Formula One car development blog

Caterham debuts new nose cone

By on

It's a God's gift, Caterham's new nose cone on the CT05. While the visual appearance may not have been the top priority for the team in terms of aerodynamic development, the modified nose cone is a whole lot better looking that before. True, it could still be better, but such as the rules that strange looking noses are currently a good solution to keep airflow underneath the nose.

In any case, Caterham did not change much to the concept of its car, retaining the matte black cone that forms the front crash structure. Above that however is now a much more elegant structure, slightly rounded at the top and including a vanity panel to create a smooth, continuous upper surface towards the monocoque. With the team not modifying the front suspension, it's good to see how much higher the nose is around the upper wishbone, while at the bottom, at the connection point of the pull rod, the bodywork is more rounded.

Force India continues to switch between engine covers

By on

One month ago, at the Austrian Grand Prix, Force India introduced a major aerodynamic upgrade package on its VJM07, including a modified nose cone and different bodywork around the engine and exhaust. The difference is obvious around the "Claro" logo when comparing the Canadian specification to the car running at Silverstone. Tighter packaging is an obvious aerodynamic advantage and proved possible even while retaining the location of the oil cooler above the exhaust pipe, fed by the secondary airbox inlet.

In the German GP weekend, the team pushed on in this direction, now relocating the oil cooler to the sidepods, ditching the secondary inlet, reducing the volume of the car's upper bodywork even further. It is unconfirmed to me what exactly was not perfectly right with this package, but it may very well be that the shift of internal components did show an issue that needed to be resolved before racing it. In any case, at the German GP, the VJM07 was equipped with a rather strange combination of designs, featuring the Silverstone engine cover but with the secondary inlet closed off, possibly relying on internal airflow to provide sufficient air towards the oil cooler.

It is obvious this was a sub-optimal solution, and at Hungary, the team turned up with its Silverstone configuration once again, leaving the secondary inlet open to feed the oil cooler. It is probably safe to assume that the team will continue to try different configurations, especially given the high speed nature of upcoming races at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Williams revives shark gills for cooling

By on

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).

McLaren backtracks on suspension blockers

By on

Along with its brand new front wing, brake duct modifications and floor edge updates, McLaren changed the configuration of the rear of its MP4-29 in Austria. A new diffuser was part of the car's aerodynamic upgrade package, featuring different curves at the outer extremities, allowing for a little more expansion in the diffuser. The winglet sloping around the edge of the diffuser has now been cut back, making it a very similar configuration to the diffuser that the team ran in the races before the Spanish GP.

McLaren have also, for the first time this season, raced its cars with blockers only attached on the lower track rods, making for 2 blockers contrary to 4 and thus virtually cutting their butterfly suspension in half. The team experimented with this layout in free practice in Canada but went on to race with the fully blocking suspension arms. This likely means that McLaren have finally found some additional rear downforce, making the upper and highly draggy blockers unneeded. It will be interesting to see if McLaren retains this layout for the next races, and even if or when they will decide to drop the lower blockers as well.

Finally, also marked in the image are a number of paired, converging strakes added in the central part of the diffuser. Each pair will create two counter rotating vortices, energising the air in this area of the diffuser. This particular design is more or less copy paste from Red Bull Racing, and so we may expect to see them appear on more cars as the season progresses.

New sidepods just the beginning for Toro Rosso

By on

Toro Rosso have introduced new sidepods on their STR9, removing the curvature on top of the sidepod in favour of a new, more gradual slope towards the rear suspension. Looking from the back of the car it is obvious what the team have tried to achieve as the hot air exits are now closer to the floor, converging towards a design used by Red Bull and Mercedes AMG. In fact, more and more teams are going this direction as Force India had a similar sidepod update, leaving McLaren to be the only team left with outlets alongside the exhaust pipe.

The move may also have allowed the team to relocate some sidepod internals further down to lower the car's centre of gravity, but thus far the team have not confirmed this.

Also note that the monkey seat above the exhaust pipe as seen in Austria is nothing new and featured on the car at Monaco as well. It seems it was only dropped for Canada due to that circuit's lower downforce requirements.

Despite this looking like a big update, the team's Technical Director James Key noted handily that the updates are a start of a series with more to come at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

McLaren introduces shapely new front wing

By on

As part of a fairly large aerodynamic update for its MP4-29, McLaren have introduce a long overdue front wing update, getting rid of the rather bulky previous design that looked dated in comparison to items seen on front running cars.

The new front wing only appears to have the leading edge of the base plane and parts of the endplates in common with its predecessor, but other than that everything is new. Still a three-element wing, the insides of the flaps have considerably changed, featuring an increased opening in between the second and third element.

At the inner edges of the flaps, minor profile changes are now more pronounced, designed as such to impact airflow downstream, rather than being aimed at local downforce generation.

Also marked are the new stacked elements, now smaller but flanked by a standing panel similar to what can be seen on the Mercedes AMG F1W05. This acts to direct airflow outboard while generating a counter clockwise rotating vortex onto the inside of the front wheels. Hence it is no surprise that McLaren's update also included minor updates to the brake ducts as well as a different profile of the floor left and right of the car.

Force India tweaks front wing design

By on

Sahara Force India have introduced a considerably aerodynamic upgrade for its VJM07 at Austria, including several front wing tweaks. As indicated in the image comparison, the front wing endplates now have one additional separate turning vane in an attempt to get more airflow outboard of the front wheels. The underside of the endplates have also slightly changed, dropping an edgy curve in favour or a nicely rounded profile.

Interestingly, the team have also opted to move the attachment points of the front wing forward, requiring a modification of the front wing pillars. It's no secret that the pillars are important to manage airflow underneath the nose, but in this case it looks like the mounting points have been redesigned for additional stability of the front wing. The wing is fixed by two titanium screws on each pillar, and imagery has shown the screws are now farther away from the other as well, reducing the possibility for the wing to rotate - albeit marginally - under load. Contrary to what it may look like, the team did not modify the nose cone and only the pillars were redesigned to connect to the front wing about 5cm more forward.

Note that the team also added a winglet above the front wheel brake ducts, most likely to create a vortex that will influence airflow onto and around the sidepod further downstream.

Ferrari trial revised bodywork

By on

Ferrari have introduced a considerable upgrade package for their F14 T in Montreal, including a new floor and this more apparent new bodywork. Fernando Alonso was seen on track with the new bodywork layout while at the same time Kimi Raikkonen ran with the older configuration, allowing the team to do immediate comparisons in the pitlane and back in Maranello.

The update includes the removal of the air outlet around the exhaust, allowing for sleeker upper bodywork. The tradeoff are slighly larger outlets across the suspension arms, which interestingly extend further back as well, similar to Red Bull's layout and following the change that Mercedes did in Spain as well. Along with the modifications is a different sidepod panel as well with in particular a modified horizontal element.

The problem for Ferrari though is that they have considerable difficulty in determining what works on the car and what doesn't. On Friday evening, Alonso already mentioned that of all the new aerodynamic parts introduced, only the new floor is a certain improvement. This, combined with the knowledge of higher ambient temperatures on Sunday's race, the team opted not to race the new bodywork, instead aiming for another go at the next race.

Also interesting is that Ferrari are back at using their twin pillar rear wing. Both Ferrari's raced with a single pillar mounting and an additional monkey seat in Spain and Monaco but have opted for the old layout again at Montreal.

Red Bull follows FIA request to adapt camera mountings

By on

Red Bull Racing have finally had to abandon their camera mounts inside the nose cone after the FIA requested a modification. It appears that FOM was not all that happy about Red Bull's layout, making it impossible to have a sideways or rear facing camera within the mounting. After the front facing view was found insufficient as well, Red Bull already made a modification to the camera aperture in Spain, but have now had to abandon the layout.

Instead, the RB10 now features "traditional" mountings with a curved connection between the black FOM camera hubs and the nose to be able to locate the cameras in their mandatory position.

Ferrari's new Spanish rear wing assembly

By on

In an attempt to resolve its unstable rear end, Ferrari introduced a new rear wing assembly in the Spanish Grand Prix, following comparison tests during Friday's FP1 with the older twin pillar layout. On Saturday, both cars featured the displayed single pillar rear wing, a design including a curve around the exhaust pipe and a single, central pillar to provide support to the rear wing.

Ferrari previously ran two pillars with fairly long chords connecting to the bottom of the rear wing base plane. In a straight line with a head on wing there isn't much of an issue, but with crosswinds or when the car is in yaw, the pillars were blocking airflow, a particularly unwanted effect on the low pressure side of the wing as it creates turbulence where the pillars meet the horizontal plane and hence also reduced downforce. Instead, the new design has a small swan neck attachment on the upper side of the rear wing and a much smaller chord, similar to Red Bull's single pillar mounting.

Along with this change, the team also had new rear wing endplates with curved louvres that provide a seamless attachment to the movable flap of the rear wing. It's a tiny change, but one that could help the flow reattach to the rear wing once the DRS flap is closed again. It's not clear whether that was or is still an issue with the F14 T, but it certainly has been at several teams in the past.

Following the Spanish Grand Prix, both drivers noted there was a notable improvement on the car, but with both struggling with oversteer, tyre wear and traction, the problems with the car are still far from over.