F1 Race Director, Charlie Whiting, and Head of Technical Matters, Nikolas Tombazis, faced the media in Barcelona.
(Mark Hughes - Motorsport Magazine) Nik, we've heard an outline of the 2019 aero regs, when will know a bit more detail in terms of dimensions and geometries and things like that?
Nikolas Tombazis, Formula 1 Head of Technical Matters: Well, the dimensions have already been put down in a detailed wording. What was actually voted in the e-vote was a detailed wording. Now, what we have on Sunday is a discussion with the teams in order to make sure that we cover any little loopholes or any little open points there may be. Not in order to again put down whether we want it or not or the particular substance but rather the detail. I should think that after that discussion on Sunday then we will be able to make official the rule wording in detail. But the substance is already clear, the dimensions and everything.
(Christian Menath - Motorsport-Magazin.com) We all know that these changes are done for improving overtaking in Formula 1, but I guess you also did some simulations on how the general car performance is affected by that? Will it be the same as we have now, the one-lap performance of the cars or is it better or worse?
NT: We expect this rule change to be approximately halfway or one third of the way less performance of the delta between '16 and '17, so we expect to lose about 1.5s, that sort of order, but it's a bit difficult to predict exactly the amount of development the teams will put on but we certainly expect to lose performance - that order or magnitude.
(Livio Oricchio - GloboEsporte.com) These new rules will increase the effect of the DRS. How will it work on a straight like here for example? Can you give some practical example how it would help overtaking, as we see it now?
NT: Sorry, there are two parts of the question, one is purely aerodynamic, technical and one is maybe more to do with the implementation. I'll answer the first one and leave Charlie to do the second. The DRS effect, as you say, will increase, by approximately 25-30% - that is the delta of the drag of the car when it opens the DRS, when it deploys it to current will be bigger, so the delta of speed of the following car will as a result be bigger by that amount. Hence, the probability that he can then approach the front car will increase. That then leads to Charlie on how DRS zones will be affected and implementation.
Charlie Whiting, Formula 1 Race Director: I think the main advantage to us will be that we will be able to make the DRS more effective on shorter straights. At the moment we're trying to lengthen zones where we can, in places like Melbourne for example, maybe an extra DRS zone in Canada. Those are the sorts of places that with the extra power from the DRS we should be able to make them work a bit better.
(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) The current aero regulation change for next year, is that part of a building block for the post-2020 regulations or how do the two sets plug into each other?
NT: As you all know, there is work going ahead at Formula 1, with the collaboration of the FIA, for 2021, and this work is still ongoing and covers a lot of more complicated areas of the car, which need, frankly, quite a lot more work before we can define a regulation. These regulations for '19 were an extract of some of the lessons learned already at Formula 1. They obviously had to be implementable for '19 and therefore they only covered specific areas of the car that are a bit more simple. The underlying lessons that we have learned, with F1, about how cars perform in the wake of other cars etc have been used, but let's say it's only a halfway house and so on. I don't want it to be confused with the work that is going on for '21 in the future that is going to be more extensive and will have much more time for research and so on.
(Ted Kravitz - Sky Sports) Charlie and Nik, when DRS was first brought in there were fears about it making the racing artificial. As it's turned out, it hasn't been too bad on that front. Yet, people are still a bit wary of it. Ross Brawn himself says it's one of the things about F1 he doesn't like. Do any of your studies suggest that increasing the effect of it by 25% - it sounds like quite a high number - might be getting towards a place where it's too easy to overtake or very artificial?
CW: I think we would continue to tune it in the way we do now. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but what we do is look at how effective the DRS is at each circuit and then we try to tune it in order that you have to be within four tenths of the car in front to make it work. Now that four tenths is quite a difficult gap to get to but if you can get to that and you've got the length of straight, you should be alongside by the time you get to the braking point. That's how we do it now, but if we can do that with shorter straights it's going to work on more tracks. It won't be any more effective, in that sense, if we tune it the same way. Even though it does have increased power, we'll be able to use it in more places. But we don't necessarily want to make overtaking on a given circuit easier, we still want a driver to work for it.
NT: I would add that at some circuits where overtaking is already considered satisfactory or let's say easy enough or whatever, the solution could be to decrease the DRS zone for example, whereas at a circuit like Barcelona where overtaking is never easy, I think having that extra power may just about make it possible.
CW: It could even work on the back straight here for example. I'm not saying it will, but with the extra power it might be a bit more effective on that sort of straight.
NT: I would also add that it is right that there is underlying discomfort with DRS and I share it as well. I know Ross has made similar comments and so on. We feel DRS is the right thing to have in the present state of things. For 2021 we hope that the cars will be much more able to follow each other closely and it would be a really nice outcome if we can severely decrease DRS in the future or even eliminate it. But until we get in a position where we are comfortable enough with the wake performance and how cars can follow each other I think it's something that is... I would call a necessary evil perhaps at the moment.
(Livio Oricchio - GloboEsporte.com) Nikolas, we have been seeing the front wing extremely well develops - three four levels of flaps. Do you think changing only the end plates of it you will be successful in keeping a car closer. Is it realistic to believe for example here one car in Turn 3 very close to another one?
NT: First of all, it's not a matter of either black or white - either you can follow or you can't. We hope to make an improvement in close racing and to be able to follow more closely. The change of the wings for next year is not just the end plate, the end plate is significantly simplified, but all the top furniture - the little winglets that you can see, the various vertical fins and so on, which produce a range of vortices which are intended to control the front wheel wake - these are getting eliminated, and the wing profiles themselves have to follow certain rules which make them let's say simpler and hence less able to control the wheel wake. So, in our studies, then, that wheel wake is then what affects the rear car and losing control of that, we feel, is going to make a step improvement. But as I say, I'm not expecting cars to be bumping each other like touring cars. It is just making a step forward. I would also add that the way development is going in current racing, one of the key tasks of aerodynamicists in a Formula 1 team is to move the wheel wake further outboard for the benefit of their own car. The more outboard it is the less it affects the diffuser or the rear wing and they gain performance. So that is their key objective. That key objective is also bad for the following car. So our expectation is that if we didn't do a rule change the next two years, '19 and '20, would be gradually getting worse. So part of the rule change was also to stop that trend and make a step change. We feel that these performance characteristics would have actually been worse for '19 and '20 if we did nothing.
(Joe van Burik - Autocar.nl) Guenther Steiner just expressed his worries for the proposed changes. He fears it might not have the desired effect, maybe even an opposite effect. How will you ensure this doesn't happen? With any real live track tests?
NT: Well, we need to freeze the rules and people need to design their cars. We'll only really know how well we've achieved that aim next March or April. We'll be able to follow teams' development before that but we won't really have any proper results. Any rule change has a degree of risk and these are no exception in that regard. We cannot be completely certain of every single thing teams will do in developing. What we have tried to do for these rules is to have a much more careful wording on some areas of the car to try to avoid any particular loopholes or any completely different directions that teams could take. And I think the probability that we will make it better is very good. The probability that we will make it better but not by a huge amount is also there. I think the probability that it actually makes it worse is, close to zero, if not zero, in my view. But clearly people who maybe haven't seen the data as much as we have can express their doubts and worries, that is understandable.
(Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Drivers who follow another car report that they are feeling the wake when they two to three seconds away already. With the new rules how much will you able to minimise that effect?
NT: The wake performance is obviously something that is... the effect is huge when you are half a second behind, in reality it is the distance that matters. not the delta time, so you know, when you are on the straight the distances are bigger. When you are one second it is yet another bit worse, and say 20m you already have a significant effect, 40m it's beginning to be a bit smaller. We feel that there is an improvement on all of these by a certain percentage. So it will mean in real terms if a car with the '18 rules could follow within a second the front car, if it's got a certain pace advantage, this we expect will just become a bit smaller and he will be able to follow to 0.8s or something like that. So effectively, for the equal amount of performance lost, he will be able to follow a bit closer.