Get unlimited access
You have 10 articles remaining to view this month.
The FIA believes the 2019 aerodynamic package designed to improve Formula 1 overtaking will also add around 1.5 seconds to lap times.
The package includes a simplified front wing and front brake ducts, as well as a bigger rear wing flap for a more powerful DRS effect, all of which will make the cars less aerodynamically efficient than they are now.
“We expect to lose 1.5 seconds maybe, that sort of order,” said FIA single-seater technical boss Nikolas Tombazis.
“It’s a bit difficult to predict exactly the amount of development the teams will put on, but we certainly expect to lose performance of that order of magnitude.”
Tombazis is confident that the changes will make a difference.
“The probability that we make it better is very good. The probability that we make it better, but maybe not by a huge amount, is also there.
How F1 pulled off a shock for 2019
“The probability that it actually makes things worse is close to zero, if not zero, in my view.
“It’s not a matter of black or white, either you can follow [other cars] or you can’t.
“We hope to make an improvement in close racing, and to be able to follow more closely. The change of the wings for next year is not just the [front] endplate.
“The endplate is significantly simplified, all the top furniture, all the little winglets you can see and the vertical fences and so on which produce a range of vortices which are intended to control the front wheel wake, these are getting eliminated.
“And the wing profiles themselves have to follow certain rules which makes them simpler, and hence less able to control the wheel wake.
“In our studies the wheel wake is what then affects the rear car, and losing control of that we feel is going to make a step improvement.
“But I’m not expecting cars to be bumping each other like touring cars.”
2019 and ’20 would have been ‘getting worse’
Tombazis (pictured above) added that had the FIA not acted it would have become even harder for drivers to follow another car in the last two years of the current formula, as teams continued to develop their aero packages.
“One of the key tasks of an aerodynamicist in an F1 team is to move the wheel wake further outboard for the benefit of their own car,” he said.
“The more outboard it is the less it affects the diffuser and the rear wing, and they gain performance.
“That is their key objective. That key objective is also bad for the following car.
“My expectation is that if we didn’t do a rule change, the next two years, ’19 and ’20, would be gradually getting worse.
“Part of the rule change is also to stop that trend and make a step change.”
The FIA will meet team technical bosses at Barcelona on Sunday to discuss the fine detail of the package, and to hear any feedback on potential loopholes that might have been discovered since the rules were voted through on April 30.