F1 eyes diffuser solution to help cure wet weather visibility problem

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has revealed that a diffuser solution is being looked at to try to help cure grand prix racing’s wet weather visibility problems.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

A run of rain-impacted events has highlighted a major problem the current generation of ground effect F1 cars have in throwing up too much spray.

Visibility has been dramatically cut back compared to recent years, and it means it is not safe for cars to run in track conditions that would have been okay in the past.

The FIA has already been testing the idea of cars running with wheel arches to try to limit the amount of spray being thrown up.

But a recent test at Silverstone, using a car fitted with the devices, showed the spray was not reduced enough – and things were further not helped by a lot of water getting thrown up by the diffuser.

Speaking in Monza, just a few days after another rain-impacted race at Zandvoort, Domenicali said that getting on top of F1’s wet weather problems was now a priority as he suggested efforts were being ramped up to find answers.

“Formula 1 is, and will remain, a single-seater championship with open wheels,” he said. “However, there is an open discussion because we have never had as many wet races as in recent years.

“The problem of visibility that the drivers have in rainy conditions must be addressed.

“It is not a grip problem, and I think that in the future only one type of wet tyre will be enough. At Zandvoort we saw the restart with the intermediates, and it worked. But the visibility problem remains.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

As well as pursuing the wheel arch idea, Domenicali has suggested that some consideration is being made to find a way to stop the diffuser throwing up so much water.

“We will evaluate the 'mudguards', systems, which can limit the spray phenomenon,” he added. “But we are also evaluating the possibility of intervening on the diffuser outlet.

“It is an important issue, because if we think of the public who come to watch a race, we must limit the possibility that a grand prix can be interrupted.”

Although the FIA’s recent wheel arch test did not produce as positive a result as hoped, motor racing’s governing body has insisted it was still a valuable learning experience.

FIA deputy president of sport Robert Reid said at the Italian GP: “There is a challenge with the new aerodynamics in F1, and it's something that we're trying to solve there.

“Anything we can do to reduce the spray, and increase the visibility, is going to be something that we are definitely working on.

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“There's no particular solution at the moment. But, as you saw in F1, there was the first learning step towards some solutions.

“I know there was a bit of criticism, and I read it was a failure, but in any of these situations, you've got to try things. And that's exactly what we did.

“It certainly wasn't a failure, because we learned a lot from it. And the next iterations will get better and better.”

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