Monaco tech – Car updates and technical problems.

I watched the whole weekend avidly to try and see who would be bringing massive rear wings. And I got a shock when I saw that actually, not as many teams as I was expecting did so. By massive rear wings I mean wings with a larger upper flap. Obviously, as we should know by now, a larger flap means a less-efficient DRS. At Monaco this isn’t important. A bigger upper flap produces more downforce. Downforce is key at Monaco. I was expecting Sauber, Lotus, Ferrari, Williams, the three youngest teams and McLaren to run the big rear wings. In fact only Sauber, Lotus, Caterham and Force India ran noticeably larger rear wings. Every team was running a slightly thicker main plane to boost downforce levels, with Sauber having the thickest.

It seems like there has also been more technical confusion over aspects of a certain car on the grid, the RB8 having a ‘hole’ in the floor, which shouldn’t have any kind of hole in it. It was found however to be within the regulations. The ‘hole’ looks like a hole from all the images taken of it, but apparently it isn’t, it’s a cut-out like Sauber and Ferrari are using. The outermost edges of the Sauber/Ferrari design makes a slot in the floor, not a hole. RedBulls seems to not have that gap, essentially making it a hole. The only way I can see such a design being legal is if the area where the slot should be (but looks solid) there is the tiniest of gaps, that cannot be seen in images. In this case, it does indeed make that area one whole part, with a gap to create a slot and not a hole.

Unusually, Mercedes were running yet more updates. New sidepods have been designed, and they actually did require new crash tests, such was the extent of the re-design. They now have a deeper undercut at the front, which gives a larger space between the sidepod and the turning vanes. This gives a more energised airflow to the rear of the car, boosting rear downforce. It certainly seemed to work for Schumacher, getting pole position. It’s very rare to see teams bringing brand new components to Monaco, due to the nature of the track.

Speaking of him, he retired from the race with what was reported on the official F1 website ( as ‘tyre problems’ However I disagree. The car was tremendously slow on the straights, the engine didn’t seem to want to rev much higher than 14000-15000rpm, which is well below the power band of that Mercedes-Benz engine. He was still pretty fast in the corners however, which is what led me to suspect that it was a problem with the engine. I couldn’t get to hear it, but it didn’t sound as if it was misfiring, and without the data to look at, I’d hazard a guess at the car having a fuel pressure problem.

Caterham had a storming race with Heikki Kovalainen, having an almost race-long battle with Jenson Button. The Caterham was consistently on the pace of Button’s McLaren, and was in fact pulling away from him at one point of the race! It seems like Caterham have massive performance gains in low speed corners. In the race, Heikki was quite often less than a second per lap slower than the race leaders. It still looks to be a little unstable in the higher speed corners.

Speaking of higher speed corners, at Piscine (the swimming pool, for those who don’t speak French) Perez crashed in qualifying. I believe that he hit the barrier at the exit of one of the right hand corners previously in the lap, and this broke a track rod. At lower speeds such as the Nouvelle Chicane, it would’ve made very little difference to the steering of the car, however when the car was on two wheels through Piscine, that wheel couldn’t steer, so the car carried straight on into the barrier.

Also, Jean-Eric Vergne lost the back end at the exit of the tunnel in Q2, after this section had been re-surfaced to stop it happening! Button also had a moment when trying to overtake Heikki Kovalainen during the race, you could see it in the slow-motion replays! MY theory is that offline there is still a few large-enough bumps to unsettle the car in the braking phase. Vergne may have gone too wide, hit one of those bumps and lost the back end. Luckily it wasn’t as violent a collision as what happened to Sergio Perez last year in Q3 and he was unhurt. HRT were right with their predictions, Monaco did bring them much closer to the other teams, I was a little sceptical when they said that they would be challenging Marussia, so I have had to eat my words in that respect! It doesn’t take away what I said in part 5 of my technical series about what could be wrong with their car however.


F1 technical series. Part 5 of 5 – chassis

The chassis is one of, if not THE most important part of an F1 car. The design process generally starts in July of the previous season, and is crash tested at the beginning of the next year (generally mid-late January, early February). The chassis must conform to bodywork, strength, flexibility regulations. Everything bolts to the chassis. The front suspension is placed in a little compartment about 4 inches in front of the drivers’ feet, the brakes, the fuel tank and the engine are all attached to the chassis.

The chassis forms 2 functions. The first and arguably most important is the drivers’ survival cell. This is the ‘crash-proof’ structure that is safety critical. It must be impact resistant, in a frontal impact it must remain undamaged. The crash structures that are mounted onto the survival cell are the front and side crash structures, the front and rear roll over structures and the rear impact structure is mounted on the gearbox. It must also have FIA specified intrusion panels that stop debris and car parts from puncturing through the chassis and seriously injuring the driver. The material that the intrusion panels are made of is Zylon. These intrusion panels have to pass strength tests which the Haynes Owners Manual on the RedBullRacing RB6 was 1mm/s intrusion for 150seconds. The force that is required to meet this intrusion level is calculated and must meet a minimum requirement. In 2012 the Zylon has to be in multiple layers for extra strength.

The second function is to provide a mounting point for all the mechanical components, and provide good feedback through the suspension to let the driver know what is happening. A bad chassis will inherently flex a little too much and provide poor feedback from the suspension. It will also handle slightly worse, making it inherently slower. If your chassis is bad, then no matter how many mechanical or aerodynamic updates you bring, you will have a slow car. I think this is probably the problem with the HRT. The car seems to have a complete lack of balance, and the drivers seem to have no confidence in the car. It looks completely unpredictable. Narain Karthikeyan said that the car feels as though it has more downforce, and it probably does, but mechanically the car is terrible. It seems to be a very hard car to set up correctly, and they need to have a complete rethink in the way they design their cars.

The fuel tank is situated directly behind the driver, in the chassis tucked between the engine and the back of the cockpit.

The structure of the chassis is very complicated. It’s essentially solid carbon fibre, but rather than being a one piece moulding, it’s actually cast in two halves, which are then bonded together. Each half is made from several hundred plies of carbon fibre, each of which is cut to a different shape, layered in the female chassis mould, and checked against a construction manual before the next ply is positioned on top. The plies are layered in a way that gives the chassis overall strength, but more strength in critical places, such as the suspension mounts and the engine mounts.

Once all plies are positioned correctly the whole assembly is placed in a bag, which the air is then sucked out of to create a near vacuum and then placed in an autoclave where it undergoes a thermal curing, at a set pressure and temperature. The completed halves are bonded together after the curing process is complete. The two surfaces to be bonded together are meticulously cleaned as no fasteners like screws or dowels are used to supplement the bonding.

F1 Technical series. Part 4 of 5 – Powertrain

The powertrain of any vehicle with an internal combustion engine consists of the engine, gearbox and differential. An F1 car also has the KERS motor/generator.

Formula 1 engines are amongst the most efficient ‘petrol’ spark ignition engines in the world. They use exactly the same operating principles of your ordinary car engine, the 4 stroke ‘Otto’ cycle. As James May put it ‘suck, squeeze, bang and blow’. The 8 pistons travel up and down inside bores known as cylinders that are pressed into the engine block. Each cylinder has to be a set size of capacity. Total capacity of the bores and combustion chamber must be equal to or less than 2400cc. The pistons are then in turn connected to the crankshaft at the bottom of the engine via con-rods (connecting rods) which is also connected to the camshafts by a series of gears. This means that there is no belt, or chain to snap under high speed and load conditions, and therefore the engine can rev higher, and also there is less mechanical drag on the engine, giving more performance. There’s also less weight to contend with. Each car has an alternator, and a water pump. The lubrication system actually has more than one oil pump. A high pressure one for distribution inside the engine, and a scavenge pump to take any unwanted engine oil from the sump back into the holding tank. This type of lubrication system is known as a ‘dry sump’ system and is actually more reliable under high cornering forces as the oil pump isn’t starved of oil when going around a corner.

Another difference to your ordinary road car is the valvetrain. F1 engines are limited to 4 valves per cylinder. The valves inside your average 2 litre engine are closed by springs. At high engine speeds these springs can actually cause catastrophic valve backlash, where they LITERALLY bounce in their seats and then hit the top of the piston. This then destroys the internals of the engine. So, instead of ordinary valve springs, the valves are actually set into pressure chambers that are filled with high pressure Nitrogen gas from a gas bottle in the sidepod. The compressed Nitrogen acts as the valve spring, which means that metal springs aren’t needed to close the valves, the engines can rev higher and therefore produce more power. This type of valve spring mechanism was first pioneered by Renault back in the mid 1980’s, and the engines would freely be revving in excess of 23,000rpm if it wasn’t for the regulations restricting engine speed to ‘just’ 18,000rpm. Each piston is subjected to acceleration forces of around 9,000 times the force of gravity at full engine speed, and going from 0-60mph in just 5 ten-thousandths of a second! An F1 engine can actually go from idle at 4000rpm to its limiter in just 0.3 seconds! F1 engines also have no flywheel! This is to improve acceleration and to keep the centre of gravity of the car as low as possible.

Direct-Injection fuelling is not allowed within current regulations, so the fuel is injected directly into the intake trumpets housed in the engine air intake snorkel that sits above the drivers head.  Here’s a good video of fuel being injected.

There is also one ignition coil and one spark plug per cylinder. Both fuelling and ignition are controlled electronically by the EMU

In 2014 the engine regulations will change, as will the aero regulations too. The engines will have 6 cylinders arranged in a ‘V’ shape, and a maximum total capacity of 1600cc’s. There will also be a single turbocharger mounted in a central position of the cars.

The gearboxes in F1 cars must have 7 forward gears and 1 reverse gear. Each set of gears must be made out of steel, and must be of a set dimension. Each team is allowed a maximum of 30 different gear ratios for use on every track. The gear ratios must also be set on Saturday morning, after which they are not allowed to be changed until the next race. Each gearbox also has to last 5 races, and any unscheduled changes incur a 5 place grid penalty added to the qualifying position at the first weekend the gearbox is used. The gears are not selected y your normal ‘H-Gate’ gearshift mechanism, instead they’re electro-hydraulically selected. The gears are actually selected by a hydraulic barrel mechanism that uses valves actuated by electronic signals from the gearshift paddles on the back of the steering wheel to control the flow of high pressure hydraulic fluid from the hydraulic pump mounted to the engine. When the pressure is sent to a specific gear selector fork, the fork moves to lock the gear it’s attached to, to the shaft it sits on. There is no synchromesh mechanism in an F1 gearbox, but your road car has one. All F1 gears are straight-cut gears as they are stronger.

The differential is an integral part of the gearbox, and is of the electro-hydraulic, limited slip type. It is full adjustable and the torque bias between each side can be changed in 3 ways to help steer the car through the corners, so setting up the differential to have the perfect torque distribution between each rear wheel is critical for mid-corner rear end grip and traction under acceleration. The three ways a differential is adjustable by are entry, exit and mid-corner. The flow of hydraulic fluid is controlled by ‘moog’ valves, which actually use a very tiny amount of electric current to control the flow of a LOT of hydraulic fluid.

The clutch is actuated electro-hydraulically, no mechanical linkage to the paddles on the back of the steering wheel. The whole clutch weighs just 1.5kg for absolute minimal inertia, and is made up of several solid carbon plates, metal pressure plates and the outer casing that holds the plates together. There is a hydraulically actuated clutch fork that opens the clutch up to disengage the clutch for gear changes and for race starts.

The final part of the powertrain system is the KERS unit. This consists of a motor-generator built onto the back of the engine underneath the oil tank and attached directly to the crankshaft. When the brakes are applied this unit generates electricity that is stored in super-capacitors or batteries. When the car is travelling above 100km/h the generator can be used as an electric motor, using up the energy stored in the batteries or super-capacitors to give an extra 80hp boost for up to 6.6 seconds per lap. The time that the KERS is used for is controlled by the FIA standard ECU from McLaren Electronics. KERS was first introduced in 2009, but only McLaren and Ferrari were using it by the end of the season. Originally Renault and BMW-Sauber started the season with the system. There is another type of KERS system that Williams Hybrid Technologies started to develop, but because of the weight and packaging of it they decided to go for an electrical system. The system they started to develop was the flywheel type, where the flywheel stored rotational energy and was then engaged by a clutch that used the momentum of the flywheel to give the required power boost.

F1 Technical series. Part 3 of 5 – Suspension

                                                            The suspension on a Formula 1 car is very important. It has an effect on the aerodynamics of the car. It is also the only way for the weight and...

The suspension on a Formula 1 car is very important. It has an effect on the aerodynamics of the car. It is also the only way for the weight and loading on the car to be transferred through the wheels/tyres to the road, so its geometry (toe, castor and camber) is crucial to the handling of the car. Formula 1 suspension has to meet 3 requirements. These are to reduce the amount of unsprung mass (any part of the car in which its weight is not supported by the torsion bar), disrupt the airflow as little as possible and be strong enough to withstand the high loadings that they are placed under. There are a couple of examples where loading can be too much, especially if there is a small flaw in the elements. The most recent of which was Sebastien Buemi in Shanghai 2010, where the pushrods had a small fracture in them, and the high loading placed on them under braking for turn 14 after the long straight caused them to fail. Another case is Kimi Raïkkonen’s accident in 2005 at the Nurburgring. There a flat-spotted tyre caused huge vibrations in the suspension, eventually causing it fatigue stress at which point it failed and he crashed in turn 1.

The suspension also plays a crucial role in controlling the tyre temperatures. The camber of the tyre affects how evenly distributed the loading on the tyre is, and therefore how hot each part of the tyre gets. Every F1 car will run with a slight degree of negative camber where the outside top of the tyre is further in than the bottom. Too much can cause blistering of the tyre on the inner shoulder, which leads to shorter tyre life and even less grip. There is a good effect of running negative camber however, and that is that as the car goes through the corner, the roll of the tyre forces the outer tyre to be moved slightly further inwards, which stretches the outer sidewall and gives a larger contact patch. If the car ran with positive or no camber at all this would impair the grip from the tyre. The geometry of the suspension, particularly that at which the wishbones are angled and controls tyre motion over bumps, kerbs and changes of direction is particularly important as having a car that can ride the kerbs better than others can seriously improve lap times, especially in lower speed corners.

The front suspension wishbones are attached directly to the chassis which fives them optimum stiffness. However the rear suspension is attached to the gearbox, which is only attached to the car through the engine. Which is only attached to the car through the backplate of the chassis. It is for this reason why some cars may sport a strengthening arm or 2 linking the gearbox to the chassis. Ferrari have been using it so far this year, but was originally brought into the sport by Renault.

The uprights which house the wheel hubs&bearings, brakes, brake cooling and wheel attachment must be made out of Aluminium. In previous years Metal Matrix Compound or MMC was used as it is stronger than aluminium and lighter too. However it was very costly to manufacture, so was dropped in favour of the cheaper alternative

With the exception of the Ferrari, the setup of the front and rear suspension is different. Every other car uses a pushrod-actuated front suspensions system and a pullrod-actuated system at the rear. Ferrari however use pullrod on the front too. There is a small aerodynamic advantage to this. There is also a mechanical advantage as the front torsion bar (spring), ARB (Anti-Roll Bar) and multimatic dampers could be mounted lower in the chassis, which gives a lower CoG (Centre of Gravity) and improves the handling of the car at lower speeds.

Formula 1 car utilize a very simple double wishbone and inboard suspension setup on both the front and rear. By contrast most modern cars (with the exception of some Honda models) use a typical MacPherson strut type suspension where there is just one lower control arm attached to the lower half of the wheel hub and the strut (which houses the springs and the dampers) attached to the top of the wheel hub.

The components of an F1 car suspension are as follows

Top/bottom wishbones – Control wheel angle (camber and castor) and wheel movement. Also houses the mandatory wheel tethers which are required by the regulations to hold the wheel close to the car as long as possible in the event of an accident.

Pushrod/Pullrod –  Transmits the suspension and car loading through from the upright to the rockers (bell cranks) or to the tyres.

Rockers (Bell cranks) – Transfers the vertical reciprocating movement of the push/pullrod into rotational movement at the torsion bar.

Torsion bar (springs) – The torsion bar acts as the spring that absorbs shock loads from the suspension movement. Its strength is controlled by the alloy mixture, its thickness and the length. Most F1 torsion bars are of equal length and its diameter only changes in the middle as the outer ends need to be the same size to fit in the splined holes in the chassis and on the rockers. Stiffer torsion springs increase the handling responsiveness at that end of the car, but reduces overall mechanical grip in the middle of the corner. Cars are also less pitch-sensitive as the car changes its pitch a lot less under braking/acceleration loadings

Heave spring – The heave spring controls how stiff the car is when both sides of the cars suspension are compressed together for example under braking, or acceleration, or over a hefty bump. Cars are less pitch-sensitive as the car changes its pitch a lot less under braking/acceleration loadings when the heave springs and dampers are stiffer. This means the car may have more grip going into a corner, and may have better traction on the exit of the corner.

4-way Adjustable damper – These are fully adjustable dampers. They are adjustable in 4 ways. High and low speed bump, and high and low speed rebound. Bump settings are the compressing of the damper, rebound is the extending. So when a wheel moves upwards it compresses the damper, when it moves downwards it extends the damper. The dampers are critical for fine-tuning the handling of the car. The softer the damper the easier it is to compress and the more oscillation from the torsion bars you get and vice versa. When talking about the speed of the damper we don’t talk about the speed of the car, we talk about how quickly the damper is moved. Low speed is a slow extension/retraction and high speed is a fast extension/retraction. There are 3 dampers at the front and 3 at the rear of most F1 cars. 2 directly attached to the rockers and one that connects both front rockers together. The 3rd damper is often called the ‘heave’ damper and controls how the car reacts when both front wheels move together.

Track rods – The track rods controls the steering of the wheel hubs. They are normally attached to the front of the wheel hub, and quite often run in front or in the wake of the lower wishbone, which slightly reduces drag and

ARB – The anti-roll bar links both sides of the car together through the suspension elements. This means that the car is less sensitive to roll. The balance of the car can be fine-tuned by altering the stiffness of the ARBs. Softer front/stiffer rear  ARBs give less understeer and stiffer front/softer rear give more understeer.

Raïkkonen’s suspension failure 2005 –

Buemi Suspension failure 2010 –

Ferrari gearbox-chassis linking arm –

F1 car technologies. Part 2 of 5 – Brakes

Part 2 of my Formula 1 technical series looks at the brakes of a Formula 1 car.

The brakes on a Formula 1 car work on exactly the same principal that your road car tyres do. The brake pedal pressurizes hydraulic brake fluid in the master cylinders, which then in turn move pistons inside the callipers, which then move brake pads, which then clamp against the discs.

Formula 1 regulations state that no mechanical or electrical assistance is allowed. This means no pump can be used to pressurize the fluid, even the servo that you get on your road car which multiplies the effort put in by the driver, is banned. This means that to stop an F1 car fast enough to set a quick lap time the driver has to put in a pedal pressure of around 75kg, or more depending on the driver.

The brakes on a Formula 1 are of the Carbon-Carbon design. Carbon discs and pads are used as they withstand heat and wear much better than ordinary steel or iron discs that are found on your road cars.

ABS is also banned.

Just like the brakes on your road car, a Formula 1 car has two, separate braking circuits. Unlike the road cars they are split front-to-rear rather than diagonally across the car (front left+rear right, rear left+front right)This allows the brake bias between the front and rear of the car to be changed to suit each different corner or braking zone on the track. This means that one aspect of the car setup can be changed constantly throughout the race. With the advent of KERS, the brake bias has to be more forward due to the added braking at the back of the car. Having more forward brake bias increases understeer on turn in to a corner, but increases stability. On the downside it’s not good for front tyre preservation as added heat radiates into the tyre which can cause it to overheat, and also an increased chance of front tyre locking which increases tyre wear and also creates flat spots. Flat spots can be a very big problem. The video link at the bottom of this article is one case of a serious flat spot problem! In the first few seconds of the video you can see the tyre vibrating massively and then as soon as Kimi hits the brakes, the added load with the vibration causes a massive suspension failure.

The brake bias adjuster must be a mechanical adjuster, and the one found on the RedBull RB6 was of the ratchet and lever type. This means that a small lever, sitting on a ratchet disc moves a linkage bar which in turn moves a small balance bar around a pivot on the master cylinder. This controls the amount of pressure acts on the fluid in each of the two master cylinders.

The discs on an F1 car must be a maximum of 28mm thick, and 278mm in diameter. They are made with ventilation passages through them to keep them as cool as possible, yet they still run at around 1000°C. The callipers are made out of Aluminium-Lithium alloy as it radiates heat better, and also because the materials that they’re made out of must be of a specific strength (80gPa) They must also have a maximum of 6 pistons per calliper, and one calliper per wheel. Each calliper must only be attached to the car by a maximum of 2 bolts.

Each single brake is fitted with two sensors. These are temperature, and wear level sensors. The temperature sensors are infra-red type, and are mounted on the side of the wheel hubs (upright). They detect the amount of infra-red radiation coming off of each disc to measure the temperature.

The wear sensors are of the LVDT type (Linear Variable Differential Transformer). They are mounted in the callipers and measure the movement of each brake pad. The discs and pads are made of the same material so wear evenly. As the components wear, they have to move further and this is picked up by the sensor.

F1 car technnologies. Part 1 of 5 – Tyres

In this new series that is EXCLUSIVE to and to my own blog, we will take a more in-depth look at F1 technologies and how different aspects of the car affect the handling and how the handling is tuned by altering the car setup.There are many different aspects to car setup. You have to find the compromise between high speed and low speed cornering grip, steering responsiveness, traction under acceleration, how much kerb you can ‘hop’, how the car handles bumps under different conditions, e.g. braking, high speed cornering, low speed cornering, traction and direction change, how the car handles under braking and general balance in the corners.

Part 1 – Tyres

In the first of a 5 part series, we will look at the tyres and they way they play their part in car setup. The tyres are the only surfaces allowed to touch the ground within F1 regulations. Formula 1 tyres run at a pressure that’s much lower than that you’d see in your average road car which normally runs at around 32-38PSI (2.206-2.620bar). They run between 17 and 21PSI (1.172 – 1.448 bar) as they have much stiffer sidewalls and shoulders. Only very small changes are ever made to the tyre pressure. This is done because as the tyre pressures are already very low, they become more responsive to changes. Having reduced pressure means that the tyre can spread out more, giving a larger contact patch, and therefore increased low speed grip. However handling responsiveness overall is reduced and more driver effort is needed to turn the wheels. It also increases fuel consumption as the tyre is squashed more, increasing friction. Tyre warm-up is increased as the inter-molecular friction creates.

Obviously there are different forms of tyre temperature. These are surface temperature and core temperature. The core temperature is the temperature of the gas inside the tyre and is the most important. Surface temperature is the temperature of the tread that makes contact with the road surface. Tyre heat is generated in 3 ways. The first and most efficient is flexing of the tyre wall. This creates internal heat. The second way is surface friction; this is the slipping of the tyre over the road surface. It produces a large amount of heat but it is quickly dissipated through the road. The final one is heat from the brakes. This is the best way to keep the tyres warm. It is part of the reason why the cars do lots of speeding up and slowing down on their warm-up laps, to get heat into the brakes which then radiate into the wheels and tyres. If a tyre gets too hot they will start to ‘blister’ this means that bubbles of built up gas appear on the surface of the tread, which then burst to leave deep pits. The worst known case of this was Spa 2011, in which RedBull seeked permission to alter their car setup before the race to give them better tyre life. The blisters are normally seen on the inner shoulder o f the tyre, like in the photo from the link below.

In F1 there are 6 compounds of tyres, 2 of which are grooved to clear water for wet weather use only. Each has their own colour logo on the sidewall.

Silver is the hardest compound, and is a dark silver to make it easier to distinguish between it and the medium compound tyre which is white.

Yellow is the soft tyre and is arguable the best compromise between grip and life.

Red is the super soft tyre and has the best grip, but the least durability.

When talking about the ‘softness’ of the tyre, what people are really saying how much friction each compound makes. Soft tyres are more pliable so have more grip, hard tyres are stiffer and have less grip. Harder tyres also mean that the molecules that make up the tyre have a stronger bond, meaning they wear less.

Then there are the two wet weather tyres, the green intermediates and the blue wets. The intermediates have a shallower tread, and more contact area which makes them the best for a damp track, and changing conditions.

The blue tyres have the smallest contact patch, but the deepest tread of all the tyres. They’re the softest compound out of all of the tyres, and overheat very quickly in anything other than standing water.

In the next part in this series we will look at the brakes and how they affect the handling of the car.

Malaysian GP technical analysis.

There have been some small updates in Malaysia. Ferrari were running a new front wing which they trialled but didn’t race in Australia, Williams and Sauber were running ‘ductless’ brakes, where there is no large cooling duct, instead they just use the carbon fibre upright backing plate to guide air into the brake shrouds to cool the discs. The benefit of not using the large ducts is a reduction in drag, and an improvement to the airflow that flows between the chassis and the wheels and through the suspension elements.

Something was spotted on the Ferrari car that Renault were using in 2001, bought to the car at Alonso’s request, a carbon connecting rod that connects the gearbox to the chassis. This rod provides extra stiffness and support at the rear of the car, reducing further the amount of movement that the engine and gearbox have when stressed. The links to these updates will be down below.

HRT also had DRS for the first time so far this season. They managed to qualify for the race, but were well over a second off the pace of Marussia in qualifying. However they had much, much better race pace, which is similar to the Ferrari. They struggle with overall pace, but are much more improved in the race.

The new Ferrari front wing –

The Williams front brake ducts –

The Sauber front brake ducts –

The Ferrari gearbox support rod –

Australia technical updates.

For Australia we’ve seen a number of updates. RedBull  are using new bodywork around the exhaust and a new rear floor with added vanes to aid the Coanda effect in guiding the exhaust gasses around and under the side of the diffuser and away from the tyres. The floor had a cutout in it very slightly ahead and alongside the rear tyres, into which the exhaust gasses would flow into the side channels of the diffuser. The bodywork around the exhaust is a little more angular in profile as you can see from  the image at the link below. The exhaust gasses expand outwards by a larger amount than you’d expect, but the general flow direction seems to stay the same as is visible from the scorch marks.

McLaren are running a new rear wing (with the Lucozade sponsors logo on it)which has the centre section of the upper flap (in between the slot gap seperators) being a few mm lower than the outer sections. This very slightly reduces the downforce, however it also slightly reduces drag when DRS is both open AND closed.

Ferrari have brought a small and virtually unnoticeable change to their rear wing endplate. It now features 3 horizontal vanes. I don’t know what these do, but I would hazard a guess that they produce a small vortex, which enhances the expansion of airflow from under the rear wing main plane, which reduces pressure and increases pressure differential.  The uppermost one is shaped to follow the exact same arc that the upper element does when the DRS is activated.

They also have altered the layout of the exhaust yet again, as they try to find the solution that works the best for their car.

Lotus-Renault have a small, but visible and most probably overlooked aero update to their sidepods. The foremost upper section now has a vertical vane protruding above it at almost half way between the side of the cockpit and the turning vanes on the outer edges of the sidepods. I’d imagine this is to guide airflow over the top of the sidepods to increase airflow to one side of the exhausts. It also would produce a vortex over the top of the sidepods, similar to that of which aircraft use.

Torro Rosso are running a new rear wing. Their main plane now curves upwards at the outer edges giving a deeper central section. With me being only an amateur, my guess as to why this is used is because it gives a slightly larger surface area on the underside of the wing compared to the top of the wing. This therefore means that the airflow underneath has to spread out more, giving a reduction in air pressure, and a greater pressure differentiation between the two surfaces. This therefore produces more downforce with not much more drag.

Caterham have finally brought their new front wing. The uppermost, rearmost flaps are virtually the same, but a new endplate and a new main plain and 2nd flap have been installed. Also includes new cascade elements. This follows the general trend where the main plane is split into two sections after the FIA standardized 50cm section in the middle of the wing.

HRT seem to also have brought updates to Melbourne. If you can call them updates. At their ‘filming day’ in Barcelona, they were running a car without DRS, barge boards or cascade elements on the front wing. They seem to be using EXACTLY the same front wing that they were using for virtually all of 2011, bringing back the cascades that they introduced a few races in. Let’s just hope that they are better made. They did keep coming off last year don’t forget!