Formula One car development blog

Frontal airflow management on Toyota TF109

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Although the lacklustre showing in qualifying suggests otherwise, Toyota keep on working on their TF109. One little detail we spotted is the addition of a small winglet on their sidepod panel. As it concerns a fairly flat aerofoil, it looks like it's aimed at reducing turbulence from behind the front wheels, attempting to improve the flow towards the rear end of the car.

Also marked in the image are the turning vanes that Toyota have been using. Fitted in between the front wheels and just under the nose, it is also aimed at directing airflow better. This element is particularly interesting because the FIA aimed at banned this kind of elements with the new regulations, but with the right approach something is still possible there. It is this area that Renault is using to make its venturi under the nose cone of the Renault R29.

McLaren introduce stacked front wing

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In an attempt to crawl back up the grid, McLaren are doing everything in their power to find extra downforce. One of these measures is an additional deck on the front wing (upper part of image), similar to Red Bull's, and to a lesser extent Toyota's front wing. The element is proven design since Renault introduced it in 2005 on its championship winning Renault R25 and has found wide adoption this year after the more efficient bridge wing solutions were banned for 2009.

Red Bull revise year old brake ducts

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Somehow the previous design must have been a fairly efficient one as Red Bull have been using the round brake duct (left of image) since at least the beginning of 2008. As of that design, Red Bull have always consistently built their ducts from Windform XT, a rapid prototyping material often used to create the models tested in windtunnels.

The latest design is from the same material but changes the shape of the air inlet. The outer part, closest to the wheel is now (right of image) in line with the tyre wall. It still points down so that it exactly matches the direction of airflow behind the front wing's elements.

Legality of Brawn exhausts questioned

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Apart from the double deck exhaust, the Brawn BGP001 now appears to be under fire for its exhausts. Racecar engineering have discovered that Brawn adapted (right) its car after the Australian GP at Melbourne after its exhausts were seen protruding the design (left). It is believed the change was fuelled by informal requests of other teams. Earlier on, in winter testing Ferrari faces the same problem and adapted its bodywork and exhaust system to comply with the strict letter of the regulations.

Article 3.8.5 states that after the bodywork is in compliance with every other regulation, one aperture on each side of the car is allowed for the engine exhausts. The question is now whether the exhausts are then considered part of the bodywork or not.

As far as we know however, no formal complaint has been made by rival teams for the BGP 001's configuration at Melbourne, so the team may well be concentrating on the upcoming appeal handling relating to its diffuser.

Directing air around the front wheels

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The new wider front wings have caused the endplate to have a significantly different function than was previously the case. Instead of trying to direct air in between the front wheels, this year's endplates aim to direct air around the front wheels. While some teams debuted their cars with solutions to move air both sides of the front wheels, the Brawn way has proven more efficient. Although not the only team with this approach, the front wing endplates of the BGP001 show intelligent design.

The leading edge of the yellow part catches air inside the end plate system, while the outer two plates work in conjunction to efficently direct airflow around the rotating front wheel. The additional outer elements has already proved to be interesting for other teams as many have already copied the design - although less developed but as an add-on on their existing designs.

Red Bull open up RB5 for additional cooling

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Formula One teams often open up extra cooling apertures in the bodywork to allow better cooling for the car's internals. The hot temperatures have forced Red Bull to open the tail end of the engine cover, just where the shark fin begins. Additionally, on each side of the cockpit, one small opening was made. Any aperture further away from the cockpit is impossible due to this year's regulations.

Equally interesting is to see how the car is designed to provide as smooth as possible airflow onto the car's rear wing. The outboard mirrors are out of the way, while the steep slope of the sidepods and low positioning of the exhausts allow to an optimal airflow towards the upper and lower elements of the rear wing.

Williams carefully improve floor efficiency

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Because of a considerable simplification of upper bodywork, the aerodynamicists at Williams are spending a lot of time to investigate the efficiency of the car's underbody. It is well known the this part of the car can bring a lot of downforce with a low drag penalty. For the same reason, the team developed their double step diffuser which reportedly is good for 15% more downforce compared to the simple designs that follow 'the spirit of the rules'.

More at the front though, at the sidepod's entry, the outer edge of the car's floor curves up. In this area, the airflow is from the inside of the car towards the outside due to the splitter underneath the cockpit. To guide this airflow, the upward edge of the floor effectively creates a venturi which reduces pressure under that section of the floor and hence creates downforce. The 3 vertical elements under that curve help straighten the airflow similar to the elements attached under the frontwing or in the diffuser.

Bargeboards are still present in F1

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Despite various regulation measures to simplify the aerodynamics of current Formula One cars, teams are exploring all possible areas where some gains can be made. In this early stage of the season, the area under the nose and ahead of the sidepods looks to be interesting for car development, mostly because it's not that strictly regulated.

While some teams have designed more complex splitters, Ferrari have chosen to continue using barge boards, albeit smaller ones than before. The unpainted - hence black because of the carbon fibre - panels are just within the maximum with of the car in this area. Rather than being an air for cooling, the new barge boards aim to guide air nicely around the sidepod. Compared to letting the airflow just hit the front of the sidepods, this will come with a reduction of drag.

Red Bull connect shark fin to rear wing

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As the teams are coming out with their final Melbourne aerodynamic packages, Red Bull once again drew all the spots to itself with a new type of shark fin never seen before. While all previous versions could be considered an extension of the engine cover, the new one actually connects to the rear wing.
The element stretches up to the maximum height of the car, connecting the top of the airbox with the midpoint of the upper rear wing element. As such, the rear wing is effectively split in two halves and therefore even more efficient under yaw. The initial aim is only improved, and it's probably just a matter of time before others will show up with similar designs.

Williams improve rear wing efficiency

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Development is still going on at a devastating pace ahead of Melbourne, and Williams have come up with a new solution to optimise the airflow around the driver's helmet. This area is well known for being 'trouble', hence lots of progress can still be made there. The new solution somewhat resembles the famous BMW Sauber 'towers' positioned ahead of the cockpit. On the FW31, the extensions aim to straighten airflow aside of the driver to better guide it towards the rear wing. Such design is additionally very interesting under yaw as it aims to do similar things as the well-known shark fins.