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24 April 2014
Bite Size Tech: Force India - Sidepod, Airflow Conditioner and front of floor modifications - China


2014's huge rule shake up could certainly be seen by any team as an excuse to have gone a little conservative initially, especially those running the Mercedes powerunit who clearly have a performance advantage over the Renault and Ferrari powered teams.  Force India certainly could be seen as one of those teams, although they have a good race package haven't pushed the boundaries to the extremities as some.  Having said that their deployment and installation of the powerunit is admirable for a team that is often referred to as midfield.

In search of additional aero performance the team had several key modifications lined up for the post Bahrain GP test that also adorned the car in China.  If we take a look at the VJM07's Sidepods we'll note that the undercut sculpting and rear section of the sidepod have seen some minor amendments, improving both internal and external flow structures that'll not only reap the rewards of better aero flow but also increase the efficiency of the powerunit.


As we can see in the image above the team have also made some changes to the front of the floor and surrounding components to further maximise the sidepod changes.  The sidepod airflow conditioner now arcs from a smaller bargeboard which sits slightly outbound of the main one, whilst the floor has been scrolled at the leading edge and the side scroll has been increased in height and length.  These changes work to better utilise the wake dispatched by the front tyre, increasing the effect downstream giving the new diffuser the opportunity to create more downforce.
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Bite Size Tech: Red Bull RB10 Tyre Squirt Slot(s) - China


Red Bull's floor in front of the rear tyre is always an area of adaption with them running the floor in very close proximity to the tyre.  Inevitably the floor incurs minor damage throughout a GP weekend and requires attention, the team have 3D printers on site along with a plethora of that section of floor in order to make running repairs.  You'll note that, that section of floor nearly always looks like a patchwork quilt with different variants of carbon fibre in use, depending on how much it's been returned and also how much flex they're looking for and in what direction.


Up until China the team had been utilising a similar layout to that used on the car's predecessor albeit with just the singular vertical strake rather than the two used in 2013.  The principle of these slots is to shape the airflow ahead of the rear tyre and manipulate the wake as it 'squirts' laterally into the diffusers path (tyre squirt).  The rigidity of this years tyres has increased significantly over last years in order to cater for the increase in torque from this years turbocharged powerunits and so the teams will undoubtedly make gains in this area as they understand the relationship between the tyres dynamic loads and the surrounding aero.

 Above: This image is from the AMuS gallery

For China the team cut in an all new section of floor (during FP2) and continued to use it throughout the rest of the weekend.  This new section of floor featured a singular boomerang slot which allows airflow to migrate underneath the floor ahead of the rear wheel.  The most rearward section is convex to further enhance how the flow folds under the floor.  It's also worth noting the metal section surrounding the connection point to the floor that will dictate how much rigidity the floor has as the pressure builds on the surface.
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23 April 2014
Chinese GP Press Conference - Powerunit Manufacturers


The press conference from the Chinese GP featuring the powerunit manufacturers, Charlie Whiting (FIA), Andy Cowell (Mercedes HPP), Rob White (Renault Sport F1), Pat Fy (Ferrari) and Yasuhisa Arai (Honda) discuss the 2014 powerunits


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Bite Size Tech: Williams FW36 sidepod shoulder vents (China)


Since the season began Williams have been running the FW36 with a detached section of bodywork on the leading edge of the Sidepod (see image above).  The idea being that wasted airflow entering the sidepods inlet makes it's way out onto the top of the sidepods surface.  This 'jet' of air uses the 'Coanda' effect to draw airflow from close by to the sidepods surface.


During the test after the Bahrain GP and briefly in China (see above) the team used a new piece of bodywork which featured a much smaller vent facing rearwards along the sidepod, doing away with how the airflow would have previously been released around the shoulder of the sidepod too.  This was undoubtedly an attempt to focus the airflow over the central portion of the sidepod creating a shoulder with the bodywork instead.



It appears that the team finally decided that they would run neither of these solutions and simply blanked off the scene of the previous vent.  Sidepods have essentially become an area of intense development over the last few years (chiefly because of the various forms of blown diffusers used) and almost seen as wings due to the surface area they possess and how much they condition the flow to the rear of the car.  This can make them sensitive to the speed of airflow passing over them, being more efficient at one speed more so than another, this is why we see the leading edge (and just in front) of the sidepod proliferated with vortex inducing devices.

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Bite Size Tech: Williams FW36 Front and Rear Wing evaluation (China)


Williams once again arrived in China looking to make a step forward and had several parts to evaluate, as we can see from the Wing stack above these changes included two front wings.  The changes might seem outwardly small (not even visible to some at first glance) but the top flap of the lower wing is much shorter in chord at the inner section, whilst the outer section of the flap retains a little more height.  After back to back testing the solutions the team opted to run the lower wing in this image.




As we can see in the upper of the two on track images Felipe Nasr filled in for Bottas and set about assessing a new rear wing top flap.  The flap consists of a V in it's centre which helps to bleed off some of the drag induced by the component.  The team could have been testing this for future races or decided it didn't offer enough balance as the team decided to run with the none V'd flap for the race.
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Bite Size Tech: Lotus E22 Diffuser Vortex Generators (China)


Earlier in the season I wrote about how Red Bull had used some small Vortex Generators at the transition between the reference plane / plank and the Diffuser. In Shanghai, Lotus also trialled these small appendages in the hope they could glean some additional performance from the Diffuser. 

Above: A stricken E22 is returned to the pitlane and the crouching engineer assess the diffusers airflow with the assistance of the flo-viz paint.  In the inset we can see that the team looked into using Vortex Generators at the Diffusers leading edge (arrowed) at another stage of the weekend.

They work by disturbing the airflow in that region which could yield results at certain speed thresholds due to the adverse angle of the diffuser. However I'd also question how they affect car balance and do they simply move the point at which peak performance is available. In previous seasons the teams have taken the opportunity to shape the starter motor hole in order to do a similar job (injecting airflow instead) but with the starter hole now needing to be covered both Red Bull and Lotus have tried this solution instead.
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