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29 September 2012
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Pitpass recently ran a story in regard to Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemelo having disdain for the new V6 Turbo engines remarking that they sound awful (http://pitpass.com/47448-New-F1-engines-to-be-scrapped-says-Ecclestone)

As a few have tweeted me about this I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring on the subject and allay any fears over the situation.  I believe the story that Pitpass have run may be something that has sat around in the annuls for some time and has just come to fruition.  I cannot see at this late stage in the development of the engines that these won't be used in 2014.  The sheer costs and R&D for the engine manufacturers alone will be enough to force them through for 2014.  Bernie and Luca can have their opinions as the FIA are the rulemakers and so unless they can get Jean Todt to change the regulations the engines are coming

The new engines are quite a departure from the current 2.4 V8 format with a third of all the V6 Turbo's power being created by Energy Recovery Systems (ERS).  Unlike the wild and fragile engines used during the 80's turbo era these new engines are at the pinnacle of engineering.  Mated to a new 8 speed transmission the engines will be extremely frugal on fuel consumption with a fuel flow restriction placed on the teams. This will of course be music to Bernie's ears as it means his transportation costs will be dramatically reduced.  That's where it would appear though that Mr E isn't so pleased and so I'd certainly be interested to hear one of the new gen engines on a bench test just as he has.  I'd suggest, although they may not have the same sort of gravitas the current engines may have these new engines will have a unique and certainly F1-esque sound bringing F1 to a new generation.  This may be partly to do with the singular exhaust exit that will play havoc with how teams are able to generate additional rear downforce.  That also tied to a reduction in the width of the Front Wing and the loss of the Rear Beam Wing amongst other aero changes for 2014 may spice up the racing somewhat.

The V8 although relevant to sportscar manufacturers like Ferrari is somewhat of a cumbersome old beast and with a push worldwide to reduce carbon emissions, use less fuel and strive for better efficiency these engines tick those boxes.

Complaints have come from all the teams at the cost implications for the supply of the new engines but just as Bernie finds he will have to transport less fuel around the world so will they have less to buy.  Cosworth have yet confirmed if they will produce the new V6 but with only Marussia & HRT on their client list I can't see them being able to financially support the project.  Craig Pollock's P.U.R.E has run into financial difficulties and so their engine project may now be dead in the water too.  These leaves F1 with just three suppliers who are all well into their R&D of the new units with Mercedes and Ferrari already having them on the bench, testing.

Progress always comes at a cost and the teams will unfortunately bear the cost of this, meanwhile with so much power being available through ERS for the first time in a long time Aero won't be the only disparity between teams.  Whoever comes up with the best ERS system will have an advantage over their competitors just as I floated the idea of Mercedes doing just that in my article Technical Assessment of Lewis to Mercedes

I'll leave you with the thought that Mercedes have apparently now signed the Concorde Agreement, this document although never seen in the public is an agreement between the teams and FOM.  The new V6 Turbo engines will have been an intrinsic part of this agreement and as such Mercedes will have demanded the switch happen having invested so much time and money in the project.  If Bernie & Ferrari really do have a massive problem with the V6 then perhaps they should continue to use the current V8 and KERS packages, one things for sure if they did it would quickly show the merits of a new engine over an engine being used for over 6 years in terms of economy and tyre usage.
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2013 FIA / F1 Regulation Changes

In terms of regulation change 2013 doesn't throw up too much drama for the teams but here's a quick look at what has changed (For the purpose of this, the part of the rule amended is highlighted in blue)

3.7.3 Forward of a point lying 450mm ahead of the front wheel centre line and less than 250mm from the car centre line and less than 125mm above the reference plane, only one single section may be contained within any longitudinal vertical cross section parallel to the car centre line.
Furthermore, with the exception of local changes of section where the bodywork defined in Article 3.7.2 attaches to this section, the profile, incidence and position of this section must conform to drawing 7. This section may not contain any closed channel the effect of which is to duct air directly or indirectly to or from the external air stream for any purpose other than data acquisition.

The above ruling is in place to stop the transportation of air internally (through tubing) to or from the nose to the bulkhead. This is to stop teams influencing the Front Wing by use of ducting be it DDRS or otherwise.

3.7.9 With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any point, no bodywork situated more than 1950mm forward of rear face of the cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane.

This article is in regard to the modesty panel that the teams will now be able to use in order to cover the step noses of 2012. The modesty panel is as close to a spec part as Formula One goes and means that no one team may glean an advantage by adopting the rules in a different context.
Above: Craig 'ScarbsF1' Scarborough's diagram above gives us an idea of what the Modesty Panel may look like

3.18.1 The incidence of the rearmost and uppermost closed section described in Article 3.10.2 may be varied whilst the car is in motion provided :

It cannot be used to change the geometry of any duct, either directly or indirectly, other than the change to the distance between adjacent sections permitted by Article 3.10.2.

This line is written in order to rule out the plunger affixed to the Mercedes WO3 Rear Wing Top Flap that exposes the ducting that allows Mercedes to use DDRS. The way in which this is written however I believe still leaves the door open for the Top Flap to expose ducting in the Rear Wing Endplates like the ones I showed McLaren may be using at the moment.

Above: Image mentioned in my article 'McLaren Low Downforce Rear Wing' showing how a duct to the endplate may be being exposed by the top flap moving under DRS

Interestingly the following two articles in regards to DRS are not present in the 2013 regulations of which I'm sure is just a mistake:

3.18.2 Subject to any special conditions relevant to a specific Event, details of which the FIA will provide to each competitor at least one week before the start of an Event, the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race. In conditions of poor visibility however the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve.
If the adjustable bodywork is disabled in this way at the start of any of the three periods of the qualifying practice session (Q1, Q2 or Q3) it will remain disabled for the remainder of the relevant period.

3.18.3 For the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver after he has completed two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.
The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system. In conditions of poor visibility however the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve.
The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.

The one thing that bemuses me about the regulations is in regard to torque maps. The FIA went to great lengths in order to bring parity to all teams by allowing teams a 2% tolerance from one of their first 4 maps of the year. The new regulations haven't been altered in this department (Although the 2013 appendix aren't available yet and may cover this) and as such will the FIA do the same next year and allow the teams to run anything in the first 4 races then choose their tolerance map? If so I'd hazard a guess at some lairy torque maps being worked on for the first 4 races of next season.

The other important aspect as far as I'm concerned is that the FIA are yet to try and rule out the usage of DRD (Drag Reduction Device - http://www.somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/lotus-mercedes-drd-drag-reduction.html)  This would require wholesale changes in the way the regulations read in and around the central portion of the Rear Wing which I think could be difficult for them to change.
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28 September 2012
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I hear a lot of fans and media alike claiming that Hamilton's move to Mercedes is intrinsically linked to the new V6 Turbo engines that will befall the formula in 2014. I fail to see the connection behind this theory, yes this will be the first time since 2006 F1 has been without the V8 engines but Mercedes will allow their engine partners the same engines as the works teams. So with the same engine as McLaren & Force India in 2014 surely there are no advantages to being at the Silver Arrows?

However it's not the core engine that could make the difference for Mercedes it's the rise of the new ERS (Energy Recovery System) within the 2014 regulations. With core power from the V6 Turbo engines being down on the current V8 engines more focus has been shifted toward energy recovery and this is something that Mercedes may not include in their engine partnership deals.

This comes in two forms:

MGUK - Recovery and Usage via the drivetrain as KERS uses now will be upped from 60kw's to 120kw's maximum output. The current power allowed per lap is 400kj's and this has been raised to 2mj's (5 times the amount) at the current 60kw's this gives around 30 seconds of power per lap

MGUH – The pressure turbine (Turbo) is allowed a mechanical link, this is used to extract thermal energy from the turbo that can be repurposed at lower RPM via the same mechanical link. At high power outputs the turbo will create more pressure than can be used by the limitation of fuel flow within the regulations. This will be regulated by controlling the compressor speed for both harvesting and dispensing of energy. No limit has been placed on the amount of energy that can be harvested or dispensed by this system with the battery storage capacity being the limiting factor.

ES (Energy Store) – There is a minimum weight of 20kg's and maximum of 25kg's weight for the ES, based on current Lithium Ion Polymer Batteries 1MJ can be stored per KG giving a maximum of 25MJ available. You also have to consider packaging and battery degradation into the life of the ES which means more likely the ES could store somewhere around 15-20MJ's of power with 2Mj's attributed to the MGUK this leaves a sizable chunk to be proportioned to the MGUH. Assuming they wish to create roughly 160BHP permanently through the MGUH (average laptime of 1.40.00) they would need around 16.8MJ's of storage or 16.8KG's.

I believe Mercedes are pinning their 2014 hopes on the basis of an ERS system that is vastly superior to many other designs with them maybe only selling the core engine to their engine partners (McLaren & Force India) they may be able to steal a march on them. Having based my crude assumptions for power output and battery life on Lithium Ion Polymer batteries Mercedes may also have other technology up their sleeve. With a leap needed to be made by car manufacturers in order to make electric road cars more viable Mercedes may be looking to use Lithium Air batteries which can store around 9Mj's per Kg making the thirst for more power even more accessible.

EDIT 29/09/12

Listening to feedback on the article I'd like to add that MBHPP (Mercedes Benz High Performance Powertrains) currently supply their works team (Mercedes), McLaren & Force India with 2.4 Litre V8 Engines and KERS.  However as Red Bull have proven this year even if you're supplied something the team can adopt a different solution.  Red Bull are supplied their KERS as part of their engine package from RenaultSport but have this season also run with Supercapacitors on the floor in order to alter the way in which power is distributed and used.  Mercedes (GP) could indeed re manufacturer their own components in house not utilising all the components sent to them by their sister company MBHPP giving them an advantage over McLaren & Force India.  That's not to say that those two teams couldn't do the same and gain an advantage but the cost / R&D would be much larger.

I won't bang on about Mercedes short comings over previous years (already covered that in my article: The Trouble at Mercedes - http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-trouble-at-mercedes.html ) but it's safe to say that Lewis' decision wasn't based upon the teams poor performances since their inception in 2010 or their slow development rate throughout each season (2012 being a prime example with it taking them to race 12 to bring the 'Coanda' style exhaust even though it's been clear it has an advantage from an early stage).  If Lewis has made his decision to race for Mercedes on a technical ground it is that he will be the focus of each car build and development plan each season coupled with the opportunity for Mercedes to steal a march in the regulation changes of 2014.  Where this logic may fall down is McLaren can take a poor car and by season end have arguably the best car on the grid, Mercedes have yet to show this ability and moreso seem to fall back throughout a campaign.

The Brackley based team have however been quietly amassing an arsenal of technical minds amongst their ranks with most recently Mike Elliot previously of Lotus nee Renault joining them as head of Aerodynamics, with John Owen reshuffling to Technical Director.  They have Aldo Costa previously of Ferrari as Engineering director, Geoff Willis previously of RBR/HRT as technology director and Bob Bell as Technical Director (Although this is a position John Owen now holds so I'm unsure if Bell has been reshuffled) who has worked for McLaren, Bennetton, Jordan and Renault in all sorts of aero capacities. Ross Brawn oversees all of these as Team Principal. 

I think 2013 will be a difficult year for Mercedes and Lewis as they try to adapt to each others styles, it is however an opportunity for them to build their 2014 challenger around their new star.
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22 September 2012
Gurney Trims, Tabs or Flaps and why they're important for the Diffuser in 2012

A Gurney flap is so named after Dan Gurney who first applied such a device to the trailing edge of the rear wings of his car's in the 70's. This was not a new concept however and has been used in flight applications since the early 1900's in order to make a wing create more lift to the deficit of more drag.

The Gurney is quite a blunt method of producing lift/downforce but can also help to rectify deficiencies in the wings design. It helps to trim the angle of attack of a wing thus allowing a higher angle of attack before separation occurs. In terms of flight, had a designer miscalculated the design profile of his wing adding a gurney may help to rectify the flight pattern, as such the same can be done with an F1 wing. The advantage of this in terms of motorsport is that you can continue to leverage more downforce from a wing by increasing the wings angle of attack, however by default this will create a larger proportion of drag. This is caused by the airflow on the rear of the wing being unable to sustain the same AoA and so separation occurs as the boundary layer increases at the trailing edge.

The FIA regulations mandate the height of a Gurney Flap be no more than 20mm on the Rear Wing's Top Flap but don't specify any further on how the flap be angled and indeed it's chord or design profile.

As we have seen during 2012 the teams are using Gurney's more and more with Front Wings being treated with them in order to create downforce in specific regions. It is however the area above the diffuser that see the teams utilising Gurney's the most this season with an array of different approaches.

With Exhaust Blown Diffusers having been outlawed for 2012 the teams are constantly looking for ways to further enhance the performance of their diffuser in order to extract more downforce and so this season have set about constructing more and more complex Gurney's.

Ferrari & Red Bull have lead the way with fully perforated Gurney's whilst McLaren now sport a similar design, however Ferrari & Red Bull have now added a further tier to their designs.

The perforation allows for airflow to seep through from the high pressure side into the low pressure region helping to maintain the speed of airflow to the trailing edge so the flow doesn't separate. This creates a more  co-efficient balance of downforce vs drag creating a more stable flow structure from the diffuser.

Above: Ferrari F2012 at Monza - Gurney above the Diffuser now has 2 tiers in order that more AoA can be run on both tiers

McLaren's Diffuser design has altered since Monaco......

Above: McLaren's Monaco (and previous) specification Diffuser Gurney saw the perforation extend all the way around the periphery of the Diffuser

Above: For Silverstone and Hockenheim the team simply lopped off the edges of the Gurney stopping it a few inches short either end


Above: Since Hungary McLaren have run a very similar design to both Ferrari and Red Bull with a fluted end that joins the edges of the diffuser

Other Teams have combined the usage of perforated sections with the usual blunt Gurney Tab

Above: As we can see from these 3 images Lotus, Williams & Mercedes all choose to run with a perforated central section to their Gurney.  Their approach helps in not only extracting raw downforce from the Diffuser but managing the effects of lateral tyre squirt on the diffuser channels


Above: Caterham & Toro Rosso showing that their use of Diffuser Gurneys can still be used as a blunt instrument with large vertical tabs

As shown by the leading teams this area is crucial in extracting additional performance now EBD has been banned and as the teams find further ways in which to manipulate the exhaust plume toward this area these Gurney Tabs, Trims or Flaps may become even more complex.
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18 September 2012
Ferrari Third Pedal or Foot Operated DRS

AmuS and Giorgio Piola recently ran a piece on Ferrari using a third pedal in their cockpits in order to activate/deactivate DRS. Many of you may believe that a third pedal was outlawed when McLaren used such a technique in 1997 on their MP4-12. The FIA does not specifically state a third pedal is not allowed in the regulations however the component used by Ferrari is a button rather than a pedal.

So why a foot operated button instead of the usual steering wheel button? As always in F1 the reason is mainly found in an aerodynamic advantage although it's a handy operation for the left foot to do whilst not braking too.

Above: Illustration from Giorgio Piola on the drivers action whilst not braking

DRS deactivation is either completed by re pressing a button or when applying the brakes, with the Ferrari system when the driver lifts his foot from the DRS button to brake the Rear Wing Top Flap will start to return to it's normal position creating downforce. This time differential helps to smooth the transition period and re attach the airflow before the braking phase begins.

Above: Illustration of Giorgio Piola's showing the additional DRS pedal/button exposed as the driver enters the braking phase

As teams push to extract more and more performance from DRS they know they are working with finite limits that can affect the cars stability for the drivers in the braking phase. This is even more crucial this year as the teams have lost a chunk of downforce from the EBD ban and strive to extend the Pirelli tyre life.

James Allison of Lotus has already stated that they will run a new Rear Wing around the streets of Singapore and from his statement I would consider it a sign they too may run a similar system:

'The new rear wing operates at the same downforce level as our Monaco spec rear wing, but with a better DRS delta. This means that this wing has better DRS switching from its maximum drag to its reduced drag settings. We believe we’ve been able to produce a rear wing which is at the higher end of the downforce spectrum but still able to allow the lion’s share of the DRS potential which is more difficult to achieve at high downforce levels. It will be interesting to see how it works on track.'

Lotus (Lotus Renault GP) are no stranger to this sort of thing having already used a foot operated DRS button when Nick Heidfeld drove for the team in 2011
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16 September 2012
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Eddie Jordan threw Silly Season into full swing by announcing he was privy to information relating to Lewis Hamilton making a move to Mercedes. However this rumour alone has not the only impacted Lewis Hamilton, McLaren & Mercedes but it will form the lynch pin in the whole driver market.

Red Bull shrewdly moved earlier in the season to resign Mark Webber for another season and with Sebastian Vettel already on board until the end of 2014 the team can concentrate on racing rather than PR.

Ferrari have Fernando Alonso signed until 2016 further showing his status as number one driver within the team. Meanwhile Felipe Massa's seat with Ferrari has been in doubt all season, a recent climb in form may be enough to warrant his seat for 2013 whilst Sergio Perez spends another season with Sauber. Felipe struggled to come to terms with the F2012 and Pirelli tyres at the start of the season and marked Monaco as a turning point in the season claiming that he finally understood the setup required. It could be no coincidence that Felipe's struggles could be down to Ferrari's decision to run with Front Pull Rod Suspension, with Fernando Alonso being the last driver to utilise it to his advantage in his maiden year at Minardi.

McLaren are obviously at the centre of a battle between themselves and Mercedes over procuring Lewis Hamilton's services for 2013 and beyond. Lewis signed a lucrative deal with McLaren just before the economic downturn and it's understood that McLaren are no longer in a position to fund the same or better deal. Further adding to his requirements are his image rights and the relinquishing of any trophies the driver may win. McLaren have a history of insisting on their drivers being intrinsically linked to the sponsors that McLaren have onboard these image rights alone can be worth many millions if carefully managed and so XIX Entertainment will be fighting to release these from any further contracts Lewis should sign.
Jenson Button meanwhile has already been in this position last year and easily manoeuvred his negotiations whilst also being put in the frame for Red Bull & Ferrari seats. Although the team always give the impression that they favour neither driver it could be argued over the last 2 seasons their development path has been more favourable to Jenson. Could this also be a catalyst in Lewis' thoughts about a switch to Mercedes?
I've previously written about the relationship between McLaren and Mercedes which leaves us wondering are the two working on a deal that sees both parties win in the battle for Lewis' signature? http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/could-lewis-merry-go-round-be-engine.html
Much has already been talked about the use of Mercedes global platform to catapult Lewis' image to a larger audience but I personally feel that if the negotiations are actually taking place he needs to decide if he is a racer or a celebrity.

Mercedes have Nico Rosberg signed for 2013 and beyond but with them courting both Michael Schumacher for a contract extension and Lewis Hamilton to sign on for the team could he be forced to leave the team? Using Rosberg as leverage in a multi faceted driver and engine deal / compromise could see the young German line up alongside Jenson Button for McLaren. Rosberg's driving style is not dissimilar to Jenson's and so could allow McLaren to focus their design process behind the MP4-28 solely on their more conservative attributes.
Ross Brawn has already alluded to the fact that their 2013 challenger (WO4) will be an evolution of the WO3 but has instructed the team to 'try out' things toward the end of the season in order to have a better chance throughout 2013. (They did exactly this at Spa with the own DRD http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/lotus-mercedes-drd-drag-reduction.html – and took a McLaren Style exhaust, DRD and other bodywork to the Young Drivers Test this week in Magny Cours - http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/mercedes-wo3-updates-at-young-drivers.html )
The teams DDRS system although innovative has failed to make a huge dent in a season that has seen the teams closer than ever. Meanwhile they have been lacklustre in terms of developing the WO3 and now with only 9 races left of the season although mathematically still able to contest the Championships really find themselves battling for 4th place alongside Lotus and Sauber.
Michael Schumacher's impact since his return to F1 in 2010 has been low key, however this year has shown that the old dog still has some fight left in him. Schumacher's best chance of further glory lies in the regulation changes of 2014 at which point he will be 45. So can the German convince the board in Stuttgart he can still bring them success or is this why they are moving for Hamilton? I fear without Hamilton's signature either in place of Nico or Michael the German Marque may decide to cut their losses with their own team and re-focus their F1 aims at just being an engine manufacturer.

Lotus in my opinion made a shrewd move when signing Kimi Raikonnen although he had been out of the game for 2 years Kimi had remained competitive in 4 wheel sport. The Finn brings a certain character style that neither McLaren or Ferrari truly harnessed. Kimi's goals are not driven by the celebrity limelight that some require but instead lets his racing do the talking. He is signed with the team for 2013 that may be forced to rename as their sponsorship deal with Group Lotus expires at the end of the season. I have seen Kimi mentioned by McLaren fans as someone to return to the team should Lewis move but personally I cannot see that happening.
Romain Grosjean is undoubtedly a talent having succeeded at varying levels of open wheel racing however his F1 career is always under somewhat of a cloud. Whether it's his first attempt at F1 with the Renault team after Nelson Piquet Jnr was dismissed or his current drive with Lotus. Boullier however is sticking by Romain and although his contract expires at the end of the season I expect he'll remain with the team for 2013.

Sauber are a team on the up, typically Swiss they always seem to be the most neutral of all the F1 teams. However behind close doors they work away on relationships that allow them to keep a foothold in the sport. The use of Sergio Perez who is part of the Ferrari Academy allows the team to create a partnership with Ferrari who also supply their engines, KERS and drivetrain. Notably Checo has been able to use the Pirelli tyres to his advantage throughout 2012 bringing him to the attention of some of the top teams. As part of the Ferrari Academy Checo will undoubtedly have his career manipulated by the Ferrari team whilst Checo joins a long line of drivers drawn into the Hamilton to Mercedes battle as the Daily Mail today infer that McLaren are interested in the Mexican. Meanwhile Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said that Checo is not yet ready to join Ferrari and so the temptation of a top seat with McLaren could test his mettle if offered a contract. The largest stumbling block I forsee in a move for Checo to McLaren are his ties to Telmex. Although Telmex are largely a South American concern any deals he currently has with the brand would eliminate him McLaren's radars due to their own involvement with Vodafone. As we can see from the C31 the Mexican's sponsorship is displayed on virtually every corner of the car (Telmex, Claro, Visit Mexico) with the Billionaire Russian Abromovich fronting the rest with his Chelsea logo's.
For a team like Sauber that relies heavily on funding from outside sources Checo must remain a driver for the team to continue in F1.
Kamui Kobayshi is a driver that will have warmed most people's hearts when he burst onto the scene with Toyota at Interlagos in 2009. He famously took on Jenson Button who needed to finish well at Interlagos to secure the 2009 Championship. Although Kamui has scored more points already this season than that of 2011, he has been overshadowed by Checo and I'd imagine like many others is struggling with the Pirelli rubber. Kamui is a solid driver and I see no reason for him to be replaced unless the cash strapped Sauber outfit do indeed lose Checo and need to balance the books with 2 sponsored drivers rather than one.

Williams acquired the services of the Venezulean driver Pastor Maldonado for 2011 and retained his services for 2012. I was recently at Williams for the FOTA forum where Sir Frank Williams lauded his driver for his dedication and skill set. I see no reason why Williams would want to replace Pastor as he brings plenty of money to the team and previously had success in GP2 with the Rapax Team.
Bruno Senna joined Williams having previously had arduous seasons behind the wheel of the HRT (2010) and replaced Nick Heidfeld for the end of the 2011 season for Renault. The Brazilian brings his own array of sponsors to the table for Williams and although going almost unsung hasn't had a dissimilar season to Pastor. Rumours are abound that he will be replaced for next season, however unless a driver of much higher talent or one that can bring much more money were to be available I see no reason for him to depart.

Force India have both of their drivers contracted for the 2013 season but have already stated they won't stand in the way of either making moves to higher teams. Both Di Resta and Hulkenberg have been linked with Felipe Massa's Ferrari seat and as possible replacements should Michael Schumacher decide to retire once more. Di Resta has more recently been linked as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton at McLaren should the latter make a switch to Mercedes. This may be fuelled by Di Resta's new management who also looks after Jenson Button.

Toro Rosso have already proven that their driver programme comes first when they ejected both Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguesuari from the 2012 plans. The Red Bull brand use the Toro Rosso team as a platform to find new talent for their senior team with Sebastian Vettel being the benchmark. Daniel Ricciardo jumped the queue during 2011 by being place with HRT in order to access his abilities in advance. With neither Ricciardo or Vergne showing the type of pace that Vettel did in his Toro Rosso days it will be a surprise to no-one if the team start with a fresh line up next season. This will leave the current drivers looking for drives in 2013.

Caterham have had the services of Heikki Kovaleinen throughout their various guises over the last 3 years. It does however seem that Heikki is done with his share of trying to help the team elevate through the grid and rumours have linked him to both Sauber and the seat potentially being vacated by Lewis Hamilton. Heikki has already been part of the McLaren team once in his career and so McLaren and/or himself may be reluctant to revisit the partnership. Vitaly Petrov found his way to a Caterham seat after a lacklustre performance for the Renault team. I've heard rumour that some of his sponsors are becoming disillusioned by his and Caterham's performances and may withdraw their support at the end of the year. I personally never understood why the Russian didn't find his way to a Marussia seat in the first place but he looks destined for there should the rumours hold firm.

Marussia may well be a further force throughout 2013 with their technical partnership with McLaren bearing fruit. The team have also announced they will run KERS for the first time during 2013 which will give them a much needed boost in order to chase the teams in front. Timo Glock is the lynch pin in the Marussia team and is signed on a multi year contract, however Charles Pic is rumoured to be unhappy and reports have him linked to Caterham, Force India and Sauber for 2013 drives.  Marussia could well place Max Chilton in the second seat in place of Pic (Thanks to @MarussiaF1Will for his fan perspective)

HRT the team if they are wanting to progress surely need to recruit some young talent in order to inject both life and money into the team. However De La Rosa's Spanish connection and years of technical experience inside McLaren may well see him keep his seat.  Both Dani Clos and Ma Qing Hua have connections with the HRT team and could see their way to at least one of the seats.  Meanwhile Antonio Liuzzi still has some connections to the team and could take up one of the seats again. (Thanks to @Lundo888 for an insight who is a HRT fan)

On the fringes – There are plenty of drivers out there that still either warrant a seat or warrant a shot at one but the most likely candidates would be:

Adrian Sutil – Was dispatched by the Force India team but has been touted to be talking to quite a few teams including Ferrari and a return to Force India
Jaime Alguesuari – Toro Rosso driver for 09-11 and currently keeping himself busy with the Pirelli test drivers role.
Lucas Di Grassi – Ex Virgin Racing driver and the previous Pirelli driver has now aligned himself with a test role with FormulaE (See my article on Formula E here - http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/formula-e-future-of-motorsport.html )
Karun Chandhok – Ex HRT and test driver for Team Lotus in 11 Karun never really had the opportunity to show the talent he may have.
Jerome D'Ambrosio – Currently a reserve driver at Lotus and drove at Monza in place of the banned Grosjean
Sebastien Buemi – Currently a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing
Rubens Barrichello – Still wants a seat in F1 and could prove an asset to one of the younger teams.
The list of drivers that could/should step up from Feeder series like GP2/3 is huge but as Will Buxton mentioned in his recent article (http://willthef1journo.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/poisoning-the-well-f1s-underlying-problem/ ) the problem with this no longer just lies in the expectations of quality.

Lewis Hamilton holds the key to a driver market that will unravel when he puts pen to paper and why shouldn't he hold all the cards? Afterall he is a once in a generation driver who transcended the need to start his F1 career at a lower tier team and won a title in his second year (He should really have clinched the title in his maiden year too, although we'll let him have that one) 
You have to wonder if his desire to win races and titles can be matched by the Mercedes team. Their only win in 3 years came at a time when almost any team from 7/8 could have won a race as they all battled over understanding the Pirelli tyres. 
Lewis' decision needs to be one made from the heart of a racer and not one from the brain of a branding house.
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13 September 2012
McLaren Low Dowforce Rear Wing (Spa & Monza)

 
McLaren introduced a new rear wing for the Spa weekend and continued it's usage at the ultra low downforce Monza circuit. McLaren fans will be well aware of the who-har Lewis Hamilton made about the usage of the Wing when he presented the world an overlay of his and Jenson's qualifying data. Lewis was using the normal wing whilst Jenson went on to take pole position and the win with the new design.

Above: The famed data overlay sheet that Lewis posted on Twitter

Rear Wing design is crucial in the behaviour of these cars as it can attribute a large proportion of the cars overall downforce, intrinsically linked to this downforce however will be a large chunk of drag. The designers always aim to design the most co-efficient Rear Wing ie one that offers the most downforce for the least drag.

So what's so special about McLaren's new Rear Wing I hear you say. Well after studying the photo's there are several interesting design solutions at play with the McLaren rear wing:

Firstly the team have followed others into utilising the outer 15mm of the wing planes which has freedom to place holes (This is how Mercedes are able to utilise their DDRS system)
2/3rd's of the way up the channel of the main plane you will find a hole in the front profile, this is projected onto the rear of the main plane and so allows some of the high pressure air from the frontal region to be ejected into the low pressure region at the rear. This has a two fold effect, energising the boundary layer created by slow moving air on the rear of the wing plane allows the air to work more effectively. Secondly it helps to reduce the amount of drag induced at the outer extremities of the wing.


Next up the top flap has been totally redesigned and instead of sporting the usual up turned Wing design we are used to features a design that looks very much like one you'd expect to see on an airplane. The design is truly 3 dimensional with the outer sections slimming to a regular concaved style (from the front) whilst the central portion of the wing is convexed.

Above: In this side on image it's easy to see how convex the top flap is and you can see the Gurney tab angled at 45 degrees on the trailing edge of the flap.  The shape and orientation of the endplate louvres have also been adjusted to suit this new wing style (Endplate Louvres are used in order to bleed high pressure to lower pressure areas, reducing drag)

The team added a large Gurney Tab at Monza which is usually associated with High Downforce configurations which is obviously not the case of for the Monza Circuit.  However due to the design nature (airfoil profile) of the top flap the gurney may simply augment the adjusted aero influence.

Speculation and cause to think?

Lastly I'd like to talk about the images below, this shows the top flap from behind, initially I thought that perhaps I was seeing a reflection but after looking at a few different images it would appear that there is a gap at the trailing edge of the top flap.  This leads me to believe that the top flap is hollow, and may be being used to blow airflow increasing the efficiency of the wing. If so how are they getting the air to the wing?




We don't usually get to see a close up shot of the car motionless with DRS open so to further fuel speculation in this image I've also added an arrow to the part of the wing that remains in position when DRS is active.  This also appears to be hollow but what significance does all this have?  Without being able to rationalise how a high velocity airstream could be channeled I'm simply leaving the evidence here for others to look at whilst I try to find more.


Is it however plausible that these hollow sections attached to the Endplates act as a fluid switch elsewhere and McLaren are using DRS for a secondary function (DDRS) just as Mercedes are with their Front Wing system.....

I found it strange that McLaren although their hydraulic DRS mechanism remains unchanged (albeit a new wing design) decided they would leave access panels in the endplates.  Does this mean that the panels hide DDRS tubing? Maybe not but as a team that sometimes borders on anal in regard to aesthetics I find it remarkable the Endplates were not designed as normal for the hydraulics.  The hydraulics are usually routed through the Beam Wing via the mounting below that as you can see carries 4 pipes (2 are plumbed in and the 2 higher ones are not in place as is the cover that usually hides these pipes from sight.


I'm left at a crossroads with my thoughts and trying to find further evidence but felt I'd present my findings thus far to see if others have idea's on what McLaren could be doing with these gaps in the Rear Wing Top Flap.
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12 September 2012
Mercedes WO3 Updates at the Young Drivers Test (Magny Cours) including Coanda Exhaust & DRD

Mercedes as I have written in the past don't tend to play follow the leader quite as well as some of the other teams.  Exhaust gas manipulation is always guaranteed to give F1 designers an aerodynamic advantage this season more than ever with the rules being restrictive in this area.

The McLaren style of exhaust has been converged on by most of the field already this system as the clear leader in terms of creating more rear downforce.  It has taken Mercedes until beyond race 12 to test their own variant having previously claimed their marginally updated WO3 was done so in order to better understand the tyres.

Ross Brawn had this to say: "We think that's quite significant in low speed traction," he said. "The effect of the exhaust is more significant at lower speeds than higher speeds, and also brings you the balance perhaps you need for the rear tyre."

Clearly with so many teams running this or a very similar solutions it's advantage must outweigh the neutral position the WO3's normal exhaust had been run in.  For the Mercedes fans that are used to these types of exhausts they utilise the coanda effect to draw airflow around the sidepod toward the coke bottle area, meanwhile they enhance the downwash effect over the top of the sidepods.  The net result is more airflow being drawn down to the rear of the floor which in turn will generate downforce.

Mercedes tested 2 variants of the exhaust layout yesterday, the first featured shark gills on the end of the exhaust pod which allows air from the the sidepod to vent, this will help with attachment and keep the airflow moving toward the exhaust channel.


Later in the day they tested the exhaust solution without the shark gills in the sidepod bodywork


The team also ran their version of the Lotus 'Device' that to save confusion with DDRS I decided to call DRD (Drag Reduction Device) an explanation of the device and it's first sighting at Spa can be found here:
http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/lotus-mercedes-drd-drag-reduction.html

The team opted to continue use of the cascadeless wing but used the pre Spa version which has a small turning vane on the footplate to guide air around the front wheel.



I expect to see further revisions to the WO3 over the next few days as Mercedes look to bring a plethora of parts to the car over the coming races.  If the team decide to capitalize on the success of others using this type of exhaust config they will most certainly either add the Vertical Vortex Generators that have adorned the McLaren etc for many races or look a more horizontal approach like McLaren's new Sidepod 'Wings'


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07 September 2012
06 September 2012
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I like a bit of speculation in F1 as much as the next fan but tend to normally stick to the Technical stuff, however in this merry go round of speculation could Mercedes hold the key with their engine supply?

McLaren are contracted with Mercedes up until 2015 which will see them to a 20 year relationship with Mercedes supplying the team since 1995.  However over the last few years the relationship between McLaren and Mercedes has become more protracted. The end of the 2009 was the ideal time for Mercedes to buy into their own F1 project with McLaren entering the road car industry again and putting the two brands at odds.  Mercedes up until this point had a 40% stake in McLaren which has been bought back by the latter with Mercedes now only having an 11% interest in the squad.

2013 was supposed to be the first year McLaren would have to purchase outright their F1 engines as Mercedes focus their sponsorship/money on the works team.  So could this be the catalyst for the Lewis rumours and be a ploy by McLaren to continue to get free engines from Mercedes as a swan song for the releasing him into their care?  With the 2014 engines muted to be costing significantly more than the current V8's even a driver as talented as Lewis has a price on his head and could be part of a much more protracted deal than most envisage.

Schumacher may not hold the only cards in this game either and could still stay at Mercedes with Nico going the other way as part of the deal.  Lest we not forget that Paul Di Resta is also part of the Mercedes stable and with his recent change in management could find a seat amongst the McLaren or Mercedes ranks too making the whole situation very interesting indeed.

F1 at the core is really a business and so McLaren may be leveraging Lewis for their own gains, only time will tell but if the Eddie Jordan rumours are to be believed then I think solely looking at a decision made by Lewis may be fool hardy with so many other variables in play.
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04 September 2012
Formula E – The future of Motorsport?


F1 has always claimed the crown as the pinnacle of motorsport and remains the most technologically advanced racing series on the planet. However, could that change with the introduction of a new race series championed by the FIA themselves? FormulaE for myself is an exciting concept that will see electric only powered open wheelers challenge each other on street circuits around the globe.

F1 has been a breeding ground for electric vehicle technology since the inception of KERS during 2009, although the associated costs and relative performance issues of that year meant the teams unanimously agreed to withdraw it's usage for 2010. A years worth of R&D and all but the new F1 teams all had a firm grasp on how to cut costs and integrate such systems in their design, without compromising cooling and weight distribution as some of the 2009 designs had.

The success of KERS has lead to the new breed of V6 Turbo engines scheduled for 2014 to have fully integrated systems that harness and dispense much more power. On top of this the new engines use TERS (Thermal Energy Recovery System) in order to extract and dispense energy created thermally by the Turbo units.

FormulaE looks to build on the success that Formula One has had with electric power by running the car completely on electricity. Races will be separated into heats consisting of 15 minute sessions, which is largely to do with the large amounts of energy required to be stored and dispensed in Motorsport. Charging will then be permitted during the heats.

In terms of the cars themselves you can either purchase cars from Formula E Holdings like their Formulec FE01 Prototype above or design and field your own car based on the Technical Regulations introduced by the FIA.

The FIA's Technical Regulations for this series in regard to aerodynamics are free with the exception of certain parameters like a skid block, dimensional width, height and length, along with the usual restraints in regard to safety cells and crash tests to safe guard the drivers. (Open or closed Cockpits are permitted but I won't go into this here as I have another article planned later in the month on this subject)
The technical regulations also go as far as allowing incremental adjustable bodywork. This is another instance of Formula One's success being transplanted into another series with DRS helping to bring a return to overtaking in F1.  The FIA have not however restricted adjustable bodywork to just the Rear Wing like in F1 and so teams could provide bodywork flick ups that produce downforce for cornering and retract for drag reduction along with Front and Rear Wing adjustability.

These open regulations will allow for many exciting innovations that we have seen banned in F1 to return to FormulaE with the likes of ground effect venturi tunnels (No skirts like the full blown ground effect cars), flexible bodywork, F Ducts, full length bargeboards, wheel centre covers, enlarged diffusers, decked diffusers etc. The regulations do go as far as stopping the use of a fan though before someone attempts to build another Brabham BT46B. Interestingly although the cars will very much look like open wheelers in terms of chassis design designers are permitted to run with wheel arches. There will be no in season aerodynamic development.

In terms of power delivery the power outage is unlimited and power can be transmitted to either 2 or 4 wheels, traction control is also permitted.

The car including it's driver (less it's battery/capacitor's components ) has a minimum weight of 540kg's with the battery/capacitor components having a maximum weight of 300kg's. The minimum weight in combination is 780kg's.

Cooling will be a one of the largest concerns in this Formula with whomever cools their battery/capacitors the most effectively taking a large advantage. Strategy will also play a large role in regard to the power consumed in order to drive the car at certain speeds over the effects of recovering power under braking. Other methods of energy recovery haven't been outlawed in the regulations and paves the way for technology like the Williams FlyBrid Technology, now at the fore with it's associated win at Le Mans with the Audi team. Unlike with F1, the Williams system may find itself more at home on board a FormulaE car as it doesn't have the dimensional constraints imposed by the engine that ultimately stopped it's use in their 2009 car.

One things clear with such open regulations the series will inevitably have a year one run away leader especially if a well funded F1 team like Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren or Williams were to field a car.


Thanks to FormulaEHoldings for the images and information provided
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02 September 2012
Spa GP: High Vs Low Downforce Rear Wings

Lewis Hamilton caused quite the kerfuffle yesterday on Twitter when he announced that the higher downforce wing he was running was 0.4 seconds slower down the Kemmel Straight than the wing Jenson was using and then promptly removed it. So what does this mean to the average fan?

Due to the nature of high speed circuits like Spa and Monza there is always a compromise to be found in the ultimate lap time. McLaren split their strategy during Qualifying yesterday with Jenson using the Low Downforce rear wing whilst Lewis adopted the Higher Downforce wing.

Lets break it down to more simple terms:


Above Jenson with the Low Downforce wing will enhance the car during the high speed sections allowing the car to be more slippery and achieve Vmax quicker.


Above Lewis with the High Downforce wing will provide more stability during cornering and take longer to reach Vmax.

 Above: I have combined the images so that you can see the two Rear Wings next to one another.

To create more downforce from the Rear Wing is always a balancing act and to the naked eye you may not tell the difference. Altering the Angle of Attack (AoA) of either the main plane or top flap will alter the characteristics of the Downforce / Drag induced. Similarly the chord and or dimensions of either the main plane / flap being altered will alter the co-efficiency of the wing.

So what's this mean for Spa? Well if like Jenson you're on the lower downforce settings it means you will be quicker through Sectors 1&2 as they have all of the less technical aspects of the circuit. If like Lewis you’re using the higher downforce wing you will be quick through the more complex, downforce dependent Sector 2.

It's a balancing act and one that will have a see saw effect during the race with Lewis being slower on the straights but quick during the trickier second sector. The problem for Lewis will be the threat of DRS from his rearward opponents. I'm guessing Lewis' side of the garage are currently doing a rain dance as with his higher downforce setup a bit of rain will really bring him into play. Lastly we have to consider tyre wear as Lewis' split strategy will but him at odd's to the rest of the field as they laterally load the tyres through Sector 2 he will be able to manage the tyres more effectively. I'm looking forward to a thrilling battle during the race.
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01 September 2012
Lotus & Mercedes DRD (Drag Reduction Device) you may know it as DDRS / Super DRS / F Duct / Passive F Duct

Lotus & Mercedes DRD (Drag Reduction Device)

In response to the original Mercedes DDRS, Lotus have gone on to develop a system they simply call 'the device'. I start here because most of the mainstream media are calling the Lotus version DDRS which simply isn't the case. DDRS or Double DRS is when DRS is used as a fluid switch to create a secondary function, in the case of the Mercedes DDRS this reduces drag on the Front Wing for a enhanced straight line speed. Most importantly DDRS (Secondary usage of DRS) is now banned within the 2013 regulations so calling it DDRS will only make things more confusing for the casual / less Tech driven F1 fan

The beauty of Lotus' device of which I'm coining DRD (Drag Reduction Device) is it doesn't need DRS in order to work and reduces drag at a certain threshold. This means unlike the Mercedes DDRS system it will reduce drag even when DRS isn't available during the race. 

How I believe the system works

(1)In terms of additional parts the system appears uncomplicated with the addition of the Airbox 'Ear's, (2) internal ducting (3) the engine cover cooling exhaust, (4) the periscope that leads to the rear wing with the small ejector holes and the appropriately shaped beam wing Monkey Seat (5).

1. Airbox 'Ears' Starting at the Front these little ducts serve a few purposes:

During normal conditions air is presented to the 'Ears' and air moves down the internal tubing (2) toward the periscope.

When 'Off Throttle' the main airbox receives more air than it can extract and so blocks off the entry point. This normally creates a backwash effect whereby the air stagnates in front of the airbox before counter rotating off the sides and over the engine cover at an undesirable speed. This is 'Air Spillage' and creates a turbulent airflow pattern over the engine cover but more importantly then goes on toward the rear wing.
So when the Lotus is off throttle this airflow is collected by the 'Ears' and utilized further down the device but just as importantly it doesn't impede the more ideal laminar flow heading to the Rear Wing.


2. Internal Ducting during the build up phase on Thursday Sutton Images managed to get the following image of the Lotus E20 which shows that there are clearly 2 outlets from the airbox into the engine cover.  Previously we had assumed the air was being moved en mass from both the Airbox and Airbox Ears down the engine cover to the outlet at the rear. This now shows that the airbox and ears have seperate outlets with the top one most likely the pipe from the Airbox Ear's that feeds to the periscope.


3. Engine Cover Exhaust: Usually the engine cover stops much more abruptly at the rear of the car that when the 'device' is fitted.  The additional exhaust section serves a few purposes: It allows the addition of the periscope that extends upto the rear wing but also acts as an exhaust for the airflow which exits into the beam wing Monkey Seat / Mini Diffuser.  As we can see from the great picture Sutton got during the rain hit Free Practice Session it would appear that even at the rear outlet two pipes remain in play, allowing the airflow a route to exit once the periscope is at full capacity (blockage)



4. Periscope: This is most important aspect of the whole system as it's how the air is transported to the underside of the Rear Wing in order to create the additional downforce at low speed and 'Stall' the rear wing over the speed threshold.  In the picture below Lotus had the ejector holes taped over in order to stop the device operating (due to bad weather conditions)


5. Monkey Seat / Mini Diffuser is placed / being used in order to take advantage of the situation presented by the device in general.  By adding this Diffuser shaped Monkey Seat the airflow will be pulled through the exhaust as Downforce is generated on top as seen by the stagnation of the Flow Viz paint at the trailing edges of the outer section of the Monkey Seat.


 Airflow Pattern


In the images above we can see that air consumed by the Airbox 'Ears' is transmitted along the top pipework and branches off to the Periscope.  In the enlarged image of the Periscope we can see the ejector holes that blow air tangentially across the width of the Rear Wing main plane (The image below shows the effect of this when the team used flow viz at the Hockenheim weekend), blowing the underside of the wing reduces boundary layer build up which allows for a steeper Wing AoA to be run giving a net downforce gain. The amount of rear downforce available to teams has been reduced since the regulations stopped blown diffusers. Making the amount of downforce generated at the rear wing once again imperative.

At a certain velocity the amount of air being blown isn't enough to prevent the boundary layer build up and the wing stalls. (CL Max) This reduces the amount of downforce and drag on the rear wing.
Simultaneously the air in the periscope now creates a blockage which allows the airflow to feed out toward the Monkey Seat / Mini Diffuser which will increase it's effectiveness creating downforce in this region.
The switch from downforce creation to drag reduction is aided by the use of the Monkey Seat / Mini Diffuser as it helps transition the forces involved.


So in essence with DRD the rear wing is passed more air than usual underneath the main plane allowing it to generate more downforce until such a point it stalls, allowing the car to attain a higher top speed (I'd predict anywhere from 5-10KMH)

So far all I have shown you is the Lotus variant but during Free Practice on Friday Mercedes also placed a similar device on Nico Rosberg's car.  The weather forced the team into blanking off the ejector holes and so DRD was never actually used.  However it did afford us the opportunity to see their version....


As we can see from the image above the Mercedes variant has their Airbox ducts slightly further back which allows them to be fitted with the engine cover. (Rather than be part of the Airbox structure and un-removable if the system isn't used, as we saw Kimi with the taped up over the Hockenheim and German GP weekends when not in use)
The arrangement at the rear of the car is very similar to that shown on the Lotus however one thing is yet unknown due to the weather not allowing the 'Device' to be tested.  We can see in the picture above and below that the Periscope doesn't extend to the underside of the Rear Wing Mainplane.  It may be the case that Mercedes simply ran their usual Rear Wing configuration and didn't bolt on the Deeper/Higher AoA Wing they could use in conjunction with the DRD.  The other plausible reason is that it is infact designed this way and Mercedes plan to attempt blowing a larger section of the Rear Wing to gain downforce / reduce drag.



I see absolutely no reason as to why Mercedes can't continue to use DDRS in conjunction with DRD as one will not impact the other even in terms of packaging.  As we can see below the twin pipes leaving the beam wing going through the chassis don't intefere with the placement of the Exhaust / Monkey Seat arrangement.


If you wish to understand my interpretation of the DDRS system that Mercedes use it is included in my recent Mercedes article: http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-trouble-at-mercedes.html

In terms of others copying the Lotus design, as we have already seen Mercedes a team that is known for taking a long time to implement upgrades take up DRD I see no reason why others won't do the same.  One crucial factor however is that both Lotus and Mercedes run fairly aero neutral exhaust designs.  Whether this will factor in the design of everyone elses DRD is something I very much look forward to.  As I have previously alluded to Mercedes and Lotus (nee Renault) have good experience with Passive devices but I see no reason for the likes of McLaren and Ferrari to adopt the designs too. http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/bank-holiday-monday-musings-rear-wing.html

EDIT: Additional Images of Mercedes DRD from the Young Drivers Test 10-12th September

Above: Day One, Sam Bird Tests the same configuration as Nico had fitted in Spa

Above: Day 3, Brendon Hartley Tests the configuration without the Monkey Seat straddling the engine cover exhaust (However as it was wet the system was removed)

Images used in this Article are copyright their respective owners: Mario Keszeli / Sutton Images / Xpb Images
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Spa Updates - McLaren MP4-27 Sidepod Airflow Conditioners (Sidepod Wing)

McLaren's updates planned for Silverstone were largely shelved due to poor weather conditions and so we didn't see the revisions until Hockenheim.  The exhaust and sidepod revisions have helped McLaren back up the rungs on the ladder in terms of performance and certainly aided Jenson in his return to form since McLaren adopted the high nose.

Spa see's the team further develop the concept but removing the Vortex Generator's on top of the sidepod and instead extend the Sidepod Airflow Conditioners in an L shape across the top of the sidepod.  (Sauber have been using quite a similar configuration for some time)  If we take a leaf from the aerospace book then this reminds me of a Leading Edge Slot which helps to reduce the stalling angle of a wing.  In the context of F1 due to the sloping angle of the sidepod toward the exhaust channel this solution obviously offers a more co-efficient solution than the previously used Vortex Generators.  Framing the Sidepod with this Horizontal / Vertical element will help to further control the airflow around the sidepod region.

Lets also remember that underneath this 'Wing' that McLaren usually have a hole that vents air from the sidepod entry below it.

Above: Taking Cues from both Red Bull & Sauber; McLaren have joined their sidepod airflow conditioner to the cockpit.

Furthermore, influenced by Ferrari the team have added two fins under the mirror stalks in order to create vortices that will energise the trailing airflow


The use of these elements is not going to create a huge performance differential but once again sees teams refining concepts to extract maximum performance.

I think over the coming races we will see further revisions in this area maybe even with the top section receiving gills in order to enhance the airflow/vortices trailing from the element.
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