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F1 team boss James Vowles defends ground-effect regulations

F1's ground-effect regulations, implemented in 2022 with the aim of revolutionising overtaking, are now under scrutiny as concerns grow over their effectiveness.

Despite initial optimism surrounding closer racing, drivers and experts are observing a resurgence of the notorious "dirty air" phenomenon, casting doubt on the regulations' impact.

Williams team principal James Vowles has defended the regulations against claims of failure, highlighting the complexity of the challenge in achieving consistent and exciting racing. 

The ground-effect rules were designed to address the aerodynamic wake created by cars, which disrupts airflow and makes it challenging for trailing drivers to attempt overtakes.

James Allison, technical director at Mercedes, recently joined the chorus of voices expressing reservations about the current regulations. 

Allison suggested that the focus on managing the aerodynamic wake may not be the most effective strategy, likening it to a futile endeavour akin to "tilting at windmills."

The broader concern within Formula 1 is how to maintain thrilling racing while balancing the technical intricacies of aerodynamics. This challenge remains a key priority as the sport looks ahead to the 2026 regulation platform, currently in development and poised to address these ongoing issues.

"I don't think the regulations have failed," said Vowles, quoted by Motorsport.com.

"I think that would be wholeheartedly unfair. I think the competition is pretty tight in the midfield. There is overtaking that takes place.

"I think even on the data that we can see now, it's still better than the '21, '20 generations of cars.

"But especially the leading pack have developed the car in an extraordinary way that as you develop downforce, it is making it harder to follow.

"But I still think on all the metrics and all the data we can see, you're now getting closer than you were before as a result of things, which was an intention behind it.

"Whether they will improve in '25, no, I don't think so. There's no reason to think it will improve next year. And in '26, again, the rules are still being ratified as we speak, so it's hard to evaluate that."

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