China: Technical review now on

My technical review of China is now online, with all the detail developments from the weekend.  It was my fault it was late due to email problems.


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McLaren Telemetry: Friday fuel weight

It’s rare to see the paperwork that the engineers or drivers look at in their pit garage.  We can see Hamilton in Friday practice reading two traces from similar laps with different tyres (Used prime and new prime).  What is interesting is that the print out states the fuel weight is 140kg for both laps. This must be near the race-fuel weight and the car is reset with the same weight of fuel for each practice lap to allow for direct comparisons.

Ban on Outboard Mirrors – Red Bulls prototype mirror

Red Bull - Rapid protoyped mirror (Copyright:

With the forthcoming ban on outboard mirrors, teams are using the chance to have the driver and car together to size up their new solution.  Here we can see Red Bull have made up a Stereo Lithographed – Rapid Prototype mirror.  It’s been taped to the cockpit so the drivers can judge its position, ready for the monocoque modification and final production mirror housing to be ready for the Spanish GP.

China: Mercedes new rear wing

Just as Ferrari have joined Sauber in trying to catch up with McLarens F-duct blown rear wing, Mercedes also appear to be in the early stages of testing their own solution.  While not as conclusive in proving there is an f-duct as with Ferraris bodywork, Mercedes do have a duct that links the main plane of the wing to the Flap.   However this may not be the complete solution, as there does not appear to be a duct linking this rear wing fin to the chassis.
Mercedes are one of the few teams (and Brawn before them) not to have raced a shark fin engine cover.  It could that either Mercedes are awaiting the shark fin cover to run the fully ducted flap and that this test was just a structural test for the now largely hollow slotted rear wing flap.  Or that their solution will duct the airflow up through a central wing support strut (currently absent on this car) or less likely through the wings endplates.  As this would mean the beam wing would also need to be hollow and some how connected to the F-duct.  As Mercedes run a fully exposed beam wing there is little connection between it and the chassis.
It also been noted that the Mercedes ran pipework from the front of the sidepods backwards towards the rear of the car and then up inside the rear wing endplate.  These are more likely to be wiring or pressure for sensors, than the duct itself as they are very narrow in gauge and unlikely to pass enough airflow to alter the rear wings aerodynamics.
Mercedes do have one advantage, their monocoque has usefully placed apertures by the side of the pedals, these holes have already sported scoops for driver cooling, these could be modified to be the driver interface with the duct to the rear wing.
It is not likely we will see the full Mercedes F-Duct solution until the other major updates arrive at the next race in Spain.
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China: Ferrari introduce a blown rear wing

In the first practice in China, Ferrari unveiled their new rear wing, which features a blown flap in a similar manner to McLaren.  Mclaren have infamously produced the F-Duct which uses a duct controlled by the driver to alter airflow around the rear wing to stall it at high speed to gain more top speed.  Is this an F-Duct as used by McLaren, may be not.

Unlike the McLaren and Saubers set ups, the Ferrari solution does not appear to have the driver interacting with the duct.  Instead the wing is fed with airflow coming from an inlet high up on the engine cover, well away from the drivers reach.  It is possible that the there is additional ducting inside the car that does allow the driver to control airflow through the duct.  But so far no signs of a driver controlled inlet around the cockpit are evident.  It could be Ferraris set up uses pure aerodynamics to affect the duct, by choking at high speed (safely well above the maximum corner speed). 

Latest: Alonso to  “I had nothing inside the cockpit because the system is not complete. We tested the engine cover to compare it with the standard one. I didn’t notice anything. I guess there will some new numbers from an aero point of view.”

We will update this post as more info emerges over the weekend.

China – Toro Rosso upright failure

As you can see, the upright failed towards the top mounting (top right in this picture) where the top wishbone and steering arm connect.

In Free practice to day, Toro Rosso suffered a massive front suspension failure.  The team have put this down to the failure of the upright.  An upright is the component that links the suspension wishbones to the axle and the wheel.  It appears the upright was new and from a batch not previously used.  Its not clear if the upright was a new specification or a newly manufactured batch of the existing spec.

Due the multitude of functions the upright has to accommodate, it is subject to enormous stress.  This is particularly found under braking as the upright has both the load from downforce, braking and suspension movement.  An upright is joined to the suspension at three places; the upper wishbone mounts via a spherical bearing\camber plate bolted to the top of the upright, the steering arm via a spherical joint\clevice bolted to the uprights front edge and the lower wishbone normally attached with a spherical joint bolted directly to the bottom of the upright.  Then the brake caliper bolts to the upright in two places, lastly the axle (hub) rotates in two large diameter bearings through the middle of the upright.

A typical old format upright in cast titanium, featuring a vaned bearing holder

Uprights were commonly made from titanium or MMC up until this year, when the rules were changed to demand aluminium.  The BBC TV sports broadcast wrongly suggested they were made from carbon fibre, No Carbon upright has raced in F1.  The metal upright is cast\machined, rather than the previous practice of welding various parts together, this is due to the different layout of the modern F1 upright, which no longer places the hub in relatively small bearings inside a vaned mounting to pass cooling air to the brakes.  Instead the bearings are larger and the upright wrapped more tightly around the hub, the cooling air now passing around the upright via the carbon fibre brake duct.  Only BAR\Honda had a different solution, which routed the cooling air inside an oversized hub to the brake disc.  This set up compromised the packaging for the Brawn BGP001, leading to its relatively low nose.  For 2010 Mercedes (nee Brawn) have more conventional uprights.

a BAR Honda Upright (exploded), with the large diameter hollow hub visible that feeds cooling air to the brake

In Toro Rossos case the point at which the upright failed is yet to be confirmed, if it will be made public at all.    Most likely the point at which suspension loads pass into the upright will be the area of highest stress and likely to cause the type of catastrophic failure we saw in Shanghai.  Thus the failure could equally be attributed the wishbone ends or the camber plate, rather than the aluminium upright itself.