The FIA says it won’t close off loopholes that Formula 1 teams are exposing in the current regulations until 2026 at the earliest, despite fears it is affecting the racing.
F1 moved to the current ground-effect cars last year with the main aim of the rules to make it easier to follow in dirty air.
But teams have found ways to get around the regulations and make it more difficult for other cars to follow closely.
A crucial part of the regulations was minimising how much teams could direct airflow away from the car and tyres, but they have found solutions – such as front wing designs – to get around the problem.
This is understood to have contributed to the 2023 cars being far more harder to follow, with an estimated 15% increase in a loss of downforce when within two car lengths.
It was thought that a clampdown on teams exploiting the issue would come into force in 2025, but FIA single-seater director Nicholas Tombazis explained that it will now likely wait until the first year of the next rules reset in 2026.
“The wake has definitely got a bit worse this year,” said Tombazis, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“We knew that it would deteriorate a bit when people developed a bit more, but there were a few particular areas of the car where there were some loopholes we didn’t manage to close soon enough. This worsened it.
“The front wing endplate area was one [area], plus some of the wheel furniture area, and brake ducts inside of the front wheel.
“I think we’ve learned a bit how to do it next time around. But while the wake did get a bit worse compared to 2022, it is still a reasonable amount better than 2021.”
Pressed to estimate a timeframe for when it would try to block the loopholes, Tombazsis said: “I would say probably ’26. We don’t have any intentions to change for’ 25 unless anything unpredictable happens.”
Despite the backwards step in how much downforce a car loses in dirty air, Tombazis was confident that the problem would not get worse next year.
“I don’t think it’s going to get much worse for next year because I don’t think there’s any other loopholes to scrape from, like the front wing area and so on,” he said.
“Therefore, I expect it’s going to stay very similar. I also don’t think it’s got worse during the year. I think it was just this year versus last year.”