There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about the impending rule changes intended for the upcoming 2017 Formula One Championship season. Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around everything that will be different when the cars line up on the Albert Park grid next weekend, so Ferrari put it into words as simply as possible…..
“In less than ten years, Formula 1 has undergone three significant regulation changes. 2009 saw the introduction of partial hybrid power in the form of KERS and the return of slick tyres; in 2014 the sport switched to a totally hybrid power unit and this year, 2017, there are new tyres and new aerodynamics. This latest change bucks the trend of the previous two, because right from the start, it’s aim has been to reduce lap times. The cars have put on a lot of weight in recent years, going from 505 Kg, (the 5 to include the on-board camera) in the early 90s to the current 728. To increase performance, apart from the output of the Power Unit, there is now more grip from the tyres as well as from aerodynamic downforce.”
“The table you can see summarises the changes, starting with the track (remember this runs from the wheel centres, not the extremities of the car!) which increases from 1800 to 2000 mm. In practical terms, this is a return to pre-1998 values. The width of the floor, essential when it comes to generating “ground effect,” has grown by 8 cm. Up by 15 cm goes the width of the front wing, which today has an arrow shape because of the new dimensions of the nose.”
“When it comes to the rear wing, that has been lowered by 15 cm, partly for aesthetic reasons, therefore in theory it does less “work,” but to compensate, the diffuser, the inclined plane under the chassis which thanks to the Venturi effect accelerates the flow of air under the car and, as a consequence reduces the pressure so that the car is stuck even more to the ground, is more efficient. The diffuser is 5 cm higher and wider; furthermore, it already starts to bend upwards from ahead of the axis of the rear wheels.”
Finally the tyres: each front is 6 cm wider, while the rears go up by 8 each. This larger footprint translates into increased mechanical grip. This results in greater cornering speeds. But aerodynamic resistance also increases because of the bigger frontal area of the tyres (compared to a normal road car, an F1 car has a less effective aerodynamic coefficient of penetration!) and so drag is greater and top speed suffers accordingly.”
“That is another reason why fuel capacity has increased from 100 to 105 Kg, so as to “help” the engines that will run for longer at maximum revs. From a designer’s point of view, the potential is enormous: only at the end of the season will we see how much of an increase in performance there has been compared to the previous cars.”