Formula 1 – « The ground effect will give better races in 2022 and we may no longer need the DRS »


2022 will mark a change in F1. First of all, does this return to ground effect (editor’s note: vertical force which pushes the car to the ground) seem judicious to you for solving the problems that the pilots had to overtake?

Jacky Eeckelaert: Sure, it’s going in the right direction. Now, are the advanced numbers from CDF – the computer simulation of airflow – right or wrong, we’ll see. With the 2021 regulations, a Formula 1 closing in on another car in front of it at two lengths, it lost up to 50% downforce, which is huge. In addition, the single-seater did not lose downforce equally between front and rear, but it was also affected in terms of balance. With the new regulations, the driver who arrives behind another car will lose only 4 to 5%. If this is true, it is clear that it will help the drivers to have better races.

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Unlike 1982, the ground effect will not be created by skirts attached to the pontoons but through two tunnels where the air will rush under the flat bottom.

JE: At the time, it was sliding skirts, in panels of synthetic materials, which with pads slid on the track. It was dangerous: when going over a curb, a skirt could get stuck and the car ended up with 20 or 30% less downforce. At the next turn, the pilot went straight into the rail.

In 2022, it will be fixed elements (deflectors) generating very powerful air flows along the car that will ensure the tightness (note: between the flat bottom and the ground), which will not be mechanical as with the sliding but aerodynamic skirts.

It will be easier to follow a competitor, but will it also be easier to overtake?

JE: Yes. If I take the example of Montreal, a driver can follow another car in the hairpin because the speed is not high, and take the suction to pass in the next long straight line. On the other hand, if a fast turn precedes a straight line, it is much harder because you cannot approach because of a loss of support and balance. The obligation to respect a certain distance prevents hope to pass to the aspiration. This is also why we invented the DRS, which I find a little artificial.

This DRS could disappear after an observation period in 2022.

JE: If the numbers seen in simulation are true, I think we may no longer need the DRS.

Won’t this ground effect be especially efficient on circuits that have long downforce races?

JE: In Barcelona for example, if we haven’t overtaken before the first two corners (n ° 1 and 2), it’s almost over (except at n ° 10). From 2022, it may be possible to follow a car closely in the 180 ° curve of n ° 3, which is taken at 250 km / h, and attack under braking at n ° 4. You have to see on the track. And then further to n ° 9 to switch to the braking of n ° 10.

Could we do without the DRS on all circuits or should it still be kept for Monaco, or urban circuits with a lot of bends at low speeds?

JE: If the DRS has a much greater effect on some circuits than others, it will still have to be kept on all circuits. Let’s say it’ll be smart enough to keep it throughout the first season.

Will some drivers take more advantage of this ability to follow a car and attack in less common places?

JE: Hard to say but the drivers are all the same: they are ready to do anything to overtake. One thing is certain: it will increase the number of attempts.

Will this new regulation change wind tunnel work?

JE: Sure. It happens to put two models at 60% scale one behind the other and we try to see what is the aerodynamic influence on the model located behind.

Concretely, what does that change in terms of air circulation for a pilot behind the wheel?

JE: The downforce was until recently distributed one-third on the front spoiler, one-third on the rear spoiler and one-third with the flat bottom diffuser. I think we’ll go 20% at the front, 20% at the rear, and 60% on the flat bottom. The wider rear spoiler will also create stronger aerodynamic turbulence that sucks air in and clears the front spoiler of the car behind. The latter will have less disturbance at the front when cornering. The pilots will feel less turbulence. It will drive almost as if it were on its own. It won’t be that, but it will come close to that feeling.

Will it increase the aspiration phenomenon?

JE: I don’t think so. That’s why I think we will have to keep the DRS at first.

The regulations will also see the rims go from 13 to 18 inches, with the adoption of low-size tires.

JE: These new tires will suffer less vertical deformation. It will certainly require changes in the suspensions, the shock absorbers, but it is quite easy to determine. Due to the construction of the tire, there may also be less overheating of the tire. So less wear and tear, resulting in a more consistent car racing and the ability to attack more.

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