Formula One car development blog
Ferrari have used their new front wing debuted at the final Barcelona test throughout the entire Australian GP weekend, showing it confirmed the new part to be an improvement for the car. When comparing this to last year, where the Scuderia had various new parts tested that eventually failed to work in real life, the new parts coming from Toyota's wind tunnel appear to be working straight away. This alone is a great sign for Ferrari that will build confidence within the team.
The new wing was tested at Barcelona and features a different endplate, a wider and differently shaped stacked element and detail changes on the inner edges of the white, standing flaps. Altogether, it still is surprising to see Ferrari run a front wing without any bulges in the lower profile, something that is not seen on any other car at the moment.
Lotus has had quite a busy schedule recently, and today the team came up with a new rear wing, tested both by Davide Valsecchi in the morning and Romain Grosjean in the afternoon. The new wing appears to be based on the rear wing that the team has already used when running without DRD, as the DRS actuator pod is the same and the wing's main profile also looks similar. The monkey seat however has been changed in a more traditional winglet, contrary to the curved version that existed on the previous wing. The curved monkey seat had been introduced during 2012 when the team also introduced DRD, so it remains to be seen if the DRD outlet will be modified, or if this wing is not designed to be used with DRD.
With its flowviz testing however the team was most interested in airflow around the endplates, as these have also been modified. The 3 strakes on the outside of the endplate were removed whereas underneath the endplate 3 vanes were added to help guide air into the wake of the rear tyres. Extracting air from underneath the rear wing like this can help generate downforce but it needs to comply with the airflow that the diffuser is throwing up as well. Most teams by now are using similar designs, but most have more and smaller vanes to achieve the same purpose.
Red Bull Racing introduced a new front wing on their car, maintaining the same basic concept but with small modifications all over the wing. Mark Webber left the pitlane with the new wing filled with flowviz in the morning, ready to do some flow verification.
The changes include the addition of two apertures in the end plates to catch a little more air and push it up over the flaps. The stacked element has been modified accordingly, now curving more down close to the endplate. The trailing edge of that stacked flap is also similarly curved, contrary to a straight edge on the previous wing. Notice that also the lower edge of the endplate has changed, as well as the innermost endings of the flaps.
Also indicated in the image is a different vanity panel on the nose, making it a bit bigger and getting rid of the tapering flanks.
Lotus is continuing to try out different versions of its exhaust channel, trying to maximize rear downforce. Davide Valsecchi was this morning testing again with an inconel exhaust channel, featuring a different curve and depth. Similar parts were spotted earlier on at the Jerez test.
The team earlier noted that the inconel metallic parts are not being used to resolve overheating issues with the carbon fibre exhaust channel. In fact, the inconel parts are easier and quicker to manufacture and are much more durable than the carbon composite parts. This allows the team to test various options quickly, albeit with a slight weight penalty for the metallic parts.
As was expected, Williams F1 have today changed their car by introducing a ramp style exhaust slope, similar to what Lotus F1 and Red Bull Racing are running, not coincidentally two teams that are also powered by a Renault Sport F1 engine. Along with the introduction of the new exhaust the team also re-fitted their high nose. It must be seen whether this is now the preferred choice in combination with the ramp exhaust, or if the team will continue to try out its different nose cones.
The team's exhaust ramp features a bulge around the exhaust exit, similar to what Red Bull has and also had a small inlet to get airflow underneath the ramp. The latter is however considerably smaller than on the competing team's cars.
Also notice the camera hub on the side of the airbox, including an infrared camera to visualize exhaust flow for the team's evaluation purposes.
McLaren have tested a new front wing (in the lower part of the image) on their MP4-28 to improve car balance and frontal downforce. The team have basically simplified the main place by removing the inner humps that were introduced during the 2012 season. The new front wing is a almost entirely flat, as low as possible to the ground to help create downforce and only bulges towars the endplate to control the downforce generation under steering and yaw.
Along with this, the endings on the innermost edges of the flaps have also been slightly revised, although this is more likely to be a matter of controlling airflow towards the sidepods, rather than a downforce improvement for the wing itself.
Lotus was seen running its DRD system yesterday at Barcelona, but interestingly that is not all that changes about the car. In fact, the team changes rear wings along with the fitting of the DRD, and reverts to the previous rear wing when continuing to run without DRD - or passive DRS, or DDRS.
Although the differences between the rear wings are quite marginal, it does show the complexity of the DRD in Formula One. When DRD is fitted, the raer wing endplates do not feature strakes on the outside of the plates. Their design is also remarkable, as all strakes aim to direct air upwards. Ferrari on the other hand have similar, albeit smaller strakes, but the lowest of the 3 on the Ferrari F138 direct air downwards.
Furthermore, the Lotus rear wings also feature different DRS actuator pods and appear to have a slightly different cut in the centre of the upper rear wing flap.
Ferrari have introduced their updates exhaust one day ahead of schedule. Luca Marmorini earlier spoke out of his worries about introducing such a new layout so close to the end of testing, but it appears that Ferrari have managed to speed up the manufacturing process for this particular item. As such, while Felipe Massa was running on Thursday with the same exhaust layout as the car was launched, Fernando Alonso's F138 is now fitted with the update.
The new sidepod bodywork aims to get the exhaust flow down to the car's floor quicker than it was possible in the previous version, thanks to a sharp downward slope in the channel. While the photo perspectives are somewhat different, the modification is quite drastic. This is obvious from the bulge that is now sticking out of the bodywork, showing how the top of the sidepod has been shaped to taper down more quickly. It is also noticable by looking at the small step inside of the channel, which Ferrari still produces with inconel. That step is present for the Ferrari to meet the rules, as there must be no bodywork in a virtual 3° cone sticking out of the exhaust. With the exhaust still in the same position, it is clear that the channel is curved more extremely down towards the floor.
Along with this goes is also a modified outlet for the sidepod air. The outlet is now slightly wider and closer to the exhaust itself.
The change is meant to improve rear downforce by getting the exhaust gases more precisely where the teams wants them to be. It should meanwhile help reduce tyre warmup and overheating due to the exhausts. To verify all this, Alonso has been busy today at Barcelona with a lot of constant speed running so that aerodynamic measurements can be read with less influence from car speed changes.
Given that the FIA declared Caterham's exhaust vane and Williams' exhaust bridge illegal, both teams have opted to back out of the option and not risk being disqualified at the Australian GP, the first race of the season where cars will be fully checked on their compliance with the technical regulations. Both teams simple bolted different parts on their cars, knowing that for both the CT03 as well as the FW35 the contested items were easily removable.
The image clearly shows the lack of vane on the Caterham, while also showing burning marks on the car's bodywork due to the internal components heating up the carbon fibre and its paint.
Detail pictures of the roll hoop on the McLaren MP4-28 have revealed that the team has largely retained the cooling layout of the 27. Just as on any other current F1 car, the main, somewhat triangular inlet feeds air to the engine required for burning fuel in the cylinders. Contrary to popular belief though, air is not pushed into this inlet, but the engine is sucking air in, reducing the drag penalty a normal cooling inlet would generate.
Underneath this main inlet is a smaller one, positioned more or less behind the driver's helmet and a little backward of the airbox inlet. As the picture shows, a small cooling radiator is positioned in the engine cover, underneath the channel that feeds air to the engine. Already since the MP4-26 of 2011, McLaren have positioned the KERS cooler here in an attempt to free up some space inside the sidepods. It's a change originally fuelled by the U-shaped sidepods on the McLaren MP4-26, a car where McLaren pushed for low, small sidepods to clean up airflow to the back of the car. As it gives packaging benefits, the team retained this solution, albeit that a radiator positioned this high up in the car, no matter how small, will have a negative impact on the car's centre of gravity.