My Technical review from Hockenheim is now on Automoto365.com. With the update on McLarens Blown diffuser, Mercedes and Williams exciting ‘open-fronted’ exhaust blown diffusers, as well as updates from Virgin and Toro Rosso.
Despite the narrow front tyres teams are still aiming for a lot of weight at the front of the car. Slabs of ballast in the front wing are a popular method. Teams can run over 10Kg of tungsten in the front wing profile and have nose assemblies so heavy two mechanics need to carry them. Last year Toyota even used a trolley to help guide the heavy nose onto the car at pitstops. There are not any rules to limit the weight of ballast in this area.
The relative merits of the Virgin\Wirth research all CFD approach to the cars design, has already been well debated. Despite this the car does take some clues from other cars up and down the pitlane.
Low mounted wishbones needed a special case for the Xtrac gearbox
However, the car does also exhibit some unique thinking. One area that is particularly special to the VR01 is the rear suspension. Bearing some resemblances to the RB5-6 rear end, the VR01 takes a low line approach to the sidepod ends and exhaust outlets. However while Newey went for wishbones raised high and clear of the diffuser, Wirth has gone the other direction and lowered the rear wishbones to an extreme position. At their inboard ends, the wishbones connect to the gearbox very close together, the upper wishbone being roughly inline with the driveshaft output. This position leaves the wishbones low down and clear of the airflow heading towards the beam wing. In order to package this aerodynamic positioning of the wishbones, the gearbox needs to accommodate the lower mounting points. This explains why Virgin opted for their own gearbox case, rather than the standard Xtrac case supplied to Lotus & HRT. The Xtrac case is far more conventional in choice of suspension pick ups. However, Virgin do still use the complete internals from the Xtrac gearbox, so internally its identical to the other new teams gearbox.
As I’ve previously pointed out, Wirth also chose his preferred mounting for the beam wing, having it mounted above the curved rear crash structure and attached with swan neck mounts.
This cascade winglet was tried in Free Practice in Bahrain
In Bahrain the team largely ran with a simple front wing, but did complete some runs on Friday with a pair of winglets acting as cascades on the front wing. These resemble the Brawn 2009 solution, being more like Freestanding wings, rather than the endplate mounted wings seen on most other cars this year.