Technical news - Brazilian GP weekend

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

Formula 1 assembled in Brazil to hold its second-to-last round, the Brazilian Grand Prix. The season is edging closer to its end, but teams are still working diligently on their developments which could give ideas regarding the design of the 2018 concepts.

Red Bull without T-wing

Red Bull decided to dismantle the T-wing from its cars for Friday. The energy drink company-owned team was the only team to go that route.

The T-wing made its (re)appearance in Formula One this year after the sweeping aerodynamic changes gave a bigger volume for the engineers to work with. The T-wing is a cambered aero foil and creates downforce which is passed down through the shark fin. However, these gains do not come for free, the T-wing will add drag, so the teams have to weigh up if the extra load is worth the drop in top speed.

This additional wings became so effective through the year that teams use them on most of the tracks regardless the layout. However, for track dominated by long straights, most of the teams have a ‘trimmed’ version of the T-wing to reduce the drag and hence the loss of top speed.

As teams agreed that the T-wing should be dropped for next year, it is possible Red Bull only wanted to carry out measurements without the element attached to get a more precise picture how the loss of the addition downforce affects the car.

New gearboxes for eight drivers

Eights drivers will contest at the Brazilian GP weekend with a new gearbox. Esteban Ocon, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Pascal Wehrlein used their previous gearboxes for six consecutive events which allows them to use a fresh one for the remainder of the weekend which should be the one which will work in their car in the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP as well.
Daniel Ricciardo, Brendon Hartely, Carlos Sainz and Marcus Ericsson did not finish the previous Mexico Grand Prix which meant they were free to get a new gearbox installed in their cars.

Ricciardo with another penalty

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will be given yet another grid penalty. The Perth native 28-year-old driver was sent back on the grid by 20 places in the previous round in Mexico after multiple power unit components had to be changed in his car.

As his fresh MGU-H was dogged by reliability issues after approximately 30km at the Autosromo Hermanos Rodriguez track, Renault had to install another new unit to the Red Bull RB13 which triggered a ten-place grid drop. It means Ricciardo can start the race from the 11th at best even if he manages to snatch the pole position.

Vandoorne gets the latest aero updates

McLaren-Honda equipped its second car with the aerodynamic updates it has recently introduced. Fernando Alonso tried out a new version of front wing during the American Grand Prix and continued to use that in the following Mexican race.

The new wing features two cuts, slits on the inner section of the front wing, right at the border of the Y250 area. Two other cuts were also added to the outer section of the vanes. All four cuts aim at managing the dirty weak of the rotating front tyres. These vortex generators increase the drag, but they can very effectively drive, push the turbulent air away coming off the front tyres.

The Peter Prodomou-led technical group managed to produce further exemplars from the front wing which meant the team’s Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne could also start exploiting the benefits of the latest technical upgrade.

Changes to the track

This year, race promoters have had to carry out multiple changes to the circuits. This was the result of the sweeping technical changes for this year which triggered the increase of cornering speed. FIA’s technical delegate Charlie Whiting has strictly demanded safety changes to every circuit to ensure the tracks can accommodate the cars which much higher loads.

For the Brazilian track, the following changes were carried out:

The apex areas of turns 2 and 12 have been resurfaced. Additional grooving of the track has been carried out in places where water was accumulating the most during the race last year, notably in turns 2, 3, 12, 13, 14 and 15. In order to ensure that the grip of the track is more consistent it has been cleaned twice with very high pressure water. ‘Sausage’ kerb elements have been installed behind the existing kerbs on the apex of turns 2, 4, 8 and 10. Additional tyre barriers have been installed in parts of the barriers at turns 1, 6, 7, 8 and 10.