Monaco is a unique venue, not just for the layout of the circuit, but also the pit lane facilities provided to the teams. With no space for a conventional paddock and pit building, the teams park their transporters away from the small pit garages. Thus parts have to be ferried in-between the trucks and the pit, as well as parts being stored in the upper floor of the pit facility. Luckily for F1s technical observers, this presents an opportunity to see parts not normally exhibited in front of fans. Just such an opportunity presented itself to Jean Baptiste (@jeanbaptiste76) who saw Mark Webbers floor being lifted up to the mezzanine, through the crowd he was able to a quick photo of the entire assembly. From a single picture we have been to gather a lot of info on the design of Red Bulls floor. We’ve confirmed where the exhaust blows, how the trailing edge forms a flap and exclusively how the starter motor hole is blown by ducts in the upper floor. There also a wealth of detail not normally visible, although not unique to Red bull, seeing this detail is a rare treat.
Firstly we can see that this is a floor that has been run on the car, evident by the burns and dirt generated to what would otherwise be pristine black and silver floor. I suspect this is a floor assembly used for free practice, as the floor ahead of the rear tyres still sports the tyre temperature sensors. These are not typically run from qualifying onwards.
We can also see that the floor is in one complete piece, which is unusual. Normally the front t-tray splitter section is removable. Perhaps with the front splitter being lighter this season, it no longer formed of a large piece of ballast, making having a one piece floor more convenient. Plus the new more stringent splitter deflection tests are probably easier overcome with a single structural assembly, rather than two assemblies bolted to the car. Plus we can see the front bargeboards are a permanent fitment to the floor, whilst the sidepod fins are unbolted from the floor and remain attached to the sidepod fronts.
We’ve seen many pictures of the Red bull exhaust system, how it curls down to pass the exhaust along the floor towards the outer 5cm of floor aside the rear tyres. Obviously no exhausts are fitted to the floor, but the general heat protection within the engine bay appears a coating applied to the carbon floor (most likely Zircotech). Additional local heat protection is provided with separate heat shields and gold reflective sheet, under the exhaust area. The exhausts then run out of the engine bay and along the floor. Again reflective coating is used on the bare floor beneath.
We can then see the exhaust exits to the edge of the tyre decks 9the small section of floor between the tyre and diffuser. This area is extensively cut away and the edge of the floor is a metallic part which curls up to encourage the exhaust to pass beneath the floor and into the diffuser. We have seen from pre-season (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/red-bull-rb7-open-fronted-exhaust-blown-diffuser/) that the exhaust curls up into the outer top half of the diffuser, further proven by the additional heat protective coating applied in this area. Recent pictures of the Ferrari being craned away in Spain, show that Ferrari do not shape the floor to encourage as exhaust flow to pass under the floor, McLaren are also more similar to Ferrari than Red bull in this regard. As of Monaco 2011, Red Bull were the only team to passing the exhaust flow under the outer edges of the floor towards the diffuser.
Trailing edge flap
Red Bull switched to a revised diffuser at the Chinese GP, this exploited a new treatment to the top trailing edge of the diffuser. Rather than a simple Gurney, the team formed a flap above the trailing edge in-between the rear wing endplates. This was not a new feature in F1, Toro Rosso launched their car with just such a flap and historically many cars have sported the detached gurneys of flaps. The Arrows cars in the 2000s sported just such devices. Completely legal, these simple aerofoil sections of bodywork, sit within the allowable area for bodywork at the rear of the car. Much like the gurney, these devices aim to use the high pressure air moving over the diffuser to create a low pressure region above the diffuser exit, to drive more flow out of the diffuser beneath. Effectively making the diffusers exit area larger than a simple exit.
Blown starter hole
What’s most interesting from Jean Baptistes picture are the two ducts set into the floor ahead of the diffuser. Looking closer we can see these two inlets, lead to ducts that pass inside the engine bay and either side of the starter motor tube. The starter motor hole in the boat-tail of the diffuser is a wide slot, so I believe these ducts blow the starter motor slot. Until other teams cottoned on to Newey’s exploitation of the outer 5cm of floor, most teams pointed their exhausts towards the Starter Motor Hole (SMH), as a way of using the high velocity exhaust gas, to drive more flow through the diffuser and thus create lower pressure for more downforce. With Newey’s outer blown diffuser he could not exploit the large SMH with his exhausts, so this solution allows him to exhaust-blow the diffuser and passively-blow the SMH. By passive-blowing, I mean the exhaust is not used to blow the SMH, but simply the normal airflow over the car. Of course the effect of this passive blowing is dependant on the airflow approaching the ducts inlets. The RB7 has all enclosing bodywork around the gearbox and floor. So airflow could not directly lead to the SMH. So Newey has had to duct flow to this area. It’s unlikely that the flow arriving at these ducts is that powerful, having had to pass around the sidepods and over the fairings covering the exhausts. This is likely to be a small aero gain, albeit one that other teams with similar gearbox fairings could employ. Should the engine mapping ban make the outer blown diffuser solution too sensitive to throttle position, then this duct could receive the exhaust flow to still provide a degree of blown diffuser.
Away from the unique Red Bull features, the floor exhibits a lot of standard practice for contemporary F1 floors. In Red Bulls case the floor completely encloses the underneath of the car, only a small open section in the t-tray splitter is open. This opening will be enclosed when the plank is fitted to the car. There’s probably a matching section of ballast attached under the chassis that fits in the hole, allowing the ballast to sit a precious few millimetres closer the ground.
With other teams more sections of the floor above the plank are open, and in some cases the base of the monocoque also forms the floor, so the removable floor section has even larger openings.
The area forming the front lower leading edge of the floor also has to house the Side Impact Tubes (SITs). Clearly with a one piece floor like this, the floor cannot be removed with the SITs still attached to the monocoque. Many teams have the SITs removed with the floor, by unbolting them at the side of the monocoque. This would appear to be the case the RB7 floor. Although not visible in this photo, presumably the removed SITs remain with the car, so possibly this floor is being changed, rather than stored temporarily for refitting.
Such is the tight packaging of the area within the sidepods; space for electronic boxes is limited. We can see a small black box and loom within the enclosed section of floor. Just to the rear of this there appears to be a blue-grey square set into the floor. This is probably a transparent window for sensors to project through, most likely the ride height sensors. Normally three are fitted, one to the left one the right and another at the front or rear, these three ride heights can be extrapolated to provide the engineer with the cars attitude to the track.
There is also a reasonable amount of wiring loomed around different areas of the floor. When wiring was seen dangling from Vettels front wing mounts earlier this year, people were quick to assume, this related to wing flex. But instead a lot of the car is instrumented, both for data acquisition but also troubleshooting during the race. In the case of the floor, two measurements are commonly taken, pressure and temperature. Pressure sensors log the pressure beneath the floor, should a car suffer damage in the race, the team can tell from the telemetry if a change in pressure readings are likely to cause handling problems. Equally teams have been known to fit temperature sensors the titanium fasteners holding the plank to the chassis. If these skid blocks, ground too frequently they will heat up. This delta in temperature will alert the team that the plank might be suffering undue wear and cause legality problems in scrutineering.
More pictures from @Jeanbaptiste76