F1 Explores Diffuser Modifications to Tackle Poor Visibility in Wet Conditions

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In a string of recent rain-affected races, Formula 1’s new generation of ground-effect cars has struggled with generating excessive spray, making visibility a significant issue. This has led to safety concerns, as cars can’t operate in track conditions that were once considered acceptable.

To address this, the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, has experimented with adding wheel arches to the cars to minimize the spray. However, recent tests at the Silverstone circuit with wheel arch-equipped vehicles showed that these modifications didn’t sufficiently reduce the spray issue. Another problem that emerged was water dispersion from the car’s diffuser.

While attending the Monza Grand Prix, shortly after another rain-laden event at Zandvoort, Stefano Domenicali emphasized that solving the wet weather visibility issue has become a top priority. He indicated that initiatives are being intensified to find a fix.

Domenicali clarified, “Formula 1 will continue to be an open-wheel, single-seater championship. That said, given the increase in wet races recently, it’s essential we address the poor visibility conditions drivers face during rain. It’s not a matter of tire grip—indeed, in the future, we might see a single type of wet tire suffice. We saw at Zandvoort that intermediate tires worked well upon restart, but the visibility problem persists.”

To find a remedy, Domenicali disclosed that the FIA is not only continuing to assess the utility of wheel arches but is also considering modifications to the car’s diffuser to lessen water spray. “We’re reviewing potential ‘mudguard’ systems to control the spray, but we’re also eyeing changes to the diffuser outlet,” he said. “We owe it to the fans to minimize race interruptions due to poor visibility.”

Robert Reid, FIA’s deputy president of sport, defended the recent wheel arch trials despite their limited success. Speaking at the Italian Grand Prix, he said, “We’re facing challenges with the new F1 aerodynamics, but we’re committed to finding a solution. Any steps toward reducing spray and improving visibility are steps in the right direction.”

Reid continued, “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution right now. But, make no mistake, the Silverstone tests were a valuable learning curve, not a failure. Each attempt teaches us something, and the next iterations will only get better.”

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