Red Bull – Monza Diffuser Analysis


Red Bull appeared in Monza was a further development of their diffuser. Changes largely appeared to be focussed on the treatment of the trailing edge of the bodywork. For Monza the diffuser gained a flap around almost the entire periphery of the trailing edge.

Highlighted in Yellow, RBR had a flap spanning around most of the diffusers trailing edge

This flap has been used above the diffuser since the start of the season, but the flap has been narrower, being only fitted in-between the rear wing endplates. As explained in my analysis of the floor as seen at Monaco (http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/red-bull-monaco-floor-analysis/ ).

Many pictures were taken of the flap now extending around the sides of the diffuser, which I tweeted about during the Monza GP weekend. But it was the fan video taken during the race, as Mark Webbers stricken RB7 was craned off the track that has shown the floor in greater detail. The video posted on Youtube.com by atomik153 and seen here (http://youtu.be/swoomrzECdM ). This clearly shows the floor from about 3m 40s into the clip. Obviously this must have been unpleasant for Red Bull as the floor is so clearly visible, I know that the other teams have seen this clip. Many fans having seen the detail at the back of the diffuser and suggested the slot created around the diffuser was some form of double diffuser or cooling outlet. While the pictures might suggest this, the slot is merely the gap between the aerofoil shaped flap and the diffuser.  This following illustration shows how the flap is actualy shaped.  There are two parts; the new curved side sections and the pre-existing top sections.

When exploded, you can appreciate how the new bodywork forms a flap around the diffuser

Diffuser trailing edge theory

Few ideas in F1 are new, merely older ideas reinterpreted and expanded upon. This flap is not a new idea, its merely an extension of the gurneys teams have been fitted to the trailing edge of downforce producing devices since the sixties. Gurneys have been added to the end of a diffuser to aid the low-pressure region above and behind the diffuser. This practice has been increasingly important with the limit on diffuser height and other rules banning supplementary channels such as the double diffuser. As far back as the late nineties teams replaced this gurney with an aerofoil section flap. Notably Arrows and latterly Super Aguri used flaps placed above the diffusers trailing edge.

The need for this sort of treatment at the back of the diffuser might at first be confusing. A diffuser is a part of the underfloor, by accelerating air under the floor, low pressure is created and thus downforce is generated. With so many restrictions on the geometry of the floor and diffuser, teams cannot simply enlarge the diffuser for more performance. So they are forced into working different areas of the device harder for the same effect. One area is maximise pressure ahead of the floors leading edge, the other is the lower the pressure behind the trailing edge. This helps flow out of the diffuser, to maintain mass flow under the floor. Although the rules limit the height of the diffuser, this is only the height below the tunnels to the reference plane. Teams have a small amount of space above the diffuser for bodywork and the common gurney fits into the area. Gurneys work by creating a contra rotating flow behind the upright section, this creates low pressure and helps pull airflow from beneath the wing. On a diffuser this has the same effect as a slightly higher diffuser exit.

A gurney creates low pressure by the contra rotating vortcies behind the gurney

The gurney can work above the diffuser, as teams have been paying so much attention to getting high pressure air over the top of the diffuser. This airflow is used to drive the vortices spiralling behind the gurney flap. The better the airflow over the diffuser to the gurney the more effective it can be.   However Gurneys cannot be infinitely increased in size and still maintain their effect. As the gurney gets too large the dual vortices break up and the low pressure effect is lost. Many teams have found this limit this year and have moved to the next solution which is a perforated gurney.

A perforated gurney can be larger as it's offset from the diffuser allowing airflow to pass under the gurney

This is a similar vertical device fitted to the diffusers trailing edge, but there is a gap between the bottom of the gurney and the diffuser. Airflows through this gap to create the distinctive contra rotating airflow behind the gurney. Again this has the same effect as creating a larger diffuser exit and hence creates more downforce.

An aeroil shaped flap can be larger and more efficient than a Gurney

While the gurney is a relatively blunt solution, Such is the quality of the airflow over the diffuser now that teams are able to fit a more conventional aerofoil shaped flap above the diffuser for a similar effect. Without the contra rotating flow of the gurney this solution can be scaled up, as long as the flow to the flap is maintained. Many teams have this solution fitted along the top edge of the diffuser. Although Red Bull are the only teams to have fitted to the side of the diffusers trailing edge. Increasingly teams are seeing the diffuser exit as a 3D shape, the diffuser not only diverges vertically at the exit , but also laterally. No doubt exhaust blowing does allow some of these devices to be effective.

In Detail: The flap on Red Bulls diffuser

We can expect its use to be expanded for next year with larger flaps above the diffuser and flaps around the entire periphery of the diffuser. A long with Rake this will be a critical design feature for 2012, as a result sidepod design will become one of the critical factors in aero design, making sure the top of the diffuser is fed with good airflow. As so few other areas provide potential gains for improving aero efficiency.

Other notes on the Red Bull Floor

Fences

Red Bull fit three fences in each side of the diffuser, these prevent different pressures regions migrating from one side of the diffuser to another. They help maintain downforce and sensitivity. Its interesting to note the fences are not triangular in side profile, I.e. that they don’t meet at the kick line between the floor and diffuser, instead they start a few centimeters behind the axle line with a rounded vertical leading edge.

Starter Motor Hole


As mentioned in the Monaco RBR floor analysis the starter motor hole is blown by ducts in the upper side of the floor. This injects some energy into the flow in the middle of the diffuser. This so called boat-tail section is where the steeped underbody merged with the higher step plane. With the lower centre section and plank, getting airflow into the area is difficult and separation can easily occur if the angle of the floor is too steep. Having the starter motor hole blown helps maintain airflow in this area.

Metal Floor

Exhaust Blown Diffuser Flow

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20 thoughts on “Red Bull – Monza Diffuser Analysis

  1. The fences play an important role in diverting air to the outside. The fences themselves may be airfoil shaped, but forming a rectangular shape in side view implies that they may dual up as a vortex generators keeping the flow attached.

  2. Excellent analysis, Craig. Just a little thought, IIRC Toro Rosso had this trailing edge flap covering also the sides of the diffuser’s edge, from the 1st race at Melbourne ( http://i54.tinypic.com/5bvfxw.jpg ). In the race at Barcelona they still had it covering the whole diffuser’s width: ( http://i56.tinypic.com/f2ttp2.jpg ).

    Anyway, great to hear a sensible analysis, I was kind of tired of reading “double diffuser” to describe this feature.

    Very interesting notes about what will be crucial to regain the loss of downforce for the 2012 cars. You point out rake as one of them. How do you think will the loss of exhausts blowing (and their “thermal seal” effect) affect this parameter?

    Thanks again, Craig.

  3. Looks like Christmas came a little early for me this year. This is the best article I have read yet. As we are all aware how aero-dependent F1 is, I truly appreciate your attention to detail to help those of us with less access get an understanding of the nuances that make all the difference . This is probably one of the best visual explanations of a Gurney flap I have ever seen. More of this please.

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  5. Great article. I did have a question as to why right before the diffuser the bottom of the floor humps down? it almost seems as if there trying to puch flow to the middle of the car. Is this for of trying to balance the flow above and below the car as a whole? thx

    • I think you mean the step along the bottom of the floor (with the plank attached), this has been mandatory via a FIA rule since 1995, to raise the floor from the ground to make them less efficient and less prone to stalling (a factor in Sennas 94 crash)

      • Yes. But wouldn’t having that pocket on the side pods cause a pressure build up at the back of the car? or am I looking at it wrong? I know it important to have the diffuser not as close to the ground as possible, but there’s multiplying effects to where it is relative to the ground. guess what I’m trying to ask is wouldn’t lifting the diffuser then at that point help overall flow from the back of the car or is there that much down force created from having the back of the floor that low? Sorry if this is confusing, lot of this is new to me. but quite fascinating.

  6. I know you said Rake will be important next year Scarbs, but with the EBDs banned surely teams won’t be able to supply a large diffuser and we’ll return to 2009ish size ones?

    • Its true that the EBD does allow the amount of rake to be used this year. However the issues of sealing the diffuser and the problems of tyre-squirt (the air hitting the rear tyre and disrupting flow into the diffuser), all existed before 2011. If yo look at the floor area between the tyre and diffuser in pre 2010 cars, you’ll see the raised section of floor. This scoops up and directs air below the floor to act as a fluid skirt. these will be back next year, as they exploit the same 5cm of outer floor as the RBR style EBD does.

      • Clever! Thanks for clearing that up. I look forward to your prediction of what a 2012 car would look like – your 2011 one was pretty accurate!

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  8. Is there anywhere else to see the fan video? it seems that all of a sudden private videos taken at the track are a breach of copyright on youtube.. dammit.

  9. Hi Scarb’s,

    This is a great piece, thank you for putting it up here. I was hoping that you had seen the footage as well, because I knew it would be a huge insight for you and all the other teams in the paddock!

    I have a question though, the gurney flap that is mentioned in the article, are teams like Ferrari and particularly Mclaren using this feature?

    It seems like quite an old idea really, and if we consider the effect that losing the EBD had on Mclaren at Silverstone they are clearly short on pure aerodynamic downforce at the rear of the car. Therefore you would imagine a feature like this on the Red Bull cars, which has been present for some time, would have been integrated into the design of the MP4-26 and F150 Italia by now.

    Thanks again for the fantastic blog.

  10. Hi Guys, I have a set of HD quality pics of the underside of the car as it was hoisted, do you think they are of any value to the other teams or will they have got the info from the video?

  11. Pingback: Flaps sobre el difusor | Fórmula F1 - Toda la Fórmula 1

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