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FIA puts brakes on rain spray 'mudguards' F1 project

FIA puts brakes on rain spray 'mudguards' F1 project
© Reuters
The governing body of Formula 1 has put the brakes on its efforts to enhance visibility during wet conditions through the proposed 'mudguards'.

The governing body of Formula 1 has put the brakes on its efforts to enhance visibility during wet conditions through the proposed 'mudguards'.

Last year's initial prototype did not yield promising results, and recent images from a follow-up test conducted by Ferrari under FIA guidance at Fiorano displayed obvious and significant spray trailing the car.

"I was behind Arthur Leclerc with the wheel covers," shared Oliver Bearman, a fellow Ferrari test driver, as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "and I think everyone saw the pictures."

"I think the FIA needs to go back to the drawing board, because I think the biggest problem comes from the fact that these cars generate a lot of downforce under the car."

"A slight improvement was noticeable, but the problem has not been solved," he further noted.

Nikolas Tombazis, a prominent former F1 designer now heading the FIA's single-seater division, acknowledged that the cars' floor and diffuser were also contributing factors beyond just the wheels.

"We decided to cover the wheels completely, even beyond the possible limit, to evaluate what was the maximum result we could aspire to by following this path," he mentioned, as quoted by the same Italian sports newspaper.

"And even if, in fact, there was a small result, we saw that it was not satisfactory enough to be considered the solution to the problem," Tombazis further elaborated.

"Let's say that at least we have answered some questions, but I don't think we will continue to develop this idea. What we do know is that we will have to take other routes to avoid the races being postponed or cancelled in heavy rain."

Tombazis explained that shifting the focus from the wheels to the car's floor and diffuser isn't straightforward.

"We could intervene in that area," he stated, "but it would mean affecting the aerodynamic load. Honestly it doesn't seem viable to me but we will discuss it."

"A compromise will have to be found, because even if the wheel covers we tested were very ugly, we would have been happy to use them if it was the difference between racing and cancelling. Unfortunately it didn't go that way."

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Arthur Leclerc pictured on April 23, 2023
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