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.
If you came up to me a couple of years ago and asked where I wanted to be working in the future there was only one answer: a design engineer in Formula 1. I wanted to graduate from university, dive straight into the design office of an F1 team and get stuck in – the idea of climbing the ladder and reaching the top ranks of a top team such as Ferrari or McLaren was exciting, even if I knew the dream would take years to achieve.
I admire those who are already at the top of the engineering pyramid in the sport. Adrian Newey, Paddy Lowe, James Allison and Ross Brawn to name a few who have cut it at the top of the pinnacle of motorsport. I wanted to replicate their success and have a profound impact on F1 and motor racing in general. You could argue that I, or anyone else who has the same ambition and drive, can still do exactly that. However I have been slowly taking backwards steps to see the bigger picture and I am realising that perhaps this is not possible in the way the engineers above have achieved.
Hundreds of people make up F1 teams in this era. Take Mercedes as an example: Over 500 people work on the power units alone, plus a further 500 on the chassis. Rewind 30 years ago and this number was perhaps 50, budget depending. This naturally means that anyone walking into the sport now will have a tougher time making a name for themselves than they would have done previously. Yes, F1 is a team sport, but who doesn’t want to be at the heart of it, driving development forward and leading a team into the history books? Continue reading
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.
After a lot of recent thought, I’ve decided to take a different approach to the upcoming season. This will be my fourth year in the business of tech in motorsport, more specifically F1, but it’s time to switch things up a bit if I want to stay relevant!
First of all, I’m very happy to say that I’ve teamed up with F1 Fanatic for at least the testing period, so all my technical analysis of the cars will be on there. Here’s my analysis of the Ferrari’s new SF16-H, which could well be Mercedes’ closest challenger – http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/02/19/ferrari-sf16-h-technical-analysis/.
Mercedes look to have a very interesting car in the W07 and Williams have a tidy looking number in the FW38, so I’m looking forward to addressing those two.
Secondly, after a lot of consideration, my blog will now become an outlet for more extensive pieces (such as my F1 suspension geometry piece I posted earlier this month) and other things I’m generally up to regarding the motorsport world. So, no, there won’t be Technical Highlights series this year unfortunately! 😦
As much as I love doing them, they are very time consuming and I am now in my second year of University so time is something that I don’t often have. After my January exams I was achieving a high 2:1, but I’m pushing hard for a First and that means that I have to make some sacrifices. Studies have to come first!
I am going to do my best to join other publications for race-by-race analysis, which I will obviously let you know about. They will include illustrations as well as real photographs, which should make for better content.
I have a few other plans that I’m keeping to myself for now. As for video content, I am still after a decent editing software but it should start becoming more of a regular thing heading into the Spring.
Thanks for the support as always – 2016 is going to be a good one!
I’ve talked a lot about the aerodynamic and power unit components of a Formula 1 car on this blog, but rarely touched on the raw mechanical systems that are also critical to performance. There’s a reason for this, though – it’s all a bit voodoo. There are plenty of theories behind proper suspension geometry for a race car, however it becomes much more complex to analyse these mechanics at F1 level as downforce – the biggest performance differentiator in the sport – plays an important role in the design calculations.
For this blog post I am going to run over some of the important aspects of suspension geometry and the factors involved (e.g. centre of gravity, aerodynamic downforce). Continue reading
It’s been a while (exams have got in the way), but I’ve finally managed to put some new content together! In the following video I discuss why the 2017 regulation changes may not be as good as we first thought.
This is only my second proper video so I’m really keen for your thoughts on whether I should do more (or not), or any topics you might what to know about in the future. Please let me know in the comments on this post, or on YouTube or tweet me!
It’s that time of the year (well, the end of the year…) when we look ahead to what lies in store ahead. For the past two years I have made an illustration as to what I think the next season’s cars will generally look like, and I’d like to say I’ve done a decent job at highlighting what will be different (2014 prediction here, 2015 prediction here). So here’s what I think 2016 will hold…
As you can probably tell already, there are no major technical changes being made for next season so my prediction is simply an evolution of what we have seen in 2015. Before we move further, it is worth noting that the camera pods mounted by the stalks on the nose will be allowed for 2016, but banned from 2017 onwards.
Starting with the nose, it was clear that the grid was divided between long and wide, short and stumpy, and short with a thumb tip extension. The latter design was the most popular choice as it allowed the neutral section of the wing (in the centre) to remain completely exposed to oncoming airflow whilst increasing the volume beneath the nose for which flow could pass into.
In 2016 I believe this will again be the most common solution, although I do not expect every team to rush to it. As we saw with Ferrari, the car is built around one particular design so it may not be beneficiary to change it. The process of designing the car for the next season starts very early on, so we could see some cars optimised around the longer or stumpy shapes.
The front wing is an expensive region of development for everyone at the moment, and Mercedes changed the game once again in 2015 by creating two clear segments of the wing with an aggressive arched profile at the outboard section. I expect most of the teams to migrate towards this – the likes of Ferrari and Williams have already made some strides to keep up but I predict some very intricate craftsmanship here.
Further back, I think the biggest area of progression will be the sidepods and engine cover bodywork. The teams have become increasingly more confident in running smaller bodywork as the power units are less and less reliant on large cooling apertures, so with further gains in the thermal efficiency of the engines over the winter we could be seeing some lovely shapes next year. I anticipate a lot more shrink-wrapping around the internals, which we started to see this year as blisters were made into the engine covers to clear the back of the engine/gearbox oil cooler. This could result in a reduced sized airbox inlet, too, yet possibly accompanied by the return of smaller ‘ear’ inlets eitherside of the roll hoop as these are less aero critical than the profile of the sidepods.
There should be further improvements made around the floor ahead of the rear tyre, with a variety of arranged slots diverting the turbulence that normally impinges on the diffuser away from such an aerodynamically sensitive region. This, alongside the development of vortex alignment along the sides of the splitter (Y250 vortex projected from the front wing) and the floor, should also equate to higher rake angles and thus more rear downforce.
The biggest visual change for next year will be the addition of at least one (maximum of two) secondary exhaust pipe. These redirect the wastegate gases away from those passing through the turbine of the turbocharger in an attempt to increase sound levels. It is unclear whether their orientation at the back of the car – which can either be to the side or above the main exhaust exit – will have any performance benefits, particularly when considering the design of the Y100 (or Monkey Seat) winglet immediately behind/above.
These alterations will have an impact on the design of the rear wing and its endplates, too. In my design I have opted for an advanced version of what Mercedes (and occasionally Red Bull) were using for 2015, with three tall vertical slots made into the base of the ‘plate and heavy sculpting to manipulate the airflow, forcing it upwards. It will also be interesting to see if the succession of horizontal slots made into Ferrari’s endplates just above the floor will carry over into 2016 as they were not seen on any other car.
Finally, the diffuser may not see too much attention as the 2017 regulations will be hugely different in this area, but we shall assume that further flick-ups and Gurney flap arrangements will pop up here throughout next year to fine tune the up/outwash of the air as it expands out from beneath the car.
Edit: Just remembered about S-ducts! I left this out of my design prediction because it is not a silver bullet in terms of performance, i.e. copying it will not necessary give you laptime. Like the design of the nose, it has to be integrated with the rest of the car and how airflow is managed around the front of the chassis. A well designed S-duct has great benefits in managing boundary layer flow both above and below the front bulkhead, however the nose, front wing and internal suspension components must be considered as they affect how it performs.
Red Bull have been a consistent user for the past few years, but others have jumped onto it over the last 12 months in particular. McLaren and Force India had race-worthy versions by mid-season, whilst Mercedes appeared to be testing some bodywork for it (albeit a potential disguise for their 2016 front suspension concept) in Brazil. If the only way to catch Mercedes is to go to extreme measures and hope it pays off, maybe we could see the full emergence of the S-duct after all.