Ferrari F14T launch analysis

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The most obvious difference is of course the nose cone that is now lower. In fact, Ferrari had the highest nose cone of any car during 2013, hence for the Italian team it was a big step to come up with a new design that would retain the benefits of a high nose as much as possible. Contrary to Williams, McLaren and possible Force India (although they only released a side view image of the nose), the team opted to have a wide but thin measured section within the nose.

To comply with Article 15.4.3 of the Technical Regulations, the cross section of the nose, 50mm behind the tip, must be larger than 9000mm². As outlined in the regulations preview, this section can therefore be a rectangle of 9 by 10 centimeters, or otherwise one that is 15cm wide and just 6cm high. Ferrari have clearly chosen to have a wide section, creating a fairly flat top of the nose, rather than a bulge that sticks out ahead of the front wing.

The proximity of this nose also creates a venturi with the front wing itself, attempting to speed up airflow underneath the nose cone. As this will reduce pressure, it will generate downforce. This effect will also induce airflow from higher pressure areas to underneath the nose, again something that is beneficial as teams are still aiming to get as much air as possible towards the floor to help the diffuser. The rounded edges of the upper side of the nose suggest Ferrari is indeed trying to make this happen.

Extending ahead of the nose cone is the front wing which in its launch version is relatively simple. Gone are the 7 elements just ahead of the front wheels whereas the front wing endplate is a rather simple design that appears to have been copied from 2013. We may expect a different design soon, perhaps as early as next week when the Jerez test begins.

To optimise airflow underneath the car, Ferrari have retained a very high monocoque that only slightly tapers down at the front to meet the regulations and to create a smooth join to the detachable nose cone. This design has enabled Ferrari to retain its front pull rod suspension. In fact, the team have been very careful of making too many modifications to this front suspension, seeing that the geometry of the wishbones is still very much the same. This includes sloping wishbones, one pushrod sloping up towards the wheel and the steering arm that is positions underneath the upper frontal wishbone. Leaving this largely unchanged will have provided the team with an advantage, as it is just one variable less to take into account when analysing aerodynamic performance.

Further to the back is of course the new power unit that requires slightly bulkier sidepods to house all components and provide sufficient cooling. In Ferrari's case however, and much against expectations, cooling inlets all over the car are small and few. The sidepod inlets for instance have hardly grown compared to the Ferrari F138 whereas the airbox that now feeds the turbo has become slightly smaller and less rounded. The second inlet just behind the roll hoop of the F138, used to cool gearbox oil is not present on the launched F14T even though it is unclear if this will remain the case once the car hits the track. The launched F14T did however feature two very small inlets a bit further downstream on the airbox. These are unlikely to get more air than the previous version, but they do offer the advantage of not getting air away from the rear wing.

It is indeed very strange to see such small cooling apertures, knowing that the previous Ferrari V8 engines were never known for their thermal efficiency, requiring quite a bit more cooling than the Renault engines V8 engines. It may of course be that Ferrari put a lot of time in that for their new engines, but it remains to be seen whether this configuration will be feasible on track.

Looking at the side of the car, it also looks like Ferrari got rid of their standing radiators and moved to a design where the radiator leans forward within the sidepod. In 2013 Ferrari chose this option to have a very sharp coke bottle shape close to the floor of the car. This year, it is obvious the highest point of the sidepod is more forward, allowing for a more gradual slope of the upper side of the sidepods.

Just ahead of that highest sidepod point is a fairly developed pod vane that reaches over the shoulder of the sidepod. The team debuted a similar design towards the end of 2013 and have continued to go that route to manage the flow over the sidepod and onto the upper side of the diffuser.

Further towards the rear, the undercut is still there, but not as gradual as was possible on the F138. Instead, there is a fairly sharp twist in the bodywork of the sidepods down close to the floor. Even though this will have been tested thoroughly in the windtunnel (Ferrari is using its own windtunnel again after renovation works that took more than a year), it still looks fairly sharp and may result in some flow separation at high speeds.

With the single exhaust now positioned in between two curved rear wing pylons that help guide exhaust flow while supporting the rear wing, the sidepods are narrower at the rear as well even though the team retains its approach of having hot air outlets spread around a large area between the rear wheels. Other teams like McLaren or Red Bull in previous years have focused on blowing this air out as close as possible to the car's centreline.

Finally a word on the rear suspension which in itself is also fairly similar as on the F138. The frontal upper wishbone does now connect a bit further back to the car, replacing the very long wishbone that was present on the 2013 Ferrari. The driveshaft meanwhile is still being hidden behind the lower wishbone for aerodynamic reasons, a feature first used by Red Bull Racing in 2012.