The new front wing has a functional design break with last year. Whereas last year the outer parts of the wing feature a very pronounced outwash tunnel immediately at the leading edge, sacrificing wing surface area to control the vortex underneath, the leading edge now is almost completely flat. This moves the vortex, which is critical for downforce production, more outboard towards the footplate. This will allow for more ground effect across the complete wingspan, but sacrifices airflow control further back at the car - normally. This year however the bargeboards have been enlarged and will for fill that role. Together with a big increase in rear downforce, the front wing will now put back emphasize on more downforce. The trailing edges feature flat bodywork at the tips to maximize airflow deflection away from the enlarged tyre.
Inboard the wing still follows last year's philosophy, with stacked element tips controlling the Y250 vortex. This area is a further evolution of the 2016 one introduced in the summer. This is logical as the quality of the airflow underneath the nose going to the splitter is still very important.
Further back the car we have the airbox/roll hoop area, where Sauber dug up a solution from the past: the "blade" roll hoop. The roll hoop and the airbox normally are one integral structural part, but with blade roll hoop the homologated structural part is minimized to the minimum regulatory proportions. Mercedes first used this solution back in 2010, which featured a very thin blade roll hoop. Fears for the car digging into the ground while upside down made the FIA enforced a much larger cross section and although Force India and Caterham used it in 2011, it did not get further used the years after that as it reduces the air "rammed" into the NA engines. However, with the turbo compressor this might be far less an issue. The advantages are more freedom in airbox shaping and more freedom during the season to change the airbox as it is no longer required to change the structural roll hoop. There are 4 additional air inlets beneath the airbox. These are most likely for oil and auxiliary cooling.
A bit lower we have the sidepods. Even though regulations allow the sidepods to be as wide as the floor, which is wider this year, sidepod width has stayed relative the same and the total size has even been brought down as they now are heavily undercut. There are 2 elements which made this possible: firstly, the extra inlets around the roll hoop, and secondly an increase wheelbase which allowed for internal parts to be shuffled around. This will allow more airflow to get over the floor in addition to the latter being wider. Sidepod turning vanes have been widened to utilize the increased regulatory allowed width, but otherwise are quite basic and are likely purposed for testing only.
At the rear, we have quite an old familiar piece of bodywork attached to the engine cover: a so called shark fin. Word has it that many more 2017 Formula One cars will feature this extension to the engine cover. With such a design, designers attempt to straighten airflow towards the rear wing while in yaw - cornering. We will discuss the shark fin in a separate article further.
The rear wing itself looks to utilize the maximum area. For now. Barcelona is one of the highest downforce circuits out there, but expect a lot of circuits to utilize rear wings with less AoA or being cambered. Its endplates are nothing out of ordinary, although they feature Toro Rosso-esque louvres.
Worth the mention is the diffuser which is clearly larger than last year's, thanks to the changed regulations that aim for increased downforce; It is a simple version yet again, possibly one of the earlier iterations of a design that complies with the rules, while the team is internally already developing a version that is much more developed. Not a single team will be keen to give anything away early on testing or even before Australia. Expect development in this area as well.
All in all, this is a very interesting cars with a couple of solutions from the past. This is the car you will see during testing to get mileage and data on, with further detailing to follow in the latter stages of the pre-season runs and in Australia.
There are still details being discovered on the car as we speak. Join the discussion in the car thread!