Open top menu
30 January 2015
Mercedes W06 Shakedown, pre-launch analysis

Mercedes arrive in 2015 with a target painted on their back, having led the way throughout 2014.  It's still widely regarded they'll continue to lead the way and with good reason, the W05 was an astonishing car when compared with the rest of the field.

Development in F1 is relentless and although the W06 is an evolution rather than revolution, 90% of the car will have changed, making for a more efficient machine.
As per the regulation changes the team had to redesign the nose and like Lotus have opted to use the widest (140mm) but shallowest 9000mm2 cross section at 50mm behind the nose tip (yellow) that the rules permit. Whilst the 20000mm2 cross section 100mm behind this allows for not only a smooth transition of the noses upper surface but also allows for expansion under the nose (like a Venturi). The nose itself is the shortest the regulations permit at 850mm putting the neutral section ahead of the nose, meanwhile the connecting pylons flank the 140mm nose section with the first 50mm of the nose shaped to increase the tip height, bringing fresh meaning to turning you nose up at someone.

The nose tapers outward to the chassis behind (purple), of which the most forward section of the chassis starts the slope down to the nose, a trend started with the W05 but increased with the W06.  This allows the team to retain the handlebar configuration on which the FOM cameras are placed (blue).

The narrowing of the nose means that from the front view the turning vanes (green) now appear to stick outward but still run parallel to the centreline, dealing with not only oncoming airflow but wheel wake and how the two interact.
Although the W05 ran with scooped brake ducts the car that emerged at the Silverstone shakedown featured scoopeless front brake ducts (yellow). It'll therefore be interesting to see an exposed shot of the brakes ducts to see how temperature and airflow is being distributed between the disc, caliper and out through the wheel face.  Note the vanes added toward the trailing edge of the scoop too (green)

The Sidepods inlets seem to allow for a slightly deeper undercut, whilst this test car also has a new arrangement on the upper leading edge, reminiscent of last years vortex generators, cockpit fins and airflow conditioners configuration the team have now also added a leading edge slat that's mounted between the cockpit and outer vortex generator, whilst the inner one mounts upon this.  The idea of the slat is to compensate for the sidepods shape change downstream, mitigating any additional boundary layer build up or lift being generated throughout the speed range.

The rear of the Sidepods feature the same elongated outlets (past/through the suspension elements) the latter spec ran by the team featured.  However the geometry of the section just before the suspension allows for a larger undercut into the coke bottle region, whilst the upper surface now aligns more closely with the upper wishbone.

Perhaps taking some cues from their buddies over at Williams the team have also managed to slim down the engine cover, increasing the size of the shark fin.  The small outlets placed along the spine of the engine cover find a new home slightly further back / lower than before, most likely due to the re shaping of the engine cover.

The airbox and roll over hoop has seen some amendments with the central airbox inlet and ad-hoc airbox ears that the W05 used throughout 2014 making way for an enlarged airbox inlet which is horizontally split into two, with the upper duct likely feeding the oil coolers the ears once took care of.  The roll hoop has been on a diet with the twin spar arrangement making way for a slimmer singular one.

I'm quite sure we'll see more changes to the W06 ahead of the season opener in Australia so as always keep your eyes peeled on the blog as I'll keep you updated with any developments.

Read more
29 January 2015
McLaren Honda MP4-30 Launch analysis

McLaren and Honda have shared a winning partnership in the past that both would love to rekindle, 2015 therefore represents a first step toward the team returning to winning ways.  I've made my thoughts clear in the past that McLaren (and indeed Ferrari) lost their way after SpyGate, something that can be seen from the results post 2008.  On top of this the sport has since undergone a change in ethos, something the two giants of the sport were perhaps un-prepared for in terms of resources and personnel, with more focus on CFD and Wind Tunnel testing rather than pounding around test tracks.

2015 can therefore be seen as a reset for McLaren, 2014 being an interim year where they phased out their 21 year relationship with Mercedes-Benz who'd provided the team with success throughout, making way for Honda to once again supply them as a works team.

Aero had been highlighted as a problem area for the team over the last few years and so effort has been made to restructure that department with Peter Prodromou re-joining the fold from Red Bull Racing as chief engineer, whilst Honda themselves will be keen to help as best they can, with the Japanese marque likely to have retained a small working group to focus on the technical regulations.

Having made the jaunt from Milton Keynes to Woking, Peters hand in the design philosophy started to bear fruit toward the end of 2014 with the team trialing a Red Bull-esque front wing in Abu Dhabi.  The MP4-30 render shows a very similar design and so we can surely expect an evolution of this concept throughout 2015.

The nose as we have seen already from previous launches has exposed several different design concepts, all of which have tried to minimise the nose length, exposing the neutral section of the front wing to a less disturbed airflow pattern that can be manipulated by the structure above.  McLaren however have increased their nose beyond the front wing neutral section but opted for the widest (140mm) but shortest section 50mm behind the tip, similarly with the 20000mm2 cross section 100mm aft of this, making for a steady nose incline, close to what the FIA intended. What we must remember is that this is an early render of the MP4-30 and McLaren may intend to introduce a fresh nose later on when they can pass the crash test (passing the crash test for a shorter nose presents more issues, as the impact must be decelerated over a shorter period).

The widest possible front wing pylons have been retained and are sculpted in much the same way as the cars predecessor with the trailing edge positioned inboard.

The camera mounts have been positioned at the top of the nose, in a similar vein to the handlebar approach used by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull last season, albeit not as pronounced as the regulations don't permit that. Although it has (as Mercedes did in 2014) required the team to slope the upper surface of the chassis in order to meet with the nose (as is noted by the large access/vanity panel).

The turning vanes aren't shown in the render so it'll be interesting to see what these look like during testing.

Typical of McLaren the airbox has been divided up into 2 horizontal sections with one feeding the engine and the other an assortment of oil coolers. 

The sidepods are definitely an improvement on last season as we know were bloated based not only on the original concept but also the orientation and number of radiators/intercoolers in use.  It'll be interesting to see a naked MP4-30 in the coming weeks to see how the layout differs from last year. Meanwhile the space ahead and on top of the sidepods is proliferated by a similar array of vortex generators, cockpit fins, bargeboards, airflow conditioners we saw the team use throughout 2014, this is an area we may see evolve during testing.  The rear of the sidepods is where they have lost the most bloat though with the upper cannons deleted, leading to a lower and much slimmer set of cooling outlets, increasing the free space in the coke bottle region.
Interestingly at the rear of the car the splayed suspension layout used to mount the 'wishbone wings' upon seems to have been retained (marked in yellow), now whether that is to do with understanding that suspension geometry or whether the wings will be added later remains to be seen.

The rear wing has lost some of the extension of the strakes that were used on the MP4-29 but what is most apparent is the lack of central support pylon, much like the Williams FW36/7 (are they going to try and do what I believe Williams were doing with theirs in 2014 too though?).  Without the Beam Wing this puts an onus on the rigidity of the endplates, although like Williams they actually ran a floor level beam wing in 2014.  Without the centralised pylon the hydraulic pipework associated with DRS must also be passed through the endplates which also house the actuators (like the Mercedes W03) as no centre pod actuator is present.

The mini strakes used at stages last season to control how the vortex was shed off the trailing edge of the endplate are back (green), whilst the gradient slots used by Red Bull at the start of 2014 and then trialled by Ferrari late in the season have also emerged (red), which assist in creating consistent downforce whilst reducing drag.  At the German GP last season the team introduced a new rear wing which used Tubercles on the trailing edge of the mainplane and leading edge of the top flap (yellow), which also appear on the render.

As always seems to be the case with McLaren they provide a launch render and then provide a 360 degree application that shows elements that appose the render.  In the case of the MP4-30 this seems to centre around the rear wings design with the 360 showing a centralised swan neck pylon extending out of the engine cover (much like Red Bull's later designs did in 2014) and a new Y100 winglet (much the same as the Red Bull design again, albeit mounted on the crash structure rather than another lower winglet) whilst the leading edge tyre wake slot used on the MP4-29 is also present along with the extended endplate strakes.

Much has been made of the token system and Honda's return, especially as how it would have been so unfair that the manufacturer not be able to develop throughout the season like the others.  However where Honda did/does have one advantage over the other manufacturers is that they return in a year where variable inlet trumpets are allowed, something that the 2014 powerunits didn't feature.  Had the FIA allowed carte blanche to Honda (ie the full 32 token allocation) they'd have saved many over their counterparts who have to make the changes to assimilate them.  I'm not by any means saying that variable inlets are a game changer but they do offer a performance advantage whereby you can smooth the powerband, which may have been being done by the turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K, fuelling etc configurations last season, freeing up development scope.

I look forward to seeing what the McLaren-Honda partnership can achieve, will it have success in 2015? It would need an extraordinary leap but never say never.

Read more
26 January 2015
Lotus E23 render analysis

Lotus have surprised us all this afternoon with an impromptu showing of their 2015 challenger the E23.  Powered by Mercedes in 2015 the Enstone squad which have had success with Renault down the years made the switch to the German marque having lost 'works' status with Renault to Red Bull, with the Renault unit reportedly the most expensive on the grid it made sense for the team to seek a unit that can help them challenge for the 2015 titles.

Starting at the front of the car we can see that Lotus have chosen a slightly different route in terms of the nose construction compared to the 'thumb' designs we are expecting many to produce (See the Williams FW37 render).  The new regulations were bought in to try and curtail the gentleman style appendages our eyes were assaulted with in 2014, but as the nose is a key design parameter in the cars concept much care will have been taken in the redesigns.  Many will have you believe that mass flow is the answer as you must get as much flow to the leading edge of the floor as possible and although this is true to an extent, it's the quality of flow that is much more important.  Initially looking at the E23 I was reminded of Enstones last championship winning cars, the R25 and R26 which featured a similar low nose, tapered concept.

You'll note that Lotus have looked to keep the shortest crash structure possible (850mm) so that the pylons can be mounted off the rear end of the front wings neutral section, maximising how it interacts with the nose structure.  This is a challenge itself as this requires a much shorter deformation area for the crash tests.

The tip of the nose tapers to meet with the 9000mm2 cross section regulation at 50mm behind the tip, making for the smallest letterbox shape possible (140cm wide) whilst the 20000mm2 cross section 150mm in behind this is likely as high as the tapering regulations permit.  I'd expect the nose is sculpted out beneath the two areas.  (Please note that this is not to scale so the point 150mm behind the tip is offset so you can see it better)

This makes for a much narrower nose than would normally be used, with most teams taking the front wings mounting pylons to the 330mm width maximum and trying to use that to increase the amount of flow that can be gathered centrally.  In the most forward view we can see the full impact of this decision as further downstream the nose assembly tapers out to meet with the chassis, whilst underneath the chassis Red Bull esque Z shaped turning vanes will re-profile the airflow moving toward the bargeboards and sidepod undercut, energizing the flow.

The sidepods are flanked by single piece sidepod airflow conditioners that arc over their shoulder to form a leading edge slat that meets with the cockpit, just as its predecessors did.

In the render the sidepods seem to mirror the sort of profile the E22 had too, but in the rearmost section it appears they have followed Red Bull and Mercedes path utilising cooling cannons either side that extend through the suspension elements, terminating at the same point as the cooling outlet above it.

Intriguingly the E23 features two airbox shoulder ducts that sit just a little lower than the airbox itself, their purpose at the moment is unknown especially as the PU106 (Mercedes PU) seemed to be the most thermally efficient of the bunch, however as we know changes for 2015 mean the PU will produce more power and so may require a little more cooling.  Their positioning however does lead me to believe that they may be focused on cooling ancillary components such as oil coolers (Turbo and Gearbox, marked on in yellow, something other teams have done in the past, perhaps just not as dramatically).

At the rear of the car echoes of the late 2014 specification of the E22 with a symmetrical rear wing mounting pylon inserted in the upper section of the engine cover which I'd be surprised that there isn't like Red Bull an inverted Y-Lon which resides within, acting like an aspirator and pulling the airflow through the engine cover. On the render no Y100 Winglet (Monkey Seat is present).

As with all of these launch renders what we see covers the bases, during pre-season testing I'm sure we'll see an evolution of the E23 and as always I'll keep you upto date as best I can.
Read more
21 January 2015
Williams FW37 render analysis

Once again F1 Racing magazine have presented the first images of the Williams contender to the world on their front cover.  The team used the magazine as the launch platform for the FW37's predecessor too, in the pre-season and pre-Martini livery.

Just like the FW36 render there are things that will evidently change before the season kicks off but there are a few things we can learn from what has been shown.

Firstly the nose, contentious as the 2014 nose designs were the FIA still haven't been prescriptive enough that the teams don't come up with designs that feature an extension.  The majority of 2015 designs will feature this 'thumb' extension, shorter than its predecessor but nonetheless just as ungainly.  In the case of Williams the team have set about trying to retain as similar an airflow footprint as possible with the shaping of the thumb forming a keel shape that tapers into the centreline, whilst the second regulation box 2000mm2, 150mm behind the noses tip splays the nose and the connecting pylons outward at least mitigating the loss of surface area lost from the shortening of the nose tip and/or perhaps even increasing its capacity to provide clean airflow to the splitter region.  What may be lessened is the effect the nose tip had/s on the neutral centre section of the front wing, an area the teams are always intent on trying to leverage an advantage from.  With the nose camera position mandated in 2014 the teams lost the ability to place those in a position that could garner and advantage and had to look to other solutions, namely the nose and pylon shaping.

Mercedes ran an interesting conjoined lower wishbone arrangement in 2014 which helped to control the upwash from the front wing, creating a better Y250 vortex and controlling how the sidepod inlets received airflow.  In this render of the FW37 it isn't definitive but it would appear that Williams may also be heading down this route in 2015.

EDIT: The frontal image released by the team seems to all but rule out the conjoined wishbone arrangement

Having had a year to work with their new partner Mercedes in 2014 the FW37 has lost the cooling gills found next to the roll over hoop, indicating that they were initially reticent about how much cooling was required by the PU106 hybrid but now feel more comfortable.

The FW37 like the FW36 appears to have followed the same concept in terms of the sidepod and engine cover bodywork, with little in terms of airflow manipulation, such as vortex generators, leading edge slats etc.  Whilst the short bodywork option run by the team for the last few years, utilising the shark fin to meet with the dimensional regulations is in place once more.  It is worth noting that Williams did trial a conventional engine cover layout last season (upper and lower cooling outlet), however the large lower outlet and gearbox covering aspirator are seemingly retained for 2015.

You may note that the sidepods appear to be a little slimmer than the cars predecessor allowing for a more aggressive sidepod undercut, the team having seen the packaging potential of the W05 have opted to run a chargecooler (air-liquid-air) arrangement, burying the cooler within a void between the fuel tank and the ICE's front face, whilst balancing the aero for either sidepod with smaller water radiators (Rather than as last year having had the right sidepod carry the engines water radiator and the left an air-to-air cooler).

At the rear of the car Williams once again defy the rest of the field and retain a rear wing assembly devoid of a central support pylon, something that featured on the rest of the field with the beam wing banned from 2014 onwards.  Their reasoning behind this is in part due to the way the whole concept of the car is laid out, designed for efficiency and not peak downforce, which has often led to them topping the top speed traps and being very frugal on fuel usage.  On top of this I firmly believe it suits the cooling layout, not having the issue of the pylon to circumnavigate, which is something most of the other teams have achieved with a Y-Lon.  The central pylon also compromises the airflow over the central part of the wing and can lead to detachment of the airflow, albeit teams all make clever design compromises to mitigate this as much as possible.

Lastly and perhaps more importantly (but please remember this a theory and not fact and so I am not inferring any wrong doing by Williams or any other team) I have to raise the question of flexibility, especially when we consider how quick the FW36 was in a straight line compared to the rest of the field.  I've long held the opinion that some of the teams are using aeroelasticity to deform the rear wing assembly in such a way that it reduces drag on the straights (something that teams have been doing for decades). Williams lack of centre pylon brings further credence to this (albeit as per the FW36 they likely have a beam wing support at floor level again) as it would allow the endplates to deform/rotate (where as everyone else would also need a deformable pylon too) lowering drag and increasing their top speed potential.  There is of course a load test in place to ascertain whether teams are flexing the flaps (a horizontal load of 100kg on the FIA inspection rig), meanwhile slot gap separators were bought in so that the teams couldn't deform the flaps at speed, reducing the gap between them and stalling the wing.

As teams have worked on aeroelasticity to gain advantage from front wing flex over the last decade it's more than acceptable to expect the teams to use this knowledge in other areas, in which case if the rear wing was lent back under load it would reduce drag.  Lest we forget the teams desires to achieve such a feat led to the F-Duct and a top speed increase in the realms of 10+kph.


With another image surfacing of the car from the front (above) it appears the team have also been able to shrink the sidepod cooling inlets compared with the FW36

As always please remember that this is a very early look at the car and as some of the key areas (rear view, tyre squirt platform ahead of the rear tyre etc) are omitted in these renders I will revisit the analysis as and when more details become available.

Read more
Reviewed: The Official FIA F1 Review 2014

Duke video who produce the official DVD/Blu-Ray review each season were kind enough to send me a review copy, it's been rattling around on my desk for the last week or so but I finally got chance to cast my eyes over it.  The last one of these reviews I cast my eye over was the 2009 season, which saw Jenson Button clinch his first drivers title at the helm of the BGP001.

The format remains largely untouched with two DVDs home to over 4 hours of footage, the first a run through of the races includes commentary from BBC regular Ben Edwards, whilst the second offers onboard footage, complete with narration from the drivers and some tech tid bits from Gary Anderson.

The inclusion of James Allen and Jennie Gow in segments of the season review (Gary Anderson also pops up from time to time) brings a much welcomed change of pace, as otherwise it may all come across a little metronomic, although I must admit to having watched the extensive footage over several sittings.  The uniformity, driven by the need to split the review into race sections does sometimes lead to a loss of outside narrative/perspective but that's to be expected, especially as I've mentioned most people will have to take several bites at the cherry to complete the disc(s).

As anyone that follows my work will know 2014 provided the backdrop for the most extensive technical shakeup the sport has ever seen, at points the review looks to provide information on these changes and infringements that happen throughout the season, that's all it does do though, cover the bases for the average F1 fan. (Don't get me wrong you have to appeal to a wide audience and so it's clear why they chose to do that)

One thing that has always stood out to me is the naming of these reviews, in this case "It was fair" in reference to the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, whilst previous titles "Not in a hurry" (2009) and "Luck does not come into it" (2008) always seem a little backhanded in their compliments to the title winner, that being said it does sum them up quite neatly.

As broadcasters (especially in UK) look to one up each other each race weekend there becomes less and less unseen footage and team radio for DUKE to present on their review, however there is still plenty there that you won't have seen or heard before, making it a great addition to any F1 fans collection.

Duke have been kind enough to offer up a copy of the review as a prize too, so if you fancy bagging a copy for your collection simply head over to twitter and tweet me @SomersF1 with answer to the following:

How many victories did @MercedesAMGF1 have in 2014? using the hashtag #DUKEREVIEWCOMP
Read more
07 January 2015
eMag: Mercedes W05

As you may or may not be aware I have been collaborating with fellow technical analyst William Tyson on an eMagazine series that focuses on the dominance of the Mercedes W05 in 2014.  We are pleased to announce the arrival of the first part of this eMag: The Mercedes W05: Understanding the dominance of the 2014 machine and the team behind it

Part 1 is a 63 page edition that covers team personnel, the teams history, a brief overview of the changes made to the technical regulations for 2014 and a race by race analysis.  Subsequent editions will cover the aerodynamic principles of the W05, a detailed explanation of the award winning PU106A Hybrid along with a wrap up edition tieing all the elements together and a brief look at the 2015 campaign ahead.

We have chosen Google Play as our distribution method as it offers the widest platform availabilty, granting you access from a plethora of devices including access via Android and Apple apps.
Read more

Total Pageviews