Events

Car Changes For 2019 F1 Season

One of the hotly debated topics of Formula 1’s changes for the 2019 season was in respect to the redesign of the cars. Some are invisible, others are obvious.

Up front, the wing itself has been widened by 7.9 inch (200mm) and brought forward by 0.984 inch (25mm). The endplates have lost the almost venturi like additions to the flaps themselves that direct incoming air out and around the front wheels. The width is intended to add rigidity to the wing and losing the venturi means the front wing is almost exclusively dedicated to downforce.

Extra aero comes from raising the wing by 0.787 inch (20mm) and this is intended to help reduce the sudden loss of front grip, or stall, when too close to a preceding car. Underneath the front wing were a number of strakes on each side. For 2019 this has been changed to just two per side in order to allow more air to flow underneath the car and reduce turbulence for following vehicles.

Brake ducts have been reduced in size which reduces surface area for any additional aero aids. It also means less downforce reduction should they be put into turbulent air. The wheel hubs have also been modified to be less reliant on airflow for smoothness.

Along the sides of the cars are what are called barge boards. These are the carbon fibre plates that sit below and ahead of the driver’s position. A lowering of height and extension forward means they’ll more efficiently channel air and be less air intrusive.

Another noticeable change has been to the rear wing. A height and width increase along with a lengthening of the end plates sees air redirected higher up and away from any trailing vehicles, plus the slots in the end plates to equalize air pressure have been changed in number. The DRS and main wing gap has been increased by 0.787 inch (20mm) and it’s anticipated the boost level will increase by up to 25%.

The height increase of 0.787 inch (20mm) and width increase of  3.937 inch (100mm) should have the overall effect of punching a larger aero hole at speed, allowing trailing vehicles to slipstream closer than before.

So what is the end aim? The changes are anticipated to ensure closer racing, encouraging more overtaking, especially with the changes that encourage slipstreaming. However, there are some more changes.

The drivers are now to be wearing biometric gloves. This provides instant medical feedback such as blood oxygen levels and pulse rates.

Rubber colors have been simplified. No, the tires are still black but the color strips have been simplified. Hard compounds are white, mediums for yellow, and softs will be red. Hyper and ultra soft rubber are now museum pieces. However, the three compounds will have different designations depending on the circuit, with Pirelli designating the C1 tire as hardest, through to C5 as the softest.

Safety factors have been improved, almost like an aircraft now in having extra lights on the rear wings. If a tire has been changed to intermediate or wet then the rear wing end plate will light up in unison.

Fuel allowances have changed. An extra 11 lbs (5 kilos) worth of fuel is now allowable, so with 110kg the desired result should be longer stints before a fuel stop. This also has affected the driver and car weight combination, with the driver’s weight now separate to the car’s weight for scrutineering. The minimum car weight has increased by seven kilos, to 740kg. At least 80 kilograms of that is driver, seat, and driving equipment.

Helmets have been redesigned with higher impact levels engineered in, whilst the visor height has been reduced to reduce potential impact damage to a driver’s eyes.

The 2019 F1 season starts in Melbourne, Victoria, in late March.

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David Conole

Dave Conole is the former long-term circuit commentator for Sydney Motorsport Park, has worked trackside at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne and is self-employed as an automotive content producer.

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