Splitters – New deflection test and construction

As explained in my previous post, the front splitter (bib or T-tray) has come in for some further attention from the FIA’s scrutineers. In order to run the front wing lower for greater downforce, its believed teams are allowing the splitter to deflect upwards. Although there is an existing test where the leading edge of the splitter is subject to a vertical load of 100kg and must not deflect more than 5mm. This is a long standing and the load was increased in 2007 and has now been increased to a 200kg load.

Despite this test and the demand for minimal wear on the skid blocks set into the plank, even stricter tests and definitions are now required to ensure teams are not beneficially allowing the device to move. Thus there will be a new a set of demands for the splitter from Monza onwards.

Firstly the construction of the splitter and plank are to be revised. The splitter or more specifically the stay the fixes the leading edge to the chassis must not consist of any articulated joints, such as springs bearings or any construction that would allow the stay to bend or buckle. Then the section of plank that sits beneath the splitter must be more than 1m long. It is thought that The shorter plank lengths are being used to allow the hinged mounting effect.

As evidenced by the unusual wear beneath Mark Webbers Red Bull in Valencia, there is wear at the very leading edge of the plank, this is to be expected, but a second patch of wear started where the plank splits.  It is likely that this area wears as the splitter deflects upwards forcing the leadign edge of the rear plank to hit the ground.  Of course this wear is not illegal in itself, as its only the depth at the inspection hole sin the plank, that are measured.  but this does gove some insight into how the floor is articulated.

With the split in the plank allowing the t-tray to bend upwards, a longer front section of plank will mean the plank extends behind the obvious place for the splitter to hinge, adding to the stiffness of the assembly. 

While the construction demands are tightened it will be the revised deflection test that teams will have the most work to counter. The new deflection tests not only places a greater load (2000n) on the centre of the leading edge of the splitter, but also an offset test,. Which places a lesser load at a point upto 10cm from the centre line of the splitter. The load this test applies to the splitter is an unusual request, possibly borne from the fact that wear is only measured on the centreline at leading edge of the plank. So teams might be allowing some twist in the splitter to for lower front ride heights, when the car is in a combination of pitch and roll. So while this twist will unduly wear the plank, it will not go detected as the wear is only measured within the 50mm dia hole at the centre front of the plank., As teams tend to run a single central stay at the leading edge of the splitter and have the leading edge of their splitter as very thin section. Most teams will need now to stiffen the leading edge of the splitter assembly, either via a thicker section or with additional stays. Any team making modifications has not necessarily been bending the rules, its just the new test is particularly severe and in a location not tested before.

However teams that have been flexing their splitter will certainly be handicapped by these revisions to the rules, although Monza is a low downforce track that will not particularly punish cars without flexing splitters. I don’t any team will fall foul of the test as they have rigs at their factories to recreate the FIA tests.

Renaults Splitter at the R30's Launch The Toro Rosso splitter at the STR5's launch Mercedes Splitter at the W01's launch

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11 thoughts on “Splitters – New deflection test and construction

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  3. Hi Scarbs,

    I’ve been following your twitter a lot recently – very interesting insight.

    I’ve got two questions:-

    1. Do you think these new more stringent tests on the floor will hurt Red Bull come Singapore and the remaining races of the season? BBC’s Andrew Benson said they initially failed a test on Friday night at Monza and had to spent most the night modifying their car to meet the new test. Saying this, he then added that the FIA feels that the Red Bull cars have not been significantly modified, but that other teams are now catching onto how they were getting the flex.

    2. Do you know anything about the big updates that teams such as McLaren and Williams are bringing to Singapore. Anyone, going to be bringing a flexible wing solution?

    • Luke,

      Thanks for following me on Twitter.

      1. I heard about Red Bulls initial failure of the test, which surprised me. They will have had time to replicate the test at the factory, I don’t think any team will have arrived in Monza without a revised and pre-tested floor (their solutions were surprisingly varied). I wouldn’t read too much in to the failed test.
      I think the floor test will hurt Red Bull, it is part of their front end aero philosophy along with the flexing wing. that said I thing the impact on Red Bulls competitiveness will marginal, as they have a lot in reserve from a downforce and handling point of view.

      2. I haven’t got any inside info from the teams on the new updates, at this stage in the season I doubt any one will go for a major shift in design, so revised front or rear wings will be obvious assemblies to be looked at. Plus floors further optimised for the blown diffuser will be the main changes. Both of these areas will be carried over into 2011, so the work will contribute to the new cars design.


      • Thanks for the prompt reply and insightful answers.

        I tend to agree with you about Red Bull, that surely it must have hurt them a little but as you said, they have so much downforce so im sure they will still be right up there at the front.

        I think it’s going to be interesting to see how far McLaren have come with their blown diffuser when we go to Singapore and Suzuka. I think initially it was hurting them due to it being temperamental and inconsistent but now they are using the engine setting that allows constant exhaust flow into the diffuser, the car seems much more stable and flows round the track as they did before, but with the added downforce benefit.

        I wonder how close McLaren will be at Singapore and how they will be affected by the very bumpy track?

  4. Scarbs,

    I wonder if you could clarify this vibe im gathering regarding McLaren’s floor modifications at Monza to meet the new test.

    I have read two pieces on it:-

    This first piece is from the technical review of Monza on f1fanatic ( http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/09/20/technical-review-italian-grand-prix/ ):-

    “Counter-intuitively McLaren deleted its central fixing opting to strengthen the splitter. This suggests that the MP4-25’s splitter may have had some lateral flex. Monza isn’t a circuit where a hinged splitter will have a massive effect of performance.”

    Then other piece was written by you on AutoMoto365:-

    “In response to the splitter test and rules clarification, the McLaren splitter now runs without any form of stay, previously the team ran a simple blade like single stay.

    It’s again confusing to understand how McLaren made a decision to remove reinforcement to the splitter at a time when the test demands a far stiffer set up. Perhaps McLaren previous floor had some ability to hinge at its rear mounting and then be supported by the stay. The solution to meet the new rules was to mount the splitter more solidly at its rear and no longer require a stay at the front.”

    I’m not sure whether it’s just me, but I read both of these insights as saying that McLaren will most likely lose performance due to the more stringent tests and that their solution is confusing in that it suggests they were deploying movement on their floor beforehand.

    Or, am I possibly reading it wrong, and is it suggesting that on face value, it is surprising that McLaren have managed to essentially weaken the splitter by removing the stay, at a time, when it should be even more necessary to meet the new test limits? After all, McLaren did suggest they were turning it into a performance upgrade.

    How ironic would it be if the new floor tests hurt McLaren more than Red Bull, when they probably wouldn’t have been brought in if it wasn’t for McLaren.

    Could you give me your insight on this and clarify whether you were suggesting the modifications McLaren made would most likely hurt them or were actually strange in a positive way?

    • McLaren have not been running low ride heights this year, as we’ve all seen the stiff set up they run. Thus the splitter was not moving to provide lower rides, I’d say this was an aero strategy caused by a sensitivity of the floor to ride height, rather than their floor not being designed to flex to provide lower rides.

      The point I made about the McLaren floor stay was, as you’ve pointed out, its a peculiar development, contradicting the expectation that floors need more support and not less.

      I don’t doubt McLaren had some form of ‘give’ in their splitter, but with their car this year I don’t think they have lost any performance as a result of these changes.

      • Brilliant, thanks, that makes more sense now and I predict you are correct in your justified assumptions.

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