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Formula 1: Development of bargeboards since 1993

The bargeboards in front of the side boxes have matured into works of art over the past almost three decades. They illustrate how complicated the aerodynamics of a Formula 1 car are. The new regulations from 2022 will abolish them. Reason enough to delve into the development again.

They were one of the biggest playgrounds for the engineers. They're an extremely intricate web of wings, generators, fins, slots, and teeth that will soon be a thing of the past. Bargeboards will be phased out in Formula 1 starting next season. The rule-keepers are thus taking away one of their most important tools from the engineers. In the hope of simplifying the course of the flow so that it will be easier to drive behind and thus overtake.

The engineers have to rethink. McLaren Chief Technology Officer James Key comments: “The 2022 car eliminates tools like the Y250 front wing vortex, deflectors and bargeboards. This makes conditioning the airflow at the front of the car more difficult to steer."

First bargeboards at McLaren in 1993

The Y250 vortex is created at the transition between the standardized part of the front wing (each 25 centimeters around the central axis) and the freely designable area. It's actually harmful, but teams have taken advantage of it to improve airflow around the car and gain more downforce. The damp air at the race weekend in Turkey revealed what otherwise remains hidden. How the flow swirls on the inside of the front wing and is intercepted and directed by the baffles. The new cars, with their front wings growing out of their noses, ditch the Y250 swirl.

The bargeboards are also history. Their entry into Formula 1 began in 1993 with the McLaren MP4/8. It didn't take long for the competition to copy the board between the front axle and the sidepod. It helped intercept the air coming from the front of the wing and tire and direct it backwards in the desired direction.

Until 2009, the complexity kept increasing. Albeit far less pronounced than today. Then the rulers put a stop to it. The 2009 rulebook simplified the cars and mostly eliminated attachments on the chassis. The bargeboards shrank before they celebrated a renaissance eight years later. In 2017, the cars became wider and the scope for development of the bargeboards became more liberal.

Playing with the air

Initially, a height of up to 475 millimeters was allowed. Two years later, the bargeboards shrank by 12.5 centimeters to 350 millimeters. The teams wanted to improve the visibility and legibility of sponsor logos on the side of the chassis. Because the front wing grew from 1.8 to 2 meters in width, but was simplified at the same time, the importance of the baffles continued to increase.

That's why the teams kept developing new shapes. Increasingly precise CFD models allow more and more details. The bargeboards are now highly complex works of art with different levels and elements. They affect the entire airflow structure over the top and bottom of the car. The numerous generators and fins play with the air, accelerating and directing it to the outside. If you make a mistake here, you will pay for it with a loss of downforce.

In our photo show we travel back in time and show you the first classic bargeboard. In addition, we equip the gallery with examples from the 1990s from Benetton, McLaren and Williams. The logo of "auto motor und sport" can even be found on a bargeboard. We also take a closer look at the development of the baffles at Red Bull since joining in 2005. And have included Ferrari as a comparative example.


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