Open top menu
29 Jul 2012
no image

F1 can be a confusing place for the uninitiated, on one hand you have the battle of the drivers and their skill behind the wheel but on the other you have the ongoing development battle the teams have to produce the best piece of machinery for their drivers. The FIA set the regulations the teams need to adhere to when designing their cars but this is where the waters start to muddy. The rules can be pushed and bent to suit the requirement of the particular team and can be interpreted either on their own or in combination with another rule. Teams also use syntax to their advantage and so if a rule cannot be determined to be correct one way or another they will use this to their advantage. You will have undoubtedly have heard 'it's not within the spirit of the rules' unfortunately for the FIA the rules are written and if they are not correctly worded the teams will use this to their advantage.

In most circumstances the pressure to re-word/ban a new system/innovation/component won't come from the FIA originally but will be insisted upon by the other teams who feel another is gaining an unfair advantage. The inherent problem with one team finding an advantage is that it takes time, money and resources for other teams to understand, develop and implement their own iteration for their package. Dependent on the particular component this can be extremely difficult to implement due to the design being intrinsically linked to the cars original design path.

Some of my Twitter followers may have seen me use the hashtag #InnovateOrGoHome of which is my way of siding with the team who face their innovation being banned. Innovation is one of the key elements of F1 and drives forward it's position as the pinnacle of motorsport. Design features seen at the top tier of motorsport will invariably find their way to our road cars of the future and so choking development could be bad for us all.

This season has seen Red Bull seemingly pushing the limits more than most but they are not the only team to have to change their car specification in order to comply with the FIA's regulations. However as double world champions the spotlight is on the Red Bull team and so whenever a team can find a way to question the legality of their car it would be fruitful to do so.

The holes used by Red Bull in floor of the car in front of the wheels (used last at Monaco) was a response to a similar concept still being employed by Ferrari and Sauber. Red Bull in this situation knew that their design was infact a hole and not a slot like Sauber & Ferrari's iterations but used the design none the less. My articles from the time on this subject can be found here: &

At Hockenheim Red Bull ran a pedal map that acted in contravention of how Article 5.5.3 was meant but as the statement was ambiguous the team couldn't be penalised. The FIA have since moved to clarify the wording of this regulation in order to prevent it's usage in the future. Essentially the map used by Red Bull in Hockenheim limited the torque available to the driver by offsetting the pedal position to the power being produced. This aided in both increased drivability and a more continuous exhaust airflow allowing the exhaust gasses to provide aerodynamic advantage even when the driver was curtailing his throttle usage.

In Montreal the FIA investigated Red Bull's use of adjustment of the front suspension by hand via the driver. This would glean a large advantage if done between qualifying and the race as in Q1 the car would be at it's lightest (low fuel run) after which point the car is filled with race fuel and so the equilibrium of the car is altered. Being able to adjust either the height/stiffness of the car could lead to a large advantage. This is an operation that under Article 34.5 would mean starting from the pitlane if done during Parc Ferme conditions (ie between sessions) So what does this actually mean was being done I hear you say. Well the adjustment limits the minimum ride height thus allowing an unchanged aero platform giving a similar aero platform whether full or empty of fuel. Its unclear if the system was being employed by the team and whether the adjustment could be made by hand or by foot. If it were in use it would be another situation in which Red Bull have used the wording in the regulations in order to gain an advantage.

This leads me onto McLaren who themselves this season have fell foul of using the wording in the regulations in order to try and glean an advantage. In China the FIA clarified their stance on the way McLaren had designed the tea tray area of the car. The area has an allowable tolerance of 3mm in the design process, however McLaren were intentionally designing their tea tray to be at the limit of the tolerance. This allowed them to run with less ride height at the front as the tea tray almost tilted upward.

Before the start of the season Lotus had also developed their own reactive ride solution which was suitably banned by the FIA in fear that a war would form between the teams to gain both a stability and aerodynamic advantage. The system had already caused a stir amongst the teams and both Mercedes and Ferrari were said to be a fair way into having their own variant before the FIA banned the device.

F1 teams will always push the boundaries of the regulations put out before them and personally I see no reason to stop this. Without innovation F1 would become a spec series which is something that would be of detriment not only to the sport but the road car industry at large. They may have been banned but without innovation we wouldn't have had ground effects, the Brabham fan car, mass damper, F Ducts, Double Deck Diffusers, Blown Diffusers, Double DRS etc etc. In my opinion as long as they don't provide an issue to safety innovation in F1 should be lauded not frowned upon.  I have seen many outbursts through social media by fans unhappy that Red Bull have continuously 'broken the rules' this season, I don't see it this way they are simply pushing the boundaries.  A decision on it's legality should be provided instantly by the FIA and the rules adjusted appropriately if it's deemed to be inappropriate. This would stop the massive race teams have to gain a similar or better advantage from the device(s) in question. Much like teams adopting Double Deck Diffusers or F Ducts when they were deemed legal putting a huge strain on both resources and costs for the teams. F1 for me wouldn't be the same sport without the current technological environment we have so I part company by once again saying #InnovateOrGoHome
Read more
27 Jul 2012
no image

This is the second installment of the #TechF1 Podcast in association with Krit from

All of the relating shownotes (pictures and links can be found at:

You can play the podcast direct:

Or Subscribe via Itunes:

Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave any feedback or questions you might have about the show below
Read more
20 Jul 2012
Lotus E20 DDRS (Double/Super DRS/F-Duct) -  (Hockenheim)

Lotus had come to Hockenheim already stating they had 'interesting' upgrades to test. The interesting upgrade centres around a DDRS system. Lotus race pace this season has been amongst the best but due to a lack of raw pace during qualifying and some unfortunate luck they have been found slightly adrift on race day. In an attempt to bring their car closer to the front in qualifying a DDRS system should add more pace throughout qualifying where DRS is unlimited in its usage and maybe add a small increase in performance during the race.

Unlike the complicated Mercedes DDRS system that employs tubes from the Front to Rear wings the Lotus system echoes the original F Duct principles:

The two ducts either side of the airbox inlet feed air down the engine cover toward ayet unspecified source as soon as more information is available I'll post it. However I'd hazard a guess at either the starter hole or due to the central portion of the Diffuser Gurney having a slot the air exits out the bottom section of the engine covers cooling exit. Either of these will effectively help the diffuser and increase rear end downforce. 

As we can see in the picture below a small feed (Periscope) is also present as the exchanger between the bottom wing element and the collector at the beam wing. This acts as the switch and is actuated by the DRS flap above being opened (Much like the Mercedes variant, although again without the necessary close up shots of that area I can't be 100% accurate) When DRS is active the air usually feeding the lower section of the engine cover or starter hole is then drawn upward and exits out of the rear of the engine cover, the addition of a cleverly shaped cover / monkey seat helps to keep the flow managed without disrupting the flow as it exits from the rear of the car.

To break it down here is a couple of quick pictures I mocked up in MSPaint in order to show the flow pattern when DRS is active and inactive
Above: DRS is inactive and so the air being scavenged by the ducts next to the airbox inlet is sent to the lower exit (Possibly the Starter hole or the lower cooling exit)
Above: With DRS active holes hidden under the Rear Wings Main Plane act use the air to re-divert the air from the airbox inlets and exit it out of the engine cover cooling hole (which is now extended by the addition of the shapely Monkey Seat)

Above: Showing the system from the rear the engine cover now extends close to the appropriately shaped monkey seat which extends the engine covers reach past the beam wing.  On top of the engine cover you can see the periscope tubing which connects the cover to rear wing plane and acts as part of the fluid switch

Above: Slotted Diffuser Gurney as mentioned above the airflow is most likely exiting from the lower portion of the engine cover and having the slot in the Gurney here will intensify the effect of the diffuser in central portion

Above In this image you can see where the lower portion of the engine cover exits (Circled in Red) and does so in the same region of the diffuser gurney slot aft of it

Above: Basic Diagram showing the predicted airflow pattern of the Lotus System: Yellow indicates the airflow entering the ducts next to the airbox which when DRS is inactive exits lower in the cooling exit (light blue) in order to boost the diffusers effectiveness. When DRS is active a hole in the lower rear wing plane is uncovered and air interacts via the periscope duct (Green) and acts much like the old F Duct system moving the airflow to the top exit of the engine cover and through the Monkey Seat (Red)

Other side effects of the Airbox Ear Ducts

The other interesting aspect behind the utilisation of such ducts around the airbox is for 'air spillage', over recent seasons this hasn't been a problem as the engine has been continually consuming air (Off Throttle Diffuser Blowing).  However now the use of off throttle blowing has been curtailed when the driver lifts out of the throttle the required amount of air entering the airbox inlet isn't so large.  This effectively creates a blockage and so the airflow stagnates (builds up) and then cascades over the sides of the engine cover.  This type of airflow is disruptive and effects the bodywork aft of the airbox.  As this occurs during the braking and turning in phase it's quite an undesirable effect as it reduces the effectiveness of the Rear Wing aswell as any residual effect on downforce the exhaust plume may have.  The ducts added to the sides of the airbox inlet act as catchment devices for the airflow during these off throttle moments.  This helps to keep airflow heading toward the rear wing uniform resulting in a downforce gain during braking/cornering.  During normal driving conditions the ducts simply carry additional airflow to the rear of the car.

In summary the Lotus system should boost downforce performance whilst the DRS is inactive and lift the effect when DRS is in use.  Ideal for Lotus' quest for a better qualifying performance and will help with additional downforce during the race

03/08/12 I have added a new article in regard to Lotus using the system for drag reduction via a passive duct system:

Images Copyright Sutton Images 
Read more
The new McLaren Aero Package (Hockenheim)

The McLaren team were supposed to bring a large raft of upgrades to their home GP at Silverstone, unfortunately the rain put pay to the majority of testing time during FP1 & FP2 and so they decided to abandon the larger part of their upgrade package. The upgrades / adjustments that were run at Silverstone I mentioned in my roundup:

At Hockenheim the team have their new sidepod, exhaust configuration on show which features a new cooling entry profile at the front and much more tightly packaged slope toward the exhaust channel. The frontal undercut has been smoothed and so is less aggressive whilst at the rear the overhanging bodywork that includes the exhuast channel that overhangs the floor has a more aggressive undercut. Taking a cue from Ferrari the team have also added some shark gills aft of the exhaust channel in the engine cover.

I'm yet to find any pictures of the front brake housing / assembly to see if they have carried over the pit stop adjustable front brake housing from Silverstone. (This was not run during the race)

Above: Hockenheim build up, notice the different sculpting to the underside of the sidepod compared to the previous package below.
Above: For reference here is the previous sculpting for the sidepod undercut which appears to have a more angular cut under the cooling entry.

Above: We can see from the picture above the much more rounded corner profiles of the sidepod cooling entry rather than the angular ones used previously (Flow Viz on the top right corner of the sidepod for evaluation) 

Above: A closer look at the vortex generator fins a 3rd fin has been added to the top of the sidepod to direct the airflow

Above: Jenson at Silverstone as reference to show the more angular sidepod cooling entry

Above: A more detailed look at the sidepod cooling entry at Hockenheim

Above: Great angle across the floor to see how the bodywork in the exhaust channel hangs over the floor

Above: It's clear to see how the bodywork drops away from the frontal edge of the sidepod towards the exhaust channel.  This is has been implemented to aid the downwash toward the exhaust channel.  Aft of the exhaust channel you can also see the addition of the 3 shark gills (similar to Ferrari's design) which will eject some of the airflow from the internal sidepod/engine cover flow.  This helps to condition the airflow in this attracting the flow toward the coke bottle region.

Above: Rear Wing Top plane has been shortened, this will have an effect on both AoA available and also DRS's effectiveness. From this angle it's clear to see the slope that the sidepod now takes toward the exhaust channel

Above: Front Wing as used previously in Silverstone, this wing has vertical dividers around halfway on the wing planes.

Images used are copyright their original owners: Sutton Images &
Read more
14 Jul 2012
Off Throttle Exhaust Blowing in 2012

The use of Off Throttle exhaust blowing is not something the teams will simply forget about, with anything in life once learnt you can't simply unlearn it.  Some of the teams are pushing the limits of what is able to be achieved with this years rules in regards to off throttle mapping.

During 2011 the teams were using aggressive off throttle maps in order to get a continued exhaust gas flow whilst the driver was off throttle using 'Hot Blowing'.  Put simply when the driver lifted off the accelerator pedal the ECU continued to supply a small injection of fuel but cut the ignition, the net result is that the fuel still combusts due to residual heat but doesn't provide the same force it would if ignited.  This results in an increased exhaust gas speed, effectively allowing a transition period whereby the driver isn't robbed of the rear downforce that the exhaust gases generate when the throttle is applied.
It is also possible to 'Cold Blow' which is essentially a leaning out process wherby you introduce less fuel to air ratio up until the point whereby you're 'Off Throttle' where the exhaust valves are still open, pumping nearly all of the air from the cylinders.

For 2012 the FIA altered the rules to try and restrict the teams using off throttle blowing to aerodynamically influence their cars.  Firstly by restricting the exhaust outlets to vent to atmosphere atop of the bodywork rather than placed inside the bodywork above the floor.  Secondly they amended the regulations in regard to engine mapping, torque deliverance, clutch position/usage etc.  Although the FIA would love nothing more than to have Off Throttle mapping totally outlawed the engine manufacturers requested that a certain element remained in order to safeguard the engines.  This obviously leaves room for the teams to pick holes in the regulations in order to further extract aerodynamic advantage from off throttle blowing, be it Hot or Cold Blowing to create downforce.

It is clear that the effect has been dramatically reduced from 2011 where the cars sounded distinctly different to how they do now under deceleration / cornering. (See the video below)

However I think what it is important to realise is that the Off Throttle blowing is still happening even if it's effect is dampened.  It's usage this season is not as aggressive as before but it still allows a transition period for the downforce to dissipate from the car rather than it suddenly be robbed.  It's also important to realise that it's not just one team that is using this as an advantage but some clearly push the boundaries further than others.

Melbourne 2012 and the teams were using Off Throttle Blowing but the sound is much more attenuated meaning the effect has been quelled.  However some teams definitely still have a more audible off throttle blowing sound.  In the video below (Thanks MrJokerman001) we can hear many occasions where both Red Bull and Sauber have a more distinct over run note (Start with Red Bull at around 0.11 and compare the deceleration to that of the Ferrari following.  At 1.06 the person shooting moves to another section of the track and you can hear the difference between the Red Bull, Sauber and Williams over the next few minutes)

At Barcelona this time we can hear below that McLaren are utilising off throttle at around 0.22 in comparison to the cars that proceeded it.

Valencia: A video I have posted in the past showing the Red Bull use of off throttle in low speed corners

As the ability to control off throttle usage filters down through the teams we will see all of the teams pushing the limits imposed upon them to gain an aerodynamic advantage.  As we can see in the video below from Silverstone (Thanks fraserjhamilton) Caterham were using off throttle blowing to assist.

Red Bull are now also using a Resonator / Expansion chamber in their exhaust which will not only add the benefits mentioned in my previous blog post: it will attenuate the off throttle sound produced.

I have also previously talked about my theory of using Cylinder Deactivation in order to produce a more successful off throttle application, perhaps my intent behind talking about that subject wasn't clear enough but I'll try to briefly touch on this subject again now. (Having previously talked about cold blowing earlier in the post)

The advantage of Cold Blowing, Cylinder Deactivation & the Exhaust Resonator / Expansion Chamber would be that you would have a more tractable car.  Lets look at the engine cycle to further explain my thoughts but we'll do it from the premise of a 4 cylinder engine to allow for an easier explanation.
Lets imagine that we are deactivating cylinder 1 & 3 that means you would normally have the inlet and exhaust valves closed and no ignition fuel sent to those cylinders during the piston stroke. However in order to cold blow lets imagine we continue to open the exhaust valve after the normal power stroke, the gas usually stored for the next cycle will be dispensed and cold blow.  If this effect could be switched between cylinder banks after each cycle you would have cylinders 1&3 producing cold blow whilst 2&4 would produce the regular power cycle after this cycle is complete switch to 1&3 in the power cycle and 2&4 cold blowing.  The largest advantage Red Bull would currently have here is the stored gas in the resonator / expansion chamber helps create a pressure drop in the cylinder sufficient enough to draw more air into the cylinder than would normally be the case when the inlet valve opens.

The teams are always intent on taking advantage of loopholes within the rules but in their quest for more off throttle effect perhaps we may see more cases of influence from other sectors to amplify it's effect.

(I have used amateur footage during this post as the footage available via the Broadcasters is always covered by commentary and onboard footage doesn't allow the sound to come across as well)
Read more
12 Jul 2012
Red Bull Exhaust Resonator / Expansion Chamber

 Above: The original picture from AMuS showing the Resonator/Expansion Chamber

 Above: The image adjusted to show the exhaust and the resonator chamber more clearly

Silverstone saw yet another twist in the application of Red Bull's exhaust package as they added a resonator chamber to the collector.  From the picture above trace the path the exhaust takes from the primaries toward the collector (single point where the 4 runners meet) you will see there are two pipes, the one that goes left is the exhaust outlet and the one that continues vertically is the resonator/expansion chamber. 
Tied in with Red Bull Off Throttle blowing using a chamber like this could smooth the transition from On throttle to totally Off Throttle.

When the engine is on throttle the exhaust gas moves through the pipes to the collector at which point it will split to the resonator/expansion chamber and the exhaust outlet. This process continues up until the point whereby the chamber is full and the air inside the chamber at full compression, this then allows the air to move freely to the exhaust outlet. When the drivers comes off the throttle the exhaust gas dissipates and so the air compressed in the chamber flows out through the exhaust outlet. This helps to smooth the transition from on to off throttle minimizing the aerodynamic losses which in turn allows the driver to pick up the throttle earlier as more downforce is available during cornering.

The usage of such a pipe is obviously not something that has been done in haste and will have been tuned to the exact requirements of the Renault engine. Due to the packaging required for the RB8 exhaust ramp exit the tuning length of the exhaust has been compromised, this would lead to a decline in performance during a set rev range. (This is not exclusive to just the RB8's packaging) The use of the resonance chamber allows both an airflow and sound shift further down the exhaust mimicking the effect of larger/longer exhaust runners.

Timing the Inlet and Exhaust events could also bore an advantage in terms of scavenging more airflow back into the engine cylinder giving a larger reaction during the engines power cycle. Technically you would leave the exhaust valve open for slightly longer than usual on overrun in order to recapture some of the air from the resonance chamber, this can be reused in the Intake and Compression strokes to give a larger power and exhuast stroke.

It is also plausible that the chamber offers further benefits in the shape of the Kadenacy Effect . The Kadenacy Effect is the sound wave created by combustion. As the air leaves the combustion chamber through the exhaust valve a sound wave is part of the airflow (positive wave) when it reaches its outlet a negative wave returns as the exhaust valve closes. Due to the resonance chamber the frequencies involved will be altered and help with the extraction of the gas that would normally be held in the exhaust awaiting the next engine cycle, extracting more airflow than an exhaust the same size but without the resonance chamber.

The effectiveness of a well tuned resonance chamber in combination with the now limited off throttle blowing will obviously have a larger effect on the Off Throttle effect than without the chamber.

Ferrari have already been using a Resonator / Expansion Chamber this season but I feel theirs is primarily focused at tuning the exhaust length rather than utilising the benefits that can be gained under off throttle events.

Above: Ferrari's Resonator / Expansion Chamber via / Sutton Images
Read more
9 Jul 2012
7 Jul 2012
Caterham CT-01 Silverstone Upgrade Package

As you may have read in my previous article Caterham are a team that are looking to achieve far more than their budget may allow. The wealth of expertise the team is now attracting makes them a great proposition for the future but as that article proves there is a disparity between front and lower tier teams. In F1 you must run to stand still and so even the small teams must look to make big gains in order that they aren't really trailing in the wake of everyone else come the end of the season.
This weekend for me really goes to show Caterham's ambition with almost a B Spec car arriving at their home grand prix.

Front Wing

Front Wing Selection Available for Silverstone (New Wing at the Bottom)

It may seem like a small alteration but as we know in F1 the finite details can make a huge difference. The Wing planes have lost some of their bulk but the overall ethos remains the same, the largest visual change here is the depth of the cascades and them being pushed more inward from the endplate.

Sidepod Flow Conditioner

I chose this rearward angle as it best shows the seperation or gap in the flow conditioner

Caterham decided to go with a similar design path as Ferrari here utilising a split in the element. Usually these flow conditioners will simply aid in turning the airflow that without them would spill outwards back toward the rear of the car. They also manage the airflow spilt from the tyre as it moves left to right under cornering. Having this element split allows the airflow to be managed and energised creating an airflow wall down the side of the sidepod. This will minimize the airflow that downwashes over the top of the sidepod spilling laterally off the side of the car.

Rear of Sidepod / Exhaust Solution

I have seen others mentioning the exhaust tested by the team at Mugello as the version we see this weekend but as we can see from the pictures below this particular exhaust is actually a new component. The Mugello spec was a response to the original Red Bull crossover/tunnel system with the flow exiting into the coke bottle area and converging with the exhuast plume. Caterham only tested the RBR style exhaust system on the second day of the test and abandoned the setup for the final day confirming that like Red Bull this method provided less aero stability.

 Caterham CT-01 Test Package for Day 2 in Mugello

The new exhaust solution (below) is akin to the McLaren style of exhuast with an exhaust channel that overhangs the rear floor in order to try and converge all the airflow into coke bottle region using the exhaust plume.

Whilst on the subject of exhuast flow I'd like to present you with a statement from Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader:

"Silverstone is a power circuit, one where the drivers should spend up to 64% of the lap on full throttle in qualifying. Obviously the weather conditions today meant that the challenges for us on the engine side change, and we have to work very closely with the team’s engineers to decide what gear ratios will give us maximum performance in what could be a dry qualifying session, but a wet race.

"Today we have also been working with the team on optimising engine performance with the updates that have been brought to this race. The main area of focus for us is the revised exhausts, a version of which were first tried at the test in Mugello but which have been revised and refined since that test and require a series of new engine maps that help the driver optimise all the performance characteristics of the engine around this circuit. The immediate feedback we have had from both drivers is positive so, despite the weather today, this has been another good day for us and the whole team."

Engine Cover

Each circuit requires a different demand in terms of engine cooling and so the cover used here at Silverstone has been revised for the aero demands and to be in line with the adjusted bodywork we see around the exhaust solution.

Silverstone Engine Cover with enlarged cooling exit blowing the Monkey Seat / Beam Wing

Canada Rear End with Small Cooling Outlet and slimline Engine Cover

Monkey Seat

Monkey Seat that was first introduced in Valencia with a centralized Stalk mounted via the gearbox in the same way Williams do with theirs

This Williams-esque Monkey Seat uses a stalk mounted atop of the gearbox in order to gain additional downforce. It's exclusion from the usual beam wing assembly means its interaction in terms of flex on that component is minimised allowing the beam wing to function independently. The other thing to consider with this stalk style Monkey seat is that it allows the seat to act with the force impacted on it allowing it to move on it's axis. This will allow the seat to add benefit in both cornering and reducing it's drag element as it almost reclines at higher speed.

Although these are the larger, more visible elements bought to Silverstone in order to bring the team forward. I'm sure there are many more mechanical updates to take advantage of the additional downforce these elements produce.  I'll add more as the weekend proceeds and the images become available for me to compare from the previous race weekends.
Read more

Total Pageviews