The former technical director of Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar, Gary Anderson, believes that narrower front tyres for 2010 will make overtaking more difficult in F1.
Anderson, who is now a technical correspondant for Autosport, said:
“I think the aerodynamic grip will overcome the mechanical grip loss by a reasonable amount. The full contact patches added up are what gives the car the grip level on the track, but the aerodynamics of the car are going to improve quite dramatically.
“And I think that’s wrong, because all the way along the FIA has been trying to reduce the downforce of the car to improve the overtaking, and from the simple rule of just changing the front tyre, suddenly you’ve increased the downforce levels and made overtaking worse again.”
“So it’s going to be very difficult to know. But it’s going to be about the cars and the drivers that know how to look after their tyres, because you’re going to have to do much longer stints on the tyres now.”
Because front tyres are now narrower, there is less turbulence coming from the front wing and suspension area, meaning more downforce at the front. This may lead to understeer, which can be corrected with either high rear wing angle, which increases drag and reduces speed, or lower wing flap angles at the front. This will mean about the same downforce as before the narrower tyres, but less drag and therefore higher speed.
Anderson belives that this, coupled with the refuelling ban, should not be underestimated.
“It’s going to be interesting for sure,” he said. “It’s a pretty big rule change – it will change everything that the teams have learned over the last 15 years.”
“Race strategy was such an important factor in potentially winning a race. And it’s not only refuelling. The front tyre is a narrower tyre, which will lead to better aerodynamics because there is more air that can get through between the front wheel and the monocoque. So the aerodynamic changes to the car will increase the downforce.”
“The performance of the car next year should be better by a reasonable amount, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them half a second quicker, something like that.”