Goodwood FoS tech blog!

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Time to kick this blog back into life a little now that I’m free for summer, and what better a way of doing so than looking at some of the great tech on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This year’s festival was probably the best one I’ve been to out of the four or five times I’ve visited, not least because we had a great spot on the hillclimb to view the cars – on the inside of Molecomb corner along the braking zone right by the hay bales. Mercedes brought the W05 F1 car too, making them the first team to use a new hybrid-era car for demo purposes.

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First stop was the FIA stand, which was filled with some interesting information about motorsport in general as well as a few desirable racing cars.

I knew what was going to be on display there, too – the halo concept that F1 wants to introduce next season was the first thing that caught my attention as I approached. Unfortunately, rather than putting in the effort of actually integrating the halo with the car, the structure had clearly been pinched from Ferrari (they tested it pre-season) and quite literally been stuck to an old monocoque.

The halo device was pioneered by Mercedes and has since been interpreted by Ferrari. The design above weighs around 5kg and is probably made from titanium or alloy steel with a layer of carbon fibre sheets wrapped around the hollow tubing for aesthetic and practical reasons (e.g. provides a ‘grip’ so the driver can use it as a support when entering/exiting the cockpit).

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I managed to grab this ‘drivers view’ shot whilst I was there too. Visibility isn’t bad at all- it only affects the centreline view, which will only be of slight irritation to the driver. In fact the view looks remarkably similar to that of Tom Dillmann in the Formula V8, which I edited back in February to include the halo.

In my personal opinion I think the halo is a rubbish concept. There has to be a better way of implementing better safety standards with an aesthetically pleasing design. That might involve tearing up the current regulations and doing a complete redesign of the chassis (not just the aerodynamic surfaces), but if that is the future of F1 then so be it. I’d rather see the Red Bull aeroscreen receive further development than stick with the halo but inevitably there will be some form of head protection whether we like it or not.

Further along the FIA stand lay the 2015 Toro Rosso STR10, and what a beautiful machine it is. Formula 1 cars can only fully be appreciated when seen up close in person: the attention to detail and finish on them blows me away.

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As you will know from previous posts on this blog, the front wing is such a delicate area of the car and one where a lot of attention is given. The STR wing is composed of new fewer than six elements for airflow to pass over and generate downforce, whilst the neat flicks, vanes and the general outward turning profile of the wing pulls air around the front tyre behind. As is common on most front wings today, a small infrared camera (mounted inside a bulb) is mounted on a stalk from the cascade winglet to monitor the front tyre’s surface temperature.

Moving on from there I went to the consumer car stands where there is always plenty see and do at Goodwood. Tesla – a company I follow very closely – were at the festival for the first time (from what I can recall) although they did not have their new Model 3 on display. The older and new generation Model S were out for the public to see and touch, alongside the Model X with its clever gullwing doors (known as ‘falcon doors’) that utilise sensors to avoid hitting objects in close proximity when opening.

There was also a stripped down Model S rolling chassis, with the suspension, motors and steering components revealed.

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The baseline Model S has just the one motor generator unit at the back of the car to power the rear wheels, however the image above shows the front end of the dual motor Model S. This is the front motor assembly, lying horizontally in parallel with the front axle, and is much smaller than the rear unit as it is doing less work on the axle under braking than the rear. The advantage of keeping its size to minimum is increased room in the front luggage space and preventing any intrusion into the batteries that lie along the floor of the car.

I expect the launch of the Model 3 will catapult Tesla into a leading car manufacturer and it’s exciting to see a fresh take on the car being designed and built to such high standards and an ever-decreasing price bracket for the public.

More front wing tech courtesy of Renault, who had a replica Lotus E23 at the front of their stand. The multiple arched element design is in line with current trend however it is not as refined as the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull or indeed the Toro Rosso wing mentioned earlier. It looks like a collection of ideas stuck together rather than a cohesive design, which is probably indicative of their current financial situation and where the team are mentally after effectively signing 2016 off recently.

After watching some of the classic cars make their way up the hill climb, I then headed to the top of the hill (via a very entertaining/bumpy/drifty tractor ride) to watch the rally cars. I’d never really got into rallying but I nevertheless enjoy looking at the cars – some of the design ideas on them are, by lack of a better word, industrial! Having said that, they probably have to be a bit less refined at the expense of being more robust given the torture they go through.

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For example, here is the 1984 Audi Quattro S1 and check out the placement of this radiator: slap bang beneath the rear wing, which completely defeats the object of having a wing there in the first place! I’d probably call it more of a rear spoiler but besides, to finish first first you must finish, and this is a clear example of that.

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Continuing with the theme of rear wings, here is Subaru’s Impreza STi WRX from 2004. The strakes that interrupt the wing’s profile are there to stop airflow spilling across the wing as the car turns. Why aren’t these in F1 then? Well they do crop up every now and then, but they’re mostly effective in rallying because the car spends a lot of the time sideways. Air washing across the surface rather than moving perpendicularly along doesn’t produce sufficient downforce, so the strakes are added to guide the air over the wing.

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On this mid-engined 1986 Ford RS200 we can see a general cooling intake into the engine bay area (lower inlet) and an upper inlet for the turbocharger, all on the right hand side of the car. The air is then fed from the turbo back upwards to an air-to-air intercooler that is mounted horizontally along the roof line, tucked inside a thin roof scoop, before then being transferred into the four cylinders on the left side of the car.

Again, I love the shear simplicity of the system and how easy it is to see the engineering at work. Quite often when looking at the internals of modern F1 machinery it is difficult to spot how everything links together – it is taking me an age to complete drawings and fully write up a piece on the 2016 Ferrari power unit.

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On the way back down the hill was the Porsche marquee and above is their 2015 Le Mans winning 919 Hybrid (I didn’t spot the 2016 winner but I imagine they’d feel pretty guilty about showing that one off given the circumstances of their victory). You can see from this angle how the airflow is funneled from the nose of the car through various channels before exiting along the sides.

Not only do these tunnels provide a good way of cutting drag by removing blockage at the front, they also allow the splitter to work harder. This air can then be used to manage the rear tyre wake as it is projected immediately into the wheel arch behind.

LMP1 is a category I continue to watch with great interest: the technology in these cars is virtually on par with those in F1 and gets far less coverage/insight. If you’d like to see more analysis on these cars let me know – I did on the ambitious Nissan GT-R LM NISMO last year.

That concludes this blog post on some of the tech at Goodwood. If you have any suggestions on what you might want to see on this blog in the future please do leave a comment on any of my posts or find me on social media!

Analysis: What will F1 2017 look like?

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted (lots of university assignments/exam preparations going on lately) but I’ve once again teamed up with F1 Fanatic to inform you about the 2017 F1 technical regulations overhaul.

The changes are pretty widespread: bringing back the 2 metre overall width from pre-1998; larger tyres; delta-shaped front wings – there’s a lot to talk about! You can find this fairly comprehensive analysis about all the changes here. Thanks to their helpful image sliders we are able to compare the 2016 car with next year’s in a side-by-side comparison too, which looks pretty cool.

I don’t think there are many other people who have done something similar since the regulations were officially published at the end of April, so go check it out and let me know what you think about the rule changes in the comments!

Tech Highlights: Mercedes S-duct

One of the key design features of this year’s Mercedes W07 is the introduction of an S-duct. The S-duct was first seen in 2012, with Sauber using it as a way to manage airflow over the stepped nose. The idea was that airflow would be less likely to detach from the chassis if air was introduced behind the step. This was done by channeling airflow from underneath the car to a vent exiting backwards above the front bulkhead via an s-shaped duct in the nosebox, hence the term S-duct.

Although it is not a game-changing device on its own, it offers a way of linking multiple aerostructures together to make the car work cohesively around the front end. The steep inclination of the nose and the short, flat top section of the chassis means that, particularly in yaw, airflow can wander around a lot. The S-duct aims to control this airflow by keeping it attached to the car’s surface, which can be further exploited by the turning vanes and sidepods as it passes downstream.

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Mercedes used this fairing in Brazil last year to mimic the effects of an S-duct without air flowing through it, i.e. testing the shape of the duct in otherwise normal conditions

The idea of Mercedes running an S-duct in 2016 was first mooted in Brazil last year, where the team ran the above fairing in place of the conventional cover over the internal suspension components. The vent – which was not connected to an inlet – was wrapped over a horizontal bulge that was needed to clear the larger hydraulic heave element that was also tested at the time, something that was also carried over into 2016.

This design clearly had its drawbacks, the bulge in particular was neither pretty or efficient. As a result the W07 has lower connecting points for the pushrod arms and rockers, sinking the heave spring into the chassis and therefore making the bulge redundant. Furthermore, this has allowed the engineers to further integrate the duct into the rest of the car without compromising airflow passing over it.

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Now we can clearly see the efforts Mercedes have gone to in packaging the S-duct within the tight confines of the nosebox and front bulkhead. Unlike any other S-duct in the pitlane the Mercedes vent exits much further behind the nose – the most common design features a single exit slot where the nose meets the chassis.

The W07’s plumbing also differs from the competition in that the inlet for the duct is much further forward. The inlet’s shape is such that it evades the single cross section rule, just like Force India’s ‘nostrils’ nose, in that no matter which way you cut it there does not appear to be a ‘hole’ in the Mercedes nose.

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The positioning of the inlet and outlet creates an elongated ‘s’ to the duct rather than the traditionally tight plumbing. Images from the Australian GP reveal that the inlet is split, navigating airflow up two channels to a pair of nostrils made into the vanity panel concealing the front bulkhead before exiting over the chassis top behind. It is unclear whether the nostrils feed into a single, slender exit or if the division remains – above I have drawn it as two separate exits.

McLaren also have two exit vents instead of a sole large vent, so perhaps keeping the volume of airflow lower has its benefits. This may well be to do with the speed at which the air exits the duct and how that influences the airflow around it.

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Above highlights how air enters and exits the duct and then over the car

The Mercedes version has a few apparent advantages over its rivals. The gradual way in which air is passed up to the top side of the car must help keep the airflow stable and less turbulent. This will also benefit the speed at which air exits over the car, which will increase the chance of potentially wandering airflow to cling to the car.

So, just like the complex bargeboards, Mercedes appear to again be a step ahead of everyone else when it comes to both the power unit and chassis design.

Why working in F1 is not my dream job…

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MOTORSPORT – CORPORATE 2010 – RENAULT F1 – PRISES DE VUES – VIRY (FRA) – 28/09/2010 – PHOTO : FREDERIC LE FLOC H / DPPI

If you came up to me a couple of years ago and asked where I wanted to be working in the future there was only one answer: a design engineer in Formula 1. I wanted to graduate from university, dive straight into the design office of an F1 team and get stuck in – the idea of climbing the ladder and reaching the top ranks of a top team such as Ferrari or McLaren was exciting, even if I knew the dream would take years to achieve.

I admire those who are already at the top of the engineering pyramid in the sport. Adrian Newey, Paddy Lowe, James Allison and Ross Brawn to name a few who have cut it at the top of the pinnacle of motorsport. I wanted to replicate their success and have a profound impact on F1 and motor racing in general. You could argue that I, or anyone else who has the same ambition and drive, can still do exactly that. However I have been slowly taking backwards steps to see the bigger picture and I am realising that perhaps this is not possible in the way the engineers above have achieved.

Hundreds of people make up F1 teams in this era. Take Mercedes as an example: Over 500 people work on the power units alone, plus a further 500 on the chassis. Rewind 30 years ago and this number was perhaps 50, budget depending. This naturally means that anyone walking into the sport now will have a tougher time making a name for themselves than they would have done previously. Yes, F1 is a team sport, but who doesn’t want to be at the heart of it, driving development forward and leading a team into the history books? Continue reading

Tech Highlights: Mercedes’s complex bodywork

With just two weeks of pre-season testing the teams have had an incredibly tough time making sure not only that their new cars run reliably and that they correlate with what the data has shown back at the factory, but also assessing new components ahead of the first race.

Mercedes covered over 3,500 miles across both tests in Barcelona, putting one of the sport’s biggest outfits in the prime position to try out some aggressive concepts well before the season opener in Melbourne. During the second week the W07 was clad with plenty of complex devices, particularly around the sidepod area.

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Continue reading

Tech Analysis of ALL 2016 cars!

As you may (or may not) know, all of my technical analysis pieces for the 2016 F1 cars are up on F1 Fanatic this year. However I’ve made it really easy for you to find your favourite car/team by linking them all in this post! So here you are – enjoy!

  • Mercedes W07 – Can the World Champions continue their winning streak?
  • Ferrari SF16-H – Ferrari’s bold winter strategy could bring them a step closer to the Mercs
  • Williams FW38 – The FW38 is arguably the most important car for Williams in a long time
  • Red Bull RB12 – 2016 may be a stop-gap for the Bulls, but don’t discount them for a podium
  • Force India VJM09 – Will Force India be able to keep pace with the bigger budget teams?
  • Renault R.S.16 – It’s Renault’s first year back as a Constructor, so how will the R.S.16 fare?
  • Toro Rosso STR11 – Arguably the boldest car on the grid, Toro Rosso mean business in 2016
  • Sauber C35 – Sauber have their eyes on 2017, but the C35 is nonetheless a solid evolution
  • McLaren MP4-31 – Time to step up, McLaren, and the new car shows it
  • Manor Racing MRT05 – Now with Mercedes propulsion, can Manor fight for points?
  • Haas VF-16 – Debutants Haas have gone down the listed parts strategy. And it could work!

Note: This post will be updated as the articles are released.

Announcements 7…

After a lot of recent thought, I’ve decided to take a different approach to the upcoming season. This will be my fourth year in the business of tech in motorsport, more specifically F1, but it’s time to switch things up a bit if I want to stay relevant!

First of all, I’m very happy to say that I’ve teamed up with F1 Fanatic for at least the testing period, so all my technical analysis of the cars will be on there. Here’s my analysis of the Ferrari’s new SF16-H, which could well be Mercedes’ closest challenger – http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/02/19/ferrari-sf16-h-technical-analysis/.

Mercedes look to have a very interesting car in the W07 and Williams have a tidy looking number in the FW38, so I’m looking forward to addressing those two.

Secondly, after a lot of consideration, my blog will now become an outlet for more extensive pieces (such as my F1 suspension geometry piece I posted earlier this month) and other things I’m generally up to regarding the motorsport world. So, no, there won’t be Technical Highlights series this year unfortunately!😦

As much as I love doing them, they are very time consuming and I am now in my second year of University so time is something that I don’t often have. After my January exams I was achieving a high 2:1, but I’m pushing hard for a First and that means that I have to make some sacrifices. Studies have to come first!

I am going to do my best to join other publications for race-by-race analysis, which I will obviously let you know about. They will include illustrations as well as real photographs, which should make for better content.

I have a few other plans that I’m keeping to myself for now. As for video content, I am still after a decent editing software but it should start becoming more of a regular thing heading into the Spring.

Thanks for the support as always – 2016 is going to be a good one!