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GP Week : Issue 109
Technical Update: Australian GP Exhaust systems and the moveable rear wing were the obvious talk of Melbourne. GPWEEK Technical Editor Paolo Filisetti explains The first race of the season is usually rich in interesting technical contents. This time, we didn’t want to focus on the specific develop- ment of each car, rather on the main technical features that represent the trends of this season and the main changes introduced by the rules. In particular we wanted to feature the new exhaust systems, that this season play a relevant role in generating an efficient aerodynamics, plus the rear moveable wing ( Drag Reduction System). Both the devices in fact can truly be considered as performance generators – for this reason most of the attention of the teams, was in their development. In particular, after the latest winter test, held in Barcelona, there were many teams that slightly changed the layout of their exhaust system. Renault was one of them, developing especially the section of their exhaust pipes, to reduce the power loss generated by their huge length. McLaren on the other hand, optimized the blowing effect, by adopting new exhaust pipes, now slightly angled in direction of the rear wheels, thus improving the efficiency of the rear diffuser. Looking in depth at some of the teams exhausts positioning, McLaren was a clear example of the huge attention of the team to this area, although Both Ferrari and McLaren have followed Red Bull in the layout of their exhaust systems. On The MP4/26 the exhausts are longer and blow into a cut-out outside section of the diffuser. On the Renault R31, instead, the exits are low , just in front of the sidepods, in order to accel- erate the airflow to the rear diffuser. They are angled backwards slightly, with a very long pipe length, designed to minimise the torque and power handicap that comes with the unusual positioning. The rear adjustable wing, (DRS) on the other hand was the other important technical feature where most of the teams focused their efforts. It was extensively used during practice and qualifying, but was as well important in the race. To understand how it works it is important to know the rule behind its activation. The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It is only enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated. The mechanism itself is quite simple being constituted by (1) a servo mechanism that is locked and unlocked according to the rule above. In particular, along the circuit there will be a certain amount of electronic loops that prevent any fraudulent use of the system. The servo mech- anism operates on and endless screw (2) rotating in both directions so as to decrease the angle of the flap and then making it return to default position. The default gap between the flap and the main profile of the wing is 1cm which, while when the flap is lifted up, increases to 5 cm, thus dramatically reducing the downforce generated by the wing, but as well the drag generated. In this way the car increases its top speed performance, as if it would have an equivalent increment in power output of about 40/50 hp. 12