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

28-02-2020 15:03 | Updated: 28-02-2020 16:30
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
F1 News
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 in corners - the disturbed air behind a car is known as 'dirty air'.

What dirty air results in is that the loss of downforce makes it incredibly difficult to closely follow someone ahead, which in turn results in less overtakes as drivers aren't in position to go for a potential move.

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 asked by GPBlog how it compared to 2019.

"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 (at time of press), 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?

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