Tag Archives: 2018

Tech Highlights: Top tech features of 2018

While the finer details of the 2019 technical regulations are yet to emerge, I thought it would be appropriate to have a look at some of the best tech from this year (so far) before our eyes turn towards next season. This post will primarily focus on the aerodynamics, as has been my focus throughout the year to this point.

Truth be told, I would quite like to steer my coverage away from the aerodynamic side of the sport in the future and delve more into the mechanical aspect – I think we’ve all had enough of “tyre wake management”, “outwash” and “vortex structures”. The reason why we don’t see more coverage of the mechanical side is because a) it’s less influential on performance as the aero and b) because it’s often hidden from sight. They aren’t as well documented but mechanical changes probably occur more frequently than any other technical element on the car.

I’d also like to look more into the sensors used across the car, how the teams capture and analyse data before making any changes. Hopefully I’ll be able to deliver an insight on that in the future…

For now though, some top picks from the year:

Mirror pod design

SF71H_sidepods

Mirror pod design has really kicked on over the past couple of seasons, which is surprising considering the attention to detail spent everywhere else on the car.

Ferrari took things a step further at the beginning of 2018 by developing a clever shell design that allows air to flow through the housing and around the mirror inside. By channeling the air in this manner a thin jet is created that disperses the low pressure zone directly behind the mirror assembly and thus reducing chaotic turbulence.

While this seems like an original idea, it was found that this concept had already been explored before away from the race track. A research paper written by a University of Miami student in 2014 (which you can find here) provides a good insight into how the design works.

The benefits are two-fold: direct drag reduction in the area and more controlled flow over the top of the sidepod. With the flow more predictable, more opportunities with sidepod design are opened, which the Scuderia duly exploited with their unique cooling strategy.

RB14_mirrors

Red Bull have since gone on to copy Ferrari’s idea, integrating it with their elaborate mirror assembly introduced for the season opener in Australia. One dog-legged and another straight support fix the pod in position, although there is no doubt that the primary reason for the existence of each ‘support’ is to aid the aerodynamics of the car through and around the sidepod opening.

McLaren’s bold nose

MCL33 nose_Spain

The hype around the appearance of the long-anticipated McLaren nose ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix was most definitely real, mostly because the team were boisterous over its ability to seemingly turn the MCL33 into a podium-winning machine. Turns out it didn’t quite manage that, but it was certainly a very clever interpretation of the regulations in this area.

McLaren’s design combines several schools of thought – including their own – into one tidy package. The design blossoms from a conventional thumb-tip layout, with three channels made through it to improve its efficiency. The walls that separate the channels are overlapped by turning vanes inside each cavity so that when a slice is taken in the Y-axis there is only a single cross section, out-foxing Article 3.4.1.

The most obvious feature is the cape, which presents a surface for the airflow at the back of the nose to spill over into the low pressure zone underneath and roll into a vortex. Several vortex systems are present in this area of the car – not least the Y250 emanating from the front wing – and in combination they heavily influence the amount of downforce the car can generate across the various modes of car dynamics (pitch, roll, yaw etc.).

What’s unique to the overall design are the two barred pieces of bodywork that flank each side of the nose cone. Imagine you are looking at the nose from the side: as the air hits the surface, its path doesn’t continue horizontally – it dives as it rolls over the shoulders of the nose. The bars add an element of control to the airflow over the shoulder, before the structure tapers outwards as it meets the front bulkhead.

The most complicated front wings – ever

RS18 FW_Germany

Take it all in, folks: these front wings are quite possibly the most complex they will ever be in Formula 1 history. From 2019 things will become a lot simpler, with only five eligible elements, a single-piece endplate and no cascade elements.

Above is Renault’s latest evolution of the current regulations. Eight elements span the majority of the wing, the unpainted section designed purely to convey the air around the front tyre and manage the wake from the rotating mass, while the small yellow inboard flaps are responsible for varying the level of downforce the wing generates (the top two of these are adjustable). This is a great visual demonstration of just how much of an F1 car’s front wing is actually responsible for producing downforce while the rest is largely there to shift the air in a more desirable manner.

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2018 F1 Car Launch Analysis

Alright, so I can reveal that I’m covering this year’s F1 car launches with Race Fans (formerly F1 Fanatic). I have collaborated with them before and it’s a genuinely great site with bang up to date information (and Dieter Rencken is a columnist on there this year too). I’ll link my pieces below, updating this post as they are released:

  • Haas VF-18 – Draws a lot of influence from last year’s Ferrari while furthering its own concepts around the bargeboard area
  • Williams FW41 – Paddy Lowe spearheads an aggressive change in design philosophy, both mechanically and aerodynamically
  • Red Bull RB14 – Returning back to their classic design ethos of tight internal packaging could pay huge dividends in 2018
  • Sauber C37 – Arguably the best looking car on the grid, their innovative approach to cooling could make or break their season
  • Renault R.S.18 – Don’t be fooled by the launch photos, the R.S.18 is an all-new car from the ground up
  • Mercedes W09 – Reworked rear suspension and beautifully refined bodywork should reduce the inconsistent performances of 2017
  • Ferrari SF71H – A promising evolution of last year’s title contender with impressively narrow bodywork achieved through clever duct work
  • McLaren MCL33 – Renault power now accompanies a very good chassis, featuring clean aerodynamics and revised rear suspension
  • Toro Rosso STR13 – Outwardly similar to last year’s car, the new STR has had to accommodate a big change internally – the Honda PU
  • Force India VJM11 – With an extensive aerodynamic package expected for Melbourne, this analysis reviews the little details that have been added

An update, and a simulation study…

Hello readers. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on here, so I thought I’d finally share with you what my rough 2018 plans are and show you what I’ve been working on a bit in between exams, job applications, running… I’ve been busy, alright.

What’s happening in 2018 with F1 tech stuff?

I’d like to tell you a bit more about that but for now keep an eye on my Twitter for announcements coming soon (hopefully). But if my plans don’t come to fruition then that doesn’t matter because I’ll be writing on here about it anyway. Not going to lie, the media world frequently frustrates me so I was in two minds as to whether I’d sack it off for at least a year and just go back to my roots, i.e. this blog. However, at the moment we are still on course to cover the technical aspect through other medium(s)…

Car launches are coming up soon and this year should be another exciting one. It will be interesting to see if the teams are beginning to converge on particular designs, or whether we still see diverse solutions to the same problem(s). There has been plenty of hype over whether Mercedes will be forced to adopt a high rake angle philosophy and what they will do with their wheelbase – my guess is that they won’t but they will have found a way to shorten the car length a bit, retaining their good aerodynamic characteristics while overcoming the inconsistent handling issues associated with the long wheelbase, particularly around street circuits.

Tyres could be another talking point this year and it might be difficult to assess how they behave during testing. We have two new compounds, the super-hard and hyper-soft (way to further add complexity to the system…) which will cover Pirelli’s arses for any given circuit regardless of how the new cars perform – they are expected to be a further second faster per lap. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is also undergoing a resurface at the moment to accommodate Moto GP’s requirements, and although the aim is to replicate the surface roughness from the old tarmac there are bound to be discrepancies. Of all years headline times could be worthless altogether given how the track might evolve over the two testing periods. And, as always, it’s pretty cold in Spain this time of year which makes life harder for the engineers.

What am I not looking forward to this season? The Halo of course. I understand that it’s necessary but come on, even IndyCar look set to have a more attractive solution! We are stuck with it for now it would seem. This leads me nicely onto something I’ve been playing with over the Christmas/New Year period.

Halo simulation study

Around Christmas time the general public were given further details on the load cases the Halo has to withstand. The teams, of course, have known these for a while, as they have had to figure out how to design and construct their monocoque to cope with the extra stresses bearing down from the roll hoop structure.

I wondered where the peak stresses would occur on the chassis, how the teams would go about addressing the problem and what the weight penalty for such changes would be. Including the mounting brackets, nuts, bolts, pins etc., there is an extra 10 kg of weight sat high up on the car, plus further weight from the strengthening of the chassis.

My plan was to create a fully dimensioned Halo in SolidWorks (must take advantage of the final year I have it for free!), simulate the different load scenarios on it to see if the model worked, and then install it onto a mock-up chassis of my own to see the load distribution.

I started out by drawing the Halo on paper, using the FIA cockpit template dimensions as a reference. In fairness it was going pretty well, although when I did manage to get hold of an official technical drawing it made my life a bit easier and it added further accuracy to my study. I decided to create three components in SolidWorks: the central strut, the roll hoop and the ‘feet’ in which the hoop would slot into either side of the driver’s head.

IMG_2571

IMG_2572

I’m fairly good with CAD, but I was genuinely surprised by how difficult the Halo was to construct. I was having to create quite a few planes for lofted extrusions, mounting the roll hoop at an angle and aligning the whole thing to the FIA’s guidelines. During my university studies last year I designed a planetary gearbox for a wind turbine and that was actually a lot less frustrating! The finished product is below.

Halo1

The next job was to set up the simulation. I defined the material (I started with stainless steel but in the real world it is titanium wrapped in carbon cloth) fixed the two feet, put a roller/slider fixture on the pin join and placed a 1 kN load on the strut. This is nothing compared to what it has to withstand (46 kN) but it was a start, just to check everything would run correctly.

Now, with hindsight, I was probably biting off a little more than I could chew (or at the very least my laptop was). Simulating assemblies isn’t SolidWorks’s favourite task, and it refused to run properly despite fiddling with contact sets: I formed the centre strut in anticipation of mating it with the roll hoop, but this seemed to cause problems and the simulation would often ignore the hoop as if it wasn’t there and just direct the load through the strut alone…

As you can see below I set the two as ‘bonded’ eventually but after doing so the simulation refused to run after about three minutes.

Halo2

I also tried making the strut and roll hoop one part. I am yet to run it yet but hopefully I will make some progress there. If you’ve got any suggestions as to how to set the simulation up let me know (leave a comment, tweet me, email me) as I’d like to continue with this during some of my spare time. If I can get this to work then I’ll be able to build a monocoque and further my investigation, although I don’t see my laptop fancying that to be honest.

 

So, that’s what’s been happening lately. Looking forward to covering 2018 for you and I’ll try to keep this place a bit more up to date…

Analysis: 2018 Halo and its performance implications

Right, hello everyone. You may have noticed a few other posts pop up on here lately but this one is by me again. I, like many of you, was not happy at all when the FIA announced that F1 would be adopting the Halo cockpit protection device from 2018 onwards but no doubt I’ll continue watching next year…

However I’ve come to accept that the sport must do everything it can to improve safety (especially in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s accident) and decided to do an assessment of how the Halo will impact the cars both visually and from a performance standpoint.

Now, there are a few things you might have missed about the implementation of the device due to the red mist descending. Firstly, the teams can paint the ‘flip flop’ in whatever colour they like and secondly, and most importantly, they are allowed to wrap it in a 30 mm fairing to tidy up the air around it. Considering that the Halo is in the firing line of freestream flow around the airbox, the structure mostly hinders the intake of clean air to the ICE, cooling and flow to the rear wing. Other side effects include at least 20 kg extra weight and possibly some disturbances to the air over the sidepod.

The Halo’s basic design will be refined by the FIA between now and the start of 2018. In testing teams have pinned it to the tub in different ways, some slightly better looking than others. Whether every team will have to fix it in the same position remains unknown. The small fairing does however present some opportunities to shape airflow in a more desirable way, although they won’t want too bulk up the tubing much more to reduce blockage and thus decrease drag.

2018 side & plan (halo)

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Analysis: AM-RB 001

I don’t know about you but since the news that Red Bull’s F1 design guru Adrian Newey was teaming up with Aston Martin for a ‘new project’, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for what kind of machine the two could produce together. Despite the lengthy wait, nothing could quite prepare any of us for what we saw when the AM-RB 001 prototype was showcased in early July.

AM-RB 001

 

Once launched the codename will be changed to something more elegant (and probably beginning with a ‘V’) but no doubt the bold body shapes that make it the eye catching will remain. It’s a little Marmite (personally I love it) however every carbon fibre-formed surface has been meticulously sculpted on CAE software to produce a car that meets Newey’s intense focus on aerodynamics. Continue reading