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F1 engineers on 18-inch wheels: aerodynamics become more stable

Pirelli
F1 engineers on 18-inch wheels
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N och nobody knows exactly what the F1 executives around Ross Brawn are concocting the next generation of cars. The most important changes for 2021 have already been leaked. The racing cars should look much more spectacular, the Halo will be better integrated into the chassis, overtaking should be easier and there will be a switch from 13-inch wheels to 18-inch ones.

The last item on the list will not only be completely change the look of the cars. It also has an impact on the work of engineers. The technicians have worked with the current format for more than two decades. Now everyone has to get used to it. In the paddock, however, opinions on the planned change are divided.

Formula 1 with a Formula E look

“I think that's a good step. It gives the cars a more modern look. And it should also attract other tire manufacturers, ”says Renault Technical Director Bob Bell, who sees the change as positive. His Force India colleague Andy Green is not that enthusiastic: “It's not Formula 1 for me. But if you want to go that route, that's okay. It looks a bit like Formula E to me. ”

However, both of them agree that the bigger wheels aren't too much of a challenge. The suspensions have to be reinforced because the rubbers no longer help with the spring. Whether the size of the wheel carriers also changes depends on the regulations. For cost reasons, it is discussed to keep the current dimensions in the inner area.

Less influence on aerodynamics

The engineers are positive about the effects on aerodynamics. “With the current soft tires, we also have to make the suspension softer - to compensate for the vibrations in the tire itself. With harder tires, we can also use harder damping. This makes the entire aerodynamics of the car more stable, 'explains Green.

Colleague Bell adds:' The big problem we have with the current tires is the strong deformation. The side load is unfortunately difficult to simulate in the wind tunnel. This makes the correlation between wind tunnel and track difficult, especially in the rear area. The problem is much less pronounced with the 18-inch wheels. '

The technicians see the challenge of changing to larger wheels not in the development of the car but in the operational area. “The biggest task is for usin learning how to get the best performance out of the thinner tires. This is completely new territory for everyone involved, ”says Green.

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