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.
Haven’t managed to do all of the cars this year but I’ve covered five of the ten for Motorsport Week. Here are the links:
- Mercedes W08 – Huge wheelbase and complex bodywork, but is it a winner?
- Red Bull RB13 – Don’t let the outward simplicity of this car fool you…
- Ferrari SF70H – Find out about those crazy sidepods!
- McLaren MCL32 – Can McLaren emerge from the midfield in 2017?
- Renault R.S.17 – Detailed from the get-go, watch out for Renault this season
As you may (or may not) know, all of my technical analysis pieces for the 2016 F1 cars are up on F1 Fanatic this year. However I’ve made it really easy for you to find your favourite car/team by linking them all in this post! So here you are – enjoy!
- Mercedes W07 – Can the World Champions continue their winning streak?
- Ferrari SF16-H – Ferrari’s bold winter strategy could bring them a step closer to the Mercs
- Williams FW38 – The FW38 is arguably the most important car for Williams in a long time
- Red Bull RB12 – 2016 may be a stop-gap for the Bulls, but don’t discount them for a podium
- Force India VJM09 – Will Force India be able to keep pace with the bigger budget teams?
- Renault R.S.16 – It’s Renault’s first year back as a Constructor, so how will the R.S.16 fare?
- Toro Rosso STR11 – Arguably the boldest car on the grid, Toro Rosso mean business in 2016
- Sauber C35 – Sauber have their eyes on 2017, but the C35 is nonetheless a solid evolution
- McLaren MP4-31 – Time to step up, McLaren, and the new car shows it
- Manor Racing MRT05 – Now with Mercedes propulsion, can Manor fight for points?
- Haas VF-16 – Debutants Haas have gone down the listed parts strategy. And it could work!
Note: This post will be updated as the articles are released.
With changes made to the Interlagos circuit’s kerbs (now 50mm higher in places) and the track conditions affected by the weather conditions last year, Pirelli’s pre-race assessment suggested a substantial drop in laptime. This laptime deficit turned out to be over a second over 2014, with Nico Rosberg’s average speed through turns one and two being 15kph slower on his pole lap than the previous year emphasising the alterations on track.
Whilst this will have required some rethinking on the mechanical side of the setup, aero also has a key role in Brazil. Although the altitude of roughly 800m above sea level is a far cry from that of Mexico a few weeks’ ago, it still has a significant impact on the aerodynamic levels of the car and the performance of the power units.
This has meant that the teams have changed a few items on the car despite it being the latter stages of the season. We also got to see the performance of Renault’s “upgraded” power unit (you will understand why I quote that later) and Mercedes had an intriguing test device on show. Let’s find out more on this now…
As the season begins to draw to a close, it becomes more obvious that the teams’ attentions have been diverted to 2016. Whilst this means that there are fewer developments added to the current cars, there are often experimental components that are run to assess how the design of next year’s car is coming along.
Mercedes are the first to provide clues as to what is in store on the W07, by trialing what appeared to be an S-duct during free practice on Friday.
The S-duct was pioneered by Sauber in 2013 when stepped noses were in use and has since been copied by Red Bull, McLaren and Force India. Toro Rosso have also briefly used a version of their own, too.
Its purpose is to channel airflow from beneath the chassis up to the top side and over the top of the front bulkhead through an ‘s’ shaped duct. It makes use of slightly slower boundary layer flow beneath the car, exiting into generally untidy air and keeping flow attached to the top of the car. The device allows for more extreme nose designs, which is why they are not necessarily a bolt-on performance part – they act as a link between different aero structures around the centreline at the front of the car.
On closer inspection, however, it appears as if Mercedes were testing a dummy of the duct’s exit on top of the car, rather than a full duct assembly. As you can see in the illustration above, they have simply replaced the conventional panel that covers the inboard front suspension elements for one with an rearward facing duct and two interesting bulges eitherside.
Both drivers used the panel on Friday, with Rosberg’s duct taped up and Lewis Hamilton’s open.
There are a few intriguing details about this test that leave us questioning the direction they are taking with the device.
The bulges are positioned right above where the heave spring peeps out above the monocoque but, on the W06, the spring is sunk far enough into the chassis to not require any blisters in the bodywork above. This suggests that Mercedes are considering changing the suspension geometry for 2016 which would require a higher heave element position.
There was rumour that Hamilton ran a revised suspension layout in FP1, but these are not confirmed reports, so the team may have wanted to test the aero effect of a new suspension design.
Mercedes did indeed use flo-vis paint along the nose and the top of the chassis to investigate but considering that the duct wasn’t a fully operating assembly, we are left wondering as to what the purpose of doing it was.
My guess is that they are isolating the duct from the rest of the car to make sure that its introduction will not have a negative influence on the overall aerodynamics.
It is also worth noting that there was no obvious inlet at the bottom of car to provide air to any potential system they could be producing. However there is a very good explanation for this as Matt (SomersF1) has highlighted brilliantly in his blog post on the subject.
Unlike most teams on the grid, there are no visual signs that Mercedes have a driver cooling slot at the front of the car. There are, though, a few clues that suggest they do have an inlet hole in the underside of the nose, although sometimes an additional inlet is added on top of the car for hotter locations. This hole leads to a thin slot along the bottom of the front bulkhead which is visible when the nose of the car is off, before passing into the footwell of the cockpit.
Conventional S-ducts involve using a duct that covers over some of the internals in the front bulkhead, including things like the brake fluid reservoirs. This compromises the position of the duct’s exit point, which is often well ahead of the top flat surface of the chassis and instead along the upward curve from the nose backwards (defined by the regulations).
Mercedes could utilise their current driver cooling inlet by manufacturing an internal duct that exits through the aperture made for the heave spring, which coincidentally appears to be where the test panel’s duct exit begins. This allows the exit of the duct to sit nicely on top of the car, with air exiting in parallel to the chassis’ surface.
A drawback in doing such would be that air is passing around the heave spring and creating some turbulence, although it is difficult to judge how that would affect the duct’s performance.
I am sure we will get more details on it if it reappears before the year closes.
Although it has been ready since the US grand prix, it is only until now that Red Bull have opted to debut Renault’s new power unit in Brazil. It turns out the original token expenditure of 11 out of 12 is incorrect, instead the a partial upgrade of just 7 tokens was used. These were used solely on the combustion section of the engine, focusing on power output, driveability and fuel efficiency.
The remaining four are expected to be aimed at the turbocharger. This upgrade could not be introduced because of part availability and further changes needed to the exhaust system to make the upgrade work in unison. It is unclear whether Red Bull will want to use the full upgrade in Abu Dhabi, but considering that their ‘partnership’ with Renault is set to continue into 2016 I wouldn’t see a reason not to. Renault will also be quite keen to see how it performs on track, too.
Initially there was talk of a 0.1-0.2s laptime gain, but Daniel Ricciardo was in fact 7kph slower down the main straight than teammate Daniil Kvyat (who used the older spec unit). Whilst this seems a bit shocking at first, it would be unfair to say the upgrade has been a failure (yet). The final developments need to come through and the data analysed to fine-tune them in order to obtain a full assessment of Renault’s progress, but for now it doesn’t look great!
The Faenza-based team fancy their chances of grabbing sixth in the Constructors’ championship ahead of Lotus, as they sit just 9 points behind. Both drivers – Max Verstappen in particular – have hit good form and the STR10 certainly has the pace to match (barring straightline speed, of course).
To counter this deficit, Toro Rosso introduced yet another iteration of their rear wing by modifying the top flaps to reduce drag. Like Mercedes have done in the previous few seasons, the outer edges have been rounded down as they meet the endplate, reducing the angle of attack of the flap and decreasing the size of the wingtip vortices formed as result.
Starting from next year, the FIA will be introducing a new series to encourage environmentally sustainable racing: Formula E. We have seen a lot of concept and demonstration versions of the single seater that will be used in next year’s inaugural season, but on September 10th we finally saw the finished product.
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E is set to hit the track for the first time in November with the race series starting next year in September. Testing is said to be taking place in France, probably at the Paul Ricard circuit. Formula E boss Alejandro Agag says, “At first, testing will be to see if there are any structural problems with the chassis or anything like that,”
“That’s our first aim. After that, when there are no major problems, we will start doing race duration testing and simulations. Production will start for the race cars will most likely start in January.”
The entire car must be purchased by a participating team as they are homologated (much like the format of lower catergory single seater racing) so no development parts can be added unless it is from an official supplier. A shortlist of 10 cities will make up the calendar and it looks to be a promising avenue for the future of motor racing. Current development driver Lucas di Grassi will debut the new car although there is a suggestion that other drivers who are interested in the series may also take part in November.
“We are talking with different drivers, and we will make a list of drivers that are in our driver programme public soon,” added Agag.
“They will test the car, and after that it’s up to the teams to sign drivers. But we have a good number of well-known names.”
During the race, two mandatory stops must be made as the car batteries must be recharged between stints. What is interesting is that the tyres from the incoming car must be put onto the outgoing car during the pitstop phase due to the tyre limitations (which you will read about further down).
Suppliers and Specifications
Michelin are the official tyre suppliers for Formula E, providing an all-weather tyre for all conditions other than extremely wet circumstances. This means that tyre stops are eliminated. The tyres will run on 18 inch rims, a common feature found in most motorsport series’ in which Michelin is a tyre supplier as it brings the technology in line with their road car development strategy. This is probably what would happen if F1 chose to adopt the French tyre company. It is also for this reason that the decision to use all-weather tyres was confirmed.
There will be three sets of tyres per team for two cars, so six tyres per car. This is all they will be allowed for pratice, qualifying and the race. This is an interesting choice and one can only assume that the additional two tyres will be one extra front and rear piece of rubber.
Here are all the specs:
Dallara provide a carbon/aluminium honeycomb structure, complete with carbon front and rear wing and a carbon/Kevlar honeycomb body. All the aerodynamics and styling are also done by Dallara.
Overall length: 5000mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Overall height: 1250mm (maximum)
Track width: 1300mm (minimum)
Ride Height: 75mm (maximum)
Overall weight (including driver): 800kg (minimum) – batteries alone are 200kg
Max power (limited): 200kw, equivalent to 270bhp – this will be used for that crucial qualifying lap
Race mode (power-saving): 133kw, equivalent to 180bhp
‘Push-to-Pass’: 67kw – a boost button similar to that of KERS in F1 and it will only be available for a limited period of time
Hewland paddle shift sequential gearbox
Fixed gear ratios to reduce costs
MGU by McLaren
Maximum of two MGU’s allowed
MGU’s must be linked only to the rear axle
The use of traction control is forbidden
Double steel wishbones, pushrod operated, twin dampers and torsion bars suspension (front) and spring suspension (rear)
Ride height, camber and toe can all be manually adjusted
Two way (front) / Four way (rear) adjustable Koni dampers
Adjustable anti-roll bar (front/rear)
Acceleration: 0 – 100 km/h (0-62mph) in 3 seconds – Estimated
Maximum speed: Limited to 225 km/h (140 mph) – Estimated
McLaren Electronics provide the ECU/GCU, including a data logging system. Telemetry is not permitted, so no live feed of all the things going on within the car going back to the pits. All the information that is available to the driver will be visible on the steering wheel. However, the logging system provides a blackbox for data in case of an accident/incident.
The Williams Advanced Engineering sector provide the batteries to power the MGUs.
Brake material is of free choice to suit a driver’s demands. Drivers tend to prefer slightly different bite levels on the disc as well as pedal feel.
Other additional information is the potential future development of “Energy Line” charging. In partnership with sponsor Qualcomm, the aim is to develop an alternative line for on-the-go charging, eliminating the mandatory pitstops that will be in place from the start of the championship. The series intends to introduce this within the next decade. Drivers will have to divert from the racing line to be able to charge the car’s batteries wirelessly. I would imagine that these lines will be off to the side along straight sections of the circuit.
Qualcomm also offer their ‘Halo’ wireless charging that can charge a car’s batteries when it is stationary in a given parking space. This will be available for teams to use next season in the pit garage if they wish.
Want to find out more? Visit their website – http://www.fiaformulae.com/home