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2018 F1

‘I want exciting looking cars’ – Ross Brawn

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Following a leak of an image featuring Formula 1’s 2021 concept car, Sporting Director Ross Brawn held a media conference to address the queries, and explain the details surrounding the concept, ahead of the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit.

Speaking of the image leak he said “The circumstances of the image – I did a lecture to young people about getting involve in engineering, scientific and technical topics, STEM. And that evening, naively I put up this image on the screen and of course all the phones came out an that was it. This image has been seen by the teams and drivers last year.”

When Liberty Media took over the sport a larger part of their goal was to bring back racing and reinstate the thrill that the sport had lacked in recent years . Brawn formerly a team principal with Brawn GP and Mercedes, said “We have been working on the new car for over 12 months now and as I said the aesthetics of the cars are very very important, and I think everyone agrees we want great looking Formula 1 cars. So one of the primary objectives has been to work on the raceability of these cars and how well they can race each other and how close they can get to each other, without losing substantial amounts of performance.”

“The current cars lose, once you get within 2-3 car lengths, they lose about 50 percent of their performance, which is why when drivers are on the same tyres of the same age, they struggle to race each other, are some facts. So when you get into that condition where you are two or three car lengths behind, because your losing grip, the tyres degrade more and it becomes very challenging.”

According to the Brawn who handles all sporting matters of the sport, including its evolution, the new concept car is designed around the philosophy of saving 80 percent of the performance of the following car, and enabling overtaking. He explained “So the prime purpose of the work we are doing is to try and produce cars which are more raceable, And at the moment we’ve got designs, which only lose 20 percent performance, so they save 80 percent of the performance. So the cars out that are there out there now lose about 50 percent when they get right behind. We’ve got cars which will maintain 80 percent, so that is substantially improved.”

Explaining the concepts he said “Alongside that we want to make sure that we have some great looking cars. We have a designer working with the aerodynamic group. So as we progressed. It is Concept 1 which is where we started . Concept 2 had a little bit more extreme ideas in styling. One of things you can see on these cars is the bigger wheels which we have to go through 2021, they give a more modern feel to the car. Concept 3, is further what the car may look like. There are features from each part of the concepts, which may well carry over.”

“One of the interesting things we are looking at is the area around the tyres. One of the great things about the Formula 1 car is open cockpit open wheel. But the airflow around the tyres and the wheels is very dirty, disturbs the airflow a great deal. We are looking at not enclosing the wheels but perhaps detail things around the wheels which will help clean up that flow and improve the conditions for the car behind. So you can see (concept) this one has some details around the front wheels. We’ve also got shields around the rear wheels, which I think appeared in the scheme I showed the other evening.”

Adding to it, the 2009 Champion teams’ principal said “ The primary purpose is to produce raceable cars, to produce cars that can battle in close proximity. We see with other forms of racing that has been achieved more. But there have been often categories with fixed designs, so everyone races the same car, so you don’t have the extremes of design that we have in Formula 1. So our formula 2 cars for instance, race and lose less performance when they are racing together. The new Indy Car is quiet good in that perspective and we’ve been sharing some information with INDYCAR on their experiences. So pretty optimistic that we are going to produce some great looking cars, that are going to be able to race each other much more effectively than they were able to in the past. I think its the first time that Formula 1 has majored on these aspects. I want exciting looking cars.”

He stressed on the aesthetics of the car saying “It frustrates me when a car in a video game looks better than the car we are racing out on the track. Thats not to say we pay total homage toward what looks great in the video game, it has to be a great racing car.”

The fan feedback has been an integral part of the current owners of Formula 1, and Brawn stressed that it was a part of the understanding while developing the new futuristic concept. He said “I think the other message it sends is that we are listening. We are listening to what the fans want, we want to engage into their passion. We want them to feel that Formula 1 is listening to them. And if I may say, one of the biggest feedback I get from the fans is they feel is that we are listening to them, that they are important and we’ve been very blessed in the last couple of years with great racing, with ferrari and mercedes.”

He further added “But we see the upturn at attendance in the races, we’ve seen growing interests in lots of areas of the media in terms of F1. And i think there is a positive feel about formula1, because we really do care about the fans. I have got two partners, Chase and Sean, and for them, the Fan is king. There are lots of things which are being done now, which are around the fans. The fan zones the festivals. are all to generate enthusiasm for Formula 1. I think our message is coming home to the fans, this is another facet, great aspect, that we want the fans to be excited and passionate about Formula 1 and we dont want to take them for granted.”

The sport in recent years has either been dominated by engine makers or has been criticised for killing the racing with minimal opportunities to witness great wheel to wheel battles. The modern F1 car which had design overhaul in 2017, is wider, longer and was redesigned to look more aggressive under the last regulation change. However, a problem with the car has been lesser overtaking at narrow circuits, and difficulty for the following car to overtake the car ahead, denying the possibilities of track action, or good battles.


Explaining the problem in a gist, the Sporting Head of the power trio of the Formula One Management said “The primary thing we are doing is to, trying to reduce the amount of performance lost, through a following car. So you’ll be able to follow a car in the front without the substantial loss of performance that is there now. It is like a force yield, the force field that is there around the car, you can imagine a force field around the car at the front. You cant be near it, because as your reaching near it, your losing performance, and you fall back. You see that many times the driver will attack the car in the front, and he has to slow create a gap, and his tyres recover, and then have another go. And that is because in that loss of performance of the following car, that degrades the tyres much more quickly than it should do normally. So the guy behind is suffering on several fronts, he is suffering from a loss of downforce, he is suffering from a loss of balance and stability of the car, and he is suffering because these tyres are now starting to hurt because he has lost that performance. So it is a double or triple whammy. We cant eliminate that completely but we can reduce it so that the time differential between the cars and they’re able to battle, can be much less.”

The images and idea of the concept were shared with drivers at a briefing last season, and according to Brawn he had several discussions with them about the drivability of the cars, and the ability to overtake or race. He made the mention of speaking to a range of drivers including Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso. Sharing his feedback, he said “the response was consistent, that it was very difficult to follow these cars. In terms of solutions, I wouldn’t say the drivers have been that involved because it is not really their domain. But they’ve been pretty consistent in saying that these cars are difficult to race each other, and that they would welcome any improvement in that direction.”

Lewis Hamilton took to instagram to appreciate the concept by posting a picture of it and also commented on it saying “please bring a V12 or V10 back”. While the initial years of the V6 hybrid era were dominated by Mercedes, the new chassi regulations in 2017 were suppose to level the playing field. However, the demerits of the design specially the length and width of the car have been many.

The concept doesn’t giveaway too many details but it is a near possibility and Brawn confirmed that Nikolas Tombazis, who is a former Ferrari designer and currently in a technical experts role with the FIA to overlook single seater matters, was a key member on the research team. He said “So we started this, one of the engineers we had working on the project from the beginning was Nikolas Tombazis, who was one of our consultant engineers, very experienced in aerodynamics, worked for all the top teams.”


“He is now the FIA, single-seater technical specialist, which is a great move for us, because he has been in a role in this programme from the very beginning. It is a joint program between the FIA and ourselves. We are lending the resources, we are creating the resource, and the FIA who are cross regulating this sport and have been involved from the beginning, and more involved because Tombazis is a part of the project. The other encouraging thing is that the teams have now been involved with this.”

The teams were also given a chance to add input and work on the same side to advise and be a part of restructuring this concept. Brawn said “So all the teams are working towards finding the bet solution that we can for 2021. There are regular reviews from all the teams. The teams have a limitation on the amount of aerodynamic testing they are allowed to do, but the FIA have granted them some extra time, to work specifically on this project. There is a great incentive for every team, to put in an effort into finding a better solution, if we can. And I am pleased to say that their solutions are pretty aligned, what they are finding from the models we are sharing is pretty similar to what we are finding as well which is encouraging.”

The controversial DRS which artificially accelerates racing or overtakes has often been a criticised element of the sport. When Brawn was asked whether they plan to retain or remove it he said “I’d like to think that we can reach a stage where DRS doesn’t become so critical. But its a very easy thing to have or not have. If we find the cars are able to battle with each other. I think overtaking is a combination of course, but having a great battle is critical and where you have cars, where they cant follow each other consistently because the tyres degrade, because of loss of performance, then you don’t have such great battles.”


He added “You can have a great battle where the guy leading still leads till the end, you can have a great battle. So made an effort to make sure we distinguish the difference between overtaking and racing. There will be often when racing will accommodate overtaking. I think at Monza, I saw some statistics the other day, and about half the overtakes were with DRS and half were not, so there was plenty of action at Monza. Thats a unique track in that perspective, but we need more tracks where the cars can do that.”

The FIA and Formula 1 management are working closely to announce the regulations as early as possible so that the teams get time, specially the smaller ones. While there is no certain dead line for the regulations, Brawn reiterated that they will be trying their best to give time by deciding early, so that the bigger teams with resources do not get the advantage and the smaller teams also have the time to work on the new concept.

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