Brawn 'team' making progress with overtaking "force field"

31/03/2018
NEWS STORY

We're not sure what the punchline is, but as F1's technical boss, Ross Brawn, gives an update on his team's progress in overcoming the ongoing phenomenon that is preventing overtaking, we can't help but wonder; 'how many aerodynamicists does it take to change lightbulb?'.

Charged with coming up with a set of new rules that will improve the sport, the former Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes technical boss, not to mention world championship winning constructor with his own team, Brawn has assembled - at great expense (to the teams) - a veritable who's who of technical experts, many of whom he has previously worked with over the course of his career.

At present, the biggest challenge facing Brawn and his team is how to solve the sport's age-old problem with overtaking - or rather the lack of it.

While the majority of the great unwashed believe it is merely a case of removing all the wings or at least reducing the amount and size of them, and Mario Andretti calls on the sport to follow IndyCar's example and introduce a standard aero kit, Brawn insists that it is not that easy but that his boys are on the case.

"One of the things we've started, and we're now six to nine months into it, is a programme to understand how we can enable the cars to race each other more effectively," he said in an interview on Liberty Media's SiriusXM.

"We need to keep the aerodynamic performance at a high level," he continued, though the average fan would question that, claiming that the sport should favour mechanical grip over aero, "but we need to do it in a way that's more benign and more friendly to the cars around it.

"There's almost a force field that exists at the moment," he said, "a bubble around each car. And the car attacking it can't get near it, because as soon as it gets within 1.5 to 2.0s of the car in front, it loses so much performance. It can't get near.

"So we started the programme, and I'm really excited by what I'm seeing," he enthused.

"The front wing is for sure one area that is sensitive in both respects, in terms of the disturbance it creates, and then the sensitivity to the disturbance of the car in front. It's not the only area. There's all the furniture and bargeboards you see behind the front wheels that are equally as sensitive. And there are areas of the rear floor and rear aerodynamics which are sensitive," he admits.

While his masterplan won't be put in place until 2021, the Briton says some measures could be introduced before then.

"We're looking at the whole thing, and I don't think we should get into chopping one piece off without understanding all the implications of the impact we will have. So we're looking at a total solution, a holistic solution, of all the parts.

"We know the percentage drop in performance that comes as a car approaches another car, and already we've found ways of improving that in reducing the disturbed flow from the car in front, and reducing the sensitivity of the following car to that disturbed flow. We're trying to do it in a properly structured way, and that will be the solution we'll apply for 2021.

"Anything we can learn in the meantime, which we feel is safe and fair and correct to apply, will be done."

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Published: 31/03/2018
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