How T-wings could still return on F1's 2018 cars

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Formula 1 teams are set to engage in a new design battleground over low T-wings in 2018, as part of their push to regain downforce lost at the rear of cars.

A loophole in last year's technical regulations opened the door for teams to run high T-wings on the shark fin engine covers in a bid to improve performance.

But their addition to the cars caused an outcry among fans and teams because they were ugly, and this led to an outright ban being introduced for this year.

However, with F1 teams well aware of the benefits that the small wings delivered in terms of managing airflow and increasing downforce, it is almost certain that this concept will not have been ignored completely when it comes to finalising the 2018 challengers.

As teams claw to recover the loss of downforce caused by the high T-wing ban, plus the outlawing of monkey seats, it is looking almost certain that T-wing development will open up in a new area of the car instead.

That is because the wording of the 2018 regulations that outlawed shark fins and high T-wings still leaves room for another area to be exploited.

Article 3.5.1 of F1's technical regulations outlawed high T-wings by making it clear that no bodywork could appear in a specified triangular area above the defined engine cover. 

2018 T-wing rules
2018 T-wing rules

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It stated: "When viewed from the side, no bodywork forward of the rear wheel centre line may lie above a line parallel to the diagonal boundary defined in a) [a rule that defines the dimension of the engine cover] and intersecting the rear wheel centre line 650mm above the reference plane."

However, there remains a small area below this triangle that is still available for teams to exploit – and importantly this was exactly where Williams ran elaborate T-wing concepts last year. 

 

Williams FW40 lower T-wing
Williams FW40 lower T-wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

For as well as developing a high T-wing like other teams, the FW40 featured a second lower down T-wing element to help manage airflow in this area.

As well as channelling air to the lower element of the rear wing, this airflow can also prove important in helping maximise the efficiency of the diffuser.

F1 teams are expecting big gains in downforce this year thanks to a much better understanding of the performance aspects of the new aero rules that were introduced last year.

McLaren technical director Tim Goss told Motorsport.com: "You would expect there to be a step, and given the cars are relatively immature, you would expect it to be a bigger step than in previous seasons."

 
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Series Formula 1
Article type Analysis