Formula 1 bosses are looking at possible regulation changes for 2025 in response to driver complaints concerning performance losses when following other cars.
The current generation of F1 cars, which see a greater level of downforce generated on the underfloor compared to previous regulations, were introduced in 2022 in an attempt to allow drivers to follow each other closer than under the previous ruleset.
The FIA has been alerted that current ground-effect machinery has already given away 50% of the initial gains achieved in 2022 regarding downforce loss when running behind another competitor.
After the Italian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz, who slipped from pole position to third at Monza, claimed: “It’s starting to become a bit like 2021 or 2020 where it is difficult to follow.”
While stakeholders are keen to implement changes as soon as possible, it would already be too late to impose regulation changes on teams in time for 2024. Instead, the FIA are looking into solutions which could arrive as early as 2025.
“If we take the 2021 F1 cars, based on being two lengths from the car in front, they were losing more than 50% of the [aero] load,” the FIA’s single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis told Motorsport.it.
“With the 2022 single-seaters, there was only a 20% reduction in load. But now we are at about 35%. Surely there has been a worsening and, on this point, Carlos is right. We have identified what we should act on.”
“We are studying solutions for 2025. We have identified some parts of the cars to act on, such as the endplate of the front wing, the side of the floor and the fins inside the wheels (around the brake ducts). We could lay down somewhat more restrictive rules in these areas.
“It is clear we no longer have the advantage of 2022 and, therefore, we know that there is work to be done.”
The issues stem from teams developing designs that increase outwash, whereby airflow is directed away from the cars and tyres. Closely following cars lose downforce as the airflow is disrupted, reducing the forces exerted on a car and its aerodynamic devices.
“We have the right to act on flexible bodywork when we see something that does not convince us because the regulation says that parts should be rigidly secured and immobile,” Tombazis said in response to some of the creative developments introduced by competitors.
“In reality, we know that this is not [strictly] possible, so there is a right to apply common sense. The regulations do not allow us to act on things we do not like on the cars.
“There are several aspects in the interpretation of the aerodynamic regulations that we do not like at the moment, but to change something we would need to go through the procedures to achieve a broad consensus.
“Sometimes we have tried to change things, but we have not always achieved the result we wanted. I believe that 90% of the regulations are in line with what we wanted and there is 10% that, with hindsight, we would have done in a different way.”