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The Overtaking Problem - Ground effects 
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Trade ground effects for aerodynamics.

In the late 70’s ground effect cars were developed that used the underside of the car, like an inverted wing, to literally suck the car onto the road, increasing grip dramatically. This was subsequently outlawed.

Today’s F1 car is much worse than the outlawed ground effect cars as it is very sensitive to turbulence, which ground effect cars were not, and just as dangerous. Why not allow limited ground effects while reducing wing sizes accordingly? .

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Ian B from Australia adds,

It seems to me that we might be missing the point. In the 'Good Old Days' when memory tells us overtaking was more common (though never really as much as we think) part of the reason was the variation between the cars and drivers. Some cars were fast in a straight line, some had really good brakes, others cornered better, some were quicker out of corners. All of these combined with drivers of different styles, abilities, courage and even background to make the grid much more varied than it is now after seeming endless testing to obtain the smallest gain. Here is the idea- allow variations in the rules to bring back the difference. What do I mean? Things like allow bigger brakes with a power (rev) limited engine or smaller slick tyres with a fully flat floor (no diffuser) or ground effects without front and rear external wings! I know that the teams would eventually find the ideal combination but at least different car/drivers would perform better at some tracks than others so there would be more variety and interest. What do you think and what combinations would you think might work

The Heretic replies,

I have often wondered what would happen if wings were limited to inboard of the wheels within current car height limitations. With the exception of under body or ground effect downforce, it would be a lot harder to get the same extreme downforce in the turbulent area over the body of the car.

Nathan from the US

The FIA's attempt at reducing speeds and the effect of turbulence on overtaking by increasing the height of the front wing and reducing the number of wing elements in the back is an exercise in futile thinking. It has no basis in racing principles, but is actually contradictory to them. The needs for overtaking and safety improvement do not have to compromise the ideals of motorsport, as the FIA's actions suggest. I believe solutions lie, not at the expense of racing, but in its very ideals.

One of the ideals of F1 that I love most is that of EFFICIENCY. Lighter cars need less grip, less horsepower, smaller brakes, less fuel, and less driver assistance that heavier cars to go the same speed around a race track. This is why F1, the pinnacle of motorsport, has the lightest cars.
Another area of efficiency is that of power generation. The horsepower-to-engine displacement ratio of any other normally aspirated cars pale in comparison to the 250+ hp/L of an F1 engine. Yes, turbo cars can exceed this, but they are less  efficient in terms of design, cost, and complexity. It could also be suggested that F1 cars also exhibit the greatest efficiency of grip in racing because of aerodynamic downforce.
However, this is not the same as actual aerodynamic efficiency. The most efficient aerodynamics are those that produce the least amount of resistance for a given size and volume object, while still achieving the same goals in generating downforce. The FIA went against this when they outlawed ground effects and forced engineers to find downforce in wings. They also went against the principles of efficiency when they introduced grooved tyres. The mechanical grip produced through the tyres has less negative effects on resistance, acceleration, speed and engine load than wings or  even ground effects. The one thing the FIA did that fosters efficient design was to narrow the cars.

Another aspect of efficiency is how much affect the cars have on the immediate environment, namely, the air. This is an area where F1 cars go completely against the ideal of efficiency. Think about it, F1 cars are smaller, lower, and lighter than NASCAR vehicles, but probably produce as much or more turbulence. This is pathetic, especially when those who side with open-wheel racing often criticize other venues by pointing out how their cars are heavier and have bigger engines, while being slow in comparison.

F1 cars are, I believe, the most elegant and aesthetically pleasing vehicles in racing. They seem to defy the laws of nature with their insane ability to get from  point A to B faster than anything else in all but a straight line. The amazement is only elevated when their small size, engine displacement, and low weight are considered. Would they not be all the more thrilling were they to achieve their speeds without hardly creating a breeze? Wouldn't they also be so if they could accelerate and go as fast with less horsepower or go even faster with the same amount they already have?

Whatever the logic, I believe that F1 racing would be better were the cars paramount examples of efficiency in all performance aspects. They would not only be more amazing, but the racing would be more exciting, with more overtaking F1 cars should be more aerodynamically efficient, therefore, ground effects should be reintroduced (and the wings appropriately restricted) while the maximum drag coefficient should be significantly restricted, to around .5 CO, perhaps. F1 cars should also generate their grip more efficiently, which limiting CO will help do indirectly by making designers rely less on downforce and more on mechanical grip. To this end slicks should be allowed again, and if cornering speeds become excessive, simply narrow the tires or limit the allowable wear. These might not even increase top speeds on the straights because exit speeds on moderate to fast corners would be reduced and the length required to brake at the end of the straights would be increased. If, or more likely, when, speeds become excessive due to advances in tire and suspension technology, it may be time to reduce engine displacement again, which isn't really a negative thing since it promotes better engine design and efficiency.

That's my 2 cents.

The Heretic's reply:

Taking your comments from the top:

An idealistic view but absolutely spot on. F1 has always been the absolute leading edge of development and any restriction on development can only distort progress to an artificial representation of what is possible today.

Your second paragraph emphasises the point. Optimisation of performance is curtailed by the introduction of almost whimsical restrictions aimed at spoiling rather than limiting efficiency. Grooved tyres rather than smaller tyres, size of aerodynamic devices rather than limiting engine capacity, outlawing ground effects without realising that this will result in turbulence affecting the sport. A lot of these changes, to be fair, were made in ignorance of the potential effect that they may have. What we have
learnt from the recent past is that it takes on average less than a season for the teams to find a workaround and it often exacerbates the problem that we are trying to eliminate.

Ground effects is a great example. This was originally outlawed because it was seen to make the sport too dangerous. Today, in my opinion cars are potentially far more dangerous. Now the aerodynamic devices are the most vulnerable in a contact with another car and the effect could be very dramatic, especially if many cars are involved in a high speed tangle.

Current F1 cars use more power to gain downforce than they do to attain maximum speed - this could be normal as there is an optimum mechanical grip speed for every track, after that it is up to the aerodynamics.

I am all in favour for eliminating all the restrictions aimed at maiming the ability of the car (including ABS) and restricting the size of the engine instead. If they want to limit tyre sizes as well I do not object as long as everyone is allowed total freedom within these limits.

We currently have the situation where safety of the drivers and spectators have created a situation that is driven by semi-political motivations. Add to this the need to make the sport more spectacular and the FIA are between a rock and a hard place. They made their choices - I hope it works for them. 
It is unlikely to work for us.

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