Formula One car development blog

Red Bull debuts new RB8 chassis, different exhausts

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Red Bull Racing are today fielding an entirely new chassis after getting it flown over this morning from the team's headquarters. While the car also features new wings, which will be covered later today, the most interesting change is an entirely different exhaust position.

While the old exhausts were located very much inboard, blowing right under the upper suspension arms and into the centre of the beam wing, the new exhausts are nearly as far outboard as they can be, and are quite similar to what Sauber has been doing on their C31.

Just like at McLaren, this is likely to have implications on the floor bodywork, as it will now be exposed to much more heat compared to with the original exhaust position. McLaren have also experienced increased rear tyre wear, something that Red Bull is wary of and will surely find out more about in these next two days.

To aid the downwash, that is the effect to get the exhaust flow as low as possible above the diffuser, the team have also modified the tail end of the exhausts. While they previously were tapered to be high and narrow, the new ones are wider, but slope down gradually to the car's floor. There is however still an undercut, allowing for air to flow under the slope, while exhaust gases are pulled down over the slope.

In essence, this will provide a somewhat similar effect to last year's blown diffusers, albeit that the increased distance between the diffuser and the exhaust will reduce the effect somewhat.

Interestingly, this type of difuser blowing was also what Ferrari attempted to do with their initial exhausts, but they reverted to more central exhausts at the beginning of this second Barcelona test.

Williams tests 2012 exhausts on FW33

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Williams was the first team at the Abu Dhabi young driver test to come out of the garage with a considerably different car compared to its current FW33. With regulations for 2012 mandating periscope exhausts to stop off-throttle blowing, the team is already trying a configuration to at least get some track data on the new layout.

As commonly seen during these tests, the Williams team has also added some sensors to verify its simulations. Just like at several Friday practices, torsion sensors are fitted to the drive shafts, while a large sensor box was added on each outer side of the rear wing endplates.

Interestingly, the team have also quite drastically modified the sidepod covers. A slight bulge now features on the upper side of the sidepod to make room for the upward exhaust. The hot air outlet of the sidepods has also been reshaped, now allowing air to exit low above the diffuser, a design similar to the FW33 early on the in season, before Williams changed to a more Red Bull alike configuration. Considering the inward direction of the exhaust outlets, the change makes sense as it allows for a cleaner exhaust flow onto the central part of the rear wing.

Williams tweaks front wing at Korea

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Williams F1 have introduced another new front wing update at Korea. The British team have certainly taken up an aggresive front wing development programme this year, somewhat similar to what Renault did in 2010. Contrary to the Renault R30 though, Williams' car updates don't seem to move them upward the pecking order.

The new update is a slight modification of the Japanese GP front wing design. It shows a modified leading edge of the main profile, as well as the removal of a horizontal vane on top of the end plates.

Williams have been running similar designs since the very beginning of the season and interestingly Ferrari have now copied some key elements of Williams' front wing in its new experimental design, including more outward endplate and a steeper flap ahead of the front wheels to better manage airflow along the tyres.

Ferrari tries 2012 prototype front wing

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With the focus now completely on 2012, Ferrari were earlier this week reported of working against the clock to get a new front wing ready for the Korean GP. And somewhat unsurprisingly, they got it done in time.

Ferrari's new front wing is a completely different beast to the previous versions fitted on the F150° Italia. The main plane of the wing is now entirely flat until very close to the endplate. The main plane is now also slotted, and together with a single flap on top of it replaced the 3-element front wing that was used in Singapore and on most Friday runs at Korea.

Perhaps the most interesting bit is how Ferrari have moved the endplates further outboard, increasing the wing's width inside the endplates. This creates a much simpler endplate that is now a single element, while it also increases the width of the stacked flap.

Major aerodynamic update on Sauber C30

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Sauber introduced a major upgrade on its car, consisting entirely of aerodynamic parts. The team was struggling in the last few races to keep up with its pace earlier on in the season and with it at least a point scoring finish was made possible again. The team though mentions that the update package was planned for a long time and is not a reaction to disappointing performances.

Included in the update is a new rear wing, now with a curved up leading edge in the middle part of the wing, along with different sidepod tails, allowing hot air to exit from the sidepods higher above the ground than before.

A new front wing was also introduced, now featuring a wider, centrally supported stacked panel that now connects to the outer element of the endplate, rather than the inward part as was previously the case. The endplate redesign also shows many detail changes in how the wing connects to the endplates.

At the connection point to the mandated central section, the wing was also completely revised, rigidly fixing the lower flap onto the main plane.

All these changes of course greatly influence airflow onto the splitter and towards the car's floor. That is also why new turning vanes were added to the car, underneath the nose cone.

Modified diffuser on McLaren

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Despite their recent 'fighting form', McLaren knows full well that Red Bull is still the team that is aerodynamically ahead of everyone, especially when it matters blown diffuser performance. It is therefore no surprise to see the British team to simply copy some changes on the diffuser of the Red Bull RB7.

RBR recently replaced the common gurney flaps along the upper edge of the diffuser by small wings, proving a more effective method to help create downforce at the rear end of the car. The small wings not only help extract air from out of the diffuser, but also directs air upward while creating less drag than the common gurney flaps.

McLaren have been running this change since Singapore, whereas Red Bull ran it a few races earlier. The most obvious difference though is that Red Bull's version extends to the outer sides of the diffuser, whereas on the McLaren the vertical fences are still closed gurneys.

MVR-02 updated with MercedesGP alike exhaust

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The team have used the new exhaust design already at the Italian GP at Monza, and thanks to seeing a performance improvement, they run it again at Singapore.

The design change abandons the somewhat unique layout Virgin had by blowing the exhaust over the diffuser quite close to the centre line of the car. Instead, the new layout is nearly identical to what can be seen on the Mercedes GP W02. Exhaust gases are now blown out of the side of the sidepods, close to the car's floor. With drivers having had problems earlier on in the season to get their tyres up to temperature, the side effect of this layout could well benefit the car's behavior, as well as adding downforce.

HRT to name one have earlier on proven that the Mercedes exhaust layout is indeed one of the simpler to get working and still get benefit of the blowing effect to seal the sides of the diffuser.

Lotus introduce simpler front wing for Spa

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Team Lotus ran a new front wing on their T128. For the high speed corners of Spa-Francorchamps, the team found it more efficient to have a two element wing, replacing the three element wing that was on the car since the first race of the season.

It's interesting to see that Lotus rely on generating more downforce close to the nosecone, whereas most teams do the opposite. Also particular about the new wing is the smaller slot gap between the base plane and the flap when compared to the previous design.

Mercedes add slim fence on front wing

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Mercedes GP have slightly changed their front wing at the Belgian GP by adding a fence close to the inner edge of the wing's main flap. Until the Hungarian GP, Mercedes had the front wing flap adjuster in that place, a remainder of the automatic front flap adjuster from last year.

So, instead of doing it close to the nose of the car, mechanics now have to add of remove 'clicks' off of the flap at the sidepod panel - as is the case on most other cars.

Williams test Red Bull-alike air exit

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Williams have been trying out different rear bodywork on their FW33 car. The new layout is quite similar to what can be seen on the Red Bull RB7 as it creates a hole above and ahead of the beam wing to allow hot air get out of the sidepods.

With the new exit, the team was able to close the exit low above the diffuser, aiming to create a cleaner airflow onto the diffuser, instead of using the hot air that went through the radiators upstream in the sidepods.

What makes this so interesting and perhaps difficult to get right is Williams' notorious low gearbox. With other teams developing high and narrow gearboxes that rely on air passing along the sides of the gearbox, Williams attempted to get more air above the gearbox. While this new layout is just testing, CFD analysis within the team's headquarters must have shown that clean air flowing around the sidepods is more useful for downforce generation at the back compared to hot and somewhat more turbulent air from within the sidepods. That is also the reason why Red Bull are doing a similar thing since the very introduction of their RB7.