Changes to improve racing key to 2019 F1 aero rules

Formula 1 have fast-tracked rules to improve racing which will come into effect in 2019 as the current designs are not conducive to following other cars at speed, as a result overtaking and close racing has been at a premium as things stand.

The 2018 Canadian Grand Prix grid set the stage for a salubrious contest as the six drivers from Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull were scattered across the first three rows of the grid in Montreal.

But instead, the race that developed was dull and very much a procession, which in turn sparked criticism from the reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton who lamented that the sport is heading in the wrong direction with the current formula.

Many feel it is timely that the FIA react and address the issue, applauding the fact that solution are being implemented as early as next year rather than in 2021 when the new engine rules kick in.

The official Formula 1 website summarised the 2019 rule changes that should improve the conditions for closer racing:

  • A simplified front wing with standardised endplates, tweaked dimensions and no upper flaps. This will encourage aerodynamicists to direct more of the flow to the underbody (where it is less sensitive to the disturbed wake of the car in front) than the outer body
  • The deletion of the upper flaps at the outer ends of the wing will make it impossible to create the vortices that are generated by the current, highly complex endplates to enhance the outer-body aerodynamics. This will further encourage the so-called ‘inwash’ aero philosophy of directing airflow to the underbody, rather than the current emphasis on ‘outwash,’ which is highly sensitive to the air from the car ahead and therefore makes it harder for cars to follow one another closely
  • Tweaks to the front wing’s dimensions and the limiting of under-wing strakes to two each side to further discourage outwash aerodynamics
  • Winglets mounted on the brake ducts currently play a part in directing the flow to the outer part of the body. These are banned from 2019, as are blown axles, which currently use air directed out of the centre of the wheel at high speed to energise the flow down the outer surfaces of the bodywork further back
  • Barge boards are lowered by 150mm (to make them less powerful in directing the airflow) and moved forwards by 100mm to make them less sensitive to the airflow being disturbed from the car in front
  • The rear wing endplates will no longer be permitted to have horizontal gills. These equalize the pressure between the inner and outer faces of the endplate to give a faster flow over the top of the wing for more downforce, but they introduce an extra disturbance to the wake, which worsens the performance of the car behind
  • The DRS opening will be increased from 65mm to 85mm. Together with an increase in width and height of the wing, this will make the DRS around 25-30% more powerful so as to allow it to be effective on those circuits with too short a straight for the current system. The FIA will also review the length of DRS zones at every circuit in order to maximise the effect of the changes
  • The increased height of the wing will take the ‘rooster tail’ wake coming off the back of it higher into the air than currently. More of the energy from that wake will be diffused into the free air around it before it returns to the level where it will be affecting the following car