Technical updates from Abu Dhabi

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

F1 teams used the practice sessions of the last GP of 2016 which took place in Abu Dhabi as test sessions as they have been doing for the last weeks. 360-degree cameras, brake ducts, blown axles, the aerodynamic influence of the 'halo' head protections system were all on the agenda as teams approached the last on-track opportunities of the season.

Ferrari tested a new brake cooling system at the rear of the car. The new brake ducts have a slim, tight intake. According to the technical regulation, the ducts which point forwards cannot exceed the front edge of the rear tyres. Ferrari’s new solution reaches completely the limit.

McLaren-Honda continued its experiments around the front brake ducts which it started in Brazil two weeks ago. It brought a new version of the open front axle. It was originally pioneered by Red Bull. The blown axle is an aerodynamic trick. Air is led through the brake duct which exits at the outer section of the axle. It works in harmony with the front wing. This “cooperation” aims to move turbulences generated by the rotating front wheels away from the car. It raises the drag, but it helps the rear of the vehicle. However, next year’s wider tyres will produce even more drag which can mean blown front axle won’t appear anymore or maximum on a couple of tracks.

A small part reminiscent of a tennis ball made appearance on a few cars. It wasn’t an aerodynamic development, it was a new device which should improve the quality of the broadcast in the future. The device which is a product of the Fly360 company is a 360-degree camera. This unique device is able to produce spectacle on-boards shots and it is especially interesting at race starts or during close battles. It has already conquered other motorsport series. F1 now seems to make up for its deficit in that technological area and a special applicaton for smart phones is also being developed for the device to maximize its potential.

A couple of teams trialled the head-protection system, the “halo”again in Abu Dhabi. Although it won’t be introduced in 2017, teams are collecting data about the influence of the system on the cooling of the cars. Previous trials concentrated mainly on how the new device influences the visibility of the drivers. During the final race weekend of the year, teams started the evaluate the aerodynamic impact of system. Ferrari ran with Vettel for a couple of race-speed laps which was the first trial of such kind after Nico Rosberg’s full-speed run in Belgium back in August. The system is placed in a critical area in aerodynamic means as it crosses the section where air flows up into the upper air intake. Toro Rosso mounted a few pressure sensors around that area to check the distraction.