Technical analysis: The latest 2017 Formula 1 aero suggestions

AUTOSPORT technical expert CRAIG SCARBOROUGH examines the detail of Charlie Whiting's latest information on the 2017 Formula 1 rules revamp

Technical analysis: The latest 2017 Formula 1 aero suggestions

There have been several proposals to ensure the five to six second per lap improvement in F1 pace and also invite more overtaking.

All of these aim to produce more downforce from the underbody, by using 'ground effect', which increases underfloor downforce from to its proximity to the ground.

There is also a belief that this will be less sensitive to following another car.

Options range from the Red Bull proposal with large underbody tunnels to the new suggestion from Charlie Whiting that takes the simpler path of lowering the sides of the steeped floor, but keeps the current diffuser shape.

Interestingly both these solutions would mean the return of the rear beam wing (banned in 2014) and a widening of the front wing (narrowed in 2014).

Currently the car's underfloor is stepped, with the sides being stepped 50mm above the centre section known as the reference plane.

Then at the rear axle line is a short 350mm diffuser that rises up just 125mm from the reference plane.

The stepped underfloor was a reaction to the accidents of 1994, when the floor could be flat and was purposely run as close to the track as possible to gain ground effect, leading to issues with stalling if the gap between road and floor closed up too much.

For 2017 this 50mm step would be reduced to just 25mm, bringing the floor in closer proximity to the track for increased ground effect.

This would also increase the expansion ratio of the diffuser, as the height of the diffuser exit increases relative to the floor ahead of it.

A side benefit to performance would be a small centre of gravity height improvement, as the radiators and electronics in the sidepods are slightly lower.

This solution has the benefit that the aero concepts are very similar to the current cars, preventing teams embarking on very complex aero programmes to understand a completely new underfloor shape.

So this option could provide most of the added downforce, but it is not as effective as the more extreme full ground effect underbody also proposed.

Therefore the design will still rely on the car's wings to meet the downforce target.

Due to this, if the front wing remains as complex as the current rules allow then overtaking may still be compromised as the wing will not be as effective when running in another car's wake.

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