Newey changes mind about ground effect rules

"There are areas with a surprising amount of freedom"

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By GMM

29 November 2022 - 11:07
Newey changes mind about ground (...)

Adrian Newey has changed his mind about Formula 1’s new-in-2022 aerodynamic rules.

Before the cars underwent their radical transformation from traditional downforce to the current ’ground effect’ principle of today, Red Bull’s famous technical boss denounced it as a "shame".

"I think if you come up with completely new regulations, we should make sure it’s right. And these rules just aren’t," he said in 2021.

Now, with a dominant second-consecutive drivers’ world title for Max Verstappen in the bag and Red Bull’s first constructors’ crown since 2013, Newey told Auto Motor und Sport that he was wrong.

"When I first read the rules two years ago, I was really frustrated," he said. "They looked extremely restrictive. I have to admit that I had to change my mind.

"The chassis and the front wing are in a very narrow framework, but then there are areas with a surprising amount of freedom. These include the sidepods and the floor.

"The different sidepod shapes are also easy for fans to distinguish, which is a good thing."

Newey said the fact that the 2022 cars differed visibly shows that teams are still getting their heads around the new regulations.

"It means none of us is absolutely right and there has to be something better," he said.

"The Mercedes was a real surprise," added Newey. "We had overlooked that loophole and they got better and better over the year."

In fact, Newey admits that the new rules are actually "more exciting" than the old ones because of the "steep learning curve" for the teams.

"Last year’s cars were the product of a long development process," he said. "The regulations had been in place for ages and although there were always changes, everything worked on the same principle."

And although Red Bull won 17 of the 22 races this year, the drivers up and down the pitlane agree that it is now easier to follow and overtake.

Newey also thinks the new rules did not result in the expected big initial gaps between the fastest and slowest teams.

"In the beginning, with us and Ferrari, there were two teams at the same level, and towards the end of the season Mercedes was getting stronger," said the 63-year-old.

"To be honest, I was expecting bigger gaps."

Newey also thinks the budget cap will ensure that the cars continue to differ substantially into the future.

"We didn’t have the time to look at the Mercedes concept in detail," he said. "Under a budget cap you can no longer afford this luxury.

"With the Mercedes, it will be the case that everyone will only copy the concept when it becomes a lasting success. We will continue to develop our concept because we know it best.

"But I don’t dare to say whether our way is the best. It is quite possible that someone else with a better idea is just around the corner.

"Think of the double diffuser. That loophole was always there. It just wasn’t discovered."

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