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Ground effect to return in Formula 1 for 2021

Formula 1 is heading into a massive rule change for the 2021 season. What the FIA is trying to put on the table is a highly performing car that still would allow drivers to follow eachother and create some show. Also the look of the single seater itself and a relatively low budget will be key factors.

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Ground effect to return in Formula 1 for 2021
Fuente imagen: via Formula1.com

Let's dig deep in each of those steps to have a better idea on what the Federation and the teams are discussing about.
Firstly, being Formula 1 the pinnacle of motorsport, the technical guide-lines to get the maximum of performances: in 2021 F1 cars may present a very simplified front wing and may lose the bargeboards. The rear wing will be less effective as well and the ducts to cool the brakes will lose all their aerodynamic influence.

The main goal is to have closer racing between the cars with a significant reduction of dirty air for the driver that follows. “[With the 2021 car] typically, from about a 50% loss of downforce for the following car at two car distances [in 2017] it’s down to about a 5-10% loss” says FIA’s Head of Single Seater Technical Matters, Tombazis. We already saw a step in this direction in the current season, with less complex front aero that produces less turbolences and therefore allows the cars to follow eachother closely.

The amount of downforce lost will be replaced by a shaped floor of the car that will bring back the once banned ground effect. Basically, the airflows streaming under the car will glue the car to the ground with the diffuser zone as the key one in the process. There's a reason tho if ground effect has been banned for decades: as soon as a car goes airborne, the aero makes it complitely take off, creating danger for the drivers and the people trackside. Taken for granted that nowdays cars and tracks have improved massively in safety compared to the '80s ones, the FIA decided to put a flap on the wheels meant to prevent this eventuality. Another good idea might be to copy the IndyCar style, with holes on the floor that prevent the single-seaters from going upside down.


With cleaner air for the car behind, tyre degradation will be way more handable, but still the FIA is not happy yet: “We are in fairly deep consultation with Pirelli,” says Tombazis, “about how to make the tyres really step up and be in a position where they enable people to race; they don't degrade, they don't force people to manage the tyres so much, still the plan not being for Pirelli to produce a super-hard, “Le Mans-type tyre that will go on and on and on”.
It's also been suggested to outlaw tyre blankets, a 'strage' hypothesis that is working in Formula 2 tho.


Another goal is that: “Over the next couple of years, Formula 1 will be on a much better path… where a really good, moderately-funded team, can cause a lot of trouble. That's what we want." as Brawn stated. And the solution for that is what he describes as “very prescriptive” aerodynamic rules, designed to stop one team discovering a ‘silver bullet’.
No more freedom for the engeneers therefore which, added to some standardised components to lower the budget, didn't really make aerodynamicists smile. “Undoubtedly,” Brawn says, “from the relative freedom teams have had so far, it's going to be frustrating. But if they can take the approach that these regulations are the same for everyone and ‘we're going to do a better job than anyone else, we just won't be two seconds faster, we'll be two-tenths faster’ – that's what we want from Formula 1.”

Under the racing profile also the removal of some driver aids and car-to-pit telemetry is being discussed.
Arguments are going on on the car look as well, that has to have "a wow effect" on the viewer. From this prospective the FIA is still not fully convinced by the proposed front wing that may be changed into a better looking one.

Finally, tracks are under investigation as well, with the  new race in Vietnam set to be a first test of “a new philosophy of where we should take Formula 1” according to Brawn.

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