Just how much time are those soon-to-be-banned mirrors worth?


Before the debate about Red Bull’s “trick” suspension (or is it?) or the McLaren F-duct had started in earnest, Formula 1 went ahead and banned the side mirrors that are mounted on the sidepods, which some of the teams are using.

Just how much might the ban, set to happen before Barcelona, hurt the teams — Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, BMW Sauber, Force India and HRT — using them?

A whopping half of one-tenth of a second per lap.

I’m going to try to get that straight. That means not 0.10 seconds but 0.05 seconds, right? Like, 5 hundredths of a second? Please, someone, correct my math if I’m wrong.

But even if that math is off, “half of one-tenth of a second per lap” isn’t a ton. And it shows just how minute the differences of performance, and the efforts at making improvements, are in Formula 1.

The official Formula 1 site has a good description of what all the hub-ub is about, including this terrific description of why the placement of the side mirrors is helpful: “Mirrors don’t usually have a good aerodynamic shape, but by putting them in the flow of air coming from the front tyres – an area already disturbed by drag – their negative influence is reduced.”

That makes sense, even to this non-aero engineer.

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