So formula 1 have given us a sneak peak at their vision of a 2021 formula 1 car. We know that since Ross Brawn has come in as technical director that he wanted to take formula 1 back to its gladiatorial status of driver vs driver whilst still being at the cutting edge of technology, and after Liberty media inherited formula 1 after 4 years of Mercedes domination, drastic rule changes were needed. These rules are intending to bring the cars closer together, as well as reduce the effect turbulent dirty air has on following cars, thus bringing drivers closer together for more of those sweet wheel to wheel heart in mouth moments. With their vision in mind lets dive in and break down f1's first look in to the future.
Bringing cars closer together
In their current 2019 iterations, formula 1 cars have been shown to lose up to 50% of their down force as a result of turbulent wakes created by the car in-fronts complex aerodynamic designs. So as a car is beginning to line up an exciting overtake, boom 50% of down force is lost and they drop back, no place gained for them and no excitement for us. So what do the new CFD (computational fluid dynamics) results show us?
Formula 1 say that initial designs are coming back at 5%-10% down force loss. Wow. That is a huge saving that is approx 10% of the current effect. Fantastic in theory this means that basically as the car behind approaches the leading car, they will still suffer a slight loss but it shouldn't be enough to deter following the car in-front, this means less temperature management and less "can you drop back please to preserve the tires".
Of course, these have all been done on cars which are fully basic in f1 terms. As teams start to look at improving performance the complexity of aero designs is going to increase meaning this value of 5%-10% may slowly creep back up. But this is an excellent start!
Wheels & tires
This is the first time we get to see how the big need for speed 18" rims are going to look on a 2021 formula one car. But also note the covers over the tires. These have been added to aid airflow over the tires which are traditionally an engineers nightmare. These little winglets will no doubt be used to guide air to give extra down force and most likely guide air into the side pods for extra efficient cooling. My concern with these is that teams are going to look in to ways to use them to influence their wake, to try and make it harder for the following car, this is only natural but remains a pet concern.
So of course these areas are going to be drastically changed per team as different cars will require different cooling and of course other teams will find ways to benefit with the new look sides. But one of the big differences here is that I can't seem to see any kind of floor gubbins encrusted with carbon fiber tailored to curve air. This is because it's back, ground effect is back! These low running skirts where the floor used to sit will be used to generate grip via ground effect by creating a tunnel of low pressure air to suck the car in to the ground hence the name.
So is this a good thing, yes of course! Ground effect is way less influenced by a turbulent wake of a leading car meaning that this is a huge contributor to the reduction of downforce loss to the following car.
The back of the car
So whats new at the back of the car, well this is all most likely going to be driven by the new ground effect, we can already see those 2 cool big diffusers and that new funky rear wing.
So is this a good thing, yes of course! Ground effect is way less influenced by a turbulent wake of a leading car meaning that this is a huge contributor to the reduction of down force loss to the following car, the weird looking curved end plates, a creation of following the airflow created by the cars body but also used to reduce the velocity of the air coming off the back thus making it easier to follow!
Do they still, you know look cool?
This is a matter of opinion but from me in one word. Yes. I love it the only way they could look cooler is by removing the tires and having hovering cars. Actually that'd save us a lot of hassle. But those sweeping side pods and sides. The low skirts. Fantastic. Hopefully that front wing doesn't become too over complicated either as teams start tearing apart the rule book.
So in conclusion, easier overtaking, easier following of cars, and even better looking cars. We won't know for sure until these cars hit the track in Oz how well they work, but this is a great first step for moving the rules in to a direction to challenge the drivers testicles, not just the engineers brains. What do you think, will it work? Is it a waste of time? Did I make any sense? Let me know!
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