Saturday 4 September 2010

The (possible) return of the ground effect - hurrah!

I was intrigued by the article on the Autosport website on the latest working group ideas being touted to improve overtaking in F1. This may seem unlikely, given such working groups are convened and their outputs applied on a daily basis, it seems. But this time, just maybe, it could be different. This is because, for this first time I can remember, the return of the ground effect is being 'actively considered'.

I feel that the near absence of ground effect on F1 cars, that is achieving downforce from air flow passing under the car, is a major part in the difficulties of cars to run close to each other, and therefore to pass. I'm told that ground effect is less negatively impacted by the 'dirty air' from the car ahead, and also will relatively speaking reduce the reliance on air flow over the top of the car (which both creates and are negatively impacted by dirty air). I don't think it's a coincidence that the point in history when overtaking levels in F1 fell off a cliff loosely coincided with the 'plank' being attached to the underside in 1994, and the stepped underside introduced at the start of 1995, both of which combined to virtually eliminate ground effect.

Of course, a lot of things have to happen first before this becomes a reality, and no one has ever got rich by predicting what the FIA and F1 teams end up agreeing on (and it won't happen until 2013 at the earliest). But, here's hoping, a bright future with racing cars racing each other may lay in wait.

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