Tag Archives: f1

Tech Highlights: Mercedes rear suspension tweaks

As part of a number of changes under the skin of the car to address the issues they faced last year, Mercedes have added an extension to the rear upright where the upper wishbone joins (here’s an image of it). In my analysis of the Mercedes W09 for Race Fans I mistakenly wrote that the rear upper wishbone design raises the rear roll centre. I must’ve messed up my sketches, as the raised position actually lowers the rear roll centre.

Lowering the rear roll centre loads up the rear tyre upon steering input, producing better traction and overall grip amongst other benefits. As with any of these things there are pros and cons of doing this but I won’t delve into them in too much detail here. This post mainly explores how Mercedes have achieved a lower rear roll centre.

If you don’t know about roll centres and other suspension related terms then I’ve got a blog post on it here.

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The above sketch shows how the roll centre (RC) is influenced by the angle and position of the upper and lower wishbones (apologies for the terrible image quality, if you’d like to buy a poor student a new iPhone then please let me know). RC1 is the reference suspension geometry, drawn in pencil.

RC2 (blue lines) depicts the effects of the raised upper wishbone Mercedes are utilising. As you can see the substantial height increase from the upright extension slightly lowers the RC compared to RC1.

RC3 (black lines) shows that the angle of the wishbones has a much greater influence on the RC, as the upper wishbone is kept in the same position at the upright but its angle to the horizontal has increased. In this case RC3 is higher than both RC1 and RC2.

The wishbone angle and position is limited by aerodynamic idealisations, keeping the mass of the car as low as possible and regulations. They all sort of play off eachother too, adding to the complication.

The teams often encase the lower wishbone and drive shafts into one aerodynamic fairing, preventing the effects of shaft rotation in freestream air from effecting the performance of the diffuser immediately behind (Google ‘Magnus effect’ for more on this). This limits the height at which the lower wishbone sits, so adjustments to the RC can only be achieved through the upper wishbone alignment and the centre of gravity (CoG). Lowering the RC can be done by angling the top wishbone upwards, but then the air would not pass perpendicularly over the entire structure and the inboard bodywork would have to be raised to cover it. This would be detrimental to the airflow over the car and also induce unwanted lift (i.e. increased drag). Aerodynamics govern the majority of the car’s performance, so we are therefore left with raising the upper wishbone to achieve the desired lower RC.

Lowering the CoG is also critical to car performance. The gearbox hosts the rear suspension mounts: machined aluminium clevises that transfer load through to, in most cases, a carbon case. With strength often comes added weight, so ideally the wishbones should be mounted as low as possible while achieving the designed suspension characteristics. It is for this reason that we have seen the likes of Williams’s impressively low gearbox case in 2011.

Finally, the location of the single exhaust exit is regulated and limits what can be done with the upper wishbone’s position. The exhaust passes over the mounting point of the trailing arm of the wishbone, but with the mounting point so high Mercedes have had to weld in a bridged section to the pipe to do so. Both aerodynamics and CoG play roles here too, as the mass of the pipe should be kept as low as possible while controlling the exhaust plume’s position and interaction with the surrounding surfaces.

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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.

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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…

Tech Highlights: Top aero features of 2017

As Formula 1 introduced a raft of changes ahead of the new season, 2017 was always likely to produce some new features on the aerodynamic front. Here are some of the key highlights from this year.

T-wings

The appearance of T-wings on this year’s cars is a consequence of the changing of the rear wing dimensions for 2017. During the rewriting of the rules a small region that was previously occupied by the outgoing higher rear wings was accidently left unattended. The extruded 50 x 750 mm area was instantly taken advantage of by the teams, with the majority of them converging on some form of twin element design by mid-season.

w08_twing

Mercedes were one of the first teams to debut a T-wing in 2017

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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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Why Technical Reliability Holds Key to 2017 Formula One Championship

By Ben Woods

The 2017 Formula One season promises to deliver one of the closest races in the battle for the Constructors’ Championship in the last five years.

The dominance of Mercedes in recent history has seen the title become a one-sided affair, with the team winning the crown for the past three seasons on the bounce. However, the rise of Ferrari this term has provided competition at the top, with Sebastian Vettel challenging Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

Due to the performances of the German and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Italian outfit have pressed Mercedes at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, and are now down to 10/3 in the F1 betting to secure the crown this season, which may represent good value when used in conjunction with bookmakers’ £50 free bet offers. The quality of the teams and drivers involved will ensure that the battle will go down to the wire.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the race for both awards will be the reliability of the vehicles, which has already played a significant role thus far. Continue reading

Tech Highlights: 2017 in illustrations (so far)

Procrastinating a little bit from revision by sharing some of the illustrations that I’ve done over the season so far. You can find the associated articles on Motorsport Week that explain the effects of these developments in detail.

RS17 RW

The teams had barely hit the track when Renault were called out over their rear wing support design (inset). The design was edited in a cheekily manner, dodging the regulations that stipulate that the DRS actuator must be isolated by slimming the support.

MCL32 FW_Aus_highlight

McLaren’s pace in the final sector in Barcelona shows that their chassis is reasonable, certainly above the other midfield runners but not quite there with the top dogs. The team’s aero department are constantly churning out alterations to the car – the front wing is tweaked almost every race weekend.

FW40_FW_China

The FW40 isn’t a striking car in design terms but the chassis clearly works cohesively on both aerodynamic and mechanical fronts. The above front wing was altered twice within the same amount of weeks between Australia and China.  

SF70H_FW comparison_annotations

Ferrari’s development rate has been refreshing in 2017. In Bahrain the Scuderia introduced their front wing proper for the season (left), featuring six elements cutting the entire span and a more pronounced vortex tunnel.

vjm10_bargeboards

Pretty in pink: It doesn’t matter what colour the Force India is in, the team continue to punch well above their weight despite the regulation changes. The design office is creative and not afraid to produce complex geometries such as their bargeboards and splitter above.

w08RW_spain

Mercedes unleashed an extensive aerodynamic overhaul to the W08 in Barcelona. The nose, bargeboards and engine cover were heavily revised while the spoon-shaped rear wing was ousted for a conventional design. A monkey seat winglet straddles the rear crash structure to draw the exhaust plume upwards.

RB13_bargeboard

Red Bull’s ‘struggles’ has pushed Adrian Newey back into action, although it would be unfair to say that they got the car wrong. The RB13’s clean design leans more towards drag reduction than outright downforce and the car is often up top of the speed trap charts. More complex bargeboards arrived in Spain – is this the start of their come back?