The 2019 technical changes in detail

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Formula One has set new targets for the 2019 Championship season. It wants closer racing and more overtaking after recent seasons disappointed fans as overtaking became a rarity.

Formula One rule-makers have fought in vain in recent year as the number of overtaking manoeuvres did not show any increase. In collaboration with Formula One’s new Commercial Rights’ Holder Liberty Media, FIA published a new set of aerodynamic regulation which is believed to feature key factors and measurements which can serve as remedy to the lack of overtaking opportunities.

The governing body worked out the major revisions aimed at spicing up the racing in 2019 in collaboration with a Pat Symonds-led aero team at F1, and, in the meantime, it continues to work on shaping the technical regulations for 2021.

The package of technical changes includes:
-a simplified front wing

-the deletion of the upper flaps at the outer ends of the front wing

-tweaks to the front wing’s dimensions

-ban of the winglets mounted on the brake ducts

-lowering of the barge boards by 150mm and moving them forwards by 100mm

-the rear wing endplates will no longer be permitted to have horizontal gills
FIA’s head of technical matters, Nikolas Tombazis estimated that the loss of performance due to the aero changes will be quite significant.

“We expect this rule change to be approximately halfway or one third of the way less performance of the delta between ’16 and ’17, so we expect to lose about 1.5s, that sort of order, but it’s a bit difficult to predict exactly the amount of development the teams will put on but we certainly expect to lose performance – that order or magnitude.”

Tombazis expects cars to be less sensitive to the undesirable wake, enabling cars to follow the front running cars more closely.

“When you are one second it is yet another bit worse, and say 20m you already have a significant effect, 40m it’s beginning to be a bit smaller. We feel that there is an improvement on all of these by a certain percentage. So it will mean in real terms if a car with the ’18 rules could follow within a second the front car, if it’s got a certain pace advantage, this we expect will just become a bit smaller and he will be able to follow to 0.8s or something like that. So effectively, for the equal amount of performance lost, he will be able to follow a bit closer.”

The simplified aero rules should make the drag reduction system more effective. While DRS has hardly any effect on some occasions, it could be a bigger weapon in the future.

“I think the main advantage to us will be that we will be able to make the DRS more effective on shorter straights. At the moment we’re trying to lengthen zones where we can, in places like Melbourne for example, maybe an extra DRS zone in Canada. Those are the sorts of places that with the extra power from the DRS we should be able to make them work a bit better,” said race director Charlie Whiting.

Tombazis also revealed that Formula One is working on a complete overhaul of technical regulation next to the new engine formula for the 2021 season. The 2019 changes will only be “an extract of some of the lessons learned already at Formula 1”. The post-2020 changes will hit more complicated areas of the car which requires a serious evaluation before the new regulation can be defined.