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GP Week : Issue 223
TECHNICAL LiKe mcLARen, LiKe ReD BuLL ... TeCHNICAL PAoLo FiLisetti Technical Editor This weekend provided one of those interesting comparisons– or indeed similarities – between cars and teams, where a key person has moved from one team to the other. The eighth race of the season, in Austria, also provided interesting elements from a technical point of view in terms of the development of some cars. In particular this race had a double element to the technical story. One was a sort of verification of the upgrades brought by Ferrari to Canada that, due to the mixed fortunes that characterised the Canadian weekend for the Italian team, didn’t really provide enough information on whether those upgrades actually improved the SF15-T performance or not. It was interesting to note on this track, in the Stirian region, the technical gap separating the Italian cars from the Mercedes W06 Hybrid was effectively reduced, even if not to a measure capable of providing winning results in the short term. At the same time, it was interesting to see how McLaren, notwithstanding its awful situation in terms of their Honda power unit, tries to improve the car, following a predetermined development programme, that included the debut of the ‘short’ nose cone. This element was hugely delayed due to problems encountered in passing the mandatory crash tests. In Austria, the Woking-based team brought just one new nose, run by Fernando Alonso, while his team-mate Jenson Button stuck to the standard longer version. At Silverstone, both the cars will feature the new version of the nose. Certainly, considering the current difficult situation in terms of reliability and performance of the power unit, it is difficult to properly judge the value of this development, although it was possible to look at how this development was integrated in the original project. In particular, we found many similarities in this respect with the shorter nose of the Red Bull, introduced on the car a few races ago. In particular it is interesting to note how the bottom section of the nose features a dramatically similar design, in terms of airflow management. An array of turning vanes feeds the splitter area of the bottom of the car, following an identical concept. The squared nose section certainly provides an increased airflow passing underneath, even though it appears to us that the main target the engineers wanted to reach was providing a less disturbed airflow to the side sections of the wing, to reduce the need of higher flap angles to provide an increased downforce level. The layout of the extremities of the wing and also the bottom section of the main plane look dramatically similar to the RB11 ones. It’s interesting to note also the series of vertical fins placed underneath to increase the airflow speed, hence generating a low pressure under the main profile, as on the car built in Milton Keynes. Ironically we could say that the two teams, now sharing similar misfortunes mainly due to their power units, seem to be sharing the same principles in terms of aero development. This isn’t too much of a surprise, as the influence of Peter Prodromou, current chief aerodynamicist at McLaren, is still evident on his former team's car. 30 GPWEEK.com // 30 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> AUSTRIA PARTNERS: