This video is sponsored by Squarespace. Whether
you need a domain, website or online store you can make it with Squarespace. Formula One published some of their in-progress
design concepts for the chassis regulations revisions due to come into effect in, hopefully,
2021. Although, immediately, that’s a bit of a
lie and we all kind of know it. One concept image was leaked from a talk Ross Brawn gave
in Singapore and FOM realised they had to produce some form of press release to stop
the wildfire gossip around this one image spreading misinformation and leading people
down the wrong paths. So, Formula One’s hand was forced, and it’s
likely these images were never supposed to be shared widely and may or may not bear any
resemblance to the regulations brought into sporting law for 2021.
Nonetheless, we can still explore the ideas being played with in these images.
The main objectives of revolutionising the aero in 2021 is twofold – firstly, and most
importantly, to improve racing. Ross Brawn, hilariously, said, ‘we established
very early on in our research that the cars are very bad at following each other’. Yeah,
Ross, that’s as obvious as the tail on a peacock. Was your research “watching F1
in 2004?”. Anyway, he’s right. Once a chasing car gets
within a few car lengths of the car in front, it loses about 50% of its downforce, according
to models. According to Brawn, and – let’s maybe not
be as optimistic yet as he is – their research and development has managed to bring this
down to just a 20% loss of downforce. The second objective is an aesthetic one – Formula
One wants aggressive, exciting looking cars that people drool over and stick on their
bedroom walls. [LOTUS 2014 ON KIDS WALL] Brawn insists the overtaking problem takes
precedence and making the cars look awesome is a tangential issue that won’t override
the needs of the racing. We saw how that went in 2017.
Now these cars look pretty nice, depending on your tastes, and we will go into them in
a minute. But first, let’s just make sure we’ve got our feet planted on planet Earth
and remember the monumental challenge Formula 1 has here in crafting these regulations.
Remember – rules can often breed very strange looking car indeed, even with the best intentions
from the rule makers. Engineers are single-minded machines. They
will only seek to extract maximum performance from within the rulespace. They don’t care
about aesthetics, or environmentalism or really even safety at the heart of it. When their
design head is on, they are simply aiming to build the fastest possible car the rules
will allow. And this is how loopholes get wrenched open
and suddenly we have a load of cars with trunk noses, an outbreak of winglets or a massive
bit of scaffolding on an otherwise elegant chassis.
Remember, at this stage no rules have been announced, just the concepts.
The concepts explain the objectives, as discussed, and some of the ways they aim to achieve them.
The rules or regulations specifically describe a legal framework, a space in which teams
can design freely and implement their ideas. And you have to create this framework very
carefully to get the end result that you really want.
For example, if we were inventing football, we might think it’s enough to say:
a) you can’t use your hands b) you have to keep the ball inside this painted
box. c) score points by getting the ball into the
other goal. You might then be surprised when one team
turns up with cricket bats to beat the other team with, and the other team turns up covered
in glue so the ball sticks to their bodies. At this point you might need to go and make
the rules a bit more specific and this is how we end up with a regulations framework
4 million pages long. This happened with noses in F1 in 2012. The
FIA wanted to lower the noses so that they lined up with the side impact structures,
such that a t-boning wouldn’t take someone’s head off.
So they mandated that, past a certain point, the nose could only be so high.
Unfortunately, F1 engineers really wanted high noses, so they kept the noses high for
as long as they could and then stepped down to the mandatory height, creating some truly
inelegant designs. The rule makers assumed designers would just
create a nice flowing shape, but the designers didn’t care about that at all. The rules
didn’t account for interpretation – they didn’t understand what gains the engineers
would seek to exploit. Hilariously, they made the same mistake again
in 2014 when they lowered the noses again, leading to… nightmare beasts that belong
under the sea with the water bears. My point is that your concept – your intentions
and idealised versions of the rules – may be great, but if you don’t structure the
rules properly, engineers will walk right around them and the cars that turn up on track
in 2021 may look nothing like the these: the most optimistic interpretations possible.
That slight diversion out of the way, let’s look at this concept art.
Three concepts were shown to the public but they represent three stages of evolution in
their research and thinking so let’s step through them in order.
The first concept is not hugely different from the cars we have today, save for the
simplified wing due to appear next year. This concept is mainly to demonstrate how they
want to evolve the Halo design to be more aesthetically integrated into the car.
There’s no particular word on whether this Halo we see here is structurally capable or
whether it’s just a – forgive the expression – pipe dream.
Clearly the current Halo has a very specific engineering that allows it to be as super
strong as it is. Hopefully they’ll be able to keep this strength in the device as they
modify its shape, or perhaps we’ll end up with some non-structural aesthetic shaping
over the top. This version of the Halo is pretty elegant
and aggressive, though – complimenting the lines of the car, as if it’s been carved
by the air rushing over the chassis. The second concept image here seems more fundamentally
focussed on the aesthetics, following the 2017 philosophy that cars look faster if you
skew them backwards and pumping it up a notch However, there are some aero ideas here that
follow through to the third concept and may likely give clues as to some fundamentals
that FOM and the FIA are moving forward with. First we’ve got this dolphin-tail style
front wing with the upper elements cascading from the nose instead of being stacked on
the lower base elements. Other than being stylistically… a choice…
this kind of wing design will start to minimise the vortices generated off the tips and edges
of the front wing elements. As we saw in previous videos, these vortices
contribute massively to the disrupted airflow behind the car that ultimately wrecked the
downforce of the following car. We’re also seeing flat-sculpted covers for
the suspension and what’s being called ‘sharkfin posts’ and winglets further back.
Both of these devices are right in the heavy airflow through which engineers purposely
send energised air and vortices around the body of the car.
Again this airflow contributes to the mess send out behind the car so the idea here looks
to be to clear up and homologate this airflow a bit and/or prevent designers from doing
anything too wild with it. We can see this taken further in the third
concept where we now have these big vanes positioned down the side of the car to smooth
turbulence and de-energise vortices moving through this area.
This is supposedly the most up-to-date culmination of their R&D work, but seeing as the car has
the old F1 logo on it, we can be pretty sure this work is at least a year old. Nevertheless,
we can still appreciate the ideas at play. A lot of this sidepod area is currently heavily
biased towards looks, not airflow cleanup, with the team seemingly borrowing heavily
from other concept-style designs like the BMW i-series that involve folding layers into
each other like sexy pastry. The front wings now have much larger end plates
which again will do a lot to kerb vortex generation off the element tips.
The rear wing is now even lower and wider, both aesthetically aggressive and a solid
move towards downforce and balance. However, the concept removes the rear wing
end plates from the main plane which are important for boosting the efficiency of the wing.
It also appears the rear wing angle can no longer be adjusted, unless this second flap
here moves? A fixed rear wing could be interesting for setup. And does this wing allow for DRS?
Very little has been said to explain the thought process behind this. It may just be an initial
idea from a graphic designer that will be re-interpreted by the technical team.
All in all, we need to take these designs with a pinch of salt. They are designed to
both excite and inspire with no information given at all given on the kind of rules these
concepts will lead to. It’s interesting that there’s not been
much talk given to shifting aero away from the wings and overbody and more towards the
underbody and ground effect – an aero less susceptible to disruption and dirty air. But
who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Ross Brawn is a talented engineer and he and
his team are less likely to be blindsided by engineers exploiting loopholes that rule-makers
before them. So let’s be optimistic that the eventual set of rules will be the first
step towards getting the cars racing again. Now you may have a brilliant concept that
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