2021 F1 car rendering

Brawn rejects claim 2021 F1 cars will be “nasty to drive”

2021 F1 season

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Ross Brawn has rejected claims the aerodynamic changes for the 2021 F1 season will make the cars “nasty to drive”.

Racing Point technical director Andrew Green has warned there are “fundamental issues” with the planned overhaul in the sport’s technical regulations. He believes the ground effect-generating ‘tunnels’ which are being added to the cars’ floors will be affected by ‘dirty air’ generated at the front of the car.

However Brawn said he does not believe Racing Point have been able to simulate the new regulations accurately enough to make that claim, due in part to the move towards 18-inch wheels.

“The knowledge and complexity of the cars we have today is incredibly refined in terms of what the teams are doing,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago, for instance, there didn’t exist a decent tyre model in terms of the aerodynamic impact the tyre has, because the front tyre is incredibly influential on the way the aerodynamics work.

“One reason we’ve gone to an 18-inch wheel is partly to reduce that, because the movement of the sidewalls are so extreme on a 13-inch wheel. You can imagine in cornering, you’ve got this very dynamic tyre that’s distorting like mad at the contact patch and not distorting halfway up. I’d be amazed if Andrew Green has got a tyre model yet of an 18-inch tyre that tells him what the tyres are doing in cornering. We have. I don’t think he was.

[icon2019autocoursempu]”But just stepping back, this refinement has only existed in the last few years. I can remember 10 years ago we didn’t have the knowledge or simulations. We didn’t know what was going on. And I don’t think the cars 10 years ago were nasty to drive. I think we were a bit less refined than where they are now. So I think it’s a bit premature to say that.”

Brawn suspects Racing Point have done less work on assessing the 2021 rules changes than their rivals.

“When we started work on the aero programme, Force India/Racing Point declared they would not be able to support the 2021 programme and have not been able to contribute anything to this program because of the resources they have. So they’ve probably done the least amount of work on this program of any of the teams we’ve been involved.

“So it’s a bit of an unfortunate statement to be critical at this stage as I think it’s premature and not based on any facts they have, maybe opinion. I think once he gets into it properly designing his car he’ll smooth out any anomalies he may have imagined.”

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24 comments on “Brawn rejects claim 2021 F1 cars will be “nasty to drive””

  1. How can they make regulations that will change the car’s characteristics! It’s almost as if you will need talented drivers to drive the cars, not just daddy’s boys with massive unibrows and more confidence than they’ve rightfully earned!

  2. This is typical F1, where the impact of changes is usually exaggerated, and when it actually comes to it, it’s really nowhere near as bad. I remember back in 2013, we had drivers and engineers stating that the new power units produced so much torque that they had to take hairpins in 5th gear just to control the wheelspin, but when 2014 came, it was not even close to being that bad. Then the 2019 cars were supposedly going to be 2 seconds a lap slower, but instead, they’ve been breaking track records at most tracks. I fully expect the 2021 cars to be slower than the 2020 ones, but by a considerably smaller margin than estimated. And if they have lower downforce levels than the current generation, and are “nastier to drive”, then what’s wrong with that? It will probably still have more downforce levels than probably 90% of F1 cars in history.

    1. This is typical F1, where the impact of changes is usually exaggerated, and when it actually comes to it, it’s really nowhere near as bad

      To be fair the 2014 nose and maybe overtaking ability of 2017 cars were rather “as bad” as feared

      1. @davidnotcoulthard No! absolutely No! please stop with this Nonsense. Australia was rather hard to overtake and everyone went crazy and this is basically why we now get basically spec-cars and a NEW Major rules upgrade just as everything is converging. we had great racing with these regs in a regular Basics, Coming off of YEARS of everyone and their Grandma on here moaning about how passing was too easy and devalued and noone wanted to see 100+ passes per race anyway. Literally the FIRST RACE with new regs happened (Australia 17) and wasnt full of Passes and the moaning started right back up into the opposite direction.

  3. The new regs mean that downforce is generated mostly from ground effect.
    I remember the achilleas heel of the previous ground effect era, which was the sudden total loss of downforce if the side skirt was lofted by a bump or going over a kerb. In this case though the sudden loss effect should be less as the diffuser will cover the whole of the floor and will utilise several walls creating channels away from the outside edges, but it is foreseeable that there still could be an immediate lessening of grip on encountering bumps or kerbs.

    1. I think the fact that rather than creating a tunnel using flexible side skirts, they’ll have actual tunnels front to back under the car, should mean that bumps and curbs won’t take anything away from the cars’ performance. The diffuser is fixed too, and should not be affected by bumps and curbs.

      1. I was rather hoping the ground effect might mean cars might have to treat kerbs like the rest of us have to.

      2. Super GT uses ground effect on a massive scale and have no issues so that point is now moot. As Brawn points out technology now is lightyears ahead of what was available even 10 years ago let alone the last time ground effect was utilised in F1. Once teams start concentrating on desiring around new regs they will come up with weird and wonderful ways if resolving the challenges the stem from using ground effect. Hopefully some smaller teams come up with really out of the box ideas and we may even see something similar to Brawn GP. Any team not at the top should look at new regs as an opportunity and not a threat.

      3. @robbie, bumps and kerbs can actually noticeably impact the behaviour of the diffusers and floor of a car – changes in the pitch of a car will alter the airflow through the diffuser, and there will be the interaction effects between the ground surface and the diffuser. The tunnels you are referring to in the ground effect era weren’t created by the skirts – the skirts were a means of sealing the sculpted underbody that those cars had, whereas now they’re using vortices of air to do the same thing.

        Pitch sensitivity of underfloor aerodynamics is a long standing issue – the most extreme manifestation is the phenomenon of porpoising, where a mismatch between the centre of pressure of the car as it pitches and the centre of mass can cause an extreme rocking motion – so it’s inaccurate to say that it “should not be affected by bumps and curbs”.

        1. @anon https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/145115/video-how-2021-ground-effect-differs-from-before

          Actually you are missing a component that I also could have been more clear on. I had recalled Brawn mentioning this, and started searching for his comments on current ground effects research as will be implemented for 2021 vs the late 70’s version. Before I could find his remarks I found this video that explains it just as well.

          Bottom line there will still be skirts but they will travel up and down with the suspension, and in that way not be disturbed from doing their job of sealing the air under the car within the tunnels. So in that sense, pitch, yaw, and roll from curbs and bumps and just plain cornering are not nearly detrimental to the performance from ground effects now as used to be the case. By keeping the air sealed much more effectively, the diffuser will be able to do it’s job at all times too, no matter what the car is doing in relation to the plane of the track.

          Bottom line, it is inaccurate to claim that pitch sensitivity is a long standing issue. They’ve solved that, which is why they are comfortable going ahead with this much better version of ground effects that won’t lose it’s seal.

  4. Aerodynamics is a ‘black art, I don’t think anyone really knows the effects of the changes until the cars hit the track.

    1. Oh I think they already have a pretty good idea of the effects of the changes, as Brawn has alluded to when he talks about their most recent abilities in this area. The work they have been doing has been unprecedented, so I think there won’t be too many surprises once the cars hit the track. They’ve had cars nose to tail in a wind tunnel for at least a couple of years now. At a bare minimum, the less complex wings will immediately make the cars less sensitive to dirty air than they have been for years. Then there’s the ground effects work and the making of less wake. Can’t see how a trailing car will possibly be any more negatively affected than they are now, and some think we are in for a great 2020 season, so for me any one of the aspects they are addressing on the cars can only be a bonus, let alone what the combination of lesser wings, tunnels, and lesser wake will mean. And if there are somehow some surprises, they’ll just tweak those surprises out.

    2. Aerodynamics is a science. Not black art. F1 cars generate downforce and airplanes generate lift and not because of magic. In the end it is not question of what they got right. It is more of a question what they simulated. I am not sure how much they have looked at things like pitch and roll sensitivety and different rake combinations but if they have modelled the front tire deformation and its effects on aerodynamics then I’d imagine they have checked more than just the extreme downforce numbers. I’d also imagine they have some kind of ideas how rough the cars will drive based on that they should know the downforce numbers which means they should know pretty well how stuff chassis (springs and dampers) they need. I’d be surprised if they have no idea what the aerodynamic characteristics are of these.

      1. They’ll know precisely how this aero concept will work. Just like IndyCar has used for almost a decade, F1 will use Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation and Wind Tunnel testing to design whatever handling characteristics they want.

    3. @johnrkh “Black arts” is usually what clueless people call things that make their heads hurt (Not meant as anything against you, and not calling YOU clueless).

      HOWEVER, the two below, @robbie and @socksolid should think about when Adrian newey, the de facto aero MASTER, changed his side pod design practically every race.

      No, it’s not black magic… but it’s also clearly not just a simple science, there is tons of stuff going on aerodynamically around an f1 car, and anyone who says it’s a clear cut and easy to understand science is kidding themselves. It’s cal aerodynamics for a reason, and neither of you are Adrian Newey, so stop it.

      F1 is complicated.

      1. @Xcm No question it is complicated and I wasn’t trying to claim otherwise. But it is not a mystery either, so it lies somewhere between their latest greatest high tech models, and clear cut. What they have learned over many many years…too many years…is that cars dependent on clean air are negatively harmed in dirty air, if one wants close racing and not processions. So I think from that perspective it is pretty clear cut that by taking the measures they have, the cars should be much less dependent on clean air, and therefore should be able to race more closely.

        Do they know exactly what to expect from a field of 20 2021 cars jumping off the grid? Perhaps not, but I think they are likely quite confident in what will happen, as it can only be to the good for close racing, since they are getting away from clean air dependence. The Adrian Newey example of multiple side pod changes has been with clean air dependence in mind, and having to find that balance of downforce from wings, and efficiency through as little drag as possible even when asking for more wing downforce from the car. That will be less the concern with the new cars. Of course there will still be tweak after tweak after tweak by all the teams all the time, as it is complicated, but suffice it to say again, I’m pretty sure there won’t be too many surprises with the pending big changes, as they have done unprecedented wind tunnel work for this…they being not one of the teams but an independent team run by Ross Brawn. They wouldn’t have proposed these drastic changes, nor had all the teams agree to them, if they didn’t have a ton of confidence in the direction they’re going.

        1. It is a partial mystery, because one of the world problems is that there was not discovered yet any aerodynamic/fluid law that encompasses all phenomena. For example there is no law for turbulence.

          1. maybe…


            “University of Maryland mathematicians Jacob Bedrossian, Samuel Punshon-Smith and Alex Blumenthal have developed the first rigorous mathematical proof explaining a fundamental law of turbulence. The proof of Batchelor’s law will be presented at a meeting of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics on December 12, 2019.

            Although all laws of physics can be described using mathematical equations, many are not supported by detailed mathematical proofs that explain their underlying principles. One area of physics that has been considered too challenging to explain with rigorous mathematics is turbulence. Seen in ocean surf, billowing clouds and the wake behind a speeding vehicle, turbulence is the chaotic movement of fluids (including air and water) that includes seemingly random changes in pressure and velocity.

            Turbulence is the reason the Navier-Stokes equations, which describe how fluids flow, are so hard to solve that there is a million-dollar reward for anyone who can prove them mathematically. To understand fluid flow, scientists must first understand turbulence.”

      2. Xcm

        F1 is complicated.

        Yes your right and that was my point, maybe I should just have said that outright.
        Possibly @robbie and @socksolid didn’t see the inverted commas, but they had a bit of a vent so it’s all good :)

  5. Like Brundle always says… Throttle works both ways, if cars are hard to control maybe they wont be flat on every corner.

    Maybe drivers will make more mistakes, or someone pushing more can go faster.

    Right now we have a situation, where a driver pushing just overcomes the capacity of tires and goes slower by the end of his stint. A joke! Tires can do 1 lap on ultimate pace.

    1. +1 It’s a Yoke !
      Sorry, couldn’t refrain myself….

  6. Good. Cars should be difficult to design properly and to drive.

  7. Ross Brawn is a clever man, I liked the way that he gentlemanly rebutted the comments from Green and also let everyone know that this probably means Racing Point is trailing behind on 2021 car development against other teams. Brawn said that if was by these kind of statements/ questions from other teams that he knew they were miles ahead of competition with Brawn GP back in the beginning of 2009. This showed the level of comprehension from their competitors at a determined stage of development in their cars . Maybe this shows Racing Point has still a long way to go aerodynamics wise for 2021 car.

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