The final round before the 4 week summer break was held in Hungary – a very high downforce orientated circuit with only one straight to worry about in terms of drag reduction. It is for this reason that we often see as many aero bits crammed onto the cars as possible, just like Monaco.
Straightline speed is not a necessity but strong driveability is crucial for good laptime, from both the power unit and the chassis. This is particularly notable in the middle sector where a series of medium speed corners really test the car’s aerodynamic balance and power delivery. This is why Red Bull appeared to be a step closer to Mercedes as their chassis is arguably the best on the grid and their Renault power unit has had multiple software upgrades on the driveability front.
As far as new tech went there wasn’t much to talk about but as always there were a few things that are worth mentioning…Williams
Williams continued to experiment with their cooling solutions and again ran with the slotted shark fin engine cover during practice. However, unlike Germany, it was not used on either car for qualifying/race.
The cover features 18 slots on each side of the fin and acts as an alternative cooling solution to a larger opening at the rear of the car. This is more aerodynamically efficient than a large opening as the more open the car’s bodywork is the higher the induced drag.
The last generation of rules (pre-2009) allowed teams to litter the sidepods with lots of louvres to cool the car rather than opening up the rear bodywork. However since the FIA decided to clamp down on the plethora of winglets and chimneys dotted around this area, there are few places to put cooling louvres such as the ones just described. Williams are the only team to have exploited these areas, with not only the engine cover but also the region just behind the driver’s helmet and right on top of the leading edge of the sidepod.
New on the FW36 in Hungary was this roll hoop wing, sitting just behind the T-cam mount. Ferrari also have their own version this year and it is interesting that teams are now re-adopting solutions that were common about 6-8 years ago.
Whilst the wing may produce a little bit of downforce by itself, its main function is to increase the rear wing’s effectiveness. The tips of the wing are quite pointed in shape, which allows the vortices to form more readily along that axis. The vortices are then projected onto the airflow passing over the top surface of the rear wing along the top flap. The vortices decrease the chance of airflow separating at high speed, thus producing more downforce from the rear wing across a greater speed threshold.
Raced only by Pastor Maldonado in Germany was this new front wing endplate, which returned once again in Hungary. For this weekend, however, it was only raced by Romain Grosjean!
It replaces the previous twin fence design with just a single fence, with an aggressive curvature and two pressure gradient vanes. This change follows on from Mercedes also ditching the twin fence design and it is due to the narrower front wing regulations for this year.
When the front wings were wider the teams had greater design freedom when it came to managing airflow around the front tyre. The endplates were at the extremities of the car so multiple fences and gurney tabs were used to direct air to precise locations downstream. Since the front wings are narrower this year, passing air around the front tyre is a little more difficult. Single element designs are much more reliable at doing this job but at a cost of directing air to more desirable locations.
Lotus’s design is actually very similar to that on the Mercedes, with the upper area of the fence extending further back at a more aggressive angle and forming an undercut beneath. The two smaller curved vanes set up low pressure zones behind across a range of speeds, which draws air from behind the endplate and beneath the front wing, around the front tyre and onto the sidepod/floor region. The faster you can pull air over the car the more downforce you can create and the two vanes do a good job at this, although they present an extra surface to oncoming airflow which induces drag.
The E22’s diffuser also received an updated set of small vortex generators (VGs) along the bottom of the central section. The VGs are paired and each pair now angles towards eachother to form a nozzle shape (the previous version featured straight VGs) just before the diffuser starts to sweep upwards. The nozzle shape will concentrate the formed vortices and further aid airflow attachment to the top wall of the diffuser for a greater upwash effect.
Finally, the deeper profiled two-element Monkey Seat winglet was reintroduced after a brief spell away. Ideally the team would always want to use this specification of winglet as it encourages the exhaust plume to rise upwards and keep airflow passing beneath the rear wing attached. However their Renault power unit is holding them back so the shallower profile winglet is more often used to cut drag.
After racing a tweaked engine cover in Germany, Force India decided to retreat back to their original, more open specification for Hungary. This was probably due to the high track temperatures (which reached 56 degrees Celsius during FP2) although Germany was also pretty hot and they decided to give it the go ahead.
The older bodywork features a more rounded engine cover with an opening over the roll hoop to provide air for either the gearbox oil radiator or direct cooling for the turbo unit, whilst the new bodywork abandons the aforementioned with a more defined shark fin engine cover, too (for Germany only the roll hoop intake was blanked, whilst the older shark fin remained).
The team could have predicted hot conditions all weekend and, coupled with the lack of straights, may have opted for a safer package to cool the internals at the cost of additional drag. However, as mentioned earlier, there is little penalty in this as the Hungaroring is all about grip rather than top speed.