Slashing downforce could leave F1 "no better off" - Symonds

Formula 1 technical expert Pat Symonds has warned it would be “all too easy” for rulemakers to slash downforce levels and fail to improve racing.

Slashing downforce could leave F1 "no better off" - Symonds

As F1 evaluates ways to create a better spectacle following criticism that cars are too downforce-dependent and overtaking is too difficult, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost suggested downforce levels should be cut by “at least 40-50%”.

He argued that only the drivers benefit from the current generation of cars that have immensely high cornering speeds.

Countering Tost’s suggestion at the Autosport International Show, title-winning technical boss-turned-F1 employee Symonds said removing downforce is “certainly doable” but a misguided solution.

“Often when you’re trying to get your head around an argument you should take it to an extreme and see what answer you get,” he acknowledged.

“If you go to the extreme of having no downforce, you’d say well that’s got to be better because you can’t lose something that isn’t there.

“So there’s some logic in the argument.

“However, it’s much more complex than that. You could produce a car with half the downforce of a current Formula 1 car but with much, much worse weight characteristics.

“It would be all too easy to do. Then you’d be no better off than you are now.”

Tost’s point was that reducing downforce levels would make it easier for cars to follow, harder to drive through the corners and increase braking distances to promote overtaking.

Symonds agrees that high levels of downforce were negative, and also lamented the lack of entertainment inspired by the emergence of the teams’ tactic of running much slower than is possible during races to complete a one-stop strategy.

“I want the cars to be quick, but I want them to be spectacular,” said Symonds, who is overseeing several projects with F1, one of which is to fundamentally improve overtaking for 2021.

“If they are really nailed to the ground I don’t think they are particularly spectacular.

“A rally car is spectacular. That’s something where you see the thing is absolutely on the edge of stability, it looks difficult to drive, it is difficult to drive.

“A Formula 1 car doesn’t always look too difficult to drive. Particularly at the moment where we’ve got the teams are strategically running at below the maximum performance to reduce the number of pitstops they do.

“Then the cars looking anything but spectacular.”

From the editor, also read:

shares
comments
Redundancy plans will be "major distraction" for top F1 teams

Previous article

Redundancy plans will be "major distraction" for top F1 teams

Next article

Verstappen: Day of public service with stewards was “constructive”

Verstappen: Day of public service with stewards was “constructive”
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Williams
Author Scott Mitchell
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021