This season the mass and size of the F1 car has increased, due to new specification agreed and approved by all concerned within the sport.
A strange situation, when one considers the huge costs incurred in developing new, composite materials so F1 cars can be lighter.
But it appears the “all new, improved” larger F1 cars have almost negated such benefits derived after many years of research.
The objective of the 2022 design was to improve overtaking opportunities, the new aerodynamics reducing the effects of the “dirty” air of the car ahead allowing close quarter slipstreaming.
But so far it would appear the drivers still rely on designated areas and the use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) to achieve a pass on the car ahead.
So what have we actually achieved? Have we met the objectives of the new design? One has to wonder, particularly regarding the increased weight.
We all know that it requires energy to move mass, increase mass and you need to increase energy – somewhat of a stalemate situation, I would have thought. It is certainly an area of concern to Adrian Newey of Red Bull who believes such mass increases are resulting in F1 going astray.
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In a recent interview with Motorsport Magazine, Newey said: “I think the principle of helping cars to overtake by reducing the sensitivity of the following car to the one in front is fine. I think it helps to be able to overtake a little better. I don’t think it’s a significant change but it will help a little.”
He said mass limits of F1 cars had increased over the years from 600 kg with 30 to 40 kg of ballast, to the current cars at 800 kg plus.
He also stressed the cars are larger with a lot of air resistance and are consequently less aerodynamically efficient. Newey’s ideal F1 regulations would be low weight and aerodynamic efficiency and one surely cannot argue with that premise.
With the introduction of the new regulations many of us hoped to see the demise of DRS, but the FIA were concerned the new design without DRS may not achieve the primary objective.
In an interview with Sky Sports, F1 technical chief Pat Symonds said: “We had a choice. When we produced this car we could have said ‘let’s get rid of DRS’, but if we’d been wrong it would have been a disaster.
“If we could get to a stage where we produce a car that’s good enough in the wake of another car that you perhaps only use DRS to pass a back marker or something like that, we’d have really achieved something.”
With all due respect, if the aerodynamic changes succeed in allowing easier overtaking at the front of the field, why would you require DRS to pass a back marker? Surely the waved blue flag should suffice.