Ferrari launched their F150 today in Maranello. While the car sports some interesting features, overall it must be seen as a conventional and literal approach to the new rules and carries the influence of the team’s two previous cars. This approach seems to suit Ferrari who has not worked well with extreme innovation in the past. They keep the car simple and gain the most potential from it. We can expect more extreme concept cars from several teams next week.
Firstly the front wing is last years; it even has the driver adjustable mechanism which is no longer allowed in 2011. However the nose cone will be fairly definitive, as it needs to match the front of the chassis and being a homologated part, cannot be structurally changed during the season. This front wing may be on the car for the opening test runs, but we will soon see an interim 2011 wing before a final version appears for Bahrain.
One by-product of the new rules restricting front chassis height is that a V-nose might not be desirable. As the height of the dash and front bulkheads are limited to a maximum height, the “V” nose might be inefficient. V-noses allowed more flow under the car without putting too much heavy structure high up. Now to maximise space under the nose we might see a return to the simpler rectangular chassis cross section, with the top edge at the 670mm limit, which creates the most space underneath. Thus the Ferrari has a near flat top and the line from the cockpit opening rises up 45mm from the dash to the front wheels.
The section of chassis attaching the suspension (subjectively) appears to longer. Access hatches on the top of the chassis allow access to the pedals, heave spring and GPS aerial. Otherwise the front wishbone arrangement appears conventional, with the steering rack placed lower than the upper wishbone for better CofG and steering arm geometry.
Aero around the front end is largely carried over from 2010, with vanes hanging from the nose cone then larger bargeboards and pod wings mounted ahead of the sidepods. We can expect these to change in detail before Bahrain, Relatively simple mirrors are fitted and mated to a fin\vortex generator below. Similarly the roll hoop is a simple design, not as undercut as others. The sidepods themselves are an evolution of ideas from the past two years. The inlets have been made into a more distinct sideways “U” shape and the distinctive peak above the inlet is still there. This peak is now allied to a small removable panel, what this is for is not clear. As it appears the radiators are further back down the sidepod, following the same line as the break in the forward and rear section of sidepod bodywork. The panel might be for a cooling outlet, but perhaps for smaller oil\KERS coolers mounted alone in this area. The revised sidepod inlet creates a more aggressive undercut, although the sidepod has to be relatively wide (between the Shell and Acer logo) for the radiators to fit between the fuel tank and bodywork.
Sidepods then sweep into a coke bottle shape with a generous hot air outlet at its tail, this rounded rear sectionalso hides the exhausts that blow over the diffuser. Rather than poking out of the end of the sidepods, the exhaust is slash cut to exit through the side of the bodywork. Aldo Costa hinted that the Exhaust and Rear Wing are areas for development between now and Bahrain. The top body no longer sports a shark fin; a simple upstand is used in its place, although no doubt the fin may return in testing. As was raced last year the bodywork either side of the fin opens up to allow cooling.
At the back the rear wing is a new departure for Ferrari, the entire wing is mounted to the central pylon, and then the beam wing spans the endplates and sits fully expose din the airflow. It’s been Ferrari practice to split the beam wing either side of the crash structure for many years. The top rear wing is new, with the mechanism to allow the wing to open the slot up apparently inside the wings supporting pylon. The curved bracket protruding from the pylon moves up and down, probably by hydraulics fed up from the gearbox, to alter the wings flap position. Its possible to see the how the flap pivots via pins set into the flap trailing edge. A distinct “V” has been cut into the flaps trailing edge, probably to reduce its effective geometry, as it sits in airflow obstructed by the engine cover and wing adjusting mechanism.
With very few detailed of the diffuser, it appears its a very simple diffuser which echoes the single decker design Ferrari first raced with in 2009. No doubt the gurney, inner fences and boat tail will alter as the team gets more performance from the diffuser.
Being careful not to read too much into the cars launch specification the front wheels appear to be based on the 2010 vaned versions. New rules specify a maximum surface area for spokes and other similar parts of the wheel. Perhaps the narrow spokes make up for the surface area taken up by the vanes.
One item raised by Ferrari was their innovative suspension system, not the pull rod system that many expected, as the car boasts push rods at both ends. But Ferrari were rumoured around the pit lane to have run an interconnected suspension system last year. The front and rear suspension being linked to control the cars attitude. This could either be to control pitch (the nose rising or lowering through acceleration/braking) or warp (a mix of pitch and roll). Apparently used by Toyota and Williams without success in the past, this passive system could aid aerodynamics by keeping the underfloor in the correct attitude relative the track. However the front and rear suspensions may be interlinked, the rear suspension is certainly well packaged. Without the large lumps in the rear bodywork, Ferrari have clearly designed the various rockers, dampers and springs into a much smaller space. They appear to be positioned close to the front of the gearbox, as there is a dead area above the clutch and gear cluster, that is usually unoccupied. this set up sees the pushrods reaching forwards to operate the rockers. Renault adopted this approach last year. This set up is eased by the deletion of the rear torsion bars, so Ferrari have probably followed the increasingly common route of no rear side springs, instead the rear is supported solely by the third spring in heave or the antiroll bar in roll.
As double diffusers are banned the advantage to inclining the engine and gearbox by 3-degrees is lost now, so we can expect the engine is again mounted horizontal. With engines frozen, the only changes are reliability alterations (with the FIA’s permission) or changes to accommodate KERS. Ferraris engine man Luca Marmorini announced more changes to the engines pneumatic valve system (PVRS). This area was changed after reliability problems last year in the early races. Marmorini, who came back to Ferrari from Toyota, is thought to have brought ideas for a more efficient PVRS system with him. Worth not only reliability, but a increase in performance through lower friction and less engine degradation over the course its 3-4 races. The KERS system places the MGU offset from the front of the crank and attached to the oil tank, as the unit is cooled by the engines oil. The oil tank is quite large and Ferrari are suggested to also run another tank above the clutch within the gearbox.
The KERS battery pack is mounted inside the monocoque under the fuel tank (not within the actual tank and petrol!). As the batteries are denser than fuel this keeps a low CofG, already most teams have several centimeters of space under the fuel taken up by blocks of ballast, rising the fuel tank by an equal amount. One area Ferrari were clear that they have improved KERS on this year is the way the MGU charges when the car brakes. Marmorini stated this was improving the “dragging” of the system.
Little word has been made on the gearbox, Ferrari have adopted a titanium skeleton with bonded on carbon fibre panels for several years. Aside from the packaging of the pushrod suspension, this is expected to be largely carried over this year.