Octobers Technical Updates

I’ll compress this months work into one post for simplicity. For updates on F1 technology have a look at the following outlets: Automoto365.com and Motorsport Magazine.

Automoto365.com – Korea & Japan

This is my major outlet, with my images and writing on race-by-race developments

Japanese GP http://bit.ly/AM365_Japan

Red Bull – Rear wing, beam wing and front wing endplates

McLaren – New F-duct

Renault – Slotted footplate

Williams – Slotted beam wing

Sauber – New diffuser

Force India – New diffuser


Korean GP http://bit.ly/AM365_korea

Red Bull – New front brake ducts

McLaren – Slotted front wing endplate

Ferrari – Ridged splitter


Motorsport Magazine – Composite Monocoques

I’ve illustrated this article on composite monocoques


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Ferrari: Open Fronted Blown Diffuser

The opening in the diffuser (yellow) is blown by the exhausts gasses (red)

On Thursday at Interlagos the F10 was seen with a new diffuser set up, as well as an F-duct with the main plane blown rather than the flap. Ferrari have followed other teams and created an open fronted diffuser.

Ferrari first followed Red Bulls idea of an Exhaust Blown Diffuser (EBD) at Round09 in Valencia. but Ferrari chose to blow the exhaust over the top of the diffuser. Where as Red Bull had created an opening into the diffuser, so that the exhaust blows both over and under it. At Silverstone Red Bull opened the diffuser up in two more places each side.

Closed diffuser: the exhaust gas (red) blows over the top of the diffuser (yellow)

Having an open front to the diffuser and directing exhaust flow into it, speeds up the airflow through the diffuser creating more downforce. As with all EBD’s the trade-off is the variation of downforce according to throttle position. To some extent the positioning of the exhaust well upstream from the inlet reduces this effect, as does the engine mappings that retard the ignition and keep the exhaust flow moving even when off the throttle.

Open Diffuser: the exhaust gas (red) enters the slot and passes inside the diffuser (yellow)

Since Mid season both Williams and Mercedes have created open fronted diffusers. In Mercedes case the 800c heat from the exhaust created problems with the diffuser rigidity. Detail design heat shields and improved materials, such as ceramic composites (i.e. Pyrosil) have allowed the exhaust flow to pass directly over the diffuser surface without thermal problems.

Ferrari’s late introduction of the open fronted diffuser and revised F-duct is at odds with statements from the team back in Singapore that the cars development had finished to focus on 2011. Either Ferrari have reignited their development programme as their championship fortunes have reversed with wins in the late season races. Or perhaps the comments meant that the development of the parts had finished, i.e. the design phase was over, but the manufacturing and testing were still in progress.

Clearly these parts do not come from any 2011 programme as the draft rules will ban openings in the diffuser. Although these rules are aimed at eradicating the double diffuser, the wording prevents 50mm openings in the outer portion of the floor (where the flat floor meets the diffuser). Thus open fronted diffuser are effectively banned as routing exhausts that far outboard are impractical. In 2011 downforce can still gained by having the exhaust blowing over the top towards gurney flap to speed flow the diffuser. Equally the f-duct is banned in 2011 replaced by a driver adjustable rear wing.

Septembers Technical updates

I’ll compress this months work into one post for simplicity. For updates on F1 technology have a look at the following outlets: Automoto365.com, Motorsport Magazine and Race Engine Technology magazine.

Automoto365.com – Singapore Tech Desk
All the technical devleopments from singapores night race.
– McLarens front wing and nose cone (thanks to bosyber comments on this blog)
– Red Bulls updates
– Mercedes Bargeboards
– Williams Frotn wing
– plus more from Renault and Toro Rosso


Motorsport Magazine – F1’s Aero Tricks

I’ve illustrated this article on this years must have developments: F-ducts, Exhaust Blown Diffusers and deflecting splitters.


Race Engine Technology

What lies inside a contemporary Formula One engine? Toyota have given Race Engine Technology full access to their current RXV-08 F1 engine. This issue contains the most detailed technical article ever published on a current F1 engine. A 16 page article covering all aspects of the Toyota Formula One engine in a level of detail you will have never experienced before. RET have been given unprecedented access to the engine with the full co-operation of the entire technical team.


F1 Tech in ‘Race Engine Technology’ Magazine

This months ‘Race Engine Technology’ magazine has some interesting stuff for F1 Tech followers. There’s an interview with Mario Ilien, who explains the work he did with Mercedes-Ilmor including; Hydraulic KERS, a rotary valved V10 (+20k RPM & 78Kg) and of course Berylium for Pistons & Liners.
In the Report from the F1 British GP, the Editor interviews Adrian Newey, Also Costa, Sam Michael and James Allison. Covering several topics; the effect of engine power\drivability\consumption, as well as gearbox design influence on aero, with Newey commenting the Pull Rod was a carry over from 09 & not a requisite for his RB6 design. While Ferrari confirmed their engine\gearbox assembly is inclined at over 3-degrees, the first time I’ve seen a reliable quote confirming this fact. It was added that Sauber take this set up for their C29, while Toro Rosso have their own gearbox so have a horizontal drivetrain.
Lastly is a small section on how Sauber pioneered current gearbox design with a longitudinal gearbox, with the gears ahead of the final drive and contained within an aluminum case. It surprised me that Harvey Postlethwaite was involved in this, is there anything that man didn’t do in F1?

Not generally available in the shops and not cheap, but well worth a one-off purchase or subscription.



Racing powertrain technology is on the verge of a revolution; Ian Bamsey says this issue gives some hints as to what to look for

Ian Bamsey talks to Mario Illien about his pioneering work in Formula One during the V10 era and the future of race technology

Peugeot’s con rod dramas; HPD’s new LM P2 V6 turbo; Le Mans’ Hybrid u-turn; John Medlen’s new role at DSR and much more

Ian Bamsey investigates how flywheel-based storage of recovered kinetic energy has been pioneered in professional racing

Despite the ongoing engine freeze, Ian Bamsey discovers some significant powertrain developments at the British Grand Prix

Wayne Ward discusses the options available for the design, materials and manufacturing methods for race camshafts

Le Mans-winning designer Peter Elleray on the relationship between engine and chassis design, highlighting where their needs conflict

John Coxon explains key points in designing and building a motorsports transmission – from the gear teeth to choice of differential

Ian Bamsey gives a rundown of the various engine strategies deployed by this year’s Le Mans Prototype competitors

How in 1993 Sauber’s first Formula One car prompted a major shift in transmission technology

To view a sample article from this issue please click here

Price £12.50

Valencia: Technical review now Automoto365.com


My Technical review is now online at Automoto365.com.  With the latest updates across the grid.


Valencia: Technical Review now on Racecar-Engineering.com

My Technical review is now Racecar Engineering Magazines Website. With News on the Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes blown diffusers, Red Bulls and williams Vaned double diffusers, Everyones f-ducts and all the new bits on the cars including Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams.


My work also gets published along with other technical motorsport articles in each months Racecar Engineering Magazine…

Subscribe to the paper edition: Racecar Engineering Subscription
Subscribe to the digital edition: Racecar Engineering digital Subscription

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Ferrari: Spanish GP engine specification

Ferrari introduced a new engine spec in Spain; this was in order to resolve a problem with the pneumatic valve system.  This raises two points; why are they allowed to change a frozen engine specification and what are the pneumatic valves?

Since the end of 2006 F1 engine specs have been frozen, this was a move to further reduce the costs for the engine suppliers. It was introduced even after stringent standard engine specifications and limited engines over season were introduced.  Since the first homologation of the engines, teams have been allowed to retune the engine for different RPM limits and also to accommodate KERS.  Offsetting this has been the increase to the parts covered by the specification freeze. 

Teams are however allowed to make changes to the their engines for reliability reasons, this applies both to resolving issues that have ‘blown up’ engines, as well as impending failures.  To request a change, teams have to apply to the FIA outlining the reason for the change and the resulting changes.  This information is passed around the other engine suppliers, this transparency helps to reduce excessive changes and reassures teams what their rivals might or might not be getting up to. 

While the fundamental reason for this dispensation is to aid teams with reliability problems, any ‘reliability’ change could also bring a performance gain.  This could be either as a direct result of the ‘reliability’ change i.e. lighter part making more power, or as a secondary result, i.e. new valve seat material allows a different fuel for more power.  Clearly any possible advantage will be taken by the manufacturers when making changes to the engine.

Ferrari had an issue with leaking pneumatic valves; this meant the car may not be able to last a full race distance without the system being topped up.  Thus Ferrari asked for and gained approval to make alterations to their valve system to resolve the problem.

Pneumatic valves are universal in F1 and have been for decades, first introduced by Renault on their V6 turbo engine, they replicate the effect of valve spring in closing the poppet valves in the cylinder head.  Where as a valve spring could do the job, they are more difficult to manufacture to cope with ever higher RPMs.  Although F1 engines are now limited to 18,000rpm, these pneumatic valves have worked on engines revving to over 20,000rpm.  Metal coiled valve springs, suffer from harmonic and fatigue problems at higher revs.  While still resolvable, these issues are simply cured with a switch to a pneumatic valve return system (PVRS).  Instead of a valve being closed against the cam by a coil spring sat in a pocket in the head, the pocket is sealed by a cap and the resulting closed cylinder pressurised with nitrogen gas creating an airspirng.  Of course the PVRS set up can lose pressure and F1 cars run with small nitrogen cylinder housed in the sidepod to keep the system pressurised.  Sometimes when excessive leaking occurs, the car is topped up at a pitstop by a mechanic with a hand held gas cylinder.  In Ferraris case their problem was that their system had always ‘leaked’ to some degree, but with a ban on the longer fuel stops, pit stops are now too short for effective repressurising.  Thus they applied to have their system altered.  It is understood that the Ferrari solution takes some lessons from the Toyota teams’ experience, possibly through the new Ferrari Engine Head Luca Marmorini, who also ran Toyotas F1 engine operation until the end of 2008.  A different PVRS set up, with different seals and revised oil formulation to aid sealing, the engine is now believed to be more powerful by some 12 horse power.  Quite a gain from a change in this era of frozen specification.

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 Autosport.com  “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.

Ferrari: front suspension installation

Ferrari inerter visible through the hatch in the top of the chassis

Unusually for a teams media image, this shot shows the front inerter installation on the F10.  What we can see here is the car without its access panels, revealing how the team mount the inerter between the front suspension rockers.  An inerter is a simple device akin the Renault Mass Damper, pioneered initially by McLaren.  It consists of a weight that spins on a threaded rod as the suspension moves, in order to balance out the ‘bounce’ of the tyres.  This creates a more consistent load at the contact patch and resultingly better grip from the tyres.

We can also the linkage in the steering column in the larger access panel. 

While on the edge of the monocoque is a round adjuster for the torsion springs.   This has been reported as a ‘ride height adjuster’, but a similar pair of adjusters has been on the top of the Ferrari moncooque for years.  I suspect these are simply the same preload adjusters, re-sited to suit the  “V” nose.

Ferrari: Barcelona developments

Ferrari kicked off the test with the new faired wheel seen on the last day of Jerez testing.  This included a new rear wheel shape with a distinctive stepped shape.  While the front wheel retained the two concentric ‘fairings’.  These have been developed to stop overtly aerodynamically shaped wheels or fitting the static wheel fairings used last year.  This has effectively banned any form of ‘bodywork’ from sitting outside of the wheel.

Ferrari have taken the stepped shape for the BBS rear wheel in order to meet the minimum shape allowed for the wheel in the new rules.  Thus creating the smallest opening for aerodynamic benefit.  (articles 12.4.5 http://argent.fia.com/web/fia-public.nsf/4ADA53A7369DCE8EC12576C700535E67/$FILE/1-2010%20TECHNICAL%20REGULATIONS%2010-02-2010.pdf) .

While the new front wheel add-ons appear to be part of the wheel and not carbon fibre add ons.  This is to circumvent the rules banning bodywork from being outboard of the wheel ( -no part of the car, other than those specifically defined in Articles 12.8.1 and 12.8.2, may obscure any part of the wheel when viewed from the outside of the car towards the car centre line along the axis of the wheel)  and still meet the wording of homogenous material demanded for the wheel itself.  So these must be made of the same material as the wheel.

In other runs Ferrari also tried a shark fin similar to that used by Force India, i.e. A thin one with a relatively small side surface area and being linked to the rear wing flap.

Alonso tried a new Schuberth helmet, with a mainly black paint scheme and some new vents, that had opening sin the forehead area and swept around the visor.