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07 October 2015
Holding back

Renault went into the 2015 season having spent only 20 of their 32 tokens allowable for the season.  Had Red Bull and Ferrari been unsuccessful in lobbying the FIA to allow in-season development, owing to the missing homologation date within the technical regulations, those 20 tokens would have either been left unspent or left them rolling the dice on a powerunit specification that may have been worse than what they have.

Whilst the other manufacturers have made use of their remaining tokens throughout the season (Mercedes in Italy - 7, Honda in Canada and Belgium - 2 and 3 respectively (5) and Ferrari in Canada and Italy - 3 and 3 respectively (6)) Renault have yet to spend any of the 12 tokens they have remaining.  The manufacturer had initially targeted the Russian GP as the first time we would see a modified unit, with them likely to spend all 12 in one hit.  This was latterly delayed until the American GP, but now it appears in a story released by this morning that the new powerunit will be delayed even further.

In honesty I am far from surprised, the less than acrimonious seperation of Red Bull from the engine manufacturer has left somewhat of a bad taste in the mouth of the latter and whilst Red Bull are eager for additional performance, Renault have to think about themselves.  Furnishing Red Bull and Toro Rosso with a new specification of powerunit at this stage may well be counterproductive to their long term objectives as they once again become a 'Works' team and manufacturer.

As the relationship between the two was already on the teetering point it seems that Red Bull's patience run out and the vitoral that they had been spewing about their partner intensified, leading to the inevitable rift becoming a separation.  Armed with the information about the manufacturers true defecit to their rivals it seems Red Bull saw no alternative but to cut and run, seeking out a new partner.  Meanwhile, with Renault investigating their options on a return to 'works' status they began a programme of self preservation.

12 tokens can change a lot of components but they need to be the right ones, the problem therefore lies in the execution of the spend.  It has been suggested that Renault were intending to spend their 12 tokens in one batch on the ICE, forsaking the other components and suggesting that Renault made some poor design decisions from the outset.  This is backed up by the installation of Mario Illien (Ilmor) at Viry by Red Bull, back when the relationship between the two could be saved.  Mario and his team worked on a parallel design to the Renault staff, creating a single cylinder prototype and presenting the results to both Renault and Red Bull alike.  Although pleased with the assistance that Ilmor provided, Renault dismissed the prototype and continued to develop their own, something which no doubt further angered Red Bull.

The 12 remaining tokens will now likely be spent at the one but last or last race of the season as Renault look to their plans for 2016.  Whilst you'd assume a 12 token spend should come with significant gains, given the strides Ferrari have made throughout 2015 with just 6 tokens, it could be argued that Renault will likely compromise the 2015 powerunit for better gains in 2016.  Meaning that the units supplied to the Red Bull teams could be down on power even further than their current counterparts.
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Bite Size Tech: Mercedes W06 front wing tubercles - Japan

Mercedes made a small alteration to their front wing in Japan which should provide some additional balance for the driver.  The change was made aware to me by Allen Lopez via Twitter with tubercles added to the trailing edge of the one but last flap.  If you're unfamiliar with the term, tubercles were used by McLaren from Germany last year and applied to both the mainplane and top flap of their rear wing:

The application of these by Mercedes on the front wing will be similar to those applied by McLaren, with the 'teeth' helping to overcome a steeper angle of attack.  The pointed trailing edge means that the airflow leaves it at differing intervals, creating a small vortex as the airflow intertwines.  In the following image I've illustrated how this would occur, but please bear in mind this is not accurate more a means to explain the process.

Ordinarily steeper angles of attack mean that supplying airflow to the trailing egde of the flap becomes critical, if the flow seperates early it can destroy the entire wings efficiency, reducing performance at the transition point for medium speed corners.  These small vortices created by the tubercles are used in order to delay seperation, widening the flaps operating window.
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03 October 2015
2015 Japanese GP tech roundup

I've already covered the updates run by Mercedes for the Japanese GP but thought I'd cover a few of the stragglers.

Toro Rosso

The poorer brother of Red Bull continue to impress with how they manage their resources introducing a new set of bargeboards in Japan.
Image left: Sutton Images - Image right: @AlbertFabrega
Toro Rosso introduced slotted bargeboards at this point last year so it's no coincidence that the team have concentrated their efforts in the region again again this year.  The likes of Mercedes and Ferrari have already run this configuration but Toro Rosso join their ranks with there own intepretation. Higlighted in green in Albert's picture is the smaller bargeboard which lies ahead of the larger one, which has also been amended to cater for the change.  You'll note that the main bargeboard now turns more abrubtly inward, with the increased angle of attack margainalised by the injection of airflow provided by the smaller bargeboard.  The upshot should be an improvement in flow around the sidepod, improving flow and downforce downstream.


Having introduced changes in Singapore the team continued to revise their front wing in Japan adding an inboard canard.  
Highlighted in green the additonal inboard canards assist the cascades in directing airflow over and around the front wheel.

Force India

In Japan Force India joined the growing rank of teams adding fences to the leading upper edge of the splitter, like Toro Rosso though their fence numbers 3 each side of the splitter.  These fences may be small but they will have an effect on the airflow, improving matters downstream too.

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01 October 2015
A gateway to more noise?

The WMSC approved changes yesterday in regard to the exhaust layout for 2015 in an effort to increase the noise emitted by the powerunits.

"For 2016, all cars must have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe through which all and only wastegate exhaust gases must pass. This measure has been undertaken to increase the noise of the cars and will not have any significant effect on power or emissions."

So, for those that have a problem with the current sound of F1 will it actually make a difference?

Not hugely, no.

So, why bother?

The manufacturers are caught between a rock and a hard place, with Bernie Ecclestone, the circuit promoters, the fans and some of the media being pretty vocal about the lack of noise emitted from the powerunits. Turbo engines are always less raucous than their naturally aspirated brethren as the turbo suppresses the noise the exhaust ordinarily generates.  On top of this the engine doesn't need to be revved as hard in order to attain the power and so the pitch is also shifted to more of a bellow, lest we forget these engines are short of 2 cylinders and 6,000rpm.  Furthermore, noise is just wasted energy and in designing a powerunit that is efficient as possible you inevitably end up with something that sound is a little attenuated.

We have already seen Mercedes trial the ludicrous trumpet exhaust during 2014 perhaps as more of a way of proving to Bernie et al that the exhaust note couldn't easily be changed.  The planned change to a separate wastegate exhaust will change very little in terms of noise either with the wastegate only being used in those transient conditions when the MGU-H isn't able to effectively perform the role of slowing/speeding the turbine.  Don't get me wrong you'll get a little bit of additional noise as the wastegates are in operation but I don't believe it will dramatically increase the volume, just change the type of noise we hear.  I certainly don't see it as the big ticket that F1 is looking for and will likely only further enrage those that crave more noise.

We've been here before

Two outlets were actually prescribed in previous draft of the 2014 regulations

"5.6 Exhaust systems : Engine exhaust systems may incorporate no more than two exits and the final 100mm of any tailpipe must be cylindrical."

"3.8.5 Once the relevant bodywork surfaces are defined in accordance with Article 3.8.4, apertures, any of which may adjoin or overlap each other, may be added for the following purposes only:  - Single apertures either side of the car centre line for the purpose of exhaust exits. These apertures may have a combined area of no more than 50,000mm2 when projected onto the surface itself. No point on an aperture may be more than 350mm from any other point on the aperture."

As you can see this was based on the exhausts being able to exit in a position used by the teams in 2012/13 which led to the rise of the 'coanda' exhausts.

With the FIA eager to neutralise any exhaust blown diffusers at the inception of the new regulations, changes were later made to centralise the exhaust outlet(s) as we have now.  Latterly it was decided that the wastegate exhaust was actually erroneous and was deleted from the regulations with article 5.8 forming an expansive explanation of how a singular exhaust exit must now be placed an orientated so as that the energy expelled could not be used to seal the edge of the diffuser, as it had in the past.

Of course the teams are still utilising this energy, even from the centre-line position, albeit in a totally different way, mitigating the loss of the beam wing and edge blown diffusers.

The secondary exhaust outlet that will be introduced, powered by the wastegate(s), will likely reside within the same dimensional restraints as the current outlet and although its primary purpose is to increase the engine note I can guarantee there will be some side benefits in terms of aero.  (I suspect there may be some manipulation of the regulations in this regard before the start of next season but we shall have to wait and see)
Furthermore, as the exhaust rear of the Turbine is not part of the homologation matrix it does open up the option of changing the exhaust layout/size/orientation during the season, based on the team and/or circuit characteristics and may lead to some teams (hopefully not only 'works' teams) being able to harness a small advantage from time-to-time, be it PU wise or aerodynamically.

Good news for Honda...

As Craig rightly points out the current design employed by Honda has the wastegates incorporated into the turbines design, in order that they comply with the regulations this would have to change.  As such they should get at least a 2 token free pass as they'd have likely redesigned the turbine in any case.

Could FOM help themselves to some more noise

I've said it before and I may aswell repeat myself here, trackside and in the pitlane the powerunits actually seem louder.  Therefore I question the sound equipment being used by FOM, can they not improve the locale of their microphones? or simply turn up the volume?  In any case I may be in a minority but I like the ability to hear the car scratching the track surface, something that was inaudible with the V8's although it was clearly happening.  However, I'm sure there is a happy medium between hearing engine noise and other car related audible treats.

In Summary

This isn't the silver bullet that most people are hoping for, downsizing ineviatibly leads to less noise, a fact we will have to live with, unless of course you want to follow the path of the automakers and have noise enhancers.
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