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GP Week : Issue 73
15 Technical Update: Bahrain GP OVER the last few seasons, F1 has shown a tendency to dramatically change the rules year after year. This season the main technical change is related to the refuelling ban -- in terms of aerodynamics, the rules remained stable, so it has been possible for the engineers, to develop even the tiniest detail of the cars. The other seemingly small change, aerodynamically speaking, is related to the ban of the wheel fairing. Over recent weeks, a lot of rumours regarding an alleged non-legal system on the McLaren, involving the rear wing separator, connected with the shark n engine cover, able to make the rear wing stall, increased. In Bahrain, it continued, even after the all-clear was given by the FIA to the system. In detail an air inlet placed in a sort of 'snorkel' type cover on top of the chassis, in front of the cockpit, provides air ow to the cockpit, but not for driver's comfort purpose. In fact the air ow is channelled through the monocoque and exits at the rear via a vent placed on the rear side of the engine cover. This channelling is 'managed', I mean modi ed, by means of the driver's knee or foot. If the drivers place their knee in such a way as to close the hole placed in the channel, the air ow is channelled to the the rear and the wing stalls. This is because the high speed and pressure of the air ow forces the upper portion of the usual ow impacting the main wing pro le underneath face, to detach from it, so reducing dramatically the drag. This is of course done when the car is on the straights, to gain about 6km/h.Itisnotasmallgain--at least enough to prevent the other cars overtaking. At a rst sight the concept appeared not within the spirit of the rules --making the driver act like an aerodynamic device, capable of modifying the aero set up of the car. In reality no part is moving in the car, except the driver -- so it is impossible to consider this solution illegal. This very clever idea, can not easily be copied by the other teams, as it requires a redesign of the internals of the cockpit to provide a continuous air ow to the rear Another interesting development is the one introduced by Ferrari, on their wheel rims. For the 2010 season the FIA have outlawed the carbon bre wheel fairings that became so popular in 2009. In a move that may be seen as going against the spirit of the regulations (but which has been approved by the FIA), Ferrari have instead incorporated an integral aero device, a series of concentric rings, around the wheel hub into the design of their wheel rim. The device is detachable, but to be legal it is made from the same material as the rim itself. As wheel rims have to be homologated and can't be changed during the season, Ferrari's rivals will be unable to copy this. In few words, it follows the same kind of clever idea used by McLaren for its clever 'wing stalling' system. This all shows how sophisticated F1 is, even if FIA is trying to make it more and more simple and nancially viable. These examples, in reality, show the level of deep study and research that only top teams can a ord ... While McLaren's ingenious cockpit-activated rear wing stalling device stole the tech show, Ferrari has a wheel tweak of its own, reports GPWeek Technical Editor PAOLO FILISETTI McLaren's ingenious wing drag-stall set-up (above). Below: Ferrari's wheel trims by stealth ... F1 NEWS >>