Williams: Canadian Low Drag Rear Wing

Every year at low Drag circuits some teams will try a more radical way to reduce downforce and drag from their rear wing. It’s rare these solutions get to race, as teams invariable end up running more downforce than the barest minimum these special wings provide. This year Williams bucked that trend and have an all new low drag rear wing. Williams have gone for an opposite strategy to last years (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/renault-wiliams-complex-low-drag-wings-for-canada/) and have created the wings downforce towards the tips of the wing and not the centre.

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Analysis: Abu Dhabi Test – 2012 Exhausts

Image via Williams F1

Last weeks Young Driver Test was the first chance for teams to try exhausts systems designed to the revised 2012 rules. Next year teams will have to place the exhaust exits in a specific region of the car, with further restrictions on the pipes shape and angle. These changes have been introduced to ban the blowing of the diffuser for aerodynamic gain. While I have detailed these rules previously (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/2012-exhaust-position-and-blown-effects/), we can start to look at what the teams have been doing in Abu Dhabi.

Three teams brought revised exhausts, most notably Williams who ran their exhaust in all three days of the test, while Mercedes did less running with their interim set up and Ferrari tried a non legal exhaust on just one of the testing days.


IR cameras point upwards towards the wing and pods on the wing house sensors (Image via Williams F1)

Shunning any running with an Exhaust Blown Diffuser (EBD), Williams ran in Abu Dhabi with an exhaust positioned within the correct area and orientation as demanded by the 2012 rules. Their exhaust is a simple interpretation of the new rules, with the exhaust placed close to the cars centreline and as rearwards as possible. Most interestingly the exhaust is tipped up at the maximum 30-degree angle. This positioning suggests the team are trying to blow the centre of the underside of the rear wing. While I have proposed more radical solutions in my previous article, this does show that teams are to look at blown rear wing effects, as opposed to purely aero neutral exhaust positions. Exiting the exhaust pipe at great speed and temperature, the exhaust plume will hit the underside of the rear wing. This would have the effect of speeding up the airflow under the wing decreasing pressure and creating more downforce.

Williams Exhaust is low and rearward within the legality zone (yellow) and points upwards at a max of 30-degrees

However this effect is more complex than a simple jet of gas hitting the rear wing. Gordon McCabe’s Blog (http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2011/10/exhaust-blown-diffusers-in-2012.html) highlighted some research by Prof. K. Kontis & F. L. Parra from the University of Manchester on the effect of exhaust gasses on an F1 car. They found the exhaust plume passing at an angle out into the airflow created its own drag and moreover was bent backwards by the airflow at greater speeds. When this theory is applied to the Williams set up of a steeply inclined exhaust pointed towards the wing suggests some very interesting effects come into play. Firstly at lower speed the exhaust plume (jet) will be far stronger than the flow over the car. Thus this jet passes upwards through the crossflow over the car, will reach the rear wing to create more downforce.

Jet in Crossflow - low speed: unimpeded the exhaust plume blows the rear wing

At lower speeds the jet obstructing the crossflow will create drag and there will be drag induced by the greater rear wing mass flow, but being at lower speeds this drag will not be detrimental to aero performance. Then at higher speeds when the crossflow over the car has more energy the exhaust jet will start to bend backwards. Most likely moving the jet away from blowing the wings under surface. Thus the blown rear wing (BRW) effect will reduce, the car will lose some downforce and the drag induced by the blown effect will also reduce. Thus at higher speeds the car will shed drag, further boosting top speed.

Jet in Crossflow: High Speed - the faster airflow over the car bends the exhaust plume downwards away from the wing

Williams Abu Dhabi Test exhaust is not a clear sign that they will have this exact positioning for 2012, but the test will have proven the blown effect and just as importantly provided data on the heat passed over the rear wing. It was clear that the rear wing was set up with numerous sensors for vibration, heat and pressure measurement. Many of these sensors were within the rear wing flap itself, the shear number of sensors run on the wing required two aerodynamic pods mounted to the rear wing endplate to house the wiring to send the data back to the onboard data-logger. Additionally Williams ran several different kind s of thermal cameras, mounted to the rear crash structure and pointed upwards looking at the underside of the rear wing. This would not only provide actual temperature measurement, but also highlight which areas are being blown by the exhaust, somewhat like a thermal flow-viz test.


Another one of the teams late to the blown diffuser in 2011 and in particular blowing the outer section of floor by the rear wheel, Mercedes also tried a non-EBD set up in Abu Dhabi. According to earlier comments by Ross Brawn on autosport.com (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/96276), the Mercedes test exhaust was not a definitive 2012 set up “”The car will be testing next week with our first interpretation of what the regulation will be.”, but merely a revised exit location to remove the exhausts effect from the rear ends aerodynamics, “This is compromised because we’re fitting it around the existing car, but we’re removing the effect of the blown exhaust to see how the car will work without that.”

The set up that Mercedes tested with was similar to Williams with the exhaust outlet focussed towards the innerrear of the regulatory box it needs to sit within. Flanked by bodywork the exhaust did not appear to be as steeply inclined as the Williams set up. Reinforcing Brawns comments about removing the blown effect.

Pictures in F1talks.pl gallery http://www.f1talks.pl/2011/11/17/ostatni-dzien-testow/


Like Mercedes Ferrari run an alternative exhaust on the last day of the test. However unlike these previously two teams they did not fit a 2012 spec exhaust. Instead the cars left-hand exhaust was routed dramatically sideways to exit ahead of the rear tyre. This set up would not be legal either in 2011 or 2012, but was probably a simple to completely remove the blown effect from the rear of the car. With the right hand exhaust apparently in its normal EBD set up, the team would be able to measure the difference in pressure left to right to access the effect the exhaust is having. While a large part of development for 2012 will be aimed at getting the exhaust to do some useful work elsewhere eon the car, such as a blown Rear Wing (BRW), the team salsa need to get the diffuser and rear brake ducts working without the artificially accelerated airflow blowing over the from the exhaust. As the test exhaust does not fit into the current regulations this test would be the one place where they could do this, with permission to run such an exhaust being unlikely for a Friday practice session. So although preparation is underway for their exhaust development, Ferraris plan for their 2012 remains hidden.

Ferrari: A Chamber has been added to the Exhaust system (yellow)

One area of Ferraris exhaust development that has recently been exposed is the exhaust chamber. These devices have been rumoured for many months. Most of the rumours attributed to Mercedes engined teams, although no evidence has appeared of the system on any of their three teams cars. As reported by Giorgio Piola at the Abu Dhabi race, Ferrari had this system in place for the Grand Prix and the system remained fitted for at least part of the test. What at first appears to be another exhaust outlet joined to the secondary exhaust pipe, is in fact a closed ended pipe. This picture of the exhaust removed from the car (http://www.f1talks.pl/2011/11/17/ostatni-dzien-testow/?pid=7210 via F1talks.plSutton Images), shows the large extension, which acts as a pressure accumulator when the exhaust is blowing. Then when the driver is off the throttle the pressure built up in the chamber is release, which smoothes the blown diffuser effect between full and partclosed throttle.

When on the throttle the chamber is pressurised along with the exhaust system


When off the throttle the chamber maintains some exhaust flow

Similar systems were common on Japanese 2-stroke motorbikes in the eighties, albeit placed on the inlet side of the engine (often termed ‘boost bottles’), Fords WRC car also featured a chamber on the inlet side for similar effect.

This system works on the backpressure created within the exhaust. It’s worth noting Ferrari have recently switched to the nozzle type exhaust outlets, these being narrower in cross section to that of the main exhaust pipe. Most probably these nozzles work to increase backpressure to smooth the exhaust plume at different throttle openings. Just as interesting is the switch of the Mercedes powered teams to nozzle type exits mid season, suggesting the exhaust chamber rumours may be true. It would be logical to assume that the back pressure created within the exhaust both by the nozzles and the chamber would affect top end power. But any time loss being made up by the less senstive aerodynamics.

In some respects this exhaust chamber is similar to what appeared to be a one-way exhaust valve fitted at several GPs this year. The belief being that the exhaust valve allowed the exhaust to suck in air when the driver was off the throttle, to maintain exhaust flow to the diffuser. This being a mechanical alternative to the off throttle mappings (Hot BlownCold Blown), which were to be banned mid season. There appears to be a move to again enforce engine mapping restrictions for 2012, so the teams will need to find ways to smooth the exhaust plume over the bodywork. But this one-way exhaust valve will be expressly banned under the 2012 Exhaust Regs. So the exhaust chamber solution appears to be a design what will become present on the many cars exploiting blown exhaust effects in 2012.

Renault & Wiliams: Complex low drag wings for Canada

Both Williams and Renault had complex wings for the low drag demands of the Canadian GP. In Williams case the wing is shaped to create most downforce in its centre, leaving a much shallower span near the endplates. This design reduces the pressure difference where the wing meets the endplate. This reduces the vortices produced at the wing tip and hence drag. Although the Williams wing is fitted with DRS, low drag is still critical as DRS can only be used in the race in the situation where the car is less than 1s behind another at the DRS detection zone.

Renault meanwhile have twisted their rear profile to match the oncoming airflow. This is in fact an old wing already seen in 2010.

Williams: Endplate-less Front wing

Williams introduced a new concept of front wing for Canada. Working along similar geometry for the three wing elements, the endplate design has evolved to be formed totally by the wings main plane. In order to meet the rules of side profile surface area, the wing sports a vane that also mounts the cascade. While sealing the airflow beneath the wing, a function normally served by the endplate is formed by a small fence added below the main plane.

You can see with the cascade and under-fence removed, there is effectively no seperate endplate

With the cascade and under-fence removed you can see the line of the main plane (yellow) forms a continuous curve across its entire length, no separate parts form the end plate. You can also see the two flaps curve down to form the rest of the ‘endplate’ function.

An extra slot in the main plane near the outer tip, makes the a 4-element (3-slot yellow) set up

Lastly the wing continues to exploit a solution used by Williams all season. The wing is notionally a three element design, with a main plane and two flaps. However an extra slot is formed in the outer span of the main plane and this formed effectively a four element for more highly loaded outer section. You can see the depth and length of the wing in this outer is greater than the other sections of wing, so this area creates the highest amount of downforce.

Williams – Lowline gearbox in detail

Copyright Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

Having been obvious at its launch the Williams FW33 has a radical shrunken gearbox case. Now we can see how the case is actually configured, which is close to the diagram I posted back in February (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/williams-fw33-lowline-gearbox/). As I explained Williams sought to remove as much blockage ahead of the beam wing as possible, to do this they lowered the top of the gearbox, switched to a Pull-Rod set up and repositioned the differential much lower. The revised layout has lead to a very neat gearcase.

Nico / Slideways @ Autosport.com

Copyright Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

To get a reference point for what we see in this picture, it’s the lower wishbone that’s fitted. This is usually mounted halfway down the gearcase and the top wishbone mounts above it. So what we are seeing is the casing dropping downwards from its front face to create a low flat top. It’s this front face that also gives an idea of how high a conventional gearcase is. So clearly Williams have lowered the case dramatically (see below).

Copyright: Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

Copyright: Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

Equally the differential (the diff’ circled above) is very low too, normally its several centimeters above the lower wishbone, now the diff’ is below the wishbone. This is why when we see the car from behind; we can see the driveshaft’s angle upwards from the gearbox at an extreme angle. Above the diff’ is the bolt on wing mount, as explained in my previous article, this metal structure supports both the rear wing and the top wishbone. One curiosity of the diff’ and wing mount set up is how the diff’ is removed. Normally the gearcase is split to allow the differential to be removed from the back of the case. Perhaps with the new Williams set up, the case has a cover over the left hand side of the differential and the diff’ is removed sideways. This set up would create a slightly stiffer case, critical for its complex waisted shape.

Copyright: Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

Not seen in this picture is the top wishbone, it mounts to the top of the bolt-on metal pylon and also to the pick up on the front of the casing (circled above)

Copyright: Andrew Robertson (@JarZ)

Williams have also switched to a pullrod suspension, this places the rocker linkage and the dampers low down at the front of the gearbox. The dampers heave spring and inerter have to pass horizontally across the front of the gearbox; they enter the gear case via the aperture seen at its lower front side.

More info on Pull Rod Suspension

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Williams – Rear wing mount and reports of lateral movement

Williams have a unique rear end set up, with the rear wishbone and rear wing mounting to the same pylon. In early tests other drivers and media suggested the rear wing moving laterally and this was related to the lack of stiffness in this pylon. However Sam Michael has refuted these claims and looking at the rear wing set up, you can see where the movement came from.

Due to its low gearbox casing, the rear leg of the top rear wishbone mounts to a vertical metal extension of the gearbox. The structure then continues vertically in the form of a carbon fibre strut, which mounts the top rear wing. Normally teams will also support the beam wing with sizeable mount to the top of the rear impact structure. As part of Williams ‘waisted’ approach to structures at the back of the car, the beam wing ‘floats’ above the impact structure. Thus aero loads from this device pass upwards through the endplates into the top rear wing and consequently into the vertical pylon back to the chassis. In early tests the endplates were not able resist the lateral loads the beam wing exerted on the assembly and as a result the lower of the wing moved laterally. Williams had already accounted for this with a small metal stay (illustrated – yellow) between the vertical pylon and the beam wing. Such were the cornering loads around Valencia, this was unable to steady the wing. So Williams added links from the endplate to the diffuser. This greatly reduced the movement and no negative comments have merged about the structure around the back of the car since.

Williams FW33 – Lowline gearbox

Williams said their new car would be aggressive, but at first look the FW33 seemed quite conventional.  Until the area above the gearbox is looked at.  In order to gain the maximum flow towards the lower beam wing, Williams have removed a large part of the gearbox case (as described in the below illustration shaded yellow) ,lowered the differential and reworked the rear suspension.

In fact Williams Design team have completely rethought the rear suspension and gear case. By going to a Pullrod set up, the rockers, torsion bars and dampers that normally occupy the space above the gearbox are sited low down at the side of the gearbox (see http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/red-bull-pull-rod-suspension-what-is-looks-like-how-it-benefits-aerodynamics/).  Without this hardware mounted so high up,  the area above the gearbox is just a void. So although it serves a structural purpose the stiffen the suspension mounting points.  If they can be sufficiently stiff, then this area can be removed. Thus with the Williams the air flows over the upper body and around the engine cover, the bodywork then curves in behind the engine and airbox in a sharp “V”.   There is then no structure to hinder the airflow, until the air passes around the rear wing support, which now doubles up as the top rear wishbone mounting.

To remove other elements in the air steam, Williams have removed the toe link from behind the driveshaft and replaced it with a “Z” link upper wishbone. The slim carbon fibre moulding acting as both suspension members.
Further lowering the rear end the differential is lowered as far as possible. The differential is driven from the cross shaft between the diff and the main gear cluster. The differential can effectively be at any angle pivoted around the centreline of the cross shaft. What Williams have done is to lower it as far as possible while still allowing the CV joints some consideration and the starter shaft to be accessed.  This does effectively make the gearbox slightly longer.

One fear from the outsiders point of view would be the structural efficiency of such a waisted design, especially the vertical spar, that supports the wishbones leg above the differential. Williams would either have to compromise weight or stiffness to make the design efficient. So despite the loss of a large proportion of the gear case, the gain may be offset by the penalty of added weight to make the remaining structure stiff enough.

This gearbox has been a long lead time project, Sam Michael told me the new case was planned as early as March last year and the hard worked CV joints and driveshafts are designed and made by Pankl. They have no worries about the set ups reliability, although the joints are installed with such an extreme angularity, that they would either rob power or reliability with a normal design joint.

So complex is this set up, it would be near impossible to copy during the season.  As this would require new rear crash structures which are now homologated.  Not to mention the lead time and cost involved in developing a new gearcase and driveshaft solution.