How F1 wheel rim covers work, why they were banned and why they’re back

  • F1 News
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Alongside the much-vaunted return of the ground effect concept is the revival of wheel rim covers. F1 hopes these will help smooth out the turbulence ordinarily created by the wheel and tyre, and thus help reduce the overall wake generated by the lead car when another is chasing.

The rim covers used in 2022 will be a far cry from the complexity of what we’ve seen in the past though, as teams will have little influence in their design – in order that they don’t use them to damage the overall intent of their inclusion.

However, that won’t stop us taking a trip down memory lane to see how and why wheel rim covers have been deployed by teams in the past…

The first use of wheel rim covers in F1

 

As can be seen from Giorgio Piola’s illustration (above), the roots of the wheel rim cover can actually be traced much further back than you might expect. Ferrari experimented with them at Monza in 1990 to reduce drag at the ‘temple of speed’ during qualifying.

The team was unable to use them under race conditions, however, as the brakes would have overheated, given there was nowhere for the heat generated under braking to escape. To make life even more difficult, not only in terms of regulating temperatures but also when needing to change tyres, a retractable panel was installed over the wheelnut.

 

It would take over a decade for another solution to reappear but, unsurprisingly, it was at Ferrari again. This time it came with a slight twist, as the team introduced a design for the rear wheel of 248 F1 that featured a shallow rim fairing.

Like the covers reintroduced for 2022, the fairing rotated with the wheel – something that was expanded upon later in the season with a cover that took up all but the central section in order to grant access to the wheelnut at pitstops.

 

This idea didn’t go unnoticed though, as can be seen here, with Toyota and Toro Rosso deploying their own variants at Imola and Silverstone respectively. Having previously protested…

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