Newey Predicts More F1 Car Innovations

According to F1’s chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, Adrian Newey holds the belief that the current generation of Formula 1 cars has untapped potential.

Newey, renowned for his contributions to car design, has once again demonstrated his prowess with the creation of the RB20, this season’s Red Bull contender, which has asserted its dominance despite Max Verstappen’s recent retirement.

Symonds, who played a pivotal role in shaping the regulations for the current era of ground effect F1 cars, transitioned into his current position in 2017, focusing on the regulatory aspects of the sport.

Drawing from his experience as a multiple World Championship winner with ‘Team Enstone’ during their Benetton and Renault days, Symonds has a deep understanding of the sport’s evolution.

Initially, there were concerns among teams when the 2022 regulations were unveiled, with some labeling them as overly restrictive, potentially stifling design innovation. However, Symonds argues that the diversity of cars on the grid that year contradicted these fears, showcasing a range of innovative designs.

Highlighting the continual evolution of F1 cars, Symonds points to the substantial updates on the RB20 for the 2024 season, emphasizing that despite being the third year under the current regulations, there are ongoing advancements in car development.

While teams may question the limits of their current innovations within the regulatory framework, Symonds suggests otherwise. Conversations with Red Bull’s chief technical officer indicate that there is still untapped potential, suggesting that further growth and innovation are on the horizon.

In response to a query on the Beyond the Grid podcast about the possibility of ongoing design ‘revolution’ in the third year of the current regulations, Symonds expressed his affirmative stance, stating, “Yeah, I think I did.”

“It’s an interesting question because, of course, when we first started talking about the regulations, and you may remember that we showed the car in the USA in 2020, when we were planning to introduce in ’21, before COVID sort of delayed everything.

“One of the things we did there is we showed images of a lot of different interpretations of the cars, because a lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, well, you’re so prescriptive in the regulations, now there’s no room to develop.’ And I knew that wasn’t the case, which is why we did that.

“I was pleased when we first saw the cars in ’22. There were a lot of different solutions. But you know, to any engineering problem, there is only one solution.

“Now luckily, we never get there. We iterate towards it, and we’re seeing that iteration in certain areas, the downwash sidepods are becoming the way to do things.

“But when you look at something like this year’s Red Bull, interesting intakes into the sidepods, intakes above the sort of the headrest area, lots of things, I can’t say I anticipated exactly that was the way it was going.

“But I am very pleased to see there are still changes, and I know from speaking to Adrian Newey that it’s not over yet. There’s plenty more to come.”