Analysis: Force India VJM05


Car: Force India – Mercedes VJM05
In common with other teams Force India have followed an evolutionary path for their car since the aero rules changed in 2009. Despite having a strong year in 2011, the team had already decided to follow a new car concept for 2012. Thus the car we see has little in common with the outgoing VJM04, starting from the concept of a new front wing and a new nose above it. Then the sidepod philosophy has been switched to the Toro Rosso style of deeply undercut (or double floor) sidepods.

By using the entire McLaren Mercedes powertrain, the car is largely fixed in layout.


Even without the 2012 nose rules, it looks like FIF1 were going to follow a new direction in their nose design. Recent cars sported a narrow high nose, with a bump beneath it to create some downforce from the neutral centre section of wing. The team also tested a McLaren style under-nose snowplough in 2011, but weren’t able to get it to work for them. So they have opted for quite a wide and rounded nose section, the tip being formed into hammerhead shape by the two FOM cameras.

The nose joins the chassis with quite a smooth transition; the front section of chassis has a slight “V” shape to aid the step between the nose and chassis. When looking at the front bulkhead, it’s possible to see how the concave shape created on top of the chassis has to be matched with similar convex section at the bottom of the chassis in order to meet the regulations on minimum chassis cross section.
Currently the wing mounting pylons are extended rearwards, but this is an area FIF1 tend to alter between circuits, so we may see some different iterations of this vaned pylon,


Front wing

As the starting point for the new aero concept, the front wing follows the modern F1 pattern, the three element wing is formed from a split main plane and a flap trailing it. The outer section of flap fixed and along with the tips of the main plane curls down to meet the endplate. As is common for this style of wing the flap gains an extra slot in the upper corner to aid flow. The endplate is formed by a vane help direct the airflow outboard of the front wheel. Also in keeping with the theme are the cascades which are mounted to the endplate-vane, there being one larger and one smaller winglet above the main wing.


Roll hoop

The 2011 car switched to a blade style roll hoop on the grounds of less weight and better airflow to the rear wing. This year the design has switched back to a deeply undercut shape, with the metal inner structure exposed beneath appearing as the four supporting struts for the engine inlet snorkel. Technical Director Andy Green explained that they were able to make this structure even lighter than the blade design. Adding that with raised nose and sidepods, losing weight high up kept the cars Centre of Gravity nice and low.



Along with the nose assembly, the sidepods are next biggest departure for the team. By keeping the radiators and sidepod volume high and narrow, the resulting undercut in the sidepods flank creates the double floor effect and allows more airflow to pass directly over the top of the diffuser. Unlike Toro Rosso’s rounded interpretation of the undercut sidepod, FIF1’s has much flatter sides, particularly in the coke bottle region near the exhausts; the sidepod shape is particularly slim.

The entire sidepod is formed form a single moulding, when removed the entire cooling set up and side impact spars are exposed. This should make altering the sidepods profile during much easier.
Cooling for the radiators is via the Red Bull style tail funnel, or ‘Tulip’ exits as Green describes it.


Force India’s exhaust system is tucked in close to the cars centreline towards the rear of the legality box. I suggested to Green that this was neutral position and probably did not produce the downforce of other systems. Green suggested the “looks may be deceiving”, but did concede that it was less sensitive placement in order to get the best performance around a lap rather than the maximum possible downforce. As with most teams other systems will be tried, but this set up will probably make it to the opening races. The exhaust plume plays over the tail of the engine cover and over the gearbox box. With the rear wing gaining a 15cm central winglet, the idea is probably to blow this central area for a little bit of extra downforce. The engine cover has a unpainted heat shielded that rises quite high, so the exhaust plume may be diffused over the cover to spread itself event between the beam wing and winglet.

Rear suspension
By using the McLaren gearbox Force India are forced to use similar in board wishbone mounts and the same pullrod mechanism. The top rear wishbone appears to be mounted lower than last year, no longer is the rear leg aligned with the wishbone, suggesting one of two things, the gearbox itself is a lower design and\or the amount of rake the car now runs warrants a different wishbone position to allow the higher rear ride height.

Diffuser\rear impact structure

Again somewhat tied to the same mounting points of the McLaren gearbox, the rear impact structures sits low and exposed the beam wing above and the diffuser below. The diffuser uses the maximum width to expand laterally, such that the sides of the diffuser cannot sport a gurney. There is a gurney mounts along the top edge of the diffuser, with a slotted section between the rear wing endplates. As is common, a tall plate\gurney is mounted between the diffuser and the crash structure above.

Looking from the front of the diffuser the undercut sidepods and crash structure allow a clear flow of air into the boat tail section of diffuser; this leaves the exposed and probably gains a slight blow effect from the better airflow. This aids through the awkward centre section of diffuser. As yet the rear wing endplate does not extend downwards behind the diffuser, but is attached to the diffuser with two vane-like mounts.

As already mentioned the gearbox is supplied by McLaren, this is a carbon fibre cased unit and features pullrod operation of the springs and dampers. Last year the springs were mounted vertically and the dampers mounted inside the casing. The only external element was the anti roll bar which sat atop the casing, with drop links down to the low mounted rockers.


As with Last year, FIF1 have BBS wheels with integrated fairings. These are all that’s allowed in terms of non structural spoke son the wheel, since the ban on the wheel fairings seen in 2009. They aid the airflow around the wheel and in doing so may aid brake cooling and/or general aerodynamics.

Again Force India uses the Mercedes AMG KERS, similar in design to last year, the combined battery Pack and power electronics unit sits below the fuel tank.


As with all teams the engine specifications are frozen, only the mappings to accommodate the new regulations on on-throttle blown engine maps are allowed. The engine manufacturers suggest this will affect the engines drivability, as these maps pre-existed blow diffusers, and were used to smooth the power delivery and harvesting of KERS energy during braking.

Analysis: Sauber C31

Car: Sauber – Ferrari C31
On first sight the Sauber appears to be a well developed conventional package. Indeed in most areas the Sauber appears unremarkable, but this belies the wealth of small details around the car. In particular the cars aerodynamics make it quite progressive in comparison to its midfield rivals.
Also setting Sauber apart from almost every other team is its technical Structure. After the team had transitioned from BMW back to Sauber, long time technical director Willi Rampf retired and James key joined the team from Force India. However Key departed the team on the eve of the cars launch this year and its Sauber’s intention to continue without this central role. Instead the Heads of Department will work together to manage the technical side of the team. The two key people involved in this are Chief Designer Matt Morris and Head of Aero Willem Toet. This is certainly a unique arrangement, while I can imagine this working short term as the people involved are so experienced. They will be able to manage tactical decisions, but part of the technical directors role is set out the strategy and plan for the team in the years ahead. This is harder as the budget and resources need to be apportioned centrally to each department. Hopefully the team will resolve the management structure before they lose direction.


Sauber’s interpretation of the 2012 nose is unique; the team have followed the low nose and high chassis route, but like Red Bull have sought to offset the problems of keeping the airflow attached over the step in the nose. The removable nose cone has a rectangular cross section, while the front bulkhead has a slight “V” section. Where these two sections meet there is a corresponding gap behind the nose cone formed by the concave surface on the top of the chassis.

The rear facing nose slot is clearly visible here in a photo taken by Aero Student Sriram Chandra

Many observers immediately likened this to the Ferrari 2008 nose hole, but such a solution would be illegal with the post 2009 nose rules, that demand the ‘nose’ is an open section, not to mention the neutral centre front wing section would not make much use of such a nose hole.

A duct passes from below the nose to point rearwards and blow over the top of the chassis

I believe the step is a rear facing blown slot, to help the airflow attach to the flat chassis top. Inside the nose cone, there is a duct that takes high pressure from a slot underneath the nose and passes it up to the rear facing slot.

This creates a shear layer between the flow over the nose and that formed above the chassis. With this set up, the nose and chassis can be nearer horizontal and squarer in section, without the issue of flow separation; this allows the maximum amount of space beneath the raised chassis for airflow to reach the turning vanes and the underfloors lower leading edge.

This image shows the duct work inside the nose, captured by Aero Student Sriram Chandra - Copyright

In doing this Sauber have been very clever with their reading of the rules. The nose must be formed of an open section, and then the only openings in that are for the driver cooling hole, which must be for the primary purpose of cooling the driver. Sauber’s nose cone can be considered an open section; as the lower inlet slot and the upper outlet slot are both formed in the plane between the nose and chassis, thus the nose has no extra holes and is legal.
Curiously the normal driver cooling hole has not been present on the car during testing.
The nose cone itself follows Sauber 2011 pattern in that the nose is very long and features a high and wide nose tip. Flow spilling of the noses top surface is controlled by a small fin running horizontally along the nose. This aligns with the front upper wishbone. With the noses upper surface being flat, the underside slopes down quite steeply aft of the front wing mounting pylons. This set up collects a lot of air beneath the nose tip and directs it towards the under nose vane set up. These are pair of curved vanes, each split into two sections, mounted below the front suspension. Coincidentally a design path Red Bull followed in the middle of last year

Front wing
Aside from the need to meet the doubling of the wing deflection test, the front wing appears to be based around the late 2011 spec front wing.  Sauber 2011 front wing

Roll hoop

Although it may not appear so at first glance, the Sauber roll hoop is heavily undercut. The inlet snorkel is flanked by four supports; these are part of the metal inner roll hoop structure. The snorkel does not merge with the chassis until the rear pair of these supports, making over half of the roll structures length undercut. This aids airflow over the top body and to the rear wing.


Traditionally Sauber have gone for quite extreme shaped sidepods, this year the undercut does not appear as large, as the inlets are now much smaller. The “P” shaped inlets being very small and mounted inboard, leaving a large between them and the sidepod vanes. The sidepods then sweep in and downwards, with their lower edges tapering out towards the floor. As is common this year cooling is managed by the radiators directing their outflow towards the cars centre and then around the aerodynamically shaped heat shields around the engine, to exit out the back of the engine cover. In Sauber’s case, there are two main exit areas. Firstly pair of tall vents at the tail of the sidepod and then a tail funnel. Although this is not a Red Bull style oval tail funnel, but instead a pair of vertical slots in the rear most section of the engine cover. Albeit an oversized Red Bull style funnel was tried in testing, presumably for the upcoming hot weather races.


By having point upwards at no less than ten degrees the Sauber exhaust plume should look like this

The launch specification sidepod was soon replaced with a design aimed at a more beneficial use of the exhaust gasses. The sidepods sported a top surface that sweeps down over the exhaust outlets and merges with the floor.

But the Sauber sidepod shape creates a downwash (yellow) over the exhaust outlet

This creates a downwash effect over the exhaust outlets and the merging of the exhaust outlet to the sidepod surface induces a coanda effect to make the exhaust flow downwards, despite the upward angle of the exhaust outlet.

there's a host of detail in this photo by Sriram Chandra, its clear the flow from the exhaust, aided by the fence on the floor is directed to the side of the diffuser. Note the cooling slots and the aerofoil section ahead of the tyre.

This exhaust flow is aimed at the floor between the rear wheels and the diffuser, to achieve the same but less powerful effect of the 2011 blown diffuser.

The resulting effect is the exhaust is redirected towards the floor

To aid the downwash effect created by the sidepods shape, the team have added a new vane, placed laterally across the sidepod. This turns the airflows downwards to increase the pressure over the exhaust jet, which will help it to be redirected towards the floor.

These vanes over the sidepods help create a stronger downwash effect. COPYRIGHT

This vane is similar to the pod wings that first appeared on the Jordan cars on Hungary 2004. Under the post 2009 aero rules this bodywork is legal because it sits 450mm forward of the rear of the cockpit template. Bodywork this far forward is exempt from the same restrictions the main sidepods must conform to.

Rear suspension

Note the arched beam wing mount over the gearbox. COPYRIGHT

Sauber use the Ferrari gearbox, but their aerodynamic packaging of the bodywork around the gearbox, make the gear case is more visible. It’s possible to see how Ferrari have followed Williams practice to lower the top of the case to a point below the top wishbone mounting. This wishbone mounts to pylons projecting up from the gear case. This repackaging was partly possible through the repositioning of the springs\dampers to low down on the gearbox with the use of pull rod activation. The rear of the upper wishbone mountings also forms a mounting for the beam wing; this large structure emerges from the gearbox and hooks around to mount the top of the beam wing. This looks like a duct, but it’s hard to see how flow could be effectively ducted to the top of the gearbox and then out of the beam wing. Although the rules do have a loophole that allows a small 15cm slot in the middle of the wing, which might help the airflow up out of the centre of the diffuser. But, in my opinion this isn’t a duct, as there’s no evidence of the outlet in the beam wing.

Diffuser\rear impact structure

Diffuser and cooling detail. COPYRIGHT:

As seems to be the trend this year, the rear impact structure curves in between the diffuser and beam wing, this allows a clear flow of air to both devices. In Sauber’s case the impact structure is very slim, although the tail lamp section has add-on bodywork to make it much larger and rounder than the rest of the structure.
The diffuser is a straightforward interpretation of the rules. The boat tail section of diffuser is exposed below the crash structure; this allows the downwash airflow over the sidepods to enter the specially shaped starter motor hole and also to pass upwards over the large curved flap in the centre of the diffuser. Either side of this flap, the trailing edge of the diffuser, between the rear wing mounts, sports a smaller aerofoil section flap. All of these trailing edge devices help to reduce pressure behind the diffuser, this helps draw more flow through the diffuser for more downforce. Unlike last year the current rear wing endplates do not extend behind the diffuser to form vanes effectively extending the diffuser lengthwise.

In order to package the very narrow sidepod fronts the car sports a single Side impact spar mounted in the upper front volume of the sidepod. Typically teams use two spars here, one smaller leading spar and a larger spar trailing that. Impressively Sauber seem to be able to get the crash protection and the aerodynamics shape from a single stout spar.

Saubers side impact protection - Picture via Auto Motor und Sport

Having used a unique hollow spoke wheel from OZ for several seasons, this year’s wheels are a revised version, going from five spokes to seven and the wheel incorporate fixings for the rim fairings.

Sauber continue to use the Ferrari powertrain, this consists of the Engine, KERS and gearbox.

A small introduction to Sriram Chandra:
Sriram contacted me with pictures and information, he’d independantly gathered at the Barcelona test. Amongst these was the first explanation of how the Sauber nose duct works.
Sriram is from India, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Electronics, but he realized he really wanted to specialize in Aerodynamics and especially F1. So he has moved to Europe and has since completed a Master’s degree in Aerospace engineering from ENSAE, Toulouse, France. He did his final internship in the Future Projects Office designing aerodynamic and fuel efficient aircraft.
Until he finds a break in F1, he is working in Toulouse for Altran, focusing on the Handling qualities of the A320 aircraft.

Launch Analysis: Red Bull RB8

Car: Red Bull Racing – Renault RB8
There’s not a lot left to be said about Red Bulls incredible run of pace since 2009. Despite not winning the 2009 championship, the RB5 rewrote the text book on F1 design. Since then, the two subsequent cars have both pioneered new ideas and followed a few others. Each time the car has been ever more dominant. If the team have an achilles heel, then its reliability, split between the; chassis, the engine and KERS. With pace in hand, the team do not need to make bold steps with the cars design, as they need to maintain reliability. With the RB8 taking risks was not on the agenda, the evolutionary car uses detail design and a small few unique features to keep a step ahead on pace.

With the evolutionary concept, no obvious changes have been made with the cars layout.  The retains a steeply raked attitude, Newey mentioned at the launch that the loss of EBDs will affect their ability to angle the car into the nose down attitude.  But the evidence of the car on-track suggests that obtaining laptime with a lot of rake is not an issue.


As with many teams, the nose grabbed most attention when the car was launched. But rather than the shock from the awkward looking 2012 noses, there was curiosity over the letter box slots in the nose. There was one more visible slot on the upper section of nose and one less visible one below it.
Rumours circulate that the upper slot is used for some form of F-duct or (non driver) cooling. In my opinion, it is a simple solution to keep the airflow attached over the step in the nose.
Faced with the 2012 rules, Red Bull took the obvious route of a raised chassis and nose. The car now eschews the “V” shape nose and chassis, so the top of the chassis and nose are flat. With the rules forcing a 75mm step between these two surfaces, the airflow doesn’t want to run along the nose and then step up without separating from the chassis top.

So the team has sought to offset some of problems with this design. Red Bulls solution is to create an aero effect to aid the transition between nose and chassis. This starts with the letterbox inlet, which as Newey explained at the launch is ‘primarily’ for driver cooling. The rules permit one opening to the nosecone for the purposes of driver cooling. Normally this is an oval hole in the tip of the nose. But on the RB8 this is a 25cm wide narrow slot and probably only 5mm or so high. As Newey admits, some of this airflow does pass into the cockpit to cool the driver. But what Newey would probably describe as the secondary effect of the slot, is to allow for the rounded leading edge above the inlet. When airflows runs up the nose it hits this leading edge and curls under it, forming a bubble of recirculating flow. This rotating cylinder of airflow helps to keep the upper airflow aligned and attached to the flat top of the chassis. This is a simple and copyable solution. I believe this would work with or without the slot. As the upper section of nose cone bodywork is largely a cosmetic panel and not part of the crash structure. It could be changed without re-crash testing. Sauber have found a similar solution on their nose.
Below the nose there is yet another slot. This in line with the bottom of the chassis and runs the full width of the nose. While I can offer some explanation for the upper slot, this lower one is more of a mystery. Again its use has been rumoured as KERS cooling or blowing the floor, whatever its function I believe it may have been on the car last year. Although the slot was not externally visible on the 2011 car, when the nose is removed the slot was evident below the front bulkhead (pictured below). Presumably this was fed from the driver cooling inlet, which was placed on the nose tip on the RB7.

Clearly the duct formed is very small, which limits it use. I doubt it’s to cool KERS, as the KERS is mounted towards the rear of the car and the small duct would not adequately cool batteries or the like. Its position does suggest the flow could pass down to the splitter, so some clever use for blowing or loading the splitter could be within the realms of possibility. More likely is the use to cool the electronics or power steering rack, which are sited much closer to the duct and would require a smaller amount of cooling air.

One detail of the RB8 and to an extent with the RB7 was the advantage it takes of the radius that is allowed to be applied to the edges of the chassis. This 25mm radius is rounded over to keep the cross section of the nose as small as possible. Within the minimum 300mm x 275mm rectangle the nose must fit into. The top corners of the chassis are clearly a near 3/4 cylindrical section.

Front wing

In common with their rivals the front wing is a derivative of the 2011 wing. Albeit restructured to meet the newly doubled deflection test. Red Bull were late to the endplate-less wing design. Although they created slot in the endplate over the past few years, it’s relatively recently they upper section of endplate has been added on to the tips of the wings, rather than use a conventional separate endplate.

Behind the wing the turning vanes continue the mid 2011 ‘curled’ design.  The vanes hang from below the chassis and are larger this year and sport a split in the middle.

One odd feature visible on the front wing is a small section of removable bodywork in the neutral centre section of wing.  I’ve idea of the purpose of the purpose of this panel, perhaps its to access a sensor or allow ballast to be fitted?

Roll hoop

While retaining the same engine and with the general evolutionary theme of the car, the roll hoop area is indistinguishable from the 2011 car. No doubt there are structural changes under the skin, but these aren’t visually apparent or announced by the team.


Moving onto the sidepods, the general concept of the sidepod shape is also similar to 2011. Slightly triangular inlets feed the radiators, which are mounted horizontal across the car and tilted upwards towards the front. Their flow passes up and around the heat shielding on the engine\airbox and most of it exits through the tail funnel. In cross section the sidepods retain the outwardly-tapered ‘jelly mould’ appearance, with only the area under the inlet being undercut. Again as with the RB7 the sidepods merge seamlessly into the gearbox fairing.


Traditionally Red Bull have switched their launch exhausts to their Melbourne spec in the last days of testing. It’s been mentioned by the team that there is a new exhaust system coming. This is no doubt partly the reason for the team delaying the last test and having a near private test (shared with Ferrari) on the last day.
The launch spec exhaust places the outlet pipe inboard and relatively low. This bows in line with the plane of the rear upper wishbone. The bodywork over the gearbox and rear crash structure is curved and creates a neat channel for the flow to pass through. This then sees the exhaust plume pass under the beam wing. In this position the heat is affecting the upper wishbone, even at its launch, the car sported heat shielding over the wishbones. During testing this protection has grown, albeit with temporary looking solutions, suggesting the new exhaust system will not blow in this area.

Rear suspension

The RB8 has a high mounted upper rear wishbone, which places its rear leg in line with the beam wing. In keeping with the recent RBx cars, the gearbox sports a tall spine that functions as the wishbone and beam wing mounting. Although this shaping is partly hidden by the way it merges into the tail funnel.

With such a high top wishbone the lower rear wishbone is able to mount higher too. This wishbone is now effectively at the same height as the driveshaft. Not only is it inline, but the wishbone forms an shroud ahead of the driveshaft to offset the negative aerodynamic effect of the rotating shaft, in the critical area above the diffuser (Note: Fully shrouded driveshafts are banned). While this all appears to be logical, the lower wishbone is not a splayed as the upper wishbone. Having the inboard mountings very close to each other is not so good from a loading perspective, so there must be a reason to make the wishbone in such a compromised shape. Again this might suggest the new exhaust needs the wishbone in a certain position to work effectively.
Diffuser\rear impact structure
With the tapered sidepod, the Red Bull encloses the centre of the diffuser inside the gearbox fairing. Other teams leave this exposed beneath the crash structure, to allow flow to pass through and out of the starter motor hole. Last year Red Bull introduced a duct in the floor to send flow directly to the starter motor hole. This year the duct appears to have gone and doesn’t look like it’s been replaced with something. In line with the gearbox and the current exhaust set up, the impact structures forms a spine along part of its length. Once the beam wing is mounted to the spine, the crash structures returns to a normal rectangular cross section and sweeps upwards towards the tail light. This spine format keeps the gearbox and suspension mountings nice and stiff, plus it mounts the beam wing with very little obstruction to it slower surface.

Red bull have used pull rod suspension since 2009 and introduced their carbon fibre gear case in the middle of that year. Keeping the construction and general shape, the gearbox set up appears only have detail revisions over this period.

Aerodynamic features

Every team has exploited the 12cm of space inboard of the rear wheel for aerodynamic bodywork. Red Bull have added particularly large upper vane to the brake ducts this year. Above the top wishbone mounting two large flap can be seen.

The rear wing also exploits a small window that allows bodywork, this makes it possible for Red Bull to fit vanes placed behind the diffuser, to aid the expansion of the flow out of the diffuser.

It was a bold decision in 2011 for Red Bull to develop their own Battery system for the Renault Marelli KERS. Not wanting to sacrifice wheelbase and fuel tank volume with under-tank mounted batteries, instead Newey mounted the batteries near the gearbox. In fact three batteries packs were fitted, one larger pack either side of the gearbox and a small array inside the top of the gearbox case. Exposed to more heat and vibration the KERS caused problems throughout 2011 and led to the driver having it unavailable at critical points in qualifying and races. I understand the battery positions remain for this year. It was never clear if Red Bull actually had a full power KERS in 2011. The rumours persisted of a Mini-KERS, suggesting the system discharged nearer 40Kw, rather than the maximum allowable 60Kw.

Announced in mid 2011, Red Bull are now the official ‘factory’ team for Renault. With the success of the team and the Renault F1 team being rebadged to Lotus, This allows Red bull to take a more direct involvement in developing the RS27 engine and the exhaust mappings to maximise what is allowable in the rules.

Launch Analysis: Ferrari F2012

Car: Ferrari F2012
Having followed a very similar concept since the 2009 F60, Ferrari found in 2011 that the conservative route was not making up the ground to their rivals. The F150 was a fast car, but lacked that final ounce of pace to beat the Red Bulls and McLarens. This was exacerbated by the car being easy on its tyres, to the point where it had tyre warm up issues. This showed itself in qualifying were the car would not make the most of a tyre around a single lap and also in cooler weather, or where the harder Pirelli tyre was used. The team recruited Pat Fry in a major reshuffle of engineering staff. Fry spent the year assessing Ferrari problems and set about a recruitment programme of new staff and a more adventurous design programme. The resulting car is clearly very different from its predecessors.
Externally very little remains the same on the new car, it does perhaps shares Ferraris favour for a long wheelbase and clearly is set up to run a fairly steep rake angle. But only the front wing, which is derived from the late 2011 wing appears to be carried over. Even this detail was a development in preparation for 2012, Fry leading the team to follow Red Bulls format of front wing in both shape and aero elasticity.

With a similar wheelbase, the revised seating position is perhaps the only change to the cars layout. The seating position was altered for Fernando Alonso last year and has been altered once more for a lower position.


Of all the 2012 front ends Ferrari has one of the most striking, the nose being very wide and square in cross section. The width is part of philosophy to use the extended wing mounting pylons, as a pair of turning vanes cascaded with the normal undernose turning vanes. By making the nose as wide as possible within the space allowed within the regulations, more undernose surface can be used to accelerate air through the duct formed by the nose and vanes. As a result the edges are tightly radiussed and cannot be rounded as with other teams. The aesthetics of the nose being also worse for the rectangular cross section front bulkhead. Ferrari opting not to make a “V” shape of the bulkhead, in order to make the area under the raised chassis uncluttered to make the vane set up work most effectively.

The flow through this vane set up starts with the wing mounting pylons, these are wide spaced at their leading edges and they then converge to end inboard of the main turning vanes. The main turning vanes then pick up the flow accelerating between the pylons and sweep out to direct the flow towards the lower leading edge of the underfloor.
Curiously Ferrari has yet to fit a driver cooling vent into the nose. This hole is not mandatory and clearly not a requirement for a chilly Spanish pre season test.

Front wing
As previously mentioned, the front wing is a derivative of the late 2011 wing. This was extensively detailed in a previous post. The wing is a three element set up, the main plane being slotted to create the leading two elements, and then the flap trails this. An extra slot in the down-turned corner of the flap helps keep flow attached in the steepest section of wing. The footplate is formed by the wing curving down on itself, while the upper section of endplate is a separate vane, albeit joined along a lot of its length to the foot plate. Front wings are now subject to a doubling of the deflection test used by the FIA 2011. So far the Ferrari wing has not exhibited the flutter seen last year, which is not to say it is not flexing.

Front Suspension

A mention of front suspension in the cars launch analysis will be unique to Ferrari this year, as they have revisited an old direction with its layout. Every other car for well over ten years has had pushrod front suspension, but Ferrari has revived the pullrod set up for the front of the car.

This effectively turns the pushrod set up upside down, now the rod passes down from the upper wishbone and connects with the rocker, which is now mounted at the bottom of the chassis. According to Fry, this set up is a little lighter and has a slightly lower Centre of Gravity. These gains alone will not pay for the systems inclusion on the car, so the team claim to have found an aero benefit. The pullrod can be thinner, but the real gain is the pullrod is mounted near horizontal across the front suspension. This places it in line with the upwash from the front wing. Just as with the wishbones, its profile can be subtly altered within the rules to help control the wake from the wing and improve the airflow over the rear of the car. Despite appearances the pullrod is as effective in moving the rocker for a given wheel travel as a pushrod. The important factor is the angle between the rod and the wishbone is connected to, rather than the rods angle to the chassis. I’ll explain a lot more pull rod suspension in a subsequent article.

Roll hoop

Although not a performance differentiator, the new roll hoop is very different concept to that seen in previous Ferraris. A far curvier pair of inlets are formed by the structure, this shaping being at odds with the ungainly nose. It is strange Ferrari have not undercut this area and exposed the structure supporting the roll hoop, which is the common practice to achieve more airflow to the rear wing. The main inlet feeds the engines airbox, while the smaller inlet piggy-backed behind it, most likely feeds the gearbox and hydraulic oil coolers mounted above the gearbox. The lifting point for the trackside cranes is formed by beneath the main inlet and enclosed by a simple bar connecting it to the top of the chassis.


It’s perhaps the sidepods that are the big performance area for the car this year.
Starting at their leading edge, the car sports a new format Side Impact Spar (SIPS) design inside the bodywork. Since 2009 Ferrari had a staggered SIPS arrangement, with a narrower spar sat ahead of a wider spar, creating the distinctive peaked sidepod inlet. Now it spears a single spar spans the sidepod and protrudes through to form the mount for the sidepod vane. This allows the spar to be wider, which creates an easier job to absorb the impact. Viewed from above the sidepod inlet lean inwards. This makes them more efficient at meeting the diverging flow that passes around chassis to enter the sidepod.

Much smaller and far more undercut, the sidepods now feature radiators mounted upright and splaying outwards from the rear of the car. Their new placement allows the flow through the cores to be directed outboard, rather than in towards the central tail funnel. This heated flow from the radiators passes out through the downswept chimney-fairings that differentiate the car from its rivals. This design keeps the centre of the car as slim as possible, with there being no tail funnel to obstruct the rear wing. Airflow passing through the undercut in the sidepod, still enters a coke bottle shape below the chimney-fairings and is passed over the diffuser. But these chimney-fairings also have a more important secondary use, for housing the exhaust outlets.

Additional cooling outlet area is provided in the tail of the sidepods, in between the rounded end of the chimney-fairings and the gearbox fairing. This gearbox fairing is nearly round in cross section also forms an outlet for hot air to exit from the engine bay.

With floor level exhausts no longer allowed, the teams have had to find different ways to make use of the powerful exhaust plume. Most teams have directed it over the sidepods towards the centre of the beam wing, but Ferrari have purposely placed the exits as far outboard as allowed (on the launch spec car at least). When viewed from above its clear these are aimed outboard of the rear wing endplate.

Sat inside the downswept chimney-fairings, the exhaust at first might be thought to be pointing downwards. But the rules state the exhaust outlets have to point upwards by at least ten degrees. Although not visible inside the chimney-fairings, the last 10cm of exhaust do indeed point upwards.

But the cleverly the down sweep of the chimney-fairings creates a downwash effect over the exhaust plume and this directs the combined flow downwards between the rear brake ducts and rear wing endplate. This set up will potentially reach the floor and act to seal the diffuser from the ground as with the 2011 EBD.

In testing the set up has gone through several iterations, firstly the exhausts exits were in line with the end of the chimney-fairings, but soon the exhaust tail pipes were shortened and the chimney-fairings above had to be cut back to maintain legality and also the allow the downwash flow to reach the shorter tailpipe.

At the Barcelona test the exhausts were again altered, this time being brought further inboard, approximately in line with the channel formed between the chimney-fairings and the engine cover. Now the exhausts appear to point inboard of the rear wing endplate. It’s not clear if this is an aerodynamic decision or a request for a less obviously aerodynamic solution from the FIA. Should the exhaust outlet stay in this position the sidepod and the chimney-fairings will need to be altered to optimise the downwashed airflow around the tail pipes.

Rear suspension
Almost unspoken of amidst the talk of the front pullrod set up, Ferrari also switched their rear suspension on its head and gone for pullrod on the rear of the F2012. Last year we saw the Ferrari had a very complex setup around the rear suspension rockers and placing this hardware lower down around the clutch and engine drive shaft, will be a tough task package.

Mounted to the revised gearbox, the rear top wishbone has been repositioned this year. It appears to be nearly horizontal; this places it in line with the beam wing, so the wishbone can act as a flow conditioner ahead of the wing. Even if the new gearbox is not as low as the Williams, the wishbone needs to mount to a vertical extension above the gearbox. This wishbone mounting hard point also forms the mounting for the beam wing. At first this appears to be a duct, but is just the thick swan-neck mounting similar to that used by Marussia for the past two years.

Diffuser\rear impact structure
Within the bodywork rules, there is not a lot of scope for a very different diffuser. So Ferrari have now added a full width flap around the diffuser on the new car.
Unusually Ferrari have not fully exposed the underside of the beam wing above the rear crash structure. Looking at the crash structure itself its clear it is shallow enough to allow this. Instead the crash structure has additional bodywork above and below it, which merges it with the beam wing.

As already mentioned the gearbox is a new design. The hybrid carbon and titanium case now has to mount a very different rear suspension system, with the switch to pull rod spring\damper operation and the raised upper wishbone.
Last year Ferrari were notable for having a single selector drum for their seamless shift set up. Most teams use two selectors; each one operating alternate gears, so that the phasing from one gear engaging and the other disengaging can be adjusted. Ferrari with a single selector must be confident that their system can always shift with the same aggressive phasing, without the option to go for a longer overlap.

Ferrari develop their KERS with Marelli, the system retains the same layout as in 2011 with the MGU mounted to the front of the engine and the Batteries placed under the fuel tank. The power electronics reside in the right hand sidepod.

With the engine freeze, not much can be said of the engine. Ferrari have usefully provided a high resolution image of the 056 engine, complete with integral oil tank, but lacking the KERS MGU.

Launch Analysis: McLaren Mercedes MP4-27

As the first real launch of a 2012 F1 car, McLaren have unveiled their MP4-27. In McLaren parlance this was the cars “technical launch” and was carried out at their Technical Centre in Woking, UK.

McLaren had one of the fastest cars in 2011, on its day the MP4-26 was faster than the Red Bull. So the basic approach of the new car did not need to veer too far from direction McLaren had been following. Last year the season was blighted by poor form in pre season testing. Most of the winter tests were interrupted by exhaust problems, as the now near mythical “octopus” exhaust broke after a few laps out on track. This exhaust turned out to be far simpler than the rumours suggested. The exhausts ran sideways across the floor to exit in a longitudinal slit ahead of the rear wheels. This being a complex way to achieve the same sort of fluid skirt that Red Bull achieved with their outer blowing exhaust layout. Once McLaren had followed Red Bulls lead with the exhaust, they were able to catch up. McLaren perhaps even surpassed Red Bull with the exhaust blown diffuser, as the Mercedes Hot Blown engine mappings were superior to the Renault cold blown solutions. Despite the rules trying cap the hot blown benefits as early the Canadian GP, the Silverstone GP weekend showed how much McLaren were lost relative to Red Bull when the restrictions really bit hard.

With a strong car at the end of 2011, the team have learnt about the damage a slow start to the year makes to their championship chances. This year evolution is required, McLaren do not need to find large chunks of time, but do need a car that will perform well at the opening races. Thus we see the refinement of old concepts and little in the way of radical development.
Thus the new car bred from the recent line of McLarens, the family resemblance goes further than the colour scheme. With a low nose and sweeping lines over rounded sidepods are now trademarks of the Woking design team. With the second year of the fixed weight distribution and Pirelli tyres, little needed to be done to the cars basic layout. Running much the same chassis, fuel tank size and gearbox, so the wheelbase is similar to the previous car.
Although the 2012 Pirelli front tyres are a new shape tyre, Paul Hembury from the tyre supplier confirmed to me that the change in the new profile is “not visible to the eye”. So only small optimisations of the front end aero are needed to cope with the change.

The nose-down, tail-up 'Rake' of the car is evident, with as much as 10cm of rear ride height

The studio photos of the car in side profile show off the amount of rake the car is designed to run. This is also a carry over from 2011, as the car could often be seen with a clear 10cm of ride height at the rear axle line. Although managing rake will be harder this year as the greater rear height introduces more leakage into the diffuser from the sides. As yet the teams solution to seal the diffuser are hidden by a simple floor fitted to the launch, although these are removable panels and more complex designs will soon be seen.

With so much to carry over in philosophy and design, what has changed for 2012?

MP4-27 in detail
The stand out points on the MP4-27 are the nose, sidepods and exhaust position.

Firstly the front wing is near identical to the late 2011 wing, so we can expect its general design to carry over, as will the snow plough vane below the nosecone. But the height of the nose at first appears to be at odds with the 2012 rules on a maximum 55cm height for the front of the nose.

Looking closer at McLarens chassis in side profile its clear the family history of low noses has helped here. The dashboard bulkhead is may be just 3cm higher than the cockpit padding (which is 55cm high), the chassis top then curves downwards towards the front wheels. By the point of the front (A-A) bulkhead the top is lower than 55cm, may be as low as 5cm below the maximum height. When compared to the maximum heights (the dotted line on the drawing), its clear this is a very low nose overall.

The snow plough vane under the nose might be part of the secret to a low nose

This creates less space under the raised nose, but the teams snow plough device under the nose works aggressively as a turning vane, so perhaps the team don’t need the higher chassis to get the correct airflow to the sidepods leading edge. McLaren also find the lower nose provides the classic vehicle dynamics benefits of a low CofG and a less extreme front suspension geometry. This trade off works for McLaren and goes to prove not everything in F1 has to be a compromise in search of aero advantage.

Unique drillings between the rim and spokes of the wheel aid brake cooling, the ring fairing is missing on the launch car.

Although details around the front end will change, the wheels are typically a design chosen to last for the whole season. This year the McLaren Enkei wheels sport a novel set of drillings to aid brake cooling. The usual spokes formed into the wheel between the hub and the rim, stop short and a radial set of holes are made near the rim. Although not present of the launch car, there will be a dish shaped fairing added to small pegs formed into the wheel to aid the airflow out of the wheel.

The high rectangular inlet and large undercut set the car apart from the "U" pods of the 2011

In 2011 McLaren were not afraid to try a radical sidepod set up, This was the “U” shaped sidepod, with the angled inlet shape creating channel in the upper section of sidepod (About the MP4-26 “U” shaped sidepods).  This year the team have adopted more typical sidepod format, with high\wide sidepod inlets and steep undercut beneath. I got to ask Tim Goss about this:

ScarbsF1: Can you tell us about why the concept’s changed, why you don’t feel that was a benefit this year?
Tim Goss: Last year’s U-shaped side-pod worked very well with what we were trying to achieve last year with the exhaust layout, it was all intended at creating more down wash to the rear end, and it performed particularly well last year. This year at a fairly early stage we set about a different approach to both the external and the internal aerodynamics of the car, and then once the exhaust regulations started to become a little bit clearer then it was quite obvious to us that the U-shaped side-pod no longer fitted in with both the internal aerodynamics and some of the external aerodynamics that we pursued early on. So it works, it worked very well last year, but it’s actually just not suited to what we’re trying to achieve this year.”


Not extreme like the "U" pod, but the sidepod tops do incline slightly

In frontal profile the high and wide cooling inlet is obvious.  The team have been able to incline the sidepod tops slightly, this isnt quite a “U”pod shape, but is quite distinctive.  At the rear the team have kept the sidepods narrow and slimmed the coke bottle shape in tightly to make the sidepod join the gearbox fairing creating a continuous line of bodywork to the very tail of the car.

the heated air from the radiators passes up over the engine and out of the central tail funnel

As well as the external airflow considerations, McLaren looked the sidepods internal airflow, they wanted a cooling exit on the cars centreline. This would have been compromised with the “U” sidepod, so the more conventional shape was selected. The cooling arrangement is similar to Red Bulls philosophy, the radiators direct their heated airflow upwards and around the engine, this then exits in a tail funnel. The launch car had quite a modest central outlet, but we can expect to see far larger versions used at hot races.

the front upper section of sidepod is switchable for version with cooling outlets

Aiding the tail funnel there are also cooling panels on the upper leading edge of the sidepod, either side of the cockpit padding and various panels arund the rear of the coke bottle shape. Different panels will be used depending the cooling and\or drag demands of the of the track.

Last years more complex roll hoop cooling inlets have been simplified into one below the engine inlet

Other cooling functions are covered by the inlet below the roll hoop. Last years double inlet set up has gone and now a single duct is used. This probably cools both the gearbox and KERS.

Viewed through the rear wing the exhaust bulge is obvious

The other notable aspect of the sidepods are the exhaust bulges. These stick out prominently on the flank of each sidepod. They don’t serve an aerodynamic function themselves, but simply fair-in the final 10cm of exhaust pipe. This final section of exhaust is now strictly controlled by the regulations. Its position must sit within specific area, it must point upwards between 10 – 30 degrees and can point sideways plus or minus ten degrees. McLaren have fixed the exhaust in the lowest most rearwards position possible, the tail pipe then pointing steeply upwards and inwards. From the limited view it would appear to direct the exhaust plume towards the outer span of the rear wing.

This would make a blown rear wing (BRW), the added flow from the exhaust aiding the wing in creating downforce at lower speeds. The exhaust position and fairing also suggests an alternative exhaust tailpipe could be used. Paddy Lowe confirmed that different solutions would be tried in testing. From overhead its clear to see the exhaust could be angled differently to blow over the rear brake ducts fairings to create downforce directly at the wheel.

The gearbox case design is not the shrunken design we saw with Williams in 2011 , the differential is low but not unduly so. The top of the case sitting neatly under the tail funnel. Pull rod suspension remains at the rear of the car, while conventional pushrod is on the front end. Lowe commented that the Lotus brake antidive system was not specifically looked at, but was part ”of a family of solutions” that has been looked at in the past. The engineers feeling that the Lotus system was illegal and hence had not been explored further. They declined to comment of the possibility of an interlinked suspension system.
Behind the gearcase, the rear impact structure is mounted midway between the beam wing and floor, fully exposing both the beam wing and allowing airflow into the central boat tail shape of the diffuser. As the diffuser was covered up, its not clear if there are features to drive airflow into the starter motor hole. A new feature on the beam wing is an upswept centre section, the extra angle of attack in the middle 15cm of the wing having a slot to help keep the airflow attached. The upper rear wing is a new design albeit similar the short chord DRS flap wing, we saw introduced at Suzuka last year. The DRS pod is still mounted atop the rear main plane and its hydraulics fed to it through the rear wing endplates. The flaps junction with the endplates follows recent McLaren practice with a complex set of vents aimed at reducing drag inducing wing tip vortices.
Not much else in terms of structures or mechanical parts were evident at the launch. Lowe did confirm to me that the Mercedes AMG KERS remained packaged under the fuel tank in one assembly. Also adding that there would not be an significant weight loss to the system.  As a significant reduction in weight was made between the 2009 and 2011 season, via the consolidation of the Batteries and Power Electronics into one unit.

Mp3 of the MP4-27 Engine fire up via McLaren

First analysis: Caterham CT-01

Now entering their third year what was Team Lotus and now Caterham F1 have produced their most contemporary package yet. Also in the second year of their partner ship with Red Bull and Renault for the supply of their power train, there will be inevitable comparisons of the CT-01 to the cars from its technical partners. Indeed superficially the car bears some resemblances to the RB7, but the car is indeed the work of the technical team lead by Mike Gascoyne and Mark Smith in Hingham. Where as Red Bull supply the Gearbox\Hydraulics and Renault the Engine\KERS package.

Although the rendering of the car is clearly wearing 2011 spec wings, vanes and brake ducts, its evident the car is another step forward in design terms for the team.

Three features stand out as different from the 2011 T128; the nose, the sidepods and the roll hoop.

Firstly the nose (Cutting from this months F1Racing magazine) is the first example we have seen of the revised 2012 nose regulations, limiting the front of the nose to a height of just 55cm. However the remaining raised monocoque section between that and the cockpit can be 62.5cm high, so we see the step between these two sections and this is partly softened by the ridged “V” nose. (more detail on the 2012 nose rules)

The sidepods follow the Red Bull template with slim sidepods tapering out at their base. The coke bottle shape streamlines smoothly into the gearbox fairing, there being no cooling outlet from the sidepods themselves, instead the tail funnel acts as the main outlets, while there also appears to be small outlets either side of the cockpit sides.

Amidships we see the all-carbon blade type roll structure from 2011 has disappeared, replaced by a more conventional roll hoop. With part of its structure exposed in the form of the struts supporting the roll structure. Its likely this structure has some metal in its construction. The use of heavier metal in the structure, is offset by the shape being more structurally efficient and probably of equal weight compared to the all carbon blade.

The nose cone is much wider and shallower than in 2011, this being create enough mass within the deformable structure while still meeting the “V” shaped front bulkhead. A new front wing is in development, its likely this will follow the 2011 trend for an endplate-less design with a three element wing meeting the centre section in a curled profile. The raised front section of chassis means Caterham have retained their steeply include front suspension. Interestingly, the bulges on the nose, seem to a reverse twin keel and mount the front leg of the upper wishbone. Around the cockpit opening their appear to be cooling outlets, these aiding cooling allowing much slimmer sidepods. The bodywork aft of this area bulges outwards slightly and sweeps back smoothly around the engine to the tail funnel. In meeting the 2012 regulations the exhausts are tucked in quite low and inboard. The mandatory last 100mm of exhaust being covered by fairings formed into the engine cover. From these pictures its hard to tell how steeply the exhausts are angled at. Therefore its hard to tell if the exhaust effect the flow under the rear wing.

As the sidepods are so slim and there being no low level exhausts, there is a wide expanse of exposed floor. The diffuser sweeps outwards and there is a generous cut out around the rear wheels. The centre section of the diffuser often termed the boat tail is exposed to the airflow. Suggesting the rear impact structure is raised clear fo the floor. This is in contrast to Red Bulls preferred practice of a low rear crash structure. The lowered section probably allows airflow over the floor to pass through the starter motor hole to aid airflow passing up under the diffuser.
By using the Red Bull Carbon fibre gear case, the rear suspension is also largely taken from the Red Bull. Thus it employs pull rod operation for the springs and dampers. However the KERS installation may follow either Red Bulls Pannier style battery installation or the more typical under-fuel-tank installation.

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F1 2012: Rules, Designs and Trends

For 2012 we will have a raft of rules changes that will alter the look and performance of the car. For most of the new cars, we will immediately see the impact of the lower nose regulations. Then the big story of 2010-2011 of exhaust blown diffusers (EBDs) comes to an end with stringent exhaust placement rules and a further restriction on blown engine mappings.
Even without rule changes the pace of development marches on, as teams converge of a similar set of ideas to get the most from the car. This year, Rake, Front wings and clever suspensions will be the emerging trends. Sidepods will also be a big differentiator, as teams move the sidepod around to gain the best airflow to the rear of the car. There will also be the adoption of new structural solutions aimed to save weight and improve aero.
Last of all there might be the unexpected technical development, the ‘silver bullet’, the one idea we didn’t see coming. We’ve had the double diffuser and F-Duct in recent years, while exhaust blown diffusers have thrown up some new development directions. What idea it will be this year, is hard, if not impossible to predict. If not something completely new, then most likely an aggressive variation of the exhaust, sidepod or suspension ideas discussed below.

2012 noses

The most obvious rule change for 2012 is the lowering of the front of the nose cone. In recent years teams have tried to raise the entire front of the car in order to drive more airflow over the vanes and bargeboards below the nose. The cross section of the front bulkhead is defined by the FIA (275mm high & 300mm wide), but teams have exploited the radiuses that are allowed to be applied to the chassis edges, in order to make the entire cross section smaller. Both of these aims are obviously to drive better aero performance, despite the higher centre of Gravity (CofG) being a small a handicap, the better aero overcomes this to improve lap times.

A safety issue around these higher noses is that they were becoming higher than the mandatory head protection around the cockpit, in some areas this is as low as 55cm. It was possible that a high nose tip could easily pass over this area and strike the driver.

The front section of chassis will be as high as possible (at 62.5cm) and radiussed into a "V" shape

So now the area ahead of the front bulkhead must be lower than 55cm. However the monocoque behind this area can remain as high as 62.5cm. Thus in order to strive to retain the aero gains teams will keep a high chassis and then have the nose cone flattened up against this 55cm maximum height. Thus we will see these platypus noses, wide and flat in order to keep the area beneath deformable structure clear for better airflow. The radiussed chassis sides are still allowed so we will also see this 7.5cm step merged into the humps a top of the chassis.
Areas below and behind the nose are not allowed to have bodywork (shown yellow in the diagram), so small but aggressive vanes will have to be used, or a McLaren style snowplough. Both these devices drive airflow towards the leading edge of the underfloor for better diffuser performance.

New exhausts

Exhausts must be high up on the sidepod, so cannot blow the diffuser

Having used the engine via the exhausts to drive aerodynamic performance for the past two years, exhaust blown diffusers will be effectively banned in 2012. The exhausts must now sit in small allowable area, too high and far forward to direct the exhausts towards the diffuser. The exhausts must feature just two exits and no other openings in or out are allowed. The final 10cm of the exhaust must point rearwards and slightly up (between 10-30 degrees). Allied to the exhaust position, the system of using the engine to continue driving exhaust when the driver is off the throttle pedal has also been outlawed. Last year teams kept the engine throttles opened even when the driver lifted off the throttle for a corner. Then either allowing air to pass through the engine (cold blowing) or igniting some fuel along the way (hot blowing). The exhaust flow would remain a large proportion of the flow used when on the throttle, thus the engine was driving the aero, even when the driver wasn’t needing engine power. Now the throttle pedal position must map more closely the actual engine throttle position, thus if the driver is off the throttle pedal, then the engine throttles must be correspondingly closed.

Blown rear wing (BRW): The exhausts will blow upward to drive flow under the rear wing for more downforce

Teams will be faced with the obvious choice of blowing the exhausts upwards towards the rear wing, to gain a small aerodynamic advantage, when the driver is on the throttle. These Blown Rear Wings (BRWs) will be the conservative solution and certainly will be the first solution used in testing.
However, it’s possible to be aggressive with these exhaust designs too. One idea is blowing the rear wing with a much higher exhaust outlet; this would blow tangentially athte wing profile, which is more effective at increasing the flow under the wing for more downforce. Packaging these high exhausts may cause more problems than gains. But last year’s exhausts passing low and wide across the floor suffered a similar issue, but proved to be the optimum solution.

A more aggressive BRW raises the exhaust and blows tangentially under the wing profile, which is more efficient

Even more aggressive solution would be directing the exhausts onto the vanes allowed around the rear brake ducts. If avoiding the brake cooling inlet snorkel, the fast moving exhaust gas would produce downforce directly at the wheel, which is more efficient than wings mounted to the sprung part of the chassis. However the issue here would be the solution is likely to be so effective, that it will be sensitive to throttle position and rear ride height. If these issues can be engineered out, then this is an attractive solution.

An extreme but legal solution is to blow the exhaust on the rear brake duct fins creating downforce directly at the wheel.

Wing ride height and Rake
With rules setting a high front wing ride height and small diffusers, aero performance is limited. So teams have worked out how to work around these rules by angling the entire car into a nose down attitude. This is known as ‘Rake’, teams will run several degrees of rake to get the front wing lower and increase the effective height of the diffuser exit. Thus the front wing will sit closer to the track, than the 75mm when the car is parallel to the ground. While at the rear, the 12.5cm tall diffuser sits an additional 10cm clear of the track, making its expansion ratio greater. Teams were using the EBD, to seal this larger gap between the diffuser and the floor. Without the EBD teams will have to find alternative way to drive airflow into the gap to create a virtual skirt between the diffuser and track.
Furthermore teams have also allowed the front wing to flex downwards at speed to allow it to get closer to the ground, further improving its performance. Although meeting the FIA deflection tests, teams are allowing the wing bend and twist to position the endplate into a better orientation, either for sealing the wing to the ground or directing airflow towards the front tyres wake. Both creating downforce benefits at the front or rear of the car, respectively.
One issue with allowing the wing to ride closer to the ground through rake or flexing, is that at high speed or under braking (when the nose of the car dives), the front wing can be touching the ground. This is bad for both aero and for creating sparks, which will alert the authorities that the wing is not its normal position relative to the chassis. So teams are creating ways to manage front ride height. Traditionally front bump rubbers or heave springs will prevent excessively low ride heights. Also the front suspension geometry runs a degree of geometric anti-dive, to prevent the nose diving under braking.

Antidive geometry in the front suspension is one way to reduce pitch under braking

Last year we saw two additional solutions, interlinked suspension, where hydraulic suspension elements prevent nose dive under braking by displacing fluid in a hydraulic circuit one end of the car to the other end, creating a stiffer front suspension set up. This prevents dive under braking, while keeping a normally soft suspension for better grip.
We have also seen Lotus (nee LRGP) use torque reaction from the front brake callipers to extend the pushrod under braking, creating an anti-dive effect and prevent the nose dipping under braking.

An interpretation of the Lotus Antidive solution, using the brake caliper mounting to operate a hydraulic circuit and extend the pushrod (legally) under braking

These and probably other solutions will be seen in 2012 to maintain the ideal ride height under all conditions.

Front end

A three element endplate-less front wing

Towards the end of last year, front end aero design was converging into a set of similar ideas. Aside from the flexible wing option, already discussed above. The main direction was the use of a delta shaped three\four element wing, sporting no obvious endplate. The delta shape means that most of the wings downforce is created at the wing tip; this means less energy is taken from the airflow towards the inner span of the wing, which improves airflow at the rear of the car. Also the higher loading near the wing tip creates a stronger vortex, which drives airflow around the front tyre to reduce drag. Three wing elements are used, each being similar in chord length, rather than one large main plane and much smaller flaps. This spaces the slots between the elements out more equally, helping reduce airflow separation under the wing. More slots mean a more aggressive wing angle can be used without stalling. At the steepest outer section of wing, teams will mould a fourth slot in the flap to further manage airflow separation.
First introduced by Brawn in 2009, the endplate-less design is used as it’s more important to drive airflow out wide around the front tyre, than to purely maintain pressure difference above and below the wing. Rules demand a minimum amount of bodywork in this area, so vanes are used to both divert the airflow and meet the surface area regulations. This philosophy has now morphed into the concept, where the wing elements curl down to form the lower part of the endplate. Making the wing a homogenous 3D design, rather than flat wing elements and a separate vertical endplate.

Arched sections (yellow) of wing, help drive vortices to divert airflow along the car

A feature starting to emerge last year was arched sections of wing. Particularly near the mandatory neutral centre 50cm section of wing. These arched sections created elongated vortices, which are stronger and more focussed than tip vortices often used to control airflow. In 2012 many teams will create these unusual curved sections at the wings interface with the centre section.

Extending the front wing mounting pylons helps to make use of the middle 50cm of wing

Above this area, the pylon that mounts to the wing to the nosecone has been exploited to stretch he FIA maximum cross section to form the longest possible pylon. This forms the mounting pylon into endplates either side of the centre section of wing and along with the arched inner wing sections, help create the ideal airflow 25cm from the cars centreline (known as the Y250 axis).

Pointing a section of front wing profile at a suitable vane on the front brake ducts is one way gain aero performance.

In 2011 Mercedes GP used a section of the frotn wing to link up with the fins on the brake ducts, this created an extra long section of wing.  Vanes on the front brake ducts are increasingly influential on front wing performance and front tyre wake.
Mercedes GP also tried an innovative F-Duct front wing last year. This was not driver controlled, but rather speed (pressure) sensitive. Stalling the wing above 250kph, this allowed the flexing wing to unload and flex back upwards at speed, to prevent the wing grounding at speed. But the effect altered the cars balance at high speed, and the drivers reportedly didn’t like the effect on the handling. I’ve heard suggestions that the solution isn’t planned for 2012.

With so much of the car fixed within the regulation, it’s becoming the sidepods that are the main area of freedom for the designers. Last year we saw four main sidepod concepts; Conventional, Red Bull low\tapered, McLaren “U” shape and Toro Rosso’s undercut.
Each design has its own merits, depending on what the designer wants to do with the sidepods volume to get the air where they want it to flow.

An undercut in the sidepod is one way to drive good flow around the sidepod to the diffuser

This year I believe teams will want to direct as much airflow to the diffuser as possible, Red Bulls tiny sidepod works well in this regard, as does the more compromised Toro Rosso set up. Mclarens “U” pod concept might be compromised with the new exhaust rules and the desire to use a tail funnel cooling exit. However the concept could be retained with either; less of top channel or perhaps a far more aggressive interpretation creating more of an undercut.

Using a slight McLaren "U" shape to the sidepod may still work in 2012

Part and parcel of sidepod design is where the designer wants the cooling air to enter and exit the sidepod. To create a narrower tail to the sidepod and to have a continuous line of bodywork from sidepod to the gearbox, the cooling exit is placed above the sidepod, in a funnel formed in the upper part of the engine cover. Most teams have augmented this cooling outlet with small outlets aside the cockpit opening or at the very front of the sidepod.

The tail funnel (light yellow) is a good cooling outlet method, as it reduces the size of the coke bottle section of sidepod

To let more air into the sidepod, without having to create overly large inlets, teams will commonly use inlets in the roll hoop to feed gearbox or KERS coolers.

Other aero
Even without the exhaust blowing over the diffuser, its design will be critical in 2012.
As already mentioned the loss of the exhaust blowing will hurt the team’s ability to run high rear ride heights and thus a lot of rake. Unobstructed the EBDs exhaust plume, airflow will want to pass from the high pressure above the floor to the lower pressure beneath it. Equally the airflow blown sideways by the rear tyres (known as tyre squirt) will also interfere with the diffuser flow.

The Coved section of floor between the tyre and diffuser will be a key design in 2012, as will cold blown starter holes and trailing edge flaps

Before EBDs teams used a coved section of floor to pickup and accelerate some airflow from above the floor into the critical area between the diffuser and rear tyre. I predict we will see these shapes and similar devices to be used to keep the diffuser sealed at the sides.
Last year we saw teams aid the diffusers use of pulling air from beneath the car, by adding large flap around its trailing edge. So a high rear impact structure raised clear of the diffusers trailing edge will help teams fit these flaps around its entire periphery. Red Bull came up with a novel ideal by creating a duct feeding airflow to the starter motor hole; this improves airflow in the difficult centre section of the diffuser. Many teams will have this starter motor hole exposed by the raised crash structure, allowing airflow to naturally pass into the hole. However I expect some vanes or ducts to aid the flow in reaching this hole tucked down at the back of the car.

Tapered flaps and top mounted DRS pods will be a direction for 2012

DRS was a new technology last year. We soon saw teams start to converge on a short chord flap and a high mounted hydraulic actuator pod. DRS allows the rear wing flap to open a gap of upto 50mm from the main plane below it. A smaller flap flattens out more completely with this 50mm gap, reducing drag more effectively than a larger flap.
As drag is created largely at the wing tips, I would not be surprised to see tapered flaps that flatten out at the wing tip and retain some downforce in the centre section. Teams may use the Pod for housing the actuators, although Mercedes succeeded with actuators hidden in the endplates. Having the pod above the wing clears the harder working lower surface, thus we will probably not see many support struts obstructing the wing.


Variations on William low line gearbox and differential will be followed for this year

Super slim gearboxes have been in vogue for many years, Last year Williams upped the stakes with a super low gearbox. The normally empty structure above the gear cluster was removed and the rear suspension mounted to the rear wing pillar. Williams have this design again for 2012, albeit made somewhat lighter. With the mandatory rear biased weight distribution the weight penalty for this design is not a compromise, while the improved air flow the wing is especially useful in 2012. So it’s likely the new cars will follow the low gearbox and low differential mounting in some form.

Rear pull rod suspension will be all but universal this year

A lot is said about Pull rod rear suspension being critical for success. In 2011 only a few teams retained push rod rear suspension (Ferrari and Marussia). I would say the benefits between the two systems are small; pushrod trades a higher CofG for more space and access to the increasingly complex spring and damper hardware. Whereas pull rod benefits from a more aerodynamically compact set up and a lower CofG. I still believe either system works well, if packaged correctly.
At the front it’s unlikely pull rod will be adopted. Largely because the high chassis would place a pull rod at too shallow an angle to work efficiently. Regardless the minimum cross section of the footwell area, discounts any potential aero benefits. Leaving just a small CofG benefit as a driver to adopt this format.

Undercut roll hoops with internal metal reinforcement will be a common feature to drive airflow to the rear wing

Most teams now use a metal structure to provide strength inside the roll hoop; this allows teams to undercut the roll hoop for better airflow to the rear wing. Even though last year two teams followed Mercedes 2009 blade type roll hoop, for Caterham at least, this isn’t expected to return this year. Leaving the question if Force India will retain this design?

Electronics and control systems
The 2012 technical regulations included a large number of quite complex and specific rules regarding systems controlling the engine, clutch and gearbox. It transpires that these are simply previous technical directives being rolled up into the main package of regulations. Only the aforementioned throttle pedal maps being a new regulation to combat hot and cold blowing.

While I still try to crack that deal to make this my full time job, I do this blog and my twitter feed as an aside to my day job. In the next few weeks I plan to attend the launches and pre-season tests. If you appreciate my work, can I kindly ask you to consider a ‘donation’ to support my travel costs.

2012: Technical Regulations Published

Today the FIA published the final version of the 2012 F1 regulations. Both the Technical and Sporting regs have changes for this year, most notable are the technical changes. The two main changes were expected, being the exhaust position and nose regulations, but there are a large number of new rules concerning control systems.

Controls for the throttle, antistall and gearshift have all been clarified, such as a requirement to stay in first gear until 100kmh. I can only speculate some teams were improving their launches, by controlling the clutch off the line under the auspices of the antistall and gearshift rules. I will research this further to see if this is the case.

FIA Website

Technical Regs (PDF)

Sporting Regs (PDF)

3.7.9 Bodywork in front of the front (A-A) bulkhead must not be higher than 550mm, as outlined in my previous post

3.12.6 The manufacturing tolerance for the floor is reduced to 3mm (from 5mm)

4.2 Fixed Weight distribution confirmed for 2012 & 2013

5.5 Drivers torque demand via the accelerator pedal more tightly defined

5.8 Exhaust position confirmed as outlined in my previous post

5.19 Anti stall systems more tightly defined

8.6 All driver buttons and controls to be via dedicated input to the ECU. The Drivers use of these controls must logged for FIA inspection

8.11.1 Five additional sensors for data logging can be fitted for P1 and P2

9.2.5 Clutch control is more tightly defined

9.8.1 Clarification of multiple driver gear shift requests

9.8.2 At the race start and at pit stops, first gear must be used until the car is travelling 100kmh

9.8.4 Clarification of time allowed for shift requests to be started and completed

9.8.5 Track position cannot be used as an input the gearshift control

10.5.3 Uprights cannot extend too far inboard, similar to brake duct dimensions

12.7.3 Only tyre heating blankets may be used to warm the tyres

12.8.4 Wheel guns can only run on Air or Nitrogen, not Helium

Pre season Testing & Launches

There are just 12 days of preseason testing in three separate tests before the F1 circus packs off to Australia, for the Melbourne GP on 18th March. Then there will be one additional test at Mugello after the opening flyaway races. These tests will be open to the public and entry is far cheaper and the spectators are provided a full day of on track action. This makes testing far more attractive to fans. With revised Pirelli tyres and different exhaust systems to test, it seems most teams are aiming for a quick start to testing by bringing their new cars to the first test.

Making this early debut more difficult for this year are the revised rules around crash testing. Typically teams have passed their final crash tests in the days before the first race, but now teams have to have passed all these tests before they can start testing. With initial crash tests being carried out now and continuing into January, any failure of a structure to pass its test first time may impact on the teams ability to attend the first test with their new car. This process of crash testing is a form of homologation, but unlike 2009, teams are free to homologate and crash test new structures at any point. So some teams may opt to accept a heavier component that will pass the tests in order to go testing and have the race-spec lighter pass ready for Melbourne.

Jerez Website
Feb 7th – 10th

Barcelona1 Website
Feb 21st – 24th

Barcelona2 Website
Mar 1st – 4th

Mugello Website
May 1st – 3rd

Car Launches
Red Bull: Launch 6th Feb 1pm (GMT) online, 1st test at Jerez
McLaren: Launch 1st Feb 11am (GMT) at Woking, 1st test at Jerez
Ferrari: Launch 3rd Feb at Maranello, 1st test at Jerez
Mercedes AMG: 1st test Barcelona
Lotus: Launch Feb 6th 4pm (GMT), 1st test at Jerez
Sauber: Launch Feb 6th, 1st test Jerez
Force India: Launch 3rd Feb 9am (GMT) at Silverstone, 1st test at Jerez
Toro Rosso: Launch 6th Feb 4.30pm (GMT) at Jerez, 1st test at Jerez
Williams: Launch 7th Feb 7.30am (GMT) at Jerez, 1st test at Jerez
Caterham: Launch online 26th Jan & 1st test at Jerez
HRT: Plan to test new car at 1st Barcelona test
Marussia: Plan to test new car at 1st Barcelona test