'New regulations can limit the aerodynamic power of Red Bull'
By Robert McGillivray 18 September 2020 | 10:58
Formula 1 cars have been getting longer and longer in recent years. New photos of the 'naked' Ferrari from Mugello now show how the engineers have artificially extended the wheelbase. Auto Motor und Sport takes a closer look at the red car.
"If you put the current car next to a car from ten years ago, the old racing cars almost look like toy cars," writes the German website. The fact that modern Formula 1 cars are so much bigger is partly due to the thicker tires and wider wings that were introduced in 2017. At that point, the cars grew eight inches in width.
"But the ratio between length and width has recently threatened to get out of hand again", the motorsport medium continues. "The distance between the two axes kept getting bigger." On old circuits with a narrow pit lane, such as in Mugello, the drivers can barely roll out of their garage without getting stuck somewhere.
Longer car means more downforce
Mercedes pioneered this trend. The design department of the German Formula 1 team was the first to see that the expansion of the cars would allow more efficient aerodynamics in the rear. "The engineers' aim is to direct the air as tightly as possible along the sidepods and without turbulence over the diffuser", writes the German site.
However, a long wheelbase is not entirely without problems. In theory, the trick is especially noticeable on curvy tracks. For a long time, the mechanics gained stability in fast corners. But thanks to modern suspension technology, stability could also be found in slower corners. Formula 1 cars are now more than five meters long.
Future of aerodynamics
"It is still unclear how reducing the wheelbase will affect the use of cars," the German site continues. "With the high rake principle, a lot of downward pressure is extracted from the larger air volume under the diffuser."
However, the new regulations limit the possibilities of trapping the air with artificial vortices under the car. So, if the effects of these modifications are significant, it could mean that Red Bull Racing, usually praised for their high rake, could lose some aerodynamic power.
"The cars will then get more downward pressure at the top", according to the website. "In theory, you benefit from the extra space that guarantees a clean and stable airflow to the wing elements. It's difficult to say whether ten centimetres less play will make a big difference." (Photo: Ferrari F1 Media)
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