Formula One car development blog

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.

Redesigned exhaust system for McLaren

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McLaren is pushing ahead with its car development, and this time has come up with a revised aerodynamics package around the exhausts. The change resembles much that of Renault or Ferrari early on in the season as they decided that it is better to let hot air out of the sidepod sooner rather than later. Hence McLaren did the same, as the exhausts are now part of a large air outlet opening, following which the car's shell is much more tight. Still, the system is assymetrical with the left side allowing more hot air to exit.

Also marked it the revised engine cover which Hamilton already had at the Nürburgring. The previous version that was used without change in the first half of the season is now replaced by a more traditional layout with a straight slope towards the rear crash structure. The change effectively reduces the surface of the cover and is an opposite development of the extending shark fin covers.

Toyota pulling the plugs for extra downforce

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Toyota is doing everything it can to find some extra rear downforce on its TF109. At the Hungaroring, a notoriously slow and high downforce circuit, the team added a BMW-style third rear wing element in the central 15cm of the wing. It is only in this area that move than 2 horizontal panels are allowed in the rear wing.

And as that didn't prove enough, another 2-panel wing was added above the rear light to push air up. Although less than in previous years, this item will also help the diffuser's efficiency by creating a low pressure area behind it.

Renault focus to improve car balance

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Renault, just like BMW have found out the hard way that focusing too much on KERS during the winter has cost them dearly in aerodynamic performance of the car. The French squad is steadily improving with continuous updates and found out with Alonso that their latest package is an interesting upgrade.

The R29 does not have a specific problem but rather suffers a lack of grip, already since the first winter tests. Just like McLaren, the team therefore introduced a new front wing, a much different endplate - which is still quite different from any other car - and a new wheel fairing.

The updates were only available for Alonso, but Nelson Piquet will also have them at his disposal during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.

Force India continue intense development

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Force India have shown their much improved pace at Germany that was largely thanks to its new aerodynamic package, including this totally revised front wing and endplate assembly. Although it is clearly a development of the previous version, the most inward, unmoveable part of the flaps have a changed profile to improve airflow along the inside of the front wheels.

The decked elements remained unchanged but it is now fixed differently with a seperate support (in unpainted black carbon) just aside of the endplate. The rest of the changes on the endplates are basically copy and paste work from other teams.

Ferrari drivers running different front wings

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Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa have run the German Grand Prix with different front wing profiles. Raikkonen's car was equipped with a version that has been used for a long time - upper part of the image - while Massa had a new upper flap section. With all the rest of the wing indifferent, the new upper flap features a cutout and is not folded back behind the base plane in its most inward section.

While this change will influence the air fed into the brake cooling ducts, both drivers ran the same ducts.

McLaren add vented front wing endplates

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McLaren have decided to continue to develop its MP4-24 in a little more conservative way as previous highly anticipated updates did not pay off. At the Nürburgring one of the new aerodynamic things was a revised front wing endplate which now includes small vents that catch air flowing along the outside of the wing towards the inside. The idea was pioneered by Toyota but has since March found many more followers.

Additionally, the team also reverted to its more traditional front wheel fairings. As marked in the image, the fairing is identical to last year's version and does not overlap the sidewall of the tyre - like the inside panel still does.

It needs no explanation that the front wing endplates highly influences the airflow around the front wheel, hence requiring continuous evaluation in that area.