F1 facing tough balance between speed and race-ability with 2021 cars

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Formula 1 bosses are facing a tough task to balance performance with race-ability as they develop the 2021 cars.

On Thursday, fans got the first look at a real 50% scale model being used in the Sauber wind tunnel to come up with the new designs, which see a shift back to the ground effect era in F1.

However, now the concept is largely agreed, the next phase is about the finer details of the new technical regulations and that is proving a tough challenge.

“We are trying to see where the rules we have written are robust and where they might be a little weak,” F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds said via Formula1.com.

“I’m sure ultimately the wake characteristics of a fully developed 2021 car are not going to be quite as good as we have got running at the moment, but I think they will still be very good and it will be massively better than a 2019, or 2020 car. I’m absolutely certain of that."

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Current predictions suggest the issue of turbulent wake could be reduced by up 10 times from the 50% loss of downforce while following right now, to as little as 5% in 2021.

But this being F1, there is also the small matter of ensuring the new cars remain fast.

“There are certain areas we know already where you can add performance but in doing so you damage the wake, so we have been quite prescriptive in those areas because we’ve been trying to break the rules," Symonds continued.

“We’re trying to look for the loopholes, look for the unintended consequences. That’s actually a difficult thing to do when you have written the rules and that was my experience when we were working on the 2009 cars.

"Because I had been involved in writing the rules, I found it difficult to think of the loopholes as I knew what was intended. That was a lesson learned, we have taken it on-board.

“We’re trying to forget what the intention was and looking at what we have actually written down and see if we can put our team hats on.”

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Though the final regulations need to be agreed by the end of October, work will continue with further wind tunnel sessions planned and a key area still to be decided is the front wing design.

“There's a lot of work going on the front wing at the moment to improve some of its characteristics and also to make it look a bit less square,” says FIA head of single-seater development Nikolas Tombazis.

“As with any set of regulations, it is a constantly evolving process.

"In October we will publish a full set of technical and sporting regulations which will come into force in 2021 and will not fundamentally be changed.

"If we do find an area where we feel some updates are necessary to maintain our goals for better race-ability, then this is something that we will be able to do working with the teams within certain time constraints.”

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