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24 Feb 2018
Renault RS18 follow up analysis

To say I was disappointed when I first saw the RS18 renders would be an understatement, as I’ve long held the view that 2018 could be their breakthrough year. 

A huge investment in staff and infrastructure along with securing the ‘temporary’ transfer of Carlos Sainz Jnr from the Red Bull stable was enough to convince me they were on their way back to the head of the field.

The team conducted a filming day (read as shakedown) in Barcelona today and whilst the car still wasn’t fully prepared with all the bells and whistles we can expect to be bolted onto it during next weeks first test, it was at least a physical representation of their 2018 challenger.
The first thing to note is that the team appear to have taken some inspiration from McLaren, with a hole present in both of the fluted front wing pillars [1], improving airflow around what are a long surfaces. Just in behind this would appear to be the ‘S’ duct inlet [2], mimicking where McLaren chose to have theirs last season. When we get to the turning vanes [3] it appears they may have switched playbooks as the bellmouth shape is distinctly similar to the ones seen on the Red Bull in recent years.
The bargeboards [4] used in this filming day (cough, shakedown) are also new and have a distinct feel of last years Force India about them, featuring a graduated drop away with numerous vertical serrations along that length. It’s difficult to make out in this grainy image (sorry I had to hack it out of a fairly low resolution video) but there also appears to be a smaller notched pre-bargeboard ahead too.
Having switched to a blown axle [5] during last years campaign it’s of no surprise that the new car does indeed feature one too, assisting the front wing in its duties of reigning in the wake created by the front tyre.

Atop the chassis we find what appear to be a couple of long wedge shaped winglets [6], as the team look to define how flow moves around this area of the chassis, which is understandable given its proximity to the halo, which will disrupt the airflow.

The team also appear to have utilised a pair of extremely long floor slots [7], similar to the ones used by McLaren in 2016, reaching forward from the tyre squirt deck in front of the rear tyre, rather than an extension of the extremely long forward slots used by McLaren in their filming day / shakedown

Talking of the tyre squirt deck it would also appear that the team have arched the outer profile of the floor ahead of the rear tyre [8], as they look to create a more intense vortex that’ll hit the face of the tyre and push flow around it.

At the rear of the car the team appear to have, like McLaren, upended the exhausts tailpipe [9], as they look to use the excitable energy of the exhaust plume to help drive the diffuser and rear wings aero. Interestingly it would appear that they’ve also double barreled the wastegate pipes and placed them under the main exhaust outlet, rather than beside it.

The testing work that can be conducted whilst undergoing one of these ‘filming days’ is very limited but it would appear that the team were eager to keep an eye on the interaction of the exhaust plume with the underside of the rear wing, with what appears to be a row of heat strips attached to a deliberately unpainted mainplane [10] (blue stickers).

Again, I still await to see the full force of Renault’s might when they start testing in Barcelona next week, however, the signals from today at least provide better news than the renders did earlier in the week.

Don't forget, if you like the content I create I'm trying to ramp things up for 2018 and will be providing full car illustrations for most of the field, I'll update these throughout the season to give a 'story mode' of their development throughout. You'll be able to follow this by contributing via my Patreon page - www.Patreon.com/SomersF1

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McLaren MCL33 launch analysis

The McLaren MCL33 is a car very much in the embryonic stages of its development, with the team having switched powerunit supplier, from Honda to Renault this season.

It’s a change that warrants serious consideration, with the team forced to rethink their entire rear end installation, not only from a physical point of view but an aerodynamic one too. Looking at this launch version of the car you’d suggest that the team have been cautious in their approach to these challenges, especially in terms of cooling, meaning they'll have to lean on what even they’ve referred to on several occasions as one of the best chassis’ on the grid.

Undoubtedly the recent lineage of predecessors have been held back by the problems associated with the Honda powerunit, with the arrival of Peter Prodromou from Red Bull in 2014 as head of aerodynamics a catalyst for a change in philosophy at McLaren. Slowly but surely the McLaren’s since that date have converged on a similar high rake concept, with more than a hint of Red Bull about their aerodynamic surface choices too. In fact I’ve often thought that if I photoshopped both of their front wings white even their fans would struggle to tell the difference.

Having said that, whilst the pairs 2017 machinery bore the core philosophical principles, you can really start to see where the aerodynamic design teams led by Prodromou and Dan Fallows from McLaren and Red Bull respectively have encountered divergent evolution, with the DNA of each team infiltrating the design process in different ways.

In the case of McLaren that has led to the the inboard section of their front wing being loaded with slots and edges, rotating the Y250 vortex that’s shed from the juncture between the neutral central section of the wing and the mainplane. The wing, which seems heavily developed, is actually a carry over from the end of last season and will undoubtedly, much like the rest of the car give them a good baseline with which to work outwards from at the start of the campaign.
The launch car shows a nose design reminiscent of last years appendage, featuring elongated front wing pillars with three slots that not only help to control, shape and harness the Y250 vortex alongside but also pull airflow around the front wings neutral central section. The team have utilised an 'S' duct for a number of seasons now and it's not the first time that the launch car has been devoid of the device but MCL33 seems not to feature one, or doesn't it? 

Having watched the teams 3D animation on Twitter it's clear to see the 'S' duct outlet panelling (inset) which suggests to me that we'll see it return, perhaps in a more aggressive format, during testing or as part of the large update package they've suggested will be available for the Australian GP.
There has been some work done just ahead of the sidepod too, continuing the development done by the team in 2017, with the splitters extensions now heavily serrated [1], a revised floor section placed between the bargeboards and the leading edge of the floor [2], another small row of serrations behind this [4] and also a half crescent shaped pre-bargeboard swept across in front of the main bargeboard [3].

Given the importance of gathering data, racking up mileage and generally getting an understanding of the cars behaviour with another powerunit onboard it’s easy to see why the team have chosen not to take aggressive design measures this year, evolving what they already considered to be a machine with untapped potential instead. However, it’s far from an MCL32 dressed up in Renault clothing though, with the team having come up with several solutions that make it stand apart from last years car.
All of the teams had a certain level of tolerance built into their suspension systems in 2017, with loads up dramatically on the previous year given the additional width and weight of the new generation of tyres introduced by Pirelli. As such, they’ll have undoubtedly made weight saving in this regard as they remove some of the unnecessary bulk.  However, at the rear of the car McLaren are pioneering yet another fresh design, repositioning the inboard connecting points of the upper wishbone, whilst reshaping and conjoining it in order that it gives the most aerodynamically efficient shape possible.
The sidepods, an area of attention for almost the entire grid as they converge on the ideas set forth by Ferrari in 2017, have been left virtually untouched by McLaren. A wide sweeping change in this area of the car was perhaps considered a bridge too far considering the upheaval already undertaken to install the new powerunit. The sidepods are already pretty much as narrow as is impossible with the higher mounted side impact spar, with an aggressive undercut carved out under the small inlet, tapering back along the car in a slightly revised geometry to accommodate the different powerunit ancillaries toward the coke bottle region.
On top of the sidepod you’ll find an additional staggered row of vertical vortex generators [5], which run parallel with the outer ones already run during 2017. There's also a triangular shaped horizontal winglet mounted between the forwardmost of these new vortex generators and the cockpit [6], (it's not new but now finds itself attached to the new vortex generator) all of which help the airflow to follow the curvature of the sidepod. Flanking the sidepod you'll find two extremely long slots, spanning almost the entire length of the floor [7], a design that takes what was introduced by most of the field during 2017 and runs off into the distance with it. 

It's worth noting that the team have yet to run the type of halo fairing we saw from them in the post Abu Dhabi test too, with the team maximising the 20mm tolerance to create three hooped winglets that sat astride the safety structure. These are allowed by the FIA in order that teams can create aerodynamic structures that limit the safety structures influence on the airflow, with each team keen to attenuate its effect on the airbox, which can be damaging to powerunit performance, and the rear wing.
The rear of the car, complete with its new suspension and gearbox is elegantly packaged, much like you'd expect, with a more substantial single rear wing support pillar now mounted to the engine cover at its base, much like Red Bull did last year. It's unclear if the pillar also continues down and through the exhaust, as had become en vogue but appears to be a feature lost this season. (This is likely down to the changes surrounding the length of the exhaust and the placement of aerodynamic furniture around it. However, what does stand out is the upwards curvature of the tail pipe and crash structure, with the team seemingly looking to continue to leverage the aerodynamic advantages presented by connecting the diffuser and rear wings flow structures.
It's even more visible in this rearward shot of the MCL33 shared by the team, as you can imagine the upward trajectory of the exhaust plume. It's also worth noting the small notch on the rear wing pillar, which is likely going to house a stalk from which a stack of winglets will be mounted (much like the ones used in 2017, below).

As a point of interest the central section of the diffuser has also been modified for 2018, with an arched profile in use, rather than the squared version used in 2017 - likely the result of the aforementioned exhaust and crash structure changes.
Overall the MCL33 is perhaps the least visually different car of the ones presented so far but, with all the architectural changes made beneath the skin to accommodate the Renault powerunit and what is considered to be one of the best chassis’ it’s of no real surprise.

Don't forget, if you like the content I create I'm trying to ramp things up for 2018 and will be providing full car illustrations for most of the field, I'll update these throughout the season to give a 'story mode' of their development throughout. You'll be able to follow this by contributing via my Patreon page - www.Patreon.com/SomersF1
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23 Feb 2018
Ferrari SF71-H launch analysis

Ferrari made huge strides with the introduction of the new regulations for 2017 and so like the difficult second album for musicians it left us wondering whether they could follow up their smash hit this year.

The good news for Ferrari fans is that although the SF71H is clearly an evolution of its predecessor it's also packed with impressive features that gives hope that they've made another decent step. The higher rake philosophy used during 2017 stays but the wheelbase has been lengthened slightly in order to accommodate the weight distribution targets which have been affected by adding the halo. This has also allowed the designers to make subtle improvements to the flow around the car itself.

The front wing is likely to change during testing and the opening phase of the championship. However, it does feature a less than conventional pair of slots in the mainplane, which as you can see are separated by a closed off section. The inboard slot [1] is likely used to activate the Y250 vortex in a specific way, working in tandem with the flap tips, the lowermost of which that also connects to the mainplane features another short slot [2], in a similar vein to what we saw Toro Rosso and McLaren utilise last year. The outer slot [3] is conventionally placed and serves the usual purpose of improving the wings efficiency and reducing pitch sensitivity but it’s an interesting aside that they’ve opted not to combine the two, raising the importance and function of each individual slot.

The front brake duct scoop [4] has been reduced in size this year, as the team look to minimise the impact it has on the surrounding airflow. It cannot be completely eradicated like some teams have done, simply taking in airflow in between the vertical fence and the tyres sidewall, as it also supplies a quantity of the airflow it gathers to the blown axle, which is once again part of the front end aero concept.

The pillars that connect the front wing and nose are clearly inspired by those run by McLaren in 2016/17. A hole is embedded in the side of the forward element of the pillar [5], joined by a slot between it and the larger fluted rearward pillar extension [6], both of which help to move flow between the long shapely appendages and undoubtedly improve flow around and under the nose. This most likely improves the Y250 vortex which runs alongside too, making it a little more robust as it shapes it and steals less energy from it whilst it’s in its infancy.

The car retains a similar ‘S’ duct setup to its predecessor but it's worth noting that the SF70H featured a pair of winglets that flanked the ‘S’ duct, assisting with the flow transition, which are missing this year.

The bargeboards [7] are a direct descendant of the ones redesigned and run toward the end of last season, reaching quite far forward, arched away from the chassis but running parallel with it at their highest point they help to drive flow around the sidepod. The length, position and shape of the bargeboards are possible due to the three vertical serrations in bargeboards, which allow airflow to bleed between the surface, reducing separation and increasing their operating window.

The team have ramped up the design of their sidepods even further in 2018, having been the first team to utilize the low-slung upper side impact spar in 2017 that has substantially been adopted by a large percentage of this years field.

Placing the spar in this lower position gives the designers considerably more freedom with which to shape and position the sidepod, bringing with it the ability to create substantial aerodynamic gains. It’s clear by the number of teams that have followed in their footsteps that the idea holds significant promise and as such Ferrari have gone a step further this year, being even more aggressive than they were in 2017.

The main forward facing inlet is notably smaller than last year [8], deepening the undercut and allowing a much larger passageway for the air to flow around. However, with the now even more extremely angled radiators placed within needing to be fed airflow to maintain their cooling efficiency the upper inlet [9] has been moved ever so slightly rearward and grown in size to accommodate it.

The extremely tight inlet has been left in free air this year, rather than being obfuscated by the flow conditioning device they utilized ahead of it last year. The devices shaping has been retained though but pushed back in order to flank the corner of the sidepod, with a leading edge slat both framing the upper corner and connecting it to the revised deflector. Meanwhile another flow device is connected beneath too, complete with a pair of vortex generators [10] that are pinched into the socket at the side of the sidepod, stopping airflow getting pinched in the corner and improve flow down its length.
There's design convergence afoot under the curved leading edge of the floor, with the Scuderia evaluating and assimilating an idea first used by Mercedes and subsequently run by Red Bull in their Hungary update. The strakes, which protrude from the floors leading edge help to deal with the tubulence that upswept area of the floor recieves courtesy of the wake generated by the front tyre and the remnants of any wayward airflow generated by the bargeboards, cleaning up the flow before it follows the floor to the diffuser. Force India also evaluated a similar design in Mexico last season giving rise to a trend that will likely sweep the grid in due course.

Ferrari have left no stone unturned in their pursuit of Mercedes and have come up with a very neat solution for their wing mirrors, the front of the casing has been left completely void in order that the airflow normally presented with a bluff body see’s a aerodynamically advantageous shape instead. The airflow essentially travels through the mirror casing and around the mirror glass, in order to improve the efficiency of the upper surface of the sidepod and the top mounted inlet.

The Halo’s titanium structure has been outfitted with a fairing, of which the teams have a tolerance of 20mm to work with. Ferrari have opted to place a relatively simple hooped winglet atop theirs, as they look to minimise the aerodynamic turbulence created by the structure and draw airflow back down under the airbox. The airbox itself has been redesigned, accommodating the need for extra cooling that the team made adjustments for at the Malaysian GP last year.
The sidepods are extremely well wrapped, tapering into a tight coke bottle region, whilst the engine cover has been resized and is outfitted with a curved lower T-Wing, both of which maximize the area of freedom allowed within the new regulations. Meanwhile, the rear wing is a carryover from 2017 and subject to changes as the team hits the track in the coming days.

Altogether I'm extremely pleased with what Ferrari have offered, with the SF71-H seemingly an advancement over its predecessor. It's difficult to say where they'll stack up when compared to Mercedes and Red Bull, given their launch cars are generally composed of plenty of placeholders, whereas the Ferrari is not. However, the early signs are positive, so lets see what happens when they all hit the track....

Don't forget if you like the content I create I'm trying to ramp things up for 2018 and will be providing full car illustrations for most of the field, I'll update these throughout the season to give a 'story mode' of their development throughout. You'll be able to follow this by contributing via my Patreon page - www.Patreon.com/SomersF1

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22 Feb 2018
Mercedes W09 launch analysis

The Mercedes W09 launches off the back of a hugely successful run of championships, during which time the team and their drivers have collected four back-to-back titles. What makes this even more impressive is the scale of the regulatory changes that the team had to overcome for 2017, with no team in the sports history previously able to maintain their advantage in those circumstances.

Their 2017 titles did not come without their challenges though, with the car often described as a ‘diva’ and undoubtedly the cause of more than a few headaches and sleepless nights along the way. This often meant working tirelessly to find the optimum setup, an issue compounded by the threat of Ferrari in the early part of the season, as they made a bold leap forward leading to a fraught battle between the pair until such point that Mercedes began to get on top of the cars sometimes counter-intuitive nature.

Speculation regarding the issues faced by the team saw the finger pointed squarely at the cars wheelbase on more than one occasion, especially as Mercedes and by default the ‘customer’ teams found the length of their cars to be in stark contrast to the rest of the field. The team were quick to downplay any correlation with the cars wheelbase, remaining steadfast in their statement that their issues were setup and performance window related. Nonetheless, the rumours did not relent, with many even suggesting that the team would abandon their low-rake, long wheelbase philosophy in favour of a shorter, more steeply raked machine for 2018, more akin to the philosophy used by Red Bull since 2009.

As the covers, digital in some cases, have come off the cars this week it’s become clear that whilst the Ferrari and Red Bull’s of 2017 seemed more nimble, in part due to their shorter wheelbase, the general consensus has been to move toward a longer car, inline with what Mercedes operated with last season.
The W09 represents a further evolution of a design philosophy that the team have been pursuing ever since they returned to the sport in 2010. Hard lessons learnt during 2017 have led to further optimisations of the overall concept, whilst a steady eye has been cast over the forthcoming changes, including the introduction of the halo, a significant weight reduction and a new breed of tyres, which will offer more degradation, from Pirelli.

From the outset the W09 may appear a little tame, especially when compared with how radical its predecessor appeared to be when presented but, once you begin to focus on the detail you can see just how refined this years challenger is.

The front wing and nose, already at the head of the field, are carry over from last years design but may be subject to further changes as the car laps Barcelona in the upcoming tests.
The front brake ducts, which are already supremely complex, now sport an additional curved vane [1], which helps to control the airflow spilt by the front wing and push it around the front tyre, dictating the shape of the wake generated by the tyre and therefore improving the performance of the airflow downstream.

The team have retained the outboard horned front suspension kingpin extension [2] that they introduced in 2017 alongside Toro Rosso and which has subsequently been copied by several teams this year. This falls inline with the preservation of their sidepod concept, which remains in a similar position - albeit with a narrower inlet, to last year as they look to pair the flow between the suspension and sidepod in order to improve cooling efficiency through the car and aerodynamic efficiency over and around the sidepods. This is further enforced by the use of the chassis boomerang [3].
Conversely the train of thought elsewhere, with Ferrari having led the way on this last year and copied by a large percentage of the grid this season, is to position the highest of the side impact spars in a lower position, giving the designers more freedom in terms of the sidepods starting position and geometry, both internally and externally. Only time will tell who chose the right option, but this is something that’s essentially ‘baked-in’ to the chassis and is not something that can be changed easily, bringing us to the conclusion that Mercedes must consider their choice an aerodynamic advantage that trumps the flexibility of moving around some weight.
Interestingly the bargeboards, the scene of intense development for everyone throughout 2017, at first glance appear to be relatively similar. However, on closer inspection a great deal of work has gone into improving the flow structures that can be destroyed and recreated or even reinforced in this area. On the lower leading edge the team have added two bi-directional extensions, which extend out toward the front of the car before sweeping forward and forming crescent shaped pre-bargeboards [4].
The halo has been presented in a fairly raw format by the team at launch but, like their competitors they are afforded the opportunity to use a 20mm fairing, which can be used to alter the aerodynamics of the safety structure. As such, we can expect a fairing to appear on the W09 pretty rapidly during testing. You may also note that whilst the airbox doesn’t appear to have changed dramatically it has been furnished with an additional horizontal spar in order to deal with the revised airflow pattern that the halo offers up.
The rear end of the car appears to be tighter than its predecessor, with the bodywork set to closely hug the powerunit and its ancillaries [5]. Having been forced, like the rest of the teams, to ditch the shark fin their engine cover takes up as much of the available space as is possible within the reworded regulations [6]. The rear suspension has also been reworked with the upper, outer pickup point having been raised and the accompanying aero appendage adapted to suit [7]. Meanwhile, the inboard mounting points also appear to be placed higher, with the exhaust forced to arch over the top of them, in much the same way the squashed wastegate exhausts already did last season [8].

The single centrally mounted pillar used to strengthen the rear wing structure has been retained for 2018 too, although it’s unclear if it still intersects the exhaust, with it likely combined with the tail end of the engine cover instead. Mounted either side of the pillar [9], just above the exhaust, the team have also utilised this free area to mount some simple winglets [9], something that is likely to increase in complexity as testing and the season unfolds.

In launch trim the team have returned to the ‘spoon’ style rear wing [10] favoured in the early phase of 2017 but seemed to fall from prominence in the latter stages, as they returned a more conventional wing. With some of the foibles that caused issues during 2017 ironed out it would appear that they wish to pursue this more efficient design once more.

Overall the W09 appears to represent a solid step forward for 2018, resolving some of the inefficiencies of its predecessors whilst pursuing even more performance for the season ahead.

Don't forget if you like the content I create I'm trying to ramp things up for 2018 and will be providing full car illustrations for most of the field, I'll update these throughout the season to give a 'story mode' of their development throughout. You'll be able to follow this by contributing via my Patreon page - www.Patreon.com/SomersF1
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