Formula One‘s Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn says the sport will react if the new 2019 aerodynamic changes don’t improve the quality of racing.
The sport is to undergo changes to the aerodynamics of the cars by simplifying and widening the front wing, increasing the size of the rear wings and simplifying the brake ducts and barge boards.
The changes have come into play due to concerns over the lack of on-track overtaking that has made some races predictable. The revert back to simple front wings hopes to improve the possibility of cars following each other when behind another car in the dirty air.
Brawn told Formula 1.com in an interview regarding the 2019 aerodynamic changes as a gateway to the 2021 regulation shake-up that is set to take place in a bid to improve the sport and make the field more competitive again.
“What we learn from this aero programme will be very important for the next bigger step, in 2021,” said Brawn. “The point to stress is it’s a philosophy and a culture, not just a one-stop solution.
“If we don’t achieve everything we want to achieve with these changes, we’ll learn from it, press on and carry on with the next phase of changes and we’ll keep doing that until we get the cars in a form when they can race each other much more effectively, which they can’t at the moment.
“It’s useful to see if the teams have been able to evolve and take different directions because we don’t want to discover that in 2021.”
Brawn and his team have research into the changes throughout the 2018 Season, after concerns were made after the Australian Grand Prix where a lack of overtaking occurred in the streets of Melbourne.
The changes to the front wing have been tested twice: once during the post-Grand Prix test in Budapest and in Abu Dhabi so teams can gather data on what they’ll be dealing with next year. But the wings haven’t been put through race trim yet and is estimated to make lap times two seconds slower.
Brawn predicts that the change of wings could see an improvement by 20% but the real results will come when the cars begin testing and in the opening races of the 2019 season.
“Until the cars run, we don’t know what solutions they have made, but from predictions, we’re achieving about 20% improvement,” added Brawn.
“So we’re about a quarter of the way there to where we think we could be. But it’s not a one-stop shop in the sense that you do this and then you don’t touch it anymore.”
The 2017 F1 season saw a new generation of F1 cars begin with more aggressive style aerodynamics, wider tyres and bigger wings to generate enough downforce for drivers to take in corners, creating some of the fastest F1 cars ever built. But the increase of downforce also results in producing more dirty air for the following car, hindering their performance and tyre life when following behind.
By 2021,the aim is create a new generation of cars that will attract the viewer and bring in new fans. A series of concept designs were shown at the Singapore Grand Prix, presented by Brawn, showing the direction the sport wants to take.
The FIA have allowed the teams to do unrestricted research and simulations on the 2021 cars and have been asked to chip in and help with the cars, but Brawn has said that the final configuration hasn’t been decided yet and doesn’t want big budget teams to have an advantage compare to smaller, independent teams.
“The FIA and ourselves have issued a framework of what the car could be like with tasks for each team to look at aspects of it,” Brawn commented.
“It’s not enough for teams to go off and start designing a car, we’re purposefully trying to hold back on that.
“We don’t want teams with a lot of resource to gain a march on those who don’t. But it’s a difficult balance because there is a perfectly valid argument that the later you leave the issuing of the information, the more it suits the teams with a lot of resource.
“The teams will have about a year or so to work on the designs of these cars, I think that’s the right sort of timescale. Once they’ve designed their 2020 cars, they need to be able to focus on 2021.”
The change of car design and regulations hopes to create a shake-up to the pecking order, like in 2009 when new, simplified cars were introduced which saw the rise of Brawn GP and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and big teams such as Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren F1 Team left on the backfoot.
Brawn, who was the mastermind behind Brawn GP’s success in 2009, says teams who sacrifice a year before the regulation change may often have the upper hand.
“Whenever you introduce fairly major conceptual change in the regulations, the opportunity exists for a team to devote its resource to that project and leapfrog a year – accept where it is and that it might not be the greatest year – in favour of jumping up to where they want to be the following year.”