Tost points out elephant in F1’s room

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Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost has just pointed out F1’s elephant in the room. It’s been done before and by fans, drivers and team bosses and yet not much ground has been covered. What is the elephant in the room? Tost explains to Autosport:

“We have so much downforce, which means high corner speeds, no-one can follow because of the dirty air behind and we have hardly braking zones,” said Tost. “How should you overtake?

“That means the FIA, FOM – and there are the experienced people over there, like Ross Brawn, Pat Symonds – they know exactly what you should do: to come down with aero side, with the downforce.

“I would cut minimum 40-50% of the current downforce, to make the car much more unstable in the corners.

“Then people see that drivers have to fight with the car.

“Cars will be much faster on the straight, you have chances to overtake someone – because of [increased] braking – and you can follow in the corners.

“This regulation could be easy to be realised. They just have to want it.”

We’ve advocated for a spec front or rear wing that would only generate 60-70% of the current downforce and this would force the teams to create a similarly efficient opposite wing in order to balance the car—thus, reducing overall downforce.

As F1 attempts to discern the new Concorde Agreement and set the regulations for 2020, they’ve put Ross Brawn in charge of proceedings. Ross is a championship-winning engineer and he knows his stuff but we’re wondering, now, if putting an engineer in charge of the plan to improve F1 is going to work. Is it putting the fox in charge of the henhouse? Tost sheds some light.

“The teams! Never ask the teams. “[The rulemakers need to] come with the regulations, [say] ‘accept or go’. But they ask the teams.

“They come to the Technical Working Group.

“Who is in the Technical Working Group? Engineers.

“Never ask the engineers!”

Adding layers to F1, retaining the current hybrid engine, fiddling with team budget caps all seem to be the directions currently discussed but what would F1’s direction look like if a marketing person or entertainment executive were making the regulations for 2020?

We have to be careful here but because F1, if led by a marketing or entertainment person, could end up looking like Formula E with fan boost and other baubles/constructs that reduce the professionalism and serious nature of the sport. F1’s history would demand that it not reduce itself to trendy, sophomoric types of marketing smoke and mirrors. Tost has simply stated the obvious that no one seems motivated to address.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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“increased braking” if downforce is reduced? Not possible. Braking distances will increase and all the brake pedal sensitivity will have to be increased (as well as Pirelli tire responses).
I am not against reducing downforce, but every track, every marshall, every simulator, all car systems, all data points revised, EVERYTHING will have to be changed to deal with a 40% change in downforce.

Fast Freddy

That is pretty much the result of every change and why many teams resist change.


I suspect he means increased braking distance, hence the opportunity to overtake.


He means braking distance. The reason these high downforce cars are difficult to pass is because 1. the “dirty” air makes it hard for one car to get close to another and 2. the high downforce makes the braking zone very very small. The larger the braking zones the more opportunity you have to “out-brake” the other car. That is why in Formula Ford, which I do, there is passing-galore as our cars dont have wings.

Fast Freddy

I’d be in favor of this if it meant getting rid of some of the aero devices on the cars. Would make them a better looking.


Everyone knows that aero should be cut back, this has been asked for by everyone for years. Hardly a revelation.


Sure, I’ll accept that.


Suppose this discussion reaches a crucial decision point: Do we retain Ferrari (or, Mercedes) or do we promulgate regulations significantly reducing downforce and simplifying power trains? I know where I stand. Boring doesn’t cut it.

Actual racing should not be an afterthought. But it is. At this point, seems to me, the unthinkable needs to be on the table. Because for me, an erstwhile diehard F1 fan, the unthinkable is on my table: I have lots of interesting stuff to do and watch. I don’t need F1 so very much anymore.