Tag Archives: tech highlights

2013 United States GP Tech Highlights

Once again, few and far between updates on the cars this weekend as the season is very quickly drawing to a close. However with Ferrari and Lotus still firmly in the hunt for second place in the Constructors’ championship, both teams have been forced into making some changes to the cars for this weekend to keep in touch with Mercedes.

Ferrari

Ferrari have slightly updated the front wing cascade on its F138, creating a total of three elements at the endplate of the device instead of two elements previously.

Ferrari FW cascade

An additional element here will produce a slightly different vortex, aimed at guiding airflow around the front tyre to more critical components downstream such as the leading edge of the floor and the bargeboards.

The team were also re-evaluating their new sidepod airflow conditioner introduced in Abu Dhabi although it was never raced. This was coupled with a strake at the base of the vane that replaced the r-vane introduced in Japan.

The fact that Ferrari keep changing this area of the car on a regular basis is quite concerning as this is a relatively sensitive region of the car. It works in conjunction with the edge of the floor and the Y250 vortex produced off the main plane of the front wing, guiding vortices that help seal the airflow beneath the car that travels on into the diffuser. In this video posted on SomersF1, we can see the large vortices that are directed by this component – http://www.somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/austin-gp-video-compilation-of-vortices.html

The team have been changing this area quite a lot lately so perhaps their aerodynamic issues lie at the rear of the car. They have certainly been struggling with traction lately although I am unsure if this area of the car can be related to such problems.

Also new on the car this weekend was an interesting modification to the outer walls of the diffuser (see the image of it here – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vx-nSelktu0/UoYDbfrPzVI/AAAAAAAAIlU/Dmk8XOqnW4M/s640/diffusore+ferrari+2.jpg). Confusingly, the modification appeared to be exactly the same shape and specification as the last version only that it was a rapid prototype of it rather than finished carbon fibre. It was as if the carbon fibre outer wall had been cut off and replaced with the rapid prototype with some sort of filler to blend the two together.

Perhaps there were some minute differences, such as the angle of the projection of the wall, but nothing major had been changed. They would certainly have the facilities to quickly produce something like that at their factory and send it over within a day, or even at the circuit itself.

Finally, the team chose to replace an updated beam wing seen in Abu Dhabi to a more conventional, straight layout for this weekend.

Lotus

Introduced on Kimi Raikkonen’s car in Abu Dhabi, Lotus were pursuing their latest iteration of their rear wing endplates in free practice, taking it forward to qualifying and the race for this first time this weekend. They are composed of 7 strakes hanging beneath the endplate, compared to three, thicker elements from the previous design.

Lotus RW endplates

These strakes are designed to work in conjunction with the airflow coming off of the brake ducts upstream and with the outer wall of the diffuser below. Each strake points outwards slightly, aiding the outwash and upwash of the diffuser below.

Both cars ran the long wheelbase this weekend, confirming that the team clearly see a gain with this configuration rather than just a preference between the two drivers as Heikki Kovalainen was brought in to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who is undergoing back surgery.

A second, smaller bulge – behind the large “pelican beak” – beneath the nose also appeared on the E21.

Red Bull

If you have Google Chrome (or just copy and paste into a translator) I would thoroughly recommend reading this article – http://www.omnicorse.it/magazine/32639/f1-gp-austin-tecnica-la-red-bull-con-i-cerchi-trattati-con-il-polysil-e

It would appear as if Red Bull have added a heat sink – in the form of a silicone coating from Polysil – to the rims of the RB9, aiming to transmit more heat from the brake/hub assembly inside of the front tyres. Perhaps this radiates the heat directly onto the sidewalls of the tyre which would help during the tyre warming phase.

With fluctuating track conditions at the Circuit of Americas during qualifying, Red Bull were one of the only teams to produce consistent laptimes. This could have been aided by generating heat more quickly into the tyre using this method.

It could also be used as a way of managing the turbulence created by the tyre immediately behind as the heat could change the characteristics of the passing airflow.

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.