Familiar news to those F1 fans who’ve been around the block a little while, a regular call to ‘fix’ Formula One’s main perceived issue – overtaking.
And indeed it is true, the ability for one car to follow another is significantly hampered in the modern era of F1 racing. The frontal area of a car, the wing and under-nose section in particular being incredibly sensitive to disturbed airflow thrown out the back of a speeding car ahead.
This disturbed or ‘turbulent airflow’ as it’s known, has long been the bane of racing, ever since the 90’s in particular. Turbulent airflow hitting the car behind kills off the intricately designed aerodynamic pieces of bodywork essential to producing the downward pressure – aka downforce – essential to a car’s ability to corner at incredibly high speed.
Many have seen an older, perhaps more dangerous concept of downforce generation called ‘ground effect’, exploited first by pioneers of the sport like Lotus’ Colin Chapman in the 70’s.
TJ13 has explored the history of the ‘ground effect’ era not so long ago, and just how dangerous it was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, along with the events that led to a total ban on ‘wing cars’, that is F1 machinery with underbodies shaped like an inverted wing, either side of the main cockpit and engine bay. It’s a very worth while read and can be found via this link.
Ground effect cars returning to F1 for 2021?
It seems that ground effect is back on the agenda again. The aforementioned ‘around the block’ fans may remember the 2010 plan to return to full ground effect cars planned for 2013.
At the time, Williams co-owner Patrick Head and former Ferrari designer Rory Byrne were working with the FIA to head up concepts for new car rules planned for 2013.
The teams were keen for the cars to be better at overtaking than the current generation of machines – with ground effect being actively considered.
“They are talking about putting a greater proportion of down force to the diffuser, a ground effect car – like the early 1980’s,” said Michael.
In under a year, following more detailed analysis of the implementation of the ground effect design, teams decided to do a 180 citing that the move was too radical if they are going to achieve targets for downforce and drag that have been laid down by the FIA.
A similar proposal also occurred sometime later in 2015, planned for 2017 – but again the teams vetoed the plans due to concerns over cost.
Rosberg calls for underbody downforce in Monaco 2018, Liberty Media listen
Father Keke and son Nico Rosberg drove their World Championship cars this year as part of the Monaco Grand Prix.
The sight of the Williams FW08 from 1982 gave Nico Rosberg an idea:
“That’s the direction they have to take with the new regulations for 2021. That was all ground effect, all the aerodynamics took place under the car They were able to drive their competitors to the transmission at all times because there was no aerodynamics on the top of the car. ”
Well, it appears that Liberty media were listening to him, as now it has been confirmed that technical chief Ross Brawn is very keen to try and implement the plan.
The plan considered won’t go as far as the dangerous 80’s trend of using sideskirts to seal the under-body to the ground, the notorious solution accounted for several big accidents and deaths in the sport.
Plans also include a limit of 3.4 metres for the 2021 cars, along with an increase in engine noise.
Attempts to simplify the technology by banishing the MGU-H electric machine have clearly failed, and now even more power has been put forward in the plans. The electric power is to be increased from four to five megajoules, the flow rate in the combustion engine from 100 to 110 kilograms per hour.
As a result, the speed would increase from 10,500 to 12,000 revolutions per minute and the power to over 1,000 hp. In addition, a gritty engine sound would return to Formula 1. “The frequency is higher and the volume fuller, because more energy is produced,” confirms Mercedes engine chief Andy Cowell.
Do you think ground effect is a good idea?
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