Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Rear floor change means teams need “front-to-back” aero rethink for 2021

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 cars will be slower next year because of the changes being made to their rear floors, Racing Point’s technical director Andrew Green believes.

New regulations for 2021 will force teams to reduce the floor area in front of the rear wheels. This is being done to reduce how much downforce the cars will generate to ensure they do not over-stress their tyres, as F1 will continue to use Pirelli’s 2019-specification rubber next year.

“It was really a directive from the FIA that if we were going to carry these cars for another year, and postpone what was the 2021 regulations and move it to 2022, we can’t have a huge step in performance,” said Green. “We need to be limiting the development so that the development of the car peaks this year and we don’t we don’t sail past it in 2021.

“So for that reason we’ve made a change to the aerodynamic technical regulations and we’ve taken a slice of real estate out of the floor in front the rear tyre.

“Now that change is very significant and it takes a really large hit aerodynamically, to a point where I would be surprised if anybody was able to develop their way out of it in the time we have available for 2021. So I fully expect 2021 cars to be slower than 2020 cars.”

Racing Point would have preferred “a smaller change”, Green admitted, “which is one that we were pushing for when the discussion was happening.”

“It was echoed from not just us that we didn’t want a change that was going to significantly reduce, change, the flow structure on the car. Unfortunately the change that’s come through does do that.”

The change will have profound consequences for the design of the cars, says Green.

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“It’s such a large change that we are going to have to go from front to back and redevelop the car,” said Green. “Which is unfortunate, but we understand the reasons why.

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
Reducing rear wing size would not have helped at Spa
“We understand we do need to peg back the performance of the car and for sure this is going to peg back the performance of the car in 2021. Same for everybody.

“I don’t think anybody’s got any big advantage or disadvantage relatively speaking, compared to other teams, because of this change. I think we’re all in the same boat. It’s just never nice when you do a change to the car and you take a very large hit and you realise that it’s not just a small redevelopment to get out, it’s front-to-back.”

The teams did discuss alternative ways to reduce downforce, said Green. Making the rear wings smaller, for example, would not have required such extensive changes to the cars.

But it wouldn’t have had the required effect on certain tracks, said Green. “We talked about it and we did some some simulations on the tracks that have the highest stress on the tyres,” he explained.

“Places like Spa, for instance. We don’t run maximum downforce at Spa so reducing the size of the rear wing wouldn’t have affected the performance of the car at Spa. And Spa is one of the tracks with the highest peak loads.

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“So we did go that route, we discussed that in quite some detail. There was a big push to just change things like the size of the rear wing depth, height, we went through all that, we applied simulations to it and it didn’t do anything. So it needed to be bigger than that. So that’s why we ended up with the floor.”

Green said Racing Point didn’t initially realise how drastic an effect the change was going to have.

“When we decided on the change we weren’t allowed to do any simulations on a current car. The simulations were coming from F1 with their modelling.

“It wasn’t until we got back after the break and started to look at it we realised how big a change it was. And yes, it affects the rear of the car quite dramatically.

“That’s the reason why then you have to go back to the front because these cars have to be balanced and you can’t just take out a lot of rear downforce without taking out front downforce. And once you start taking out front downforce, then you’re into redesigning the front end of the car.

“That’s the situation we’re in, that’s the situation I think most teams are going to be in and we have a very limited opportunity to try and develop our way out. But it’s all relative, that’s what I keep telling the guys, it’s all relative.”

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18 comments on “Rear floor change means teams need “front-to-back” aero rethink for 2021”

  1. So, they can’t even do a freeze right?

    1. @mrboerns It’s not like they don’t know what they are doing. Politics

  2. They should have gone for the simple route and just mandate the Pirelli 2020 tyres.
    Cheaper and same for all.

    1. I agree, that would be the logical path to go down. But no, instead of changing the tyres they change the car, which will mean less “underneath” down force and proportionally more wing generated downforce, the latter being the cause of dirty (turbulent) air. So instead of having cars that are easier to follow F1 will have cars that are harder to follow, which sort of contradicts the reason for the rule changes.
      I guess the good news is those teams that couldn’t understand the 2019 tyre at the end of last season will have cars with new characteristics, presumably putting them back to “square one” in understanding the 2019 tyres.
      So F1 choose the more time consuming option, the more expensive option, and the option most likely to hinder the intention of the new rule changes.

      1. The lower elements of the car (front wings, bargeboards and rear floor details) create most of the turbulence that affects the front wing of the following car.
        The rear wing has much less effect of the following car.

  3. The 2017 regulations change was pointless, and with costly consequences.

    They wanted a 5 second gain in laptime, which meant re-doing the whole car for 2017. It also put an enormous pressure on Pirelli. Then the cars struggled even more to follow each other, so we got a new front wing in 2019 which also was very costly in terms of development. Add to that the cost of introducing the Halo for 2018.

    They’ve been re-doing cars since 2017 every year instead of steady improvements over a known quality. Hopefully after 2022 things stabilize technical-wise (until the new engine in 2026, I suppose…)

  4. “Nah, we don’t like the 2020 tyres. We’d much rather keep the 2019 ones, thanks…”
    “But the new ones are designed to take the extra loads…”
    “We said NO.”

    Ah, F1. As forward thinking as ever.

  5. Well, shouldn’t be problem for Racing Point. They can just call big daddy Merc and ask for tips.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      19th June 2020, 11:10

      @knightameer – I’d say it’s a huge problem for Racing Point…. That’s would have just re-painted Mercedes’ 2020 cars but now they’ll to design something of their own. That’s why they’re quick to moan about these changes.

      1. Oh yes. They won’t have a copy paste solution like this year. But help is still just a call away.

  6. Brawn’s experts are making a bit of a mess.

    Not only do the teams need teams of lawyers to decide if they can or cannot develop parts of the car and if they can when they can and can’t, but they simultaneously have bits chopped off of the cars which leaves them unbalanced and the teams unsure as to how or when to rebalance them in what timescale at what cost while FOM/FIA claims to be setting rules to reduce costs.

    F1 USSR style.

  7. If Pirelli had come up with a 2020 tire that was actually good then maybe we could have avoided this.

    But as usual Pirelli proved incapable of meeting even it’s own targets & all of the drivers as well as teams found the supposedly better 2020 tires to be even worse than what they already had.

    At what point do you just have to admit that Pirelli aren’t upto F1 standards, I mean how many times has F1 had to introduce new rules to suit the deficiencies of the tires now? It’s a joke at this point that the pinnacle of the sport has to continually deal with some of the worst tires in all of motor sport.

    It’s time for change, Either let somebody else have a go or allow tire competition like was allowed for the majority of F1’s history because F1 is supposed to be about competition…. Oh but you can’t have that because somebody could find an advantage, What a joke it’s become!

    1. Bring back Bridgestone and their rock solid tyres. This way we get less whining from drivers but races with no strategy difference. Pre-2011 style.

      1. @knightameer Biggest reason there was not much strategy variation in 2010 was because of the rule mandating everyone run both compounds as well as them all having to run the same compounds.

        Before 1994 you had no mandatory pit stops & teams could run whatever compounds they wished & strategy was more varied & far less predictable which also helped create some surprise results & unexpected strategy that was far more fluid than the predictable strategies we had since 1994 thanks to refueling, mandatory stops & teams having less freedom/options on tire usage.

    2. Can you provide a list of all the other tyre manufacturers who have produced tyres for the current F1 cars and the massive loadings and stresses they need to deal with?
      Michelin, Brigestone, Goodyear all made tyres for the way the cars were *then*, not the way they are *now*.

      The 2020 tyre didn’t need to be any ‘better’ – all it needed to be was stronger and more capable of accepting the additional downforce.
      The teams chose to keep the previous tyre, not Pirelli. They did what they were asked to do.

      I don’t think you’ve got any idea what Pirelli or their tyres are dealing with.
      The only part I agree with is opening up F1 to multiple tyre manufacturers.

      1. The 2020 tyre didn’t need to be any ‘better’

        It was supposed to be more durable & offer a wider operating window, That was the primary target Pirelli set itself which according to drivers as well as teams was a target Pirelli failed to meet. Just as they have failed to meet improvement targets in previous seasons.

        And lets remember that the tires were just as bad when the cars were producing less downforce & less loads in the tires. The mess in 2013 for instance where the tires were incapable of withstanding normal f1 situations which teams had been doing for many years & were commonplace. Yet the FIA had to regulate it because the tires could not handle normal f1 conditions.

        What do we have to lose by giving somebody else a go, We have had Pirelli for a decade & they have just not been very good. Others have shown interest in supplying F1 tires & feel they can do a better job so why not let them enter & show what they can do. It’s meant to be a competition so lets have competition!

        1. The 2020 tyres were tested by teams using….. Yep, 2019 cars. Cars not capable of producing the extra aero loads that (obviously) hadn’t yet been designed or implemented. The teams were not looking far enough into the future – they were more interested in their immediate performance rather than 1-2 years down the track.

          The teams were trying every trick to get more performance from those tyres in 2013. Running extremely low pressures and high camber angles. Don’t neglect the teams’ responsibility in ensuring their ca makes it to the finish line.
          The same restrictions are normal and still taking place now. Minimum pressures will be increased for Zandvoort, for example.

          I’m with you – I’d love to see a tyre war in F1 again.
          For me, it’s one of the great features of Super GT.

          F1’s modern ethos is sell the sole rights for something in F1 to the highest bidder rather than allow competition. This ethos spills over into the factories and onto the circuit too, restricting engineering diversity and making all the cars the same.


          It wasn’t about load handling it was that Pirelli used a different profile for the 2020 tires and that would have meant redesign work on the cars due to the aerodynamic effect the tires were having. The drivers made comments like they were bad and that they behaved weird. Turns out that they would have just had to spend money ahead of this year when the cars were already 95% designed, in order to adapt to the different tires.

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