MARINA BAY, Singapore -- A first glimpse of the next generation of Formula One car has been presented by the sport's technical boss Ross Brawn.
Although the final regulations have not yet been agreed upon, Brawn presented three concepts that have been developed by Formula One's aerodynamic group with the help of a designer. The main target of the new rules is to help aid wheel-to-wheel racing from 2021 onwards, but Brawn said aesthetics are also being considered in order to make the sport more attractive to a wider audience.
"We've been working on the new car for over 12 months now," Brawn said. "The aesthetics of the car for me are very important -- I think everyone agrees we want great looking Formula One cars.
"One of the primary objectives has been to work on the raceability of these cars and how well they could race each other, how close they could get to each other without losing substantial amounts of performance. The current cars lose once they get within two or three cars lengths, they lose up to 50 percent of their performance, which is why when drivers are on the same tyres of the same age, they struggle to race each other on tracks.
"When you get into that condition where you're two or three car lengths behind, then you're losing grip, the tyres degrade more, and it becomes very challenging. The prime purpose of the work we're doing is to try and produce cars which are more raceable.
"At the moment, we've got designs which only lose 20 percent [of aerodynamic performance], so they're 80 percent of their performance. So the cars out there at the moment, on our assessment, lose 50 percent when they get right behind. We've got cars now which will maintain 80 percent, so a substantial improvement."
The new designs incorporate larger wheels, lower profile tyres and a revised version of the halo, which is more integrated into the design. Fairings have also been introduced in front of the rear wheels in order to help tidy up airflow around the tyres.
However, the 2021 rules will only act as a guide for the final designs as the teams will still have the freedom to develop their cars within the regulations in the pursuit of performance. Previous regulation changes have resulted in unexpected and ugly design elements, and Brawn admits the first season of cars may not look exactly like the concepts.
"I'm not going to pretend from day one that we will have the perfect solution, certainly from the aesthetics, because try as hard as we can we cannot anticipate every move the teams will make," he said. "We may well find that, rather like the double diffuser, which was never considered when the rules were made, so we are going to do our best to arrive at a set of regulations that are as unambiguous as possible.
"But there is no guarantee and I think the key thing is to be able to respond quickly when we see things that happen that are unintended. But we are quite encouraged with the cooperation with the teams at the moment and that will change of course at some point in the future when they move into a competitive mode rather than a cooperative mode."
But so far, Brawn said the teams were behind the project ahead of a planned publication of the final regulations towards the end of 2019.
"The encouraging thing is that the teams are now involved with us. We started the ball rolling, but all of the teams now have models that we've initiated and they're looking at them and feeding back into us, what they're finding with these models in their own analysis. All 10 teams are working towards finding the best solution they can for 2021.
"And so there are regular reviews with all of the teams. The teams have a limitation on the amount of aerodynamic testing they're allowed to do, but the FIA have granted them some extra time to work specifically on this project. So there's a great incentive for every team to put in the effort to find the best solution they can. I'm pleased to say that the solutions are pretty aligned. What they're finding from the models we're sharing is pretty similar to what we're finding as well, which is encouraging."
Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton gave a positive reaction to the new regulations.
Lewis is a big fan of the 2021 concept... pic.twitter.com/qoDLRDs81U— Nate Saunders (@natesaundersF1) September 14, 2018