Telemetry and Data Analysis Introduction

During every GP broadcast, we see the drivers sat in the car in the pits, reviewing print outs of the telemetry from previous laps. Using them to understand the car and how to extract better laptimes from it.
Earlier this year an F1 fan offered me a set of telemetry sheets, they found discarded in a Monaco pit garage. These sheets compare the laptime of two team mates around a lap. With this unique opportunity we can start to understand how the driver benefits from this data.

So I had Brian Jee, a ChampCar/IndyCar Data Acquisition/Electronics Engineer to look at the sheets and explain what the data was and how the drivers can review it to see where they lose time compared to their team mate. Brain has written this following analysis to introduce us technical F1 fans to the world of Telemetry and Data Analysis

In order to maintain the teams anonimity, I have deleted the teams, driver, lap time and session details. Please do not speculate as to which team this belongs to, or I will have to remove this thread.

Telemetry and Data Analysis Introduction
Before we can begin to discuss analysis of the data presented on this sheet, we must first understand its origin and purpose.
The software that created this sheet is called ATLAS, an acronym for Advanced Telemetry Linked Acquisition System, developed by McLaren Electronic Systems (MES). ATLAS has become the standard data acquisition package in the F1 paddock due to the use of an FIA spec MES engine control unit on all cars. The entire data acquisition package consists of on-board car data logging electronics and transmitter radio, transmitting data via radio frequency to telemetry receivers in the garages. The receivers decode the data and operate as central servers of the decoded data to distribute it over a local ethernet based network. Any appropriately configured PC computer, running ATLAS software, can simply connect to the network and receive data from the telemetry receiver server. The simple ethernet architecture of the data distribution network also lends itself to an ease of sending the live telemetry back to the factory to engineers and strategists. Data is referred to in two forms; “Telemetry” is live data, and “Historic” is logged data or also backfilled telemetry. The hardware and infrastructure of the system is beyond the scope of this discussion, but is fundamental to understanding how an engineer would receive the data and with what tools he or she would interact with it.

Within ATLAS, we can loosely compare it to Microsoft Excel in reference to its working surfaces. In Excel, most people are familiar with the spreadsheet, as a whole, referred to as a “workbook.” Within that “workbook” are multiple “worksheets” containing any number of user created charts and information. Organization of the working surfaces of ATLAS is similar in that an ATLAS “workbook” contains multiple “pages” organized in a similar Excel tabular graphic user interface. Each page contains user created “displays” on which to analyze data. The printed sample of data we are here to discuss is actually a single selected “display” printed from a “page” in an ATLAS “workbook”, in the same manner that an individual chart can be printed from Excel.

At the top of this printed display we see, ‘StatLapOverlay Monaco.’ This user configurable information is used to aid in organization and titling. StatLapOverlay quickly informs us that this display is a comparison of two different laps. Furthermore, the date, time of day, and event location is noted as well, indicating where and when this comparison was made, not to be confused with where and when the data was necessarily logged.

This particular type of display is referred to as a “waveform.” A waveform display presents data relative to time or distance as the domain of the plot. Most commonly, data is analyzed on a lap to lap basis, most often the fastest laps of a particular outing or session. Here, that is indeed the case as we have data from two cars overlaid in reference to lap distance on the x-axis. Each car’s respective data is identified by color. Here, blue colored data traces from one car are compared to red colored data traces from another car. It is important to keep in mind that the blue car is the primary datum in this comparison and the red car is referenced relative to the blue car. We will discuss the importance of this key element later.

Now we turn our attention to the bottom of the sheet where we find lists of “parameters” in the area known as the “legend.” Each individually named parameter represents the calibrated output of a unique and individual on-board sensor. Additionally, a parameter may represent a “function parameter”, a mathematical output based upon sensor outputs input into mathematical calculations. If a parameter is present in any of these lists at the bottom of the display, its associated trace is displayed in the waveform above.

To the right of the parameters are a red column and a blue column of values. The parameter value column colors are in respect to the parameter traces of their relative color in the waveform above. Within the ATLAS software, the values change as a vertical line cursor moves across the waveform, allowing the user to identify exact values of points on traces. The values we see here are simply where the cursor happened to lie when the display was printed. The vertical line cursor is noted in the illustration below. Within ATLAS, the cursor is scrolled across the waveform by simply moving the mouse from side to side or using the keyboard arrow keys for finite movement.

Now let’s examine the parameters we are presented with. To begin, each parameter is prefixed with a letter denoting the type of unit of measurement of the calibrated output from the sensor with which it is associated. We have the following prefixes:
v = Velocity, positional displacement over a given time
N = Number, quantitative indication
r = Percentage, relativity to a total
a = Angle, geometric displacement about a vertex
p = Pressure, force applied to a reference
M = Magnitude, scalar identity
B = Bit, bit indicator. For example, binary 1 or 0 indicates on or off
T = Time

Continuing examination of the parameters:
vCar Velocity of the vehicle. Units: kph
There are individual rotational speed sensors on each wheel, but due to speed differentials between each wheel due to slip, turning through a corner, and wheel lockup, they do not represent the velocity of the vehicle. Thus, the individual wheelspeeds are input into “function parameter” calculations to accurately determine the velocity of the car, compensating for differences in individual wheel rotational displacement.

NGear The engaged gear number of gears 1 through 7, with neutral gear represented by number 0

rThrottlePedal Throttle pedal position. Units: Percent
The calibrated position output of the throttle pedal is represented as a percent of total driver application mechanically available. Thus, 0% means no driver application, and 100% means maximum driver application.

aSteeringWheel Rotational angle of the steering wheel, relative to steering rack position.
Units: degrees.
In a 0 degree position, the steering wheel is in an exact “straight ahead” position and the steering rack is centered accordingly.

pBrakeR Hydraulic pressure applied to the rear brake system, measured at the hydraulic output of the rear brake master cylinder. Units: Bar

MDiffDemand Torque applied to the differential. Units: Nm

MKERSDemand Torque applied both to and from the KERS MGU. Torque is applied to the MGU under braking for energy harvesting. Torque is applied from the MGU during KERS boost application. Units: Nm

BNRearWingStateControlMode A bit indicator used to identify DRS activation status.
Units: Active or Inactive

TDiff A function parameter that compares laptime as a function of track distance. It facilitates analysis of laptime relative to track position between a datum lap and any other given lap
The nature of these given parameters identifies this waveform as a classic “driver comparison.” All of the driver’s inputs into controlling the car are present and organized in a specific manner that allows them to quickly identify where on track they are gaining or losing time relative to a datum. For example, a driver may be able to quickly identify a specific portion of the track containing a comparative loss of laptime and easily identify that they are braking 10 meters too early into a corner compared to a teammate.

The other information we see above the parameter value columns are user specific identifiers of the data sessions in question, such as date, event location, and driver name.

A track map of Monaco is located in the lower right corner of the display. A dot moves along the track map relative to the vertical line cursor position as a function of track distance, as it moves across the waveform. The location of the dot on the map is a visual aid in assisting the user in quickly identifying the on-track location of trace characteristics. In addition, we see that corners are identified as green and straights are yellow. These features are further visual aids in assisting the user in ease of identifying on-track location of activity in the data traces. The ATLAS software automatically generates the map based upon lateral acceleration and track distance logged data. The green corners are calculated and determined against thresholds of lateral acceleration.

Lap comparison
Now, let’s turn our focus to the waveform plot. The most essential part of the plot is the x-axis. The x-axis scale is user configurable in units of either time or distance. Time or distance will begin at zero origin at the left side of the plot at the beginning of a lap at the track timing line, increasing towards the right, ending at the end of the lap at the timing line. This example of data represents Monaco and as such, we see the x-axis scale begins at 0 meters on the left and ends approximately after 3200 meters on the right. A total lap distance at Monaco is approximately 3340 meters. All data will be defined as a function of the x-axis, indicating where and when a point of data occurred. Most commonly, the x-axis is defined by distance due to the importance of understanding the physical track location of an occurrence in the data and the distance the car travels relative to any occurrence. Scales of distance also facilitate the comparison of cars and drivers. For example, distance will allow us to see how much further into a corner one driver brakes, compared to another driver. We will examine such an example as we continue on with our discussion.
As we examine individual traces in the waveform, let’s begin from top to bottom.
The first trace at the top is rThrottlePedal with its vertical scale identified on the right of the waveform in units of percentage from 0.0% off throttle to 100% full throttle. We can see the negative slopes of when the driver releases the throttle on corner-entry, completely off the throttle mid-corner, and returns back to full throttle through corner exit with positive slopes.
For closer examination, let’s look at the exit of turn 8, Portier, leading towards the tunnel. Achieving a good exit from turn 8 is crucial to laptime because it exits onto a long straight through the tunnel. Red driver tries to re-apply throttle too aggressive on corner-exit, inducing a moment of snap oversteer and subsequently had to lift slightly to regain control of the car at approximately 80% throttle. Blue driver was much more controlled and reapplied throttle in a much more linear controlled fashion, with three instances of slight modulation, and did not have to lift on exit.

The second trace is vCar with its vertical scale identified on the left of the waveform in units of kph from 0.0 kph to 360.0 kph. Trace maximums define the maximum velocity achieved on entry into a corner with subsequent negative slopes of velocity during braking on entry. Trace minimums identify the mid-corner minimum apex speeds and lead to the positive slopes of acceleration on corner-exit and carried throughout the straights.
For closer examination, let’s take a look at turn 1, Saint Devote, through to turn 3, Massenet. Blue carries much more mid-corner speed through turn 1, and maintains the speed advantage through corner-exit and all the way along the straight to turn 3. On entry to turn 3, Red brakes earlier than blue and once again carries less speed into the corner on entry, all the way through mid-corner. Since Red is mid corner at lower speeds, he is then able to apply a return to throttle earlier than Blue on exit.

The third trace is Tdiff with its vertical scale identified on the entire length of the right hand side of the plot, in units of seconds, from -2.400 seconds to 2.400 seconds. This trace is automatically created and calculated by ATLAS whenever layers of data are overlayed. The parameter is always referenced from one layer of data to another. In our example, we see that the color of the trace is blue, indicating that the blue layer of data is our concern and the red layer of data is our reference datum.
The trace begins each lap on the left hand side of the wave form aligned at 0.000 seconds on its scale. As the trace is drawn across the x-axis, it naturally takes on positive or negative slopes and displacement from 0.000 seconds of beginning time. Positive time differentials indicate the driver was slower than the reference driver in displacing a given track distance. In contrast, negative time differentials indicate the driver was faster than the reference driver in displacing a given track distance. The trace is scaled larger than the other traces across the entire waveform, not only to visualize its slight nuances easier, but also because this single trace defines the utility of the entire display. A driver or engineer will be able to quickly identify the greatest time differentials in TDiff and know to focus attention on data where that difference occurs. In our sample, we see that Blue completed the lap at -1.650, meaning Blue’s total laptime was 1.650 seconds faster than Red.
For closer examination, let’s again take a look at turn 1, Saint Devote, through to turn 3, Massenet. Looking for significant TDiff time differentials, we can quickly visualize two occurrences at turn 1 and turn 3 and focus our attention there. The TDiff scale identifies that Blue gained 0.38 seconds through turn 1 and an additional 0.27 seconds through turn 3. From what we learned from examining the vCar trace, we know that Blue was carrying approximately 10kph more speed through both corners, lending to his 0.65 seconds total gained through both corners. As Red’s driver or engineer, they now know that focusing attention on improving the driver or car for the demands of corner 1 and 3 will yield a gain of at least 0.65 seconds. Subsequently, they will try to understand why Blue and Blue’s car is able to achieve those gains and learn from them accordingly, relative to car setup and driving characteristics.

The fourth trace is BNRearWingStateControlMode, indicating DRS activation. The output of the channel is ‘Active’ or ‘Inactive’ and thus binary in nature. When represented as a trace, we see that it is not transient in nature, as compared to vCar or rThrottlePedal. Along the trace, maximum linear values represent DRS activation and minimum linear values represent the rear wing flap in a normal state with inactive DRS. The binary nature of the trace also lends itself to a lack of need for a vertical scale on the left or right side of the plot.
Continuing examination of turn 1, through to turn 3, we see both drivers activated DRS on exit of turn 1 all the way to corner entry braking of turn 3. Both drivers obviously use DRS to capitalize on decreasing drag for as much distance as possible while at full throttle acceleration through the ‘kink’ of turn 2 and into turn 3.

The fifth trace is MKERSDemand, indicating KERS discharge boost and energy harvesting recovery under braking, defined by force in units of newton metres. The purpose of this trace is qualitative in nature only to identify when the KERS system is discharging or recharging. Therefore, a vertical scale is not necessary on the left or right side of the plot to indicate exactly how much force is applied to or output from the KERS system. Minimum values illustrate KERS energy recovery under braking as rotational force applied to the MGU. Maximum values illustrate KERS energy discharged as rotational force applied to the engine crankshaft from the MGU. As with DRS, KERS is most advantageous for lap time in activating when exiting a corner that leads to a long straight. Torque is the key advantage of KERS, so energy discharge should be activated as soon as possible on corner exit.
In discussion of MKERSDemand, we will examine turn 1, from corner entry through to exit. The illustration will also include the pBrakeR trace at the bottom of the waveform, of which we will discuss later, but require now to illustrate energy recover under braking. All you need to keep in mind now about pBrakeR is that the positive slope indicates brake pedal application and negative slopes indicate brake pedal release.

The sixth trace is MDiffDemand, indicating the force applied to the differential, with its vertical scale present on the right side of the waveform, ranging from 0.0 newton meters to 2000.0 newton meters. Discussing the function and operation of electromechanical control of the differential far exceeds the scope of this discussion of an introduction to telemetry. In addition, without full knowledge of the mechanical and electronic control settings of these particular differentials in question, we are unable to engage in a reasonable analysis without assumptions. Therefore, we will simply note the major characteristics of the trace without analyzing the differences between Red and Blue.
Maximum linear values of 2000.0 Nm is present when the car is generally accelerating and traveling in a straight line and maximum torque is being applied by the differential to both wheels, such as in a spool. Negative slopes represent slowing down under braking and turning in towards the apex of a corner as force applied to the differential is decreased and the differential is thus differentiating rotational speed and force between the two wheels to allow the car to rotate. Positive slopes represent when the exiting the corner, turning away from the apex and returning to full throttle. On corner exit, the differential must not only apply as much torque as possible to accelerate the car, but still allow the wheels to separately differentiate in order for the car to continue to rotate out of the corner. Minimum linear values occur at the apexes of a corner, illustrating full open differentiation between both rear wheels in allowing maximum rotation of the car.
In discussion of the MDiffDemand trace, we will again examine turn 1. The illustration will include aSteerWheel, just below MDiffDemand, of which we will discuss later. The only thing to keep in mind about aSteerWheel for now is that concave or convex maxima or minima represent the apex of a corner.

Now we will continue to specifically discuss the seventh trace, aSteerWheel, indicating the angular displacement of the steering wheel by the driver, in units of degrees. The trace’s vertical scale is found on the left side of the waveform plot ranging from a minimum of -100 degrees to 100 degrees. Trace values at or near zero represent the steering wheel in a normal straight position in addition to the car traveling straight. Positive slopes indicate the driver turning right, whereas negative slopes indicate the driver turning left.
Since we are already familiar with the aSteerWheel trace at turn 1, we’ll continue to examine that trace bit further, but also include rThrottlePedal.

Recall from our discussion of rThrottlePedal, when Red attempted an over-aggressive return to throttle on the exit of turn 8. Now that we have discussed aSteerWheel, let’s look back at how that effected steering input.

The eighth trace is Ngear, indicating the engaged driven gear in the gearbox. Ngear’s vertical scale is located on the left side of the waveform plot, ranging from 0 neutral gear to 8th gear. Of course the gearbox only contains 7 forward gears, but the 8 is simply for scalar reference. The trace is “stepped” in nature due to the linear and transitionally steady state nature of gear engagement and selection between gears.
Since we have already discussed the vCar trace relative to turn 1, we will continue to do so and now and include NGear in illustration.

Furthermore in examination of NGear, we can take a look at the impressive downshifting characteristics of an F1 car on entry to the Nouvelle Chicane after exiting the tunnel.

Our ninth and final trace is pBrakeR at the bottom of the waveform plot, representing hydraulic pressure applied in the rear brake circuit. Its vertical scale is on the right side of the plot, ranging from 0.00 Bar to 125 Bar.
It isn’t of concern which pressure trace is used from which hydraulic brake circuit, front or rear, because we are not concerned with defining exactly how much force is applied in any given circuit. We only need to know in what manner the driver applied and released brake application, from a purely qualitative perspective. In the case of this driver comparison waveform, a driver or engineer will be primarily concerned with the shape of the braking trace and the relative track location at which initial brake application begins. Obviously, it is optimal to brake as late as possible into a corner and carry the maximum amount of speed to the apex, carried though to exit. In comparing two drivers with similar cars and setups, both drivers would be expected to brake just as deep into a corner as one another. It is common and essential for drivers to examine comparative braking characteristics to understand why they may not be braking as deep or as hard into a corner as their teammate.
The initial positive slope of a brake application trace is steeply sloped approaching the maximum peak because it is optimum in car performance to reach maximum brake application while maximum corner entry speed and thus maximum aerodynamic downforce is available to assist in braking stability.
Continuing to utilize turn 1 as our example of analysis, we will now include the pBrakeR trace in illustration.

Now that we have applied most of our efforts towards examining turn 1, we can summarize that Blue had to accomplish a lot to gain 0.38 seconds TDif, all in one corner. We learned from our analysis that Blue was more aggressive on entry with higher minimum corner speed and turning in towards the curb as early as possible. His success early in the corner allowed him to return to throttle earlier and activate both KERS and DRS earlier as well, all paying dividends towards lap time.
The reality of this particular dataset is that it was logged during FP1, in which teams treat as a test session, in addition to the green track lacking sufficient grip. Furthermore, we are unaware of mechanical or aerodynamic setups, fuel loads, and tire configurations. Without knowing the parity of the cars, it is impossible to compare the performance of the drivers. A major indicator of non-parity between the cars is the final TDiff comparison between the drivers indicating a lap time difference of 1.650 seconds. We can only realistically compare two drivers in similar cars if they are within a few tenths of each other. In addition, from a full perspective of the lap as whole, Red definitely does not appear to be driving in a manner to set fast lap times, reaffirmed by the significant TDiff time difference. If we were to delve deeper into analysis, we increase the need for more specific details about these two cars and drivers, so as not to make incorrect assumptions about either.
When analyzing data, it is important to remember not to perceive or analyze it as if it was repeatable laboratory data. Race car data analysis is much more complicated than that. Beyond the mechanical variances of the car and environmental discontinuities of the track, the driver is a human being who adapts, makes mistakes, and never drives a lap exactly the same as a previous one. For example, if a driver complains of corner entry understeer, it won’t be literally evident in the data because they would have adapted through driving or adjusting available settings. Properly configured data never lies, but it is only truly a useful tool when combined with discussions with the driver and fundamental engineering knowledge. There is much more to be learned from this waveform, but we don’t have all day long to explain it all.

About Brian Jee
Twitter: @brianjee
Indianapolis based Brian is an Ex Race Engine builder/machinist. But more recently a ChampCar/IndyCar Data Acquisition/Electronics Engineer. Brian is looking for opportunities to use his experience to work in F1.

Renaults New Front Wing

Renault have for some time been the team leading with innovations in front wing design. Renault first introduced the feathered set up on the inner tips of the wing last year, by tapering the slot gap between the flaps. Many teams have already copied the feathered design.

Renaults flap is now split into two

But now Renault have gone even further with the concept. In recent races the team have produced a new take on the flap design. The version raced since Germany has split one of the flaps into two. This along with the slot in the main plane creates a stack of five elements for a small span of the front wings width. But in contrast to other uses of extra slots in the front wing, this is not to create a section producing high downforce. Instead each of these steps is designed to create tip vortices to drive airflow along the Y250 axis.

The main plane also has slot ahead of the bulged section in front of the flap

Teams tend to create the greater amount of downforce towards the front outer wing tips. This pressure distribution reduces the load on the inboard end of the wing, in order to better manage the airflow over the centre of the car. However what teams do want to do is to use the relatively undisturbed airflow along this axis and use it to drive airflow over the centre of the car. A steeper wing towards the neutral 50cm centre section of wing would produce unwanted turbulence and rob the airflow of energy. The bodywork rules do allow for some creativity with the vanes and other bodywork allowed along the edge of the monocoque. Known as the Y250 vortex, as most of the aerodynamic effects are created along a line starting 25cm from the cars centreline (Y= lateral axes, 250mm). Components that work along this axis include the front wing mounting pillars, any under-nose vanes, the T-Tray splitter and the intersection of the front wing and the neutral centre section. Flow structures along this axis drive airflow under the floor towards the diffuser and around the sidepod undercuts. Each with the aim to create more efficient rear downforce.

There are effectively five elements created by the four slots (arrowed)

If Renault created a single front wing element with the same angle of attack, a single large vortex would have been produced. This would be far more powerful and pointed outwards a smaller area downstream on the car. By splitting the wing into smaller separate sections, several smaller vortices are created. These are each of lower energy and are spread over wider area. Perhaps this softer approach creates less sensitivity as the cars attitude changes. It will be interesting if any teams has been able to replicate this design by the time their new bodywork arrives at Spa.

Analysis: McLarens Rear Wing Vapour Trails

Picture courtesy of F1Pulse

A feature of F1 for many years were the vapour trails spiralling off the rear wing tips. This phenomenon largely disappeared a few years ago, but was apparent once more on the rear wings of the McLarens at the recent damp race weekends. So what are these vapour trails and why do McLaren tend to create them more than other teams?

They are in fact more correctly termed ‘vortices’, they are created when the pressure differences are created at the wing tip. As you get high pressure above the wing, low pressure beneath and near ambient pressure to the side of the endplate. When these three flows meet, the higher pressure flow naturally moves towards the low pressure areas. This sets up a tumbling motion and a spiralling flow structure is created. As we know from the aerodynamicists use of vortices to shape and alter flow over other areas of the car, vortices are extremely high energy structures. But with them comes a lot of drag. These wing tip vortices rise upward and outward from the rear wing tips and eventually flatten out behind the car as their energy is dissipated in the free stream flow around the car.
The greater the pressure differential, the greater the vortex created, and this is generally seen better in damp conditions as the water in the air condenses in the vortex to become visible as a vapour trail.

In years gone by, the site of vortices spiralling from wing tips was seen as a good thing, as the belief that the wing is working hard. To some extent this was correct, with a simple wing the fact that it can create visible vortices did prove the wing was highly loaded. However the drag that it created was less well understood. Since the early 2000’s teams have sought to reduce this pressure difference at the wing tip, in order to reduce drag. Several solutions have been tried to alleviate the pressure differences at the wingtip.

As F1 rear wing have such small aspect ratio’s, (width versus length), there’s little that can be done to reduce this high pressure created towards the endplate without sacrificing total downforce created by the wing. Teams have experimented with twisted wing profiles, reducing the angle of attack of the wing cross section nearer the endplate, to reduce the high pressure created above the flap. But this in turn reduces the downforce created by that section of wing. At tracks where lower downforce is required, teams will still ease the loading of the outer part of the wing, centering the pressure distribution in the middle of the wing.

The other option is to allow the whole span of the wing to be aggressively steep, but use other methods to reduce the pressure difference at the wing tip. Firstly teams such as BAR created a cut-out in the end plate ahead of the flap, this allowed some of the high pressure above the flap to bleed off outside the flap, negating the pressure difference and therefore the strength of the vortex. But this was a fairly blunt solution, so teams created the now-common louvers in the endplate.

This solution directs some of the high pressure air above the wing to the wing tip in a more elegant way. Renault, then latterly Honda and McLaren created a different approach by merging the flap into the endplate, this creates a small gap to direct the high pressure flow to the wing tip.

In the past two seasons reducing this effect has been negated somewhat by other means to reduce the rear wings drag. In 2010 the F-duct allowed the driver to reduce the rear wing downforce and therefore drag. In wet races in 2010 we saw the McLaren’s exit a turn, as speed built up the vortices would appear, then as the driver closed the cockpit control duct the rear wing stalled downforcedrag was instantly reduced. As the driver did this, the vortices also disappeared. This allowed us to see just how soon the F-duct was engaged out of turns.
With the F-duct banned and DRS allowed for 2011, teams are able to adjust the rear wing in qualifying and for overtaking in the race. Depending on the teams qualifyingrace strategy, they have redesigned their rear wing to have a different flap size. A small flap, means that the DRS effect is larger, more downforce and drag are shed for more top speed. However the smaller flap means that the rear wing is limited in the downforce it can create, as the sot gap is further back on the wing and separation is likely with aggressive angles of attack. Most teams have followed a design path that errs on this level of DRS effect. As the wing tip is not loaded so highly, there are few vapour trails created.
McLaren however have been almost alone in creating a DRS wing with a large flap, this creates the opposite characteristics of a small flap wing. Less DRS effect is created, but the wing can create a larger amount of downforce when DRS is not activated. Thus their rear wing is steeper and more heavily loaded at the wing tips.

Its for this reason that McLaren tend to be the team in 2011 that create the vapour trails on damp days. McLaren do however have a small flap DRS wing in development. We can expect this to create less trails than their current if it gets to be run in the damp.


Book Review: Haynes Red Bull Racing F1 Car

When Red Bull Racing launched their new car for 2011, the event was marked by a very special press pack. The pack was formatted in the style of the well-known Haynes maintenance manuals (PDF). This in itself this was a great book, but almost unnoticed within its pages was the intended publishing of a complete Haynes style workshop manual on the RB6 car.
Now some six months later the Haynes Red Bull Racing F1 Car Owners Workshop Manual (RB6 2010) has been published. As its rare a Technical F1 book is published, not least one with insight into such a current car, I’ve decided to review the book in detail.

At 180 pages long the book has enough space to cover quite a wide range of topics and it does so. Starting with a background to the team, moving on to the cars technology, to overviews of its design and operation. With its familiar graphical style and hardback format it certainly gives the feel of a proper workshop manual. However this is somewhat skin deep and the pages within, soon revert to a more typical book on F1, although some flashes of the Haynes style do remain.

Steve Rendle is credited as the writer of the book and Red Bull Racing themselves have allowed close up photography of the car and its parts, as well as providing a lot of CAD images.
But clearly a lot of editing has been carried out by Red Bull Racing and the book falls short of its presentation as a manual for the RB6. Despite its confusing title, the book is probably better described as a summary of contemporary F1 technology from the past 3 years.
As the last in depth technical F1 book was the heavy weight title from Peter Wright showcasing Ferraris F1 technology from 2000, this remains a useful source of recent F1 technology.
This places the books target audience, somewhere between the complete novice and those already of a more technical mindset.


With forewords by Christian Horner and Adrian Newey, the opening 21 pages are a background to the team and detail of the 2010 season that brought RBR the championships. Then starts the core 100 page chapter on the cars anatomy, which opens with a pseudo cutaway of the car showing a CAD rendering of its internals.

Firstly the monocoques design and manufacture is covered, with images of the tubs moulds being laid up and CAD images of the RB4 (2008) chassis and its fuel tank location. Although little is made of the fuel tank design.
Moving on to aerodynamics, the text takes a simplistic approach to explaining aero, but there is an interesting illustration of the cars downforce distribution front to rear. This does highlight the downforce created by the wings and diffuser, but also the kick in downforce at the leading edge of the floor, but this is not adequately explained in the text. Mention is made of the front wing and the flexing that RBR deny, this is explained with a simple illustration showing the deflection test. The driver adjustable front flap, which was legal during 2009-2010 seasons, is explained, in particular that the wing was hydraulically actuated. When I understood that in 2009, only Toyota used a hydraulic mechanism over the electric motor system used by all other teams. In trying to explain the nose cone, the text and an illustration show a high nose and low nose configuration, but does not remark why one is beneficial over the other.

This section also covers very brief summaries of bargeboards, sidepods and the floor. Some nice close up photos of these parts included, but again with little explanation. An illustration at this point highlights the other FIA deflection test altered in 2010, which was aimed at Red Bulls alleged flexing T-Tray splitter. In this section the text cites Ferraris sprung floor of 2007, but not the allegation that RBR’s was flexing in 2010. A further simple graphic illustrates the venturi effect of the floor and diffuser, and then the text goes into simple explanations of both the double diffuser and the exhaust blown diffuser.
Having been one of the technical innovations of 2010 and since banned, the book is able to cover the F-Duct is some detail. A complete CAD render of the ducting is provided on page 53; this shows an additional inlet to the drivers control duct that was never visible on the car. This extra duct served the same function as the nose mounted scoop on the McLaren that introduced the F-Duct to F1.
Thus with aerodynamics covered in some 23 pages, the text moves onto suspension and the expectation of detail on the RB5-6′s trademark pullrod rear suspension. After a summary of the purpose of an F1 cars suspension, Pages 58-59 have some fantastic CAD renderings of front suspension, uprights and hub layouts. However the rear suspension rendering stops short at the pull rod and no rocker, spring, damper layouts are detailed. Hardly a secret item, so lacking this detail is let down for a book announced as an RB6 workshop manual. A lesser point, but also highlighting the censorship of some fairly key technical designs, was the lack of any reference to Inerters (Inertia or J-Dampers), The suspension rendering simply pointing to the inerter and calls it the ‘heave spring’, while naming the actual heave spring damper as simply another ‘damper’. Inerters have been in F1 since 2006, predating Renault’s mass damper. Their design and purpose is well documented and shouldn’t be considered something that needs censoring. It’s also this section that fails to showcase the RB5-6 gearbox case. Instead using a pushrod suspended RB4 (2008) gearbox, albeit one made in carbon fibre.
The steering column, rack and track rods are similarly illustrated with CAD images. This usefully shows the articulation in the column, but little of the hydraulic power assistance mechanism. Page 67 starts the section on brakes, again fantastic CAD images supply the visual reference for the upright, brake caliper and brake duct design. As well as a schematic of the brake pedal, master cylinder and brake line layout of the entire car. A nod to more typical Haynes manuals shows the removal of the brake caliper and measure of the Carbon discpad. A further CAD image shows the brake bias arrangement with both the pivot at the pedal and the ratchet control in the cockpit for the driver to alter bias.
Although not a RBR component the Renault engine is covered in the next Chapter. An overview of the complex engine rules regarding the design and the specification freeze kicks off this section and cites the tolerances and compression ratio for a typical F1 engine. Pneumatic valves, for along time an F1-only technology are explained, but even I failed to understand the schematic illustrating these on page 77. Also covered in the engine section is some more detail on the fuel, oil and cooling systems. With useful specifics, like capacity of the oil system at 4 litres and water coolant at 8 litres. Again some nice CAD images illustrate the radiators within the sidepod. Many sections have a yellow highlighted feature column; this sections feature is on the engine start up procedure, one of the mundane, but rarely talked about processes around an F1 car (other features are on the shark fin and brake wear). As KERS wasn’t used up until 2011, this topic is skipped through with a just a short explanation of the system.

Moving rearward to the transmission system, the old RB4 gearbox makes a reappearance. Again this disappoints, as some quite common F1 technology does not get covered. Page88 shows some close up photos of a gear cluster, but this is not a seamless shift gearbox. In fact seamless shift isn’t mentioned, even though it made its RBR debut in 2008, the year of the gearbox showcased in the book. I know many will highlight that this might be a secret technology. But most teams sport a dual gear selector barrel, each selector looking after alternate gears to provide the rapid shift required to be competitive in F1. So I think this is another technology that could be explained but hasn’t been.
Tyres, Wheel and Wheel nuts get a short section, before the text moves onto electronics. A large part of the electronic system on a current F1 car is now standardised by the Single ECU (SECU) and the peripherals that are designed to support it. So this section is unusually detailed in pointing out the hardware and where it’s fitted to the car. From the tiny battery to the critical SECU itself. Other electronic systems are briefly described from the Radio, drivers drink system to the rain light.
Of critical importance to the modern F1 car are hydraulics, which are detailed on p105. As with the other sections, CAD images and some photos of the items themselves explain the hydraulic system, although there isn’t a complete overview of how it all fits together.
Rounding off the anatomy chapter is the section of safety items and the cockpit. The steering wheel and pedals are well illustrated with CAD drawings and keys to the buttons on the wheel itself and on the switch panel inside the cockpit.

While I have pointed that the hardware shown in the anatomy chapter isn’t necessarily of the RB6, what is on show is obviously genuine and recent RBR. So for those not so familiar with the cars constituent parts, there isn’t a better source of this available in print today. Even web resources will fail to have such a comprehensive breakdown of an F1 car.

The Designers view

Moving away from the Haynes format of a workshop manual, the book then moves into a chapter on the cars design, with comments from Adrian Newey. It details the Design Team structure and some of the key individuals are listed. The text then covers the key design parameters; centre of the gravity and the centre of pressure (downforce). Plus the design solutions used to understand them; CFD, Wind Tunnels and other simulation techniques. Each being briefly covered, before similar short sections on testing and development close this chapter.
Although the text makes reference to creating ‘the package’, something Newey excels at. This section doesn’t provide the insight into the overall design philosophy, which one might have hoped for.

The Race Engineers view
Where as the Designers view chapter was limited, the race Engineers section was a little more insightful into the rarely talked about discipline of getting the car to perform on track. The process of setting up the car is covered; from the understanding of the data, to the set up variables that the race engineer can tune; suspension, aero, ballast, gearing brakes and even engine. Usefully the grand prix weekend is broken down onto the key events from scrutineering, to running the car and the post race debrief. Feature columns in this chapter include; Vettels pre race preparation and the countdown to the race start.

The Drivers view
Ending the book is an interview style chapter on the driver’s time in the car, mainly the driver’s perspective from within the cockpit when driving the car on the limit and the mindset for a qualifying lap. A simplistic telemetry trace of a lap around Silverstone is illustrated, although there is little written to explain the traces (brakes, speed and gear), this is accompanied by Mark Webbers breakdown of a lap around the new Silverstone circuit.

In conclusion
When I first got this book, I was constantly asked if it was worth the purchase or if I’d recommend it. If my review is critical at points, it’s mainly because some technology that could have been covered wasn’t. Or, that the content falls short of the books title suggesting it was a manual for the RB6.
Those points aside, I have learnt things from this book. Like details of the F-duct system, the Front Flap Adjuster and a wealth of smaller facts. There isn’t a better book on the contemporary F1 car. In particular the CAD drawings and close-up photos, just simply aren’t in the public domain. From the pictures we got over the race weekends, we never get to see half the hardware and design work that’s pictured in this book. So I’ll keep this book on hand for reference for several seasons to come.

Overall I’d recommend this book to anyone with a technical interest in F1.

Many thanks to Haynes Publishing who have allowed me to use their Images and PDFs to illustrate this article

This book is available from Haynes

McLaren New DRS Rear Wing

McLaren have followed their own strategy on the DRS rear wing this season. In contrast to other teams McLaren have designed their wing for the best Non-DRS Performance, thus when deployed the DRs provides a more modest boost in speed. This Strategy appears to have been reviewed as their new rear wing tested at Silverstone shows.

Already being one of the fastest cars in a straight-line, McLaren perhaps haven’t needed to exploit DRs as much as other teams. Their current wing sports a large flap which due to its geometry flattens less when DTS is deployed. See DRS Geometry. But we have seen that McLaren can deploy their DRS less on Q-laps and despite their KERS and speed, sometimes struggle to pass other cars. SO their new wing exploits more conventional geometry with a shorter chord flap that flattens out more completed to maximise the drag reduction system.

Along with the shorter flap other aspects of the wings design have changed, the slots on the endplate have been made even more shapely and the endplate merged into the flap. These slots have been a feature on F1 rear wings for nearly ten years. They aim to take some of the high pressure air above the wing and direct it out through the endplate at the wing tip. This reduces the pressure differences that create the vortices at the wing tip, these vortices often seen in damps condition create a large amount of drag, reducing them further aids top speed.

Although the slots are so curved it’s hard to detect, but the sections between these slots on upper part of the endplate are directly joined to the flap, thus the flap is remotely mounted, the loads pass through these three narrow section of endplate. This must be quite a structural feat. This design harks back to McLaren’s 2008-209 wings (see below) which mimicked the Renault practice of merging the endplate into the flap. Again the aim of this design was to manage the pressure differences at the wing tip for reduced drag.

Ferrari: Silverstone Upgrade

Silverstone brought Ferrari’s major mid-season upgrade to the F150, which was effectively a complete new rear end package. Their upgrade comprised of new exhausts, rear suspension, engine cover, diffuser and rear wing. While the changing rules and weather conditions made it hard to judge if their win was a result of these changes, it was clear that the car had found new pace in fast turns. This in its self is a sign of improved downforce, one of the aims of the upgrade.
Ferrari have been open throughout the year in stating they lack downforce and struggle to get heat into the tyres. The former issue hurts pace on faster turns, while the latter has the combined effect of lost pace on harder tyres and poor single lap qualifying pace.
Again Ferrari s honesty in saying the car was not aggressive or innovative, was clear from its launch. Red Bull, McLaren and other teams tried new ideas. Not all these created the package to beat Ferrari, but Red Bull and McLaren were well ahead of Ferrari in the aero race early in the season.
It seems Ferrari chose to make the car as soft on its rear tyres as possible; as the original expectation was that the Pirelli rear tyres would degrade more rapidly. Certainly Ferrari have been easy on their tyres, but the flipside of this characteristic is that the car can struggle to get heat into the tyres. This is why their pace at Barcelona on the hard tyre was so poor and why they struggle to get the pace on a single flying lap qualifying run.

So with this Silverstone package these areas were addressed and the initial signs are the car has improved.

Firstly the rear wing was all new, aerodynamically, structurally and with its DRS operation. Their new rear wing no longer used a central pylon to support the upper wing and house the DRS actuator. This clears up the underside of the wing from obstructions; this was probably not to reduce the minimal amount of drag created by the support, but more to removes its turbulence from the underside of the wing. Perhaps this will aid the reattachment of the air flow when the DRS closes the flap. Instead the DRS actuator is inside a small pod above the wing, where it will less affect the airflow. Cabling and hydraulic lines to the actuator route inside the wing and endplates. As the pylon has been removed there remains a small section of it on the crash structure ahead of the beam wing (highlighted).

Ferrari have been playing with their rear suspension layout for several races. Visibly the main change appears to be where the upper wishbone meets the upright. This has been moved away from the wheel, by making extending the position of the pickup point on the on the upright. This creates a shorter upper wishbone. The effect of this would be more camber change and lateral scrub as the suspension is compressed. In simple terms as the cargoes down on its suspension the wheel will tilt inwards more and slide across the track surface towards the centre of the car. Both these actions move the tyre about a lot more and help create heat in the tyre. This is how Ferrari have been able to get their tyres into their operating temperature window.

The team ran a new engine cover, with the tail of the sidepods formed in a tighter shape, with some of the cooling accommodated by louvers in the tail of the coke bottle shape.

Lastly the floor and exhaust were subtly changed, with the exhaust pipe shape being altered and the cut away sections of floor being a different profile. Unlike Red Bull, Ferrari have not gone very far in aiming exhaust flow under the car. However they have still gone further than the other teams running the outer blown diffuser. The floor in between the tyre and the diffuser is no longer carbon fibre. But instead a plate of titanium, pictures show this flat metal floor is fully exposed and carefully curved to invite some flow to pass under it. Changes in this area no doubt were made with the 10% engine mapping rule in mind, but also as the diffuser itself used a new geometry.
The next series of races with fast turns and harder compound tyres will prove if Ferrari have reversed their cars characteristics and can take the fight to Red Bull for the remaining ten races

10% rule: Full analysis

UPDATE: As with many of these issues arising over a GP weekend, its a rapidly developing story.  The position given to me by the teams ast night, has since changed, as Charlie whiting considered the situation overnight.  For the balance of the British GP, Mercedes engined cars (McLaren, Mercedes GP, Force India) will be able to use their fired-overrun.  As this was pre-agreed with the FIA for reliability reasons.  However Renault Sports request for their larger overrun throttle opening was requested after the event had started.  Thus Chalrie Whiting decided that, as the technical regulations for the event need to be agreed before the event, Renaults request was inadmissible for this event.   Thus they have to meet the original technical directive on throttle opening and not the 50% they had lobbied for.  This leaves Renault having to run a mapping which is not optimal for reliability and Mercedes can run their mapping.

After much expectation on the effect of the 10% off-throttle limit, what transpired over the opening practice sessions brought more confusion than clarification. As practice got under way it transpires that the expected 10% limit was in fact not applied to all teams, nor was the dispensation to the different engine manufacturers communicated clearly to all the others. This brought much confusion to fans and media alike, as well as bringing a heated debate between Martin Whitmarsh and Christian Horner in the Friday press conference. Its been reported that Renault engines have been dispensation to run at up to 50% throttle when the driver is off the throttle pedal, and slightly less well reported that Mercedes engined teams are able to run a fired overrun.

However, the situation was explained to me by several key technical staff in the Silverstone pit lane. The communication and political issues notwithstanding, the status is at least technically clear.

Firstly I gained detail of what the proposed 10% rule actually consisted of. In order to prevent teams using off-throttle engine maps to continue to drive airflow over the diffuser for aerodynamic benefit, the FIA proposed a pair of changes to what’s allowed when the driver comes off the throttle pedal. Firstly the well known 10% limit on the throttle opening, but secondly a ban on injecting fuel into the engine when off the throttle. The intention of this pair of changes was to ban both hot and cold blown engine maps.

Of course this was the FIA proposal; the original date of the Spanish GP was delayed while the teams lobbied their cases to the FIA, giving their reasons why such changes were unworkable given the timescales and restrictions on development.

Now we need to understand what goes on within the engine when a driver lifts off the throttle and the subsequent effect that has on other aspects of the car. Unlike in road cars the driver in an F1 car doesn’t leisurely lift off the throttle and delay the braking phase. Instead the driver may be at near maximum revs, when he will simultaneously lift off the throttle pedal completely and hit the brake pedal hard for the initial downforce aided braking event. During the braking event the gears will be sequentially selected, further peaking revs as the car slows. This sudden closing of the throttles blocks off the inlet to the combustion chamber, but the cylinder will continue to pump up and down at a great rate. This creates huge stresses inside the combustion chamber and the vacuum created will suck air past the piston rings. This will rapidly slow the engine, creating too much engine braking effect, which in turns creates downstream stresses in the drive train and over-brakes the engine. The excessive engine braking effect will make the car nervous on throttle lift off, regardless of any subsequent aerodynamic effect.

So engine manufacturers find different solutions to ease the stresses and braking effect of the driver lifting off the throttle. In the seasons before EBDs there were several different strategies in place, the driver was able to alter overrun setting to tunes the cars handling, and driver switching between teams found the change in overrun settings needed some adjustment to both their driving style and sometimes with the engines settings. So overrun settings were already an issue before EBDs, and many strategies were already outside the intentions f the 10% rule.

Renault have been open and said their engine already runs open throttles on the overrun, this both eases the blow-by and stress issues, it also usefully cooled the exhaust valve, an alternative to using excess fuel to cool the back of the valve. This year the Renault sport are believed to be running as much as 90% open throttle on the overrun. This is what’s best known as cold-blown mapping. Earlier this season and through out free practice at Silverstone, the three Renault engined teams, had a distinctive loud overrun note, which continues briefly as the drivers picked up the throttle out of slow turns. As the throttles are open more than other teams, the induction noise is far greater.

Mercedes HPE, equally have their solution, this is the so called fired-overrun. When the driver lifts off, fuel continues to be injected into the engine and sparked within the combustion chamber. This offsets the engine braking effect created by the engine, giving a smoother transition from on throttle to the overrun when off it. As a result this means there is less engine braking effect. This gives Mercedes the freedom to define braking bias and KERS charging, without having to account for engine braking. Effectively decoupling the engine braking effect from the actual action of the braking system. As with Renault’s pre-EBD mapping Mercedes solution is analogous to the hot blowing mapping. At Silverstone the Mercedes engined teams had a particularly clean overrun sound. Where as Ferrari had far more cracks and pops as the engine slowed.

With both engine manufacturers having long established overrun strategies that have critical impacts on the basic engine design or the braking system, it will be hard to rapidly switch to a very strict overrun mapping as demanded by the 10% rule. Both manufacturers lobbied the FIA to be allowed to retain elements of these old overrun strategies, while still emasculating their current strategies. The FIA have been able to see the mappings used in 2009 through to the current day, as the code is held by the FIA since the advent of the single ECU (SECU). They’ve been able to see the engines have had these long established mappings, but also how they have become more aggressive since the EBD has been developed.
So the FIA relented and although we will commonly call this the 10% rule, the actual throttle will allowed up to 50% and some fuel can still be injected and burnt in the engine. This sounds like a climb down by the FIA and unfair to different engine manufacturers. But the unreported events at Silverstone this afternoon are fairer than the picture being painted by the teams and the media. Its true that Renault were given their greater throttle opening, but also Mercedes were given their fired-overrun, but these dispensations have been given to every engine manufacturer, so Ferrari could have more throttle opening or Cosworth could develop a fired overrun. As I understand you can one but not both of these options, so no 50%-open with a fired-overrun.
Although the communication and timing of these clarifications appears to be wanting, the final rules clarification meets the basic needs of individual engine suppliers, but still maintains parity between the four parties involved. There is no doubt this allows some secondary benefit of greater flow through the diffuser on the overrun, but this is still greatly reduced over what’s been raced already this year. So there will be reduced aero effect and no further arms race in developing these aggressive strategies. After the furore dies we have been left with w reasonable compromise on reducing engine effect on aerodynamics, before the fuller bans comes into effect with periscope exhausts next year.

FOTA Fans forum: Technical Openness

At the FOTA Fans Forum, which was held the McLaren Technical Centre (MCT) in the UK last Thursday, one of the sections was on the technical side of the sport. It was refreshing to hear these people admit that F1 needs to open up more on the technical side. As the sport and the cars are so fascinating technically and not just mobile billboards for the Marketing departments. Their comments (below) echo what I have found when talking to the teams designers and technical directors, even people at the lower level of the technical want to get more of the technical message out to fans. However at some point the the paranoia of secrecy and the apparent unwillingness of the Teams PR depts, do not always allow journalists access to these people.

These technical directors were posed the question if more Technical information should be released to the fans?

Paul Monaghan, Red Bull
“We’ve got to be prepared to open up, there are probably some commercial difficulties to overcome, but in terms of making more available, I think it would be good to do so”

Paddy Lowe, McLaren
“What’s fantastic about about the fan base of F1 is that its generally a very technical audience. that sets you apart from the football fan lets say. you understand, and you want to understand, technology and we want to keep feeding that”

James Alison, Renault
“There is so much all the teams do that is more or less the same. All of us could talk about the technical detail without betraying any particular secrets of our particular team because we’d just be revealing things that go on in the sport that are interesting, which we’re all doing.”

More on the FOTA Fans Forum via James Allens website

McLaren: European GP wing movement

UPDATE: While I am still awaiting a response from McLaren, I have had a direct reply from Charlie Whiting, FIA Formula One Race Director, to my questions. He responds “The slight anomaly you refer to has been investigated and we have told the team improvements need to be made”. I also asked if this area is subject to any specific deflection tests or construction of the wingpylon interface “there is no stated permissible deflection of the parts you’re referring to, we do of course have a blanket restriction on any bodywork moving but, in some cases, we define limits given that no bodywork can be designed infinitely rigid”. So it seems any movement there should not be evident at the British GP.

McLaren sported a new front wing at the European GP last. Although the endplates, main plane and cascades were all new, it was the way the wing mounted to the nosecones pylons that has caught attention. From the onboard Tv footage the wing can be seen to apparently and progressively separate from its mounting. However this movement is caused, it is likely to spark questions on flexible aerodynamics, although its clear the McLaren was passed as legal by the FIA scrutineers checks. Video via Ian Doreto

As McLaren place their camera pods on the front wing pylons (the two vertical plates bonded to the nose cone) and also slightly behind them, the onboard footage presents a clear view of the side of the pylon and the wing below it.

Typically the construction of this area is relatively simple. The wings central section has a metal plate bonded to it, through which run threaded studs. These studs pass up inside corresponding holes in the pylons and are then fastened down with nuts. This makes the assembly rigid, with no freedom of movement. Teams fit a spacer shim into the gap, to ensure the wing sits at the correct static ride height when fitted to the car. Almost every team follows this basic design.

However from the onboard footage, it appears that the McLaren wing is hinging on the pylons allowing the wing to rotate backwards slightly. What can be seen is a gap incrementally opening up at speed towards the rear of the interface between wing and pylon (pictured above). Then as the car slows, the gap closes back up to nothing. I have seen two onboard shots of both the cars in the race and both appear to behave in a similar way (pictured below).

This would have the effect of flattening the front wings angle of attack at speed, decreasing downforce. Depending on the way the diffuser sheds downforce at speed, this would have the effect of inducing understeer, probably for the purpose of making the car more balanced and stable for the driver at high speed. The practice of flattening front wings has been seen before, historically it’s not been unusual to see a front wing flap flatten out at speed, as the compliant flap is subject to aero load.
By achieving a better aero balance at speed, this achieves a different effect to the Red Bull, which appears to droop the front wing into an anhedral shape at speed, this creates more downforce rather than shedding it. So Red Bull are seeking more performance, rather than managing the cars balance.

McLarens wing behaving in this way could be explained in several ways, perhaps as the result of a manufacturing fault, I will ask the team if they had any such problems with the new front wing in Valencia.

I have heard previously from several ex-designers and technical directors, that even in recent seasons teams have had springs in designed into this area. Designed in such a way, that a gap opens up by creating some compliance in the wingpylon interface. Normally by having a sprung mount, the spring being preloaded to meet any FIA test, but above the FIA load the spring is able to move the wing in a controlled manner. This is of course a far easier way to control the wing than compliance designed into the carbon fibre lay up. The rules do not specifically state that such compliant mechanisms are banned, although a similar wording has been created for the T-Tray splitter mounting. Following the precedent of the Red Bull front wing, which also appears to move at speed, it seems that any movement of the wing is allowed as long as the wing passes the FIA deflection tests. Which is in turn contradicting the FIA demand for bodywork to be rigid and having no degree of freedom in relation to the body/chassis unit.

3.15 Aerodynamic influence :
With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance :
- must comply with the rules relating to bodywork ;
- must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom) ;
- must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.

Valencia: Ban on engine map changes

A matter of days before the first practice at the European GP, there was surprising news that there will be a further restriction on engine mapping for this race. Ahead of the more stringent ban coming at the next round in Britain, in Valencia teams we have to start the race with the same engine map as used in qualifying. As with many of these FIA clarifications there is little information and even the teams have been hard pushed to provide full responses to my questions on the matter. With what limited information we have I will try to explain the impact of this change.

Currently teams are free to alter engine mapping settings between qualifying and the race, as these parameters are not part of the Parc Fermé regulations. Thus with the advent of hot & cold blown diffusers teams are able to run a much more aggressive map for their qualifying laps for more downforce and of course faster laptimes. Unable to run these maps through out the race, due to the fuel consumption penalty and the heat generated in the engineexhausts, after qualifying teams plug in a laptop and revert the engine map to a softer race strategy. These qualifying maps give a considerable laptime gain, some reports suggest over 0.5-0.8s per lap. This is also one of the reasons for Red Bulls superior qualifying pace relative to their race pace, as I reported last year

Clearly Charlie Whiting is still unhappy that the engine is being used for aerodynamic advantage, he has brought in a restriction on the maps being changed after qualifying. I asked the teams what has been introduced. McLaren told me “same engine map from Q1 until the start of the race”. A fact also confirmed by Lotus and Renault. Therefore no specific engine maps are being banned, merely the teams have to make the judgement call, on whether they can run the first stint on an aggressive map or qualify on a softer map.

But this appears to only the basic principle of the rule revision, clearly there’s a lot more to it than that. It leaves the question of what can the driver change and when can he do it, as well how is this to be enforced. Again McLaren were able to explain some more “I think the intention is that you can’t alter the map – it would take too long to change it during a pitstop as you’d need to plug a laptop into the car”. So while we are used to seeing the drivers altering engine settings from the steering wheel, there is a limit to what he is able to achieve. Renault also were able to confirm “Some parameters are adjustable from the steering wheel, but not all. In Valencia, you can officially change your exhaust setting during the first pitstop, but you would need to plug a computer to the car, so it would take ages”. So it’s clear the driver is either not able or not allowed to make the changes from the Qualifying to the end of the first stint.

From what I’ve learnt, there is a difference between what we define as an engine map. There’s the settings the driver commonly makes via the steering wheel to fuelignitingrev settings, to either increase power or lower fuel consumptionpreserve the engine. But there’s also a level above that, to which the driver has no access to via the steering wheel. The engines parameters are managed via the Standard ECU (SECU), which also includes peripheral items such as the steering wheel interface. Thus to make changes to the main map the team need to plug a laptop into the car and makes changes via the software interface.

Its been suggested the team could code a control on the steering wheel to alter the map between aggressive and soft and simply switch in the first stint, however the FIA have access to the data off the SECU which controls these parameter and could detect if this change had been made, which would be in contravention of the rule.

However its likely that the driver can still make changes to setting on the main map, during the first stint from the steering wheel, but not to the extent where it will go from full aggressive to soft. But simply to find a tactical short term boost or fuel consumption saving, as they normally would during a race.

Equally people have suggested the teams could develop a quicker method for altering the map at the first stop, rather than plugging a laptop in. I guess this is a possibility, assuming the SECU supports any alternative method. But it should be pointed out that the aim of this rule is to stop the aggressive hot blown qualifying maps, which will be restricted to the point of ineffectiveness at the next race (Silverstone), so it’s unlikely any teams would risk any literal interpretation of this rule. If indeed there isn’t already any additional info available to the teams or direction form Charlie Whiting that isn’t public that prohibits this.

If a team were able to run the first stint with an engine and fuel tank that could cope with the load from the aggressive map, the laptime gain might offset the time lost at the first pitstop. This RiskReward scenario might be played out in Valencia, but I’d doubt any of the top teams with these aggressive maps would take such a risk without weeks of testing and pitstop practice with the laptop. The short notice of this rule change no doubt aided the FIA in circumventing these sorts of workarounds.

Another workaround suggested has been set a lap fast lap on an aggressive strategy, pit, then change maps and run a lap on the race strategy. But the FIA are already beating this trick in two ways. Firstly the same map must be from used Q1, therefore all qualifying laps will have to be made with the same mapping as for the race start. This will further add to the deterrent of teams using aggressive maps, as this accounts for several extra laps in Q, as well as the first stint. This will be hard on the engines life and the fuel consumption. Secondly just as with tyres, it’s the set up on which the cars fastest lap is set that becomes the set up to start the race. It seems there are few workarounds to the rules.

The impact of this rule is teams will have to reign in their qualifying maps, this will cost them laptime and obviously any teams with an overly aggressive map will suffer more. The introduction at Valencia is significant as blown diffusers give the car more low speed downforce, although Valencia is not the slowest track on the calendar these maps will provide a big chunk of laptime at this circuit. Paddock rumour places Red Bull towards the top of the list of Q-Map users, so we could expect a smaller gap between them and FerrariMcLaren, but I doubt this would account for all of the laptime difference. McLaren are also a team with a well developed Q-map, where as Ferrari are still believed to be immature in this area of development. Further down the field the other Renault engined teams and the Cosworth teams are likely to suffer less. Which should bring the tailenders a few tenths closer to the P1 time in Q1 reducing the fear exclusion on the 107% rule.

Going forwards this rule change is likely to be retained; further reducing the special qualifying set ups that the FIA have spent the last ten years restricting. It seems now there is very little the teams can do to alter the car between a qualifying and race set up.

Follow ScarbsF1 on Twitter