Tag Archives: tech highlights

2013 Abu Dhabi GP Tech Highlights

In all honesty I did not expect to be writing this today! Yet, despite only a week’s turnaround, teams still managed to bring some bits and pieces to Abu Dhabi this weekend. With 2014 certainly at the forefront of everyone’s mind now, most (if not all) of the updates in this article will have been created with the intention to possibly be placed on next year’s car.

Williams

Williams have always been plagued by their Coanda exhaust system, despite the fact that other Renault powered teams (mainly Lotus and Red Bull) have had a lot of success with the engine-exhaust combination. At the last pre-season test in Barcelona, Williams introduced a full-Coanda ramp system that aimed to emulate the designs from Red Bull/Lotus. The cost to produce this system must have been extortionate and it failed to produce consistent downforce at the rear of the car. Pastor Maldonado described the FW35 as “undriveable” on many occasions even before the season had begun.

The team then reverted back to its older specification semi-Coanda layout that is composed of an exhaust exit hanging over the floor and a gap between the exhaust exit and the rear tyre that the gases eventually reach. This produced consistent downforce and made the rear of the car much more predictable although the performance from this component has never been as strong as other teams.

In Abu Dhabi, the team were testing a basic exhaust package to try to replicate the effect of having an aero neutral exhaust exit for 2014 (the exhaust pipe must exit at the centre of the car below the rear wing between 0 and 5 degrees). The exhausts on this package exited along the sidepod line and had no influence on the floor. However, the drivers preferred this package to the current semi-Coanda system and chose to stick with it for qualifying and the race. This is quite a staggering discovery: the fact that after two years of development work on the current exhaust system the team chose to run a very simplistic solution is not a good sign for Williams.

Aerodynamics seem to be the Achilles’ heel for the team of late and I should think that they will be trying to lure the services of Ross Brawn from Mercedes to rebuild. Bringing in Felipe Massa (along with engineer Rob Smedley) wouldn’t do them any harm, either.

Ferrari

Some quite large scale updates appeared on the F138 for this weekend although they may have been aimed at 2014 development.

Ferrari pod vane

Ferrari have combined two vertical fences with a horizontal, downwash aiding blade that attaches to the sidepod airflow conditioner. We have previously seen just a horizontal blade stemming from the conditioner across the top of the sidepod before attaching to the cockpit side. The F138 has, surprisingly, never featured Vortex Generators (VGs) on its sidepods so seeing something similar to them this late in the season is quite strange. At first I thought the two fences were VGs but then, thanks to a helpful reminder in the comments section, I was proved totally wrong (I find this ironic as I produced a piece on vortex generators).

From this piece we concluded that VGs work by drawing high energy airflow down into the boundary layer, re-energising the layer and preventing boundary layer buildup over a gradient. The two fences above, however, are covered by the horizontal blade and therefore do not act as VGs. I am assuming that these fences act only to redirect airflow over the shoulder of the sidepod towards the exhaust plume. This could also aid the downwash of the exhaust gases in the same way that a VG would, only on a much smaller scale.

On the subject of VGs, I did discuss the possibility of maintaining them for next year’s cars with a few members of the F1 “technical community” on Twitter. The aim of placing VGs and blades on top of the sidepod area is to push the exhaust plume down into floor area around the rear tyre. With the exhaust exiting far away from their current location next year, is there still a need for VGs here?

If Ferrari, or any team, were to produce an extremely contoured sidepod there would be a need to place VGs in this area to attempt keep airflow attached along the entire length of the ‘pod. There may well be some radically shaped bodywork in this region next year as the engines are bigger and provide more cooling. This will result in various ways of stacking the intercoolers and radiators that are needed to cool the V6 turbo power units for next year.

Ferrari floor

There were also some subtle changes to the floor for this weekend. These openings at the side of the floor running alongside the sidepod allow turbulent flow from the front tyres to escape without affecting the surrounding flow heading towards the diffuser. The leading opening has been rounded and reduced in size and the trailling one has remained very similar to the previous version.

At the base of the sidepod airflow conditioner was a new floor-mounted blade that replaced the ‘r’ vane introduced in Korea. I am unsure if this was just run in practice only or if they carried over to qualifying/race.

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen ran the short wheelbase edition of the E21 in Abu Dhabi and he will probably continue to do so for the remainder of the season. Raikkonen has not responded well to the long wheelbase (100mm longer) introduced in Italy as it does not suit his driving style. Romain Grosjean has certainly upped his game which has probably amplified Raikkonen’s struggles of late. However the short wheelbase should suit the Yas Marina circuit a lot better, particularly in the tight and twisty final sector.

2013 Indian GP Tech Highlights

If the Buddh International Circuit were a person, he/she would be quite a fickle character. Demanding strong downforce and good straightline speed, this is one of the ultimate tests for a Formula 1 car. Watching the cars on track is always interesting in India as it shows a lot about the level of performance of each piece of machinery. The Red Bull RB9 in particular looks incredible, changing direction almost effortlessly compared to the lethargic nature of some of the lower teams’ cars.

Once again we were faced with a lack of any major modifications to the cars for this weekend although there were yet more detail adjustments still being introduced at this late stage of the season and of the current regulations.

Sauber

Since the 2012 tyre constructions were reintroduced before the summer break, Sauber have been on the up. Continuing to put developments on the car to further enhance the potential of its C32 deserves full credit and they may yet be rewarded by overtaking Force India in the Constructors’ fight.

sauber brake duct

These lower brake duct flick-ups are very similar to that on the Ferrari F138 and replace the slightly straighter version seen previously. These produce local downforce directly to the rear wheel and also help extract performance from the diffuser, interacting with the outer wall and footplate of the latter component. The previous lower duct flick-ups were composed of four smaller elements compared to this new component that features three. The endplate piece that links each of the elements has been elongated and curved outwards towards the wheel, whereas the previous endplate was shorter and straighter.

Note that above this new addition you can see a drum-like opening. This is the hub assembly exhaust vent and it is a feature becoming more common in F1. Instead of extracting the hot air inside the assembly out of the wheel face, this drum vents it outwards inside of the rear tyre. This reduces drag as it prevents the hot air interacting with the denser airflow passing around the rear tyres creating unwanted vortices.

Ferrari

The Scuderia brought three front wings to India for this weekend. Interestingly, one of these wings was brought to Spa, featuring the rounded flaps and smaller length slot gaps. Another wing was the high downforce one introduced in Singapore and the final wing was a slightly modified version of this. You can see the small comparison between these two wings here. The slight increase and pointed flap size will redirect the airflow slightly, possibly to a more sensitive area of the front section of the floor to produce more downforce at the rear of the car.

McLaren

Jenson Button ran a very specific program on Friday morning with the Woking outfit describing the setup as “radical”. Visibly there was not much different on the MP4-28 but I would imagine that they were varying ride heights, dampers, spring rates, roll bars and wing levels. They decided to do this mainly to check that they hadn’t missed a trick with their troublesome chrome machine this year but there were also some 2014 development parts hidden within the setup.

Mclaren FW India

Along with the slightly lower downforce rear wing, the front wing was changed slightly for this event. The camera pods have been relocated from between the wing pillar mounts to right at the top of the nose just before the suspension arms. The new position is in a less aero sensitive region of the car so the front end will probably be producing a bit less downforce as a result. Perhaps this was to balance the front with the lower downforce rear or something they want to do for 2014. The new camera pod layout was coupled with the new wing they introduced in Korea.

For qualifying and race, however, both drivers opted for the wing with the camera pods in their normal position.

Williams

Williams IR camera

The FW35 featured this thermal imaging camera to analyse temperature across the surface of the front tyre. Unfortunately this is not an FOM camera so the footage can only be accessed the team engineers. A conventional camera pod replaced it for qualifying and therefore the race.

2013 Japanese GP Tech Highlights

The Suzuka circuit in Japan represents one of the more demanding aerodynamic tracks on the F1 calendar. However, with 2013 developments slowly withdrawing completely there were only a few detail updates to be seen for this weekend. In this article we will be looking back over some of the developments from the Korean GP last week to fully understand how they work and why they are beneficial to Suzuka. With only a week’s turn-around for the teams updates were never likely to appear so let’s dive in…

Red Bull

The ‘Bulls continued their supremacy by taking a one-two in Japan on Sunday. New to the car for this weekend were slightly updated upper fins on the rear brake ducts, directing airflow inside of the rear tyre more efficiently to decrease drag as well as work the components (fins, duct “flick-ups”, edge of the diffuser) beneath to work better accordingly, producing more downforce, too.

What I would like to recap on is the introduction of the two large vertical vanes on the RB9’s front wing (here’s an image of it – http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dXUMng3xwpU/Uk_D7Pj_0AI/AAAAAAAAIc4/zBWvcs4CSTk/s1600/d13kor618.jpg) , brought to the Korean GP last week. After briefly touching upon them in last week’s Tech Highlights I mentioned that I was not entirely sure how they worked and I would seek clarification. Which I have…

Vortices are induced when high pressure airflow wants to migrate to low pressure airflow and the two pressure zones collide. This is a normal characteristic of pressures in a fluid system and one that teams exploit when reducing vortices emitted from the rear wing. The bigger the pressure difference, the greater the vortex produced. In the case we are examining here, high pressure is on the oncoming airflow face of the two vanes, as demonstrated by this diagram.

'+' represents high pressure, '-' represents low pressure

‘+’ represents high pressure, ‘-‘ represents low pressure

We have learnt that the oncoming airflow will have the tendency to navigate its way to the negative region behind the vanes. The vanes are obviously completely solid so it can’t pass straight through them. Nor can the airflow wrap right around the vanes as the oncoming airflow is too fast for this to happen, as shown below.

Airflow from the base of the vane to roughly three quarters of the way up will pass around in the direction of the trailling edge of the vane

Airflow from the base of the vane to roughly three quarters of the way up will pass around in the direction of the trailling edge of the vane

However, at the top of the vane the oncoming, high pressure flow can creep over and in to the low pressure region the other side. As the pressure gradient suddenly changes, this can happen very quickly causing turbulent spirals of air to project along the top of the vane. In the diagram below we can see this effect taking place. For clarity purposes I have also included laminar flow travelling along the middle of the vane as explained above.

The oncoming airflow near the top of the vane will travel rapidly over into the low pressure area, causing this spiralling effect

The oncoming airflow near the top of the vane will travel rapidly over into the low pressure area, causing this spiralling effect

There are two vanes on the Red Bull wing: the forward vane has very little Angle of Attack (AoA), whereas the back vane has quite an aggressive AoA. The back vane therefore has a greater pressure delta between the forward and rearward faces of the vane (think of it almost as a wind shelter on a beach) therefore more powerful vortices are produced as a result.

Both vanes create vortices along the top of the vane, passing them along their individual profiles before exiting at the trailing edge. Both vanes appear to have a trailing edge pointing in a similar direction. The two series’ of vortices produced must converge. They converge on the front face of the front tyre to try to breakdown the turbulence created by the rotating motion – tyre wake. Tyre wake causes drag and can impact on the aerodynamics immediately downstream of the front tyre (sidepods, bargeboards, floor). The two vanes are quite tall so their aim must be to break down tyre wake at the upper areas of the front tyre. This is a development they can carry into next year as the front wings will be narrower, therefore managing this tyre wake will be a bit more difficult.

I would like to thank @F1_Aero (on Twitter) and Matt Somerfield (@SomersF1) for their help explaining this to me.

Mercedes

Retained for this weekend, the Silver Arrows continued using a three-slot arrangement in front of the rear tyres. This replaces the single slot that has been used for the entire season and copies teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull. Their solution has always been an add-on section of the floor made out of titanium for reasons that I am not fully sure about. It may have something to do with how the friction of the air interacts with the slots made out of the metal element, as it has nothing to do with the heat from the exhaust gases that travel inboard of it on the other side of a carbon fibre fence.

McLaren

Jenson Button ran a slightly updated front wing on his MP4-28 in Korea last week and for Japan, Sergio Perez got his hands on one, too.

The wing pillars are now attached to the very back of the wing, something that teams have been exploiting for a while whereas McLaren have not. This is beneficial as the elongated pillars are now even further back, aiding airflow to the T-Tray and bargeboard area and therefore having a positive impact on the diffuser at the back of the car. As a result, the wing is attached to much less of the pillar which can lead to a lot more flexibility. The team therefore decided to use these “target” stickers (see here – http://img3.auto-motor-und-sport.de/McLaren-Formel-1-GP-Japan-2013-fotoshowImage-fbfb7d0-727506.jpg) on the inside of the endplates to measure its movement by using a camera facing out from the pillar itself.

The left front wing is the wing used from Korea onwards, with slight alterations to the inboard flap section as well

The left front wing is the wing used from Korea onwards, with slight alterations to the inboard flap section as well

This is something that Red Bull have also done when testing a new front wing. The FIA have a deflection test to ensure that the front wings do not run too close to the ground so assessing the new wing was for legal purposes. They would have tested it on their own deflection rig back at their factory in Woking but on-track tests are, obviously, more realistic. McLaren then analysed the impact of the new pillars by placing a Pitot tube array in front of the sidepod area beside the bargeboard.

Interestingly, McLaren have removed the second fence in front of each rear tyre that was introduced in Korea and have instead stuck to a sole fence aimed at directing the exhaust gases into the gap between the rear tyre and the wall of the diffuser.

Ferrari

Possibly a James Allison influenced idea, an ‘r’ vane appeared on the F138 at the Korean GP last weekend, featuring again on the car in Japan. Allison’s previous employers, Lotus, adopted this type of vane as early as late 2011 and it has also appeared on the Sauber.

Ferrari r vane

The ‘r’ vane is just in front and beneath the sidepod airflow conditioner, that also received a small change at its base. Where previously there was a perforation, there is now a solid piece at the bottom creating just a single element design. This has been tapered more to hug closer to the sidepod. These changes, coupled with further refinements to the floor beneath, should help extract more downforce from the diffuser.

2013 Korean GP Tech Highlights

Moving on from the slow, twisty layout of the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore, the Korea International Circuit is of completely different nature although is done combine features of many circuits into one track. Set upon a desolate marshland over 400 km from the capital city, Seoul, it is not every team’s cup of tea. However, drivers do like the track to some extent. And with good reason.

Sector 1 includes both DRS zones (pit straight and from Turn 2 to Turn 3) and another straight into Turn 4 that provides great overtaking possibilities if given good low drag performance. But this circuit requires the perfect tradeoff of high downforce and high top speed, as S2 and S3 are of complete contrast to the beginning of the lap.

The middle section of the lap is a sweeping array of corners and slight undulation that needs good aerodynamic balance and medium-to-high speed grip. For S3, the end to this track needs a strong front end with typically strong mechanical grip, ie good traction and change of direction. The end to the lap is designed to replicate a street circuit so Red Bull could be top dogs in this area.

With the development cycle of this generation of cars pretty much over, there were still some interesting additions on the cars this weekend. With 2014 looming some of the parts seen over the duration of these final races will have next year on mind, including a few pieces brought to Korea this weekend.

Williams

Much to my surprise, Williams had a brand new front wing with them for this weekend. Although it is not a gulf apart from the previous version, it has a lot of new small components.

Williams FW Korea

The total number of elements has been raised to 7 in total, equalling with Ferrari’s F138 front wing. The main plane is split into three sections at the outboard edge of the wing, whilst the upper and lower flaps have been divided in two with the former’s split running across the entire span of the wing. I have numbered different sections of the wing to see all of the updates as a whole. Number 1 highlights the three sections that make up the outboard region of the mainplane and also the lower section of the lower flap. Previously just one single seciont, Number 2 shows the split flap designed to navigate flow successfully around the lower wishbone assembly and brake duct area. Number 3 labels the new inboard cascade feature that has a strong outwash. The stalk that it is mounted on also acts as a turning vane to direct airflow around the front tyre more effectively.

The wing was run in conjunction with their highest specification nose that dates right back to the start of the season, including a thick chin to its underside. Both drivers were knocked out in Q1 in qualifying and both complained of a balance issue with the car. This could perhaps indicate that the front wing is indeed working as intended and that they instead picked up too much oversteer and ended up fighting the car around the track.

Toro Rosso

Only a small change on the STR8 for this weekend to optimise airflow over their Coanda exhaust system. As analysed in my previous article, the shape and height of the Vortex Generators (VGs) on top of the sidepod dictate the energy of the airflow that pushes the exhaust plume back into the bodwork, travelling to the floor further downstream.

Red Bull

This two-part vertical vane made its debut on Friday and it was first judged as being a potential development piece for 2014, analysing how the main cascade flow structure would interact with the more inboard endplate fences from next year. However it was retained for Saturday morning and subsequently run for qualifying and race.

One of the vertical elements lies roughly in parallel with the endplate, the other (trailling element) is offset by quite an angle, around 45 degrees. I am not entirely sure what they are trying to achieve but I think the vane works in conjunction with the endplates and outboard elements of the wing to project flow around the front tyre more efficiently. Perhaps it does that by separating to the oncoming airflow out into two paths before converging creating a large vortex that helps the outwash of the wing. I am not entirely sure so do not quote me on it! I have not found another explanation, but if I do then I will edit this section.

Here's what I think is happening... So it may be wrong!

Here’s what I think is happening… So it may be wrong!

It not only decreases drag, but accelerates the flow above the wing, forcing the low pressure to expand faster and therefore produce a bit more downforce. The RB9’s front wing revisited the triple element main cascade winglet used earlier in the year that is very similar to that of Force India’s, extracting extra downforce from the winglet as well as maintaining good airflow management around the front tyres. Furthermore, the RB9 also featured updated rear brake ducts aimed at providing the rear of the car with local downforce directly onto the wheel.

To compensate for Mark Webber’s 10 place grid penalty, Red Bull also opted for a slightly lower downforce rear wing and longer gear ratios, particularly seventh gear so he can gain a higher top speed in the bid to pass a lot of cars in the race. This ultimately cost him time in the middle and final sector. What was strange was that on his final qualifying lap in Q3 he appeared to have nearly matched Sebastian Vettel’s middle sector time but decided to abort the lap. Whether he made a mistake in the final sector is unclear but he would have certainly been on for second place and therefore 12th for the race.

McLaren

The Woking squad brought a slightly modified inboard flap section, reducing the slot gap of the lower flap by a few centimetres and adding a perforated edge much like Williams do (see the above image). They also copied Red Bull by placing two fences ahead of the rear tyres (see here – https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BVrCSmjIQAA0Grm.jpg) to produce a vortex that guides the exhaust gases more directly to the edge of the diffuser area. This seals the gap between the floor and the tyre more effectively and thus produces more downforce from the rear of the car.

Mercedes

A small but interesting detail change to the W04 for this weekend. Introduced orginially by Red Bull earlier this year, the addition of VGs to the front wing have had multiple benefits.

Note how each VG corresponds with an under-wing fence designed at channeling airflow to the specific areas

Note how each VG corresponds with an under-wing fence designed at channeling airflow to the specific areas

Their main purpose is to create small vortices that correspond with a fence beneath the wing to extract more downforce. However they also prevent the build up of marbles (chunks of rubber flicked off from the tyres under load) in the slot gaps of the wing, a common occurrence with this year’s less durable rubber. By blocking up the slot gaps the airflow beneath the wing becomes detached, reducing front downforce significantly. Tiny details like this are quite effective and low in cost.

On Friday, Nico Rosberg once again trialled their drag Reduction Device (DRD) but did not appear again after FP1. DRD seems to be quite unreliable and difficult to set up from circuit to circuit. Only Lotus have ever raced a DRD, featuring on just Kimi Raikkonen’s car at Silverstone. The latter team have recently confirmed that they will not be using the device for the rest of the year, suggesting that they will continue to explore its capabilities next season.

The problem teams have is that they’ve spent a lot of money developing this system thinking it would be the next big thing, much like the F-duct was in 2010. It has transpired that this hasn’t been the case (yet), so the teams feel the need to continue attempting to get the device to work consistently to consolidate their spending. I wonder – with the shallower profile rear wings coming in for 2014 – if it will be value for money, providing they all get it working of course.

Lotus

The E21 finally carries its longer wheelbase (100-120mm longer than their standard wheelbase) into qualifying and the race although Romain Grosjean apparently doesn’t notice anything drastically different. On paper it is a better solution and is supposed to provide better mechanical grip and stability under braking and through high speed corners, as well as a small aerodynamic advantage by spreading out the front tyre wake.

Their race pace on Friday was certainly an eye-catcher and Grosjean did well to qualify in P4 (P3 after Mark Webber’s penalty). But whether this is down to the long wheelbase is another matter. Clearly the Lotus engineers see the benefits so we can only trust them.

2013 Singapore GP Tech Highlights

The Marina Bay circuit is probably the most unique venue of the 2013 Formula 1 calendar. Hosting 23 challenging slow-speed corners punishes the rear tyres for traction. In fact, it isn’t just the tyres that are under extreme conditions beneath the Singapore lights. Let’s look at some quick figures: 21% of the lap is spent on the brake pedal with a total of 16 braking zones; only 45.5% of the lap is on full throttle; the straights are relatively short, with the cars reaching a lowly 190 mph with DRS activated (or if you’re in a Red Bull, 184 mph); humidity lingers at around 85% and air temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius.

So with all this to contend with, it is the brakes that are in for the biggest thrashing. Teams will bring larger brake duct inlets to cope with this, although the disc temperatures will never get a chance to get back to their best operating window. This is due to the short straights that do not allow enough air to pass through the brake assembly before reaching the next corner. We have seen a fair share of brake failures over the past five years and it would not surprise me if we saw another this weekend.

The fuel effect is also high – for every 10 kg of fuel there is a laptime penalty of around 0.4 seconds. This is partly due to the long laptime. Sebastian Vettel’s pole time may have been 3.521 seconds quicker than last year’s pole time from Lewis Hamilton, it still takes well over 100 seconds to get round the 3.152 mile track. On the subject of fuel, consumption is also higher than average due to the circuit being at sea level. The resulting higher pressure and dense air burns fuel slightly more than most tracks at 2.26 kg per lap.

Baring all this in mind, and the fact that development has well and truly shifted to 2014, teams had to be innovative with various cooling solutions and finding small ways to improve the performance of the car going into a circuit with one of the highest downforce level settings this year. Let’s see what they’ve done…

Ferrari

There were many items to test in this camp. Unlike a lot of teams, they spend most of FP1 and some of FP2 back-to-back testing components such as front wings and diffusers. It was surprising to see that they had brought the same wing from Spa, featuring the trimmed flaps. It had some slight alterations: of the 7 elements that make up the wing’s profile, 2 of the members have been stretched across the entire span of the wing rather than being aligned along the outboard section. This now means that 5 of the elements span across the entire permitted area of the front wing. They have also followed the tyre monitoring IR cameras that Mercedes use on their front wing, although they place their sensors on the trailing edge of the last element on the wing rather than on one of the winglets.

Ferrari were also testing a new rear diffuser on Friday although I cannot confirm that it is being raced this weekend. It features the rapid out-sweeping design that Mercedes have adopted along with Red Bull recently. This design expands the flow outwards more aggressively as well as upwards, which means that the low pressure flow beneath the car is leaving faster and therefore pushing the car downwards. This version was tested in Belgium but was not raced. They used a variety of rakes on the car to see how the airflow was behaving both before the air entered beneath the floor and as it was passing out of the diffuser.

The Maranello squad continued to switch between a two versions of nosecone – one with the chin, one without. Front and rear brake ducts were also updates, featuring more vanes to guide airflow more efficiently and to generate local downforce upon the wheel. There also appeared to be a small bump along the sidepods before the exhaust trough exit. I am not entirely sure why it is there but I will seek clarification.

In addition to the differing chin layouts, both drivers opted for a change beneath the front of the chassis. Fernando Alonso chose a three tier turning vane whereas Felipe Massa went for a two tier arrangement. This will control the airflow downstream from beneath the nosecone a bit differently, diverting it to slightly different areas around the leading edge of the sidepod.

Overall then the small updates Ferrari have brought with them appear to be the final parts that will feature consistently on the car for the last segment of the season.

McLaren

On paper, this circuit should not really suit the MP4-28. So in qualifying it was so surprise to see Sergio Perez out in Q2 and Jenson Button qualifying 1.4 seconds back from the ultimate lap time. Despite the large gap, the Woking outfit have at least kept up their development rate and have also managed to stick with the pack, overtaking Force India. If only they started the season with a better car…

McLaren VGs

Following Williams, McLaren have an additional Vortex Generator (VG) fence on top of each sidepod, equating to 8 in total – 4 each side. The extra VG was abandoned for qualifying and race, however. The addition of a VG fence is to literally generate a small vortex: this is achieved by allowing airflow to pass either side of the fence, converging at the end at two different speeds to create an oscillation. This small torrent of flow aids the guidance of airflow over the top of the sidepods and over the exhaust plume to further improve downforce at the rear of the car. The larger the length of the fence, the greater the size of the vortex produced. These fences also have a specific height to achieve vortex generation at varying speeds. McLaren’s examples above are relatively low and work at their best at high speed.

There was also a revised Y75 (Monkey Seat) winglet, featuring an additional element to boost downforce on top of the beam wing. This works in conjunction with their latest beam wing introduced initially in Spa. This combination should help work the diffuser’s central section and rear wing a bit harder in the process as each of their airflow structures interact with eachother as they exit the rear of the car.

Red Bull

Adrian Newey continues to make his presence known by strolling the garage once again in Singapore, which can only mean that he is still inspecting and improving development parts on the RB9. It is only when Newey fails to appear at a Grand Prix that we know that the RB9 will not be receiving more extensive modifications.

noses

Red Bull tend to change their nosecone layout between different types of circuits and here in Singapore was no exception. They have reverted back to the nose we are most accustomed to seeing (top) for this higher downforce track. It features the camera pods mounted at the tip of the nose, generating a small amount of downforce right at the front of the car, with the nose itself being slightly lower than its counterpart (bottom). The latter wing is traditionally used at lower downforce circuits and has featured in both Spa and Monza. The camera pods are placed further back to aid airflow around the suspension arms more efficiently, reducing drag.

Sebastian Vettel was using a slightly higher downforce rear wing on Friday, featuring a higher Angle of Attack (AoA) than his teammate, Mark Webber. The German driver then reverted back to the slightly lower AoA wing, probably to aid the balance of the car rather than pure performance. Both RB9’s were at least 10 kph slower through the speed trap than its main competition although this never seems to concern them, probably because they can’t do anything about it.

Every team is running as much downforce as possible here – there is no compromise (if we take out the cooling inlets and outlets, which cause drag). It is a pure testament to how much downforce the RB9 is producing in comparison to its nearest challenger in the Mercedes W04. The Mercedes engine may be slightly stronger than the Red Bull’s Renault power, but it is not 10 kph.

On Friday, one RB9 was equipped with a modified diffuser although it was not drastically different to the one seen at the previous few races. Its outer walls had been lowered slightly and the gurney flap lining the top of the diffuser followed its curvature right to the very edge (see here – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-asDO2rciKo4/UjxvbFJ3gyI/AAAAAAAAITc/iphWQSqTrkk/s640/dpl1320se070+(Custom).jpg). This altered design should be aiding the expansion of the airflow beneath the car although I am unsure if it was used in qualifying and therefore the race on Sunday.

On a side note, when Webber grazed the wall during FP2, the Red Bull mechanics got the car back to the garage and examined the suspension arms, driveshaft and track rod components. It was a fair clout so they decided to not only check it visually but also with the help of an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound can detect hairline cracks in any part of the suspension assembly so the team know whether to replace it or not. Neat bit of kit.

Mercedes

Introduced in Hungary, the Mercedes front wing featured its small canard fins tucked in just behind the main cascades. For Singapore they received a slightly new touch by passing the trailing edge of each fin downwards at 90 degrees, attaching to the wing profile itself. This acts as an extension to the main cascade as a method of managing the airflow around the front tyres. The undernose pelican bulge – taken off for the low downforce circuits in Belgium and Italy – reappeared to provide the front end with a bit of extra grip.

Lotus

Interestingly, the E21 was not installed with its long wheelbase for this weekend. The change in length is aimed at controlling weight shift, according to trackside operations director of Lotus, Alan Permane.

“It should give us a more stable car.” he said,

“The main weak point of our car is combined turn-in and braking.

“The problem is when we cure it we then have too much mid-corner understeer”.

Lotus want to use it at the next race in Korea, which features more mid-to-high speed corners allowing the longer layout to be more suitably applied.

Toro Rosso

toro rosso RW

Finally, the STR8 featured a new high downforce rear wing. The central section has been lipped at the leading edge to encourage more airflow to pass beneath. The DRS actuator pod is also new, forming a ‘golf club’ shape. The endplates have remained the same and still include the very long, vertical tyre wake slot aimed at reducing the effects of tyre squirt upon the rear wing.

Some very complex rear brake ducts were also on the car for the entire duration of the weekend and the sidepods/exhaust area was given a a few tweaks to extract hot air from within the car more efficiently.

Thankyou for reading this article and please continue to visit my website for all the latest technical news in Formula 1. I have also been writing for another website lately but taking a slightly different approach. My articles still have a technical base but it is much more detailed and considers all things F1. Please visit wheels.morethanafan.net and follow them on Twitter for all things motorsport!

Cheers,

Will

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.