F1 – Technical Updates for Barcelona

With the end of fly away races, three weeks gap to European races is the perfect opportunity for teams to find that extra tenths in the wind tunnel and reflect on technical decision that they have made before in the previous Grand Prix. The result? Most of the time is a major revision on the cars come Barcelona. Generally, European races are the the races of development. It is the name of the game, a cat and a mouse game. Or a game of copy or be left out. Another thing to note is, beginning from the European races, media and pundits alike will soon be establishing facts and figures more concretely.

So what technical updates to expect in Barcelona? These are my findings..

1. Outboard Mirrors

Barcelona will see the ultimate end on outboard mirrors. These outboard mirrors are said to have render less visibility for the drivers. Under GPDA, it was decided that it must go. FIA gave the green light and it was unanimously agreed by all the teams. It is said, the effect on aerodynamics is not as severe hence I don’t expect major revision on the sidepods.

Force India’s outboard mirrors.

China specs onboard mirrors. As far as aerodynamics are concerned, the mirrors were simply moved onboard and the aero part which holds the outboard mirrors before is still preserved .

Most of the teams are running these outboard mirrors as of current namely Ferrari, Force India, Red Bull, Sauber, HRT and Williams. Force India however has taken the early step by introducing the updates in China as can be seen from the above picture. Force India has brought both mirror configuration to China for the purpose of comparison I presume.

2. The F-Duct

Ferrari Version of the F-Duct made an appearance in China.

Ferrari, Sauber, Williams and Mercedes have now joined in on the F-Duct bandwagon having seen its success with McLaren in easily registering the highest top speed in all the Grand Prix so far. In China, these three teams have tested their own version of the system. It’s rumoured that Ferrari is running a slightly different version than the rest. It’s called “Blown Rear Wing”. A weird terminology I have to admit. The difference lies in the driver is not taking any part in activating the system.

As of now, it’s only speculative at best in attempting to describe the intricate detailing for each system installed in those cars. Anyway, although the parts have been tested in China, I doubt it will see its debut in the race tomorrow.

Michael Schumacher is seen testing the new Mercedes F-Duct. Look at the mid-section of the rear wing tubing hook.

I expect Red Bull and the rest will somehow join the bandwagon sooner or later. The more the procrastination, the harder it is to get it right in the future. The three weeks gap after China is just the right moment for the R&D team to put their brains on the table in understanding the intricacies of the F-Duct.

Before we part on this subject, did you know how the name “F-Duct ” came about? Well on the frontal section of the nose on the McLaren cars, there is a big “Vodafone” written on it. The air duct is located on the “F” wording of the word “Vodafone”. Pretty clever, initially I thought it came about specific scientific terminology, hmm, how I was fooled!

3. Corrective Aerodynamics Package

Virgin Racing will introduce new chassis to cater for new fuel tanks. The new chassis will be longer hence requiring a major revision on the aerodynamics. This revision came about when Virgin underestimated the fuel consumption figures for race day. It’s said on full engine power, the Virgin will not be able to complete races. To add insult to the injury, the new chassis will take Virgin a step further backward since all aerodynamics data from previous chassis is now not valid anymore.

Lotus has the most boxiest looks on the grid having lean on the conservative route. While it proved reliable among the new teams, it lacked the pace as well.

Lotus Racing will be looking to a whole new game after deciding to go away from the conservative route. Understandably the boxy looking chassis they are using now is a result of uncertainties in many things. For example the engine, when you have compact area at the back of the car streamlining it for better aerodynamics, the breathing room for the engine will reduce. The Ferrari engine failure is the perfect testimony of this philosophy. Lotus Racing now has the data it needs for the engine and the rest of the crucial components such as hydraulics. With those figures at hand, better aerodynamics compromise is expected to be achieved. And as a Malaysian, I certainly hope the best brain in Lotus is capable of pulling something brilliant this time around.

For Formula One fans out there, take note of these things. As Mika Hakkinen put it, in order to appreciate F1 better, you need to learn about it. F1 is not only about on track action, the action behind the scenes can sometimes be just as interesting as well.

Editorial : Mu’az Zakaria
Image Source : Force India, Lotus Racing, Mercedes Petronas GP

3 Responses to “F1 – Technical Updates for Barcelona”
  1. joe says:

    wow.. i’m very

    enjoy reading your post. great.

  2. Vessey says:

    I really like this site and F1 – Technical Updates for Barcelona . I read about you on another site I found on Yahoo and thought they had great views as well.

  3. Richard says:

    Nice updates. it seems the f-duct has become the standard nowadays. Surprisingly RedBull is not particularly interested on it.

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