The technical face of F1 could be poised to change dramatically within the next three years after it was revealed that team bosses will be presented with a radical design brief for the 2013 season.
According to a BBC
exclusive, the quest for closer, more exciting and more cost-effective racing has been passed to respected designers Patrick Head and Rory Byrne, who will produce a blueprint for future technical regulations for discussion by the teams and F1's Technical Working Group early next year. The draft regulations are being drawn up at the behest of the FIA, and should be in the hands of the men charged with making them reality some time before Christmas, prior to a meeting of the TWG in January.
According to the report, the vision will present the biggest design change since 1983, when flat-bottomed cars were made mandatory after years of underfloor development led to venturi technology and the use of the infamous 'skirts' as designers sought to extract the most from the latest thinking on downforce. Ironically, Head and Byrne's brief is understood to call for the return of underfloor development, but in a way that will prevent a return to the sort of excessive speeds that saw the rules changed so dramatically nearly 30 years ago.
The major changes are thought likely to see vastly reduced front and rear wing sizes; greater proportions of total downforce derived from the use of shaped floors, but a major reduction in total downforce; the retention of large tyre sizes to ensure cornering speeds remain high; and a reduction in the amount of full-throttle running, from 70 per cent to 50 per cent by 2013, although there is almost certainly going to be call for compromise during next month's meeting.
Head and Byrne reportedly started work on the new rules as long ago as March, and have now presented their vision to FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who will pass them on to the teams this week. The Williams co-owner revealed that the pair were told to ensure that overtaking wasn't made any more difficult, but believes that they may actually have found an improvement in an area for which the top flight is often derided.
As the original GP2 Series car showed in 2005, creating downforce via the underside of the car, rather than using excessively large and complicated wings can produce more exciting racing as chasing cars should lose less downforce when in close pursuit of another, theoretically making it easier to pass.
"We are only going to have roughly 65 per cent of the amount of fuel and a [limited] fuel [flow] rate - that was a given," Head explained to BBC Sport
, "We were just told 'that's what it will be, you've got to come up with a car spec that is not going to be more than five seconds a lap slower than a current F1 car'.
"So some circuit simulation was done by Rory at Ferrari and when we'd come up with some numbers in terms of drag and downforce it was then to try to come up with a geometry of a car that could try to achieve that."