Formula One car development blog

Engine cover design philosophy: Ferrari vs Mercedes

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Where the Ferrari F1-75 and the Mercedes W13 were already vastly different beast when it came to sidepod design, their 2023 contenders are even more contrasting.

Taking a quick look at the way they have approached the airbox and engine cover design it is clear that Ferrari's SF-23 has a very slim, triangular airbox that rapidly converges in the flat, black vertical panel required to meet the minimum surface regulations. The bodywork at the back is so closely packaged that you can vi... Read more

Moving components into the car's centreline to slim sidepods

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A clear trend that has been going on even before the current set of regulations is for teams to move components closer towards the car's centreline. This trade-off has everything to do with an attempt to aerodynamically optimise the sidepods. Since most teams now agree the latter need to feature a downward slope towards the rear, components needs to be put elsewhere.

Alpine's A523 is no different and also follows the 2023 trend of further enlarging the car's shoulders to guide hot a... Read more

Mercedes reveal dramatic sidepod redesign at Bahrain test

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Mercedes's F1 W13 car at today's Bahrain pre-season test turned out to be a different beast compared to what the team tested at Barcelona two weeks ago. The team have made it a tradition to use an early version of the development to test first before introducing the latest and greatest aerodynamic developments in the final test before the season kicks off. Eyes turned when the car was revealed with a major development of the sidepods and floor.

Though the BCN iteration already featu... Read more

A closer look at Red Bull's high downforce rear end

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Red Bull Racing have once again produced a very interesting car with its RB18, a car that was well hidden until it his the track today at Barcelona. Apart from its particular sidepod shape, the rear end boasts some significant details in an uncharacteristically high downforce set-up, especially compared to what Ferrari is testing on day 1 at Barcelona.

The RB18 for instance features sidepods that slope down, creating a ramp for airflow to continue over the diffuser. While some other... Read more

Ferrari F1 75 sidepods validated through CFD

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Ferrari have gone radical in their approach to this year's F1 75 contender, not least by the design of their sidepods that are very unlike anything else seen so far. A dented upper surface and a flat sidewall are its most intricate details that quickly triggered the aerodynamicists' interest. To validate Ferrari's approach and stop guessing in the dark, forum and F1T team member Vanja#66 made a new car model and ran some CFD analysis, with surprising results!

It is clear that Ferrar... Read more

Red Bull joins louvre sidepod panel trend

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The second week of pre-season testing at Barcelona saw Red Bull Racing bring a fairly considerable aerodynamic update to its RB16, featuring detail changes on the front wing and the diffuser. The most obvious change was however the change in the barge boards where the team have now joined Mercedes and Ferrari in having louvres as sidepod panels, instead of only vertical deflectors.

The new design, at least in this area, is very similar to that from Mercedes with a number of flaps pu... Read more

Alfa adds fins around S-duct

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The Alfa Romeo team have fitted their C38 with a set of additional fins on the upper edges of the monocoque. Attached to the panel that covers the upper front suspension elements, there are 4 vertical fins on the left and right sides of the S-duct exit.

Just like the fins that Mercedes added, they direct airflow outboard, helping extraction of air out of the S-duct.

The image also reveals how the panel isn't really a great fit onto the monocoque, and even worse so against the nose c... Read more

New sidepod shape part of Melbourne package for W10

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Mercedes have drawn most of the attention to them at today's testing, thanks to having an upgrade package "that leaves not a single aerodynamic element unchanged".

Indeed, the updates are extensive, and reaching a lot further than the nose and front wing changes we mentioned earlier on.

Perhaps the most obvious change are the sidepods, which are a step away from Mercedes' traditional sidepod design. In fact, the new shape seems highly influenced by a design trait of recent Adrian Ne... Read more

Mercedes introduce new nose and front wing

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Mercedes have kicked off the second week of testing at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona by adding a new front end to their W10. Having struggled with front end grip during the first 4 days of testing, the upgrades will come as a welcome addition to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

As another evolutionary step in Mercedes unique thin nose cone, the team have further narrowed the nose and added some sculpting to improve airflow underneath and over the nose cape that managed airflow ... Read more

Mercedes W10 rear wing airflow explained with flow-viz

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Testing usually sees teams apply flowviz paint on their cars to visualize airflow on certain car elements. They do so to verify the findings from the windtunnel and detect any unwanted effect that was not simulated.

So did Mercedes, revealing airflow on the suction surface of the rear wing and its endplates (flows D and E).

It is clear in the image that airflow has drawn straight lines onto the suction surface of the main flap. This shows perfect laminar flow, as one would expect w... Read more