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2026 F1 Chassis Rules: Smaller, Lighter, more Nimble Cars, with Moveable Aero


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#1 AustinF1

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 21:44

Yesterday, Nikolas Tombazis provided some insight into what's going on with plans for the 2026 chassis rules.

 

Revealed: The FIA's plans for "nimble" 2026 F1 cars and moveable aero  https://www.autospor...-aero/10557364/

 

Highlights: Lighter, shorter, narrower cars, with less downforce and less drag. Not a lot shorter, or narrower, or lighter, but it's a start. The wheelbase will be 20 cm shorter, track will be 10 cm narrower, and the car 40-50 kg lighter. Smaller (probably 16"), narrower wheels, which will reduce overall weight and unsprung weight. Still ground effect, with less downforce and 'hopefully' improved rules to help following. Again.
 

 

They will still be ground effect, and the hope is that the rules will be improved to ensure cars can follow each other.
 
This comes amid the recent admission that some loopholes were left in the current regulations that allowed teams to introduce designs that hurt the airflow to pursuing cars – such as outwash from the front wings.

 

As Tombazis said: "The 2023 season had a small worsening of the close racing features. The cars had degraded a bit in their ability to follow each other closely, and we think we understand why, how and what we need to do.

 
"We believe that for the next round [of rules in 2026] we'll achieve a much more robust close racing solution."
 
The plan is for less downforce and drag, and current simulations do not point to lap times being dramatically worse than they are now, although ultimately Tombazis says that outright speed is not its biggest worry.
 
"It is really not a huge factor," he said. "It's going to be very close to now.
"I think we're going to be within a couple of seconds or something like that. But even if it was five seconds slower, we're not going to be sweating too much."
 
In terms of their looks, Tombazis says that the 2026 cars will be similar to now.
 
"Somebody who knows about it will be able to see the differences, but they will look like F1 cars. On that, there wouldn't be any doubt."

 

 
There will be moveable aero on the straights - changing the rear wing angle to reduce drag, and it looks like they may at least be moving in the right direction in terms of assisting overtakes via DRS or some other means.
 

 

"There will be something equivalent to the current DRS, which will basically enable the following car that is within a certain limit to potentially get in a position to attack," he said.

 
"What form that mechanism will take: whether it will be an additional change of an aerodynamic component on the straight, or an additional change of the aerodynamic component in the corner, or whether it will be part of the energy of the engine....which of the three, we're still doing our best simulations to arrive to the best possible solution.
 
"What we don't want to have is cars basically diving past each other on the straight. We want cars arriving close to each other at the braking point and there being a fight, and drivers having to use their skill."
 
Tombazis says coming up with a DRS solution that is too effective, so can be tuned down, is a much better thing to have than going the other way and ending up with cars that cannot overtake.
 
"We will never want to make it too easy, but we also don't feel that we can say: 'Oh, well, it's not needed anymore'," he said.
 
"We can't risk arriving into a situation where overtaking becomes impossible again, or something like that. So we want to have it in the pocket and to use it moderately, but not highly.
 
"Overtaking must also be a fight. We don't want the cars just to drive past each other."

 

 

Sorry if already posted.


Edited by AustinF1, 14 December 2023 - 21:47.


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#2 FirstnameLastname

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 21:56

20cm shorter and 10cm slimmer hardly sounds like a huge size reduction

#3 AustinF1

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 22:20

20cm shorter and 10cm slimmer hardly sounds like a huge size reduction

Nope but it's a start. Stopping the growth spurt and reversing it can only be a good thing imho.



#4 paulb

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 22:28

Wheelbase shorter, but what about overall length? Is it shorter by 20cm (7.9in) too?

#5 YamahaV10

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 00:01

This is kind of annoying. They talk the right game about making the cars lighter and smaller. Yet all the same time, they are doubling down on hybrid and the 2014 rules.

 

To say hybrid had little to do with the size and weight of the cars is a total half truth. The extra weight of the hybrid power unit and batteries causes everything else to be built heavier. Especially all of the safety structures that are built to handle more mass. 

 

"What we don't want to have is cars basically diving past each other on the straight. We want cars arriving close to each other at the braking point and there being a fight, and drivers having to use their skill."

 

 

DRS gets all the blame for this when in reality, there's defacto push to pass also with electric energy storing and deployment. DRS would probably be fine without the hybrid system also. 


Edited by YamahaV10, 15 December 2023 - 00:05.


#6 pdac

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 00:42

Slightly shorter and narrower no doubt to allow them to grow bigger in the following years.



#7 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 01:31

Wheelbase shorter, but what about overall length? Is it shorter by 20cm (7.9in) too?

 

The front and rear overhangs are defined.

 

So the limit to the wheelbase limits the length.



#8 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 01:31

Slightly shorter and narrower no doubt to allow them to grow bigger in the following years.

 

Why? 



#9 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 01:36

This is kind of annoying. They talk the right game about making the cars lighter and smaller. Yet all the same time, they are doubling down on hybrid and the 2014 rules.

 

To say hybrid had little to do with the size and weight of the cars is a total half truth. The extra weight of the hybrid power unit and batteries causes everything else to be built heavier. Especially all of the safety structures that are built to handle more mass. 

 

The current cars are 100kg heavier than the 2014 cars while using power units that are, more or less, the same weight.

 

Also the current cars are substantially longer, as well as being wider (1,800mm for 2014, 2,000mm since 2017, and 1,900mm from 2026)..

 

The 2026 Power Units are also different to the current units. Less ICE power, more ERS power, still the same weight, and overall will have less power, hence the need for lighter weight and lower drag.

 

(I think the 2026 PU rules are silly, as they would be more effective for cars that are more on the brakes and less at full throttle.)



#10 Shambolic

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 02:36

20cm shorter and 10cm slimmer hardly sounds like a huge size reduction

I celebrate every gramme and millimetre closer I get to fitting in my old Levis.



#11 Clatter

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 08:24


DRS gets all the blame for this when in reality, there's defacto push to pass also with electric energy storing and deployment. DRS would probably be fine without the hybrid system also.


Not the same thing at all. While there is a push to pass option, there is also a push to defend one as well. There is no defence against DRS.

#12 Beri

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 10:10

Push to pass should be the way forward opposed to DRS. Have an X amount of time per lap to implement this anywhere you want. Want to have more power in the Esses so you can overtake the other on the following straight? Go for it! If you want to get the final bit of boost just before the corner to overtake someone and have the boost on acceleration as well to steer clear? Thats great, do it! But only implement it if the tool can also be used in defense. In that way it really comes down to skill to either attack or defend. 

 

Not so keen on moving aero tho.



#13 Sterzo

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 10:50

There is a risk - I put it no stronger - that moveable aero is so complex in its application and effects, that it will emphasise the differences between the small teams and those with the biggest and best aero departments.



#14 Beri

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 10:53

And what does movable aero really offer? Those systems will always add more weight. But to advantage of what? Having less drag on a straight? If all cars have this then there is no real case for it, now is there? If its used as a DRS like system, then I can understand. But the way it is brought, is just as a novelty. And that is of no use to closer racing.



#15 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 11:41

And what does movable aero really offer? Those systems will always add more weight. But to advantage of what? Having less drag on a straight? If all cars have this then there is no real case for it, now is there? If its used as a DRS like system, then I can understand. But the way it is brought, is just as a novelty. And that is of no use to closer racing.

 

Because the PUs have less power they need less drag, but they also need the downforce to keep corner speeds up.

 

2014-2016 cars had lower drag than the current cars, but were relatively slow around corners.

 

And the 2026 cars will be energy limited, even more so than today.


Edited by Wuzak, 15 December 2023 - 11:42.


#16 Beri

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 11:59

So we are changing to an engine formula that has more peak power than the current format, yet we can't run it long enough to go full out on the straights for an entire lap? And to compensate this, we need movable aero parts that will likely being in additional weight at a time where we want the cars to slim down?
Who signed off on this monstrosity?

#17 Boing Ball

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 12:42

Who signed off on this monstrosity?

The teams (duh), this was needed to get the single new manufacturer in.



#18 kumo7

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 13:05

20cm shorter and 10cm slimmer hardly sounds like a huge size reduction

 

Spot on. The principle of floor surface area, that is not mentioned. Over all car width is one thing, but the width of the chassis between the wheels define the ground effects.

 

I am assuming that Red Bull managed slower airflow over the chassis better than Aston or McLaren thereby creates air speed differences between the upper and under body works resulting in less drag and more down force. changing wheel base by 20cm in theory could induce aero condition that the effects of the floor not working well with front wheels.

But when the length of the floor are not defined, I think the car may produce as much down force as current ones, with movable aero, the car will run faster...



#19 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 13:19

So we are changing to an engine formula that has more peak power than the current format, yet we can't run it long enough to go full out on the straights for an entire lap? And to compensate this, we need movable aero parts that will likely being in additional weight at a time where we want the cars to slim down?
Who signed off on this monstrosity?

 

About the same peak horsepower.

 

The problem is getting enough recovery to run it at that power.

 

The rules also mandate that the MGUK power is reduced above 300kph, 5kW for every kph over 300 until 340kph. 340kph and above, if they ever get there, the MGUK is allowed to deploy only 150kW, down from 350kW.

 

The battery capacity is limited to 4MJ. Which is a bit over 11s at 350kW.

 

The maximum recovery per lap is 9MJ, of which a substantial proportion has to be generated when not braking. 9MJ is ~25s at 350kW.

 

The straight at Baku is around 25s. La Source to Les Combes at Spa about the same, These can be achieved with only a short burst at 350kW, then reduction to 150kW during the straight.

 

Or, could be like Red Bull suggested a while back - run the MGUK for as long as possible at maximum then go down to 0 deployment (has to be a ramp, by the rules) and run on ICE power alone (and potentially recover energy before braking begins).



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#20 Boing Ball

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 14:09

So, at Baku, the cars run out of battery about at the middle of the main straight or maybe a little later if they can't use the K at full power. After that the 500-550 hp ICE has to move the car and charge the battery. Any guesses what the top speed will be when they start braking?



#21 Gravelngrass

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 14:35

20 cm shorter, wow, really?? That’s almost the whole size of a flip-flop shorter! How do they manage these amazing technological feats?

Movable aero sounds as bad as DRS sounded when it was introduced. Another something to make these cars even more optimized and races more robbotical.
Also, who put it in people’s minds that it’s good racing to give the following car an advantage? That’s killing the whole concept of racing!
And some are advocating for push to pass now! Is it that the Mario Kart generation is now in charge? Or the people who directed Fast and Furious?

#22 MatsNorway

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 17:54

You will get smaller cars organically if they just drop the weight limit down more dramatically. You will not run weirdly inefficiently shaped water to air intercoolers then.

 

Either way i wish they stopped making more rules we have crash test requirements and budget caps. Let them go at it.

 

I also hate the DRS stuff with passion. If they cant chase, clip the wings, if they move fast around the corners also clip the wings...


Edited by MatsNorway, 15 December 2023 - 17:55.


#23 Boing Ball

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 18:07

You will get smaller cars organically if they just drop the weight limit down more dramatically. You will not run weirdly inefficiently shaped water to air intercoolers then.

 

Either way i wish they stopped making more rules we have crash test requirements and budget caps. Let them go at it.

This. They should get rid of the weight limit for the car altogether and set minimum weight for specific parts of the car like the monocoque and the engine.



#24 Goron3

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 18:13

And what does movable aero really offer? Those systems will always add more weight. But to advantage of what? Having less drag on a straight? If all cars have this then there is no real case for it, now is there? If its used as a DRS like system, then I can understand. But the way it is brought, is just as a novelty. And that is of no use to closer racing.


The new power units will have much less performance throughout the lap than the current ones. Therefore to make them work they need to drastically reduce drag further and save some weight.

Edited by Goron3, 15 December 2023 - 18:13.


#25 ForzaFormula

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 18:40

Nope but it's a start. Stopping the growth spurt and reversing it can only be a good thing imho.

Nope, its not even by much at all, the cars will still be oversized and to big and not going with what they say that they are making more nimble cars, far from it with a few inches change only,  at least the weight comes down a bit, but they should of pushed the size down allot more.



#26 kumo7

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 18:51

Nope, its not even by much at all, the cars will still be oversized and to big and not going with what they say that they are making more nimble cars, far from it with a few inches change only,  at least the weight comes down a bit, but they should of pushed the size down allot more.

 

This new FIA rule got an intricate, and very sophisticated system that define each components of a car. so it is hard to cut 50cm in one go. I assume it is taking a few centimeters from each bits to make the car 20 cm shorter. 

New rule produced these cars, so I trust new one should be good as well. But indeed the car is not as short as cutting it with a big saw.



#27 ForzaFormula

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 19:06

This new FIA rule got an intricate, and very sophisticated system that define each components of a car. so it is hard to cut 50cm in one go. I assume it is taking a few centimeters from each bits to make the car 20 cm shorter.
New rule produced these cars, so I trust new one should be good as well. But indeed the car is not as short as cutting it with a big saw.


There's been much more.drastic changes to the car when a rule reg changes.

#28 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 19:30

You will get smaller cars organically if they just drop the weight limit down more dramatically. You will not run weirdly inefficiently shaped water to air intercoolers then.

 

Either way i wish they stopped making more rules we have crash test requirements and budget caps. Let them go at it.

 

I also hate the DRS stuff with passion. If they cant chase, clip the wings, if they move fast around the corners also clip the wings...

That won’t work. The reason the weight limit has crept up is because the teams have been making their cars longer and heavier and have requested the weight limit to be raised becuase many couldn’t reach the minimum.



#29 AustinF1

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 19:31

Nope, its not even by much at all, the cars will still be oversized and to big and not going with what they say that they are making more nimble cars, far from it with a few inches change only,  at least the weight comes down a bit, but they should of pushed the size down allot more.

Like I said in my original post up top, it's not smaller by much, but it's a start. It's definitely better than nothing and better than if they continued to make them bigger and heavier. It might not be as much of a reduction as we'd all like to see, but it's definitely an improvement. Hopefully they'll continue in this vein and make incremental size and weight reductions in coming years. 


Edited by AustinF1, 15 December 2023 - 19:36.


#30 YamahaV10

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 02:09

Not the same thing at all. While there is a push to pass option, there is also a push to defend one as well. There is no defence against DRS.

 

Faster cars harvest energy when they are following slower cars, and they deploy this energy when the slower car is a sitting duck that spent its energy. This results in a fly-by pass. It isn't just DRS



#31 kumo7

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 05:25

There's been much more.drastic changes to the car when a rule reg changes.

You are stating a generic condition. What you must look at is the process as to how the current F1 achieves a new entire package, including tv ads capability, technical possibility, driver’s control, differences between the cars, cost control, aero direction, PU manufacturer’s attentions, and the attraction to the sport. The current technical rule sets gives whole new level to play for the most parties. It is an entire package.

This rule is a great success. It is like a fastest car of the series. The best way to explain what I say is like our most favorite thread title; who is the best driver in historical perspective… we have one now that compares McLaren vs RedBull. We like to discuss it.
This year’s success is big! it’s like RedBull 19 v.s. Stepped nose rule sets, or 1992 rule set for no active suspension. It is the winner.
So it is a bit silly to dump a successful formula before we ‘ride’ it.
I know we dislike heavy cars, I agree, but dropping the current excellence and going back to Narrow Car for example… would it be better…??

Edited by kumo7, 16 December 2023 - 08:33.


#32 YamahaV10

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 05:37

So we are changing to an engine formula that has more peak power than the current format, yet we can't run it long enough to go full out on the straights for an entire lap? And to compensate this, we need movable aero parts that will likely being in additional weight at a time where we want the cars to slim down?
Who signed off on this monstrosity?

 

Nobody seems to like it but they all sign off on it.

 

Christian Horners called them Frankenstein cars which sounds apt



#33 Organic

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 06:27

The moveable aero means the cars will be much more efficient meaning less downforce is required for a given laptime. If they can run everyone on lower downforce and not get a lot slower we can have less dirty air, more time in braking (and more brake harvesting), lighter components (less peak load in suspension etc), more typical tyre characteristics

I agree that without the PU rules, moveable aero would not be required, but it's pushed things in a direction that can result in decent cars I feel.

Lighter and smaller, albeit slightly, would be a step in the right direction after the current ruleset's boats

Edited by Organic, 16 December 2023 - 06:30.


#34 Clatter

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 12:31

Faster cars harvest energy when they are following slower cars, and they deploy this energy when the slower car is a sitting duck that spent its energy. This results in a fly-by pass. It isn't just DRS


The rear lights flash when the car is harvesting energy, as that makes them slower. I don't recall seeing cars harvesting while sitting in the slipstream in the manner you are describing. It's far more likely they are deploying to get up to speed quicker, and get as close to the other car as quickly as they can. Even if they are, there is nothing to stop the defending driver from saving energy, which can then be deployed in places where attacks are most likely to happen.

Edited by Clatter, 16 December 2023 - 12:34.


#35 Sterzo

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 12:38

The moveable aero means the cars will be much more efficient meaning less downforce is required for a given laptime. If they can run everyone on lower downforce and not get a lot slower we can have less dirty air, more time in braking (and more brake harvesting), lighter components (less peak load in suspension etc), more typical tyre characteristics

I agree that without the PU rules, moveable aero would not be required, but it's pushed things in a direction that can result in decent cars I feel.

Lighter and smaller, albeit slightly, would be a step in the right direction after the current ruleset's boats

I might have misunderstood your point, but surely teams won't aim for less downforce and a given laptime - they'll go for maximum downforce in order to go much faster?



#36 Clatter

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 14:01

I might have misunderstood your point, but surely teams won't aim for less downforce and a given laptime - they'll go for maximum downforce in order to go much faster?

 


They only really want the downforce in the twisty sections, so they always compromise the downforce anyway. If they have less power then they will likely cut back on the downforce, as the penalty on the straights would be more than they gain in the bends.

#37 Wuzak

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 14:02

They only really want the downforce in the twisty sections, so they always compromise the downforce anyway. If they have less power then they will likely cut back on the downforce, as the penalty on the straights would be more than they gain in the bends.

 

That's why they will have active aero.



#38 RainyAfterlifeDaylight

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 15:05

When I heard about Ground Effect cars, the first thing that came to my mind was "Oh, Adrian Newey would love that"

 

Now I'm hearing about moveable Aero and the first thing that comes to my mind, Guess what, "Oh, Adrian Newey would love that as well"

 

In my honest opinion:

More and more spec parts equals to Adrian Newey losing interest and then we could have a close competition.


Edited by RainyAfterlifeDaylight, 16 December 2023 - 15:05.


#39 Sterzo

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 15:12

They only really want the downforce in the twisty sections, so they always compromise the downforce anyway. If they have less power then they will likely cut back on the downforce, as the penalty on the straights would be more than they gain in the bends.

Agreed that it depends on a balance - but I would have thought corner speed is the major factor in a good lap time on most current circuits. I'd be prepared to bet they achieve more maximum downforce while having less drag on the straights, and lower lap times as a result.



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#40 PayasYouRace

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 15:14

Like I said in my original post up top, it's not smaller by much, but it's a start. It's definitely better than nothing and better than if they continued to make them bigger and heavier. It might not be as much of a reduction as we'd all like to see, but it's definitely an improvement. Hopefully they'll continue in this vein and make incremental size and weight reductions in coming years. 

F1 reached a point over a decade ago where it was possible to add performance with more weight. Essentially, the performance advantage of adding heavy stuff “outweighs” the mass penalty of having to carry it around. You can’t undo that.

 

So perhaps the time has come to go to a maximum weight formula.



#41 ARTGP

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 16:45

Active aero means that teams will be willing to run bigger wings on average to gain cornering and braking performance because they know the can just reduce the wing angle on the straights. In that case, following in the corners becomes harder, while slipstreaming weakens. Being able to reduce the wing angle on the straights also reduces the effect of DRS.

Edited by ARTGP, 16 December 2023 - 16:48.


#42 r4mses

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 16:57

When I heard about Ground Effect cars, the first thing that came to my mind was "Oh, Adrian Newey would love that"

 

Now I'm hearing about moveable Aero and the first thing that comes to my mind, Guess what, "Oh, Adrian Newey would love that as well"

 

In my honest opinion:

More and more spec parts equals to Adrian Newey losing interest and then we could have a close competition.

 

It's 2023, 2024 soon. When the cars hit the ground, it's 2026.

 

Newey is overrated today, will be even more overrated if he decides to stay until 2026.

 

We're not living in the 90s, when one engineer made that much of a difference. He's competing vs an army of engineers -- and their software.


Edited by r4mses, 16 December 2023 - 16:59.


#43 JosefStatin2

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 18:03

It's 2023, 2024 soon. When the cars hit the ground, it's 2026.
 
Newey is overrated today, will be even more overrated if he decides to stay until 2026.
 
We're not living in the 90s, when one engineer made that much of a difference. He's competing vs an army of engineers -- and their software.

With all due respect, if he is that overrated, how do you explain this year's Red Bull?

#44 TomNokoe

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 18:21

20cm shorter and 10cm slimmer hardly sounds like a huge size reduction

I actually think it will be quite striking visually, especially with smaller wheels.



#45 r4mses

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 18:37

With all due respect, if he is that overrated, how do you explain this year's Red Bull?

 

An army of engineers? It's not like he's sitting there alone designing a car, Jesus Christ.



#46 azza200

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 19:10

I'm surprised Newey has stayed in F1 i would of thought with the tightening of regs and more and more limitations the FIA put into every years new cars. He's good don't get me wrong but with how strict F1 is these days compared to the 90's, is good he is still around as he is one of very few old school F1 personal still in the paddock. 



#47 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 19:54

The rear lights flash when the car is harvesting energy, as that makes them slower. I don't recall seeing cars harvesting while sitting in the slipstream in the manner you are describing. It's far more likely they are deploying to get up to speed quicker, and get as close to the other car as quickly as they can. Even if they are, there is nothing to stop the defending driver from saving energy, which can then be deployed in places where attacks are most likely to happen.

The red lights flash when cars are harvesting aggressively. The car without a tow will use ERS more (either overtake button or a more aggressive deployment). The car following will switch to a mode that deploys less and it accumulates more energy this way.

#48 Wuzak

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Posted 17 December 2023 - 01:14

The red lights flash when cars are harvesting aggressively. The car without a tow will use ERS more (either overtake button or a more aggressive deployment). The car following will switch to a mode that deploys less and it accumulates more energy this way.

 

As I understand it, the lights flash when the MGUK stops deploying.



#49 ForzaFormula

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Posted 17 December 2023 - 03:03

I'm surprised Newey has stayed in F1 i would of thought with the tightening of regs and more and more limitations the FIA put into every years new cars. He's good don't get me wrong but with how strict F1 is these days compared to the 90's, is good he is still around as he is one of very few old school F1 personal still in the paddock. 

He has projects going on with such as the Red Bull RB17 hypercar, doing a submarine and enjoyed doing the Valkyrie, I think these new projects and working still within F1 with redbull giving him freedom to do other projects, still give him his desire and drive to carry on, but I think at some point he will leave F1, when we do not know but he is collecting nice retirement funds doing what he loves.

The question is will he challange him self elsewhere again in F1 before he leaves?



 



#50 YamahaV10

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Posted 17 December 2023 - 04:59

The rear lights flash when the car is harvesting energy, as that makes them slower. I don't recall seeing cars harvesting while sitting in the slipstream in the manner you are describing. It's far more likely they are deploying to get up to speed quicker, and get as close to the other car as quickly as they can. Even if they are, there is nothing to stop the defending driver from saving energy, which can then be deployed in places where attacks are most likely to happen.

 

A is a bit of both. The slower car spends its stored energy just defending. While the faster car is accumulating energy. This is why the faster car always has more juice left after the pass is done. And then the faster car also makes a big gap on the slower car.