Symonds: F1 aerodynamic group looking to close 'loopholes' for 2021 designs
Pat Symonds is relishing his role as Formula One Chief Technical Officer and says his experiences when developing regulations for the 2009 season have helped him do a better job this time around.
The decisions surrounding the 2021 regulations took time to make and all teams involved were closely looking out for their own interests, but Symonds says that this did not hinder the efforts of himself and Ross Brawn in building a vision for the future of the sport.
“It’s a bit like herding cats really. It’s quite difficult," said Symonds. “For me it’s fascinating because it’s an incredibly creative thing and it’s a little while since I’ve been doing creative work. When you’re acting as the chief technical officer of a Formula One team, you’re doing an awful lot of management and in the evenings you get on with your engineering.
“Right at the beginning of the process, Ross and I sat down – and this is in early 2017 – and really took a root and branch look at everything. We asked “What do we want to do?”
“We really wanted to look at what was wrong with Formula One. The answer was not very much, but how could we improve it?
“The first thing I did was set up an aerodynamic group to investigate this and we came up with some really interesting things. I was really lucky. I got some really good guys working with me, and we came along with what has become the 2021, article three – which is the bodywork regulations, the aerodynamic regulations.
“But there are an awful lot of other things in there. I think the regulations themselves are in the public domain now. They’ve been published.
“I think what’s far more interesting, when I’ve tried to explain to the public, is the thinking behind it.”
When forming the 2009 regulations, Symonds was still working with the Renault F1 team. The veteran did admit that this conflict of interests meant that certain loopholes in regulations were left open rather than clarified.
With this in mind, Symonds says that he and Brawn are being fastidious in closing the more questionable development avenues for teams.
“In 2009 it was very interesting really because I was both of those people, in that myself, Rory Burn and the late Charlie Whiting formed the overtaking group where we looked at producing the regulations from 2009. The effort that went into that was a minute fraction of what we’ve done for 2021.
“At the same time, I was trying to win races and win championships. It’s quite interesting that I think we did leave loopholes in there. The obvious one that many people know about is the double diffusers.
“The great thing now is that I learnt a great deal from that time. So, we published the regulations on October 31st of last year and now my group, although we’re still working on a few bits on the prescribed components and finishing the design of those which we have to release by January 31st, the rest of the time, the whole of the aero group are looking for these loopholes.”
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