Ground effect abandoned as teams plan for 2013
9 May 2011
There will be no return of ground effect technology when F1 overhauls its technical specification for the 2013 world championship, after teams gave their support to alternative, and cheaper, means of limiting performance.
The FIA had recruited F1 veterans Patrick Head and Rory Byrne to formulate technical regulations that would, at once, make the cars both more efficient and more challenging to drive, without compromising performance too much. Despite the pair coming up with a set of rules, based around the return of shaped floors last seen in the ground effect era, they were opposed by the teams, which felt that a series of aerodynamic restrictions could achieve the same result, but at far less expense. Ironically, Byre was also involved in devising the alternative proposal which, according to a BBC exclusive, looks set to be set in stone at a meeting of F1's technical working group on Wednesday.
Among the changes included on the FOTA proposal, which seeks to mirror the FIA's target of 35 per cent less fuel consumption with a drag co-efficient of around 0.7Cd, will be a front wing of reduced width, a shallower rear wing albeit with DRS retained, significantly lower noses, a restriction of front wing endplate design and a limit on extraneous bodywork, particularly between the front wheels and sidepods.
"The only point of contention between FOTA and the FIA has been on the tunnelled floor, having a shaped undertray," Williams' Sam Michael told the BBC, "Everything else is pretty much the FIA proposal, or pretty close to it with just some tweaks. The biggest concern was that it's a massive amount of investment for the teams.
"It's quite a big departure. If you were going to go down that route and have a very different set of drag and lift coefficients that you couldn't achieve with the current rules, fine, that's different. But the teams saw it as a massive amount of investment and work for something we don't really understand. We're not scared of that but, if you do spend all that money, why do that and not something you can get to very quickly and cheaply with the current floor. The FIA understood that in the end."
The chassis changes are due to be introduced along with a new engine, dropping the current specification in favour of 1.6-litre turbo-charged units. Bernie Ecclestone has already made his views on the change well known, and continued to oppose the change over the Turkish GP weekend.
"First of all, I do not have any problems with [FIA president] Jean [Todt]," he told the official F1 website, attempting to quell suggestions that the opposition is personal, "We have a very good relationship, [but] I am not happy with the engines. Take a GP3 car - it is how an F1 car will sound in the future!
"People come to an F1 race for the sound and the speed, [but] I think Jean is following what Max [Mosley] started - and I do not know why he started the whole idea about 'green' racing. If you think that there is more fuel used in the Tour de France, then we should start a different discussion. If you really want to reduce emissions, you could say to the promoters to reduce the capacity of their circuits by ten or 15 per cent. Fifteen percent less people coming to a race would make a difference and then you could do the same with football. That would make a difference."