Renault technical director Nick Chester says Formula 1’s aerodynamic rule changes appear to have resulted in a “super close” grid for the 2019 season. 

F1 introduced a new set of aero regulations, featuring simpler front wings, brake ducts and bargeboards, in a bid to improve the quality of wheel-to-wheel racing in the upcoming campaign. 

Pointing to the results he has seen on-track during a fortnight of pre-season testing in Barcelona, Chester thinks the enforced changes have gone some way in bringing the field closer together, particularly in the midfield group. 

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“We are getting a better picture every day but it is super close,” Chester said. 

“All I can say is Ferrari look like they are a step out in front. We probably haven’t seen Mercedes’ pace, but there are a lot of other teams that are super close and I wouldn’t want to say where they are.

“I haven’t really got a picture of where Red Bull are at the moment so I couldn’t estimate their true pace, but it does look like a lot of teams are pretty close. If anything it looks like the grid has closed up so maybe everybody has closer together.

“There are two schools of thought,” he added. “One is that if you have got a well-developed top team then they might have been hurt more by the 2019 regs, but also you would expect that after a big drop to maybe start recovering quicker. 

“It is very hard to say. Every team is doing their own thing, developing their car their own way - one thing is I can say is it does look like it has closed up a bit. Maybe some teams that are finely honed in their aero structures may have lost a bit more.” 

The rule changes have led to vastly different front wing design concepts from teams up and down the grid, with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull opting for an alternative solution compared to the more aggressive-looking philosophies pioneered by Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. 

While Chester believes both designs are showing signs of working, he would not be surprised to see a convergence to one solution later down the the line.  

“It is tricky for me to say because obviously I am only used to our car and how we have developed that concept, although we have looked a little bit at some of the other ones that are out there,” he explained. 

“I think what is interesting is you look at the pace of the cars with different concepts out there and there are some cars with very different concepts that are actually performing very well. 

“It is probably a bit early to say whether they are going to converge or not. I expect over a long, long time they will probably converge to one solution but so far there are two options performing pretty well.” 

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