The Formula 1 future is a work in progress. Since February the FIA is in close discussions with F1 engineers about how the new generation of F1 cars should look like. Over time the original Red Bull concept has been modified in many details. A first computer graphic of the 2017 cars was finally handed out to the teams during the last Formula 1 Commission meeting on November 24th at Paris.
auto motor und sport has seen the 4 drawings. And we got exclusive information about the most important dimensions of the new generation of Formula 1 cars. We handed them over to our tech expert Giorgio Piola and asked him to produce some drawings. We think it's a beautiful concept with harmonious proportions. And it offers engineers a lot of freedom in the sidepod design.Return of beam wing and larger diffuser
Some small changes to the latest concept are still to be expected. But the main dimensions are already agreed on: The overall width of the car will be increased from 180 to 200 centimeters. As requested by fans also the tyres will be wider. The tread will be 30 centimeters (currently 24.5 cm) wide on the front tyres and 40 centimeters (currently 32.5 cm) wide on the rear. This alone will make the cars go 3 seconds faster per lap.
The nose of the car will be 20 centimeters longer than what we have now. The 180 cm wide front wing will be delta shaped. The rules allow more deflection than on the current 165-centimeter wide wings. The distance between endplates and front tyres will remain the same.
Some engineers have already raised concerns about the new front wing dimensions. Force India technical director Andy Green told auto motor und sport: "Due to the rake of the cars I expect the bigger and more flexible wings might touch the ground quite heavily in fast corners like Eau Rouge."
The rearwing is also growing in width from 80 to 95 centimeters. The position is lowered to a height of only 80 centimeters from the ground. An additional beam wing will be placed underneath it in a window of 30 to 37.5 centimeters. The first computer graphics show a rearwing that is supported by two massive, backward tilted endplates. But that's not prescribed in the regulations. According to our information the wing can also be mounted on one or two central pillars.
The diffusor will be massively bigger. The transition from the flat bottom of the car to the raised surface will begin already 33 centimeters in front of the rear axle - not on level with the rear axle like it is now. The trailing edge is allowed to be 22 centimeters high instead of 12.5 centimeters. This will increase downforce a lot.
Formula 1 cars 2017 will feature cut in the floor
The dimensions of the turning vanes under the nose will remain the same. The deflectors next to the sidepods will increase in size. Engineers will also have bigger freedom in terms of sidepod design. Teams couldn't agree on a limitation of the wheelbase. Instead they decided to limit the surface of the floor between the forward cockpit template, called B-B section and the rear wheels. The maximum size of this area depends on the wheelbase.
The allowed surface area will not be big enough to have the floor reach from front to back at the maximum car width of 180 centimeters. So there must be a cutout in the floor at some point. Another rule states that the floor must not be smaller than 160 centimeters at any point. That means the cutout won't be deeper than 10 centimeters assuming both sides are symmetrical.
The exact position of the cutout is up to the engineers. It also depends on how the sidepods are shaped. We hope to see some interesting and different solutions in this area. In one of our drawing the new "waist" is placed approximately in the middle of the sidepods.30 % more downforce
The new cars are expected to generate an additional 100 points of downforce - that's 30 percent more than the current cars. Drag on the other hand will only be increased by 10 points. Not all engineers like the idea of faster cars. Williams technical director Pat Symonds is worried overtaking might become even more difficult with smaller braking zones. Cars will also react more sensitive in dirty air.
The biggest problem however is the tires. Pirelli made it clear, the wider tyres do require extensive testing as early as next May. But no team sees itself in a position to build a car with hybrid technology ahead of a 2017 season. "To use an older model and simply increase downforce makes no sense because the car's balance will be different," warns Andy Green. Teams have asked Pirelli to buy or build a proper test rig like it's used by Michelin or Bridgestone. But so far this was rejected by Pirelli for cost reasons.
Maybe all parties involved will get a little bit more time anyway. There are indications the introduction of the new cars might be postponed to 2018, especially with the new engine formula that will probably not be ready before that. It would save a lot of time and costs to develop both new car and engines together.