Less overtakes in F1 in 2020? Ricciardo confirms dirty air “worse than last year”

Renault star Daniel Ricciardo has confirmed it’s been harder for him to follow other cars through corners compared to 2019, saying this year’s cars generate more ‘dirty air’.

What is dirty air?

The modern F1 car is known to completely distort the flow of air when it cuts through it. This disturbs the airflow that would normally flow over a chasing car to push it down and make it stick to the track – drivers will lose around 40% downforce in corners when directly behind an opponent. The disturbed air left behind a car is known as ‘dirty air’.

The loss of downforce makes it incredibly difficult to follow someone ahead closely, which in turn results in fewer overtakes as drivers can’t keep up with drivers ahead.

‘Pretty dirty’

While the 2021 rules are set to dramatically decrease dirty air, it will remain a problem in the upcoming season, as Ricciardo echoed when I asked him how it compared to 2019. Embed from Getty Images

“It is pretty dirty,” the Aussie said with a big smile after completing his test on Friday morning.

“I feel we’re going quicker than last year again. Turn three’s an easy full [flat-out], turn nine is full more or less – but not with load fuel.” 

Ricciardo, who set the second-quickest time on Friday, will be right in the thick of the midfield fight in 2020 for Renault. He will therefore be a big victim of dirty air, particularly at tracks like the Circuit de Catalunya, as he explained himself.

“I think the dirty air we’re creating is more because of the speed we’re going. Long story short: you still feel it, and unfortunately on a track like this one with a lot of high-speed corners in the first two sectors it is very hard to stay close to the car [ahead].”

“I’d like to say it’s better, but no, it’s certainly not; [it’s] worse than last year.”

The seven-time Grand Prix winner is looking to bounce back in 2020 after a frustratingly inconsistent debut season with Renault, which started with a first-lap retirement at his home race in Melbourne. Can he lead the way in midfield in the final year of his contract?

Article originally posted on GPblog.com. Featured image per RacePictures.com with permission.


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