Formula One car development blog

Where has the simplicity of the front wing gone?

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One of the aims of last year's aerodynamic regulation changes was to reduce the interest in aerodynamic developing by limiting the possible development areas, including the front wing. The problem with F1 designers and their teams is that they live for every single tenth, and hence rather then stepping back, a regulation change empowers them to look for other solutions.

Red Bull's RB6 front wing for instance is a development of the RB5 front wing. While Newey traditionally designed cars with simple front wing endplates, they team have taken it so far that the endplates now feature curves and double venting holes.

The wing itself now features 2 slot gaps, the lower one certainly inspired by McLaren's front wing of 2008. The stacked element still consist of 2 combined small wings, providing a better solution for this car than the curvaceous designs that Renault or McLaren have come up with.

One wonders how a front wing can become even more exotic...

Force India use new sidepod panel

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Force India VJM03 had its sidepod panels revised at Barcelona. The revised panels had a larger cut on their top rear end to let more air bleed between the panel and sidepod, aiming mainly to drag reduction. Moreover a small winglet was added lower on the panel to improve airflow towards the rear sides of the car. The VJM03 retained these revised panels for Bahrain Grand Prix.

Thanks to bar555

Any cooling opening will do in the desert

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BMW Sauber already had louvers last year in this area, and this time around it's Force India and McLaren that have extended on this concept. At both teams, the car is fitted with an extra cooling opening on both sides of the cockpit. Just like at McLaren, it's an open outlet with the sides covered with shark gills.

The cooling elements' position is strictly defined by the regulations, as anything farther away from the centre of the car is bound to be a continuous shape, hence not allow a hot air exhaust.

An extra wing to get more downforce

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Lotus are currently restraining themselves to develop a traditional aero package without taking too much risks. Because the team has quite some catching up to do, copying other solutions is the easiest and quickest way to move forward.

The new Bahrain package includes a new front wing with an additional central element, copied from previous Toyota and BMW Sauber cars. Only in the central 15cm of the rear wing, it is allowed to have more than 2 elements in the rear wing, and so an additional element is added to create drag or generally increase the efficiency of the rear wing in that area.

Additionally, an extra slot gap is added in the lower element of the wing to prevent the lower airflow to detach from the wing elements at higher speeds - or steeper angles of attack.

A closer look onto Toyota's diffuser

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Toyota look to be back where they were early on in the season, close to the front runners. After a mid-season struggle, the team introduced several updates that shaved a few tenths off the car's pace. Currently, Toyota's TF109 is running with a double deck diffuser much alike that of Brawn or McLaren with a downward bend in the centre. Previously the double deck diffuser had a design similar to Williams' initial design, but the Japanese team quickly understood the advantages of the improved concept once other teams came around to race with it.

Interesting is also the bottom end of the rear wing endplates. It basically is an improved version of Red Bull's long endplates, adding small openings and curves to extract air from the inside of the panel to the outside, hence adding downforce. The outside of the diffuser also features a small winglet, pushing air up just like the diffuser pulls it up.

Finally, also marked with an arrow is the position of the lower wing element of the rear wing. Toyota modified the rear end of the car to allow a free airstream under the wing, a concept the Red Bull RB5 featured already at the Australian GP.

Red Bull design new diffuser for RB5

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Red Bull Racing have brought another aerodynamic step to its car at Singapore, and most notably that includes a new diffuser. The new design has changed mostly in the centre part of the car, around the double decked area. Where the older version focused on speeding up air on the lower channel, the new iteration has a bigger central channel around the crash structure to profit more of the DDD design. The central part is now very similar to the Renault or Brawn diffusers.

One detail marked in the image however are two small pointy extensions on both sides of the diffuser. Red Bull carefully copied that from McLaren and clearly found the additions efficient enough to use them.

They finally made it, a real front wing endplate

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Ever since the beginning of the season, actually even during winter testing, BMW Sauber have been running extremely bulky and simple front wing endplates. At first we thought they were just for testing purposes, but the items stayed there far too long, until the Singapore GP.

There, the F1.09 was raced with a far more complex endplate, much resembling the Brawn GP and Force India versions. The combination of two panels with a separate vertical element to support the stacked elements helps divert air around the front wheels while not spilling too much air flowing over the top of the wing.

A particular shark fin on the Force India

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Force India is clearly not standing still after their recent successes at Spa and Monza. At Singapore, the team introduced a shark fin, replacing the car's conventional engine cover used throughout the season so far.

The new fin connects to the rear wing, just like at Red Bull, although Force India's version features a large opening ahead of the rear wing to control its unfluence when the car is under yaw. The change immediately appears to have made the stacked centre of the rear wing obsolete, an item that was used at Valencia to increase downforce.

McLaren continue use of extended sidepod panel

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Already used in Belgium, McLaren have continued the use of their new extended sidepod panel at Monza. Before the event at Spa-Francorchamps, McLaren were basically the only team who did have a sidepod panel that was not attached to the car's floor.

Brawn also recently switched to this design type as it offers better rear end stability of the car. Since they have used it also at higher downforce circuits, it is expected that McLaren's design is not only for low downforce configurations of their car either.

Force India revise sidepod panel

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Along with their aerodynamic update at the European GP in Valencia, Force India introduced an updated version of their sidepod panel. More specifically at the top end of the panel, airflow is now possible in between the fence and the sidepod's shell. Previously, this area was part shaped as a splitter to divert air around it.

The new version helps Force India to reduce the car's drag, while the little winglet lower down on the panel still helps downforce at the rear by creating a high energy vortex. A similar vortex generator can be found on Toyota's car.