Boring, processional races do nothing for Formula 1 – period. We’ve been lucky of late with cracking races in Germany and Hungary, but sadly, they’re more an anomaly than the rule with modern F1.
The category knows this and, in conjunction with the FIA, is toiling away at the new regulations for 2021. And now, with the deadline fast approaching, we have a first look at what the F1 car of the future will look like.
The latest CFD testing highlights F1’s push to clean up the ‘dirty’ air left behind the highly aero-sensitive F1 cars. Drivers have long circled this as the number-one factor in the ability to follow another driver close enough to overtake them. It’s been proven that the wake left behind a 2019-spec car can disturb the aerodynamics of the car behind by up to 50 percent.
Results of the latest test, conducted in Sauber’s wind tunnel with a 50-percent scale model, show that the quoted disturbance figure has decreased to between 5 and 10 percent under the new regs. This is good news for competitive racing as it increases the ability of the car behind to remain in close proximity without significantly reduced aero.
To achieve this, just about every aspect of the F1 car has changed, including the rear wing. The current concept features elements to create a higher air flow behind, essentially channelling it over the preceding competitor and reducing the turbulent effect. Simplified end plates will also aid this target.
Sleek body work and a reduction in aerodynamic paraphernalia is evident with the cleaner design. The floor has been reformed with Venturi channels underneath the side-pod inlets for great ground effects – think Lotus 79. The proposed 18-inch wheels, shod with Pirelli’s new low-profile tyres and wheel covers to control the air flow, were also fitted and tested on the scale model for the first time in CFD simulations.
However, a full assessment is yet to be conducted on the new front wing, which now allows only three elements as opposed to five to cut the creation of vortexes between the tyre wake and the floor.
Still, the overall initial results paint a positive picture for closer racing and more passing opportunities in the future. And that’s a tantalising prospect, indeed.