16 Feb 2013
The first 4 day test at Jerez was conducted and concluded a week ago and now the teams will descend on Barcelona in the next stage of their pre season tests, starting on 19th until 22nd February. As we all know it is difficult to conclude from the times set any concrete evidence of where the teams will match up this season. The times we see aren't representative due to many factors including fuel load, tyre life/degradation, powertrain conservation and general setup work.
I'd like to look at some of the interesting features we saw during the Jerez test that weren't present/obvious on the launch cars:
Red Bull and Lotus Tea Tray Support
Both the Renault powered cars have implemented changes in this area which as we know is key in the way in which air is moved downstream to the diffuser. I'm not strictly insinuating that their supports have anything clever going on, however as the area is changed from their 2012 design I feel it's worth mentioning.
Ferrari Nose Hole
Above: Nose used Day 4 of testing at Jerez allows us to see an exposed duct in the F138's bulkhead
Having stepped out of the drivers seat Massa remarked that the car is a clear improvement over the early version of the F2012. He did however highlight the fact that driver cooling needed to be looked at. In this respect of Day 4 whilst in the hands of Pedro De La Rosa the team furnished the F138 with a new nose that revealed a much deeper and wider hole under the belly of the F138's nose. Speculation has and will continue in regard to the holes true purpose but the fact remains it's primary function is driver cooling.
The holes size in comparison to the aperture on it's predecessor and other cars using such a placement has many speculating further ramifications from it's placement. The size of the inlet could assist in the cooling of electronics and/or KERS aft of it whilst others have speculated that it's appearance could result in the team harnessing it's aerodynamic placement for other purposes such as DRD.
The nose of the F138 has been further raised from the position utilised on the F2012 and so it could be argued that the holes introduction could also aid in the drawbacks of the extended surface area under the nose (Boundary Layer Buildup) a change in profile in this region could mitigate further reaching airflow enhancements further down the car at the Sidepods.
McLaren Turning Vanes
McLaren opted for a very neutral design in this area last season following their adoption of the higher nose tip from Mugello onwards and I often wondered if there was a gain to be had by being more adventurous. Through their adoption of a Vanity Panel in 2013 the team have raised the nose of the MP4/28 further than they did last season and with this even more air is driven under the car. To control and manipulate the air under the nose the team have installed a pair of three tier Turning Vanes much like the two tier ones we have seen used by Red Bull and Ferrari in the past.
Lotus & Mercedes DRD
Lotus investigated the merits of DRD in the middle of the 2012 season and later shelved it, prefering instead to concentrate on a Semi-Coanda exhaust layout instead. The team have already stated that they will once again assess it's merits for 2013 and started doing so (if only very briefly) on Day 4 at Jerez. We do however know by the mere fact that the Airbox 'Ear's still adorn the E21 Chassis that this claim is serious and I suspect more work will be done in the forthcoming tests at Barcelona. In a contrast to their 2012 version the brief showing of DRD on the Lotus showed them with a revised Periscope. Previously their Periscope had met with the Mainplane whereas this new iteration (Like the Mercedes variant of 2012) finished short of the Mainplane.
However I'm not completely convinced this was Lotus showing their 2013 version as we can see they were missing the trailing part of the Engine Cover, Outlet Exhaust and Monkey Seat arrangement. Furthermore on close inspection of the Periscope no blow holes are present. So I look forward to seeing what the team test in Barcelona.