The 2018 summer break for Formula One is over as the racing action resumes tomorrow at Spa-Francorchamps and it’s time to talk about the new changes confirmed for next season. We’re talking specifically about the changes in the technical regulations for the cars.
These particular changes were hotly debated as the top teams felt they were unnecessary what with the new 2021 engine regulations almost upon them. However, the new regulations are aimed at levelling the playing field a bit on race day to make things more exciting and addressing the concerns of the audience that is bored of watching one of three teams out of ten on the grid take all the wins.
Simpler front wings
Current F1 front wings generate a lot of complex vortices as the car cuts through the air at gut-wrenching speeds. But all these elements not only make the car more aerodynamic, they are also used to make things difficult for cars in its wake, forcing them to slow down or drive a different line. The front wings have a big part to play in this for the car trying to follow the one ahead.
The new wings are supposed to be much simpler in design and wider too. Standardised endplates and prohibition of upper flaps are part of the new regulations along with the tweaked dimensions. In terms of airflow, this design will encourage directing air to the underbody, called ‘inwash’. The under-wing strakes have also been limited to two on each side in support of this aerodynamic philosophy.
We’ve seen many teams make countless revisions to the bargeboards of their cars this season, Ferrari in particular, and for next year this part will have to be 150mm lower and will be moved forward by 100mm. These tweaks are meant to reduce the role of the bargeboard in directing airflow and make it less sensitive to the disturbed air from the car in front.
The bargeboard designs have played a major role in the tech battle between Ferrari and Mercedes this year, so these changes should have a wider impact for the next season.
Brake-duct winglets are banned
An element that you probably wouldn’t notice on TV, there are tiny winglets mounted on the brake ducts to direct the flow to the outer part of the car’s body. But from 2019, these will no longer be allowed and nor will be blown axles which “use air directed out of the centre of the wheel at high speeds to energise the flow down the outer surfaces of the bodywork further back.”
New design parameters for the rear wing & changes for DRS
The endplates for the rear wing will be simplified as well and will no longer be permitted to feature horizontal gills. These gills equalize the pressure between the inner and outer surfaces of the endplate to give a faster flow over the top of the wing which increases downforce. However, they also add to the disturbance in the wake of the car which affects the performance of the car behind. Increased height of the wing will also push up the ‘rooster tail’ wake coming off of it.
In order to make DRS more effective along with less turbulence from the car in front, the DRS opening will be increased from 65mm to 85mm. With the increased height and width of the new wing, DRS will be 25-30% more powerful than it is now to make it more effective on circuits with short straights. The FIA is also reviewing the DRS zones at every circuit to both maximise the impact of these changes as well as for safety concerns.
All these revisions to the cars are aimed at making F1 more interesting, more competitive and more entertaining for the fans. However, some teams argue that this takes the sport adrift from focussing on building the fastest cars and makes it a less interesting prospect from an engineering perspective.
Some of the other changes for 2019 that are not directly applied to car design include an increased fuel allowance from 105kg to 110kg to encourage drivers to race less conservatively. There is also the matter of weight management for both driver and machine as from 2019, the driver weight will be considered separately to the car, rather than combined (currently set at 734kg). A minimum weight for the driver will be mandated, expected to be set at 80kg, and the deficit will need to be made up for using ballasts. This ballast will be placed adjacent to the driver’s seat to reduce the advantage of smaller, lighter driver over heavier rivals. So good news for the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and maybe Marcus Ericsson can have a water bottle in his F1 car.
What do you think of these new regulations for the 2019 season? Will it promote tactics that include qualifying for a lower starting grid to take advantage of slipstream and better DRS? Do you feel Alonso announced his retirement a season too soon? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe for plenty more updates to come.
*All images from Giorgio Piola & Formula One