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).
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.