Former Scuderia Ferrari chief designer and current head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis has confirmed that he expects next year’s cars to be approximately 1.5s/per lap slower as a result of regulation changes aimed at boosting overtaking. It was announced earlier this month that F1 teams had agreed to implement a simplified front-wing, with a larger span, and low outwash potential, as well as a wider and deeper rear-wing for 2019. This was agreed upon in order to promote closer racing and increase the possibility of drivers being able to make overtaking moves.
But Nikolas Tombazis expects these changes will come at a cost of around 1.5s/per lap, somewhat reversing recent changes introduced for 2017 aimed at reducing lap times by around five seconds, compared to 2015: “We expect this rule change to be approximately half way to one third less performance than the delta between ’16 and ’17, so we expect to lose about 1.5 seconds maybe,” he said ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix – “It’s a bit difficult to predict exactly the amount of development the teams will put on [the 2019 cars], but we certainly expect to lose performance.”
The former Scuderia Ferrari chief designer is however confident the changes will have a positive impact on overtaking, with no team reporting any negative impact when the data was run through their simulation software, albeit with varying results: “We invited the teams to do their own simulations [with the data]. Most teams participated in this initiative and we’re very grateful for their support. Clearly all of the teams did different things and the results ranged from small benefits to big benefits. There was no result that showed a worsening of any characteristic. Our expectation, if we didn’t do this rule change, is that for ’19 and ’20 it [overtaking] would be gradually getting worse. So part of the rule change was to stop that.” – the FIA official added.