Why Don’t F1 Cars Have Fenders?

Formula 1 has always been an open wheel racing series. Despite decades passing, the cars still have the same open wheel concept as they did when the sport first came into existence. But with such a focus on improving safety, this leaves many wondering why F1 cars don’t have fenders.

F1 cars don’t have fenders as the series is traditionally open wheel. Adding fenders would move away from the tradition in Formula 1. It would also make the cars heavier, and the teams would need to invest millions of dollars into fender developments in a series that focuses on cost cutting.

While F1 cars are always being improved upon from a safety standpoint, many fans may think adding fenders would help make the cars safer. But below, we’ll go into more detail about why F1 cars do not have fenders, and we’ll discuss the impact they would have on the sport.

Why Do F1 Cars Have Open Wheels?

There are several reasons Formula 1 cars do not have any fenders. Although this makes the cars more fragile while out on track and battling wheel to wheel with other cars, it is an integral part of the sport and it is unlikely to change any time soon.

Formula 1 has always been an open wheel racing series, and this means that the wheels must be uncovered (as in at the top – as the 2022 regulations did bring back wheel covers that can be seen where the rims of the tires would have been exposed in the past). In other words, there can’t be any fenders over the wheels unless the rules were changed to allow them.

However, doing so would again change the series and move it away from being an open wheel series. It’s unlikely that Formula 1 cars would ever have enclosed wheels in the future, and it is not being considered by the FIA at the moment either.

Weight

Adding fenders to Formula 1 cars would add a significant amount of extra weight to the cars. With the 2022 aerodynamic regulation changes and the introduction of 18 inch wheels, the cars have already gained a massive amount of weight compared to their ancestors.

Another factor that makes Formula 1 so unique is the fact that the cars are so lightweight. This also helps to improve the handling of the cars and it makes them much faster than any other car on the planet.

Adding fenders would add unnecessary weight to the cars and make them slower and more difficult to drive. Even though the teams would be using strong, lightweight materials, it would then end up costing them too much to develop the fenders to be as lightweight and aerodynamic as possible.

Expenses

Formula 1 has been massively focused on reducing the amount of money that is being spent by the teams in the sport. With the introduction of the budget cap as well as the engine freeze it is clear that Formula 1 is heavily focused on reducing costs in order to level the playing field in the sport, and to make it more sustainable.

Adding fenders to the cars would bring in a whole new development area that teams would need to focus on. The development race is expensive as it is, and adding more parts that teams need to focus on upgrading and developing would only cause them to spend more money.

The teams would need to make use of strong, lightweight materials that are incredibly expensive. Formula 1 also sees a lot of wheel to wheel action and this poses the risk of fenders becoming damaged, costing the teams even more money and performance during a race.

Rules

The Formula 1 rulebook states that the cars must have wheels that are uncovered. This naturally means that Formula 1 cars cannot have fenders if they are to comply with the regulations and be allowed to compete in the world championship.

This rule has been in place since 1961, and it has not been changed or altered since it was first introduced. This rule will remain in place and, as long as it does, Formula 1 will remain an open wheel series with cars that do not have fenders.

The only way that this rule can be changed is if there is a serious need for fenders to be introduced because of safety concerns. However, in the decades that Formula 1 has been an open wheel series, the sport has never seriously considered adding fenders to improve safety.

Tradition

Formula 1 is a sport that is very much focused on tradition and staying true to its ‘DNA.’ The very first cars were built without fenders and with open wheels. The same concept was brought into race cars and, eventually, Formula 1 cars.

Cars with fenders and enclosed wheels came about much later, but Formula 1 never adapted to enclosed wheels. The sport stood firm in the open wheel philosophy of the sport and it is unlikely to change that Formula 1 DNA. Adding fenders and enclosing the wheels of Formula 1 cars would turn it into a different series, and the sport would move more towards a different style of racing.

Design Of The Cars

Formula 1 cars have high performance engines and brakes. These parts operate at extremely high temperatures and they can easily overheat, which would lead to these parts failing and endangering the lives of the drivers at the wheel.

Adding fenders to the cars would require a complete redesign of all the cars. The brakes would not get enough cool air into them if the current designs were altered to include fenders, which would quickly lead to them overheating. Formula 1 brakes begin to overheat even if the car is stood stationary for too long, so enclosing the wheels completely would cause even more problems.

The air intakes are also positioned on the side of the car next to the driver, and these are required to take in as much cool air as possible in order to ensure that the engine does not overheat. Adding extra fenders would also block the airflow into their air intakes.

What Are F1 Tire Covers For?

F1 tire covers are designed to minimize the amount of dirty air that comes off the wheels of the cars. They provide a smoother surface for air to flow across when compared to the exposed rims of the previous cars, to ideally help to allow the cars to follow each other more closely.

Along with the 2022 aerodynamic rule changes the sport also brought in brand new 18 inch tires. It is also mandatory for the teams to cover the rims with wheel covers. These wheel covers were used in the past but they were banned in 2010.

The FIA reintroduced wheel covers in 2022 and they were made mandatory for all teams to use. The wheel covers, along with the 18 inch wheels, added a significant amount of weight to the cars. Extra weight makes cars slower, which means that Formula 1 teams have faced a challenge in designing their cars in a way that they can reduce their weight as much as possible.

Why Do The 2022 Cars Have Wheel Covers?

The wheel covers were reintroduced for a very good reason. Along with the bigger 18 inch wheels comes a lot of extra turbulent air. Turbulent air is bad for the cars behind, and it prevents the cars behind from achieving optimal downforce while following closely.

The aero regulations were changed in order to improve the cars’ ability to follow one another, so having these larger wheels would be counter-intuitive. The solution was to add wheel covers to the rims in order to prevent so much of this turbulent air coming off the wake of the wheels.

The wheel covers allow for a much smoother surface for air to flow along, versus the exposed rims of the past, which means that the air can flow around the wheels in a much smoother way than without the wheel covers. This allows the car to produce cleaner air in its wake, and therefore in theory improve the racing.

What Do The Winglets On F1 Car Tires Do?

The winglets on F1 tires help to reduce the amount of turbulent air that comes off the front tires. They are yet another component of the 2022 aerodynamic regulations introduced in order to promote better racing by reducing the effects of dirty air, but they also help control airflow over the car.

The 2022 aerodynamic regulations brought a lot of different changes. One of the biggest changes was that every car must have fairings above the front wheels of the car. These fairings might look like small, flimsy pieces of carbon fiber, but they do serve an important purpose.

As the wheels on a Formula 1 car turn, they cause a massive amount of “wash,” which is the air that flows over the wheels and becomes extremely turbulent. This turbulent air washes out to the sides and the rear of the car, causing dirty air to hit the car behind.

The fairings on top of the front wheels help to minimize this wash and dirty air that comes off the tires. Along with the wheel covers, these fairings help to reduce the amount of turbulent air in the wake of the car, making them much easier to follow than before. They also help to manipulate airflow over the car to help the cars produce maximum downforce.

Why Are the Wheel Fairings A Spec Part?

The fairings on top of the Formula 1 cars’ tires are spec parts, which means that all of them must remain identical across the entire grid, whether it’s a Mercedes or an Alfa Romeo. This is unusual for Formula 1, where the cars are usually unique in every way.

With the competitive nature of Formula 1, teams would naturally spend millions of dollars developing these winglets and trying to find an advantage over their competition. In the near future, we may see more development on these winglets, but for now, they remain spec across the entire grid.

Final Thoughts

Formula 1 cars do not have fenders, mainly because it’s not a part of the Formula 1 open wheel racing formula that has been an important part of the sport since its inception. However, there is also no need for fenders in Formula 1, although the cars do have wheel covers and winglets.

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