Barcelona Final Test – Final Updates (Marussia and Caterham)

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With HRT out of the equation, that leaves just Marussia and Caterham fighting for the penultimate and last places in the 2013 season. The two teams chasing the midfield bunch have a lot to play for as they appear to be continuing their battle for 10th spot in the Constructors’ championship. The difference between 11th and 10th position is worth literally millions of pounds, so grabbing that place will be extremely important for next season as the new regulations come in.

Whether either team can find that extra step to bring them up to the establishment will always remain an uncertainty, but the two teams are making (very) steady progress in putting the foundations down to do so. This post will highlight the key updates that both teams have brought to the final test and most likely to the first round in Australia.

Caterham

Having secured 10th place in the dying moments of last year, Caterham have arguably always had the upper hand over any of the “new” teams since their birth as Team Lotus in 2010. However, pre-season form has suggested that the team have stayed relatively static in terms of performance whilst Marussia have made leaps and bounds over the winter.

Having not brought anything substantial to the final test (a large update is due for when the European races start – Barcelona, incidently), I shall go over some of the key components on the CT03.

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Exhausts have been the main talking point around the CT03. The top image shows the exhaust channel as seen in Jerez and the first Barcelona test. It features an aerofoil that runs the width of the channel. The aerofoil is designed to further push the exhaust plume downwards towards the floor, increasing the downwash/coanda effect that teams have been exploiting since last year.

The FIA have since clarified that as this device is within the imaginary conical region that prohibits the use of bodywork to manipulate the exhaust gases, it is therefore illegal. The bottom image shows that the aerofoil has been removed. Caterham had no choice but to remove it, but I doubt they will lose too much performance because of this. Obviously it would not have been there unless there was performance to be had, but the reduction of this device can be easily recovered elsewhere on the car.

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Caterham have further developed on last season’s front wing. The wing features four elements in total, two of them created from splitting the top flap close to the endplate. Having more elements increase the consistency of the airflow along the gradient of the wing, so I expect to see this area being further developed across the season as most teams have at least five elements in this area (Ferrari have seven in total along the endplate area!).

Also evident in this image is the cascade winglet arrangement. The element that attaches the main winglet to the endplate (spanning from the ‘McG’ logo) is angled downwards, which indicates that it is trying to turn more flow around the front tyre by accelerating the air over this bodywork and into the endplate. The small horizontal fin attached to the main winglet is used to guide flow coming off of the top flap inside of the front tyre and efficiently through the front suspension arrangement.

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The CT03 features a stepped nose without a modesty panel (see my post about them here – https://thewptformula.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/analysis-modesty-panels/), only Lotus have opted to do this along with Caterham. Having said that, both Lotus and Caterham had the most efficient stepped noses from last year, so carrying them over will reduce weight at the front axle without costing them too much of an aero-penalty.

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The CT03 is very much an evolution of last year’s car, but the team have added three vertical fences that generate vortices along the length of the sidepod. This vortices aim to increase the downwash effect upon the exhaust plume further. What I find interesting about them is that they are very high. The height of these fences are generally determined by the thickness of the boundary layer of air that lines the top of the sidepod inlet (McLaren had low-lying fences on their sidepods last year). This indicates that their sidepod design is compromised in that it produces a large layer of boundary flow, suggesting that they are having issues managing the airflow coming over the top of the chassis and also handling the wake from the front tyre that is induced at high-speed.

Marussia

Marussia have done the complete opposite to Caterham and have introduced a substantial upgrade package to their MR02 for the first race.

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Above shows an image of the launch version of the 2013 challenger. It features and extremely rounded engine cover with a very thick surface area in comparison to almost every other team on the grid. This made the car look very long, but I am told that the wheelbase is exactly the same as last year’s car.

In this image we can now see the addition of a shark-fin style engine cover that is very similar to one that Williams have been running for the past few years. This should guide airflow coming off of the airbox area more directly to the central section of the rear wing, producing cleaner flow and increasing the efficiency of the wing. This also leaves area to develop the cooling exit that many teams have at the back of the car that opens up right onto the centre of the beam wing.

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Above we have an image of the front wing that the MR02 was running during Jerez and Barcelona. It is a direct copy (as far as I can tell) from last year’s car, featuring four elements and very simple endplates.

Below shows the new design. The endplates have been broadened by increasing the width of the footplate, allowing a turning vane to placed upon it in order to aid flow around the front tyre and into the sidepod area. The cascade winglet has a small detail in that it dips downwards as it meets the vane, a common feature on many of the cars that was pioneered by Ferrari.

The wing is still four elements but has been profiled much differently: all of the elements of the wing bend downwards to meet the footplate, creating slots all the way across the front wing. This is to increase the consistency of the flow which should induce more downforce as well as better direction of flow over the rest of the car.

Also new are the slots at the inboard tip of the flap. As seen on the Lotus last year (and copied by many teams), These intricate pieces are also designed to control airflow coming off of the flap and direct it effectively back over the suspension. Note that a gurney flap has been placed across the majority of the trailing edge of the flap except the most inboard part. This has been done as another measure of guiding flow backwards.

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Thankyou very much for reading this. Any feedback would be great and enjoy this coming season!

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2 thoughts on “Barcelona Final Test – Final Updates (Marussia and Caterham)

  1. Morris Dancer

    Just to add one thing: the Marussia will have KERS this year, which it didn’t in 2012. This should be just one more thing that should make them faster than Caterham, all else being equal.

    I hope that this year they can stop being pointless.

    Reply
    1. thewptformula Post author

      Very true, forgot to mention this. Have to say that they have impressed so far considering their position at the end of 2012. I hope so, too, for the sake of actually having an interesting midfield battle!

      Reply

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