How Ferrari has jumped on Formula 1's floor rule loophole

Formula 1's rulebook has expanded massively over the years, and has got increasingly more complicated as new regulations have been added or evolved

How Ferrari has jumped on Formula 1's floor rule loophole

One consequence of a constantly changing rulebook is that sometimes rules can end up contradicting each other, or a clause aimed to stamp out a certain design gets made irrelevant.

This is something that happened with the 2017 floor rules, as a regulation originally intended to stop teams exploiting holes in the floor was made inconsequential.

It happened because when the floor width was increased from 1400mm to 1600mm last year, a separate clause banning teams from having holes 700mm from the car's centreline was suddenly made irrelevant.

Teams quickly realised that without it being updated to reference an 800mm lockdown, there was a 100mm area on the edge of the floor where they were free to utilise holes again.

Ferrari has led that charge, with the most complete concept for perfecting the holes in the floor evident on its 2018 car (see below), although other teams are now copying in their own unique ways.

The value of the holes

The use of slots or holes ahead of the rear wheel are used to combat 'tyre squirt' and improve diffuser performance. All teams now make use of them to a greater or lesser extent.

The rotation and deformation of the rear tyres put the surrounding airflow into a constant state of chaos, resulting in airflow being pushed - or 'squirted' - laterally into the diffuser's path.

Left unchecked, this robs the diffuser of peak performance and creates inconsistencies - both of which impede the driver's progress.

For years now, designers have sought ways of controlling the turbulence created by the rear tyres, utilising various floor shapes, holes, slots, strakes and even exhaust gases in order to sculpt the airflow's direction while also enhancing the diffuser's edge vortex.

For teams, the difference between a slot and a hole may appear inconsequential to the eye, but the difference in performance between a rigid hole and a slot that loses performance as the floor deforms under load can be quite big.

As an example of the performance on offer, Ferrari ran several iterations of these slots during 2017. Anything from three to six slots appeared, with various lengths and angles used in order to deal with the given circuit characteristics.

The last team to run fully enclosed holes in this area of the floor were Red Bull in 2012 (left inset), when in quite controversial circumstances its design helped the team win in Monaco.

That victory prompted unease from some of its rivals and there were threats of a post-race protest, but in the end the other teams did not see that through.

The FIA's stance over what would be considered legal was subsequently clarified, a situation that led to the slots we have since come to know.

The last Ferrari to use fully enclosed holes ahead of the rear tyre was the F10 from the 2010 season, the slots latterly used in tandem with its exhaust blown diffuser.

While Ferrari is not the only team to utilise the enclosed tyre squirt holes - as a glance down the grid shows most other teams are doing so also - it is the only team that has specifically designed its cars around this concept.

Other teams have spotted what Ferrari has been up to, and have made moves to seal off the edges of their previous slots - as can be seen in the McLaren image above.

This is far from an optimised solution though, and means that Ferrari has stolen a march on its rivals in the short term.

Expect Ferrari's rivals to come up with more bespoke solutions when the raft of major updates appears from the Spanish Grand Prix.

shares
comments
Will the giant of modern NASCAR ever win again?
Previous article

Will the giant of modern NASCAR ever win again?

Next article

Haas still not used to racing with F1's 'big boys', says Steiner

Haas still not used to racing with F1's 'big boys', says Steiner
How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine Plus

How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine

OPINION: Ferrari won the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz, but it ultimately cost Charles Leclerc a chance to make a bigger dent in Max Verstappen's title lead by leaving the Monegasque out on old tyres towards the end. Like Monaco, indecision over strategy proved to be the Scuderia's biggest issue - and if the team doesn't reflect, the headache can only intensify

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost Plus

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost

Formula 1 has a newest race winner, in a grand prix the victor appeared to have lost twice, only to charge back to headline a sensational and dramatic British Grand Prix. From a massive start crash to a late sprint finish, here’s how five factors saw Carlos Sainz take his maiden grand prix win

Formula 1
Jul 4, 2022
Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga Plus

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga

The appearance of a revised Aston Martin in Spain caused controversy but PAT SYMONDS explains why the FIA investigation found the Silverstone team had no case to answer

Formula 1
Jul 3, 2022
Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jul 2, 2022
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022