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26 January 2015
Lotus E23 render analysis

Lotus have surprised us all this afternoon with an impromptu showing of their 2015 challenger the E23.  Powered by Mercedes in 2015 the Enstone squad which have had success with Renault down the years made the switch to the German marque having lost 'works' status with Renault to Red Bull, with the Renault unit reportedly the most expensive on the grid it made sense for the team to seek a unit that can help them challenge for the 2015 titles.

Starting at the front of the car we can see that Lotus have chosen a slightly different route in terms of the nose construction compared to the 'thumb' designs we are expecting many to produce (See the Williams FW37 render).  The new regulations were bought in to try and curtail the gentleman style appendages our eyes were assaulted with in 2014, but as the nose is a key design parameter in the cars concept much care will have been taken in the redesigns.  Many will have you believe that mass flow is the answer as you must get as much flow to the leading edge of the floor as possible and although this is true to an extent, it's the quality of flow that is much more important.  Initially looking at the E23 I was reminded of Enstones last championship winning cars, the R25 and R26 which featured a similar low nose, tapered concept.

You'll note that Lotus have looked to keep the shortest crash structure possible (850mm) so that the pylons can be mounted off the rear end of the front wings neutral section, maximising how it interacts with the nose structure.  This is a challenge itself as this requires a much shorter deformation area for the crash tests.

The tip of the nose tapers to meet with the 9000mm2 cross section regulation at 50mm behind the tip, making for the smallest letterbox shape possible (140cm wide) whilst the 20000mm2 cross section 150mm in behind this is likely as high as the tapering regulations permit.  I'd expect the nose is sculpted out beneath the two areas.  (Please note that this is not to scale so the point 150mm behind the tip is offset so you can see it better)

This makes for a much narrower nose than would normally be used, with most teams taking the front wings mounting pylons to the 330mm width maximum and trying to use that to increase the amount of flow that can be gathered centrally.  In the most forward view we can see the full impact of this decision as further downstream the nose assembly tapers out to meet with the chassis, whilst underneath the chassis Red Bull esque Z shaped turning vanes will re-profile the airflow moving toward the bargeboards and sidepod undercut, energizing the flow.

The sidepods are flanked by single piece sidepod airflow conditioners that arc over their shoulder to form a leading edge slat that meets with the cockpit, just as its predecessors did.

In the render the sidepods seem to mirror the sort of profile the E22 had too, but in the rearmost section it appears they have followed Red Bull and Mercedes path utilising cooling cannons either side that extend through the suspension elements, terminating at the same point as the cooling outlet above it.



Intriguingly the E23 features two airbox shoulder ducts that sit just a little lower than the airbox itself, their purpose at the moment is unknown especially as the PU106 (Mercedes PU) seemed to be the most thermally efficient of the bunch, however as we know changes for 2015 mean the PU will produce more power and so may require a little more cooling.  Their positioning however does lead me to believe that they may be focused on cooling ancillary components such as oil coolers (Turbo and Gearbox, marked on in yellow, something other teams have done in the past, perhaps just not as dramatically).



At the rear of the car echoes of the late 2014 specification of the E22 with a symmetrical rear wing mounting pylon inserted in the upper section of the engine cover which I'd be surprised that there isn't like Red Bull an inverted Y-Lon which resides within, acting like an aspirator and pulling the airflow through the engine cover. On the render no Y100 Winglet (Monkey Seat is present).










As with all of these launch renders what we see covers the bases, during pre-season testing I'm sure we'll see an evolution of the E23 and as always I'll keep you upto date as best I can.
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21 January 2015
Williams FW37 render analysis

Once again F1 Racing magazine have presented the first images of the Williams contender to the world on their front cover.  The team used the magazine as the launch platform for the FW37's predecessor too, in the pre-season and pre-Martini livery.

Just like the FW36 render there are things that will evidently change before the season kicks off but there are a few things we can learn from what has been shown.

Firstly the nose, contentious as the 2014 nose designs were the FIA still haven't been prescriptive enough that the teams don't come up with designs that feature an extension.  The majority of 2015 designs will feature this 'thumb' extension, shorter than its predecessor but nonetheless just as ungainly.  In the case of Williams the team have set about trying to retain as similar an airflow footprint as possible with the shaping of the thumb forming a keel shape that tapers into the centreline, whilst the second regulation box 2000mm2, 150mm behind the noses tip splays the nose and the connecting pylons outward at least mitigating the loss of surface area lost from the shortening of the nose tip and/or perhaps even increasing its capacity to provide clean airflow to the splitter region.  What may be lessened is the effect the nose tip had/s on the neutral centre section of the front wing, an area the teams are always intent on trying to leverage an advantage from.  With the nose camera position mandated in 2014 the teams lost the ability to place those in a position that could garner and advantage and had to look to other solutions, namely the nose and pylon shaping.

Mercedes ran an interesting conjoined lower wishbone arrangement in 2014 which helped to control the upwash from the front wing, creating a better Y250 vortex and controlling how the sidepod inlets received airflow.  In this render of the FW37 it isn't definitive but it would appear that Williams may also be heading down this route in 2015.





EDIT: The frontal image released by the team seems to all but rule out the conjoined wishbone arrangement




Having had a year to work with their new partner Mercedes in 2014 the FW37 has lost the cooling gills found next to the roll over hoop, indicating that they were initially reticent about how much cooling was required by the PU106 hybrid but now feel more comfortable.


The FW37 like the FW36 appears to have followed the same concept in terms of the sidepod and engine cover bodywork, with little in terms of airflow manipulation, such as vortex generators, leading edge slats etc.  Whilst the short bodywork option run by the team for the last few years, utilising the shark fin to meet with the dimensional regulations is in place once more.  It is worth noting that Williams did trial a conventional engine cover layout last season (upper and lower cooling outlet), however the large lower outlet and gearbox covering aspirator are seemingly retained for 2015.

You may note that the sidepods appear to be a little slimmer than the cars predecessor allowing for a more aggressive sidepod undercut, the team having seen the packaging potential of the W05 have opted to run a chargecooler (air-liquid-air) arrangement, burying the cooler within a void between the fuel tank and the ICE's front face, whilst balancing the aero for either sidepod with smaller water radiators (Rather than as last year having had the right sidepod carry the engines water radiator and the left an air-to-air cooler).

At the rear of the car Williams once again defy the rest of the field and retain a rear wing assembly devoid of a central support pylon, something that featured on the rest of the field with the beam wing banned from 2014 onwards.  Their reasoning behind this is in part due to the way the whole concept of the car is laid out, designed for efficiency and not peak downforce, which has often led to them topping the top speed traps and being very frugal on fuel usage.  On top of this I firmly believe it suits the cooling layout, not having the issue of the pylon to circumnavigate, which is something most of the other teams have achieved with a Y-Lon.  The central pylon also compromises the airflow over the central part of the wing and can lead to detachment of the airflow, albeit teams all make clever design compromises to mitigate this as much as possible.

Lastly and perhaps more importantly (but please remember this a theory and not fact and so I am not inferring any wrong doing by Williams or any other team) I have to raise the question of flexibility, especially when we consider how quick the FW36 was in a straight line compared to the rest of the field.  I've long held the opinion that some of the teams are using aeroelasticity to deform the rear wing assembly in such a way that it reduces drag on the straights (something that teams have been doing for decades). Williams lack of centre pylon brings further credence to this (albeit as per the FW36 they likely have a beam wing support at floor level again) as it would allow the endplates to deform/rotate (where as everyone else would also need a deformable pylon too) lowering drag and increasing their top speed potential.  There is of course a load test in place to ascertain whether teams are flexing the flaps (a horizontal load of 100kg on the FIA inspection rig), meanwhile slot gap separators were bought in so that the teams couldn't deform the flaps at speed, reducing the gap between them and stalling the wing.

As teams have worked on aeroelasticity to gain advantage from front wing flex over the last decade it's more than acceptable to expect the teams to use this knowledge in other areas, in which case if the rear wing was lent back under load it would reduce drag.  Lest we forget the teams desires to achieve such a feat led to the F-Duct and a top speed increase in the realms of 10+kph.

EDIT

With another image surfacing of the car from the front (above) it appears the team have also been able to shrink the sidepod cooling inlets compared with the FW36



As always please remember that this is a very early look at the car and as some of the key areas (rear view, tyre squirt platform ahead of the rear tyre etc) are omitted in these renders I will revisit the analysis as and when more details become available.

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Reviewed: The Official FIA F1 Review 2014


Duke video who produce the official DVD/Blu-Ray review each season were kind enough to send me a review copy, it's been rattling around on my desk for the last week or so but I finally got chance to cast my eyes over it.  The last one of these reviews I cast my eye over was the 2009 season, which saw Jenson Button clinch his first drivers title at the helm of the BGP001.

The format remains largely untouched with two DVDs home to over 4 hours of footage, the first a run through of the races includes commentary from BBC regular Ben Edwards, whilst the second offers onboard footage, complete with narration from the drivers and some tech tid bits from Gary Anderson.

The inclusion of James Allen and Jennie Gow in segments of the season review (Gary Anderson also pops up from time to time) brings a much welcomed change of pace, as otherwise it may all come across a little metronomic, although I must admit to having watched the extensive footage over several sittings.  The uniformity, driven by the need to split the review into race sections does sometimes lead to a loss of outside narrative/perspective but that's to be expected, especially as I've mentioned most people will have to take several bites at the cherry to complete the disc(s).

As anyone that follows my work will know 2014 provided the backdrop for the most extensive technical shakeup the sport has ever seen, at points the review looks to provide information on these changes and infringements that happen throughout the season, that's all it does do though, cover the bases for the average F1 fan. (Don't get me wrong you have to appeal to a wide audience and so it's clear why they chose to do that)

One thing that has always stood out to me is the naming of these reviews, in this case "It was fair" in reference to the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, whilst previous titles "Not in a hurry" (2009) and "Luck does not come into it" (2008) always seem a little backhanded in their compliments to the title winner, that being said it does sum them up quite neatly.

As broadcasters (especially in UK) look to one up each other each race weekend there becomes less and less unseen footage and team radio for DUKE to present on their review, however there is still plenty there that you won't have seen or heard before, making it a great addition to any F1 fans collection.

Duke have been kind enough to offer up a copy of the review as a prize too, so if you fancy bagging a copy for your collection simply head over to twitter and tweet me @SomersF1 with answer to the following:

How many victories did @MercedesAMGF1 have in 2014? using the hashtag #DUKEREVIEWCOMP
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07 January 2015
eMag: Mercedes W05

As you may or may not be aware I have been collaborating with fellow technical analyst William Tyson on an eMagazine series that focuses on the dominance of the Mercedes W05 in 2014.  We are pleased to announce the arrival of the first part of this eMag: The Mercedes W05: Understanding the dominance of the 2014 machine and the team behind it

Part 1 is a 63 page edition that covers team personnel, the teams history, a brief overview of the changes made to the technical regulations for 2014 and a race by race analysis.  Subsequent editions will cover the aerodynamic principles of the W05, a detailed explanation of the award winning PU106A Hybrid along with a wrap up edition tieing all the elements together and a brief look at the 2015 campaign ahead.

We have chosen Google Play as our distribution method as it offers the widest platform availabilty, granting you access from a plethora of devices including access via Android and Apple apps.
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03 January 2015
The powerunit 'un-freeze' debacle

Formula One undoubtedly has some of the sharpest minds in sport at its behest, yet it constantly finds new ways of looking stupid in the eyes of the fans.  That in part is due to the fact these clever people find ways of outwitting the FIA but also revolves around facts being omitted by the teams, in order that their opinions sway the public.  The latest instance of this is the powerunit 'un-freeze', a situation that should never have been framed in that context, with the mass F1 fanbase led to believe that no powerunit development was possible.

The framing of the regulations for this new era of F1 were developed to allow for progressive year on year development by the engine manufacturers, with in-season changes only made in order to save costs or improve safety.  A system was devised in which the components of the powerunit were 'weighted' not by their physical weight but by their importance with items scaled 1-3:
The total weight of the items came in at 66 with items, with the upper/lower crankcase (2), crankshaft (2) and air valve system (1) all specification frozen when the powerunits were placed in the hands of the FIA for homologation on the 28th February 2014.  The manufacturers would then race the same specification units with each team for the entire 2014 season whilst developing a new unit for 2015 with the intention of being able to 'spend' 32 'tokens' or change items accruing to 32 weightable items of the 61 remaining before re-homologating the unit on the 28th February 2015.

As you can see this is far from the frozen development path that the V8's lived under and the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari would have you believe. Unfortunately someone at the FIA forgot to change the date in the 2015 Sporting Regulations, leaving the original homologation date and opening the door for the teams and manufacturers to intepret the rules as they see fit.  With no re-homologation date in place both Renault and Ferrari have argued (succesfully) that as the weighting matrix (above) only stipulates 2015 as a point in which the 32 tokens can be spent they must be free to continue to develop their powerunit throughout the season.

Honda and McLaren seem to have come out as the biggest losers in the debacle, as Charlie Whiting's technical directive appears to suggest that as Honda didn't homologate a powerunit in 2014 they must do so by the 28th February 2015, and as the other manufacturers did in 2014, run a season whereby they adhere to no changes, having already had the artificial ability to spend their 32 tokens.  I'd suggest that's speculative at best, as the regulations have that intent but aren't prescriptive, meaning that if Honda or McLaren put the lawyers on it they'd win hands down. 

It's a half way house in comparison to the total tear up of the regulations that some had been proposing but it's still against the spirit of what the regulations originally intended, stunting the development curve of these units much earlier in their gestation period and changing the way in which the homologation and token spending procedures must be framed going forward.

What will now become extremely interesting throughout the 2015 season is how these developments are implemented and just how much the FIA will make publically available through the document system.  In terms of transparency I feel that any changes pertaining to weightable items must be presented at each GP but we shall see if that comes to fruition.  Furthermore as each driver is only allowed 4 complete powerunits in 2015 (broken down into ICE, Turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K, ES and CE) staging the 'token' spends will require careful planning based around lifing not just performance gains.

The sport once again falls victim to the very issue that has just led to the demise of two teams; cost.  How ever you cut it, the cost to implement in-season development will cost the engine manufacturers more money and likely result in the units costing the purchasing teams more money too.

In terms of performance Mercedes were in a league of their own last season and although we know Red Bull and Ferrari are eager to make a dent in that with this latest movement of the regulations, we must also consider the fact that in 2014 Mercedes provided identical equipment to Williams, Force India and McLaren, all which were unable to surmount a sustainable attack on the works team.  Therefore although the powerunit is an incredibly large part of their success it's one that has many facets, suggesting that Red Bull, Ferrari et al have more work than on their hands than simply finding a few horsepower.  Even though Renault and Ferrari don't have carte blanche in terms of the in-season development they'd hoped for, they have won a battle in the war of eroding Mercedes advantage, yet they must remember that Mercedes have the same constraints within which to work too.  Mercedes clearly had a designated plan with which to spend their 32 token allocation but who's to say they'd spent all of them developing their 2015 powerunit? They too may still benefit from the in-season development and pull away further still from the others.
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26 November 2014
Technical Image Gallery - post Abu Dhabi test

A selection of the best technical images from Abu Dhabi courtesy of Sutton Images

Above: Taken from Bottas' instragram feed we can see that Williams trialled the PCU-8D display, which can provide more information

Above: Mercedes (Nico Rosberg) with a pitot tube array placed behind the left front tyre, assessing the tyre wake of the 2015 construction of Pirelli tyres
Above: Williams run three centralised pitot tube arrays to measure how the flow moves over the car, the most forward array measures flow around the nosecone (lower right circle), whilst above the roll hoop and mounted on the DRS actuator two more pitot tubes assess how the flow is disturbed.

Above: Force India with several test elements on the car, circled is a row of pitot tubes mounted above the leading edge of the rear wing endplate.
Above: Force India with a pitot tube array mounted behind the diffuser/left rear wheel assessing how the 2015 tyre construction affects the tyre wake and how that impinges on diffuser performance.
Above:  Ferrari with numerous pitot tube arrays mounted on the F14T to assess tyre wake from the front left of the car.
Above: Toro Rosso with a pitot tube array mounted behind the left front tyre, note that not all parts of the array have pitots fixed in them.
Above: Red Bull Racing with numerous test methods being used together, note the cameras placed in the wing mirrors assessing the front tyres, whilst pitot tube arrays are mounted behind the front left tyre and above the rear wing endplate.
 Above: Toro Rosso with a pitot tube array measuring the performance of the diffuser


Above: Sauber using a pitot tube array behind the left front tyre to assess its wake, the array is able to move vertically in order that smaller sections are tested at once.

Above:  Force India VJM07 note the heat haze above the rear wing, showing how the exhaust plume is upwashing

Above: Force India VJM07 circled is a camera mounted within the wing mirror looking at and assessing the front right tyre

 Above: Force India measuring the airflow at the leading edge of the rear wing endplate






 Above: McLaren MP4-29H 1x1 didn't turn too many laps during the test, nothing to be desperately worried about though as that is what these sort of tests are for and allowed the team time to understand any installation problems with the Honda PU.  As we can see in the circle the team were taking no chances when it came to cooling adding three cooling gills in the side of the sidepod.  These are not legal so couldn't be run at a race day (no holes/slots in this region allowed by regulation).

 Above: Although we noted the additional cooling ducts present in the left hand sidepod as we can see they aren't present on the right side.




 Above: Force India VJM07 note the pitot tube (may be a kiel probe) mounted on the long stem above the airbox
 Above: Toro Rosso STR9 - Camera mounted on the nose pylon looking across at the front wing endplate
Above: Ferrari F14T circled is what appears to be a ride height sensor (much like we'd normally see mounted under the chassis) likely analysing (and using the forward one as a benchmark) to understand how the rake of the car is affecting downforce (especially with the 2015 tyres on offer at the test).  The other smaller circles show pitot tubes mounted on the car measuring airflow.




Above: Ferrari F14T another angle showing the sensor mentioned above, whilst on the other side of the car the team have added a pitot tube array to assess the tyre wake and how it impinges on diffuser performance
 Above: Lotus E22: An item we have seen the team use before (circled) looks across at the front tyres sidewall allowing the team to understand deformation










 Above: Red Bull RB10 - Fans used to cool the Reanult PU
Above: Ferrari F14T complex pitot tube array surrounds the front left tyre measuring airflow close to the tyres surface and also the flow moving around the front wheel







Above: Williams FW36 - Already mentioned above but a close up of the pitot tube mounted above the DRS actuator pod




Above: Ferrari spying on the opposition, using a thermal image camera to assess other teams cars











Above: Force India VM07 - test the 'Info Wing' for Anthony Hamilton, a device with the intention of giving positional, driver number information etc to fans trackside





 Above: Williams FW36 nosecone
 Above: Williams FW36 front wing from behind












Above: Lotus try out the more expansive McLaren Electronics PCU-8D display


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