FIA Abandons Wet-Weather F1 ‘Mudguards’ – For Now

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 25: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on a wet track during Day Three of F1 Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 25, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202202250454 // Usage for editorial use only //
BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 25: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on a wet track during Day Three of F1 Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 25, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202202250454 // Usage for editorial use only //

F1’s governing body has abandoned – for now – its attempt to improve wet-weather visibility with the use of so-called ‘mudguards’.

An initial prototype last year did not produce good results, and photos from Ferrari’s recent FIA-sponsored follow-up attempt at Fiorano showed plumes of spray behind the car.

“I was behind Arthur Leclerc with the wheel covers,” fellow Ferrari test driver Oliver Bearman is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, “and I think everyone saw the pictures.

“I think the FIA needs to go back to the drawing board, because I think the biggest problem comes from the fact that these cars generate a lot of downforce under the car.

“A slight improvement was noticeable, but the problem has not been solved,” he added.

Nikolas Tombazis, a well-known F1 designer who is now the FIA’s single seater boss, said the governing body already “knew” that the floor and the diffuser were problems in addition to the wheels.

“We decided to cover the wheels completely, even beyond the possible limit, to evaluate what was the maximum result we could aspire to by following this path,” he is also quoted as saying by the Italian sports newspaper.

“And even if, in fact, there was a small result, we saw that it was not satisfactory enough to be considered the solution to the problem,” Tombazis added.

“Let’s say that at least we have answered some questions, but I don’t think we will continue to develop this idea. What we do know is that we will have to take other routes to avoid the races being postponed or cancelled in heavy rain.”

Tombazis said it’s not so simple to just switch the focus from the wheels to the floor and diffuser.

“We could intervene in that area,” he said, “but it would mean affecting the aerodynamic load. Honestly it doesn’t seem viable to me but we will discuss it.

“A compromise will have to be found, because even if the wheel covers we tested were very ugly, we would have been happy to use them if it was the difference between racing and cancelling. Unfortunately it didn’t go that way.”

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