Formula 1: Aerodynamics and Pit Strategy



Renault R.S.17

Aerodynamics is a key to winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Certain tracks like Canada and Baku have long straits and might require a lower downforce setup to gain more time on the longer areas of the track. Or circuits like Monaco you will want to go for a high downforce setup so you can make more time on the sharp corners and chicanes.

Another consideration is the weather. This ties in to tire choice when deciding what setup to go with. On rainy Grand Prixs you will probably add more downforce to accommodate the amount of oversteer and understeer you can get from a wet track.

Pit strategies are very important with planning a race. You need to figure out what tires you are using throughout the race. To make a good strategy, the teams need to figure out how the tires wear on the track.

Some tires such as ultrasofts wear a lot faster than supersofts and softs. Some tracks the teams start with the ultrasofts and move into the supersofts. The goal is to make the ultrasofts last the longest so that you can get the majority of faster lap times.

If you get a half a second faster on ultrasofts, that might be the determining factor of the winner because the managed their tires better and pitted later. If you start on a harder compound, you will have to time your pit to exactly the lap maximum of your softer tires.


Quick Fact About Aerodynamics:

Every track in the Formula 1 calendar has at least 1 DRS (Drag Reduction System) strait. Before the strait, the cars gap is measured. If they are less than a second apart the DRS systems on the car behind are allowed to be used. DRS is a flap on the back wing that opens while on the strait to reduce downforce and therefore, increase the speed of the car behind so they can pass the car ahead easier.

PixelGhostClyde via Compfight

Formula 1: Tire Management

When racing in Formula 1, there are many ways to increase your speed and grip. Though what I am about to explain to you might seem simple, there is a whole other side to this. You can learn more about the advanced science here.

The Formula 1 FIA regulated tires come from Pirelli. Pirelli makes 4 different tire compounds to use in a race by the Formula 1 teams. The dry tire compounds are ultra soft, super soft, soft, medium, and hard. The other tires are intermediate and wet for use in rain. Each tire is used differently.

The wet and intermediate tires are only used in heavy rain conditions or on a very wet track. They are also used in somewhat wet weather. They offer a lot of hardness and ridges for grip in the water. However, when introduced to a dry track, they slow the car significantly and degrade in just a few laps.

The dry tires are used in dry conditions but also slow the car in wet weather. Super softs, and softs are used as a slightly slower alternative to the ultra softs and the medium and hard are used on different track surfaces. These dry tires which normally only work well in dry conditions and have almost zero grip in the wet. They are usually used as 2 together so they are alternatives if the weather changes, (more on that later). The ultra softs are the fastest, offering the most grip in a dry race.

During the duration of the race the teams must cycle through 2 different tire compounds. I have no idea why this rule exists but it does so the teams have to follow it. This then provokes a whole new concept of race strategy for planning pit stops and when to change tire compounds. They create a whole new system that can determine whether you win, or lose a race in the first or last few laps.

Tire wear on ultrasofts:

Photos: Wikipedia Commons CC0