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I'm Matthew Somerfield, a freelance journalist focused on the technical elements of Formula One. It has been a pleasure to provide content via this site for the last 5 years, which has led me to several paid freelancing jobs along the way. I'm currently plying my trade with and working alongside the legend that is Giorgio Piola.

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6 May 2012

Firstly I'd like you to take this blog post with a pinch of salt, it's something I've been thinking about and wanted to get down on paper, so seeing as I had a little spare time this afternoon I thought I would. I'm not saying it's legal (although I see no reason it wouldn't be) or cost effective in terms of running the CFD, Simulations & Wing Tunnel in order to gain what could be a small amount of time on track. However if it's viable it should give a small performance jump in qualifying and make the car quicker for overtaking opportunities in the race and also return some additional downforce at all other times.

When the FIA deemed the use of additional systems employed by DRS legal in the Mercedes/Lotus dispute the FIA made the following statement:

1. There are many different parts of bodywork fitted to cars from a variety of teams, which have been designed specifically to take advantage of the change in airflow caused by the activation of the DRS.
2. The modifications on Cars 7 and 8 are examples of the above.
3. The Mercedes design complies with all bodywork geometric and stiffness regulations.
4. The design is entirely passive and has no moving parts whatsoever.
5. The sole purpose of the "DRS" (or the "system" as referred to in the regulations) as stated in Article 3.18.3, is to improve overtaking. The Mercedes design is completely consistent with this objective.
6. . Noting the agreement of Lotus that "if the hole currently located in the rear end plate was located elsewhere and permanently exposed, this would be acceptable", there is no reason why the locating of the hole is the current position on Cars 7 and 8 should not also be acceptable. 7. In relation to the 5 questions posed by Lotus, all 5 of which Lotus assert (and the Stewards agree) if answered in the affirmative, would rule the vehicles ineligible;
(i) Article 3.15 does not apply because it does not directly use driver movement, as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. The alteration is indirectly (and not directly) consequential to the movement of the driver adjustable bodywork ("DRS")
(ii) The second question posed is not relevant in light of (i) above
(iii) The Mercedes design is not a "system" or "device" in its own right, it is part of a design made to take advantage of the change in airflow caused by the activation of the DRS (refer 1 above)
(iv) The Mercedes design is not activated by driver movement. It is a consequence of a change of position of the driver adjustable bodywork, which is permitted under the regulations.
(v) The Mercedes design does appear to alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the car by reducing the drag, however this is consistent with the intent of the regulations.

Taking all of this into account we can also surmise that should another passive aero device be influenced by a slot under the DRS wing the FIA would concede that it be legal too. This brings into question what is also achievable in terms of duct style bodywork when using DRS as the fluidic switch.

The Mercedes system relies heavily on being designed at the same time as the chassis with enough space having been left in and around the cockpit and the bulkhead for the tubing. Perhaps then we abandon the idea of using the front wing and look in other regions of bodywork that could be prudent for blowing or stalling. As with anything aero related in F1 the exhaust region would offer the biggest gain in this area but it's perhaps not the only region you could/would want to affect.

With the 2012 regulations requiring a periscope design exhaust we have seen many variations on location/orientation/position of exhausts in order to manipulate exhaust gas. The teams know due to it's velocity the exhaust offers an airflow that if channeled correctly can provide significant downforce. McLaren's exhaust position may at first seem a little cumbersome but it attains what the other teams are now trying to copy. Using the Coanda effect it manipulates the airflow from both on top and the side of the sidepod allowing the airflow to stay attached for longer and converging on the rear floor helping to seal the diffuser below. Adjusting the angle of exhaust exit will have an effect on how the manipulation occurs like opening/closing a window for more or less airflow.

Each engine type will have different demands on the tuning lengths required for the exhausts so manipulating their positioning will have a push and pull effect in terms of engine and aerodynamic effect. The openings available for the exhausts to exhale into are also mandated in the regulations in terms of surface area. This can also limit the potential extraction of more aerodynamic effect.

So why am I talking about exhausts I hear you say when we could be talking about DRS ducts, well I’m getting there.

In modern F1 the consensus has been to duct the airflow created internally in the sidepods inbound and out of the cooling duct at the rear of the engine cover. Ferrari and Sauber are this year exhausting the air slightly inbound of this with Ferrari using their 'Acer Ducts' and Sauber a similar solution.
As a requirement of cooling, this air needs to move through the car so why not use it? As that’s the case why don't we use it to aerodynamically influence somewhere else? It's obviously not going to provide the same force as an exhaust would but by manipulating space with tuned tubing you can speed up the flow. Due to the regulations you can't simply place holes in any position you so desire and would have to have to open up an area of bodywork at the rear of the sidepod. I'm not saying any of this definitively legal I'm just proposing a situation if it were  (Mercedes have used some cooling louvres in a similar position this season).

If we use the image I have mocked up below I'll try to explain my theory.

In RED is the area of the floor which relates to the diffuser below. In order to better utilise the diffuser you want to get as much air as possible traveling over this area.

The GREEN section highlights the most neutral position you could put the exhaust in but this comes with a compromise as the air cascades over the top of the Sidepod it converges with the flow that comes from around the side of the sidepod. The 2 flows won't interact with one another very well as they will differ in speed and the airflow contra rotates against the sidepod as it trys to escape into the lower area of pressure (Behind the Sidepod)

The ORANGE section represents the position being most commonly used this season in order to help manage both the downwash over the sidepod and the sideflow from around the sidepod accelerating and converging the two flows into a more uniform flow whilst also manipulating their direction both down and inward toward the RED section of floor.

The YELLOW section represents the open section of bodywork I mention to blow out the air from the sidepod/radiator entry. (Many options of shape/orientation/position could be used here to utilise the ejected airflow) This would have the effect of reattaching the flow around the bodywork for longer toward the exhaust outlet allowing the position to be angled further toward the GREEN section in turn pushing more directional flow over the RED section of the floor.

This of course could be used in a passive way just like Ferrari are trying to do with the Acer Duct or it could be tied to Super DRS, using DRS as part of the fluid switch the airflow would travel down the Rear Wing Endplates, through the Beam Wing, through the tubing inside the bodywork to the fluid switch where it will redirect the flow from the sidepod exit to the rear end cooling outlet. The net result of this will be a net gain in downforce until DRS is activated at which point the airflow from around the side of the sidepod will no longer interact / stay attached to the sidepod for as long and so the diffuser's downforce level would drop reducing the amount of drag.

In Summary

There are many ways in which using DRS as a means of turning bodywork on or off could be effective. If a team decides to utilise the system in a region that is effected by exhaust gas the results could be much larger. The decision now that a Super DRS / DDRS system is legal is, is it worth the cost and time to develop a system that can give a huge difference on track?


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