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20 September 2014
Bite Size Tech: Mercedes WO5 gear ratio change - Singapore

If you've been hiding under a rock this season you won't have realised that Mercedes have barely used their 8th gear.  Unlike previous seasons the 2014 regulations only permit ratio's to be changed once in a season (a joker as we refer to it) in order to save costs.  Mercedes were the only team to run an exceptionally long 8th gear, meaning that their drivers rarely used 8th, and in all honesty it's effectiveness would be stifled by a large power drop off when it was used anyway.  The idea of course was to spread the immense torque generated by the 2014 powerunits, reducing the chance of wheelspin whilst retaining the optimum gears througout the corners.

In the last few races other teams have played their own jokers, having had time to maximise the powerunit to their chassis package, and in keeping with the circuit characteristics remaining this season.  With this in mind both Mercedes drivers played their joker this weekend in Singapore (below an excerpt from document no4) to bring them inline with their rivals, whilst looking to improve their own performance.
Furthermore in the document we can see that the team broke the seal on the powerunit to replace the driveline for the MGU-K.  This is not particularly newsworthy as teams do this from time to time (all Mercedes powered cars did so in Singapore) but I'd suggest the change in the works teams case was made inline with their gear ratio change.  The reason being is that the MGU-K is geared, allowing for a smaller more efficient unit, changes in the gear ratios however will also mean that the MGU-K will be harvesting and dispensing energy at different rates than usual.  Mercedes AMG HPP therefore may have been working with the team on this change and decided to beef something up for reliabilty whilst playing their joker, but also offer the new solution to their customers too.
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Bite Size Tech: Williams FW36 - Front & rear brake ducts - Singapore

Williams have been quietly going about their business this season, the FW36 not smattered with updates at every GP as an attempt to increase performance.  I'd like to classify their development as economic, finding performance from their base setup at each GP, whilst smaller updates bridge the gap.  The team arrived in Singapore knowing that teams like Red Bull would take a demonstrable leap ahead of them owing to their more downforce laden chassis.  Finding performance therefore for Williams has come from the team trying different approaches with their brake ducts, which of course will not only affect temperatures directly but also change how the tyre phases on longer stints.
At the front of the car the team arrived with an enclosed caketin arrangement (above), whereas the team have run with an open arrangement prior to this (below), with just a crossover duct moving airflow from the scoop and blowing it out through the wheel. 

The new configuration is looking to retain more temperature for use by the brakes, whilst lowering the core temperature of the tyre.
At the rear of the car the caketin remains largely untouched but the team reverted/trialled a solution used earlier in the season with a duct (above, image AMuS) replaced by an airflow control winglet (below, image AMuS). 
This would reduce the amount of cooling done within the caketin, raising the core temperature of the tyre, in an attempt to leverage more mechanical performance from the tyre.  The problem with this however is that it will also raise the degradation level of the tyre on a longer stint.

As with all decisions of this nature it's a performance trade off and something that can also suit one driver more than the other.  Meanwhile the lap time delta between the two compounds taken to Singapore is larger than anticipated and so decisions of this nature then become even more critical for race pace.
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Bite Size Tech: McLaren MP4-29 Y100 ladder winglet change - Singapore

In a outwardly minor alteration in Singapore, McLaren have adjusted the ladder winglets that sit astride the rear crash structure (above).  Responsible for upwashing the airflow in the region and creating a centralized connection between the diffuser, exhaust, main Y100 winglet (Monkey Seat) and rear wing any changes clearly has impact on several flow structures.  We must therefore bear in mind that the team return to the use of both wishbone wings for Singapore, having just used the lower ones at the last few races; whilst they changed the central portion of the diffuser in Spa.
As we can see from their previous Y100 ladder winglet (above) the upper section is designed very differently, not only do we now find an extra section at it's base with which to release airflow, we also see the zircotec painted (silver tips) have been removed.  This will clearly have an impact on the trajectory of the exhaust plume, with it most likely having a more spanwise effect on the upper wing surfaces.

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Bite Size Tech: Force India VJM07 Diffuser & Rear Brake Duct Winglets - Singapore

Force India have introduced large upgrade packages at several key stages of the season, but retained a constant flow of parts throughout the season too.  For the high downforce configuration of Singapore the team have introduced some updates at the rear of the car to bring extra performance.

These updates come in the form of new rear brake ducts and a new diffuser, which have been introduced in tandem as both provide performance that can't work in isolation.

The diffuser features several key changes:

  1. The inner most strakes have been set slightly back from the tip of the diffuser and now feature a very Red Bull-esque slot in the bottom section.
  2. The secondary strakes have also been set back from the tip, allowing the upper surface to be straightened, whilst a section has been cut out from the trailing edge.
  3. The 3rd strake has been set back much further, whilst the fourth strake has been deleted. 
  4. The diffusers periphery has been shaped differently too, to counter the loss of the 4th strake. Whilst the perforated gurneys outer section has also been increased slightly in size.
Above: As a comparison here is their diffuser used up until Singapore

The team have also made a change to their rear brake duct winglets (below, whilst their old ones can be seen in the image above), inline with the changes made to the diffuser as both have an impact on the tyres wake, meaning a change in diffuser ethos must also be met with a change to these winglets
Above: Image via @ScarbsF1

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19 September 2014
Bite Size Tech: Sauber C33 Sidepods - Singapore

Sauber have already made attempts at rectifying their performance disadvantage this season but for Singapore we find that the team have once more turned their attention to the sidepod bodywork.  This is the 3rd major iteration of their sidepods, with a change made in Barcelona that increased the size of the inlet to accommodate more cooling.  The changes didn't stop there though with the bodywork size and shape adjusted, catering for the way in which the airflow moved dowstream, into the coke bottle region.

The new bodywork, retains the inlet size run since Barcelona but looks to trade off some of the cooling requirements with changes at the rear of the car. This comes off the back of Sauber taking a step the two other Ferrari powered teams took in Spa when they followed suit in Italy covering the exhausts primaries.  The result of which is a retention of heat within the exhaust itself which increases the potential of the powerunit. (Image @ScarbsF1)
An increase in length of the sidepod, will help to retain the aspect ratio of the upper surface, as the upper cooling outlets increase in size encroaches on the sidepods bodywork.  The changes have also ushered in further curtailment of bodywork paint, with the rearward part of the engine cover now left bare.  This will advantages in terms of heat displacement and also marginally save weight.  (Many teams have moved to an elongated sidepod exit this season with the placement, shape and orientation critical to the performance of the floor, diffuser and rear wing, as all these structures can be compromised by it).

The adjustment of the lower outlets means the upper outlet has been increased dramatically in size (above, with the inset showing their Monza specification).  The team have also re-introduced their monkey seat (Y100 winglet) which sits just above the exhaust, looking to increase the upwash effect in the region (assisting both the diffuser & rear wing).  Furthermore the fins that run either side of the crash structure (in the Y100 region) are now two piece elements either side, making them much taller; which will of course change the flow characteristics/upwash in the cars centreline.
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Bite Size Tech: Mercedes WO5 Y100 Winglet - Singapore

As we know most of the performance accrued by Mercedes against their rivals this season comes from their powerunit.  However the amount of work done of the aero side should not be underestimated either with some very decent concepts in play.  It seems more than perhaps most, Mercedes have focused their efforts on using the waste energy created by the exhaust plume as a further performance advantage.  Over the past few seasons the use of exhaust blowing has primarily been aimed at sealing the edges of the diffuser, reducing the impact of tyre squirt and allowing the teams to run with aggressive rake angles.  The placement of the exhaust along the cars centreline looked to reduce its impact but the teams can't unlearn what they know, in this case that the exhaust plume can offer a source of immense energy.  The use of a turbocharger whilst connected to an MGU-H also quells the ferocity of energy dispatched by the exhaust, but nonetheless it's still something that can be used to levy an advantage.

Furthermore the loss of the beam wing for 2014 means that the teams have had to think a little laterally in terms of achieving aero structures that bind together to increase downforce.  The aim of the game being that the diffuser and rear wing work together to increase downforce for less drag.

Mercedes have already made several changes to their Y100 Winglet / Monkey Seat throughout 2014 (Barcelona, Monaco, Spa) alluding to development in the area and also how they treat specific track characteristics inline with their rear wing design.

The team have once again made a small change to their design for Singapore changing the guide blade that sits astride the upper extension of their ladder winglet.
As we can see from the older configuration (inset) the upper blade has been replaced by twin blades, this alteration may seem small but the way in which it manipulates the airflow will of course have an impact on performance.  The inclusion of the secondary blade is likely done to delay the point at which the exhaust plume (and surrounding airflow it guides) interacts with the upper section of the top flap, meaning the team can run more angle of attack without flow separating, increasing downforce and reducing drag.

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