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Vowles: Current F1 regulations not a failure despite dirty air issue

Williams team principal James Vowles says that the current Formula 1 regulations are not a failure despite drivers finding it increasingly hard to follow rivals.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The current aero package, introduced in 2022, was intended to make it easier to follow and hence overtake than under the previous regulations.

That initially proved to be the case but in the third year of car development drivers are reporting dirty air is increasingly becoming an issue and following is becoming harder once more.

Mercedes technical director James Allison has questioned the focus on controlling wakes in the current rules, calling it a “tilting at windmills type of challenge.”

Encouraging overtaking will again be addressed in the 2026 rules, which are still being debated.

“I don't think the regulations have failed,” said Vowles when asked by Autosport if changes were needed for the last season of the current rules in 2025.

“I think that would be wholeheartedly unfair. I think the competition is pretty tight in the midfield. There is overtaking that takes place.

“I think even on the data that we can see now, it's still better than the ‘21, ‘20 generations of cars. But especially the leading pack have developed the car in an extraordinary way that as you develop downforce, it is making it harder to follow.

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

Photo by: Motorsport Images

“But I still think on all the metrics and all the data we can see, you're now getting closer than you were before as a result of things, which was an intention behind it.

“Whether they will improve in ‘25, no, I don't think so. There's no reason to think it will improve next year. And in ‘26, again, the rules are still being ratified as we speak, so it's hard to evaluate that.”

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack backed Vowles’s view on the current aero regulations.  

“I agree with James, I think the regulations are not a fail, at all,” he said. “I think it has allowed various designs from the beginning, then obviously a dominance that none of us want, but that's a fact.

“But all in all, I think we have one more year to go, and then we welcome the new ones. As James said, they're not 100% fixed yet, and we look forward to them.

“But honestly, I think the current regulations are well done and well made, and we have had great racing behind one team.”

Krack also stressed that it will be important for the teams to have sight of the 2026 regulations as soon as possible, even if they can’t start aerodynamic work until January 1 2025.

“I think the target is to have the first set of regulations by end of June,” he said. “And then we will move from there. Probably they will not be complete or fully complete, but I think it's important to have regulations early, because it's really a big change for everybody.

“And so we need to see how is the weight target, how is the architecture of the car? What is the tyre size? A lot is still being discussed. So we should not delay too much."

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