Symonds: 2019 F1 aero rules probably a mistake

Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds has admitted that the rushed 2019 aero rule changes aimed at helping overtaking were probably the wrong to do in hindsight.

The sport tweaked the front wing designs for last season in a bid to try to help make it easier for cars to follow each other.

Using some of the concept ideas that were triggered by early analysis for the 2021 rules, it was hoped that the revisions would offer some insight into how successful the future regulations would be.

However, the 2019 cars proved no easier to run close to each other and Symonds admits that the way last year’s rules turned out were far from ideal.

Asked at the Autosport International Show about whether there had actually been value from the 2019 aero lessons, Symonds said: “In shaping these 2021 regs, probably not as much as I would have hoped for.

“They were done in a bit of a hurry. And, you know, with the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done them.

“In terms of what they did to the wake of the car, relative to what we’ve done for 2021, it is minuscule. And, in fact, we had never run exactly the sort of configuration that the rules came up with.

“We’d done a lot of research by that time [the 2019 rules came out] in mid-18 and we were starting to understand critical areas, but we hadn’t run the configuration we had to actually get some rules out for.

“So I think we could have done that whole exercise a bit better. But I don’t regard that in any way as a precedent for what we’ve done into 2021.”

Despite the overtaking difficulties, F1 produced a series of good races last year – something Symonds thinks will continue for 2020.

He also thinks teams will face a tough task when it comes to working out how best to split their development work between their current cars and their 2021 models.

“If there is domination at the front, then that dominant team, whoever it may be, can probably afford to switch a little bit earlier,” he said. “But I think there’s not going to be domination in front. I think there’s going to be a good fight to the front.

“And that I hope will stop the teams from sitting back and just getting on with the ’21 cars. Whereas some of the teams towards the back may be able to have a little bit more effort on the ’21 car. So we should see a good season this season.

“And even though change generally will initially separate the cars before they start coming together again, I hope that in 2021 we’re going to see good racing as well.”


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