2015 Austrian GP Tech Highlights

Better late than never? Really sorry that it’s a week late – I’ve had a busy time working and getting together with friends and family. It’s now 11:15 PM as I begin this post and I’ve got to get up early again tomorrow! Apologies about the illustrations, too. I didn’t really like them when they were finished but it was the best I could do in such a short time frame. In summary: will try harder next time.

Austria’s Red Bull Ring is one of the most demanding tracks for both driver and car, and remains one of the greatest technical challenges on the calendar. Up and down hill braking zones, sharp hairpins and fast sweepers make for a driver’s treat, rewarding precision and bravery but also severely punishing those who push even a little too far – as seen during qualifying by both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

In terms of upgrades, it’s getting to crunch time of the season. The teams are bringing big changes to the cars and this will determine their development path for the rest of the year. If the car isn’t going anywhere then it’ll be a swift transition to next year’s car, whilst those fighting it out for the big points will be hoping to steal a march on a rival every time their car hits the track.

There were plenty (and I mean plenty) of upgrades up and down the field, but which stood out the most? Let’s find out…

McLaren

McLaren’s highly anticipated short nose finally made its debut on the MP4-30, although it was only available on Fernando Alonso’s car for the weekend which he then subsequently wrecked in his first lap incident with Kimi Raikkonen. A new nose was, however, brought to the test session following the grand prix weekend.

MP4-30 nose

The nose follows a similar style to that on the Williams, forming two distinct sections to meet the cross sectional area requirements – the thumb tip (9000mm² area) and the main crash structure behind (20000mm² area).

The transition between these two is a straight leading edge, rather than the deep cuts that Red Bull have going up the nose. This makes airflow passing underneath the nose cleaner at the expense of overall volume of flow.

Underneath the nose, the tip blends smoothly into the main structure in the form of a belly shape. This is more often known as a pelican chin or a ‘pregnant’ nose and it just tidies up flow a bit on its way towards the splitter, particularly when the car is in yaw.

The thumb tip is also offset as far back over the main plane of the front wing as possible within the regulations, which will manipulate airflow in a totally different way to its longer predecessor.

To adjust for the new aero structures, a new front wing was introduced with some small modifications. The inboard flap section – responsible for controlling the Y250 vortex – received a few tweaks whilst the flap adjuster mechanism was brought further inwards and away from the critical outboard area. Minimising interruptions to the air in the latter region improves outwash around the front tyre and generally producing downforce.

Further rearward, the Woking-based outfit have had their innovation caps on (although Toro Rosso have seemingly been wearing the very same caps, as you’ll find out later) and further developed the slots in the floor ahead of the rear tyre. McLaren adopted the L-shape slot last year, a design Red Bull first used to control turbulent air being ejected at right angles from the tyre, a process known more commonly as tyre squirt.

However the MP4-30 now features two of these slots, one ahead of the other. Reducing tyre squirt is key to extracting the best performance from the diffuser, as turbulence can harm the high energy air passing both outwards and upwards at the floor exit.

The two slots appear to work simultaneously with eachother, injecting air into the the sidewall of the tyre at two levels or areas rather than just one. It’s something that I am sure many others will follow suit in.

Finally, I thought I’d mention that McLaren are (supposedly) running reduced power levels once again after encountering reliability problems. This seems counter intuitive to me because – in my opinion – they need to run it at everything its got and find out what’s failing, even if it means everything is failing. I would do a huge rant but I don’t have time, maybe another post for another day…

Mercedes

Just a few small changes were visible on the W05 in Austria. The rear bodywork has been further shrunk down and the sidepod outlet aperture reduced, which further highlights the prominent vane that sprouts from the trailing edge of the sidepod and curls down to meet the floor.

These modifications will help reduce drag more than anything, but also free up space for air to fill the void above the central section of the diffuser to extract a tiny bit more downforce, too. Free downforce is good downforce!

Williams

A substantial upgrade was brought to the FW37 for the weekend, with large alterations made all over the car. Williams have a bit of a hill to climb to catch Ferrari, but the design team are pretty young and full of ideas, and are under the leadership of experienced heads such as Pat Symonds and Rob Smedley.

There is a confidence which just hasn’t been there for a number of years and it is starting to show – pretty much all of the new developments they bring to the track remain on the car for the rest of the weekend. The upgrades work and are good for all types of circuits and environments.

For Austria, a new rear wing was the centrepiece of the upgrade. In terms of changes to the wing profile itself, the main plane is slightly deeper than before whilst the top flap has a notch cut into the centre behind the DRS actuator pod. The deeper profile increases downforce, whilst the cutout is there to reduce the disturbance made by the DRS pod in freestream flow.

The endplates are also new: gone are the sweeping leading edges and instead a much straighter edge runs towards the floor. The leading edge is completed by a larger slot, designed to divert turbulence generated by the rear tyre inside of the endplate and prevent it impinging on the outwash of airflow immediately behind.

There are now five louvres made into the endplate above the wing planes to reduce wingtip vortices, too.

Below the rear wing, the diffuser received some subtle tweaks similar to those Ferrari made in Barcelona. A pair of small flick-ups have been installed on the outer edges, which aim to push airflow coming around from underneath the rear brake ducts upwards and help the overall outwash effect.

Further forward, revisions were made to the front brake ducts and the area just in front of the sidepod.

The bargeboards received a minor tweak, with the leading edge now moved further forward to extend their overall length. The board still retains its three slots cut into the top edge, but the extension allows it to catch air earlier and shift it around the sidepod undercut.

Toro Rosso

James Key and his design group have arguably made one of the best cars on the grid this year, it’s just such a shame that the Renault power unit has been such a monumental disaster! The new parts continue to flow through and as a result the team are doing a good job at consistently upstaging big sister team, Red Bull.

STR10 rear wishbone

Substantial upgrades were brought to the rear suspension and rear tyre region. In fact, the entire rear suspension assembly is new, as are the brake ducts.

Highlighted above is the stand-out new part of the revised suspension – the lower wishbone. A lot of teams have gone for a unibody front lower wishbone this year, following on from what Mercedes did with the W05 in 2014. However the rear suspension has not been exploited in the same way until now.

The thicker trailing arm on the Toro Rosso conceals one of the half-shafts that drives the rear wheels, so it is important to produce efficient bodywork here.

The STR10’s two lower wishbone arms are conjoined well before they meet the hub, creating a nice aerofoil profile for air to pass over cleanly and minimising disruption over the top of the diffuser behind/below. This will also aid the function of the various new winglets and vanes that have sprouted on the duct itself, which bares little resemblance to the outgoing version.

In front of the rear tyre are two twisted vanes and a pair of L-shaped floor slots (highlighted, and as explained in the McLaren section above). Like on the McLaren, the slots will work in conjunction with eachother and the vanes on the top surface of the floor to stop tyre squirt breaching the gap between the tyre itself and the outer regions of the floor.

Analysis: Nissan GT-R LM NISMO

Nissan GTR LM Nismo

As Le Mans 2015 kicks off today, a new competitor in the LMP1 category is making its debut – Nissan have entered the fiery pit that has belonged to Audi for many years. With Porsche coming in last year and Toyota sparking a resurgence against the dominant four rings, endurance racing has never been more popular in its entire history towards the front end of the grid.

Nissan’s challenger – the GT-R LM NISMO – is nothing short of the word different. It completely turns the philosophy of the modern high end endurance racer on its head, but Nissan are confident that in the future this will be a competitive design.

How is it different to the others?

The GT-R LM NISMO’s engine is a longitudinal front mounted 3 litre twin turbo V6, its power delivered to the front wheels via a 5-speed Xtrac sequential gearbox. The car also incorporates an epicyclic gear cluster to finetune final drive, much like you would find in an automatic transmission. Considering that there is a new fuel flow limit for this year’s World Endurance Championship, its power output of 500hp is pretty good.

As per the regulations, the Nissan is also equipped with hybrid technology in the form of two Torotrak flywheel energy stores, linked to a pair of motor generator units (MGUs – see more on these here) on each front wheel. These have an additional 750hp available so the total potential power output is a staggering 1,250hp.

The flywheel energy stores are also capable of sending energy to the rear wheels via two MGUs located inside each rear hub, which at times can make the Nissan an all-wheel-drive weapon. However it is unlikely they will run energy rearwards for this weekend as they have encountered some reliability issues in recent testing.

All of the car’s radiators are packaged tightly around the powertrain.

The front tyres are also larger than the rears at 360mm and 230mm respectively. This allows greater traction at the front driven wheels whilst reducing friction and creating more space at the rear for the diffuser. More on this in a moment…

Why use a front mounted engine?

It doesn’t matter where in motorsport you look, in one way or another aerodynamics rule performance. There are a number of factors alongside aero that contribute to a fast car (including weight, tyres and engine performance) but the aforementioned is the greatest of all performance differentiators.

It is for this reason that Nissan has opted to buck the trend of the mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive car and boldly step where nobody else has.

An inherent problem with a current LMP1 mid-engined car is that they produce quite a bit more downforce at the rear than at the front. This is because the diffuser and rear wing dominate the aero work load on the car, whilst only the splitter and dive planes function as good downforce generators at the front end.

By placing the engine at the front longitudinally, you create more space at both the rear and down the sides of the car which can give you some development freedom to create more downforce.

© Marshall Pruett

© Marshall Pruett

The engine at the front is mounted nice and high to clear the way for these two huge tunnels. They’re so big you can literally send a small child down them – one of the Nissan mechanics did!

Air is passed from two openings in the front eitherside of the engine’s main air intake all the way down the car along the sidepods, exiting above the diffuser. At speed the diffuser is also working hard so it also pulls air out from underneath the car, it is also pulling air through the tunnels from the front.

As a result air is accelerated at the front end, which also drives airflow through the splitter just beneath the entrance to the tunnels. This subsequently produces more front downforce than their competitors, whilst still retaining good rear downforce from both the rear wing and diffuser, too.

This is a highly efficient way of producing downforce, rather than adding draggy aero devices such as diveplanes and turning vanes, do top speed is virtually unharmed.

Also aiding aerodynamic performance is the placement of the exhausts, which exit immediately after the turbochargers over the ‘bonnet’ of the car. This has been done to prevent the exhaust gases disturbing the air at the rear of the car where the tunnels exit, by passing the gases over the top surface around the cockpit and away from more sensitive areas.

OK, so why front-wheel-drive?

Having the engine at the front means that any shafts and gearing heading in towards the rear would result in a weight penalty, so the team chose to stick to front wheel drive. This is very much contrary to popular racecar design, which are pretty much all rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive depending on regulations.

The general problem with front wheel drive is understeer – the front wheels are rotating at roughly the same rate which, although this can be controlled by a differential, often pushes the front away from the apex of the corner. Under acceleration, however, front driven wheels are actually quite advantageous as – with the weight of the car over the front – traction is better.

With more weight over the front end and more front downforce, the idea is that both traction and front end grip are sufficient enough to counter any of that understeer that plagues front-wheel-drive cars. However torque steer could also cause some problems, creating an unpredictable car when one side is under more load than the other.

Another reason why Nissan rejected rear-wheel-drive is because of the tunnels that run along the car. Half shafts would have had to be placed right across the tunnel, interrupting airflow and causing turbulence.

Cleverly, Nissan have also considered how the car can recover energy under braking for its hybrid system. Generally more work is done on the front brakes of the car as its mass tips forward under braking. As the car is front-wheel-driven by both the combustion engine and two MGUs, more energy can be harvested during the braking phase than it could if the MGUs were just at the rear wheels.

So, is it quick?

So far? No.

All three LM NISMO’s qualified outside the 107% time of the pole position Porsche 919 Hybrid, but the car isn’t miles off the pace – they were still quicker than the leading LMP2 car.

Whilst their hybrid system is capable of 750hp on its own (which would put them in the 8MJ class), the team have had trouble making the it run reliably for long periods of time so they have instead dropped to the 2MJ class for Le Mans. This costs them dearly on the straights, whilst the aerodynamics of the car are also sub-par despite the bold claims Nissan are making.

Overall then,its debut hasn’t been glittering, but there is some potential in the concept. Once the hybrid system is fully operational Nissan can do some solid work on making their ambitious aero platform work well and maybe, just maybe, take the fight to the establishment.

2015 Canadian GP Tech Highlights

My exams are finally over but, because of Le Mans this weekend and other projects, I have had to essentially copy and paste this post from my analysis for Richland F1. It does have added illustrations (which are exclusive to this blog post) and there is quite a lot of extra detail bits, though. Got plenty of things coming which I’m excited about, and hopefully you will be when they are revealed…

Canada is a highly demanding circuit for any car: the track – primarily made up of a series of straights – is interrupted by chicanes and hairpin bends. The cars must be fitted with a low downforce setup to maximise straightline speed without being penalised too much under braking.

Braking stability and power are crucial to a good laptime. There are some big stops – notably into the final chicane following the back straight – which spike brake temperatures, forcing teams to run larger brake ducts and compromise aerodynamic performance.

Montreal creates one of the biggest tradeoffs of the year alongside Spa in terms of sacrificing top speed for cornering ability, which is why many teams bring specific updates for this race.

FIA front wing changes

The FIA front wing upper flap test was introduced for Canada (as explained here) and as a result the teams had to modify suitable components to comply.

There were a few changes spotted, mostly reinforcements and other detail notches to prevent the flaps flexing too far under load, but it was still clear to see from onboard footage that their wings are still excessively bending at high speed. We should probably expect further clampdowns in the future.

Ferrari

Although it was originally rumoured that they would bring updates for the Canadian GP, it was only until a matter of days before the event that Ferrari confirmed that they had a revised power unit. The upgraded unit was only available to the Scuderia, with Sauber expected to switch to the new one following the summer break.

Whilst we do not receive any official word as to what the upgraded parts are specifically, we do know that Ferrari have spent three of their remaining nine tokens left for this season.

Three tokens is, conveniently, enough to upgrade all things related to the combustion chamber, and that is what the paddock generally believe they have done. This covers the valves and coils, direct fuel injectors, ports, cylinder head, the combustion chamber itself and timing amongst other smaller details.

Focusing on this area suggests that Ferrari are so far satisfied with their energy recovery system this year, an area which was often their achilles heel last year at times. Increasing outright power from the ICE and improving fuel efficiency appears to be the goal here.

What’s conflicting with this information is, despite Ferrari’s apparent gain in power, they still found themselves 8th in the speed trap classification list during qualifying – all seven cars ahead were Mercedes-powered.

The lead Ferrari (Kimi Raikkonen) was at most 1.2kph behind the leading Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, but 5.1kph off the benchmark set by Romain Grosjean.

This shows that the Scuderia are lacking that little bit of performance to that of the three-pointed star. With both Mercedes drivers running over 4kph slower than Grosjean, it reveals just how much more downforce they are able to run, which helps enormously under braking and reduce the effects of tyre degradation.

McLaren

McLaren’s major update is set to arrive for the Austrian GP later this month, but Honda have already brought developments to the power unit by spending two tokens.

Unlike Ferrari, Honda’s expenditure could cover components such as the turbocharger or either the MGU-K or MGU-H of the hybrid system, although more tokens would have to be spent on neighbouring areas should the former changes be dramatic.

The Honda engine lacks both power and reliability so a small step in those areas are needed to help get a better baseline to work on.

McLaren’s issues with exploiting the MGU-H are well documented, which is linked to the turbocharger to gather and also use energy to help spool it. It is therefore likely that Honda have adjusted both of these items.

Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso pulled out of the race with exhaust problems, although it turns out they were unrelated to each other.

Mercedes

A number of small updates were visible on the W06, namely alterations made after a successful test session in Barcelona after the grand prix.

To cope with the high brake temperatures, some of the ‘cake tin’ bodywork around the hub assembly was trimmed back slightly, leaving both the caliper and the entire disc exposed. This will help heat dissipate from the brakes, whilst also improving tyre heat management.

Because of the lack of high speed corners, generating good core tyre temperature becomes quite a difficult task, especially given that the lap is pretty short anyway. This is why we saw some drivers choose to do two laps during qualifying – one to warm up the tyres and the other to set their fast laptime.

By removing the bodywork around the brakes, the Mercedes drivers should have better control of their tyre temperatures as heat will transfer more readily onto the wheel rim face and then through the tyre itself.

After encountering cooling issues last year, Mercedes also chose to run a larger ERS radiator – a blister was made into the engine cover to clear it, which was the tell-tale sign. The W06 ran with the little ‘ear’ inlets eitherside of the rollhoop during the Barcelona test to compose some back-to-back data with their existing cooling package. Clearly the additional inlets were not needed and that running a larger radiator was actually more efficient.

All of the ERS components take a bit of a beating at Canada (and Austria, too, the next race on the calendar) due to the heavy braking and acceleration events. The MGUs are constantly harvesting and dispensing energy so controlling the internal heat buildup is crucial to reliability.

The medium downforce rear wing seen in both China and Bahrain was also on hand to reduce drag down the long straights.

Red Bull

As the wait continues for Renault to spend even one of their twelve remaining power unit tokens, Red Bull have been forced into making alterations to the RB11 chassis on a continual basis in their bid to recapture some form.

The car featured all new sidepods and engine cover bodywork, which are formed from one piece of carbon fibre rather than split up into multiple panels like other teams do. However the back of the sidepods now features a cutout for an interchangeable rear panel to optimise cooling.

The sidepods cut downwards quite aggressively at their midpoint, with the engine cover now bulging slightly outwards before also following this new gradient. It appears to replicate the downwash effect the Ferrari sidepods have without the distinctive step on the shoulder – something only Ferrari can achieve thanks to its unique radiator placement.

At the rear the canon heat outlets have been raised slightly and actually increased in size. For Canada these outlets flared out in quite an extreme shape but, thanks to the new sidepods/engine cover, these can be interchanged for something smaller if necessary.

RB11 chassis vanes

Up front, the under-chassis turning vanes have been completely revamped with a clear design cue from Mercedes. Rather than the two large, curled vanes that many copied previously, Red Bull have resorted to a shorter three element layout all attached to one footplate. This fine-tunes the Y250 vortex running in parallel with the chassis immediately alongside, conditioning the flow around the sides of the car.

The vanes also have two horizontal vanes that link the trailing elements of each side, stretching across the underside of the car. This is a new development which we have never seen before – it looks like a flow conditioning device to smoothen air as it passes onto the sidepod undercut.

New front brake ducts were also tested on Daniil Kvyat’s car to suit the heavy braking nature of Montreal, which featured an additional element bored ahead of another twisted vane for improve aero efficiency.

Interestingly, the RB11 ran without the blown front axle faces for the first time in 2015. Red Bull instead reverted back to the traditional pointed axle end to reduce the outwash effect of the front wing around the front tyres, possibly decreasing drag as a result.

Williams

FW37 Y100

To compliment the reduced rear wing angle for this race, Williams introduced an accompanying Y100 monkey seat winglet to help boost rear stability with a reduced drag penalty over the previous specification.

The new winglet is made of one single element rather than twin, which was used in Monaco, and its endplates no longer include the horizontal slot that distinguishes the two from eachother as a result.

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso seem to have a better handle on getting their car to work in low downforce trim than any other team, as they are once again the first to introduce a slim rear wing for Canada and other races such as Spa and Monza.

Both the main plane and top flap have been shallowed out, resulting in less drag and greater top speed. As a knock on of these changes the central wing pylon has been extended upwards to reach the re-shaped DRS actuation pod, which is more minimalist in design and tucks down into the top of the main plane.

The endplates have also been adjusted, with just two horizontal louvres evident to help reduce wingtip vortices and further decrease drag.

2015 Monaco GP Tech Highlights

Monaco is – as we all know – a proper street circuit. Even the likes of Singapore don’t compare to the challenges the streets of the Principality present to the drivers. It is a track like no other, and it is for this reason that a variety of technical changes are made to the cars to tackle it.

In this Tech Highlights post we will look at some of the widespread changes in general plus a couple of specific modifications made by a few teams.

Ferrari

Initially spotted during the Barcelona test after the Spanish GP, Ferrari introduced a new set of brake duct internals that make up the ‘cake tin’ bodywork of the hub. Having already brought new bodywork of this type for the Spanish GP specifically, it would appear as if Ferrari have developed this new duct-work for heavy braking circuits such as Monaco and indeed Canada – the next race on the calendar.

The internal bodywork has oval holes cut into it to extract hot air through the disc’s drilled ventilation holes and out of the hub assembly through the wheel. Their design is inspired by McLaren’s own version, who have run them since the beginning of the season.

Considering that the bodywork is placed at ahead of the front axle and the brake caliper is the opposing side, its main purpose is to improve aerodynamic flow around the front wheel rather than outright cooling. Filtering the hot air through the ovals is an efficient way of dissipating heat without generating the turbulence that a regular, rectangular slot would.

Force India

With many teams opting to position the front brake caliper behind the axle, it seems strange that Force India have only just revised their front uprights to follow this trend for the Monaco GP onwards.

Whilst their position does affect weight distribution, switching the calipers to the opposing side will only have a minimal impact on the balance of the car. The switch is primarily aimed at improving the internal airflow through the hub assembly to help dissipate front tyre wake.

Air will enter at the back of the hub via the duct inlet, cooling the caliper before joining the rotating air that has been passed through the disc face. Correctly managing this turbulent flow as it exits the wheel face can have a significant impact on airflow around the sidepod area behind and reducing drag.

Cooling

Monaco is not the hottest climate we visit on the F1 calendar but because of the slow nature of the circuit and the high probability of being boxed up behind someone for the entire race, the teams tend to open up the rear bodywork a little more to improve cooling.

Hot air dispensed from the cars is also more likely to hang around rather than dissipate into the atmosphere like it would on an open circuit due to the close proximity of barriers, buildings and trees. This therefore means that the air entering the car’s internals is often not ideal for its needs, thus putting further emphasis on outlet area.

Steering

The famous Loews hairpin of Monte Carlo is taken at just 30mph – the slowest corner in Formula 1. Because of how tight it is, the teams need to increase the steering angle by an additional 6 degrees above the norm (roughly 14 degrees). The drivers will spend a considerable amount of time playing with the feel of the steering rack in the simulator as full lock feels substantially different in Monaco to any other circuit.

Suspension

Due to the increased steering angle available, the wishbones must be modified to avoid contact with the wheel rim at full lock. Both the upper and lower wishbone’s trailing edges receive a small cut near the upright to clear the wheel as it comes around that extra bit more than usual.

Aerodynamically, there is an extremely minor impact but otherwise there is negligible performance loss in doing such a modification

Aerodynamics

Mercedes Y100

Mercedes returned to the large Y100 winglet often seen throughout the 2014 season for Monaco

Monaco is a zero-compromise circuit in terms of aerodynamics. The cars will run at maximum downforce for this venue as there are few straights and many slow-speed corners. This will involve running almost maximum front and rear wing angles, additional Gurney tabs positioned on the trailing edge of the wing flaps and packing as many flick-ups and turning vanes as possible onto the bodywork.

Despite being a common development theme last year, the Y100 winglet (more commonly known as the Monkey Seat) has barely had a presence on most of the cars this year. This can put down to the need to increase straightline speed and fuel efficiency as the engine manufacturers slowly eke more and more power from the V6 turbo hybrid power units.

For Monaco, however, we saw all teams run some form of Monkey Seat throughout the weekend. They can get quite complex in design, featuring multiple elements and different materials to cope with the heat from the exhaust gases.

Despite their appearance, their objective is not to produce downforce in their own right but instead help the rear wing do more work. As the rear wing is running to almost maximum angle of attack, the airflow passing beneath it tends to stall as it can no longer remain attached.

Using the energy from the exhaust gases, the Monkey Seat winglet redirects airflow upwards to help this airflow remain attached to the underside of the rear wing. Additionally, a greater upwash effect is generated at the rear of the car which boosts the potential of the diffuser directly below.

Analaysis: New FIA front wing test explained

The FIA are poised to introduce a new test on front wings in an attempt to crack down on extreme cases of flexing that have often been seen this year via the car’s onboard cameras, as of the Canadian grand prix.

The front wings are currently tested by placing a large load on the endplates to prevent excessive bending and twisting at speed – as seen primarily during the 2011 season – which focuses on the main wing structure.

However the new test is aimed specifically at the wing’s inboard flap section, which have already caused controversy before the 2015 season when Red Bull were excluded from qualifying in Abu Dhabi after their wing was discovered to contain an extreme amount of movement under load in an illegal manner.

Since the beginning of the current season we have already seen some shots of the upper flaps of the wing deflecting significantly as speed increases, namely Williams and Toro Rosso. This is done by altering the layup of the carbon fibre weaves within the structure to create a desired amount of flexing.

This is advantageous in two ways: the angle of attack of the flaps reduces which cuts drag, increasing straightline speed and improving fuel efficiency. It also shifts the aero balance rearwards to prevent oversteer during high-speed corners. The downforce then returns under braking as the aero load reduces, springing the flaps back up into place.

Cars with very strong front end grip suffer slightly more rear tyre degradation, so using this technical advantage is a good way of improving stint duration as well as laptime performance.

The FIA allow for a certain amount of bodywork flex. If it didn’t all the components would break as soon as the car touched a kerb or hit successive bumps on the track. However F1’s governing body has clearly decided that the teams are taking matters too far.

The FIA’s technical directive issued after the Monaco GP states:

“FIA intends to introduce a further load/deflection test on parts of the bodywork forward of the front wheels.

“A 60N point load will be applied to any part of the trailing edge of any front wing flap, the load will be applied normal to the flap at the relevant point.

“Under the load, the deflection may not exceed 3mm when measured vertically at the trailing edge.”

In terms of loading, 60N is a tiny fraction of what the front wing can cope with. However the upper flaps are less load-bearing than the main plane and lower sections of the wing and are merely designed to fine-tune airflow over the rest of the car whilst helping achieve overall downforce.

Judging by what we have seen from the onboard footage, though, only 3mm of allowed deflection appears to tighten up this area of design extensively so we should expect virtually every team to have modified flaps for Canada. Teams such as Manor Marussia are unlikely to have invested heavily in this area as it requires a fair bit of simulation work to create a specific amount of flexing as the aerodynamic load increases, whereas the top teams have ample time and money to develop these sorts of things.

There is a bit of a performance gain in this region but the new test is unlikely to affect the pecking order as everyone will more than likely be affected in equal measures.

This article was originally posted by myself on Richland F1

2015 Spanish GP Tech Highlights

Note: This is essentially my analysis piece for Richland F1, with some added bits and pieces, illustrations and details about the fuel flow monitoring changes that were introduced. Exam season is in full swing so apologies for the not-so-exclusive content this week.

Barcelona is pretty much the best playground for an F1 car. Aerodynamics are severely tested with a variety of long, high and medium speed corners spaced out by a series of straights, whilst the final sector is now a good hunting ground for those with strong mechanical grip after the circuit layout changed in 2008.

With such an emphasis on aero, updates are often developed from around the end of the winter testing period specifically for this race and on into the middle of the season. Teams recognise this as an opportunity to jump ahead of their nearest rival but with almost everyone making gains all of the time, eking out that extra tenth of a second from the overall package is all the more crucial. Continue reading