Category Archives: 2013 Highlights

Technical Highlights from each round of the 2013 F1 season

2013 Italian GP Tech Highlights

There is a big demand for low drag and high top speed at Monza this weekend, with almost every team bringing a bespoke package for this one-off, unique racetrack. It is so different, in fact, that the teams will never bring the parts seen in Italy to any other event on the calendar. This means that the investment put in to developing these components must be spent wisely, requiring careful thinking to not waste time and money for just one race weekend.

I always love the low-downforce configurations we see at Monza as it makes the cars look more elegant. So let’s see what solutions stand out most from the crowd and how they are performing after Friday practice…

Ferrari

Ferrari have an awful lot of pressure on them going into this weekend as it is their home Grand Prix. If you have checked out my piece on MTAFWheels earlier this week, you will know just how much scrutiny the Scuderia are under.

Ferrari FW Monza

A complete cast-off from the Spa front wing, this new ultra-low-downforce wing has proven fruitful from the off. The flap is now one single element and very rounded off, meeting just above the trailing edge of the main plane. The outboard section of the wing is still made up of 7 elements in total and another new feature is the addition of two vanes both facing outwards. These produces vortices that direct the airflow around the front tyre as a way to manage the tyre wake and feed the underfloor of the car downstream. There have been some suggestions that this is James Allison’s (recently employed by Ferrari from Lotus) first contribution to the F138, although this is highly unlikely as he only officially started last week. You only have to take one look at the front wing on the Lotus to see his unique style of turning vanes.

Interestingly, Ferrari included the undernose chin for this weekend. They introduced this chin in Canada and it has appeared at all kinds of tracks. Most teams tend to remove this when it comes to reducing drag so I do not quite understand the logic in this decision.

The F138’s rear wing was also adapted to suit the high-speed characteristics of Monza with a very shallow profile and only one single endplate slot to control wingtip vortex generation. It is also worth noting that the trailing edge endplate slats were also removed to reduce the expansion of airflow from beneath the car and the rear wing, which should reduce drag slightly.

Toro Rosso

Although Italy is traditionally known as the land of Ferrari (in the motorsport world, anyway), let’s not forget about Toro Rosso. Red Bull’s Italian sister team have also had a lot of attention regarding Daniel Ricciardo’s recent move to the senior ranks. They also brought some small changes although they stuck to similar parts from Spa two weeks ago.

Toro Rosso FW Monza

The front wing flap received some treatment, becoming much shallower and also more twisted at its inboard section. The twisted area will produce a long vortex that will manage airflow downstream to flow beneath the floor and more efficiently around the lower wishbone assembly and bargeboard area. Reducing the area of the flap and lowering the Angle of Attack (AoA) will also help reduce drag. The team have, however, opted to stick with their cascade winglet elements mounted on the endplate fences. These will increase drag but should still maintain good airflow management around the front tyre.

An adaptation to their rear wing from Belgium was also present which was also very shallow in profile. It did not include endplate slots – more on those later in this article.

Lotus

The biggest technical headliner belonged to the Enstone squad this weekend, for the E21 had the addition of a new long wheelbase (LWB). Normally a wheelbase change requires a number of alterations: the gearbox can be extended or the case can be redesigned to move the rear suspension backwards, or the chassis length can be increased. However, the chassis is homologated from the start of the season so it cannot be changed and fiddling with the gearbox length can ruin some of the rear aerodynamics. Lotus have therefore chosen to move the front suspension pickups on the wheel/hub forwards.

If you click on the link above you can see a comparison of the two wheelbases. The LWB is the bottom image. The key “spot the difference” here is that the track rod (below the wishbone arm with the ‘Genii’ logo) has now been moved to a near horizontal position, whereas before it was angled backwards. The change in angles pushes the front wheels forward by 100-120mm, which is quite substantial. This also meant that the nose and floor at the be extended, too, as the front wing endplates and frontal section of the floor must be at a relative distance to the front axle of the car.

The reason for the LWB is mainly to increase mechanical grip and stability at medium-to-high speed, although there is an aerodynamic advantage as it frees up more space for the front tyre wake to disperse before the oncoming airflow hits the sidepods.

This was only available for Kimi Raikkonen for Friday, with Romain Grosjean having to settle for the short wheelbase option. The team decided to shelve the longer option for the remainder of the weekend, although there are suggestions that it will return for future races. It is also a good concept to investigate for development on next year’s car, as teams will certainly be turning most of their focus on to the colossal task of creating the best machine they car when the rules are turned upside-down for 2014. More on these changes in the coming months.

Lotus also decided to remove the under-nose chin beneath the nose of its E21. This was also done in Canada and Belgium as a way to decrease drag at the front of the car. Coupled with lower AoA front wing flaps, the LWB and smaller cascades, the front of the car had a lot of Enstone’s engineers on it! Also new was their extremely low-downforce rear wing, with a very short main plane chord and shallow profile. More on these effects later.

Mercedes

Mercedes RW Monza

Off the back of a slightly disappointing Belgium weekend, Mercedes revised their low-downforce package as well as adding new, Monza-specific upgrades. Above we can see a heavily revised rear wing, including an aggressively short main plane. Normally the leading edge of the wing is right at the front of the endplate area. To reduce drag, the main plane of the wing has been cut back dramatically, receding to almost halfway rearward of the front of the endplate.

Extended tyre squirt slots have also been added to the endplates, running up the leading edge next to the rear tyre. These slots let the pressure delta between the two sides of the endplate equalise beneath the wing, reducing wingtip vortex buildup and maximising the use of the beam wing below. Incidentally, the beam wing has also received a healthy modification. It has a much lower AoA to reduce drag with a swooping trailing edge, highest at the centre of the wing. It is highest here to take advantage of the exiting airflow from the engine, allowing a slight bit of downforce to be produced in this region.

A revised front wing was also installed on the W04, although it was virtually identical to that seen on the car during the first winter testing session. The wing still features five elements, but the flap has been reduced to one single element inboard with a much lower AoA. The Hungary wing was also present featuring the canards behind the cascade winglets. Both wings featured IR sensors to monitor front tyre temperatures, once again. Likewise with Lotus, the undernose chin was also removed to increase straightline speed.

Mercedes also trialled their Drag Reduction Device (DRD) once again, coupled with a higher downforce rear wing. I do not know if it will make an appearance tomorrow but I doubt it as Monza really isn’t the place to be using such a device. Perhaps they were experimenting for future use as it will also be allowed for next year. There is evidence to suggest this as they were testing the DRD with the high downforce Hungary front wing for a few laps to gather data.

Red Bull

Two front wings were tested during Friday practice but no news yet as to what they have settled upon. One wing featured the cascade winglets, the other did not. However both wings had large cutouts in the flaps to reduce drag although they were incised directly in front of the front tyre rather than across the entire section of the flap.

Introduced in Spa, the low-downforce rear wing was also present and did not feature any vortex reduction slots in its endplates. The reason for this is that because the wing is so shallow, the pressure difference between the top (high pressure) and the bottom (low pressure) is so small, that when they converge at the wingtips they do not produce large vortices. Adding slots can reduce aerodynamic performance in terms of overall downforce so the team saw no need in including them for this weekend.

McLaren

On the weekend of their 50th birthday, McLaren will be looking to take another step forward in Italy. Having conceded that podiums will not be a possibility this season their aim must surely be to score as many points as possible and develop parts for next year’s MP4-29.

McLaren FW Monza

Along with their extreme low downforce rear wing, the above front wing was also used for this weekend. Unlike Toro Rosso no cascade winglets are featured here with just a trimmed, low AoA profile creating downforce. The cascades that normally appear on the MP4-28 are normally very small and have a low AoA anyway, so making these redundant for this weekend won’t hurt their tyre airflow management too much anyway.

Sauber

Sauber were also trailling DRD but it was not used again after Friday practice, although they did not use it in conjunction with their swooping/boomerang rear wing that we are used to seeing. It was instead combined with a high downforce wing setup which was what Mercedes also did during FP1.

There was also a modified version of their Spa front wing, complete with the new cascades introduced two weeks ago. The flaps had a very small profile and, like everything on the cars this weekend, had the lowest AoA setting.

2013 Belgium GP Tech Highlights

Formula One is finally back, and there is no better place to kickstart the finale of the 2013 season than at the wonderful Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Although it was off for four weeks, only half of that time was spent on “holiday” and preparing for the next nine races. The factories only closed for two weeks so teams could begin their final development push for the remainder of the season before firmly switching to 2014 development very soon.

Spa is a very unique circuit in that there is the ultimate compromise between straight-line speed and cornering ability. The run up from La Source (first corner hairpin) to the impressive Eau Rouge and Raidillon; the Kemmel straight; the long haul from Stavelot through Blanchimont back up to the Bus-Stop chicane before the start/finish straight, all provide the need to maximise top speed and reduce drag.

However between these straights lie some of the most unforgiving mid-to-high-speed corners on the F1 calendar. Eau Rouge and Raidillon, despite once being a fearsome combination of corners, is easily flat, but only thanks to the downforce the modern F1 car produces. Rivage, Pouhon and the Fagnes curves demand good aerodynamic grip to compete for the best laptime.

With this in mind, there are often bespoke packages sent to this Grand Prix as well as the upcoming Italian GP at Monza, where top speed is king. Let’s see how the teams have dealt with the tasks at hand…

McLaren

McLaren expect to be more competitive this weekend, and have retained the updates brought to the Hungarian GP a month ago. Although their form in Hungary was not as impressive, the aerodynamic demands from these parts will be fully exploited at Spa.

McLaren RW (Spa)

Along with these parts they also brought with them this low-downforce rear wing, which is very similar to the one seen on last year’s car at this track. You can see that it has a very low Angle of Attack (AoA) and a very shallow depth. The endplates are identical to that of its higher downforce counterparts other than the number of horizontal slots that reduce the build up of vortices at the wing tips (read more about these slots and how they work here). They have retained the three strakes that are matched to a path of airflow coming off of the rear break ducts and help the outwash of the airflow coming through the rear wing endplates.

The team were also using pitot-tube arrays ahead of the sidepods to assess airflow coming off of the front tyres. This data will more likely be used for developments around the lower regions of the sidepod rather than along the exhaust sensitive top-side, as McLaren have openly admitted that they will only be bringing updates to the car that are relevant to next year (when the current exhaust platform will be banned).

Lotus

Lotus had to delay the introduction of their new, long wheelbase E21 due to not carrying out all of the fatigue testing on the necessary parts. Longer wheelbases require a longer chassis and slightly altered suspension arms, so the team had to put the parts under crash and fatigue testing before being able to race them, as they are major changes to the car.

It has been instead decided that the rumoured 120mm extended E21 will make its debut at Monza in two weeks time. That is quite a brave call from the Enstone outfit to be making such a drastic change at this point in the season. The idea behind the longer layout is to improve mechanical grip from the currently relatively short chassis, as well as opening up space behind the front tyres to control the tyre wake before it hits the sidepods.

Lotus VGs (Spa)

Along with their Drag Reduction Device (DRD), they also brought with them these new Vortex Generators (VGs) and horizontal cockpit canards. The VGs are the three, large fences that tower above the sidepod inlet. These generate vortices (hence the name) across the top of the sidepod, moving airflow over the exhaust plume to push it into the floor and create rear downforce. You may have noticed that these are very tall in comparison to some of their rival’s versions. This is because they are designed to work in a greater range of airflow speeds: at high speed, the fences do not need to be that tall to create a vortex. At low speed, however, the flow passing over a smaller surface area will not produce such a vortex. A greater surface area will allow slower moving airflow to still create small vortices and help boost rear downforce.

The cockpit canards (beneath the wing-mirror mounts) are almost identical to those on the Ferrari. These are also designed to produce long vortices along the top surface of the sidepod for the same purpose as above. It is also worth noting at this point that Lotus are still using the larger wing-mirror pod design as introduced in Hungary, which brings the questions as to whether this was an FIA introduced development or have Lotus found a simple performance gain?

Also, the team appear to have not brought a low-downforce rear wing. This has perplexed me, as they also admitted after Friday practice that they were not going to run their DRD (due to little dry running) and the Renault engine is the weakest on the grid. Lotus have also opted to continue using the “pelican” chin beneath the nose, a device used to boost downforce at the front of the car by speeding up airflow beneath the nose and chassis. Removing this (as they did in Canada) would reduce drag. Perhaps they are not compromising performance and going for the more downforce induced route. We will have to see.

Ferrari

Ferrari FW (Spa)

Above is an image of the revised front wing that the F138 will be sporting this weekend. The flaps have a much lower AoA and are now mounted much lower against the front wing flap adjuster near the outboard side. The profile has also been changed as they are now much more rounded. This design will alter the airflow coming off of the front wing to the rest of the car but not by a big difference. What Ferrari are doing here is reducing downforce on a local scale by taking downforce off of the front wing.

Some engineers are very critical of this (particularly a certain Mr Gary Anderson), but it is a simple and cost effective way of producing a one-off package that is designed to reduce drag and maximise top speed. They are critical because changing a crucial component, such as the front wing, may damage the rest of the car’s flow structures and potentially cause inherent aerodynamic and balance issues, although I am pretty sure a few hundred Ferrari engineers have more of a clue about what they are doing than Mr Anderson alone. Sorry, Gary.

Ferrari RW (Spa)

The other installment on the car is this low-downforce rear wing. Featuring just two vortex reducing slots, the profile is so shallow that it would only be able to squeeze one more on. It is actually possible to place these slots beneath the wing instead to reduce the pressure delta, but this would interrupt the low pressure region beneath the rear wing that provides the car with rear downforce.

It is also worth noting that the new endplates on this wing do not feature the tyre squirt slot (find out what they are here), whereas the McLaren endplates do, as seen above.

During FP1 and FP2, the Ferrari’s appeared to be splitting their aero strategy between a higher downforce rear wing (a bit shallower than what is brought to most races) and the low downforce configuration as seen above, with Felipe Massa taking a preference to the latter option. Gathering data and finding the perfect compromise for the rest of the weekend will have been the main objective for the teams this weekend, so I wouldn’t read into the Friday times at all.

Red Bull

I do not have suitable drawings to fully explain what changes are upon the RB9 this weekend, but this image link shows you an overview of the car where you can see some of them:

http://img1.auto-motor-und-sport.de/Sebastian-Vettel-Red-Bull-Formel-1-GP-Belgien-Spa-Francorchamps-23-August-2013-fotoshowImage-47d1dceb-712459.jpg

http://img2.auto-motor-und-sport.de/Red-Bull-Formel-1-GP-Belgien-Spa-Francorchamps-23-August-2013-fotoshowImage-eccfea89-712416.jpg

It features the most extreme rear wing I have ever seen here it Spa, and it is one that will almost definitely be carried over to Italy. The profile is very shallow, the shallowest on the grid this weekend, and it does not feature any vortex reducing slots at all. The ‘V’ shape that appears along the trailing edge at the centre of the top flap has been ditched in favour of a tradtional straight edge. This is behind the new DRS actuator pod that has been shrunk to as small a size as possible to reduce blockage.

Such a skinny wing is quite an ominous sight to the rest of the grid, as it shows how much potential rear downforce is in the RB9, such is the compromise with the drag reductions they are making.

Also new is the flat and rounded nose. This appears to be a ground-up design compared to previous noses seen throughout this season, as those were mainly based off previous versions from 2011 and 2012 designed to suit different track characteristics. The new nose also appears to have a very small chin beneath it compared to its previous version.

It isn’t very clear in the image link, but Red Bull have also repackaged the wishbones, track rod and steering arm assembly at the front of the car. This is an ongoing development path in this area that is linked to optimising the aerodynamics of the brake hub assembly and reducing front tyre wake. This area will most likely be developed right up until the end of the season as it can be carried over to 2014.

Sauber

Sauber Cascade (Spa)

Sauber were once again trialling different versions of rear wing, including the “spoon” iteration that was coupled to their DRD used on Friday. However, we could also see these new cascades on the front wing. The previous cascades (see here – http://cdn-9.motorsport.com/static/img/mgl/1500000/1520000/1523000/1523800/1523849/s1_1.jpg) were deeper in profile and had a more progressive gradient and also included a small dipped element above it. What we are now seeing on the C32 is a hybrid version of that seen on the Mercedes and Ferrari cars.

The new cascade is very shallow with little gradient change across the two chords it is composed of. This suggests that it is an airflow managing device primarily, whereas before it would have produced a small amount of local downforce. This is the kind of profile that Mercedes have been utilising for a while now. The second part of the component is the addition of a turning vane, similar the one seen on the Ferrari F138. This will divert airflow correctly around the front tyre and hopefully manage tyre wake more efficiently.

Mercedes

A lot of attention is on the Anglo-German squad this weekend, as the F1 world wonders whether they can maintain their current form and have got on top of their tyre management issues.

Mercedes fw Spa

Mercedes have been using these IR cameras on their front wing since Monaco this year to look back at the front tyres and analyse surface temperatures. At the last few rounds they even installed them onto the cascade in such a way that they could use them for the race without compromising the aerodynamics of the car. Above we can see that they have reverted back to the removeable sensors to gain information. This suggests that they are confident in using the sensors during practice to make sure that their problems have been cured and that they can fully exploit the potential of the cascades during qualifying and race.

The cascades themselves have also been slightly modified, with both W04s featuring both old and new versions of the device, sometimes one of each type on each side of the wing. The above drawing shows the new cascade endplate. It no longer features the curved off fin and it is now flat, with a stepped effect along its profile. I don’t know what they are trying to achieve as yet, but I will try to find that out soon.

The front wing they are using this weekend is a slightly older specification, as they are using the pre-British GP trailing flap that spanned to the very edge of the inboard section of the wing. Nico Rosberg’s car was also fitted with two large IR sensors beside the airbox that looked back at the rear tyres to also monitor tyre temperature.

Mercedes RW (Spa)

Their low-downforce rear wing has three horizontal slots in the endplate to reduce pressure difference at the wingtips, as well as new strakes along the side of the ‘plate that we are seeing on the Lotus and Ferrari cars in particular. The main plane is stepped at its outboard edges, creating a shallower profile at the middle of the wing. This design allows a slight compromise as they will be able to produce a tiny bit more downforce at the outboards areas whilst reducing drag along the majority of the wing.

Interestingly, the team have also been testing a slightly higher downforce wing, coupled with another set of endplates that are similar to the ones seen above but have additional horizontal slots. They have also retained the tyre squirt slot for this weekend.

Toro Rosso

STR IR (Spa)

Finally, Toro Rosso are another team to introduce front wing IR sensors to look back at the front tyres. These are removeable, but they have a neat mounting design that wraps around the top of the front wing endplate. They appear to be taller and look back at the very centre of the tyre, in comparison to the Mercedes version that looks up towards the top of the tyre.

2013 Hungarian GP Tech Highlights

“Monaco, without the barriers” is sometimes the quote used to describe the Hungaroring. A combination of fourteen slow and medium speed corners make up this historic track making it one of the most aerodynamically demanding on the Formula One calendar. More recently, the pit straight has been extended so engineers must also take into account the drag penalty that occurs when piling on downforce producing components onto the car.

The summer heat in Budapest means that cooling remains one of the top priorities for teams, with temperatures predicted to be around 40 degrees celsius on Sunday. Red Bull had large openings at the rear of the car as well as louvres by the cockpit area to extract as much heat as possible from the engine, gearbox and radiators.

This should play into the hands of the cars that are easier on their tyres such as the Lotus, Force India and Ferrari. However, with the new tyres that are being introduced from this weekend onwards (2013 compounds, 2012 construction i.e. Kevlar belts and stiffer sidewalls), teams will have to decipher how they will affect the car’s dynamics and adjust accordingly. This also means that there could be a slight change to the pecking order as some teams may benefit more than others.

The Hungaroring is not used much throughout the year so the track rubbers in a lot during the race weekend, so the last man out on track in qualifying will most certainly benefit. This can often lead to teams going the wrong direction with the setup of the car as the engineers incorrectly predict how the track will ramp up over Friday practice and Saturday morning.

With all this to contend with many outfits have still managed to continue their relentless development paths by bringing more updates. Here’s the lowdown from Hungary…

Ferrari

The Maranello squad came to central Europe with an updated diffuser package. The new version on Felipe Massa’s car. The two drivers did back-to-back comparisons between the previous iteration and the one seen above to determine whether it was a suitable step. Having admitted earlier today that they still have problems with their wind tunnel the team had a busy day comparing data from both F138.

It had new shallow fences that run to the back of the diffuser and utilises a double gurney flap arrangement. Having this at the top of the diffuser creates a higher pressure delta between the top and bottom sides of the floor, forcing the diffuser to work harder and extract more low pressure from beneath. This produces more downforce by sucking the car down to the track. The perforated effect of the gurney flaps end by joining onto a solid surface on the outer wall. Previously the flaps wrapped around the edges of the diffuser wall. Ferrari have also followed Lotus and Red Bull by using the full width of diffuser area that is permitted to extract flow from beneath the car. The main fences have also been extended and curved away from the centre of the car.

The engineers sent the car out with Flow-Visualisation (Flo-Viz) to see how the airflow beneath the car was working with the new diffuser surfaces. There was clear airflow detachment at the centre of the diffuser just above the starter motor hole. Flow detachment is indicated when no Flo-Viz paint is evident in a section, leaving just the colour of the diffuser beneath, albeit with a slight stain from the previously sprayed on paint before the car went out. The starter hole slot is designed to reduce this detachment but clearly this has not had much effect.

There was also an analysis of the Monkey Seat winglet introduced in Monaco which produces more downforce. It has returned to Hungary due to the higher downforce demands but further inspection of the device was required from the engineers. This is because the winglet experiences much higher airflow speed at the Hungaroring than it does at Monaco so clarification as to whether it works as it is intended was needed before qualifying and race.

Sauber

Introduced at the Young Driver Test (YDT) last week, Sauber saw fit to continue using their full-coanda exhaust layout. This is made up of a ramp that extends from the exhaust pipe exit down towards the floor before meeting its surface just before the rear tyre.

sauber exhaust

I used the image above from my YDT testing post to explain what Sauber are trying to achieve. The red area indicates the exhaust plume, the yellow line shows the airflow around the sidepods (the dotted section shows how the flow goes beneath the ramp via a tunnel, exiting before the diffuser) and the green line shows the airflow over the top of the sidepods pushing over the exhaust plume to direct it towards the rear tyre.

At the YDT there were images of the bodywork around the exhaust burning, a common issue when testing a new exhaust configuration. The team have since addressed this issue as there were no signs of burning despite the very hot temperatures.

Mercedes

Image not available

By missing the YDT, Mercedes had a lot of time to introduce some aerodynamic modifications to the W04. The team received basic data about the new tyres from Pirelli after the test although this information was shared among all teams and probably had very little relevance to Mercedes.

Above we can see the new underside of the W04’s nose. It features a pregnant/pelican chin that helps direct oncoming flow beneath the floor of the car, working the diffuser harder to produce more downforce. As Hungary only has one long(ish) straight, the drag penalty will be minimal although it is quite a small chin in comparison to the Lotus concept.

mercedes FW HGP

Above are all of the features of the new front wing that was brought in conjunction with the nose. The yellow arrow highlights the chin section we have just been through, but there were also new canards behind the main cascades. These canards are there to control airflow from the cascades themselves as well as ensuring that more laminar flow is being turned around the front tyre to attempt to reduce the effects of the tyre wake to components downstream. The canards have a slight angle to them so will also produce a very small amount of downforce.

The Anglo-German team hung a thermocouple out of the slot in the nose that is normally used for driver cooling. The thermocouple was used as a temperature sensor but the reason for this is unclear. Perhaps there are new mechanical components within the hydraulics/front suspension housing that have not been identified yet.

Image not available

Mercedes have been quite late on rear wing endplate development but the Hungarian GP saw the introduction of a tyre wake control slot. This slot minimises the impingement of the tyre wake on the outer walls of the diffuser so the floor can be more efficient when extracting low pressure. The endplates were also more rounded and featured a slight lip to their trailing edges.

Image not available

The Drag Reduction Device (DRD) also returned to the W04, but only for a brief appearance during FP1 on Lewis Hamilton’s car. The inlet arrangement remains the same from the last round but the periscope has been thinned down and has a smooth transition between the horizontal and vertical sections. The outlet of the periscope has also been altered but I do not have any more images to make an analysis of it.

A new beam wing (top in image above) was also evident during free practice. It is much more curved at its outboard sections and at the central winglet area. This is more of a general update to try to maximise the potential of the component, so the new version may be able to produce more downforce and reduce drag better than the previous part.

Lotus

Image not available

Lotus brought with them a high downforce rear wing to suit the twisty turns and slippery track surface. The wing is almost identical to the one featured on the E21 in Monaco. Such are the similarities between the two circuits that both Lotus and Ferrari saw fit to bring bespoke parts made primarily for Monaco to here in Hungary. The upper flap chord is much larger. This will cost them straightline speed but this should not be such a big factor as there are only two DRS sections this year and the straights are relatively short. The leading edge of the main plane is curved upwards at its centre, with the outboard edges far shallower. This is to at least compensate for some of the induced drag gained from running with a larger top flap chord.

It is believed that Lotus were asked by the FIA to install these (top of image) large rear-view mirrors for free practice, although this has yet to be clarified. They are much larger and more bulky, designed to increase visibility. Rumour has it that they may become the “standard” mirror for next year, but I doubt that the design will receive any praise from team bosses.

Red Bull

Image not available

Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes has been pretty busy of late producing yet more modifications for the RB9. The front wing received more treatment with the engineers choosing to revert the camera pod positions back to the “hammerhead shark” layout from the start of the season. Placing the pods at the tip of the nose produces local downforce right at the front of the car, allowing the driver to have a more pointy front end.

Image not available

The outboard edges of the front wing were also replaced with more rounded elements similar to those found on the Mercedes. The slots separating the elements were more sinuous and slightly larger than the previous edition. These changes may have come about to suit the dynamics of the new tyres as this wing was not evident at the YDT last week. The arrangement of the elements at the wing tips has the greatest influence as to how the airflow reacts with the front tyres and also how the following flow is fed to downstream devices.

Red Bull sidepod detail

Noticeably different sidepod details were upon the RB9 this weekend. The arrow is pointing to the position of the sidepod airflow conditioner mount relative to the Vortex Generator (VG) fence, which has been moved outwards. Note how there is now only one fence compared to the previous layout which had two, more spread out VGs.

In place of the second VG is an interesting canard, highlighted by the circle. Mounted to the cockpit side it curves downwards, forming and thin aerofoil shape. Lotus and McLaren have similar concepts to this and it is used to produce downwash over the top of the exhaust plume to guide it towards the rear tyre area. Getting rid of the inboard VG leaves room for the longer vortex generated by the new device to carve its way down the sidepod surface and onto the plume.

McLaren

Image not available

At the YDT, McLaren tested a number of components seen on last year’s MP4-27. Why? Because the new tyres are identical in construction to those in 2012. The construction of the tyre changes the aerodynamic characteristics of the car as tyre “squash” is different depending on the stiffness of the sidewalls and shoulders of the tyre.

The team believes that the tyres used from the Australian GP through to the German GP have had a negative impact on the dynamics of the current MP4-28 as it was firmly designed around last year’s tyres. Now the 2012 construction has returned, items that were previously binned in pre-season testing and from the MP4-27 have found their way back to the track.

Used for a large proportion of last year, the above image shows three VGs that were trialled at the YDT. These were seen at the first winter test in Jerez but were subsequently abandoned after deemed useless with the characteristics of the now old 2013 tyres. Other teams have also seen the opportunity to bring back components tested in pre-season to see if they compliment the new tyres here in Hungary.

2013 German GP Tech Highlights

The German Grand Prix build up has been dominated by talks of boycotting due to the safety of the Pirelli tyres. Realistically this was never going to happen, but it shows that most drivers are concerned with the behaviour of the tyre as it fails or indeed why it fails in the first place.

Along with all of this uproar some teams have also managed to bring substantial updates to the cars in the space of a week. Let’s see what they’ve got to offer…

But first…

With tyres being the main talking point for this weekend, I thought that I would give you a small insight into why the changes Pirelli have made are important and who it may be advantageous to.

The 2013 tyres supplied by Pirelli have had steel belts the entire season so far. The belt is the part that joins the tread block to the carcass of the tyre. The steel material is heavier, therefore the total minimum weight of the car and driver has been increased this season up to 642kg (up by 2kg from last year). Not only is the steel heavier but it has different mechanical properties.

Steel is a metal and therefore is a good conductor of heat. Due to its characteristics, the type of steel composite Pirelli use retains heat rather than dissipate it. When we see the tyres reach over their operating window it is very difficult for the drivers to bring them back in again. This is mainly caused by the steel belt.

Combine this with the more flexible sidewalls and softer compounds found in this year’s tyres, the whole body of the tyre becomes a fragile unit that is incredibly difficult to manage efficiently.

For the German Grand Prix, Pirelli have supplied a combination of the 2012 and 2013 tyres: ’12 belts (made out of Kevlar) and ’13 compounds, which is the actual tread block and sidewall. The Kevlar belts are able to dissipate heat much more easily therefore tyre heat management is easier for the drivers. This should dramatically reduce the problems Mercedes and Red Bull have been experiencing by overheating the core temperatures and not being able to bring them back down again. This will not favour Ferrari or Lotus as they have so far been struggling to bring the tyres up to the operating window during qualifying, even with the steel belts.

Between the Spanish and British races, Pirelli researched (with the help of Mercedes during the tyre test/tyregate) a new bonding process between the belt and the treadblock of the tyre. The idea behind this new process was to help eliminate a total delamination of the tread from the belt as seen in Bahrain, Malaysia and numerous times in Spain.

To some extent they succeeded…

However, instead of a delamination, drivers experienced what is known as a blowout, which is when the tyre explodes completely rather than the material (in this case the treadblock) failing under load. This happened because the new bonding was so strong that when a failure occurred it took out the whole tyre.

These were understood to be caused by the combination of the weaker, 2013 specification sidewalls and drivers running over the kerbs at high speed. This cut the sidewalls and, combined with the high heat retention from the steel, eventually led to an explosion. These failures all began at the inside shoulder of the tyre suggesting that the drivers were well over the kerbs almost every lap.

We could go into debate about whether drivers could have done anything about it etc. but that’s not what I’m here to tell you…

Overall, the changes that have been made for this weekend should see less or no failures at all, as heat within the core of the tyre is being dissipated more effectively by the Kevlar belt.

Mercedes

Following on from the introduction of the Lotus system in Silverstone, Mercedes brought their Drag Reduction Device (DRD) with them to the Nurburgring. I find it quite interesting that the system from both teams has been perfected enough to be able to run it at a race weekend at a roughly similar time during the season.

Image not available

It is also amazing how much the Mercedes system has been changed since its last outing in winter testing. Appearing on only Nico Rosberg’s car, the system now comprises of two inlet points and multiple outlets. The inlets are visible above, with the already seen main opening behind the T-cam and another additional inlet further back.

Image not available

Looking at this more closely, the two inlets have separate tunnels running down the back of the engine cover, which appear to join just before it exits upwards and outwards towards the underside of the rear wing. At this join there will be a fluid switch that compromises of rubber valves. This switch will passively change the direction of flow from going out of the horizontal opening beneath the monkey seat winglet to beneath the rear wing.

This is probably incorrect but I am assuming that at lower speeds a large volume of flow simply passes straight through both the main inlet and secondary opening. At higher speeds, flow bleeds off from the secondary opening as it is far smaller (buffeting occurs), changing the pressure delta within the two tunnels at the meeting point and therefore activating the fluid switch.

Image not available

After the meeting point the tunnels then split again like the other DRD systems we have seen, resulting in the horizontal outlet, that is fed by airflow at low speeds, and the vertical outlet that flow travels up at high speed, blowing into the underside of the rear wing and stalling the low pressure region.

Image not available

What intrigues me most is the outlet on the vertical element. There appear to be two parts to it: the leading section attaches to the underside of the rear wing via two pieces of carbon fibre and a wider outlet. I am unsure if the two pieces that attach to the wing are hollow or not but they don’t appear to have any visible openings in them. The wider outlet is clearly the main part of this element.

Also worth noting is the horizontal opening beneath is split into three sections. This may help bleed off flow more efficiently and could also control how the beam wing/monkey seat combination is utilised at varying speeds.

Image not available

Following on from their Silverstone revisions, a new nose was introduced to the W04 during free practice. Much similar to the Ferrari layout, Mercedes have brought forward the pillar mountings to the very front of the nose tip, with the overall pillar having a greater surface area. The height of the nose has also increased, allowing more airflow to travel beneath the chassis and towards the T-tray. The new flap profile and IR sensors remain from Silverstone.

Ferrari

Ferrari continued to carry out testing with their extended exhaust/sidepod profile. Having been run during qualifying and the race in Britain, both F138s had the shorter profile outlets attached for the majority of Friday practice. The team also assessed slightly different front wing designs, with the under-wing strakes varying in length.

Fernando Alonso’s FP1 troubles were caused by ECU issues, which had to be replaced during the session. This meant that all of the electronic systems had to be recalibrated as well.

Lotus

Only Romain Grosjean had the Lotus DRD available to him, although Kimi Raikkonen used the slimmed bodywork that was brought to Silverstone. Despite the two completely different purposes of the two updates, the two Lotus cars have had very similar pace over the past two races. Perhaps a combination of the two in Hungary will really put them back in the playing field. Time will tell…

Sauber

Image not available

Sauber have been quite quiet when it comes to aerodynamic updates this season, although you could argue the array of rear wings brought to each race over the opening few rounds compromised their development strategy. A small alteration to the shape of the top flap has been installed with a unique rounded tip inboard.

The round tip is interesting because the general theme in this area has been exploiting a sharp edged tip combined with a large area left beneath to the lower flap. This sheds a vortex back along the inside of the front wheel of the car and allows components further downstream to work more effectively. Sauber’s front wing design has been one of interest to engineers up and down the pitlane over recent years, so let’s see if other teams take note of this different approach.

Force India

Image not available

Introduced in Britain, Force India have adopted the concept of using small strakes to direct airflow better over elements of the front wing and extracting the best from the under-wing fences. The image above shows how each strake is paired to its respective under-wing fence. These create a very small vortex and energise the outgoing airflow heading for the outside of the front tyre. I thought I would revisit this area as this image is a lot better.

If you have any feedback or constructive criticism, please leave it in the comments section below. It doesn’t take long to say a few words and I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

2013 British GP Tech Highlights

Great Britain arguably holds one of the finest circuits in the world: Silverstone. This track offers a unique blend of high downforce, for the long sweeps of Maggots and Becketts, and prolonged throttle usage; 67% of the 5.891 km track is spent on the loud pedal, with speeds approaching 190 mph.

To negotiate the demanding high speed corners and also cut drag, teams tend to bring a fair few bits and pieces here, before further modifications for the German Grand Prix as part of their mid-season upgrade strategy. Let’s run the rule over this years’ technical developments…

Lotus

Lotus have brought an extensive upgrade package with them for the British Grand Prix as the Enstone outfit look to launch themselves back into true contention of the championship.

Image not available

We will start with their general updates. Lotus have revised their sidepods, but not totally changed their philosophy. This year we are seeing teams tinkering and chipping away with the cars in order to find perfection. As the end of the current regulations draws nearer designers have had to think on a smaller scale.

The above image shows these revised aspects. They are now less bulky with the rounded shoulder of the sidepod replaced by a more box-like layout that hugs closer to the radiator beneath it. The under-tunnel beneath the exhaust ramp remains unchanged however, as they are already exploiting the maximum area allowed in that region of the car.

Also noticeable around the ‘Renault’ and the swirly logo just above the top rear wishbone is how much more the bodywork is “shrink-wrapped” around the internals of the car. In combination with the shape of side head protectors, Lotus have created a deep channel for air to pass over the top of the sidepod and down over the exhaust ramp towards the floor. This aims to enhance the Exhaust Blown Diffuser (EBD) effect from previous years.

The radiator intakes at the front of the sidepod were also angled slightly more aggressively downwards to achieve a higher volume of airflow passing over the top of the ‘pod.

Image not available

In addition to the revised sidepods was a new engine cover. Creating a shark-fin appearance (to meet the minimum bodywork surface area requirements) there is a large gap visible beneath it where the new sidepods wrap around the top of the gearbox casing.

It is also worth noting the return of the “pregnant” nosecone, that was absent in Canada three weeks ago. This suggests that my idea of taking it away reduces drag may be correct. Its return shows a sign that the floor needs to be worked harder to produce more downforce the high speed corners demand of the car.

Image not available

Look what’s made its return! The Drag Reduction Device (DRD) has finally made an outing at a proper Grand Prix event, with Kimi Raikkonen being the sole Lotus driver to trial the system on Friday. For those who do not understand how DRD works, here’s an article I wrote to explain how it functions: https://thewptformula.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/analysis-the-drag-reduction-device/.

In a brief summary, the DRD aims to reduce drag at a given speed. It is a totally passive system and the driver has no control as to when and where it is deployed, therefore it is legal.

The system is very hard to tune from track to track, therefore to even see it being tested was a feat. In my opinion, I don’t expect it to race but presume that it will be on the car tomorrow for final practice. The team are still unsure as to whether it is worth continuing to trial it over the remainder of the weekend with much less track than anticipated (thank you British weather…).

Red Bull

Image not available

Interestingly, the RB9 featured a low downforce/drag rear wing, despite the track being very wet. The wing is very similar to that used in Montreal, but the profile appears to be even slimmer. Featuring on three horizontal slots in the endplate and retaining the slot at the leading edge beside the rear tyre (to control tyre wake), it appears that Red Bull may be focusing more on race pace than ultimate qualifying pace with this aero setup.

Image not available

In the image above we can see the exhaust pipes on the RB9, featuring a white coating. This is a ceramic coating made by Zircotec with a primary aim of achieving better heat management. However there are also some other useful effects of this application to the exhaust pipes.

In terms of heat management, the coating can reduce the engine bay temperature by around 50 degrees celsius. In the short term, this should help reliability and perhaps get rid of the KERS overheating glitches that sometimes plague the RB9. Long term prospects could potentially allow the packaging of the internals to be even closer in future cars, allowing for tighter bodywork and more freedom with the aerodynamics around the sidepods and exhaust outlets.

The reduction in temperatures produces more power from the engine for each cylinder without changing the size of the pipe, a key advantage with the Renault engine as it is the weakest of the three available in Formula One. The coating also allows exhaust gases to flow more freely. This could increase the EBD effect further as a greater volume and higher velocity of exhaust gases are expelled.

During FP2, Webber was seen having a change to the diameter of the exhaust pipes. The team appeared to be back-to-back testing different exhaust parameters with the new coating to see what worked best. A narrow pipe increases the EBD effect upon the rear of the car, while a larger pipe increases engine power. Balancing which parameters work best with the new ceramic coating could prove very beneficial to the team over the course of the season as well as designing next year’s RB10.

Image not available

A few adjustments to the diffuser were also made, although these modifications appeared in Canada in practice. The main inner strake as received a perforation, the secondary strake features a deeper cut and there is now an additional outer strake to compliment the new sidewall of the diffuser.

The new sidewalls are what interest me the most as there appears to be no footplate and just a simple undercut edge. There also appears to be a different type of carbon weave to the top and sidewalls of the new diffuser, suggesting that it is either more difficult to produce or it has different properties e.g. flexibility, heat proofing.

Red Bull have also retained the new nose/vanity panel layout used in Canada which should decrease drag.

Ferrari

Image not available

The F138 has yet another iteration of front wing design, this time featuring an ‘r’ inner cascade winglet that diverts flow around the inside of the front tyre. I wouldn’t say it was a downforce producing component but definitely improves the quality of flow delivered to components downstream of the front wing.

Gone are the swooping main cascades that made their debut in Canada, as Ferrari have reverted back to the more traditional layout that attaches horizontally to the endplate.

Image not available

The Italian squad have introduced revised rear wing endplates in a bid to maximize downforce and reduce drag. Following the trend of many other teams, there is a new slot at the leading edge of the endplate that allows flow inside of the ‘plate to control rear tyre wake. What’s different about the Ferrari solution is that it is quite a lot longer (vertically) than any of their rivals. Watching free practice in the wet, the tyre wake on the F138 was actually a lot more visible than on any other car.

There is also a much deeper undercut at the top of the endplate above the ‘V-Power’ logo, which works in conjunction with the horizontal endplate slots to reduce the size of the vortices produced at the wingtips. These vortices are turbulent spirals of airflow that create drag, therefore reducing the size of these can potentially increase top speed and stability. This is similar to that found on the 2009 McLaren MP4-24.

Image not available

Continuing to trial the longer exhaust outlets was one of the top things on the to-do list for Silverstone. In the above image Felipe Massa is running this layout. The exhaust trough is much further back towards the rear tyre and there is a more slow progression of downward angle to the sidepod rather than the aggressive shape on the current layout.

Mercedes

Image not available

Mercedes brought a slightly modified front wing. In the above diagram I have drawn some arrows to show you the changes they have made (the new wing is at the bottom).

The yellow arrow outlines how the top flap has been extended right across to the centre of the wing, which now has a protruding sharp leading edge instead of the blunt one on the older wing above. This edge produces a vortex that guides airflow to components further downstream but does not produce much additional downforce. The gurney flap (the black strip on the trailing edge of the element) has been retained in this area to further aid this effect.

Image not available

As the top flap is slightly longer, its adjustable section has to be moved slightly differently so a revised Front Flap Adjust (FFA) system has been put in place that extends the amount of movement of the top flap when adjusted either in the garage or during a pitstop.

The white arrow shows how they have still fitted infrared cameras to the main cascades to analyse how the thermal dynamics of the front car change as the car is running. On the new wing there appear to be some sort of sensor in the same place but they are not as big (edit: these are smaller IR sensors that are permanently attached to the main cascade winglet to monitor tyre surface temperature throughout the race. The previous sensors were used in practice only before being removed for qualifying/race).

There were also some revisions to the front and rear brake ducts in order to manage brake and tyre temperatures. Brake temperature plays a huge factor in how the tyres thermally degrade, as heat from the carbon discs is transmitted into the core of the tyre and also out of the rims. Teams have to work with their respective rim manufacturers to come up with a design to best expel this heat from the brakes before the season begins, as wheel design is homologated throughout the year.

Early Friday running suggests Mercedes are slowly progressing with tyre management but the cooler conditioners may have over-played their prospects for this weekend. FP3 tomorrow should prove more insightful.

Along with these two modifications there were also changes to the floor and diffuser of the W04 to provide more downforce in the higher speed sections of the circuit.

Williams

Image not available

Williams must have a large proportion of their staff working on front wing design and production as yet another front wing/nose combination was present at Silverstone. Above is the new nose which is much bulkier than its predecessor. This almost emulates the “pregnant” nose effect seen on the Lotus and some other cars but does not feature a full-on “belly”.

Interestingly, both wings feature under-nose turning vanes attached to the wing itself, rather than being mounted on the chassis like the majority of cars on the grid have this season.

Image not available

In terms of compromise between drag and downforce, Williams seem to be favouring the boomerang rear wing option even in wet conditions. Although it might not produce higher downforce than a traditional rear wing, the car is most likely one that understeers as decreasing the amount of grip at the rear of the car should help balance this issue. This is perhaps why we are seeing Pastor Maldonado not doing as well this year as he prefers a car that has a bit more oversteer and has better front end grip. This is in comparison to Valterri Bottas who has a preference for slightly more understeer.

Marussia

Image not available

Marussia were testing their version of the blown front axle during free practice. Dropped by Red Bull but retained by its pioneer, Williams, the front axle has airflow coming through the brake ducts driving out of its hollow body around wheelnut area. This method is used to try and control tyre wake just behind the front tyres and work the sidepods harder.

Force India

Image not available

Force India added almost identical strakes that appeared on the Red Bull RB9 in Canada to their front wing for this weekend. Although it isn’t very clear, the bottom wing in the above image features small strakes at certain intervals along the main plane, each co-ordinated to a respective under-wing fence. These strakes produce very small vortices and aid the direction that the airflow takes beneath the wing and around the front tyre.

Thanks for reading. Look out for my video blog from Silverstone as I will be going tomorrow! Looking forward to seeing the action and maybe some of you there. Enjoy the weekend.

2013 Canadian GP Tech Highlights

From the maximum downforce twisty streets of Monaco to the high top speed straights of Canada, Formula 1 teams will have had a pre-prepared package ready to be sent across the Atlantic with only two weeks to fine tune minor details.

Not only does the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve require low drag bodywork elements, but also demands good traction out of the chicanes and a great engine. This is why we often see the likes of Force India and Toro Rosso doing better here than anywhere else on the calendar.

There’s plenty to talk about as almost every team brought something with them. Let’s see what they’ve been up to…

Red Bull

Image not available

A team that has traditionally struggled to convert pole into a race win here in Canada, Red Bull sought after further curing their low top speed issues and also tweak a number of parts on the car.

Above we can see a shot of the front of the RB9, featuring a new nosecone/vanity panel combination. The camera pods have been moved from the nose tip to much further back (in line with the top wishbones), which will guide airflow more efficiently around this region. This reveals the slight curvature present underneath the nose tip that has been seen when the team tested various nose designs last season.

We can also see from this image that a new vanity panel has been installed. This is not entirely new, however, as this was run during pre-season testing but has since not been used. Comparing this to the previous version (image below), the new edition is much more curved and it starts to ramp up towards the top of the chassis much sooner, creating a smoother transition. This should decrease drag slightly.

Note that the chassis “ears” (two bulges lining the top of the bulkhead) are still evident, a common theme on the Red Bull cars since 2009.

Image not available

Two additional slots in the floor ahead of the rear tyre appeared this weekend, almost identical to those that Ferrari have been utilising since last year. Unfortunately I do not have an image available to use but they are not “holes” in the floor, as this is illegal. They are slots as the “hole” is joined to the edge of the floor by a very tiny slit which barely affects the intentions of the design.

These slots energize flow around the rear tyre by letting air come from above the floor to be sucked beneath and around the inside of the tyre. This attempts to control tyre squirt (turbulent airflow that is produced as the face and shoulders of the tyre makes contact with the oncoming air) that can disturb the performance of the diffuser immediately to its side.

Image not available

Red Bull have also been playing around with these intricate front wing strakes. Each one of these small devices produces a vortice that spirals in the direction of the trailing edge of the strake. These vortices are highly energised torrents of flow that will aid the downforce producing components of the wing.

In the above image, the strakes are all paired to its corresponding under-wing fence, that are attached just beneath the flap and are therefore exposed. These fences will generally guide flow beneath the wing but are now being utilised further for flow above the wing due to the introduction of the small strakes.

These strakes are also visible on other parts of the upper flap to try to further turn air around the front tyre.

Ferrari

Image not available

The above device appeared during the Spanish GP but was never raced by either driver and did not appear in Monaco. However, higher speed turns demand greater airflow management over the sidepods, therefore these sidepod airflow conditioners have returned.

Compare this to the standard layout (below image), the new conditioners feature a crossover feature that lies above the radiator intake to induce a downwash effect over the exhaust plume, bending it downwards, creating a stronger blown-diffuser effect. This should create better and more consistent downforce at the rear of the car.

Image not available

Image not available

Ferrari also introduced a brand new under-nose chin. This is an expansion on the “pelican” or “pregnant” under-nose bulges that we have seen on the Lotus and Force India cars and is very similar to a concept seen on Renault’s R29 from 2009.

The idea of having this component is to drive oncoming airflow down towards the front of the floor (T-tray, bib, splitter, whatever you want to call it) and work the rest of the floor harder and therefore work the diffuser harder to suck the car closer to the track.

Although it is quite a large bulge, I am told it does not produce much drag or lift, so this is a win-win in terms of the development trade-off between drag and downforce.

The chin is not actually part of the structure of the nose. This is evident as we can see the join line to where this additional panel attaches. This is why Ferrari have not needed to undergo more crash tests to the front wing, as this section will easily remove itself under stress.

Image not available

Introduced in Monaco, the Italian squad have retained the new front wing pillars, which have a more rounded profile. These were not raced in Monaco but found their way to the car for qualifying and race this weekend.

Image not available

An intriguing modification to the main cascade element was also present on the F138 front wing, which now swoops down at its outboard edge instead of attaching to the endplate horizontally. This frees up more space to the downforce producing extremities of the main plane and flaps of the wing itself. This design also helps turn airflow around the front tyre more efficiently as well as producing a small amount of downforce itself.

McLaren

Image not available

McLaren introduced a few small tweaks to their MP4-28 ahead of this race, a circuit that normally treats them well. However, their traction issues have yet to be rectified and therefore struggled in the wet and dry conditions.

The Woking outfit tested and raced a low downforce rear wing (in above image) that features just four endplate slots and a much shallower profile to reduce drag.

There was a subtle change to the slot in the front wing endplate, so that it is now a bit larger and allows more flow to come inside the outer elements of the wing and create more consistent downforce.

Lotus

Image not available

In contrast to Ferrari and Sauber, Lotus chose to abandon their under-nose bulge and instead revert to a traditional flat underside. This could be a permanent change but it is more likely to be a drag reducing solution to generate a greater top speed.

The Renault engine is a bit down on power compared to its Mercedes and Ferrari rivals so this would be a logical development for this event.

Mercedes

Image not available

Canada is not as strenuous on engine and gearbox temperatures as other events on the calendar due to the long straights so Mercedes saw a benefit in bringing a low drag engine cover.

Gone is the large hole at the back that extracts large volumes of hot air that has passed through the radiators and airbox, and in place is a sculpted and tidy solution that features a very narrow slot. It is very similar to the Ferrari solution, even featuring an almost identical shark-fin that must be there for regulation purposes (minimum surface area requirements).

Image not available

The team also continued to run with the front wing infrared cameras on both cars during practice, that face back towards the face of the tyre and monitor temperature change. This is all part of their continued development into sorting their rear tyre issues. Taking measurements of the front tyre temperatures and making developments upon this data can help balance the issues out with the rear of the car.

Image not available

Mercedes continued using the new gearbox casing that was introduced in Monaco. This is part of a huge push to sorting the geometry of the rear of the car to help reduce slip and thus reduce high rear tyre temperatures. The casing is based upon the Ferrari F2004 casing, another car that was under the wing of Ross Brawn.

The casing is made of titanium and the suspension mounts are normally attached to it. It is then surrounded in carbon fibre, reaching out of the back of the car to form the rear crash structure where the rain light is mounted.

In the regulations, a gearbox change is classed as a change to any of the forward gears (not reverse), selector shaft/pin parts, collars etc. or the entire component, including the casing. This would mean that, if a team wanted to change the geometry of the rear suspension during a race weekend, the gearbox would have to be changed and a penalty would be incurred.

The clever thing about the Mercedes casing is that the suspension mounts are now placed upon the outer carbon fibre skin. This means that the team can bring multiple skins and test them during practice, each skin featuring slightly different geometry.

The skin is a bit thicker (more carbon layers) and heavier than those of other teams as it has to accommodate the mounts and additional stress that comes with having suspension components placed upon the material.

Sauber

Image not available

The C32 featured a new nose for this weekend, featuring an under-nose bulge to produce the same effect that the Ferrari version creates, albeit the Sauber version is much more pronounced. The nose itself was also higher and invites more oncoming air beneath the chassis, working the floor harder as a result.

The team continued to test different camera pod positions between where they currently are in the image above and at the tip of the nose. In the end they settled for the former this weekend.

Image not available

Image not available

A total of three rear wings were brought to Canada. Their original design featuring the low swoop at the centre of the profile and the two wings above.

The top image shows the ‘w’ profiled low drag wing that was tested in Barcelona free practice, whilst the image immediately below shows a new Canada-specific wing, that interestingly features a large top flap chord (the span between the leading and trailing edge of the element).

This is traditionally seen at high downforce venues as a shorter chord offers a better drag reduction when DRS is in use, but perhaps the wing produces such little drag anyway that a longer top chord will actually benefit them. This wing also features a slightly different DRS actuator pod, with a slight bulge along the top.

Force India

Image not available

Force India were another team, along with Lotus, to ditch the under-nose bulge and convert to the more traditional design. As I said earlier, this is probably because it creates less drag.

The camera pods were also in different places this weekend as teams continue to optimise their package for individual circuits.

Image not available

A Canada-specific wing featured on the car this weekend, consisting of a very shallow profile to reduce drag and minimalist endplate design containing six small gills-shaped slots. Note also the slot at the leading edge of the endplate that manages tyre squirt, a feature that has been on their car for over a year now.

Williams

Image not available

Williams continued to test an array of both front and rear wing designs. The front wing variations consisted of various iterations of 2012 and 2013 wing profiles, two types of wing pillars (in above image), two noses and varying camera pod positions… I presume Friday must have been a busy day for the data guys!

Interestingly they opted with the lower slung nose design that has not been raced this season. This probably has to do with aero balance between front to rear, as the rear of the car has a lot less downforce here than previous races it would make sense to balance this with a lower downforce front wing setup.

Image not available

They also tested two types of rear wing but eventually stuck with the above solution that was first introduced last year here in Canada but has also made an appearance earlier in the season in Bahrain.

Thankyou very much for reading. All the teams except two brought updates to Canada so my keyboard is officially broken! If you enjoyed reading this or have any advise as to how I can improve my blog, please write a brief comment below as this will only benefit all the viewers in the future!

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

Image not available

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

Image not available

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.

Image not available

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

Image not available

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.

Image not available

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

Image not available

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.

Image not available

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)

Image not available

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.