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27 Feb 2018
Toro Rosso STR13 launch analysis

The design team at Toro Rosso have become synonymous with breaking innovative design features that find their way onto other competitors cars during the last few years, making theirs an exciting one to watch out for when it breaks cover.
This years car is undoubtedly a compromise with the late switch from Renault to Honda powerunits for the 2018 posing a significant conundrum. If anyone can achieve such a feat it’s Toro Rosso though, as they’ve had to do similar when they made the switch to Renault in 2014, another switch back to Ferrari in 2016, when they utilsed a year old powerunit, followed by a switch back to Renault for 2017.

Even with an impressive powerunit switching resume the STR13 is undoubtedly a segway machine, with the team having to repackage the entire rear end of the car to suit the Honda powerunits characteristics, with the earliest of iterations seen on track expected to be developed apace during the opening phase of the season.

The work required to repackage the car for a new powerunit and the installation of the halo has not come without its compromises, with the team unable to push resource at areas of the car their competitors have. Namely the sidepods, with a more conventional shape and position retained, as the upper side impact spar remains in a high mounted position. Nonetheless, having made the decision to run with their front suspensions upper wishbone mounted in a higher position last year, and carried across to their 2018 design, the flow of air toward and around the sidepod could be in worse shape.
The team have reversed their decision in regard to the nose, retiring the slim one used last season and returning to a thumb tip style appendage. They've paired this with a pair of nose pillars that include a slot in them in order to drive flow through the lower, central part of the car.

Finding small gains in the nuance of the regulatory phrasing seems to be a speciality of this close-knit operation, as they operate from their humble surroundings in Faenza, Italy, whilst their wind tunnel operation is based in the UK.
The team are the first to have shown their hand in terms of using the peak under the halo, placing a slotted winglet underneath as part of their allowance for the 20mm fairing that can be used by the teams to minimise aerodynamic disturbance.
The team have also handled the rear transition with the cockpit protection in a very neat way, utilizing a boat tail shape. This is also paired with another smaller winglet, placed just inside in order to influence how the airflow moves down and around the rest of the car.
The bargeboards have been modified, as you’d expect, drawing inspiration from the sister team with the horizontal winglet placed used to control the flow of airflow traffic from the front of the car.
Meanwhile, the long slot near the edge of the floor has grown substantially and now appears to fully represent a hole, rather than a slot, allowing much more airflow to migrate.

Considering the design compromises that must have been needed to have been sought in order to get the car ready for testing the STR13 is a pleasant design, with plenty of scope for further improvement. Undoubtedly much of their performance will be driven by the performance and reliability of the Honda powerunit, but they too seem to have made progress and so I look on at at the fate of Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda with great optimism.

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 -

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Force India VJM11 launch analysis

Force India have been punching well above their weight for a number of seasons now and they’re hoping that the VJM11 is capable of propelling them to similar glories in 2018.

The car is clearly an evolution of last years challenger, with decisions around the cars wheelbase defined by the dimensions of the powerunit and the positioning of the front axle. The latter is a factor driven more by aerodynamics these days, as the increased width of the front tyres from last year has led to a change in the behaviour of the wake shed by the front wheels.

The designers were given more freedom in the area between the front wheels and the sidepods, but it has not gone unnoticed that many have taken the opportunity to lessen the impact of the turbulence created by the front tyre by stretching out the distance to the sidepods.

At this stage the team have a very similar aerodynamic package to the one used toward the tail end of 2017, albeit revised to suit this years regulations, but they’ve already suggested that this first test is all about understanding the new car and making sure their simulation tools are correlating with the real world - an issue they faced last season and which put them behind their initial development targets.

Having said that the nose and chassis transition does seem to have been gentrified, with the abrupt slope above the suspension made more gradual, likely due to the miniaturization of the hydraulic heave damper located beneath.

Lest we forget that the rules surrounding suspension systems were altered just before the start of last years campaign, giving little time to respond leaving several teams locked into a sub-optimal packaging arrangement.

A neat feature that stands the VJM11 apart from its predecessor is the design of their wing mirrors, with , inspiration likely drawn from Red Bull whom sported a similar design as part of their update package in Hungary last season. The mirrors are now mounted not only on the inner curved support but also on two vertical vortex generating upstands, which reach out from the leading edge of the sidepod.
Meanwhile, the front brake ducts have been treated to some extra winglets on their forward edge, three in fact, which are placed here in order to reshape the airflow moving around the front tyre.

The introduction of the halo has put significant strain on the development of the 2018 cars and for a team like Force India, with a finite amount of resource, both financial and technical it's meant having to sacrifice development elsewhere.
On the second day of the test they also showed their hand in terms of the aerodynamic fairing they’ll be using atop the halo. The triple element winglet is reminiscent of the one used by McLaren in the post season test in 2017 and helps to propel the airflow into more promising positions that would otherwise be affected by the turbulence created by the safety structure.
All in all the VJM11 most likely represents a reasonable leap forward, with the team having identified weaknesses in last years car and rectified them for 2018. We’ll know more about how it lines up against the rest of the field when their true aerodynamic package materialises but one thing's for sure they’ll continue to wage war with the bigger, well funded teams that they shouldn’t be able to.

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 -
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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 -

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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 -
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