2013 Monaco GP Tech Highlights

Monaco is a track that reaps rewards by providing drivers with a great setup: good traction and front end grip, compliant over the kerbs and bumps and one that aspires confidence rather than out-and-out performance. It is for this reason that teams tend not to bring many upgrades to the cars with the exception of mechanical parts such as suspension components.

Because the track has two relatively short straights (pit straight and the tunnel), the teams will cram as many downforce producing devices onto the car regardless of drag as the circuit is mainly made up of tight turns and traction zones.

Rear Wings

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On a general basis, most teams have brought with them higher downforce rear wings with a longer chord on the top flap. The increase in length will produce more downforce than the rear wings we tend to see at every other circuit on the calendar.

When DRS was introduced in 2011, a lot of development was put into extracting the best from the new rear wings. The aim was simple: dump as much drag as possible with the top flap open under DRS conditions but also produce as much downforce as possible when the flap is closed.

During the first year we saw large top flaps as they produce the most downforce but this soon changed when the shorter chord potential was realised. The flap can open 50mm when DRS is activated. With a longer chord top flap, the gap remains the same size but it cannot be opened to a greater angle as a shorter chord flap. Reducing the size of the chord allows the flap to open to an almost horizontal level, reducing significantly more drag than longer chords.

With the change in DRS regulations this year (only allowed to be active in DRS zones rather than free use over the duration of a single lap during qualifying and practise) teams have seen the benefit of bringing back larger chord elements, particularly on street circuits such as Monaco.

Williams

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Williams brought yet more small alterations to their front wing design, this time splitting the endplates of the main cascade winglet (‘Oris’ logo winglet) into three smaller segments, each one stemmed from each of the three planes in the winglet and swooping upwards. The three segments are now aerofoil shaped and create small vortices at their tips. This is another enhancement to flow management around the front tyre.

The cascade also features two join pieces that hold the three planes together. This is to stop flexing under load as this could alter the alignment of the planes as the aerodynamic loading increases at speed and therefore direct the airflow to unwanted areas.

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The Grove based outfit continued to trial run with last year’s front wing and other small changes to the flaps and cascade winglets, but they also chose to run the car with the stepped nose configuration during practise on Thursday. Whether this was for data correlation or that they wanted to save the new front wings for Saturday remains unclear, although it would be a wise choice in case of a practise shunt with the barriers.

Ferrari

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The Prancing Horse continued to trickle in the updates although nothing major was brought to this event. The devil is definitely in the detail as the cars are reaching the peak of their development cycle with the new regulations looming for 2014.

This is why Ferrari have sought after perfecting their already interesting nose pillar layout. The top wing in the above image shows the latest edition of the F138’s front wing, the bottom wing being the Spanish GP specification. Spot the difference?

The top wing pillars are much straighter and do not feature the sudden step as they reach the nose tip. The older specification will help guide a larger volume of flow in the area just beneath the nose, but the new edition will produce more consistent management along the entire length of the pillar.

The team opted not to use the new nose for qualifying and thus did not run it on Sunday, either.

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Also new on the F138 was the introduction of this new Y75 winglet, or “monkey seat”. It features two planes, the second being made up of the upper endplate element bending round and stretching across the width of the winglet. This generates a little bit more downforce than its normal counterpart that has just one element.

Lotus

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Likewise with Ferrari, Lotus are another team constantly producing small alterations to their E21 across every race so far this season.

The latest installation features a very subtle change to the turning vane on the front wing. The inner vane has been split into two, much like how the Williams have split theirs into three. This guides the flow at a very slightly different angle to that of its older single plane vane and also produces an independent vortice in its own right.

These splits and angle changes are very sensitive towards the front tyre region, a critical area to manage particularly as the tyres this year are very fragile.

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Lotus were also another team to introduce a rear wing with a thicker top flap chord. Note also how the main plane element is much thicker at the centre of the wing than it is at its outer extremities.

Mercedes

Mercedes are rumoured to have brought with them their final 2013 rear suspension components which were due to arrive in Barcelona after already being heavily delayed. This is only speculation but apparently there is a slightly different structure to the wishbones and uprights (an additional layer of carbon fibre skin) as well as some modifications to camber and upright positioning. However I have no official confirmation of this…

(edit: the gearbox casing received an additional layer of carbon fibre with the inboard suspension mounts now located on the carbon fibre rather than the titanium base below. This alters the geometry slightly and is similar to that of the Ferrari F2004 gearbox casing http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2013/898/1069.html)

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Other than that there was an interesting development in terms of tyre management data collection. Lewis Hamilton ran a pair of the above devices on the front wing cascades during Thursday practise. They appear to be infrared cameras facing back towards the face of the front tyres.

This is interesting because Mercedes have struggled with rear tyre degradation more than front tyre issues. Maybe, with the rumoured new suspension parts, they are trying to gather more data on the front tyres and attempt to balance this with the rears. The cameras will detect temperature difference across the entire face of the tyre.

Also worth noting is the fact that both Mercedes drivers were generally struggling with front tyre temperatures this weekend, particularly Hamilton in qualifying. Perhaps some development on the front end of the car will work in conjunction with the rear end and help solve the problem a bit quicker. Time will tell…

Thankyou very much for reading. As always if you have any suggestions for improvements or general feedback please leave a comment below as this will help in future posts.

I would also like to inform you of another F1 technical analysist, Jack, that posts after every Grand Prix on his YouTube channel (link here: http://www.youtube.com/user/JPetrolhead). You can also follow him on Twitter, @JPetrolhead.

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