Tag Archives: technical

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.

Verstappen’s Woes

verstappen

Source: Max Verstappen via Twitter

Red Bull have endured numerous issues with their two cars, which has effectively ended their charge for both Championships. No driver has been frustrated more by issues than Max Verstappen as his progress has been stymied this term after his breakout campaign in 2016.

After a strong practice session in Bahrain, the Dutchman looked on pace to claim a high spot on the grid, only to fail to fire during qualifying. Despite the setback, Verstappen was on pace for a strong finish in the early stages of the meet. However, he suffered a brake issue as his left rear overheated, sending him careering into the tyre wall on lap 12.

The 19-year-old looked to be challenging Hamilton in Canada for the lead after making a bright start to the race, rising through the field from fifth on the grid. On this occasion a problem with the ERS battery led to his demise in the meet, cutting off the entire power supply to his RB13.

Oil pressure was his downfall in Baku, ending his race on lap 12, while his poor fortune continued as a collision forced him out of the Austrian Grand Prix after just one lap. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, his issues are not consigned to just one area of his car, which has prompted suggestions that Red Bull should perform a complete rebuild of the vehicle during the upcoming break. While the cars tend to be broken down to be shipped between races, they are often split into multiple sub assemblies that are wholly checked over rather than completely stripped apart to save time.

Whether that will be enough to turn the tide for Verstappen is another matter, considering that there will only be seven races left in the term.

Overcoming Issues

ricciardo

Source: Red Bull Racing via Twitter

The Dutchman’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also suffered an issue with his brakes at the Russian Grand Prix, with his right rear catching fire. The Australian had previously had his home Grand Prix in Melbourne ended with a fuel-cell problem after 28 laps, although he also endured a crash that had dropped him down the grid.

Since drastic changes were made to the Red Bulls before the Spanish Grand Prix to improve the aerodynamics, Ricciardo has remained clean in his outings, including his victory in Azerbaijan, to at least make his presence known in the Drivers’ Championship.

RB13_bargeboard

New bargeboards were one major revision among many alterations to the RB13 at the Spanish GP

One of the reasons behind Ferrari’s challenge has been the reliability of their SF70H. The car has provided the speed to match Mercedes’ W08, but has also proven to generally have the endurance and the robustness to keep their drivers on the track for the majority of the campaign.

Only a crash sustained by Raikkonen in a collision with Verstappen, caused by Valtteri Bottas, has prevented the Ferrari from finishing every race this season, while Vettel has been a model of consistency leading the Drivers’ Championship.

The team are expected to take grid penalties later in the season after an early spat of turbocharger failures but it appears as if the Scuderia have got on top of this problem for the moment.

Mercedes have benefitted from the same success as their rivals, with only one major engine issue forcing Bottas out of the Spanish Grand Prix that may well have been caused by his crash with Raikkonen and Verstappen. Hamilton had been flawless until the Austrian Grand Prix when a gearbox issue forced a change, dropping him down the grid, with the same problem hitting Bottas a week later in Britain.

It has become apparent that in the quest to find every millisecond Mercedes have been running the seamless shift system too aggressively, resulting in too much torque from the power unit being transmitted into critical components in the gearbox. As a result the team will have to be more conservative with gear transitions – cutting drive from the engine when the driver upshifts is one way of doing that.

Although what might seem a small issue at the time can have huge ramifications in the races for the Drivers’ and Constructors Championship. Speed can make a vital difference, but reliability is the crucial factor in deciding the outcome of Formula One’s top awards.

Tech Highlights: Mercedes/Red Bull ‘energy recovery’ suspension

If you haven’t heard already, F1 is set to ban the hydraulic heave springs that many teams (notably Mercedes) have been playing with over the past 12-15 months. Although it is not an official ban as yet, a technical directive has been issued to the teams addressing the claims that Ferrari raised in a recent letter to the FIA. Ferrari claims that the component can be classed under the ‘moveable aerodynamics’ catch-all phrase in the regulations, and although it has been discussed in great length over the year it is only now that the Scuderia have chosen to make a formal move against the competition. In this blog post we will aim to cover what the hydraulic heave element does and why a ban at this stage of the 2017 developments could have an impact on the pecking order. Continue reading

Tech Highlights: Mercedes S-duct

One of the key design features of this year’s Mercedes W07 is the introduction of an S-duct. The S-duct was first seen in 2012, with Sauber using it as a way to manage airflow over the stepped nose. The idea was that airflow would be less likely to detach from the chassis if air was introduced behind the step. This was done by channeling airflow from underneath the car to a vent exiting backwards above the front bulkhead via an s-shaped duct in the nosebox, hence the term S-duct.

Continue reading

Tech Analysis of ALL 2016 cars!

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.

Analysis: Will 2016 exhausts be louder?

Originally published on Richland F1

On the very first test outing of the current generation V6 turbo hybrid power units back in February 2014, photographers and journalists got their first taste of the sound of the future of F1. Needless to say, the paddock was split. They are far from the screaming naturally aspirated engines of the past but do arguably offer a much deeper and richer blend of tones, albeit at a substantially lower volume.

There have been complaints from a lot of fans about the lack of decibels over the past year and a half, which is why the FIA have decided to take action ahead of the 2016 season. This involves splitting the wastegate and engine exhaust gases into two separate systems.

At the moment, the exhaust gases from the engine (via the turbocharger) and from the wastegate system all exit through a single exit pipe at the back of the car. The single exhaust pipe layout allows the wastegate gases to escape the bodywork cleanly and prevent internal overheating although this does slightly hinder the overall volume of the exhaust tone.

For 2016 the FIA have decided to divide the ICE and wastegate gases into two sets of pipework, whereby the teams must retain the single, large exhaust exit for the former and up to two smaller outlets – straddling either side the central exit – for the latter. The motorsport governing body think that by splitting the two systems the engine sound will be louder than before, although it is actually more likely to change its tone. Regardless of whether it works or not, at least we won’t be seeing the ‘trumpet’ exhaust tested last year!

Another interesting topic that has emerged from the regulation change is whether it will have any aerodynamic benefits. We have witnessed the power of exhaust gases when it comes to generating downforce when Red Bull pioneered the EBD (exhaust blown diffuser), but will we something similar next year? Continue reading