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GP Week : Issue 231
TECHNICAL paRaLLEL DEvELopmEnT oR JUST copYinG? TeCHNICAL paoLo FiLiSETTi Technical Editor even if it is the first of the last four ‘flyaway’ races of the season, meaning that at this stage of the season the development of the cars should be considered almost done, the united states GP in Austin in reality provided an interesting array of development bits on the cars. Some were changes not even intended to be used in this race, but rather were being tested in light of the next race in Mexico – a high-altitude venue. This was the case for the Mercedes which, on Friday practice, sported a significantly revised engine cover, featuring two side ‘ears’ (see illustration). These were, in detail, two additional engine air intakes that will be used in the next race, with the aim of reducing the loss in efficiency terms of the Power Unit. It is important to explain that, unlike normally aspirated engines, turbocharged engines suffer dramatically less in terms of power loss due to the high altitude of Mexico City. This is because, with the turbo, it is possible to increase the air pressure to feed the engine – but if this is increased too much there is a loss in terms of energy recovery by MGU-H. Improving the air feed by adding the two additional inlets helps in avoiding the aforementioned problem, hence assuring adequate energy recovery in the very special ambient condition of the Mexican track. Beside this interesting new design, almost all the teams focused on aero developments, even though mostly intended as adapting their set-up to the features of this track. Of particular interest was the development of the aero package of Ferrari. The Italian team brought a series of small developments both in the area of the bottom, the T-tray and, in particular, a deeply developed version of the front wing (see illustration). This one is a high downforce version, but it also sported some new elements in the form of the addition of a wide curved upwards fin, having the aim to divert outward the turbulence generated by the front tyres close to the endplates. Furthermore, the upper flaps now have a rounded trailing edge and sport, as in the Hungarian GP version, two vertical fins dividing their profile in three section, so as to divert outside the airflow close to the endplates and generate a low pressure behind these elements. It was interesting to note on the starting grid that these solutions were almost common to three other teams, notably Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren, making it clear how tight the current boundaries of the design process are in terms of aero solutions on the current cars. This means that the in-season development naturally heads to common solutions, as only a single design route is possible, with the simulation showing converging results. This is visible in all the areas of the car. In Sochi, we were talking about Ferrari’s revised undertray, featuring a series of slits in front of the rear wheels. Here, another team followed the steps of the Italian team – McLaren introducing a similar solution, that only differs from the one featured on the SF15T regarding the number of slits. The Ferrari featured eight slits; McLaren on the other hand increased that number, sporting an array of 11 slits that produce an effect of improving the extraction from underneath the car and diverting the turbulence generated by the rear wheels out of the rear diffuser side sections. 35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> UNITED STATES PARTNERS: