Beautiful mistakes: why F1 record cars are the result of mistakes

The latest generation of F1 cars developed between 2017 and 2021 (wider with higher downforce) were absolute monsters on the track. It is one of the fastest F1 cars ever produced. Yet, not only did they completely fail to address the problems that regulation was originally supposed to solve, but they also made them worse.

Either way, this generation of F1 cars will go down in history as the most outstanding cast of the Grand Prix.

Although they were a big mistake, the five years that these speed demons raced on the circuits of the world will remain the most spectacular in F1 history.

So what was special about these cars? What made them fast and what was so flawed about their creation?

Well, at the height of the development of cars that are not only fast but track ready, F1 got lost in formulating rule changes for the 2017 season. The result was higher downforce and significantly faster F1 cars.

These speedsters were also very different from the previous generation of machines from the 2014-2016 seasons.

For starters, the width of the 2017 F1 cars has been reduced from 1.8 meters to 2 meters, with a minimum weight increased to 728 kilograms (1,605 pounds). In addition, the front tires have become six centimeters wider and the rear tires eight centimeters wider for better grip.

At the rear, the wing was eight inches wider and lowered by six inches. The rear diffuser was 5cm taller and 17.5cm longer than in 2016. Adjustments at the front made it possible to widen the front spoiler by 15cm, resulting in a significant increase in airspace. support.

These changes also affected the lap times, which have decreased significantly. For example, the initial target set by the F1 strategic group in 2015 was for 2017 F1 cars to be 5 to 6 seconds faster in each lap. Note that this is when F1 wanted to bring back the refueling.

However, that decision was not made after the teams presented data showing that the refueling would make F1’s race worse rather than better.

Based on the pace featured on the sites that featured in the 2015 and 2017 calendars, the average lap time drop was 4.2 seconds (that was just the start for this generation of F1 cars).

As the teams strived to improve their performance, F1 made other changes to the rules. In 2018, the Halo Cockpit Protection System, initially a controversial measure, became mandatory. This introduction later proved successful for Sauber driver Charles LeClerc when a McLaren driven by Fernando Alonso landed on him at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix. F1 has also banned shark fins and T-wings, increasing the minimum weight to 734 kilograms (1,618 lbs).

They made further changes in 2019, with the wings being adjusted an additional 20cm to 2 meters, making them 2cm taller and 2.5cm deeper. Authorities also reduced the number of aero elements to five, meaning cars had to have much simpler profiles, making projections and protrusions a thing of the past.

All of these changes have helped to curb the rate of improvement in lap times. These regulations have not changed for the last season of their use in 2020. However, the impact of the global health crisis meant that these cars remained almost unchanged until the following season.

As a result, the 2020 F1 cars have become the fastest in racing history. From 2017 to 2021, when this generation of cars raced, all venues recorded their fastest official F1 lap times ever in their current setups.

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