Formula One car development blog

A particular shark fin on the Force India

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Force India is clearly not standing still after their recent successes at Spa and Monza. At Singapore, the team introduced a shark fin, replacing the car's conventional engine cover used throughout the season so far. The new fin connects to the rear wing, just like at Red Bull, although Force India's version features a large opening ahead of the rear wing to control its unfluence when the car is under yaw. The change immediately appears to have made the stacked centre of the rear wing obsolete, an item that was used at Valencia to increase downforce.



McLaren continue use of extended sidepod panel

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Already used in Belgium, McLaren have continued the use of their new extended sidepod panel at Monza. Before the event at Spa-Francorchamps, McLaren were basically the only team who did have a sidepod panel that was not attached to the car's floor. Brawn also recently switched to this design type as it offers better rear end stability of the car. Since they have used it also at higher downforce circuits, it is expected that McLaren's design is not only for low downforce configurations of their car either.


Force India revise sidepod panel

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Along with their aerodynamic update at the European GP in Valencia, Force India introduced an updated version of their sidepod panel. More specifically at the top end of the panel, airflow is now possible in between the fence and the sidepod's shell. Previously, this area was part shaped as a splitter to divert air around it. The new version helps Force India to reduce the car's drag, while the little winglet lower down on the panel still helps downforce at the rear by creating a high energy vortex. A similar vortex generator can be found on Toyota's car.


Brawn GP experimenting with shark fin

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Brawn GP have brought a shark fin engine cover to Spa, resembling much to Renault's version. Jenson Button drove it on Friday for quite a few laps, but the team eventually decided not to race it. We may however see it again on future tracks this year. Another point of interest in this image is the rear wing adjustment possibility. As earlier posted, Williams opted to have the trailing edge lower than the maximum rear wing height. Brawn on the other hand always have the maximum height and adjust the rear wing's angle of attack by moving the leading edge up or down.


New stacked panel on Red Bull front wing

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Despite its medium downforce setup that the circuit of Spa-Francorchamp requires, the high speed corners still demand a fair amount of front downforce. Red Bull have taken this quite literally and have introduced a new front wing, or at least a new upper element on the wing. While it as previously one continuous element, a small vertical fence now seperates the inward side - still unchanged - and the outward side which has a much larger angle of attack than before. The modification resembles a similar design change that Renault introduced on its {Renault R28} before winning two races with Fernando Alonso.


Williams use lower rear wing at Spa

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Spa-Francorchamps is the first medium downforce track on the 2009 calendar, so teams are coming up with smaller rear and front wings to reduce drag and increase top speeds. Williams for one is special, as it didn't only make its rear wing smaller, it is now also lower. The arrow in the image clearly shows that the main flap is not extending to the maximum height - which is the upside of the end plate - by a few centimeters below. The solution puts the wing slightly more behind the car's body and hence creates a little bit less drag. The idea itself isn't new and has already been used by Honda last year.


New diffuser does wonders for McLaren

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Ever since McLaren have introduced their new diffuser, the car can again match itself with the best of the field, allowing Hamilton to take 18 points in the latest two races. Their completely new design built upon the foundations of the double deck diffuser idea. At the same time, the team abandoned its cutout floor after it found out that its effect was far from what was expected after wind tunnel simulations. At Valencia, the car had additional updates in this area. Notably the exhaust covers were now, for once, symmetrical - contrary to the diffuser's shape.


Brawn GP add sidepod panel to BGP001

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It has taken them a while, but Brawn GP have developed their own version of a sidepod panel to smoothen airflow around the sidepod. Arguably, the front end of the Brawn's sidepods are the cleanest of any current car, and hence the need to add these panels may have been less, but any little bit helps. During the winter testing season and the first half of the year, most of the teams developed similar devices as they proved to be useful in earlier seasons. Brawn however decided to continue with inboard wing mirrors, whereas BMW Sauber have fitted the mirrors on top of the sidepod panels.


BMW: How ditching KERS can speed up a car

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BMW introduced a major development step on its car at Valencia, and the results were immediately there. The single point of Robert Kubica may not seem much, but at Bahrain there were still miles and miles away in the back of the field, while now Kubica could fight Webber, a race winner this year. BMW Sauber decided gambled with KERS and failed badly, hence they decided to ditch it alltogether. The result now is a lighter chassis and much more sculpted sidepods. The team redesigned the whole sidepod package, including the position of the radiators inside them. Previously there was room for the KERS system, located left and right of the car's fuel tank. With the radiators now located closer to the centre of the car, the aerodynamicists had more room to play and the body's roll will have decreased due to the tighter packaging. Everybody happy.


Ferrari test Red Bull nose bulges

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Kimi Raikkonen showed up on track at Valencia with a new nose design, or more correctly with Red Bull's nose bulges glued on top of the F60's usual nose shape. Many other teams - including Toyota - have tried this design idea to analyse its advantages but none have so far come up with such an elegant solution. The different design is supposedly aimed to prevent air from flowing over the nosecone when the car is turning. The higher side surface will keep help to split airflow on both sides of the nose, helping nose stability under yaw.