Senior F1 figure reveals Newey development belief

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Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds believes that there is still “plenty more to come” from the contemporary ground-effect era of cars following conversations with his Red Bull counterpart Adrian Newey.

The Milton-Keynes-based team have dominated F1 since the re-introduction of ground-effect cars at the start of the 2022 season, taking 40 wins from 47 races on its way to back-to-back championship doubles, and are favourites to make it three-from-three in 2024.

The ground-effects rules were designed to make overtaking easier, by creating the downforce from the floor and underbody and reduce so-called ‘dirty air’ produced by an F1 car, but had been labelled as “prescriptive” before the cars had hit the track for the first time.

But teams have found plenty of development scope within the rules – something F1 veteran Symonds expected.

“Yeah, I think I did,” Symonds responded on the Beyond the Grid podcast when asked if he thought F1 would continue to provide further design innovation into the third year of its technical regulations cycle

“It’s an interesting question because, of course, when we first started talking about the regulations, and you may remember that we showed the car in the USA in 2020, when we were planning to introduce in ’21, before COVID sort of delayed everything.

“One of the things we did there is we showed images of a lot of different interpretations of the cars, because a lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, well, you’re so prescriptive in the regulations, now there’s no room to develop.’ And I knew that wasn’t the case, which is why we did that.

“I was pleased when we first saw the cars in ’22. There were a lot of different solutions. But you know, to any engineering problem, there is only one solution.”

‘We iterate towards it’ but ‘never get there’

Symonds, who won multiple world championships with Benetton and Renault, was a key player in designing the regulations for the modern generation of ground effects cars, having been F1 CTO since 2017.

He still believes there is ample room for development within the rules, and drawed on a conversation with Newey.

“Now luckily, we never get there. We iterate towards it, and we’re seeing that iteration in certain areas, the downwash sidepods are becoming the way to do things, but when you look at something like this year’s Red Bull, interesting intakes into the sidepods, intakes above the sort of the headrest area, lots of things, I can’t say I anticipated exactly that was the way it was going,” he said.

“But I am very pleased to see there are still changes, and I know from speaking to Adrian Newey that it’s not over yet. There’s plenty more to come.”

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