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FIA to cut downforce for 2021 to make Pirelli tyres safer

FIA to cut downforce for 2021 to make Pirelli tyres safer

F1 News

FIA to cut downforce for 2021 to make Pirelli tyres safer

FIA to cut downforce for 2021 to make Pirelli tyres safer

The FIA is to introduce three aerodynamic modifications to next year's cars in a bid to reduce downforce and make Pirelli's tyres safer.

The move is to be implemented due to teams naturally finding ways to increase downforce, whilst at the same time, the rubber will effectively remain unaltered for a third successive season in 2021.

That is primarily due to circumstances that have resulted in Pirelli being unable to conduct any testing on potential improvements to its product.

FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis has made clear that Pirelli's tyres are not being declared dangerous, but the changes are necessary to increase safety.

"I would like to stress that car safety doesn't in any way or shape imply the tyres are not safe," said Tombazis during a Pirelli media briefing with tyre boss Mario Isola.

"We are not saying the tyres are dangerous. The tyres were conceived for one year, and then last year we decided to use them for a second year.

"If Mario had known what the downforce had been at the end of last year, they would have made more robust tyres, let's say, which wasn't the case.

"We will have the tyres next year for the third consecutive year, which is an anomaly, of course, because of the Covid crisis and because of the very intense racing we have now which has made any testing impractical for new constructions.

"So next year's cars will have slightly less downforce than this year but not a huge amount less after all the development so, therefore, we will be a bit safer than this year, certainly a lot safer than if we had done no intervention at all."

As for the modifications, which will be put before the teams and then ratified by the World Motor Sport Council, they are: eliminating some slots from the side of the car on the edge of the floor; making the winglets at the bottom of the rear brake ducts 40mm narrower; the diffuser fences, that currently lead down to the reference plane, will be limited to the step plane, hence cut by 50mm.

Tombazis estimates that in conjunction with the changes made in May to the diagonal trim on the floor edge, there will be around a 10 per cent reduction in downforce.

With teams likely to find an additional four to five per cent between this year and next through natural development, the overall reduction will be around five or six per cent.

Isola revealed that through a corner such as Copse at Silverstone, the vertical and lateral loads on a tyre on a current F1 car has doubled since Pirelli first started making tyres in 2011.

Grateful for the modifications, Isola said: "Working together with the FIA, I believe this is a sensible proposal. It is something that is in the interests of the sport, to have better racing obviously.

"With less downforce, we can run the tyres at slightly different pressures and therefore reduce some effects, so, all in all, it's something we welcome."

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