Formula One car development blog
Yet again it was Ferrari that unsurprisingly had also developed a flexing rear wing that would bend backwards slightly to reduce drag at higher speeds. Few races later the upper element moved downward under the air pressure and created a rear wing that was actually stalling since the slot gap closed. Although several other teams tried to copy the system in order to gain top speeds they never really match the stunning Ferrari. Among the copycats were BMW Sauber, Renault and Midland. As soon as it became obvious teams spent large amounts of money, the FIA decided once again to ban the system and introduce a mandatory gap spacer as displayed in the image (on a Toyota). As of Canada, it became clear this was becoming more of an FIA season than any other Formula One season before.
The first real discussion subject of 2006 was without a doubt the flexing front wing of Ferrari. Although most wings bend down a little bit at higher speeds because of the air pressure, Ferrari found a very distinct solution to optimise their performance. As the 2006 cars were really underpowered in relation to the grip levels, aerodynamic drag was a vital part for topspeeds, more than has ever been. As the upper element of the wing would prevent flexing, Ferrari allowed movement so that the wing's upper planes would detach from the nose cone at higher speeds. This marginal decrease in drag and downforce no doubt gained a bit of topspeed until eventually the FIA kindly requested Ferrari to redesign the attachment.
In the first part of our technical review of 2006 we mark up that most teams have searched for success with different keel designs compared to 2005. Honda, BMW, Toyota and Midland have all chosen for the zero keel, thinking that the aerodynamic benefits would outweigh the disadvantages in front suspension geometry. Looking backward, it were still single (or V) keeled designs that ruled. None of the teams have performed very well in twisty circuits, apart for Button's Honda that profited from excellent Michelin tyres in Hungary. Leaving out next year's harder Bridgestone tyres it looks unlikely to be beneficial to move to a zero keel model. 2 More months of waiting and we will know for sure.
For the first time this season, Ferrari were using different ring types in their rear wheels during one single race weekend. As Carlos pointed out on the forum, both cars were fitted with the big rings as displayed in the image, while after the first race stint they were both fitted with smaller rings, in fact the specification of before the Turkish GP. Contrary to what Ferrari and the FIA state though, the device is certainly an aerodynamic help. While it is considered an allowed brake duct by the FIA, the ring itself is a burden to air hot air and dust coming out of the brake. Although it is possible for the FIA, it seems nearly impossible that the device lowers brake temperature. However, as rear brakes actually require less cooling, this duct may also be designed to decrease cooling and therefore keep the brakes warmer.
At the beginning of the season, Ferrari came up with a double plane front wing. The upper planes were however attached to the nosecone by flexible joints, causing much controversy and the demand to chance the design. As the wing was found legal in after the changes, other teams started investigating the idea and Renault came up with a similar design at Hockenheim. This time around it's Williams who have seemingly copied the Renault design in terms of the upper planes and their curvy connections to the nose cone. The upper plane in all these specifications is meant to decrease drag by actually helping the lower plane elements. The suction effect under the upper plane helps air to move over the lower plane, making the direction changes of the airflow smoother.
Unsurprisingly but a bit later than expected, Ferrari introduced a sidepod flipup at the Chinese Grand Prix. The Scuderia follows suit of BMW Sauber and Renault also developed a similar component. Almost every team now has its sidepods fitted with a similar flip or vane to channel air towards the back of the car. While BMW and Toyota seem to opt for a downforce generating element, Ferrari has the same basic idea as Renault in a way that the element straightens up air coming from behind the rotating and hence drag inducing front wheel.
Just like McLaren and Midland, Renault developed a low drag wing which only consisted of a single horizontal plane. The gap between the two elements of a regular wing became obsolete as that is designed to prevent flow seperation on wings with high angles of attack. Obviously, the Monza spec wings are not of such kind and therefore make such a gap obsolete, hence also decreasing drag. In addition to that, Renault developed their front wing (lower part of the image) for a low downforce circuit by removing the upper element and decreasing the size of the second plane (pained in light blue).
BMW's new rear wing sports a new profile that reminds somehow of McLaren front wing designs at the time of the MP4-18. A W-shaped plane with an upward bend in the centre is designed for a reasonable compromise between drag and downforce. Their wing allowed for high topspeeds as it is low on drag while providing the maximum possible grip in the chicanes and both lesmo corners.
Rear wing supports used to be vertical, flat and rectangular carbon elements placed in the centreline of the car to provide extra strength to the planes of the wing. Nowadays that is no longer the case. Apart from their original means, they are designed as stabilisers for the air passing in between the rear wing endplates. As the arrows on the image show, Super Aguri have also realised this, although it is more like a development coming from Honda Racing F1. The supports will not create any downforce but the curvatious shape was designed so that it is not creating any resistance to the airflow.
Toyota have cut their front wing more than any other team. They ran the possibly smallest front wing present in Monza by reducing the second panel to something just big enough for advertisements. Just like with their rear wing, Toyota follow an unconventional way of thinking. Other teams opted for bigger panels that are positioned a bit flatter, while Toyota favour a small element with a higher angle of attack. Theoretically though, the first option is supposed to be more efficient.