With just a day and half of pre season testing left to go, HRT finally unveiled their 2011 car, the F111. Possibly the team with the least budget and smallest technical resources, their efforts to find a chassis partner in the past year have failed to deliver. Thus its been left to the teams Technical Director Geoff Willis to build up a design team to rework the 2010 F110 chassis into a 2011 legal car. Willis worked with Paul White, a designer with long F1 experience in both teams such as Jordan and Honda, as well a stints as a freelancer at Super Aguri. Construction of the car has been sub contracted to the usual range of F1 industry specialists. Then the cars then assembled at Kolles workshops in Germany (Greding, near Ingolstadt).
I had already been told by Colin Kolles that the car is based on the 2010 car, with the only major structure carried over being the top half of the monocoque. But visually the the car is a mix of new details and shapes from the old car.
Certainly the nose appears different at first. But the strakes, camera pods and the revised wing mounting pylons do a lot to disguise the overall shape, but the nose cone shape itself seems to have been carried over. Beneath is a front wing that is all new, the main plane is larger and the flaps are simpler being a pair of elements stacked above each other. The cascades are also new, which along with the endplates appear to be inspired by the Brawn BGP001, Paul White being a long time Honda designer, perhaps brought these ideas to the team.
In general monocoque shape and with it the roll hoop and front suspension are visually inseparable from the 2010 cars design. Equally the front brake duct design appears to be carried over. Aside the tub, the bargeboards are new, being quite tall pointed designs taking over from the smaller serrated versions. Then the sidepods are largely new, albeit with inlets similar to the F110, possibly due to the crash structures being in largely the same places. But the sidepods undercut is far more pronounced and the coke bottle shape, now much lower and sporting a low exit for the exhaust pipe. HRT maintained their periscope top exit pipes through out last year and never developed a blown diffuser.
Allowing the sidepods to be slimmer is a Red Bull style bulged exit above the gearbox. This also highlights the vestigial shark fin on the top of the engine cover.
At the tail a new rear wing is complete with new endplates and a central mounting pylon. This in turn shows that the rear impact structure has been redesigned to both accommodate the Williams 2010 gearbox, the wing mounting pylon and also the differing needs of a single diffuser over the 2010 double diffuser. No detail of the diffuser is clear as yet, but as the exhaust appears to be simply a set up to blow over the diffuser, the floor is not expected to hold any surprises.
As the car sports Williams gearbox technology and the gear case from 2010, the car is duty bound to have similar inboard suspension geometry and pushrod springdamper actuation. In order to package the new gearbox, HRT will have had to alter the rear suspension linkages and possibly the uprights. Being a well developed and contemporary aluminium cased gearbox, the Williams rear is likely to be lighter than the outgoing Xtrac gearbox. Although HRT did not specifically suffer with hydraulics unreliability last year. The Williams set up is also likely to be far more reliable and well package compared to the 2010 set up. This weight and design resource saving fro the Williams rear end will no doubt aid HRT in designing the rest of the car and getting down to the right weight distribution and still have the small amount of ballast to play with.
As with the Virgin who also run the Cosworth engine, no KERS is to be installed in the car. Thus these two teams use a slightly different spec of engine to Williams, whose engine is reconfigured slightly for the KERS installation.
In summary the upgrade to the car appears to be a logical and quite far ranging upgrade, possibly no less different year to year than other budget limited teams. it’s a surprising fact that although teams make th ePR headline that the car is all new and only something mundane like the wheel nuts are carried over. Most teams do in fact re-use a lot of componentry from older cars. Looking at their parts list for the current car will see model numbers for some parts dating back ten years.
In 2010 the HRT car kept pace with Lotus and Virgin through out the year, albeit still slower but the gap never increased significantly. While their rivals had many updates through the year, with big steps at Silverstone, HRT were able to develop the set up of the car to maintain the gap. Notwithstanding the discontinuity of drivers. A big update from a pair of respected engineers should allow HRT to keep up to the tail of the pack. However, testing suggests Lotus have made a larger step up the grid in pace than Virgin. It may be that HRT only have one team to fight with this year.