F1 wheel arch schedule motivated by ‘scars’ from the Spa 2021 fiasco – The Race | CarTailz

Formula 1’s intent to develop standard specification wheel arches that can be fitted to cars for wet conditions is motivated by a desire to prevent a repeat of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix farce, says the FIA, “has scars in the sport leave behind”.

The FIA ​​hopes the wheel arches, which reduce spray and improve visibility, could be ready for introduction as early as the second half of the 2023 season. This follows last week’s announcement by the F1 Commission that a study is underway into the possibility of producing such a design.

The initiative is motivated by fears that F1 could face a different situation to that seen at Spa last year, where no real racing took place and the official result was declared on the basis of a lap under the safety car.

This, combined with rider feedback indicating that the spray has been degraded by the 2022 ground effect regulations, makes completing a suitable design a high priority.

Nikolas Tombazis, the head of the FIA ​​F1 technical department, is confident that the wheel arches will be ready for 2024. But he’s hoping they could be ready for the second half of 23, assuming a design can be finalized and the teams agree to the event.

This would mean the wheel arches would be available for high-risk rain events such as the Belgian, Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix next season.

“I’m very confident for 2024,” he said when asked by The Race about the planned timeline for their introduction.

“We’re trying to see if we can manage it or not, maybe have a package ready for the second half of the season next year where there are sometimes more potentially wet races.

“But this is a challenge in many ways.

“We haven’t set a limit for that yet [timing]. But in ’24 I’d say I’m pretty confident it’ll be there.

The hope is that reducing spray, which dramatically limits driver vision, will allow racing in the worst conditions when the cars are running on the wet Pirellis compound.

In recent years, wet green flag racing has typically used only the intermediate tyres, with the full wet tire usually either being dispensed with quickly or only used when racing under the safety car. It is not for nothing that the full rain tires are jokingly referred to by some as “safety car tyres”.

This would prevent a repeat of the Spa situation where it was impossible to race due to a combination of poor grip and lack of visibility, especially when combined with Pirelli working to improve their intermediate and wet tyres.

“We just think it’s going to be something that hopefully gets used a couple of times a year, maybe three,” Tombazis said of the wheel arches. “We don’t want it to be like this every time it rains.

“But we’re just really worried that we might end up ending up [not being able to race]. Spa from 2021 still left its mark on the sport because it was very unfortunate circumstances. It would have been ten times worse if we drove all the way to Japan and had to pack up and come back.

“So we really need to avoid that. We have so many people watching, spectators buying tickets, teams traveling all over the world and then suddenly just saying we can’t drive is almost irresponsible.

“It’ll just bring the raceworthy conditions of what’s the main at the moment [only using] intermediate tire. At the moment you almost never race on wet tires so I think it will put them well into wet tire territory.”

Compare Tr Spry to wheel cover

Wheel cover illustrations by Rosario Giuliana

Tombazis believes it will be possible to improve the spray by 50% in terms of its impact on visibility.

While the analysis is ongoing, simulation work has been performed to understand the impact of different wheel arch designs on spray.

Once a suitable design has been created, track tests are to be carried out on F1 cars to assess their suitability.

“We did a lot of CFD simulations because we wanted to make sure that the impact of these devices on the overall dynamics is relatively small,” Tombazis said. “There is still an effect, but not a massive one.

“And we simulate the drops of rain and so on and try to see how that affects the spray.

“One small challenge is determining the relative relationship between what comes out of the diffuser and what comes out of the tire. And once we have a solution we will make some prototypes and test them on some cars to try and validate that properly.

“I expect that all things being equal there will be an improvement of maybe 50%.”

Tombazis also stressed that they did not want to design the wheel arches to be “removed or fitted in a hurry”, meaning they would only be fitted to the cars before meetings or races or during red flag periods.

He also stressed that if the race starts wet and then dries up, the wheel arches would stay on the cars until the end of the Grand Prix.

rear fender

Pirelli is also working on improving its rain and intermediate tires to improve racing in wet conditions and is interested in the spray reduction initiative.

The head of motorsport, Mario Isola, said Pirelli was “in the loop” on the wheel arch plans thanks to its participation in the technical and sporting advisory committees. However, he warned that modifications to the tires would need to be made if the intention was to race in extremely wet conditions – and suggested that the diffuser was responsible for the bulk of the spray rather than the tyres.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Japanese Grand Prix Practice Day Suzuka, Japan

“I think most of the spray is coming from the diffuser, so they’re looking into that too, not just the tires,” Isola said when asked about the plan by The Race.

“The other point is that if we do that we need to know in advance so that the cars can run in the wet because we have to design the tire according to the limit.

“Right now they don’t race in totally wet conditions because of visibility so honestly it doesn’t make sense to have a monsoon tire because they’ll never use it.

“If the idea is to have a device that avoids airborne spatter and visibility is much better so they drive in totally wet conditions, we need that information to design tires that can handle those conditions because the intermediate tire is not a tire for heavy rain, the aquaplaning resistance of the intermediate is not designed for that.”

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