Noticias de Formula 1

What to look for in the new 2013 F1 cars

An exploration of new possible designs and solutions while comparing to what we saw in 2012.
Viernes, Enero 25, 2013

January 25th, 2013 (F1plus / Matt Somerfield).- The 2013 regulations are somewhat similar to their 2012 counterparts with the exception of the FIA closing some loopholes used by teams to circumnavigate the rules in order to gain an advantage.

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Nosecone - Step Noses

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In terms of aesthetics the teams will also have the option of covering up the 'Step noses' that became the centre of attention when the cars were first shown before testing in 2012.

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The 'Step Nose' was born out of a requirement to allow airflow to pass relatively unencumbered toward the leading edge of the cars floor. The reason for the ungainly look is due to the difference in height allowable at the bulkhead and the nose tip. In order to gain the highest possible setting the nose became jaunted much to the dismay of many F1 fans. Aesthetics is not something that principally drives aerodynamicists and so the step adorned all but the McLaren and Marussia cars. The latter teams deciding to run the bulkhead of their cars lower both yielded throughout the season and adopted higher nose tips albeit without the 'Step'.

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The 2013 regulations permit the use of a vanity cover (non-structural fairing of prescribed laminate) which allows the teams to effectively cover up the Stepped Nose returning it aesthetically to the regular nosecone shape F1 fans had come to know. This doesn't mean 'Step' noses have been eradicated as this is only a recommendation.

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Red Bull utilized the stepped area for driver cooling in 2012 rather than its regular nose tip position, other teams may adopt this path in 2012 emulating the RB8. Furthermore as was the case for speculation toward the end of the season the nosecone and front wing pylons may be being flexed. Having a vanity cover placed over the flexing nosecone could lead to failure of either part and more importantly the degradation of its effect.

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Suspension

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Ferrari caused another storm when they released the first images of the F2012 showing to the world their 2012 challenger would use Pull rod suspension at the front as well as the rear of the car. Pull rod suspension was last seen at the front of the car in a 2001 Minardi PS01 (Also driven by Alonso). In the early stages of the F2012's life it was clear the car wasn't as competitive as the Maranello team desired with many citing the pull rod front suspension as one of its weaknesses.

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The Ferrari F2012 at launch last year.

As time passed by it became clear that the suspension afforded the Ferrari team not only advantages of a lower CoG but also in the way the suspension responded with and treated the Pirelli tyres. Many other teams have since stated that they too will investigate the merits of applying pull rod suspension at the front of their 2013 challengers based on the relative success of the F2012.

Tyres

2012 saw 7 different winners from the first 7 races something that many fans angrily leveled at Pirelli's aggressive tyre strategy. The problems encountered by the teams early in 2012 were not all based on the compounds chosen by Pirelli though with the construction of the tyre causing just as many headaches. The construction of the front tyres lead to wear being a factor unilaterally causing insistences in how the tyre degraded. For 2013 Pirelli have once again changed both the construction and compounds with the clear intention of having no less than two pits stops and higher degradation level.

All of this of course with the objective of generating more spectacular -if confusing- racing. For sure it would make teams to work hard again to understand the rubber's behavior.

Exhausts

Exhaust solutions have been a go to area for decades in terms of creating additional downforce but over the last few seasons the practice has rapidly increased. At the start of 2012 we saw four main variations for the teams to utilise exhaust gases.

  • Downwash Exhausts - Mercedes, Williams, Caterham & Marussia used these exhausts which also use the 'Coanda' effect but due to their placement it only attracts the airflow traveling over the Sidepod.
  • 'Coanda' Exhausts (Ramped and Wrap Around) Red Bull, Sauber & McLaren used this style of exhaust which later became the go to solution for the season with most of the grid converging on McLaren's style of exhaust.
  • Engine Cover Exhausts – Lotus & Force India used these exhausts which were placed much higher on the car maximizing horse power (maximum freedom for tuning lengths) and sending the exhaust plume higher as a result of the positioning.
  • Convergence Exhausts – Ferrari & Toro Rosso used these exits and looked to converge the exhaust plume with exiting radiator airflow.

Lotus E20 back in 2012.

All of the designs have their own merits and would have undoubtedly have originally been chosen with regard to other factors as well. Packaging, cooling and exhaust tune ability would have been the primary concerns for the designers sculpting their designs around these and aerodynamic demands. With four engine suppliers on the grid all of these factors will change the approach used, meaning that adopting an exhaust solution in use by another team can lead to compromises in other key areas.

By the end of 2012 most of the field were running some form of 'Coanda' exhaust with the exception of Mercedes and Williams who had both trialed it but reverted to early season iterations with Williams sporting their abruptly ending Sidepod (Convergence Exhaust).

2013 will most likely see the grid converge on the same basic principle of 'Coanda' exhausts and instead of having to adapt to the style out of necessity they'll have more refined concepts designed with that layout as part of the cars blueprint.

The reason I believe this will happen is the lead teams finished their campaigns running this type of exhaust but more importantly perhaps it allows for a similar effect to the EBD's we saw throughout 2010/11. Of course it's not as effective as a shrouded exhaust (2010/11 EBD) but the manipulation of the surrounding airflow leads to more airflow being drawn into the required area between the outer Diffuser wall and the tyre.

Pushing airflow into this region encapsulates (Seals) the diffusers outer portion and stops tyre squirt from impinging on the diffusers flow. (Air is pushed sideways off the tyre and is sent laterally into the diffusers airflow disrupting the diffusers effectiveness)

Sidepod Vortex Generators & Sidepod Wings

Toro Rosso's model in 2012. (Photo: LAT)

In order to maximize the airflow over the Sidepods team used these appendages throughout 2012. McLaren started proceedings with their twin vertical fins mounted on top of the Sidepod a feature that filtered throughout the teams with most running 2 and others fielding 3. Sauber however fancied another route placing horizontal winglets above the Sidepod in what I've previously described as looking like a leading edge slats (as used in aeronautics).

In aeronautics slats are preferred over vortex generators when the stalling angle is too great to be surmounted by the latter. In the case of both Sauber and McLaren it would seem that the width of the Sidepod cannot sustain enough Vortex Generators to surmount the Length / Angle of Attack of their Sidepod and so they used Sidepod Wings instead.

An interesting development that could have already been in play on the C31 and MP4-27 would be flexible Sidepod Slats, if these were to deform at higher speed thereby closing the gap between it and the front of the Sidepod it could lead to the area becoming more efficient throughout the whole speed threshold. Interestingly Toro Rosso combined both effects as the frontal part of the STR7's Sidepod was detached from the latter part to which they then added Vortex Generators on top of.

DDRS & DRD

DDRS (Double DRS) was pioneered by Mercedes at the start of 2012 and was immediately requested to be banned by the other teams. They feared that like the F-Duct that had appeared in 2010 it's design that was an intrinsic part of the W03 would be difficult and costly to develop. Furthermore it was believed that it could give Mercedes an advantage at the start of the 2012 campaign. The system which was as simple as the forethought to lay tubing that spanned from the front to rear wings allowed the team to reduce drag on the Front Wing as well as the rear when DRS was active.

Red Bull testing the system.

The system however could not surmount the other design deficiencies of the W03 leaving it just one win all season. Red Bull keen to mount a charge at the end of the season also saw an advantage to using DDRS. The Red Bull system however didn't use the secondary function to reduce drag at the front of the car but instead further reduced drag at the rear. As with the Mercedes DDRS when DRS was activated a hole emerged in the Rear Wing Endplate that sent air down a cavity in the Endplate to the Beam Wing. Small holes in the Beam Wing then allow the airflow characteristics around the Beam Wing to change further reducing downforce and drag.

DDRS has been banned for 2013 with the FIA disallowing use of the top flap for secondary purposes, furthermore they have also redefined the rules pertaining to ducts leading from the front of the car.

DRD (Drag Reduction Device) as coined by myself and Craig Scarborough is a totally independent system to DDRS. The mainstream media unfortunately confused many F1 fans calling the original Lotus 'Device' DDRS which was the reason for us coining it DRD. Sky Sports commentator David Croft picked up on this and towards the end of the season referred to it as DRD when Lotus and Mercedes used theirs in free practice sessions.

DRD is passive and requires no interaction from the driver to activate it, the system is tuned to 'Stall' the rear wing at a predefined speed threshold. This created a problem for both Lotus and Mercedes who tested DRD frequently throughout the season but failed to race it.

Mercedes was one of the first along with Lotus to try the DDRS.

In terms of a speed advantage as the device is passive the point at which it switches from producing downforce to a stall is imperative. The RW80's / F Ducts driver interaction gave the switching capacity over to the driver allowing them to activate the system when they felt comfortable with the level of downforce available leading to around a 10KPH-15KPH gain in top speed. In order to create a safety buffer the teams will have to be much more lenient with DRD as you don't want it stalling the rear wing on the exit of a corner too early. This would lead to a lower drag reduction value but could still see the teams gaining up to around 8KPH in top speed.

My theory (below) is DRD produces additional downforce until the prescribed speed threshold (in much the same way McLaren's RW80 / F Duct did):

  • The rear wing planes are set at a higher angle of attack than usual
  • Air entering the airbox or additional airbox 'Ears' (Car dependant) and running through the engine cover to the Pylon.
  • The airflow then runs up the pylon and exits through slots cut into the side of the pylon, tangentially blowing across the mainplane.
  • This airflow allows the rear wing to operate up to the speed threshold whereby the airflow being received from the pylon cannot sustain the angle of attack the wing is set at. This leads to the wing stalling, detaching the airflow completely and reducing both downforce and drag.

As DRD was only used in testing during 2012 it's difficult to ascertain its true potential but with unlimited DRS usage now removed for Free Practice & Qualifying in 2013 the potential for additional drag reduction will appeal to the teams. At the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi both Red Bull and Sauber tested their own variety of DRD's with Toro Rosso also placing an appendage on their Monkey Seat simulating the position of a Double DRD.

DRS has been reduced to usage only within the specified zone(s) at each GP this year with it previously having unlimited usage. This will have an effect on how the teams design their rear wing planes in 2013 with the DRS delta now changed. Many teams were skewing their setup to allow for a maximum DRS gain but with the likely introduction of DRD and the rule changes this approach will probably alter.

Lastly just a quick mention about Sauber's test package used at the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi, the team introduced an exit on the side of the Sidepod to assist in attachment along the length of the Sidepod a feature that may well be part of many of the 2013 designs that go along the Ramped bodywork lines.

Illustration by Michalis K. Visit his blog at http://formula1techandart.wordpress.com/

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