You must have been living under a rock to not know that F1 regulations have changed completely over the last few months. The teams' designers have had to rethink everything about the cars' aerodynamics, resulting in visibly simpler aerodynamics. Already several weeks ago, Markos Smirkoff created some highly detailed renderings to visualise how the changes have influenced the actual race cars.
One of the most visible changes is the striking new front wing, now as wide as the outer sides of the wheels. As a result, the front wing in this rendering features end plates that direct air outwards of the front wheels. One way or another, all teams have chosen this approach - either by curved panels or perpendicular fences ahead of the front wheels - with some even opting to design double end plates for better flow direction.
The central part of the wing is now a lift-neutral, flat section as mandated by the technical regulations. The overtaking working group (OWG) have found during their research that such element should greatly help overtaking possibilities. Hence air can freely flow under the new, wider nose cone and onto the splitter.
The bridge wing as fitted on this 2008 model is also banned as no bodywork is allowed above the neutral part of the front wing, except for the car's nose cone and the front wing attachments. This however does not rule out decked elements, despite strict regulations limiting the bodywork surface in this area.
The car's sides show the simplification of the aerodynamics for 2009 and beyond. Because of the lack of limitations on extensions, winglets and cooling apertures, Formula One cars had grown a whole bunch of attachments, including chimneys and shark gills to allow hot air to escape from the sidepods. Winglets were added to help direct airflow towards the rear wing and help the CART-flipup to push air over the rear wheels and reduce their induced drag.
A new bespoke regulation that limits curvatures on the sidepods only allows apertures for the exhausts and suspension systems has now effectively banned all 'unnatural' extensions. The resulting 2009 sidepods are therefore slightly bigger as all hot air can only exit the car in between the rear wheels.
The above top view also clearly shows that the front wing was moved forward as specified by the regulations. Together with the increased width, this is going to be a worry for drivers and their teams at the beginning of a race, especially in the first corner.
In between the front wheels, the lack of turning vanes is also remarkable. The new rulebook forbids any bodywork in between the wheels, except for the brake cooling ducts and the nosecone itself.
Mandated is the integration of exhausts. Where teams were previously allowed to position them any way they found optimal, the aperture is now limited and its integration into the bodywork mandated. Although the Ferrari F60 featured extruding exhaust pipes, they were quickly changed after worries expressed by rival teams.
The 2009 rear wings are now much taller - up to the maximum height of the car - and narrower, also because the OWG found this new design should help overtaking. It also makes the rear wing less efficient - it creates more drag and less downforce.
Finally, the diffuser change has also had a big impact on a car's downforce. Not surprisingly, this element has already caused lots of discussion between the teams and the FIA as it has been unclear which designs are legal and which are not. Certainly, the rules were designed to have an as simple as possible diffuser that would leave little development possibilities to keep costs under control.
Yet again, inventive designers have come up with solutions that extend the diffuser with the rear crash structure or which create curved channels that act like a double diffuser. Red Bull on the other hand extended their rear wing endplates all to the floor of the car to make them part of the diffuser too.Renderings by Markos Smirkoff