Will 2019 F1 regulations improve overtaking?

There is very strong evidence to suggest that the new 2019 regulations, that were outlined back in May 2018, will help to equalise and remove unnecessary rules that ruin the spectacle of Formula One. However, everybody is still in the dark about whether changes to the cars will improve the amount of overtaking as they should do.

Formula 1 aerodynamics are to become simpler with one hopeful purpose in mind, to create closer races and more overtaking. Ideally, races that effectively finished after the first few corners, in terms of results, would be a thing of the past. The changes recently approved which promise to make this become a reality include:

  • A simpler looking front wing that is also wider.
  • Front brake ducts with no aerodynamic flourishes or wings.
  • A simpler, wider and deeper rear wing.
  • A higher limit of fuel per race.
  • Driver weight to now be measured separately from their car, so heavier drivers will be at less of a disadvantage.

A simpler front wing (as shown in the image above on the Williams 2018 car with a prototype front wing) not only improves the looks of the cars to fans but also reduces the amount of outwash or ‘dirty air’ leaving the wing at high speed. This is the same reason for the simplified brake ducts. Dirty air is what is thought to be the reason why cars can not follow closely to one another. If the following car gets too close, their downforce levels are severely affected by the dirty air. Once they have less downforce, their lap times are slowed. This is why overtaking has been labelled as ‘impossible’ on lots of the circuits visited this season- even being predicted before races as extra DRS zones had been added prior to Grand Prix weekends such as the Canadian Grand Prix.

The wider and deeper rear wing should no doubt improve the amount of overtaking, as it simply increases the effectiveness of DRS for the following car. In a DRS zone, the car ahead would have so much more downforce, reducing straight line speed, as the car following which, with DRS open, should easily pass.

An increase in the limit of fuel allowed per race will also be introduced to allow drivers to race at full power for longer. However, this is more questionable in trying to improve overtaking because if every driver has an increase in fuel, then no-one would have an advantage. But there is a chance in races such as Monaco, a driver could strategically run less fuel and drive more economically at certain stages to gain positions.

Nico Hulkenberg being one of the tallest drivers is also one of the heaviest drivers currently in Formula One. Smaller drivers can utilise where to put ballast to get their cars up to the weight limit but heavier drivers currently do not have this luxury. Next season, heavier drivers will be at less of a disadvantage and will also not need to dangerously cut their intake of calories down. Eventhough this would not improve racing for everyone, it would increase the chances of taller drivers getting further up the grid. Maybe Nico Hulkenberg could get a podium!

In theory, these regulations will do their job, but I do feel as though they have been slightly rushed by the F1 Chairman Chase Carey as most teams would have began the design phase for next season’s car already. Back in May, a lot of the car would have already been thoroughly designed.

In conclusion, these changes are good for Formula One and shows quick thinking from Formula One’s new owners. However, rushed ideas are not often successful ideas so maybe these regulations could have had more research put into them to ensure a more spectacular F1 2019 season. Many more years of research are being invested into the 2021 regulations promising a complete overhaul of the sport.



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