Since its introduction in 2010 the Drag Reduction System (DRS) has gone through a series of evolutions in how the team actuate the movable rear wing flap. Having replaced the adjustable front flap, teams have all switched to hydraulics to power the opening of the flap, where as the front flap angle system introduced in 2009 was commonly achieved with electric motors and only a few teams employed hydraulics.
KERS has been in F1 since 2009, the system recovers energy under braking and allows the driver a boost in engine power each lap. However the FIA imposed strict limits on the amount of energy that can be recovered and discharged each lap. Which has often raised the question how do they control this usage and ensure teams are sticking to the rules? This sensor from Isabellenhütte Heusler has been introduced by the FIA this year to ensure exactly this.
It’s rare a technical development passes without anyone noticing and of all teams its surprising Red Bull pulled off that trick in the past few races. As they were seen to have a Mercedes-like Double DRS (DDRS) system in use in Japan. It transpires the system was track tested in practice at Monza and raced in Singapore. Part of the secret of the Red Bull DDRS is that the system is wholly contained within the rear wing. Only the plate over the end of the rear wing flap gave away the systems existence. With this system Red Bull are able to shed even more drag when DRS is open, thus giving them a top speed advantage in qualifying and when DRS can be used in the race.
Sauber have been a leader in aerodynamics this year, with the C30 gaining many compliments from other F1 engineers. With revisions to their front wing this weekend In Japan, it seems good time to delve a little deeper into the complex design of the wing. Their current wing dates back to the Spanish GP and has several features unlike any other on the grid. In Japan the wing gained a new winglet added to the cascades and a small change to the main endplate/
From being in a situation where there car has had only minor updates for several races, the Mercedes development curve has gone vertical during the course of the Magny Cours Young Driver Test (YDT). While their new exhaust solution and Drag Reduction Device were both logical development directions, the reinvention of the shark fin has come as a surprise. On the last day of testing the W03 was seen with both the new exhaust system and the truncated shark fin, this is the first such fin to be seen on a car this year.
Amidst the other updates and wet weather at the Belgian Grand Prix, one small detail that I tweeted about went largely unnoticed by the main stream press, Mercedes AMG ran a Lotus-style Drag Reduction Device. The additional ductwork emerging from the engine cover routed up to the rear wing and back to beam wing, apes the Lotus device. This device was run again in the Young Driver Test (YDT) this week and closer images show the device departs from the Lotus design in the way it blows the rear wing to stall the airflow.
After 13 races of the 2012 F1 season, Mercedes AMG have finally followed the trend of side exiting exhausts to blow the diffuser area. After low placed exhausts were banned for 2012, each of the top teams found methods to coerce the exhaust plume back down from the higher tailpipe. Notably Lotus and Mercedes did not follow this route, although at the Young driver test at Magny Cours, Mercedes were seen testing the McLaren style of sidepod.
One of the most insightful views of an F1 car is from the rear. From this angle we can easily assess the amount of rear wing, cooling, exhaust position\effect, suspension geometry and important elements of aero\diffuser design. At Monza this weekend XPB images kindly allowed us to show these images, which clearly show different elements of some of the cars running this weekend.
The F2012 has followed its own aero philosophy, so it looks different to many other cars from the rear. For Monza specifically we can see the low drag rear wing, much shallower than the usual rear wing and with the “V” cut outs on the trailing edge. Also for Monza Ferrari cut down the beam wing, the small amount of drag the beam wing creates is reduced by slimming the outer spans of the wing, to reduce the tip vortices.
Ferrari’s sidepods are laid out differently to other cars, most of the cooling outlet area is on the flanks of the sidepods, through the Acer ducts and in the area of the tail of the coke bottle shape. So when we look at the car from the rear, the central tail funnel cooling exit is not present. This design may hinder flow in the coke bottle area, but does leave far more airflow to reach the rear wing. Additionally several cooling vents are made in the narrow bodywork around the gearbox.
Around the diffuser Ferrari have gone further than other teams, with the aero parts around the perimeter. Teams often fit gurney flaps or flaps at the diffusers trailing edge to lower the pressure behind the diffuser and encourage more air to pass through the diffuser for more downforce. In Ferrari’s case the diffuser now sports two flaps above the diffuser, one lower down and the larger one above. This larger one is clearly visible, the lower one is mainly visible through the arched shaping. Having a two element design to this flap means it can be angled more aggressively to have a greater aero effect.
Along with trailing edge the flap the tall flap formed under the crash structure has also gained a two element design. Evident in this picture is the starter motor hole, the end of the shaft that the starter motor engages with is clearly visible through it, but although the starter motor shaft is round the resulting hole is far from circular. Teams exploit the ruling for this opening, by making the hole a blow slot to improve airflow through the middle of the diffuser. Rules dictate only one hole must be used and of a maximum surface area. In Ferrari’s case their two holes are joined by a small slit to make them effectively one hole. Most teams exploit this area in one form or another.
In comparison to the Ferrari the Lotus is a more conventional shape with the sidepods, although the exhaust position is evidently different. As Lotus are one of the most successful teams to race this year without a downwashed exhaust solution blowing the diffuser. In the case of Lotus the exhaust blows into the duct formed by the rear wing. Cooling for the E20 is largely exited through the middle tail funnel.
For Monza this wing is very small indeed, the reduced drag helping the Renault powered Lotus reach higher top speeds on the long straights of Monza. Unlike other cars described here, the Lotus beam wing is not waisted away and also retains the taller flap exploiting free bodywork zone the middle 15cm of wing span. Also interesting to note with the tidy rear end of the Lotus is the extreme convergence of the wishbones where they meet the gearbox.
There are two distinct features on the E20 diffuser exit; the side exits and the trailing edge flap. Lotus expands the diffuser not only upwards but also outwards, such that the diffusers exit passes sideways out of the maximum 1000mm width allowed for the diffuser. This increases the diffusers expansion ratio, for more downforce, the trick being keeping the airflow attached to the aggressively shaped diffuser walls. Above the trailing edge Lotus fit a flap in-between the rear wing endplates.
McLaren is very similar to Lotus with the conventional sidepod and cooling arrangements, of course McLaren exploit different exhaust positions, with the side exiting exhaust being downwashed to blow the side of the diffuser. The central cooling funnel has been augmented by two small outlets near the cockpit. These sit just inside the free area for sidepod bodywork, any further outboard and they would be subject to the strict rules on openings and curvature in the sidepod bodywork.
McLaren run a low incidence Monza spec wing, but this is not as slim as some other teams. Likewise their beam wing is slightly revised with the outer tips eased off to reduce drag they create. Below this the diffusers trailing edge is treated to a flap around most of its perimeter and inside the diffuser large single opening for the starter motor is apparent.
The unique shape of the RB8 is apparent in this image, the sidepods blend into the gearbox and rear structure freeing up airflow to the diffuser and beam wing. This is possible because so much cooling flow is ducted out of the central tail funnel. Although for the heat of Monza extra openings are created in the lower flanks of the sidepod. Drag reduction is aided by the beam wing being shorn of its central peak. Resulting in a “V” shape dip in the beam wing. Below the tail light a small electronic device with cabling emerging from it is visible. This is the back up timing transponder. The primary transponder to signal to the timing system sits under the nose of the car. Being mounted in the position, the transponder is exposed to potential damage, so teams fit covers over the device to protect it.
The exhaust position is clear in this image, the exhaust outlets despite pointing upwards, is actually diverted downwards by the downwash over the sidepods and the coanda effect of the sloping tail of the sidepods. These effects deliver the exhaust gas to the edge of the diffuser for a greater sealing effect. This sealing effect is critical as the Red Bull runs the car with a high rake angle, which is a low front ride height compared to the rear ride height. We can see the edge of the diffuser is nearly as high as the rear wheel rim; this rim is about 15cm high, so with the 5cm under floor step the rear ride height must be near 10cm.
Similar to other diffusers, the RB8 also sports an arched diffuser with a trailing edge flap. However, Red Bull curves the flap downwards over the arched sections, this results in a small flat edge on the flap above the arch. Due to the way the carbon fibre is finished around these flats, they appear like openings from some angles and have been mistaken for blown outlets. Lastly Red Bull continues to use extended rear wing end plates that form vanes behind the diffuser. While other teams have used this design, they have raised the bottom of the vanes to only sit in the wake coming over the top of the diffuser, not coming out from under it.
Aside from their waisted gearbox creating nothing but open space ahead of the beam wing, Williams follow many of the principles seen on the other cars in this article. The rear suspension geometry can be clearly seen with the near horizontal top wishbone and far less convergence in the top\bottom wishbones compared the Lotus. While the steep angle of the driveshaft’s shows just how low the differential is placed. In this picture the lack of cooling outlets on the Williams is apparent and very different to the Red bull & Lotus who run the same Renault engine.
For Monza the beam wing has been dramatically slimed down to reduce drag on the straights. While the diffuser sports a trailing edge flap and tall curved vertical gurney under the rear crash structure. Like many teams William paint the cover of the rear timing transponder in fluorescent paint to make is clear to the rear Jack man to avoid it during hurried race pitstop.
For a few years now, teams have been extending the inner face of their brake ducts to reach forward towards the tyres forward edge. Up until recently teams placed the protruding vane as close to the tyre as possible, but latest solution offsets the vane from the tyres sidewall to allow airflow to pass in-between the tyre and vane. An inlet formed in the brake drum duct catches some of this air and redirects it towards the brakes for cooling. This year Williams went even further and removed the usual brake cooling scoop and have the brakes entirely cooled by an inlet between the tyre and vane.
Williams have enjoyed a resurgence this year, with new management, a revised car which now sports a Renault engine and competitive drivers. The FW34 won a race on merit in Spain, with Barcelona being a track well known to be tough on tyres and demanding on aerodynamic efficiency.
I’ve been lucky to have been given permission from Ionut Pascut to post these detailed pictures taken at Monaco, to allow us to take close look at the 2012 Williams.