Top five pre-season technical innovations

Top five pre-season technical innovations

10 March 2014 – Every year, Formula 1 car launches are eagerly anticipated events. But the hype was even greater this season, with the sport's latest regulation overhaul coming into force. After the trio of tests, GPUpdate.net technical guru Matt Somerfield has put together a top five list of 2014's technical innovations to date.

1. McLaren 'Wishbone Wings'
McLaren made some intrinsic errors in the design of last year's car and were eager to make up ground so abandoned development of the MP4-28 early in order to concentrate on their 2014 machine. There had been for some time talk that McLaren would utilise a 'revolutionary' rear suspension on the MP4-29 but when it was unveiled ahead of pre-season testing back at the MTC in Woking, bar a slightly offset upper rear wishbone, the car didn't seem to sport said 'revolutionary' suspension.



However, once the team arrived at Jerez it was clear that the wishbone arrangement was what the team had been working on, with larger appendages featuring on the suspension elements. Offsetting and doglegging the rear suspension elements has meant that they are placed more rearward, in a location more indicative of the outgoing Beam Wing. McLaren, therefore, are trying to replicate the airflow structures that were generated by the Beam Wing in the past, with a low pressure zone created behind the 'Wishbone Wings', helping the Diffuser and Rear Wing to work together (upwash). 

The net gain in downforce, however, would also come with a net increase in drag and so the team have shaped the elements to mitigate this loss. Furthermore, either side of the crash structure we find a tier (marked in red) of ejection points which allow the collated high pressure to be fed into the upwash, further aiding in generating the aerodynamic link between the Diffuser and Rear Wing, creating a more aero balanced car.

The arrangement requires consideration to both aerodynamic and mechanical layouts (suspension geometry, torque loading etc.) and so copying it may prove to be more of a task than many teams are willing to undertake. 

2. Lower Beam Wing



There's always more than one way to skin a cat and McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso have all taken a similar route to the loss of the Beam Wing. They've added a lower wing which sits where the floor normally would (the floor, therefore, either scalloped out or sitting ever so slightly lower), which will not only regain some of the structural integrity lost by the loss of the Beam Wing but also help aerodynamically.

The lower wing resides in a position that can affect the airflow passing over the floor, creating a small area of low pressure above the Diffuser, making its flow interact and upwash. The overall net effect is more downforce from the Diffuser and the assistance in creating a link between it and the Rear Wing.

3. Asymmetric Lotus


I couldn't have a top five technical list without mentioning the Lotus E22's Nose; we all know that most of the teams have taken function over form with the new lower nose tip regulations but Lotus have gone one step further. In order to retain as much central height to the E22's nose as possible the team have taken the rule book and turned it sideways. The nose features two tusks, one longer than the other and for good reason, as the rules stipulate that at 50mm behind the nose tip a cross section of 9000mm2 must project horizontally. With the nose's right hand tusk at least 50.01mm longer than the left it means a void can be created centrally in order to retain airflow along the car's centreline.
 



This isn't where it stops for Lotus, though, as when we look at the rear of the car we find more asymmetry, as both the Rear Wing's support pylon and the exhaust are both clearly off the centreline. It could be argued that Lotus are simply trying to get the components out of each other's way but nothing in F1 is done without good reason and leads me back to why copying the Lotus nose might not be altogether easy for the other teams if it's found to give an advantage. When we think of teams doing work in CFD we'd assume they do so on the entire car, but to cut down on calculations (i.e. CFD time) the teams generally only run CFD on ½ the car. Asymmetric design, therefore, wouldn't able to be factored in, as changes in airflow direction/velocity etc. would become a little like guess work. I'd therefore suggest that Lotus ran full CFD on the E22 and are not only correcting the airflow inconsistencies of running the asymmetric nose with their offset exhaust but could be looking to glean a further advantage. Lest we forget that Lotus were a team that continued to use the additional power of the longer exhaust in 2012 rather than sacrifice the power for the more aero skewed 'Coanda' exhaust solution.

4. PCU-8D
McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) have been busy readying another device for the challenges facing the more technically advanced formula in 2014. The PCD-8D is an all-new cockpit display that is capable of showing many more parameters to the driver. A little larger and heavier (230g rather than 130g) than its predecessor, the new component is an option that won't be taken up by all teams. Six of the teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Marussia) on the grid have, however, decided it will increase the drivers' capabilities out on track.



The larger display is able to convey more on one screen than its predecessor, meaning the driver doesn't have to cycle through a series of button presses as often. 100 pages of customisable information can be utilised on the PCU-8D, opening up more possibilities for the driver in terms of the availability of information and how it's presented. (I've often wondered if the static red display colour of the PCU-6D's digits are an annoyance to some drivers for argument’s sake). The new display also opens up the option to display certain criteria in a graphical format that is otherwise made numerical on the older display. Furthermore, CAN messages can trigger warning screens enabling the driver to back off before a catastrophic failure.

The centralised 15 led rev display is retained at the top of the unit along with the placement of the warning flag leds either side of the display.

It's questionable that in a year where change is so prevalent in F1 as to whether changing the drivers' interface is a step too far and so some teams or drivers will continue to use the PCU-6D. Consider it like upgrading from one Playstation or Xbox to the latest gen, though; with more power you need more control and so some drivers will relish it. Perhaps this is where rookies such as Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kyvat have an advantage too. Not only are they the next generation but they are coming into Formula 1 at a stage when the face of the sport’s technology is changing and so starting with a blank canvas/fresh perspective could help them no end.

5. Lack of Starter Motor Holes (SMH)



The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed there is a lack of a central hole in the Diffuser this season, with the FIA having clamped down on the practice, as teams have been exploiting the SMHs for some years. The hole provided another method for which airflow could be injected into the Diffuser stream. The teams have therefore placed hinged covers in the region, meaning that the only time a hole is exposed is when the external starter is pushed into place. 



That is with the exception of Mercedes who have designed their Diffuser around the problem and is why we see a 'U' bend in the central section. This 'U' allows not only the external starter access but retains a way of injecting airflow into the Diffusers airflow stream. The design is relatively easy for the other teams to copy with a re-design of the floor/diffuser but would of course need to work in line with the other aero concepts and stand up to CFD and Wind Tunnel scrutiny first.

Stay tuned to GPUpdate.net for further technical features throughout the 2014 Formula 1 season

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Sunday 11 December 2016

  2. F1 grid overview: What's in a number? 10:15

    F1 grid overview: What's in a number?

    It has been three years since Formula 1 introduced a personalised numbering system, assigned to a driver for their careers.…

    F1
  3. MotoGP review: Marvellous Marc Márquez 09:03

    MotoGP review: Marvellous Marc Márquez

    A dismal pre-season campaign left Marc Márquez seemingly adrift of the leading pack. He then changed his approach, focused on…

    MotoGP
  4. Video of the Day: FE 'Command Centre' 05:34

    Video of the Day: FE 'Command Centre'

    Go behind-the-scenes at Mahindra's Formula E 'Command Centre' with team boss Dilbagh Gill.

    FE
  5. Saturday 10 December 2016

  6. Aron moves to Hitech for 2017 F3 season 18:39

    Aron moves to Hitech for 2017 F3 season

    European Formula 3 race-winner Ralf Aron will switch to Hitech GP for his sophomore season in the category next year. Aron…

    F3
  7. Ericsson eyes 'strong' team-mate in 2017 11:52

    Ericsson eyes 'strong' team-mate in 2017

    Marcus Ericsson says he hopes he is paired with a "strong" team-mate in 2017, as Sauber bids to move up the grid off the back of…

    F1
  8. Overview: Head-to-head qualifying stats 08:28

    Overview: Head-to-head qualifying stats

    An important aspect in beating your team-mate is getting the better of them in qualifying. Now that the season is over, it is…

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Red Bull staff on 2016 05:34

    Video of the Day: Red Bull staff on 2016

    Red Bull race team and factory staff talk about key events that unfolded through the 2016 season.

    F1
  10. Friday 9 December 2016

  11. 17:02

    New: Follow GPUpdate on Instagram!

    F1
  12. Liberty shareholders to vote on purchase 16:58

    Liberty shareholders to vote on purchase

    Liberty Media shareholders will meet next month to vote on proposals to push ahead with its planned purchase of Formula 1…

    F1
  13. Toro Rosso/Red Bull seek 'better synergies' 15:45

    Toro Rosso/Red Bull seek 'better synergies'

    Toro Rosso's James Key has suggested that there will be a greater pooling of resources with Red Bull in coming seasons, as…

    F1
  14. Video: Formula E's ice drive in Greenland 14:32

    Video: Formula E's ice drive in Greenland

    Watch the full documentary as Lucas di Grassi demonstrates a Formula E car on ice in Greenland.

    FE
  15. MotoGP drops Intermediate tyre for 2017 12:29

    MotoGP drops Intermediate tyre for 2017

    MotoGP organisers have announced that Michelin's Intermediate tyre will be dropped for the 2017 campaign, following just one…

    MotoGP
  16. Briatore: Alonso will not leave McLaren 11:43

    Briatore: Alonso will not leave McLaren

    Flavio Briatore, heavily involved in Fernando Alonso's career, says the Spaniard will not leave McLaren to replace Nico Rosberg…

    F1
  17. Mercedes regrets Abu Dhabi GP orders 09:56

    Mercedes regrets Abu Dhabi GP orders

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that he regrets the orders given to Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, accepting…

    F1
  18. Malja switches to Racing Engineering 09:27

    Malja switches to Racing Engineering

    Gustav Malja will make the switch to Racing Engineering for the 2017 campaign, following his appearance at the recent…

    GP2
  19. Brown eyes McLaren title sponsor by 2018 09:02

    Brown eyes McLaren title sponsor by 2018

    New McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown has set his sights on securing a title sponsor by the 2018 season, conceding that there…

    F1
  20. Force India sets 'stretch objective' of third 07:34

    Force India sets 'stretch objective' of third

    Force India is capable of challenging for third position in the Formula 1 standings in 2017, off the back of its most successful…

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Formula 1 cars at Daytona 05:26

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 cars at Daytona

    Ferrari's F1 Clienti single-seaters hit the legendary Daytona Speedway at the recent Finali Mondiali.

    F1
  22. Thursday 8 December 2016

  23. Video: 4x4 thrill ride with Nico Rosberg 16:12

    Video: 4x4 thrill ride with Nico Rosberg

    Competition winners join Nico Rosberg for a thrilling off-road experience at Mercedes-Benz World.

    F1
  24. Overview: Search to replace Rosberg 15:08

    Overview: Search to replace Rosberg

    Ever since Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from Formula 1, one question has been asked: who will replace him and line-up…

    F1
  25. Silverstone to open motorsport museum 14:35

    Silverstone to open motorsport museum

    A museum is to open at Silverstone after being awarded a £9.1 million lottery grant. Silverstone Heritage Experience, which…

    F1
  26. Paul Ricard confirms layout, race slot 12:10

    Paul Ricard confirms layout, race slot

    Paul Ricard will use its 5.8km track layout, featuring a chicane on the Mistral Straight, and hold a late-August slot when it…

    F1
  27. Force India protégé joins Carlin's F3 effort 10:10

    Force India protégé joins Carlin's F3 effort

    Force India academy driver Jehan Daruvala will graduate to the European Formula 3 Championship next season, becoming the second…

    F3
  28. Wolff: Bottas 'very important' to Williams 09:55

    Wolff: Bottas 'very important' to Williams

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested that he will not attempt to sign Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's replacement, given his…

    F1
  29. Villeneuve: Verstappen must be self-critical 09:02

    Villeneuve: Verstappen must be self-critical

    World Champion Jacques Villeneuve says that Red Bull youngster Max Verstappen must be self-critical if he is to fulfil his…

    F1
  30. Gasly aims to be on grid for French GP 07:28

    Gasly aims to be on grid for French GP

    New GP2 champion Pierre Gasly says that he is determined to secure a place on the Formula 1 grid for the French Grand Prix's…

    F1
  31. Video of the Day: Mercedes-Benz party 05:34

    Video of the Day: Mercedes-Benz party

    Mercedes-Benz staged its annual, action-packed motorsport celebration in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, last weekend, with recent…

    F1
  32. Wednesday 7 December 2016

  33. Chilton stays in IndyCar with Ganassi 18:09

    Chilton stays in IndyCar with Ganassi

    Max Chilton will remain in the IndyCar series with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2017. Chilton, 25, made the switch from Formula 1…

    Indy
  34. Carlin names Habsburg as first F3 driver 15:47

    Carlin names Habsburg as first F3 driver

    Carlin has announced its first driver signing for the 2017 European Formula 3 season, with Euroformula Open runner-up Ferdinand…

    F3
  35. Marko: Both Red Bull drivers locked in 15:09

    Marko: Both Red Bull drivers locked in

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has made clear that both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are under binding contracts, amid…

    F1
  36. Kvyat calls for driver vote over halo device 14:04

    Kvyat calls for driver vote over halo device

    Daniil Kvyat has called for a driver vote on the 'halo' in order to provide governing body the FIA with a clear answer over…

    F1
  37. Repsol extends Honda deal through 2018 13:11

    Repsol extends Honda deal through 2018

    Spanish energy company Repsol has extended its MotoGP sponsorship contract with Honda until the end of 2018, the Japanese…

    MotoGP
  38. MotoGP presents updated 2017 calendar 12:36

    MotoGP presents updated 2017 calendar

    MotoGP organisers have presented an updated calendar for the 2017 season, with the German Grand Prix brought forward to early…

    MotoGP
  39. Ricciardo: Verstappen arrival 'pushed me on' 11:51

    Ricciardo: Verstappen arrival 'pushed me on'

    Daniel Ricciardo has explained that Max Verstappen's race-winning arrival at Red Bull "pushed me on" for the remainder of the…

    F1
  40. Rahal signs Servia for Indy 500, view to more 10:27

    Rahal signs Servia for Indy 500, view to more

    Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has signed Oriol Servià to compete in next year's Indianapolis 500, with a view to adding more…

    Indy
  41. Michelin: Return a 'tremendous challenge' 09:03

    Michelin: Return a 'tremendous challenge'

    Michelin can be proud after overcoming the "tremendous challenge" of its comeback as sole MotoGP tyre supplier in 2016…

    MotoGP
  42. Red Bull: Gasly can still have F1 future 07:28

    Red Bull: Gasly can still have F1 future

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says that Pierre Gasly can still have a future in Formula 1, despite the newly-crowned GP2…

    F1
  43. Video of the Day: Force India's academy star 05:36

    Video of the Day: Force India's academy star

    Discover more about the developing career of Mumbai-born Force India academy driver Jehan Daruvala.

    Misc
  44. Tuesday 6 December 2016

  45. Provisional 2017 F1 entry list revealed 18:49

    Provisional 2017 F1 entry list revealed

    Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has issued the provisional entry list for the 2017 season, with Stoffel Vandoorne revealed…

    F1
  46. King 'happy' with Manor Formula 1 displays 15:14

    King 'happy' with Manor Formula 1 displays

    Jordan King says he "feels happy" with the performances he delivered during his pair of Formula 1 practice outings with Manor in…

    F1
more news