Analysis: The future of F1 design?

If you are even remotely interested in Formula 1 you will be aware of the current debate being had over whether the current formula is just not up to scratch. Is it the speed of the cars? The tyre degradation? The power units? DRS? These are some of the many questions that have caused the FIA to reconsider the direction F1 is taking and how to alter it for the better.

This blog post is not going to go into the ins and outs of the debate (thank goodness), but I will now share with you and explain the ideas behind my 2017 – the year the FIA want to get things done by –  F1 car concept using a couple of illustrations I did a few months’ ago. Seeing as F1 does not return until next weekend, now seemed like a good time to post this piece.

The general idea behind this car is to follow what the FIA is wanting to do, which is make them faster. Personally, this is not what I would do if I was in charge but I’d better get used to designing around regulations I don’t like! This car therefore represents an emphasis on ground effect and underfloor aerodynamic performance to improve laptime. It should also make following another car in turbulent air a bit less of a challenge as a result.

Bare in mind that these are my personal views on the subject and I am always very interested to hear your comments on this! Please leave them down below (pretty please).

2017 prediction

This is my first interpretation of the very basic outline that the FIA have suggested F1 cars should look like come 2017. It is not overly aggressive as I’ve tried to be fairly realistic rather than display some crazy, wing-clustered machine!

Aerodynamics

Let’s start with the nose and front wing. The FIA have suggested that they would like two sections to the wing, an outer and inboard section. There are clear divisions between the two segments, with regulations having moderate control on how many elements – and their area – can be placed in them. This should stop the wings being too sensitive when following another car as there are less surface areas providing performance.

My design draws design cues from both the current formula and the wings from pre-2009, which curved upwards and formed a crinkled shape. It is also wider, back to the 2009-2013 width, to help airflow pass around the front tyres a bit better. Having larger outboard elements (compared to the inboard ones) generates the downforce needed to boost performance whilst making airflow management around the front tyre slightly easier thanks to the increased height at the wing tips.

The neutral central section remains lower – about the same height as today’s wings – to create some ground effect, whilst also keeping clear of larger volumes of turbulent flow that is induced by a car in front.

The teams would have a lot of freedom in how the wing rises from the neutral section to the tips, which should make for a variety of swoops and crinkles.

The endplates will have a minimum surface area similar to what the current regulations dictate, but aside from that both the aforementioned and the vanes that separate the sections of the wing can be freely developed.

Deciding on the height of the nose was tricky as they form a critical part of the safety of the car. I opted to go for a much skinnier nose at a low height, which tapers back towards the front bulkhead. If the bottom of the nose is undercut quite heavily, it allows a lot more airflow to pass underneath the car than the 2015 noses whilst still benefiting from the low nose height that prevents the car rising above the tyre of another car or even penetrating the cockpit.

As for the nose pillars/pylons, these will have about the same guidelines as the current regulations allow for. This means that they can still be used to feed flow towards the splitter to improve the underfloor performance.

Moving further back, the front brake ducts must be simplified to improve aero efficiency behind another car, leaving just the bell-mouth inlet and large guide vane/wheel cover.

The front suspension remains an open area to develop within the current regulations.

As far as I am concerned, little changes need to be made around the middle of the car because otherwise we will end up looking like 2008 all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those cars! It just doesn’t necessarily promote good racing given the additional aero surfaces.

The bargeboards – despite the fact you can’t see them in the above image – are increased in size which helps navigate airflow around the leading edge of the sidepod undercut more effective.

If we move round to the back of the car, things start to get more interesting…

2017 prediction rear

As you can see, the diffuser is significantly taller and wider, especially around the central section beneath the rear crash structure. Whilst the remaining part of the floor remains fairly unchanged, the increased diffuser area will encourage greater ground effect whilst also presenting a much more aggressive look to the back end of the car.

The teams will have a certain degree of freedom when it comes to the shape of the ginormous central exit, so probably a maximum volume within a square box in which it can be defined.

Whilst the centre of the diffuser has the same upsweep start point as the 2015 regulations, the two flanking sections can be swept back ahead of the rear axle line by about 20mm. Again, this is to put more emphasis on ground effect than top aero surfaces.

You may also note that there is no starter motor hole/ gate in the central section either. More on this later.

Moving upwards and the rear wing receives a totally new look for 2017. It is now lower than the current height but not 2008 low, pretty much in between the two heights. This is more of an aesthetics change rather than anything performance related if I’m honest – lower and sleeker is, in my opinion, the way to go!

However the wing is now divided up in a similar fashion to the front wing. We have the main central section which occupies the same space as a current F1 rear wing, plus two outer winglets attached to the main endplates which are mounted on the floor. I have ditched DRS (for many reasons which I won’t go in to, but I guess you could say I’m not a huge fan) with this design but if it were continued the same setup would apply, with the top flap of the centre wing opening up.

This boosts the wing’s width back up to pre-2009 levels without the dramatic increase in rear downforce – that’s what the floor/diffuser is for. Again this is mainly a change to provide more striking looks more than anything.

Mechanical

Hopefully it’s obvious from the drawings but the overall width of the car has been increased from the current 1800mm to around 2000mm, which is the maximum the FIA would permit and the same as the late 80s cars such as the MP4/4. The width of the cars has not changed since the late 1990s so this will give the engineers something to think about when it comes to both aerodynamic and mechanical design, particularly regarding roll centres and choosing between push and pullrod suspension. Plus it looks a hell of a lot cooler.

The rear tyre width has also been substantially raised to induce more mechanical grip and place less reliance on the aerodynamics when following another car. This should be particularly useful in traction zones, too.

Power unit

This may seem unpopular to you readers, but I would like to see the current V6 turbo hybrid retained for 2017 onwards. My reasoning comes down to reducing the rise of costs, primarily, but I also don’t see what’s wrong with them apart from the (slight) noise issue. I’m all for loud racing cars, but if the racing isn’t good then I don’t want to watch. The V6s’ have provided great entertainment, with drivers battling the rear end of the car on exit and generally making the cars quicker overall. If a bit can be done to make the power units a bit louder then F1 should not change this aspect of the car.

Further expanding on this point, development should be freed up to allow for a fresh look to Formula 1. For example, you may note that I have not actually drawn any exhaust pipes on the car above. This is because I believe that the teams should get a choice of either one or two pipes, which can exit in a number of dedicated locations aside from the floor area.

This means that a closer relationship must be established between the engine manufacturer and the chassis team to determine what solution works best, whether that be in terms of packaging or horsepower or cooling etc.

Allowing the engine side of F1 to advance takes time, but it also allows the teams to come up with new ideas to help propel them up the grid rather than being stuck in the current (and restrictive) token system. I do sometimes get quite bored of talking about the aerodynamic upgrades to the cars race by race – it gets fairly repetitive to me. I want to see more things done internally and I think it will produce better racing as a result.

Finally, a quick note on the starter motor hole – it isn’t there. F1 can move into the 21st century for 2017 and finally have a starter button inside the cockpit. Sorted.

As I said at the start, please leave your opinions in the comments section because I’d love to know them! Any questions as well, fire away. 

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9 thoughts on “Analysis: The future of F1 design?

  1. techf1les

    Design looks great. I really appreciate it, particularly because I loved pre-2009 front ends (http://www.henkel-adhesives.com/com/content_images/B36BDF9761F1E70FC1257178002D810E_PMC1_F2_300.jpg). Also post-2009 engine cover and sidepods bodywork is to my liking (maybe I would ban sidepod wings to get this sleek view back https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Barrichello_Barcelona_Brawn_BGP_001.jpg). Last but not the least, role of the floor on the overall downforce production should be much stronger. Now this is proper F1 rear end http://img.webme.com/pic/j/jemb53modellbau/f1-jordan191-4.jpg 🙂

    The one thing that intrigued me was the overall width of the car you proposed. In my opinion, anything significantly more than 2000mm would look completely ridiculous. I’ve made this quick comparison http://i.imgur.com/yEyJOYe.jpg and I believe 2100 mm width is more than enough. At the end of the day, I consider MP4/4 as the benchmark when it comes to the F1 car proportions.

    What surprised me is that you didn’t go for 18 inch wheel rims. Personally, I don’t have slightest problem with old school 13 inch rims, but the switch to bigger rims would bring some challenges for the engineers and attract more manufacturers. And if you get used to it, https://a.sidepodcast.com/content/2014/07/pirelli-10-inch-tyre-f1-concept-test.jpg bigger rims look really bada$$.

    Reply
    1. thewptformula Post author

      I’ve definitely had a rethink about the width and you’re spot on. Was overdoing it slightly considering that the trucks that carry the cars are barely 2.5m wide!

      I didn’t actually consider the rims at all – it totally passed my mind unfortunately. I will revisit that very soon but personally 18 inches looks a bit weird to me…

      Reply
  2. Nedder

    Liking it a lot… how about adding a fixed, rigid skirt along a defined portion of the side of the floor down to the level of the reference plane while also heavily restricting the angle of attack of the rear wing? Great work as usual Mr Tyson…

    Reply
    1. thewptformula Post author

      Thanks, Nedder. Bringing back skirts would be risky as there is a potential risk of underfloor stalling which would be dangerous, even with the step plane I think. Lots of comments on the wings so I’ll take a look at that!

      Reply
  3. LPiquet

    First of all, really nice work.
    I have to say I very rarely comment on these types of things but a few things here caught my eye.

    Most people that talk about Formula 1 only talk about the cars and forget all the rest of the racing development that takes place. The teams are huge and the resources are even greater.
    If people say they want to see more exciting I have some very basic changes that would turn the sport upside down. Before we talk about the car lets talk about the teams…Before testing was banned you had basically 3 teams per car. 1 team at the factory, one at the races and one at the tests. All of that drove all the costs to sky-rocket. Then technology started to boom and development also did. Now the test team doesn’t exist anymore but on the counter part you have double or triple the investment at the factory.
    This led to many things, cars getting more complicated to bend the rules, and the FIA to make more rules to stop the people to bend them some more.

    Anyways getting back to the subject in making the racing better.
    Pitstops: any given team has more then 20 people performing a pitstop on a single car. it has become so fast that you don’t see whats happening and in average when they screw up a pitstop you loose around 3-5 all around in the Race time. Now if you take that time over a whole race distance, it’s considerable but not that much. The problem is, if those seconds make you loose a position its horrible because of the fact that nowadays it is so hard to overtake.
    Take that into account and limit the number of people that are allowed to work the car. Let’s make it drastic and make only one person able to work on the car. That mechanic will make it or brake it and his work will be very important for the race. (not saying its the way to go but definitely make a drastic change in the racing)

    Technology: I do agree that F1 should be the pinnacle of technology, nevertheless nowadays it took so much away from the driver that he doesn’t make so much difference anymore. Make small changes to what information they can have during the race can change so much. Tyre temp – don’t allow them that information during the race and the drivers will have to rely on their feeling. (Montoya brought this up not so long ago). Fuel consumption – have a high tech fuel gage for the drivers eyes only during the race. (also will influence the PU map setups, will have to be determined by the drivers during the race).
    Active suspension – fric: Wouldn’t mind seeing these come back, they where banned because at the time it was quite dangerous and very expensive. Today it would be quite inexpensive and easy to make, would have a drastic repercussion on the performance and would be an amazing development for road cars.

    Aero: It is what costs the most and what hinders racing the most. Make thing simple, rely more on mechanical grip. Without getting too complicated: 2 elements front wings, 2 element rear wings. Make them relatively large so the look nice and give good downforce.
    Skirts are quite dangerous, if you loose the airflow under the car you loose most the aero downforce at once. The trick would be to have more mechanical grip then aero, then you will see wheel to wheel racing. IMO 18″ wheel are the way to go, 13″ where set up in the beginning to limit the size of the brakes which is relevant nowadays because they have a rule limiting the size of the CF Discs.

    PU: V6 is probably here to stay, one thing they could do is let them choose any wheel to be driven electrically. What I mean is that you have RWD on petrol and any of your liking on electric.

    My opinions
    Open to discussion
    PS. for them to have a start button they would need a starter engine which with the weight restrictions would be quite hard :p

    Reply
  4. Pierre Tétreau

    Very well done Will, i like the way you communicate because you give us all the reasonning behind your interpretation.

    I like your point on the starter. It is a real safety concern that is always overlooked.
    The inboard starter can save lives.

    Thanks for the paper.

    Reply

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