Formula One's New Aero Package Didn't Slow Them Down At All

Illustration for article titled Formula One's New Aero Package Didn't Slow Them Down At All
Screenshot: @F1 on Twitter

The 2019 Formula One aerodynamics package has been mandated simpler than that of the 2018 season, including a simpler front wing with low outwash, simpler front brake ducts without winglets, and a wider and deeper rear wing. F1's plan with the new aero rules was to allow drivers to tuck in behind the car in front without washing out their own aero thanks to turbulence. The idea here is to promote close racing and increase overtaking.

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The jury is still out as to whether the new aero will increase overtaking, but teams were concerned that by fettling with the carefully crafted aero upticks and tiny wings and complex flow dynamics that the cars would be slowed quite a bit. That has unequivocally been proven to be bullshit, as Sebastian Vettel knocked down a 1:16.221 lap of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in pre-season testing. That lap was within half a tenth of Lewis Hamilton’s pole position lap at the track ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix last May.

If the new aero rules do what they say they will and facilitate drivers being able to battle more, and they can do it without losing any of F1's crazy speeds, then I’m all for it. Ride around the circuit onboard Vettel’s car to get a sense of the speed involved with these new aero regs. It’s still mighty impressive. And they’re only going to get faster!

We’re just two weeks out from the first race at the Australian Grand Prix Bring on the 2019 season!

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

For years drivers have complained about not being able to follow or get close enough to and pass the car ahead because of the wash of air onto their car. This subject is one of F1’s 8 endlessly conversations, and when the FOM started planing to solve this problem everyone thought it was about air coming from the back of the leading car. This is not what this final aero solution is all about, this is all about controlling the air to the sides of the car.
There was a realization that in the real world there is no way you can have aero be a performance differentiator and not mess up the air that this car hands off to the car behind. Solving the air problem that comes off the back of an F1 car is utterly unsolvable without spending massive amounts of money, or ending aero as a differentiator. So, FOM did not attack the air that comes off the back of the car with the 2019 solution, they focused on the air to the side of the car. There are opportunities for drivers to get to the side of a leading car but with the aero wash just as bad to the side they could never make progress against the leading car, so DRS. During testing some drivers reported the 2019 cars are a noticeable improvement to the side and even behind.
As for speed, every single time the FIA or FOM change something everyone complains that it’s going to slow the cars down, and every single time when the racing starts with the new cars, it’s never slower. The perception of a speed difference between 185mph and 165mph is almost impossible to see when watching in person or on TV. The speed issue has to do with F1 self image, they want to be seen as the top class in motor racing with speed as the raw measure, harrumpf I say!