Formula 1’s proposed regulation changes for the start of the 2013 season could see the sport returning – in some respects – to the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the suggested rule changes including a return to turbo engine power and ground-effect aerodynamics.

The 1981 Renault F1 typifies an example of turbo-powered ground-effect technology With the current Concorde Agreement and engine agreement set to lapse at the end of 2012, the sport faces the rare prospect of a wholesale change to how it operates, and it faces strong pressure in the more environmentally conscious era to embrace greener technology and more road-relevant practices.

Several think-tank working groups have been meeting at various stages throughout the year to get consensus on how to improve the spectacle of F1, and the latest draft regulations proposed contain some exciting concepts.

On the engine front, the latest plan is to reintroduce turbo power – last used in F1 in 1988 – via a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder unit. With fuel consumption further restricted, power output will be capped at around 650bhp – although extra boost will be made available via energy recovery systems (such as KERS) – and in turn, this will place a premium on reducing aerodynamic drag.

One easier way of reducing overall drag and still maintaining downforce is to generate much of it under the car – a factor that could also significantly improve overtaking opportunities.

Ground-effect technology – which works by trapping and redirecting air flow under the car using skirts at the side of the chassis – will also call for a more forward repositioning of the sidepods, which in turn will improve driver safety in side-impact accidents.

The prospects for a wholesale rule change are very exciting indeed, and hopefully more clarification of this framework – in addition to a consensus among the teams – can be achieved in time.

Would you welcome a return to ground-effect technology and turbo power? Vote in our reader poll in the sidebar or post your comments below…

[Original image via The Cahier Archive]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.