Ferrari SF15-T

SF15T

At first glance, you may be fooled into thinking that this year’s Ferrari F1 challenger is no more extraordinary than the (rather ordinary) F14 T of last year. When I first saw the launch photos I was, at first, amazed by the apparent lack of change. Look closer, however, and – especially when comparing it with the 2014 car – the SF15-T becomes more logical and sophisticated.

Ferrari were winless for the first time in two decades in 2014. Ultimately, heads rolled and total restructuring across all departments was made during the early winter. Perhaps the fruits of the upheaval won’t be apparent until 2016 or even 2017, but I get the feeling that the SF15-T is the first Ferrari to really have James Allison’s influence stamped all over it entirely.

sf15t nose

 

Like McLaren, Ferrari have opted for a longer nose to control airflow over the rest of the car. The longer nose will have an effect on the production and quality of the Y250 vortex that runs in parallel with the car centreline from the main plane of the front wing to just beyond the sidepods. This is lighter than a shorter nose and easier to pass the crash tests with but at a loss of total air volume that passes underneath and onto the leading edge of the floor.

The required cross sectional areas are met by implementing a small keel beneath the tip to keep the main profile as thing as possible. The keel slowly forms into the underside further up the car to create a smooth surface before airflow heads onto the rest of the chassis.

Ferrari seem to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to using the nose pylons as a way of manipulating airflow and the current ones in use are quite chunky. These could well be slimmed down and/or reprofiled as the season goes on to help flow management ahead of the splitter like other teams are doing.

sf15t nose cameras

For the launch of the car Ferrari stuck on some basic dummy camera pods. These were replaced in Jerez for the above solution, taking the Mercedes ‘horn’ design one step further and creating a ‘handlebar’ shape by dog-legging the pod’s mounting pylon. This will aid the control of airflow along the side and top of the chassis, particularly around the suspension as they fall more in line with the wishbone arms than other similar designs on the grid.

However there is rumour that Ferrari (along with Mercedes, Toro Rosso and even McLaren) will have to relocate the camera pods despite them seemingly being within the regulations. Whilst there is a rule that states that no bodywork (aside from Pitot tubes) must penetrate a diagonal line made from the top of front bulkhead to the nose tip, teams have interpreted the handlebar mounts as part of the camera pod regulations which are excluded from this line. Recent news from the Barcelona tests suggests that Charlie Whiting has said enough is enough and that they must be removed before Melbourne for a conventional placement elsewhere on the nose cone.

Ferrari tend to use the back of the nose to place the first of a series of cascading vanes that occupy the underside of the chassis. This year is no different as the SF15-T features a long protruding vane just ahead of the pickup point for the nose box on the front bulkhead.

The front wing is new but little different to what the team ended 2014, as is generally the case for all teams heading into winter testing. A small amount of work has been done to the cascade winglets and two smaller vanes have appeared near the IR cameras that face back towards the front tyres, but the main change has been made to the endplates. The single fence with a slot is now gone and in its place a twisted vane – that replicates last year’s Mercedes – to shift air around the front tyre.

As of 2012, Ferrari have stuck with a pullrod front suspension layout. In terms of mechanical performance, there is little to choose between a conventional pushrod system versus the pullrod. They operate in virtually the same way except that the pullrod system is effectively upside down. The reason why pushrod is more popular is because it is much easier to work on. All of the suspension components are packed into the tight front bulkhead area so accessing this area from above makes it a little less tricky to swap out small bits and pieces. Getting to all these parts in a pullrod system involves coming in from underneath the car, which is a pain if you’re a mechanic trying to make a quick torsion bar change during Free Practice.

However, for all the hassle there is a significant aerodynamic advantage to be gained from using a pullrod system should you choose to design the rest of the car around it. On the SF15-T, the pullrod lies at a nice shallow angle which makes air pass more easily over it and onto the sidepods. Looking at the car head on and you can see it is much cleaner than those with a pushrod. This is made more apparent by the lower front bulkhead height introduced last year.

The pullrod is passed through a new lower wishbone, its design replicating the Mercedes uni-body concept from last year. This is again another aerodynamic benefit and generally the Ferrari’s suspension package is a pretty efficient setup. The wishbones themselves lie much flatter than recent Ferraris, lowering the roll centre of the car for better tyre management.

Having dabbled with the concept for a while, 2015 sees a return of the blown front axle. It seems as if multiple teams have stumbled across an advantage with using this design after a year’s worth of knowledge of the front aero workings on the current generation of cars. It works by enlarging the front brake ducts and creating a separate channel for air to pass straight through the hub assembly and out of a hollow front axle. This pushes air coming around the front tyre from the front wing further out, helping decrease front tyre wake and redirecting flow towards the rear of the car for better use.

According to former Head of Race Engineering for Ferrari, Steve Clark – live on Sky Sports F1 last week – the blown axle can be worth up to a few tenths per lap – a lot of laptime in F1 terms. The downside of using the blown design is actually the flat faced stub that forms the end of the axle. When Williams first started experimenting with the idea they found pitstop performance was reduced significantly as the blunt end impacted the wheel-gunman’s ability to attach the gun to the nut. This is why teams make the axle endings sharp tips as this reduces time in the pitstop.

Moving further back and Ferrari have done extensive bodywork modifications. Comparing the sidepods of the F14 T to the SF15-T and the whole aerodynamic philosophy has changed. Gone are the Red Bull-esque inward slopes and sharp tapering – the new sidepods are more undercut across their entirety and pinch smoothly into the gearbox at the back. This will ease the transition of airflow into the Coke-bottle region and over the top of the central section of the diffuser. It’s less aggressive, but it’s the back-to-basics stuff that could allow the Scuderia to leapfrog others.

These sidepods are fed by reprofiled bargeboards. Again they have copied a few ideas from Mercedes, connecting the vertical turning vane that flanks the sidepod to the bargeboard at 90 degrees and forming a tunnel for air to pass through away from the front tyre wake that so often impinges this area. Like the 2014 car the aforementioned turning vanes bend over the shoulder of the ‘pod to form a horizontal vane, attaching to the cockpit side. The vane pushes air down the sidepod’s gradient which decreases drag by dispersing stagnant air and helps provide rear downforce by sending the air towards the floor.

SF15T rear

The rear of the SF15-T is an evolution of last year: the rear suspension and brake ducts have been refined and the packaging of these has generally been touched up. There’s nothing radical but it makes complete sense for a team trying to rebuild.

Ferrari are another team to gravitate towards the large outswept diffuser design and utilising the central boat-tail section by discarding a few turning vanes and adding small pairs of vortex generators where the plank meets the upsweeping underside of the floor. Voriticising this flow will aid attachment to the upper wall of the diffuser to generate a greater upwash effect. Overall the volume of the diffuser is slightly lower than that of the Mercedes and Red Bull as the outer edges have been curved slightly. A pair of Gurney tabs line the top edge to create a greater pressure delta between the upper and lower surfaces, pulling more air out from beneath to suck the car down further.

During testing the team have been interchanging between the above design and a slightly modified version of last year’s, although it would seem as if they favour the new design after spending the last two days of Barcelona with it on.

The exhaust exits between a large central outlet for the rear bodywork, with a small Monkey Seat winglet attach to the rear wing’s central pylon just above. This will help pull air towards the bottom of the wing and allow a higher angle of attack without risk of stalling.

SF15T

The rear wing remains unchanged but the endplates have seen some revisions. They are basically the same ‘plates that Ferrari used at the end of last season but introduced at the bottom are a series of horizontal slots, similar to ones seen above the wing planes at the top. It’s difficult to tell if they are drawing air in from the outside of the endplate that is coming off the rear tyre or whether its being projected upwards from the inside face.

They are placed ahead of the vertical twisted vanes that hang off the back of the endplate, so my guess is that, regardless of which side the air is coming through them, the horizontal slots must interact with this region and the outer extremities of the diffuser to generate more up/outwash.

The SF15-T is tidy enough and pre-season testing has so far gone well for Ferrari. Along with vast improvements to the power unit – particularly in how they manage the use of the MGU-H during a race situation – this could well be the car that can start the climb back to the top of Formula 1. Then again, we’ve said this in the past but I have a feeling this could move them onto better things soon…

All other images courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari

Williams FW37

fw37

After an incredible return to the front end of the grid, Williams hope to consolidate their recent upturn by fighting for more podiums and potentially victories in 2015. Heavy investment (that ultimately put them in debt) last year has indeed paid off as a host of new sponsors join the Martini-striped FW37, a car that looks like a good progression of last year’s concept.

After the first test in Jerez, Williams were joint top of the speed traps (along with Mercedes) despite running on lower power. A recent interview with Pat Symonds revealed that the team have aimed to retain its low-drag characteristics from last year whilst making a good step forward in downforce and early indications suggest this is exactly what they have done. Continue reading

Red Bull RB11

rb11

After reigning supreme for four years on the bounce, Red Bull experienced a rollercoaster 2014. The year started poorly but, despite their problems, they were still able to capitilise on any Mercedes blunders to pick up three victories and finish second in the Constructors’ championship.

However, a lot rides on 2015 being a successful bounce back to form as Renault have effectively jumped on board solely with Red Bull (and Toro Rosso) to create a manufacturer team. With Adrian Newey taking a more relaxed role within the team, this really could be sink or swim time –  Newey and his side man Peter Prodromou (who now works as chief aerodynamicist at McLaren) have departed, as has Sebastian Vettel, the man who the entire team was built around.

The RB11 is arguably their boldest car to leave Milton Keynes since the new regulations in 2009. Yes, it is still very much an evolution of last year’s RB10 but there is a lot more ambition about its design. Aware of the fact that Renault have to make up about 20% of their power deficit to even match Mercedes this year, the chassis has a variety of new features aimed at overthrowing the rest of the grid in terms of downforce production. Continue reading

Mercedes W06

w061

Mercedes are “out to win” this year’s championship rather than defend their crown, according to senior personnel and two-time World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. They are aware that the opposition – particularly given that in-season power unit development has been allowed – are likely to be making significant gains in performance to catch them. F1 can change very quickly and the seniors at Mercedes know all too well of this.

Improvements have mainly been made within the car to keep them at arm’s length although there are a number of aerodynamic tweaks that have been beneficial. Both drivers have confirmed that there is more downforce on the new W06 than last year’s dominant car, although Jerez is not really the ideal place to be making comparisons given its unique track surface and cool temperatures. Continue reading

Link: Lotus E23 render analysis

e23 nose

A link to yet another render image analysis for Richland F1, this time of the Mercedes-powered Lotus E23 which you can find here.

The nose solution they have this year is quite interesting – instead of extending a stub out of the main bulk of the nose, Lotus have opted to attach it to the bottom. Of course this limits the amount of flow available into the splitter region but let’s not forget that the ‘chin’ solution has been used by the team before (2009, when they were formerly known as Renault), so they know what they’re doing.

I would say that they’re trying to use the neutral section of the front wing coupled with the chin to accelerate flow and induce a bit of downforce. The nose is also sculpted on each side to invite flow in beneath the chassis, helped by its narrow width. In other words, they could be onto a winner here…

Link: Tech in F1 2015 first impressions

Here is a link to my first impressions on tech in F1 this year by dissecting the early releases from Williams and Force India, which you can find here.

A full analysis of all the cars will be on Richland F1 when they are released, plus a more comprehensive version of the top 5 teams (Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren) will be on this blog with a few more drawings. It’s about to get very busy!

The Mercedes W05: How it dominated in 2014 – Part 1

Mercedes W05 review

Here it is! The first part of our eBook magazine series by myself and Matthew Somerfield is available to purchase on Google Play. Part 1 covers the team structure (highlighting key personnel), the history of the team, the fundamental changes to the F1 regulations for 2014 (including a comparison between the W04 and the W05) and a review of each race with explanations for any of the technical failures that occurred on the W05 throughout the year.

Click the link at the bottom of this post to purchase!

A desktop view of our eBook when read via Google Play

A desktop view of our eBook when read via Google Play

Unfortunately it is not going up on iTunes for the foreseeable future but if you own an Apple device then you can download the Google Play Books app and view it on there. Alternatively, it looks great on a desktop computer or laptop where you can also access the Google Play store.

Part 2 is already well under way. The next three issues will go through the aerodynamics/chassis, the award-winning Mercedes PU106A Hybrid power unit/complete drivetrain and a conclusive part tying all of these elements together.

You can ‘try before you buy’ if you wish to do so by reading the free sample, also available in the link below.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Matthew_Somerfield_The_Mercedes_W05_How_it_dominat?id=w-TuBQAAQBAJ