InDetail: Force India F-Duct

F-Duct_assy

In 2010 the key technical development was the F-Duct, a legal driver controlled system that stalled the rear wing for more top speed. During the course of the season, as more of the system was uncovered by prying cameras in the pit garages, I attempted to cover the workings of the F-Duct in several posts. But just a couple of years later I was able to buy a Force India F-Duct assembly from one of the teams licensed parts sellers. With this complete F-Duct and some background from people at the team involved with the project, we are now able to explain the solution in more detail.

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McLaren: Front End Aero Development

McLaren have long since followed their own path in aero development. Certainly since 2009 the car has increasingly diverged from other team’s aero concepts and the 2012 MP4-27 is no different. However the current car has a clear lineage in some of the design solutions and the whole front end is an evolution of recent cars.

Development Chronology

2009

Their first car to the current aero regulations in 2009 sported a conventional nose, front wing and cascades.

2010

The car that was launched in 2010 had a very different front end. The drooped nosed of the MP4-24 was gone replaced by a more horizontal and shallower nose cone. Beneath this was fitted large aero device, I term a “snow plough”, Williams had run a similar solution in 2009.

From a horizontal leading edge positioned between the front wing mounting pylons, the snow ploughs surface splits into left and right sections and eventually forms a pair vertical vanes protruding below the nose. This creates a “V” section mid way along its length and the twist of the airflow along with the pressure differential between the upperlower surfaces creates vortices trailing from the rear of the vanes. This is an aggressive solution compared to the simpler turning vanes other teams use. This device probably creates some downforce in its own right, but I suspect the primary purpose is to direct the strong vortices along the Y250 axis, to drive a better airflow towards the floors lower leading edge.

Later in 2010 after a series of different iterations of endplate and cascade design, the wing substantially changed for Singapore GP.  The main plane was effectively split into two; a section ahead of the front tyres and a section inboard of that. The intersection between the sections formed an upright for the main cascade winglet. While the less aggressive inboard wing span gains a simple “r” shaped vane.

2011

McLaren continued the 2010 design of snowplough nosecone and split front wing into 2011 with the MP4-26. Again later in the year, the wing was simplified for the Indian GP with similar endplates and cascades, but the complex split shape wing profile was changed to be straight across its width.

2012

Again this format was brought forward to the launch and initial test version of the 2012 MP4-27. Only in the last days of Barcelona testing did the revised front end appear. Gone was the snowplough and the straight wing profile. In their place was a simpler nose cone and a pair of vanes dropping vertically from the nose. While the more complex split wing profile was reintroduced. With EBDs less powerful this year, teams are finding downforce levels are lower. We could conclude that the snowplough and straighter wing arrangement were better for downforce, so the new simpler arrangement may be a more efficient way of producing less downforce.

The other change in China was the deletion of the slots in the small cascade winglet. The slots would have reduced the strength of the vortex produced by the winglet, removing the slots will have increased them. This change will be made in order to direct a stronger airflow around the inside face of the front wheel.
As the team get to grips with the new exhaust regulations and start to develop more downforce, potentially some of these solutions could return. So any reappearance will tell us a story of development and aero load figures in 2012.

Mercedes AMG: Engine Build Challenge


During my visit to Mercedes AMG before Christmas, the company set us a challenge that’s been put to other more notable visitors. In the engine build area, two engines were arranged in each bay, but without the coil pack, heat shield and exhausts fitted. Our task was to fit these parts to one side of the engine, along with tightening each fastener to the correct torque setting. A dozen journalists attended the day, the challenge being made even greater as the two current Mercedes AMG drivers had also previously completed the challenge.

The coil pack is handed over and the challenge starts...

The first job was to fit the coil pack. The four-pronged carbonfibre cased unit is a press fit atop each spark plug, then the we needed to connect CAN electronics interface near the front of the airbox.

Next the heatshield goes on... (eventual challenge winner watching intently behind)

A small reflective coated carbonfibre heatshield goes over the coil pack, attached with three small bolts, one of which is smaller and requires a different torque setting.

Access to the 24 exhaust studs under the engine was surprisingly good

Then onto the exhaust system, weighing about 3kg each exhaust is hand made from thin sections of inconnel welded together. Although the 4-into-1 exhaust is one assembly, there is some play in the primary pipes joints with the collector, so fitting the four exhaust pipes to the studs on the engine requires a little fiddling. Each exhaust pipe bolts to the exhaust port with three nuts, two above and to the side of the exhaust pipe, and one centrally below.

A blur of hand movement gets each nut threaded on...

Each of these 24 nuts being tightened to the same torque setting. With the engine up on the stand and being able to kneel below the engine, getting access to each fastener was surprisingly easy, none of the exhaust pipes being particularly obstructive. I’m sure doing the same job with the engine in the car and the floor fitted is a very different story.

A quick check that each nut is torqued correctly and the job's done.

I completed the challenge in 4m 30s and I was satisfied I’d done a good job. However ex Racecar Engineering magazine editor, Charles Armstrong Wilson completed the challenge in an impressive 3m 30s! Even though one (un-named) journalist took as long a 7m 57s, as group us journalists were confident we’d done a good job. But the teams Drivers had soundly beaten us all. Nico Rosberg did the challenge in 3m 15s, while Michael Schumacher did it thee minutes dead!

The job of the F1 engine builder and mechanic is a difficult and skilled one, the skills of the F1 driver are ever impressive and I’ll stick to drawing racecars and not working on them!

Mercedes AMG: KERS development

One of Max Mosley’s lasting legacies in F1 was the introduction of his vision of a green initiative in F1. As a result KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) was introduced 2009, as part of a greater package of rule changes to change the face of F1.
KERS is a system which harvests energy under braking and stores it to provide the driver with an extra power boost each lap. A simple technical summary of KERS is here (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/kers-anatomy/ ).
During the 2009 season McLaren were applauded for running Mercedes KERS at every race and it was widely reported as the best KERS in use that year. Along with a few other journalists, I was invited along to Mercedes AMG Powertrains in Brixworth, UK to hear about KERS development since 2009. With Managing Director Thomas Fuhr and Engineering Director Andy Cowell giving a presentation on the range of work Mercedes AMG does with its F1 teams.

Mercedes AMG Powertrains reside on the site that was previously Mercedes Benz High Performance Engines (MBHPE). Now renamed to reflect the wider application of the groups knowledge, both to uses outside F1 and to areas other than engines. Powertrain is a catch all term covering; engine, transmission, electronics and of course KERS Hybrid systems.
The company have built a purpose designed Technology Centre on the site, which historically was the Ilmor engine plant and positioned just a few miles from Cosworth in Northampton. Clearly this area has a rich seam of Engine knowledge.
Formed around three buildings the entire F1 engine and KERS development is carried out on site, only specialist functions such as the casting of the crankcases is carried out off site. Additionally other Mercedes AMG work is carried out here, such as the AMG E-cell car.

KERS 2009
Mercedes AMG (MBHPE as it was known then) developed their first KERS for 2009 in house. At the time McLaren were the primary customer for the system, although Force India and at the last minute Brawn GP were also customer teams that year.  Force India had a chassis prepared to run KERS, but chose not to during the season.  Brawn had a chassis designed before their switch to Mercedes engines, so their car was not designed to accept the Mercedes KERS.

Mercedes AMG: 2009 Battery pack and water cooling radiator

In designing the system, Mercedes AMG had a specific requirement from McLaren. As the effectiveness of KERS was unknown, McLaren didn’t want to compromise the car if KERS was removed. So the system was packaged to fit into a largely conventional car. Whereas other KERS suppliers went for a battery position under the fuel tank, McLaren and Mercedes AMG placed theirs in the right hand sidepod. Low down and far forward, on the floor between the radiator and the side impact structures. The battery pack contains not only the array of individual cells, but also the pump and pipe work for its water cooling circuit. As well as the electronic interfaces for its control and monitoring. The assembly is around 7cm high, 12cm wide and 40cm long. The KBP is probably the single heaviest KERS component. In 2009 this sidepod package was acceptable as the teams were still on Bridgestone tyres and seeking an extremely forward weight distribution. Thus the 5cm higher mounting in the sidepod was offset by its forward placement.

2009 KERS and the batteries sidepod location relative to the engine

Conversely the smaller Power Control Unit (PCU) was placed in a similar location in the other sidepod, ironically the PCU is around the size and shape of road car battery. This left the monocoque uncompromised, aside from the smaller cut out for the MGU in the rear bulkhead.

The 2009 Zytek developed MGU

Then the Motor Generator Unit (MGU) is mounted to the front of the engine.  This device generates and creates the power for the KERS. Its driven from a small set of gears mounted to the front of the crankshaft.  the unit remains with the engien when the car is dismantled and is oil cooled along with the engine.

All of the components are linked both to the SECUs CAN bus and to each other by High Current Cable. The latter taking the DC current between the Batteries and MGU. With this packaging Mercedes AMG quotes the total system weight as 27kg.
Designed and developed by Mercedes AMG, but other partners were involved; the unique battery cells were supplied via A123 and the MGU was partnered with Zytek. Although the power control electronics were solely a Mercedes AMG in house development.
Through the 2009 season both McLaren drivers had a safe and reliable KERS at each race. The system was safe even after crashes and was fault free despite rain soaked races. Safety was designed in from the outset, all electrics were double insulated. Teams can also measure damage to the unit via accelerometers and insulation sensors, so any impact or incidental damage can be monitored and the car retired if the need arises. Additionally each cell in the battery has its temperature monitored. KERS batteries are sensitive to high and low temperatures, each cell needing to operate in a specific thermal window. Too low and the unit is inefficient and too hot and there’s the danger of explosion.
Perhaps the only criticism was the sidepod battery mounting, despite several incidents, this never put any one in danger, so this never proved to be an unsafe installation.

KERS 2011

2011_Mercedes_AMG_engine

For a variety of non technical reasons KERS was agreed not to be raced from 2010 until the planned 2013 rules. However this plan changed, but not before Mercedes AMG had made new strategic plans around KERS.
Mercedes AMG set out a longer term strategy to work on research for KERS in preparation for 2013, as well as working with AMG to develop the road car based E-cell technology.
(Link Mercedes AMG E-Cell chassis  )
This changed when the plans for the 2013 engine were pushed back to 2014 and KERS was agreed to be reintroduced for 2011. Thus the 2013 development plans had to rebased and deliver a refined version of the 2009 KERS for 2011. Moreover there were now three teams to be supplied with KERS. There was no Christmas for Mercedes AMG staff 2010!
As a result of the research work carried out after 2009, Mercedes AMG now solely design, develop and produce the entire KERS package, aside from the Battery cells. So now the MGU is a wholly Mercedes AMG part.

The MGU fits to the front of the engine and driven from a small set of gears

With KERS effectiveness proven in 2009, it was possible to have the cars designed around it, rather than it be an optional fitment. So the packaging was revised and the entire system integrated into just two units. The MGU remains attached to the front of the engine, still driven off a spur gear on the nose of the crankshaft. While the KBP and PCU are now integrated into a much smaller single package and fitted under the fuel tank. The unit bolts up inside a moulded recess under the monocoque, the unit being attached using four vibration mounts, and then a closing panel and the cars floorplank are fitted under it.

The 2009 battery pack (yellow) is now integrated with the power electronics (not shown) in a single unit under the fuel tank (red).

It’s this integration of the batteries and power electronics that has has really slimmed the 2011 system down. Mercedes AMG now quote 24kg the entire KERS, much of the 3kg weight loss being down to the reduction in the heavy power cabling between these units.
Not only is the packaging better, but the systems life and efficiency is too. Round trip efficiency stands at a stated 80%, which is the amount of power reapplied to the engine via the MGU after it has been harvested and stored. Improvements in efficiency being in both the charge and discharge phases.
Battery pack life was extended to as much as 10,000km, several times the 2009 predictions that batteries would need replacing every two races (2,400km). Over this period, the cells do not tend to degrade, as the team manage the unit’s condition (‘State of Charge’ & temperature) throughout the GP weekend to maintain their operational efficiency.
The 80hp boost KERS provides, stresses the engine. This was well known back in 2009, but for 2011 along with DRS the car can be several hundred revs higher than the usual EOS (end of straight) revs. Mercedes AMG quoted 15-25% more stress for a KERS and DRS aided lap, this needing to be taken into account when the team monitor the engines duty cycle, thus deciding when to replace it. Mercedes conducted additional dyno development of the engine being kept on the rev limiter to fully understand and counter this problem. This work paid benefits; Hamilton ran many laps at Monza bouncing off the rev limiter along the main straight, while chasing Vettel.

KERS in use
Although the max 60KW (~80hp) output can be reduced from the steering wheel, its normal for the driver to use the full 80hp boost each time they engage the KERS boost. With a reliable KERS, the driver will use the full 6s boost on every lap. Media reports suggest Red Bulls iteration of the Renault KERS does not use this full 60kw. Instead something like 44kw, providing less of a boost, but allowing smaller batteries to be used. The loss in boost being offset by the overall benefit in car packaging.
The driver engages a KERS boost either via a paddle or button on the steering wheel, or by the throttle pedal. The latter idea being a 2009 BMW Sauber development, where the driver pushes the pedal beyond its usual maximum travel to engage KERS. Nick Heidfeld brought this idea to Renault in 2011 and the over-extended pedal idea has also been used for DRS too.
Once the driver is no longer traction limited out of a turn, they can engage KERS. Usually a few small 1-2s boosts out of critical turns provides the ideal lap time. It’s the driver who has to control the duration of the boost, by whichever control. As with gear shift the drivers can be uncannily accurate in their apportioning of the boost around the lap. It’s suggested that the 2009 Ferrari system apportioned the duration of the KERS boost via a GPS map, the driver simply presses the button and the electronics gives them the predetermined amount of boost. This solution came as surprise to Andy Cowell, so one wonders if this is legal or perhaps if the report is true.
From on board shots, we’ve seen the steering wheel has an array of LEDs or numerical displays to show the driver the boost remaining for that lap. The SECU will have control code written to prevent overuse of KERS around a lap.
Typically the battery will hold more charge than a laps worth of harvestingdischarge. So that any unexpected incidents do not leave the driver without their 6s of boost.
In use KERS can be used in several different ways. When lapping alone KERS typically gains 0.45s per lap, although this varies slightly by track. Along with DRS is can boost top speed by 12kmh. As explained the driver uses a pre-agreed amount of boost, decided from simulation work done at the factory before the race. So the planned strategy of KERS usage will be used in practice, qualifying and in parts of the race. However in the race the driver can use KERS tactically to gain an advantage. Drivers are able to use more a KERS boost to either overtake or defend a position. One feature of 2011 along with the Pirelli tyres being in different condition during the race, was the driver’s freedom to alter their racing line and use their grip and KERS to tackle their rivals.

KERS future
KERS continues in its current guise for another two years, then for 2014 along with all new engine regulations there will be a new format KERS. Energy recovery will be from different sources, so the overriding term for the hybrid technology on the car will simply be ERS (Energy Recovery Systems). However KERS will still exist, harvesting energy from braking, but will have a greater allowance for energy stored and reapplied. But, there will also be TERS (Thermal Energy Recovery), which a MGU harvesting energy from the turbocharger. Overall ERS will provide a third of the engines power for some 30s of the lap. No longer will the driver press a button for their KERS boost, it will be integrated in their demand for power from the throttle pedal. The electronics will be constantly managing the Powertrains energy, harvesting and applying energy based on whether the driver is on or off the throttle. In 2014 Powertrains and ERS is set to become very complicated.

Spring-Less Rear Suspension – A Quiet Revolution

In the latter part of the year suggestions were that teams were discarding the rear side springs to allow very soft rear ends.   This has proved to be the case, in the past few years teams have been removing their rear torsion bars to gain greater control of suspension set up.  This revolution has been quietly spreading as many teams have gone this route.

An early sign springs were being removed was  the I-Racing game, which accurately modeled the FW31 with the Williams teams assistance, the game provided no scope for rear springs.   Equally comments made by Anthony Davidson over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend suggested that McLaren’s extreme stiff frontsoft rear was due to this set up. Leading to Buttons problems locking up the inside wheel under braking. Closer investigation with technical people close to the sport prove this to be case and the practice is widespread amongst several teams, already McLaren and Williams are highlighted as adopting this practice, but Toyota and red bull are sporting this set up, by virtue of their gearbox supply this suggests that force India and Toro Rosso have the option too. Although this seems to be a relevantly recent practice as most teams first designed this into the 2009 cars, albeit it may have been tested or raced before then.

Suspension on F1 cars has the joint purpose to control the cars attitude both for aerodynamics and tyre dynamics. These often contradictory requirements have lead to compromises, largely against tyre performance and more to the benefit of aero control. Aerodynamicists want the car to run flat (or raked) with little change in roll or ride height. For mechanical grip the car needs softer attitude control. This has lead F1 cars to run quite stiff front ends and softer rear ends, both in roll and heave. A soft rear ARB creates more mechanical grip, which then in turns needs to be controlled by a stiff front anti roll bar. For aerodynamics reasons the front wing and splitter like to be flat to the track surface to gain most downforce, thus this also tends to require a stiff anti roll bar.
At the extreme end of this set up characteristic this has been exhibited most clearly in McLarens handling. The car gains traction from the soft rear anti roll bar, but the stiff front roll bar means that the rear heavy car tends to roll at the rear and this picks up the inside front wheel going into turns.
On a side point although McLaren run what has been called a stiff front axle, their apparent problem with grip over bumps going into turns is not necessarily a reflection of this set up, more that the cars aero requires tight ride height control, it is possible to run stiff anti roll bar and still have a compliance for coping with bumps.

Heave is when the car moves vertically, thus both wheels are rising or falling together
In a typical rear suspension the effect of heave is that the heave spring (blue) and each side spring (yellow) is providing stiffness. The dampers (Red) damp the motion.

Roll is when the car tilts, thus one wheel is rising and one is falling
In a typical rear suspension the effect of Roll is the ARB (orange) and the side springs provide the stiffness. Again, the Dampers (Red) damp the motion

Single wheel bump, which tends to be for riding kerbs or bumps in the track is a secondary requirement to heave and roll control, spring rates are not normally tuned for this requirement, instead the cars dampers allow freer suspension movement when the wheel suddenly rises up at a greater rate than normal, the damper has different rates for the wheel rising at different speeds, known as low speed (the cars chassis moving slowly i.e. pitch roll) high speed (bumps) and often a tertiary setting known as ‘blow off’ where the damper will provide a far lower damper rate for extreme wheel speeds such as kerbing.

Hence in both heave and roll the side springs are providing additional stiffness to the effective spring rate, thus both roll and have are coupled to the rate of the side springs. If we can do away with the side springs then both roll and have can be totally independent and controlled by their relevant springs. If you need a softer ARB rate, then the side springs are the limiting factor.


When you do away with the side springs, the heave and roll bar rates are higher in order to replace the spring rate added by the side spring. As long as each of these devices has a wide enough range of springs then there is no loss in control.


It’s noteworthy that both rear dampers are used, in the nineties we saw monoshock front ends, which utilised both a single spring and single dampers. But monoshocks only have one damper so the control of roll is undamped. With a side spring-less set up there’s two dampers, controlling roll motion. Which is an obvious improvement in vehicle control over Monoshocks.
Although there are some set backs with a side spring-less set up, some suspension designers want a non linear rate to the heave and wheel rates and sometimes different rising rate curve for each of these elements. This is achieved by the linkage (pushrod or pullrod) and the rocker geometry, going for side spring-less set up prevents having differing wheel and heave spring rising rates. In some engineers opinions, this is the removal of a needless layer of complexity.
A heave element not only supports the rear axle heave motion, but the element provides a non linear rate. Ground clearance is used up through downforce compressing the suspension as speed increases. The heave element has a range of free movement, this is taken up as ride height lowers until the then the heave spring itself (or Belleville stacks or bump rubbers) come into effect and add considerable rate to the heave motion. This prevents grounding or choking the underfloor through low ground clearance.
Equally making set up changes is both simplified and complicated. Engineers can now change either roll or heave rates independently, before changing a changing torsion bar effectively altered both. But changing a torsion bar, while not a quick task was the switch of an isolated component. Now teams will need to change the entire heave spring or ARB assembly.
An additional benefit is if a team wants to commit fully to the side spring-less set up, the packaging of the suspension becomes far easier, no longer having to package long torsion bars. This is perhaps a reason why Red Bull were able to effectively package the pullrod set up, as the pivot for the rocker is near vertical, fitting a torsion bar in this position would have been be tricky.

With the design of next years car leading towards a widespread adoption of pullrod, the option to adopt side spring-less will be attractive to aid packaging. Although the side spring-less pushrod set up will also allow dampers and rockers more freedom to be packaged at the front of the gearbox casing. Adoption at the front of the car is possible too, there is lesser need as the front roll rate is higher and the torsion bars can add to the effective rate. But simpler packaging and tuning may still be attractive for a designer.

Octobers Technical Updates

I’ll compress this months work into one post for simplicity. For updates on F1 technology have a look at the following outlets: Automoto365.com and Motorsport Magazine.

Automoto365.com – Korea & Japan

This is my major outlet, with my images and writing on race-by-race developments

Japanese GP http://bit.ly/AM365_Japan

Red Bull – Rear wing, beam wing and front wing endplates

McLaren – New F-duct

Renault – Slotted footplate

Williams – Slotted beam wing

Sauber – New diffuser

Force India – New diffuser

http://f1.automoto365.com/news/controller.php?lang=en&theme=default&month=10&seasonid=21&nextMode=ExclusiveNewsForm&news_id=42674

Korean GP http://bit.ly/AM365_korea

Red Bull – New front brake ducts

McLaren – Slotted front wing endplate

Ferrari – Ridged splitter

http://f1.automoto365.com/news/controller.php?lang=en&theme=default&month=10&seasonid=21&nextMode=ExclusiveNewsForm&news_id=42861

Motorsport Magazine – Composite Monocoques

I’ve illustrated this article on composite monocoques

http://www.motorsportmagazine.co.uk/2010/10/25/latest-issue-%E2%80%93-december-2010/

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McLaren – Analysis: New F-duct for Suzuka

 

In preparation for the final races, McLaren have developed another iteration of their F-duct rear wing. The new version places the stalling slot onto the rear face of the main plane of the rear wing, where the previous versions had all placed the slot on the rear face of the flap. This is a subtle change and effects the way the wing stalls to create improve aero efficiency (i.e. more straight-line speed, or more downforce for a given top speed).

F-ducts work as they reduce the drag created by the rear at speed, this drag limit’s the top speed the car can achieve for a downforce level. The more downforce the wing makes, the more drag is created and hence the lower the top speed. Although a larger wing creates more frontal area and hence presents more of an obstruction to the airflow, it is in fact the drag induced the unseen air spilling off the wing that’s creates most of the rear wings drag. In fact an F1 wing despite looking so streamlined creates more drag than a solid block of the same dimensions. This is because an F1 wing is so highly loaded as it strives to create huge amounts of downforce from such a small surface area, that the air coming off the wing creates an invisible extension to the wings frontal area. Created by both the airflow rising all but vertically off the centre part of the rear wing and then the even more draggy vortices spiralling off the wing tips. These vortices are often seen in wet conditions and used to be seen as a sign of an efficient wing, but are in fact hugely detrimental to the downforcedrag coefficient of a rear wing. This is why we see such efforts to reduce wing angles near the endplates and team make the slits in the endplates, as these are all aimed at reducing these vortices.

Drag is created by the wings upwash and the vortices spilling from the wing tips

An ideal situation would be a wing with steep angles of attack for downforce in the corners, where drag is of little consequence. Then a nice flat wing for the straights, where less drag improves top speed and downforce is not required to give the car grip. Without being legally able to move the wing itself(albeit this will allowed in 2011) there has no mechanism to create this effect in F1.

When the wing is stalled the airflow breaks up, preventing the drag inducing upwash and vortices

Teams have known for a long time that stalling the rear wing drastically reduces downforce and as a result reduces drag. This is because the large flow structures coming off the wing break up and shed the drag inducing effect they have. Many teams have tried to exploit the rules by flexing their rear wings to create just such an effect, but the FIA has outlawed this via a number of deflection tests and latterly the slot gap separator.

McLaren have now found that they can stall the rear wing, if they blow airflow out of a slot at right angles to the underside of the rear wing. But this in itself cannot be exploited unless there is a means to switch the airflow on and off. With the driver controlled F-duct, controlling the flow either to the stalling slot or to a neutral outlet, McLaren can achieve the ideal situation of a downforce wing setting for corners and low drag for the straights.

The driver controlled Fluid switch directs flow to the wing or the neutral outlet

By the driver controlling a duct that affects the flow through a ‘fluid switch‘, which is a “V shaped duct behind the roll hoop, flow can either pass to the slot or a secondary duct exiting in the low pressure region well away from the upper rear wing.

When disengaged the F-Duct sends flow through the lower branch, the upwash and vortices continue to create dragWhen the duct is disengaged airflow passes out of the duct which exits just above the beam wing. In this mode the rear wing has the flow attached and creates downforce and with it drag.Blowing the flap stalls the wing to reduce drag

When the F-Duct is disengaged air passes from the roll hoop inlet into the Fluid switch.  From there the air flows both into the low level nuetral outlet and partly into the cockpit. When the driver covers this cockpit control duct, the change in back pressure makes fluid switch alter the direction of the roll hoop flow, to pass into the duct towards the rear wing.

When the cockpit duct is covered air instead passes to the rear wing slot

When the driver engages the F-duct the airflow alters inside the fluid switch to send the air out of the stalling slot. This breaks up the vortices shed from the rear wing and reduces downforce and drag. McLaren initially had this full width slot towards the trailing edge of the flap, the airflow stalls quite late as it passes under the wing and the most likely effect of this is that airflow can reattach quickly when the duct is disengaged. Its also possible that a downside to this, as the wing stalls quite near the trailing edge there may still be some drag induced by the general upwash from under the wing.

Blowing the main plane stalls the wing earlier and may even further reduce drag

When Sauber copied the F-duct at the 2010 Australian GP, they had their F-duct stall the wing via a stalling slot in the main plane of the rear wing. While Ferrari and Red Bull followed McLaren with a flap stalling F-duct, Force India, Renault and latterly Toro Rosso have gone the way of a main plane stalling solution. By stalling the wing much further upstream, its possible that the disruption to the airflow further reduces the upwash, in turn reducing drag even further. On the downside the wing may take longer to see the flow fully reattach when the duct is disengaged.

McLaren appear to have seen a benefit in the main plane blown effect.  Although the solution has required new ducting and a new rear wing, it will only see at most three races before F-ducts are banned for 2011.  Such is the cost of fighting for the championship this year.

All the workings of an F-duct can be seen here

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Septembers Technical updates

I’ll compress this months work into one post for simplicity. For updates on F1 technology have a look at the following outlets: Automoto365.com, Motorsport Magazine and Race Engine Technology magazine.

Automoto365.com – Singapore Tech Desk
All the technical devleopments from singapores night race.
- McLarens front wing and nose cone (thanks to bosyber comments on this blog)
- Red Bulls updates
- Mercedes Bargeboards
- Williams Frotn wing
- plus more from Renault and Toro Rosso

http://f1.automoto365.com/news/controller.php?lang=en&theme=default&month=10&seasonid=21&nextMode=ExclusiveNewsForm&news_id=42469

Motorsport Magazine – F1′s Aero Tricks

I’ve illustrated this article on this years must have developments: F-ducts, Exhaust Blown Diffusers and deflecting splitters.

http://www.motorsportmagazine.co.uk/2010/09/30/latest-issue-%E2%80%93-november-2010/

Race Engine Technology


What lies inside a contemporary Formula One engine? Toyota have given Race Engine Technology full access to their current RXV-08 F1 engine. This issue contains the most detailed technical article ever published on a current F1 engine. A 16 page article covering all aspects of the Toyota Formula One engine in a level of detail you will have never experienced before. RET have been given unprecedented access to the engine with the full co-operation of the entire technical team.

http://www.highpowermedia.com/mall/productpage.cfm/RET/2050/352560

Germany Tech Review now on Automoto365.com

My Technical review from Hockenheim is now on Automoto365.com.  With the update on McLarens Blown diffuser, Mercedes and Williams exciting ‘open-fronted’ exhaust blown diffusers, as well as updates from Virgin and Toro Rosso.

http://bit.ly/aviB74

or

http://f1.automoto365.com/news/controller.php?lang=en&theme=default&month=7&seasonid=21&nextMode=ExclusiveNewsForm&news_id=41729