Mercedes DRS Duct: How it links to the front wing

It’s now clear the Mercedes DRS-Duct system does in fact feed the front wing to stall the wing for better aero performance. Pictures have emerged showing how the system links the front wing to the rear wing.
Mercedes launched their 2012 car late, by missing out on the first test. It’s not clear if this delay was due to the need to repackage the car around the DRS duct, but clearly the Mercedes car needed some special adaptation to accommodate the car ducts along the car.

The plate attached to the flap uncovers the DRS duct - Copyright MichaelD

As I’ve already reported ( the Mercedes W03 has a unique system linked to the DRS. This uses the opening of the DRS flap on the rear wing to open a duct that sends high pressure air to other parts of the car. It was logical for many people to observe this was similar to the 2010 F-Ducts and stalled the rear wing for greater speed. As I pointed out in my first article on the system, I believe it is the front wing that was receiving this airflow in order to stall the front wing.
We saw from pictures of the Schumacher car in Melbourne, that there are slots under the front wing, this proves the front wing stalls, but not by which method; either the passive nose hole apparently tested last year or the DRS duct.

We can now see from images of the carbon fibre ‘cage’ fitted to the front bulkhead of the Mercedes that two tubes emerge and curve down to feed the flow into the front wing via the nose cone.

However this does not discount the rear wing is also being blown and stalled by the DRS duct, but I have yet to see any evidence of slots in the underside of the rear wing profiles or endplates. AUTOSPORT reported these were seen in testing, so perhaps there remains the chance the system could be used for both wing front and rear.

A complete explanation of why Mercedes use this system is in my first article on the subject.

How does it work?
When the driver has the DRS flap closed on the rear wing, the front and rear wings operate as usual, with no blown effects being used. Both wings create downforce in the usual way.

The DRS-Duct feeds through the hollow endplate towards the beam wing - Copyright MichaelD

When the driver opens DRS, the flap uncovers a pair of openings on the rear wing endplates. A passageway moulded inside the unusually thick endplates, creates a duct that feeds the DRS-duct system. These openings are fed with high pressure air, which has formed on top the rear wing.

Copyright MichaelD

As DRS rear wings use a very short chord flap, the main plane of the wing still has some angle of attack towards its trailing edge. This high pressure region feeds the ducts and each side appears to have its own dedicated duct from rear wing to front wing. There being one left and one right side duct, although it’s possible these ducts are linked to balance the system, left-to-right, as in yaw one duct might not have the same pressure feed as the other.
The endplate ducts flow in a “question mark” shape around the top and front of the endplate towards the beam wing. The airflow then passes inside the beam wing profile to a bulged fairing that directs the ducts forwards under the engine cover.

The beam wing duct leads (where the loose tape is) into two further ducts passing either side of the car Copyright

These ducts are clearly visible from rear view shots; indeed in testing we saw one picture of the ducts unconnected to the beam wing. These ducts pass either side of the engine to the rear bulkhead.  A clear view of the ducts can been passing from the rear wing to the chassis in this screen shot.

Hidden by a white cloth the beam wing duct leads forwards into two ducts passing around the engine (both ducts removed in this picture) Copyright Mercedes AMG

I assume they pass outside the fuel tank area and into the cockpit area, where they then pass along the roof of the footwell to emerge at the front bulkhead. This tortuous routing within the tight confines of the car probably explains why two ducts are used and not one larger duct.

Copyright MichaelD

With the nose cone removed the front bulkhead is visible, like other teams Mercedes fit a carbon fibre moulding to aid refitting the nose accurately and without damaging any parts during rushed pitstops. In Mercedes case the ‘cage’ like moulding mimics the shape of the cosmetic panel fitted atop of the structural element of the nose cone. This cosmetic panel was the dispensation teams were given to fair-in the 75mm nose step. In Mercedes case the part of the nose cone that does the impact absorption is the very rounded and pointed lower section, the upper section probably provides some degree of bracing for the structure, but is not the same thick sandwich construction of the lower nose section.

Hidden behind this carbon fibre cage on the front of the chassis are two ducts, of similar size to those passing through the engine bay (as seen arrowed  in this picture ). The ducts turn 90-degrees to face downwards. When the nosecone is fitted, these ducts connect with corresponding holes in the nose cone to pressurize the nose and this in turn feeds the airflow down the front wing pylons to the front wing. Underneath the front wing there is a pair of slots. When DRS is open the flow through the ducts blows through these slots and stall the front wing.

For rival teams to replicate this system, they will need to find space to package the ducts inside the footwell area. As we saw in 2010, teams can be very imaginative in creating way to package this sort of solution. But this will take time and may explain some team’s opposition to the legality of the system.

Blog Update: More posts coming soon

I just wanted to post a quick update about the blog. You will have noticed I’ve not posted any new articles since the McLaren launch, meanwhile my work is appearing in other places.

I’ve been lucky to have my work published in several places this year, being the most notable one, but also several magazines including Motorsport, Racecar Engineering and Autosport (Japan).

As my Autosport articles appear in the Autosport ‘Plus’ section, which is the subscribers section, many of you have voiced concern my work will again disappear behind a paywall. I hope my work does appear more regularly in, but this will not be the alternative to my blog.

I have not forgotten the blog. My published work along with the video clips recorded for ‘The Flying Lap’, numerous tweets and the day job, mean I am simply struggling to find time to complete the words and in particular the illustrations for the blog. I have all the cars analysis coming over the next few days, plus some specific features on the trends we’ve seen so far on the new cars.

Thanks for your patience, normal service will resumed shortly.


Video: A1GP Frontal Impact Test

This video was kindly supplied by John Travis Technical Director of Trackcreate Ltd , the designer of the A1GP car along with his team A1GP Technology Ltd and is also one of the partners in RaceStaff.

The A1GP Ferrari car was built to satisfy the FIA 2004 F1 crash test regualtions. Thus the tests were carried out the Transport Research Laboratories (TRL). For this test, the complete monocoque and nose cone assembly must be complete and fitted to the test sledge weighing a total of 780Kg. To make the test representative, the fuel tank must be filled with water and a crash test dummy wearing seat belts must be installed. Travelling at just over 30 mph at the point of impact, the driver must not be a peak deceleration greater than 60g and the monocoque\trolley must not average more than 40g. As well as this the monocoque itself, seat belts and fire extinguisher must be intact after the crash. Its clear to see that at this rate of deceleration the driver and seat belts display alarming elasticity, although this is part of the mechanism to reduces the loads and potential for injury.

16.2 Frontal test :

All parts which could materially affect the outcome of the test must be fitted to the test structure which must be solidly fixed to the trolley through its engine mounting points but not in such a way as to increase its impact resistance.

The fuel tank must be fitted and must be full of water.

A dummy weighing at least 75kg must be fitted with safety belts described in Article 14.4 fastened.

However, with the safety belts unfastened, the dummy must be able to move forwards freely in the cockpit.

The extinguishers, as described in Article 14.1 must also be fitted.

For the purposes of this test, the total weight of the trolley and test structure shall be 780kg and the velocity of impact 14.0 metres/sec.

The resistance of the test structure must be such that during the impact :

– the average deceleration over the first 150mm of deformation does not exceed 5g ;

– the average deceleration of the trolley does not exceed 40g ;

– the peak deceleration in the chest of the dummy does not exceed 60g for more than a cumulative 3ms, this being the resultant of data from three axes.

Furthermore, there must be no damage to the survival cell or to the mountings of the safety belts or fire extinguishers.

As part of the RaceStaff sponsorship of ScarbsF1, We will have more videos of the A1GP car testing next month.


Analysis: Abu Dhabi Test – 2012 Exhausts

Image via Williams F1

Last weeks Young Driver Test was the first chance for teams to try exhausts systems designed to the revised 2012 rules. Next year teams will have to place the exhaust exits in a specific region of the car, with further restrictions on the pipes shape and angle. These changes have been introduced to ban the blowing of the diffuser for aerodynamic gain. While I have detailed these rules previously (, we can start to look at what the teams have been doing in Abu Dhabi.

Three teams brought revised exhausts, most notably Williams who ran their exhaust in all three days of the test, while Mercedes did less running with their interim set up and Ferrari tried a non legal exhaust on just one of the testing days.


IR cameras point upwards towards the wing and pods on the wing house sensors (Image via Williams F1)

Shunning any running with an Exhaust Blown Diffuser (EBD), Williams ran in Abu Dhabi with an exhaust positioned within the correct area and orientation as demanded by the 2012 rules. Their exhaust is a simple interpretation of the new rules, with the exhaust placed close to the cars centreline and as rearwards as possible. Most interestingly the exhaust is tipped up at the maximum 30-degree angle. This positioning suggests the team are trying to blow the centre of the underside of the rear wing. While I have proposed more radical solutions in my previous article, this does show that teams are to look at blown rear wing effects, as opposed to purely aero neutral exhaust positions. Exiting the exhaust pipe at great speed and temperature, the exhaust plume will hit the underside of the rear wing. This would have the effect of speeding up the airflow under the wing decreasing pressure and creating more downforce.

Williams Exhaust is low and rearward within the legality zone (yellow) and points upwards at a max of 30-degrees

However this effect is more complex than a simple jet of gas hitting the rear wing. Gordon McCabe’s Blog ( highlighted some research by Prof. K. Kontis & F. L. Parra from the University of Manchester on the effect of exhaust gasses on an F1 car. They found the exhaust plume passing at an angle out into the airflow created its own drag and moreover was bent backwards by the airflow at greater speeds. When this theory is applied to the Williams set up of a steeply inclined exhaust pointed towards the wing suggests some very interesting effects come into play. Firstly at lower speed the exhaust plume (jet) will be far stronger than the flow over the car. Thus this jet passes upwards through the crossflow over the car, will reach the rear wing to create more downforce.

Jet in Crossflow - low speed: unimpeded the exhaust plume blows the rear wing

At lower speeds the jet obstructing the crossflow will create drag and there will be drag induced by the greater rear wing mass flow, but being at lower speeds this drag will not be detrimental to aero performance. Then at higher speeds when the crossflow over the car has more energy the exhaust jet will start to bend backwards. Most likely moving the jet away from blowing the wings under surface. Thus the blown rear wing (BRW) effect will reduce, the car will lose some downforce and the drag induced by the blown effect will also reduce. Thus at higher speeds the car will shed drag, further boosting top speed.

Jet in Crossflow: High Speed - the faster airflow over the car bends the exhaust plume downwards away from the wing

Williams Abu Dhabi Test exhaust is not a clear sign that they will have this exact positioning for 2012, but the test will have proven the blown effect and just as importantly provided data on the heat passed over the rear wing. It was clear that the rear wing was set up with numerous sensors for vibration, heat and pressure measurement. Many of these sensors were within the rear wing flap itself, the shear number of sensors run on the wing required two aerodynamic pods mounted to the rear wing endplate to house the wiring to send the data back to the onboard data-logger. Additionally Williams ran several different kind s of thermal cameras, mounted to the rear crash structure and pointed upwards looking at the underside of the rear wing. This would not only provide actual temperature measurement, but also highlight which areas are being blown by the exhaust, somewhat like a thermal flow-viz test.


Another one of the teams late to the blown diffuser in 2011 and in particular blowing the outer section of floor by the rear wheel, Mercedes also tried a non-EBD set up in Abu Dhabi. According to earlier comments by Ross Brawn on (, the Mercedes test exhaust was not a definitive 2012 set up “”The car will be testing next week with our first interpretation of what the regulation will be.”, but merely a revised exit location to remove the exhausts effect from the rear ends aerodynamics, “This is compromised because we’re fitting it around the existing car, but we’re removing the effect of the blown exhaust to see how the car will work without that.”

The set up that Mercedes tested with was similar to Williams with the exhaust outlet focussed towards the inner\rear of the regulatory box it needs to sit within. Flanked by bodywork the exhaust did not appear to be as steeply inclined as the Williams set up. Reinforcing Brawns comments about removing the blown effect.

Pictures in gallery


Like Mercedes Ferrari run an alternative exhaust on the last day of the test. However unlike these previously two teams they did not fit a 2012 spec exhaust. Instead the cars left-hand exhaust was routed dramatically sideways to exit ahead of the rear tyre. This set up would not be legal either in 2011 or 2012, but was probably a simple to completely remove the blown effect from the rear of the car. With the right hand exhaust apparently in its normal EBD set up, the team would be able to measure the difference in pressure left to right to access the effect the exhaust is having. While a large part of development for 2012 will be aimed at getting the exhaust to do some useful work elsewhere eon the car, such as a blown Rear Wing (BRW), the team salsa need to get the diffuser and rear brake ducts working without the artificially accelerated airflow blowing over the from the exhaust. As the test exhaust does not fit into the current regulations this test would be the one place where they could do this, with permission to run such an exhaust being unlikely for a Friday practice session. So although preparation is underway for their exhaust development, Ferraris plan for their 2012 remains hidden.

Ferrari: A Chamber has been added to the Exhaust system (yellow)

One area of Ferraris exhaust development that has recently been exposed is the exhaust chamber. These devices have been rumoured for many months. Most of the rumours attributed to Mercedes engined teams, although no evidence has appeared of the system on any of their three teams cars. As reported by Giorgio Piola at the Abu Dhabi race, Ferrari had this system in place for the Grand Prix and the system remained fitted for at least part of the test. What at first appears to be another exhaust outlet joined to the secondary exhaust pipe, is in fact a closed ended pipe. This picture of the exhaust removed from the car ( via\Sutton Images), shows the large extension, which acts as a pressure accumulator when the exhaust is blowing. Then when the driver is off the throttle the pressure built up in the chamber is release, which smoothes the blown diffuser effect between full and part\closed throttle.

When on the throttle the chamber is pressurised along with the exhaust system


When off the throttle the chamber maintains some exhaust flow

Similar systems were common on Japanese 2-stroke motorbikes in the eighties, albeit placed on the inlet side of the engine (often termed ‘boost bottles’), Fords WRC car also featured a chamber on the inlet side for similar effect.

This system works on the backpressure created within the exhaust. It’s worth noting Ferrari have recently switched to the nozzle type exhaust outlets, these being narrower in cross section to that of the main exhaust pipe. Most probably these nozzles work to increase backpressure to smooth the exhaust plume at different throttle openings. Just as interesting is the switch of the Mercedes powered teams to nozzle type exits mid season, suggesting the exhaust chamber rumours may be true. It would be logical to assume that the back pressure created within the exhaust both by the nozzles and the chamber would affect top end power. But any time loss being made up by the less senstive aerodynamics.

In some respects this exhaust chamber is similar to what appeared to be a one-way exhaust valve fitted at several GPs this year. The belief being that the exhaust valve allowed the exhaust to suck in air when the driver was off the throttle, to maintain exhaust flow to the diffuser. This being a mechanical alternative to the off throttle mappings (Hot Blown\Cold Blown), which were to be banned mid season. There appears to be a move to again enforce engine mapping restrictions for 2012, so the teams will need to find ways to smooth the exhaust plume over the bodywork. But this one-way exhaust valve will be expressly banned under the 2012 Exhaust Regs. So the exhaust chamber solution appears to be a design what will become present on the many cars exploiting blown exhaust effects in 2012. New jobs at Lotus Renault GP have posted eight new jobs for Lotus Renault GP

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Video: A1GP Rear Impact Structure Test

This video was kindly supplied by John Travis Technical Director of Trackcreate Ltd , the designer of the A1GP car along with his team A1GP Technology Ltd and is also one of the partners in RaceStaff.

The A1GP Ferrari car was built to satisfy the FIA 2004 F1 crash test regualtions. Thus the tests were carried out the Transport Research Laboratories (TRL). By mounting the gearbox and rear impact structure to the ground, then a sled weighing 780kg and is driven into impact structure at 12m\s (26.8mph or 43.2kmh). To pass this test the average deceleration must be less than 35g and no maximum deceleration may be over 60g for more than 3ms.

As part of the RaceStaff sponsorship of ScarbsF1, We will have more videos of the A1GP car testing next month.

Test Detail

16.4 Rear test :
All parts which will be fitted behind the rear face of the engine and which could materially affect the outcome of the test must be fitted to the test structure. If suspension members are to be mounted on the structure they must be fitted for the test. The structure and the gearbox must be solidly fixed to the ground and a solid object, having a mass of 780kg and travelling at a velocity of 12m/s, will be projected into it.
The object used for this test must be flat, measure 450mm wide by 550mm high and may have a 10mm radius on all edges. Its lower edge must be at the same level as the car reference plane and must be so arranged to strike the structure vertically and at 90° to the car centre line.
During the test, the striking object may not pivot in any axis and the crash structure may be supported in any way provided this does not increase the impact resistance of the parts being tested.
The resistance of the test structure must be such that during the impact :
– the average deceleration of the object does not exceed 35g ;
– the maximum deceleration does not exceed 60g for more than a cumulative 3ms, this being
measured only in the direction of impact
Furthermore, all structural damage must be contained within the area behind the rear wheel centre line.
This test must be carried out on the rear impact absorbing structure which was subjected to the test
described in Article 18.7.

2012: Nose height Regulations

There are a few regulations already included for the 2012 technical regulations, in the small section added to the end of the 2011 tech regs are a few brief lines that will irreversibly alter an F1 cars appearance. Plus significantly affect the aerodynamics.
The move towards lower noses has been one of the safety aims of the Technical Working Group (TWG). It’s long been feared a car striking another with a high nose will likely make any accident worse. Both in the case of nose to wheel contact or a nose T-boning another car. So a lower nose will help prevent cars flipping or being penetrated in these instances.
A secondary benefit could also be improved visibility for the driver, as the front of the chassis and nose will be lower, obstructing the view far less than the very high humped noses of late.
A supplementary benefit is that the already limited space to aerodynamic devices under the raised chassis will be further eliminated. This area still housing turning vanes and flow conditioners, even after the drastic 2009 aero rules changes.
So to achieve their aims the TWG and FIA have agreed a two step reduction on nose height. When we talk of noses there are two elements to this. Firstly the nose tip, this is the very visible, end of the nose cone structure. Then secondly the front bulkhead (referred to by the FIA as section A-A), this is where the nose cone mounts to the chassis.
This reduction in height starts in 2012 with the nose limited to a 55cm height and then in 2014 the nose tip must fit into a zone just 25cm high.

Current nose

In 2011 the nose could be as high as 650mm along its entire length

Currently there are few practical restrictions on nose height; the 2009 aero regs did prevent bodywork being added high up to the top of the nose, such as the bridge wings and antler horns we saw in 2008.
What is controlled is the overall height and the size of the key bulkheads on the front of the chassis forming the footwell area. This area is defined by two pairs of dimensions affecting the front bulkhead (FIA section A-A) and the dash bulkhead (FIA section B-B). Further controlling their placement is their distance from the cockpit opening, they must be vertical and the taper between them must be linear.
These bulkheads need to be a minimum depth of 27.5cm and 40cm respectively. Both of these bulkheads cannot be higher than 62.5cm above the reference plane. Drawn literally the front of the chassis could be a flat topped section from the dash bulkhead all the way forward to the nose tip. Teams tend to have an angled upper surface to the nose cone and a “V” cross section to the front bulkhead, to make the surfaces a more efficient aerodynamic shape.  The rules specify a 25mm radius that can be aplied to the edges of the chassis.  Its these, that teams exploit to get the smallest possible cross section at the front of the car.
Height and cross section in this area is critical as teams want a minimal cross section in between the front wheels and as much space underneath to fit bodywork to direct airflow to around and under the sidepods. So teams will tend to raise these bulkheads as high as they can go.

2012 nose

For 2012 two regulations will limit these very high front chassis designs. The front bulkhead can still be 62.5cm above the reference plane, But an area ahead of that (shaded yellow in the above picture) must be no higher than 55cm.  There being a 7.5cm drop between these two surfaces, with some 15cm in which to merge the step created inbetween them.

Taken to the limits of height and minimal cross section, a 2012 nose will be an ugly proposition, the flat topped nose cone at 55cm meeting the front bulkhead at 62.6cm high. This footwell section of monocoque extending all the way back to the dash bulkhead.

Smoothing the transition between the nose and chassis is the radiussed “V” shape.  the rules simply specify a 25mm radius to each edge of the chassis, but teams have exploited this radius. So rather than a 90-degree arc, they take the radius around 180-degrees and then again at 90-degrees to form the bulged shoulders of the chassis.  Red Bull have been one of the most prominent exponents of aplying this radius.  By appliying this radius, the actual cross section of the nose is reduced to less than the 275mm x 300mm rectangle its supposed to form.  The FIA have made efforts to prevent this practice becoming any more extreme, so the front bulkhead must not be any less than 22cm at any point in the middle 15cm of the structure.

2012 solutions
Its likely teams will still opt for a minimum cross section and maximum height section in between the front and dash bulkheads. But the nose cone design will be the biggest variable, this will be dependant on their approach in creating the onset flow conditions for the floor and sidepods. To alter the flow they have just a few small areas of body to influence the airflow; the front wing itself, the wings mounting pylons, the space directly under the nose cone and the area above the splitter.

Front wing
Front wing design will continue to follow the ever more sculpted path we’ve seen this year. As will the front wing mounting pylons, which will probably continue to lengthen within the tight definitions of their cross sectional area.

Nose devices
Space under the nose cone is limited, teams will no doubt sculpt the structure of the nose cone to maximise space beneath it, in a similar fashion to what Mercedes have achieved this year. Then making use of that space means probably two directions will be tried.
Firstly, a relatively high nose tip feeding a small pair of conventional turning vanes. This will be a downscaled version of what most teams do this year.
Or secondly, go for a snow plough device under the nose. This was first used by Williams in 2009 and adopted by McLaren since 2010. Again with a relatively high nose tip, a horizontal curving vane sits below it, this both creates downforce and creates the powerful wake to direct airflow towards the floor. Is interesting to note Force India did a lot of testing in Friday practice with this format nose, but have never chose to race it. Perhaps they were evaluating ideas for 2012?

Splitter devices.
Just as in 2009 teams found they had less space for undernose turning vanes, so they made use of the free space above the splitter. This could either be with small vertical vanes, their outswept shape both diverting the airflow around the car and also sending a vortex towards the floors leading edge, to maximise pressure for more downforce.
We’ve also seen that idea turned sideways, such as Brawns 2009 snowplough, also copied in 2010 by Williams. A curved transverse vane is fitted across the splitter. This is a blunt solution, as the vane catches the airflow literally like a snowplough, sending a strong vortex to increase the pressure ahead of the floor.

With some smoothing and optimisation the front end, 2012 cars should not need to look like my first literal drawing of the nose. But we will see some old ideas reinvented and a lot of variation in team’s interpretation of the new rules.


A legal but flexible T-Tray Splitter: The ‘See-Saw’ solution

For over a decade, the FIA have tried to reduce front wing performance by increasing its ride height. Moving the wing clear of the track for less “ground effect”, reduces the wings efficiency and handicaps downforce. When the major aero rules changes came in for 2009, the loss of the central spoon section and the smaller allowable working surfaces for the front wing, made getting downforce from it even harder.
Through out this period, teams have sought to gain front wing performance, largely by trying to make the wing closer to the ground. Either via flex or by altering the attitude of the car (i.e. rake). As has been explained before in this blog, the issue with making the front wing lower by raking the car is that the T-Tray splitter gets in the way. Teams have sought to make the splitter flexible to allow it move up and allow for a lower front wing.
to combat this the FIA have a deflection test to ensure the splitters are not flexing and that front wing ride height is maintained. In response to accusations about several teams splitters, at Monza last year the FIA doubled the test to 5mm of movement for a 2000 Newton (~200kg) load. Yet in 2011 we still see cars with a nose-down raked attitude and wings nearly scraping the ground. How can a splitter meet the FIA deflection and still flex on track? I have a theory for a splitter construction, that actually exploits the method of the FIA test to provide the splitter greater stiffness during the test.

Typically teams run splitters mounted to the underside of the monocoque. The splitter is often made from metal to act as ballast, with additional carbon fibre bodywork to form the aero surfaces. Beneath the splitter runs the Skid block (plank). Made to FIA dimensions the plank features holes for measuring wear.
The splitter is bolted securely to the underside of the tub by bolts and in some cases with a small strut at the leading to aid installation stiffness. Disregarding the strut, the splitter is effectively installed in a cantilever arrangement. The protruding section of splitter will need to bend upward when grounding on track or on the FIA test rig.

With a typical splitter, wear will occur only at the leading edge of the plank

With a car in a raked attitude, when on track the splitter will exhibit a classic wear pattern, the tip of the splitter will wear away in a wedge shape roughly equivalent to the rake angle of the car. During normal running, for cars with high rake angles its likely no other wear may take place along the length of the plank. If the car runs a front ride height that’s too low, the splitter will wear away leading to exclusion at post race scrutineering.

See-Saw Solution

A pivot half way along the splitter creates a 'see saw' effect

Rather than run a cantilever mounted splitter, my theory would be to run the splitter mounted on a pivot. Taking the length of the removable section of splitter, the pivot woudl need to be half way along its length. Which would be roughly inline with the heel of the monocoque. Not having any significant mount at the rear of the removable section of splitter would allow the splitter to pivot like a ‘see saw’.

With the 'see saw' splitter, grounding on track will bend the plank & create two wear spots.

Now when the splitter grounds on track, the leading edge will tilt up and the trailing edge tilt down. This ‘See-Saw’ effect, will allow a slightly lower front ride height as the splitter will be deflecting upwards. To achieve this the plank will need to flex, as the front section of plank must now be a minimum of 1m long, far longer than the splitter. The drooping trailing edge of the splitter will now make the plank contact the ground, leading to a distinctive wear pattern. Now having plank wear in two placed, beneath the splitters leading edge and the trailing edge. This will also have the benefit of spreading the wear over a larger area of plank and reducing the likely hood that the front inspection hole will be excessively worn. The fulcrum point need not be the overtly obvious pivot I have drawn and the entire exterior of the splitter could be covered in bodywork, which will have enough strength to keep the splitter in place when stationery, but deform enough to allow the splitter to ‘see-saw’. But in this guise the splitter will not have the strength to meet the 200kg load from the FIA test.  so how will it pass the test?

The current format of the FIA test, actually aids the pivoted splitter.

The FIA test is carried out on the multi functional rig that is used for the other regulatory checks. The car is driven up onto the rig and then steel pins protruding up from the rig, locate in corresponding holes in the plank. The sections of floor under the wheel are dropped away and the cars ~580kg (640Kg less driver) weight sits on its belly (the plank\reference plane floor).
Then a hydraulic strut with load and displacement sensors extends upwards beneath the front splitter. The 2000n load is applied and the deflection measured.

With a typical splitter the FIA load bends the splitter like a cantilever

For a cantilever splitter, the test tries to bend the splitter upwards straining on the bolts at its tail end.

For a 'see saw' splitter, the weight of the car is on one side of the fulcrum, making it harder to deflect the other end upwards

Where as for the ‘see-saw’ splitter the test tries rock the splitter, effectively trying to bend the splitter like beam about its fulcrum. But the cars weight is sitting on the tail end of the splitter, preventing the splitter tilting upwards. As long as the splitters beam strength is enough to meet the test, then it will pass. Being a long metal structure, it should not be hard to make the splitter strong enough.
So as the FIA tests the cars weight sat down on the splitter, it actually aids the splitters ability to beat the test. If the test were to apply the load to the splitter, when the car is supported on its own wheels and not its floor, then the car would surely fail the test.

The biggest flaw is this theory is the wording of article 3.17.5 which describes the test and the mounting of the splitter. But typically the FIA rules are both vague and overly specific at the same time. The regulation states that mounting between the “front of the bodywork on the reference plane” and the “survival cell” (Monocoque) must be not be capable of deflection. The definition of “front of the bodywork” might mean its leading edge, but might not incorporate stays further back along the car. Equally the design of the fulcrum need not be the pivot I drew, but a simpler solid but flexible part, that is not suspected to deflect.
As with all borderline legal parts, this would need to be carefully assessed against the wording of the rules. But where’s there’s ambiguity, there’s a chance to exploit.

The legal interpretation of the regulations not withstanding, this is a feasible solution.  The biggest risk to running it, is if the FIA change the test process without notice.  This could catch the team out, although normal FIA process is to warn the team and ask for the design to be altered and pass the test at the next event.  Thus unlikely to cause an exclusion or  ban.


Footnote: A team have asked the FIA for clarification on the use of this splitter construction with a view to using it themselves.  Charlie Whiting has made it clear it would not be and added that the deflection may now be altered to ensure the rules and test are not being exploited.

I am pleased to introduce as ScarbsF1’s new Partner.   

Race is a online web based Recruitment site conceived by John Travis, after many years as head of design in leading race car manufacturers he felt the time was right to offer a comprehensive job and recruitment option to the market.

Not only will RaceStaff appear as a banner, but we will highlight to the top jobs each week and produce features to explain how Engineers and Students can get into the Motorsport industry.

I’m taking this opportunity to reformat the blog and in the next week you will see the revised layout.

ScarbsF1 – Copyright


Please read this

All articles in this Blog are the Copyright of Craig Scarborough. Therefore all illustrations and writing, unless otherwise credited are my own work and not for reproduction.

This blog seeks to educate fans interested in the technology of F1 and to showcase my work. As I have eventual aim to make a full time living from covering this sport.

Although I do this blog and tweets as a free service, this blog isn’t a free resource for commercial publications. You must not cut&paste text or to grab my illustrations to reproduce them in your Magazine or Website without permission, credit or payment. It certainly isn’t to be reproduced without first contacting myself.

Two recent examples

Seven of my drawings printed a Belgian\French F1 magazine.

The text of an article Cut&Pasted into a F1 E-magazine

In both cases, these are commercial publications, which did not contact me at any point, did not credit my name or blog as the source and have not paid me for the use of my material. I am in contact with both these publications to rectify the situation.

I will blog the full details of anyone infringing my copyright. You have been warned.

Any followers of ScarbsF1, who see my work unannounced in print or web, please advise me.