This is it – welcome to the future of Formula 1
For over a year, Formula One’s management team and organisers have been working alongside the FIA, the teams, the drivers and the fans to create the perfect vision of Formula One from 2021 onwards. And it seems that all those meetings and discussions have finally produced a result.
In fact, a few weeks ago, a select few members of the world’s press were invited to check out the final concept of the car. At that point, the concept still hadn’t been unveiled to the public and technical journalists such as Giorgio Piola had to convey what they saw through their own drawings. Finally, though, Formula One has unveiled pictures of its concept model.
The most striking part of the car, and the first part we see, is the front wing. The nose drops to the level of the wing elements losing the pillars we have seen for the past few years. This gives the car a throwback vibe to cars from the 1980s and 1990s. The shape of the front wing itself also stands out. The few elements it does have remain a constant shape from the nose to the end plate while the entire wing gently curves towards the ground akin to the Jordan 191.
Moving slightly further back, the new, 18-inch wheels are fitted with covers aiming to improve aero efficiency while above them are additional wings. The job of these little winglets is to smoothen the air flow towards the rear wing and reduce the turbulent air behind the car.
Obviously, the halo keeps its place above the driver’s head, but it becomes a more integral part of the car. In fact, currently, it seems that the cars are designed and then fitted with the halo.
As we can see in front of the sidepods, the barge boards are nowhere to be seen. They play a massive part in disrupting the air for cars behind and without them, we should see more battles on track instead of the teams resorting to undercutting in the pits.
Instead of generating downforce from the barge boards, Formula One has decided to give ground effect cars a comeback. Along the side of the car is a long tunnel that is supposed to force the air to gradually speed up before shooting out the rear diffuser. This is called a Venturi tunnel where the speed of the air flow creates an area of low pressure under the cars sticking it the the ground at high speed. This was something the FIA was keen to avoid as increasing cornering speed could be very dangerous.
The air intake on top of the car reminds me very much of the Formula One challengers from the early 1990s. Thanks to the lack of a shark fin, it simply flows its way down to the rear wing and the absolute behemoth of a rear diffuser.
Speaking of what can only be described as the Mont Blanc tunnel, we can just about see the exit of the diffuser behind the rear wing. It creates a large opening allowing the ground effect to work as best as possible. I’m sure that for drivers chasing the car ahead, it will look like the gaping mouth of a shark.
Above the diffuser is an almost unrecognisable rear wing to that of this year’s cars. There are almost no endplates designed to keep the air on the wing. Instead, the external supports curve their way towards the actual tabletop element. Based on this current model, it looks like the 2021 rules will abolish the extremely controversial DRS system. In fact, there is nothing capable of lifting the top part of the rear wing to create an opening for the air.
Personally, I think the car looks absolutely stunning. The only parts of the car that looks a little awkward are the winglets above the front wheels although they will surely look more purposeful once teams get to put their own twist on them. Based on my very basic knowledge of aerodynamics, it seems like these cars will be able to follow each other a lot easier.
However, as our favourite Scottish sceptic has already warned us about in the comments section of Formula One’s Instagram post, the cars we see on the grid for the first Grand Prix of the 2021 season will surely not look like this. In fact, aerodynamicists will already be hard at work looking for loopholes in the regulations to get the best out of the rule change.
In fact, we shouldn’t get too excited for these cars to hit the track as we could be looking at another stepped nose or T-wing situation.