The end of Pod Wing mounted mirrors

Outboard - podwing mounted mirror

Alternative - Mid placed Mirror

Conventional - cockpit mounted mirror

Ferrari were the first team to move the wing mirrors from the conventional spot near the cockpit to the edge of the sidepods.  Since then most teams have at least trialled the set up.  From the next race in China, this mirror location will be banned.  Always a controversial part as many see their location and more flexible mounting as hindrance to rear visibility.  During their reign the FIA even introduced scrutineering tests to ensure the driver has reasonable rear visibility.  But all the problems associated with these mirrors is worth it due to the beneficial aerodynamic location.

A wing mirrors on any vehicle is a bluff and unaerodynamic shape, from the attached CFD you can see how its wake is unsteady and turbulent.  The FIA demands  mirrors are fitted with a reflective surface 150mm x 50mm  this creates quite large surface to streamline.  In a conventional position this sends the wake directly downstream towards the rear wing, upsetting its efficiency.  Placing these outboard places the mirrors in the already turbulent area of the front wheel wake.  Thus the impact of the bluff mirror housing is reduced.  With the change in Aero rules in 2009, the mirror placement in this area allowed the pod wing to be taller and have a greater aero influence.  However even with the ban on the mirror locations the fin-like podwings will remain, as they sit in a blind spot within the bodywork regulations.

It was Ferrari that first introduced the outboard mirror, on the launch version of the F2006.  Initially the mirrors were on their own arched mounting (itself acting as a small turning vane), as pod wings were not universally adopted.  Over the subsequent years many teams have adopted the mirrors.  The following year, Renault with their R27 placed the mirrors directly onto the pod wings.  It was this later development that visibility problems first really occurred, the pod wing needed additional support to prevent is wobbling at high speed.  At the time Renault Aerodynamicist, Dino Toso told me he believed the mirrors would actually provide a better view, as the mirror was further from the driver, the vibration would affect the view less than a mirror close to his eyeline.  Toyota found a halfway house by using the early Ferrari type mounting, but placed mid way between the cockpit and the edge fo the sidepod.

Ferrari F2006 Mirror

Renault R27 Mirror

As other Aerodynamicists sought to reap the same gains, the drivers often rebuked the new mirrors.  Adrian Newey frequently brought outboard mirrors ont he Red Bull, only for the drivers to opt for visibility over performance.  Toyota equally tried mirrors in all three positions (cockpit, midway & outboard), Toyota’s consultant Frank Dernie told me “All the drivers I have worked with have refused to use them and asked for conventional ones”.

Although there’s a damning case for the visibility from outboard mirrors, that is not to say that conventional mirrors are much better.  From on board shots we can often see the mirror resonating at high speed,  from the engine vibration and the harshness of the ride.  Obviously in this mode, the mirror cannot provide a decent rear view.

This year Mercedes, Virgin, Renault, STR, Lotus all run conventional positions.  While McLaren did try pod wing mirrors at the last race and elected not to run them.  At the time McLaren stated “We made a decision after P3 to remove them. Not sure yet if they’ll be making a comeback”, but this may have been because of the impending ban.

There is a performance loss with the re-siting of the mirrors for the other teams, but this will be measured in no more than a tenth per lap.  the change is not likely to upset the teams order.

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18 thoughts on “The end of Pod Wing mounted mirrors

  1. I have wondered about this before; what if the teams would cap the reflective end of the mirror with a transparent part that is shaped to counter the negative aero effects?

    Let me try to give an example:
    currently: <|
    my idea:

    Would this upset the visibility too much or is it simply not allowed by the regulations?

      • Placing any kind of lens over the reflective surface of the mirror would cause the reflection to be refracted as the light enters and leaves the transparent cap and cause the image to be distorted. The additional weight could cause the mirror assembly to vibrate more at high speed, reducing its usefulness further, and in wet conditions water could collect on the lens and render the mirror useless as the image would be heavily distorted.

  2. They aren’t banned till Spain now. I don’t think it will effect RB or Ferrari after they have some time in the tunnel.

  3. I had exactly the same thought as Peter H. Creating an aerodynamic transparent enclosure that would optimise the airflow. The questions being is this allowed in the rules and can you get the transparent cover reflective enough and not warp the mirror information/ image. Anyone got some definitive answers to the legality of this? Malaysia , mark Webber had no clue where the pack was and lost 1st. classic example of why decent rear visibility can give you a racing advantage. If you evolved these Aero mirrors to minimal turbulence could you then up the size of the mirror real estate?

      • I love the idea, alas mirrors are subject to maximum surface area, the teardrop idea might be somewhat blunted.

        Other than the rear view mirrors (including their mountings), each with a maximum area of 12000mm² and 14000 mmP2P when viewed from directly above or directly from the side respectively

  4. Thanks.
    So not illegal to get an aero pod enclosure. If they are used to them being next to useless already, could be worth testing if you could reduce reflectivity to an absolute minimum. Also is convex allowed? I note everyone runs flat looking mirrors. A lot easier to spaciously interpret I know but partially convex are used on the road for blind spots. I’m sure that kind of thing (if Mark had a fraction to take his eye of the apex)could have spared him the embarrassment!

  5. http://formula1.india-server.com/cars/cameras.html

    Cameras

    “All F1 cars are required to be fitted with two cameras or camera housings which are used to provide on-board TV footage. F1 cars have six camera mounting points. Size and details of camera housings are specified by the FIA. The vehicles must also carry timing transponder provided by the officially appointed timekeepers. The equipments enable the timekeepers to record lap time of every car.”

    “As for the cameras, one of these must always be mounted on top of the air box right behind the driver’s head. The FIA decides about the second housing after consulting the teams. All camera housings should be determined in the specified manner. However any decision as to whether a camera or camera housing is fitted in those positions will depend on the team. Camera or dummy camera fitted in some specific positions must be mounted in such a way that its major axis does not subtend an angle greater than 5° to the reference plane.”

    I apologize for boring you, but with so much camera equipment already on board, is it really such a big deal to connect a rear facing unit to a conveniently placed cockpit screen?

  6. I hadn’t really considered F1’s image in this regard, but you’re right, adopting such a system would provide a minor, but much needed credibility boost to the ‘pinnacle of motor-sport.’

    I was more thinking that a camera system would effectively address the driver’s complaints in regard to the existing mirror’s short-comings and the aero controversy would quietly slide into oblivion too.

    Anyone need to be further bored? The actual F1 camera related rules are to be found at:
    http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/technical_regulations/8709/fia.htm

  7. Certainly an interesting proposition to use the on board cameras, but the regulations state that mirrors must be fitted. That does not mean that the driver has to use them though (I am sure some drivers have never used their mirrors) It is my uinderstanding that the camersas are not the property of the teams though and as such the teams would have no rights to the images recorded by them.

    It is something the FIA should consider making available to the teams, but to then say that as they have a rear facing camera they do not need to have mirrors is asking for trouble. I recall seeing a camera come loose on David Coulthards car many years ago (think it was a Williams) it looked like he was banking over in the corners like a motorcycle!

    If a mirror comes off, the stewards can see this and order the driver to come in for a replacement. If an electronic rear view image fails, the stewards may not know about this and the driver could continue driving with no idea what is going on behind him which could pose a danger to himself and fellow competitors.

  8. Pingback: High mounted mirrors. - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com

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