Formula One car development blog

Williams low-drag rear wing for Monza

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Similar to most other teams, Williams have introduced a new, one-off rear wing to adapt to the requirements of the Monza Autodrome. Focusing on top speed, drag shedding is the easiest with a smaller rear wing, given that the rear wing generates much more drag per point of downforce compared top the diffuser. This also explains why teams are never modifying their diffuser, simply because it's more efficient and probably more complicated to alter as well.

The new rear wing fitted in the FW36 features an identical endplate as the one in Belgium, except for the reduced amount of louvres. This has been reduced to one as more are hardly needed due to the smaller angle of attack of the rear wing. The design of the rear wing itself means there are less strong wingtip vortices anyway, so less louvres are needed to help reduce them.

Perhaps the most interesting design feature of the team's Monza rear wing is that they put in the effort to create a new fairing for the DRS activator in the middle of the wing. While the one at Spa was still a big hub to help control airflow under yaw, the new one is clearly aimed to create as little of an obstacle to the airflow as possible. The support is as narrow as possible, and the thicker, bullet-like fairing follows the direction of airflow as is drops down over the bend of the rear wing's main plane before being kicked up.

Williams revives shark gills for cooling

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Williams introduced a new cooling solution on its FW36 this weekend at Germany by adding a series of small apertures on the legality fin of the airbox cover. The small extension on the airbox cover is there only to fit the minimum area rules of the bodywork, but Williams have found a new use by creating fins to provide engine cooling.

Many teams have small apertures in this area for cooling, but Williams' solution surely is elaborate. The team have seemingly chosen to use shark gills because they usually produce less turbulence compared to a single, larger opening.

Shark gills actually used to be a very popular cooling solution in Formula One, culminated by the championship winning Renault R25 of 2005 that brought Fernando Alonso his first World Championship. The gills as they were in use on the sidepods of the Renault however are no longer legal since the FIA disallowed any opening in the sidepod's bodywork (the same rule also bans the possibility to add numerous winglets and chimneys on the sidepods).

Williams adopts central cooling funnel

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Williams have enjoyed several extremely productive testing days so far, and with the end of the tests nearing, the team is applying and testing new aerodynamic parts. One of the bigger upgrades fitted on the FW36 on Thursday with Bottas and Friday with Massa is the new rear bodywork featuring wider sidepod exits and a central funnel that blows hot sidepod air around the exhaust.

The team switched bodywork throughout the day for both drivers to be able to evaluate the new parts properly. It does not appear like Williams had to add more cooling as the car ran fairly reliably before the change of bodywork, but possibly they are simply anticipating races with high ambient temperatures.

It's interesting to see how the new bodywork has wider sidepod outlets and lacks a carbon cover over the exhaust pipe. Also note how Williams' rear wing lacks a central support, instead featuring endplates that extend down onto the diffuser to provide support.

Working around the ban on the starter motor hole

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Attempting to further close loopholes in the regulations, the FIA have removed the possibility for teams to gain a substantial aerodynamic benefit from the starter motor hole in the diffuser. A first regulation change in this area was implemented back in 2010 after teams started to create unusually shaped starters, allowing them to make a larger starter hole in the diffuser, and thereby extract more performance from it. Back then, the FIA stepped in, allowing the hole to be no larger than 3500mm². Any other part of the diffuser had to be a continuous shape, a result of the earlier ban on double diffusers.

It has now become clear that further measures were taken by scrapping the starter hole completely, requiring teams to either design a flap in the diffuser that would close itself, or otherwise leave an opening that is not visible from underneath the car or further than 350mm behind the rear wheel centre line. Clearly, most teams have gone for a flap, often metallic, as in Williams' case, enabling the starter engine to still reach the gearbox while complying with the rules in all other situations.

Mercedes on the other hand opted to create a U-shape in the centre of the diffuser. Obviously this still allows airflow through this gap and enhance the diffuser, but the effect is likely to be much less interesting than with the start holes of 2013 and before. In fact, the central starter hole was one of the main reasons why Red Bull's Adrian Newey designed tunnels underneath the RB9's exhaust ramps, as the ramps would otherwise block airflow towards the critical central part of the diffuser.

Note: even though there used to be a regulation proposal to enable F1 cars to start themselves by using the electrical energy stored in the ERS system, the rule was later dropped, requiring the use of a starter motor that brings the crankshaft up to speed before firing up the engine.