Category Archives: General

Analysis of the key components of an F1 car.

Analysis: F1 Suspension Geometry

I’ve talked a lot about the aerodynamic and power unit components of a Formula 1 car on this blog, but rarely touched on the raw mechanical systems that are also critical to performance. There’s a reason for this, though – it’s all a bit voodoo. There are plenty of theories behind proper suspension geometry for a race car, however it becomes much more complex to analyse these mechanics at F1 level as downforce – the biggest performance differentiator in the sport – plays an important role in the design calculations.

For this blog post I am going to run over some of the important aspects of suspension geometry and the factors involved (e.g. centre of gravity, aerodynamic downforce). Continue reading

Analysis: 2016 predictions

It’s that time of the year (well, the end of the year…) when we look ahead to what lies in store ahead. For the past two years I have made an illustration as to what I think the next season’s cars will generally look like, and I’d like to say I’ve done a decent job at highlighting what will be different (2014 prediction here, 2015 prediction here). So here’s what I think 2016 will hold…

2016 side & plan

As you can probably tell already, there are no major technical changes being made for next season so my prediction is simply an evolution of what we have seen in 2015. Before we move further, it is worth noting that the camera pods mounted by the stalks on the nose will be allowed for 2016, but banned from 2017 onwards.

Starting with the nose, it was clear that the grid was divided between long and wide, short and stumpy, and short with a thumb tip extension. The latter design was the most popular choice as it allowed the neutral section of the wing (in the centre) to remain completely exposed to oncoming airflow whilst increasing the volume beneath the nose for which flow could pass into.

In 2016 I believe this will again be the most common solution, although I do not expect every team to rush to it. As we saw with Ferrari, the car is built around one particular design so it may not be beneficiary to change it. The process of designing the car for the next season starts very early on, so we could see some cars optimised around the longer or stumpy shapes.

The front wing is an expensive region of development for everyone at the moment, and Mercedes changed the game once again in 2015 by creating two clear segments of the wing with an aggressive arched profile at the outboard section. I expect most of the teams to migrate towards this – the likes of Ferrari and Williams have already made some strides to keep up but I predict some very intricate craftsmanship here.

Further back, I think the biggest area of progression will be the sidepods and engine cover bodywork. The teams have become increasingly more confident in running smaller bodywork as the power units are less and less reliant on large cooling apertures, so with further gains in the thermal efficiency of the engines over the winter we could be seeing some lovely shapes next year. I anticipate a lot more shrink-wrapping around the internals, which we started to see this year as blisters were made into the engine covers to clear the back of the engine/gearbox oil cooler. This could result in a reduced sized airbox inlet, too, yet possibly accompanied by the return of smaller ‘ear’ inlets eitherside of the roll hoop as these are less aero critical than the profile of the sidepods.

There should be further improvements made around the floor ahead of the rear tyre, with a variety of arranged slots diverting the turbulence that normally impinges on the diffuser away from such an aerodynamically sensitive region. This, alongside the development of vortex alignment along the sides of the splitter (Y250 vortex projected from the front wing) and the floor, should also equate to higher rake angles and thus more rear downforce.

The biggest visual change for next year will be the addition of at least one (maximum of two) secondary exhaust pipe. These redirect the wastegate gases away from those passing through the turbine of the turbocharger in an attempt to increase sound levels. It is unclear whether their orientation at the back of the car – which can either be to the side or above the main exhaust exit – will have any performance benefits, particularly when considering the design of the Y100 (or Monkey Seat) winglet immediately behind/above.

These alterations will have an impact on the design of the rear wing and its endplates, too. In my design I have opted for an advanced version of what Mercedes (and occasionally Red Bull) were using for 2015, with three tall vertical slots made into the base of the ‘plate and heavy sculpting to manipulate the airflow, forcing it upwards. It will also be interesting to see if the succession of horizontal slots made into Ferrari’s endplates just above the floor will carry over into 2016 as they were not seen on any other car.

Finally, the diffuser may not see too much attention as the 2017 regulations will be hugely different in this area, but we shall assume that further flick-ups and Gurney flap arrangements will pop up here throughout next year to fine tune the up/outwash of the air as it expands out from beneath the car.

Edit: Just remembered about S-ducts! I left this out of my design prediction because it is not a silver bullet in terms of performance, i.e. copying it will not necessary give you laptime. Like the design of the nose, it has to be integrated with the rest of the car and how airflow is managed around the front of the chassis. A well designed S-duct has great benefits in managing boundary layer flow both above and below the front bulkhead, however the nose, front wing and internal suspension components must be considered as they affect how it performs.

Red Bull have been a consistent user for the past few years, but others have jumped onto it over the last 12 months in particular. McLaren and Force India had race-worthy versions by mid-season, whilst Mercedes appeared to be testing some bodywork for it (albeit a potential disguise for their 2016 front suspension concept) in Brazil. If the only way to catch Mercedes is to go to extreme measures and hope it pays off, maybe we could see the full emergence of the S-duct after all.

Analysis: Will 2016 exhausts be louder?

Originally published on Richland F1

On the very first test outing of the current generation V6 turbo hybrid power units back in February 2014, photographers and journalists got their first taste of the sound of the future of F1. Needless to say, the paddock was split. They are far from the screaming naturally aspirated engines of the past but do arguably offer a much deeper and richer blend of tones, albeit at a substantially lower volume.

There have been complaints from a lot of fans about the lack of decibels over the past year and a half, which is why the FIA have decided to take action ahead of the 2016 season. This involves splitting the wastegate and engine exhaust gases into two separate systems.

At the moment, the exhaust gases from the engine (via the turbocharger) and from the wastegate system all exit through a single exit pipe at the back of the car. The single exhaust pipe layout allows the wastegate gases to escape the bodywork cleanly and prevent internal overheating although this does slightly hinder the overall volume of the exhaust tone.

For 2016 the FIA have decided to divide the ICE and wastegate gases into two sets of pipework, whereby the teams must retain the single, large exhaust exit for the former and up to two smaller outlets – straddling either side the central exit – for the latter. The motorsport governing body think that by splitting the two systems the engine sound will be louder than before, although it is actually more likely to change its tone. Regardless of whether it works or not, at least we won’t be seeing the ‘trumpet’ exhaust tested last year!

Another interesting topic that has emerged from the regulation change is whether it will have any aerodynamic benefits. We have witnessed the power of exhaust gases when it comes to generating downforce when Red Bull pioneered the EBD (exhaust blown diffuser), but will we something similar next year? Continue reading

Analysis: 13″ vs 18″ wheels

13v18

Bernie Ecclestone has to decide whether he wants Pirelli or Michelin (or perhaps both) to produce tyres for Formula 1 from 2017 onwards, but he has a few factors to consider. Michelin will only supply tyres if they are able to manufacture 18 inch wheels, rather than the current standard of 13 inches. Whilst Pirelli have tested the former wheel concept a few times over the past two years, they do not seem overly fussed as to which direction the sport takes and, to top it all off, the teams would rather stick with the current design.

So why are 18 inch wheels becoming an increasingly popular size in motorsport? Formula E tyres (which are supplied by Michelin) are wrapped around the larger sized alloy rim, but what difference does this make to the car’s performance? This blog post aims to answer these exact questions. Continue reading

Analysis: Brake-by-Wire

This may seem like old news now but I figured I’d do this analysis anyway because it helps me understand these things, and hopefully it helps you too!

In 2014 the FIA allowed F1 teams to use a “powered control system” on the rear brake system as the additional regenerative capabilities of the MGU-K under the current regulations resulted in inconsistent retardation of the rear axle. Not that the teams had a choice as to whether they used such a system, as a conventional hydraulic setup would be incredibly inconsistent and – more importantly – unnatural to the driver. This system is more commonly known as brake-by-wire (BBW)

So what exactly happens when the driver hits the brake pedal?

BBW

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Analysis: 2015 predictions

2015 is just around the corner and, for the second year running, I have drawn up some predictions as to what we could see next season. The new nose regulations will make a noticeable difference to the appearance of the cars next year – gone are the ‘finger’ (or ‘anteater’ or whatever you want to call them!) appendages and in their place will be designs similar to that on the Mercedes/Ferrari or Williams, depending on how the engineers interpret the rules.

2015 side & plan

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