculate a bit rate for critical sensors and, since data should go thru their data center, enforce that transfer cap during a live session. Once the session stops teams can DL whatever data they deem fit.

    4. @yossarian:

      #1. Great idea, but will give Lando an unfair advantage to the other wimpy drivers that will demand functional hydraulics for an entire race distance.

      My Top 5 Changes:

      1. Lower weight. 700kg, but ideally 600kg.
      2. Shorter cars. The single seat stretch limo series was created for the Rolex crowd. Liberty is targeting a different demographic – they probably don’t own a watch. Only use smartphones and drive Smarts.
      3. Narrower. Against the stretch-limo doctrine, but if we’re going to deliver on lower weight, the girth must be reduced too.
      4. Manual H-pattern shift with a foot clutch. Ok, it would be a double H pattern for 8 forward gears – but heel and toe and missed shifts would add more excitement than DRS.

      While this post 2017 generation are amazing in the high speed stuff, they look awkward, slow and clunky on the low speed stuff. And on TV, it’s all slow stuff.

      5. Hire a new broadcast crew with a clue. The most exciting battle last weekend wasn’t shown live. Hire spotters, or send a couple dozen racefans supporters (prefer the later) to every race. A good director thrives with 20+ voices screaming in his ear.

  6. Electroball76
    25th June 2019, 11:27

    They could use old NASCAR body shells. Good fer rubbin’!

  7. The aero problem is aero itself. They have learned how to grind the tires into the ground, but they can’t back off cause, well, gosh they don’t want to waste those millions already spent on aero. So F1 gets to die cause the smartest people in the world want to justify their spending habits. I follow many racing disciplines. F1 is the only one that’s not doing any racing.

  8. Most involved directly seem to think the cars should be lighter than they are. So why would they need to be heavier under the post 2021 rules?

    I mean what possible changes are driving yet a further increase in the weight?

    1. I don’t know about weight, but in general, there should less mass.

      Cars need to be shorter, have you seen the comparisons to formulas from other eras? I understand that one of the reasons for the bigger cars is advertising space, they are just too frugal for TV!

      1. Shorter would look better and presumably be better for overtaking.

      2. Yes, I do agree, I wouldn’t mind a maximum length considerably shorter than the current longest cars.

  9. 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. Slight changes in technical regulation year by year (with stable regulations, differences will naturally decrease). Smaller teams get the same PU (hardware, software, etc) as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences and decrease costs. The slower teams get more test days. 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.
    +I think we should introduce Plus Weight Per Championship Point system in short term (for example +20dkg/point, less or more. It means if a driver has got 10 championship points he has to carry +2kg as a minimum weight for the car) because it is a simple, cheap, fast, effective solution to decrease dominance and differences and we don’t need unification or freeze development.
    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 (more durable, more grip) D, more powerful and effective PUs (natural development) E, DRS? (open DRS time/race and drivers manage it) F, refuelling? (Cars can be faster and drivers could push harder during races but there would be less safety and maybe more ’overtaking during the pit stops’) G, narrower cars H, less weight I, use active (aero) elements (no DRS) to decrease the following car’s disadvantage in the corners
    3. Increasing the role of drivers: A, Racing should be a greater challenge for drivers mentally (own decision-making) and physically (more G forces until it is safe) as well during races. B, drivers make decisions on strategy and car settings C, less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons) D, minimum weight for drivers (for example 80kg with ballast less or more) E, push on the limit as long as possible, and save (fuel, tyres, PU etc.) as short as possible -> faster lap times during races F, drivers manage ERS instead of a program (like they used KERS earlier)
    4. Better tracks: It would be a good thing if F1 valuated the tracks.

    1. 1. Reduced length and weight of car/driver combination
      2. Reduced Data gathering, Transmission and Analysis which should include a limit to the number of sensors on the car
      3. Reduced Steering Wheel functionality including limits on number of engine modes for example (4 should be enough!)
      4. Make it mandatory to start the race with 100Kg fuel on board and drop the fuel flow meter. No more under fuelling with a view to fuel saving at some point in the race, and ditching the fuel flow limits should encourage manufacturers to push towards the 15K RPM limit (Which might improve the sound too)
      5. Ditch the mandatory pitstop rule and increase pit lane speed limits. If you want the cars to pit more often you have to make it worth their while by reducing overall time lost in the pits relative to the new tyre performance gain.

  10. Racecar is racecar backwards
    26th June 2019, 13:07

    Interesting idea the guys over at Autosport were discussing is the idea of regulating inputs rather than outputs. ie rather than giving the engineers dimensions and engine formulas and letting them lose with millions of pounds what about saying you must build a car with x amount of money but open up the regulation options. How that would work I’m not sure but its a different way of looking at it and maybe easier to police than a cost cap for an entire season.

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