F1 reveals first wind tunnel model of 2021 car design

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Formula 1 has offered a first look into the future, releasing images of the 2021 car being tested in the wind-tunnel.

Previously, only digital images have been able to give representations as to how the new cars will look, but now fans can look at a 50%-scale model.

There are no major changes from the previous interpretations with the return of venturi tunnels under the car indicating a return to ground effect to encourage closer racing.

That has meant the front and rear wings are now greatly simplified, although the front wing design could still see tweaks in the final stages of development.


What is also notable is there appears to be no sign of any DRS mechanism on the model, although it is not yet known if the new car will see an end to the Drag Reduction System that has been in place since 2011.

The end of DRS wouldn't be a surprise, however, because the new car has been specifically created to reduce the impact of turbulent air on the following car, with predictions of a loss of downforce five-times lower than the current designs.

F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds explained via Formula1.com that progress “actually beyond what I thought we could achieve when we started the project.

“With the configurations we have got at the moment, the results are exceptional.”

A big concern when the teams start their own development is that the designers could undo that work, although tighter restrictions on aero development are expected to reduce that risk.

But as the former Renault and Williams technical director noted: “The wind tunnel testing we are doing is slightly different to what the teams might do.

“The teams concentrate solely on the forces on the car, through a variety of attitudes as they move the car around.

"While we naturally have an interest in what those forces are and particularly how those forces change as the car moves, we’re even more interested in what is happening to the turbulent air behind the car."


The tests have been taking place in Sauber's wind tunnel facility in Hinwil, however, the operation was conducted by their independent consultancy group, meaning their F1 team will gain no direct advantage.

Teams will be given the results of that testing and have also been actively involved in the process of coming up with the new 2021 cars.

“The teams have been very good, the teams that have had the resources to do it, have worked on a number of projects for us, and they are all fully informed of what is going on,” Symonds revealed.

“We have meetings every few months, we send our geometry to them, they then run that in their own CFD environments and they feedback results to us. They have been as involved as they want to be.

"Some can’t put the resources in but all teams results are shared until we get to the cut-off point, wherefrom that point on they have to operate within their declared rules.”