Category Archives: Technical

“Modesty panel” to be introduced, and double DRS banned in 2013 Technical Regulations

2012’s unloved “stepped noses”, featuring in the design of the majority of the cars in the field, may be on the way out, as the FIA has approved the use of a “modesty panel” to hide the controversial feature.

As the 2013 Technical Regulations were posted online by the FIA, readers noted a new Article had been created for the new panel:

"With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of 
prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the 
regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any 
point, no bodywork situated more than 1950mm forward of rear face of the 
cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane."

As stated, the panel cannot be a structural part of the car, but must be able to fit onto and over the stepped nose of the car. Seeing as the article was added to improve the look of the cars, the panel may also cover the side of the stepped section as well.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe confirmed that the panel would be restricted in size to avoid teams from gaining an aerodynamic advantage.

Also mentioned in the 2013 regulations is the banning of the “Double DRS” system pioneered by the Mercedes team. Their car layout allowed the DRS flap to activate a second duct to direct air to the front wing, which has now been banned:

[The movable rear wing] "cannot be used to change the geometry of any duct, 
either directly or indirectly, other than the change to the distance between 
adjacent sections permitted by Article 3.10.2."

 

Red Bull RB8 floor deemed illegal

The FIA has instructed Red Bull to modify its floor system before the Canadian Grand Prix, as it has now been deemed illegal.

The team came under pressure from Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes in Monaco, after they protested that the holes in the RB8’s floor were against the rules. While they refrained from a post-race protest, which may have got Mark Webber’s race win thrown out, the FIA sought to clear matters with the teams.

The holes were located just ahead of the rear wheels, and were believed to have provided a moderate performance advantage.

The design took advantage of a “grey area” in the technical regulations, but the FIA have now clamped down on this exploitation.

Pirelli unveil softer tyre compounds and new colour coding for 2012

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Following the first look at the Caterham CT01, Pirelli have also revealed the rubber that all 12 F1 teams will be running on this season.

The Italian manufacturer has constructed brand-new soft, medium and hard compound tyres, with the super-soft formula being carried on from last year. There is also a new extreme wet tyre to be used.

The new tyres will be of a softer composition compared to last year.

The colour coding for the dry tyres remains roughly the same, except the hard tyre is now a much lighter silver colour, and it is expected to be almost invisible at high speed.

The intermediate tyre is now coloured green, while the new extreme wet compound is blue.

All 6 variants of tyre contain slightly wider contact patch than 2011, to counteract the loss of downforce from the banning of off-throttle diffusers. Pirelli explained that they have incorporated less of a rounded shoulder on the rubber to improve grip.

They also noted that they intend to reduce the performance gap between the options and primes on race weekends, from 1.2-1.8 seconds last year to around 0.6-0.8 in 2012.

FIA bans reactive ride height systems

The reactive ride height innovation designed by Lotus and recently copied by Ferrari has been banned by the sport’s governing body.

The FIA’s decision was announced yesterday by Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan, who had received a letter from Charlie Whiting regarding the matter on Friday.

The FIA’s head of F1 communications, Matteo Bonciani, confirmed the news yesterday:

"We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It is obviously 
[creating] an impact on the aerodynamic platform of the car.

Anything that gets the ride-height lower, particularly the front ride-height 
lower, is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective."

This ride height adjustment device would appear to break Article 10.2.2 of the 2012 Technical Regulations, which states that “any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of the suspension system is forbidden.”

In addition to this, Article 10.2.3 bans any “adjustment … made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.”

Ferrari latest to develop reactive ride height system

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

After details of Lotus’ reactive ride height system emerged in recent days, it has also been reported that Ferrari have developed their own interpretation of the technology.

The new innovation stabilises the front of the car – mechanically and aerodynamically – under braking, by lifting the front of the car by several millimetres.

Lotus’ version had already been approved by the FIA back in January 2010, and Ferrari have since written to the organisation to seek approval of their system. This was confirmed yesterday by team principal Stefano Domenicali:

"What you are talking about, is more related to having stability under braking. It 
is a system that I know there have been some documents in writing between the FIA 
and the teams.

We are waiting for the final confirmation if this kind of devices will be acceptable 
or not. But for sure we are looking around these sorts of devices to see if they 
contribute to a performance. But we need to wait and see what will be the reaction to 
the FIA on that."

If the device is approved by the FIA, then it is almost certain that Ferrari will be able to test the system at the first pre-season test in February.

Lotus Renault leading the way with “reactive ride height” system

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

The must-have innovation of 2012 has been leaked in recent days, with Lotus Renault reported to be running a “reactive ride height” device on their cars.

The system was spotted by seasoned technical journalist Giorgio Piola at the Abu Dhabi young driver test in November, and reports suggest that this device had been given the green light by the FIA as early as January 2011.

The objective of this innovation is to stabilise the front end of the car under braking, which generally dips by several centimetres. With a small hydraulic device in the brake cowling, the car can lift itself to counteract the dip under braking. This ensures a consistent generation of downforce from the front wing.

It is also possible that the reverse situation could apply under acceleration.

One of the smaller technical changes that was passed over by many – including myself – was that the maximum height of the nosecone was lowered from 62mm to 55mm. This has, in part, prompted this new design from Lotus.

Gazetta Dello Sport suggested that this device was to be operated by the driver via a pedal, similar to the F-duct. However, Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations seems to have covered that loophole:

"With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in
Article 3.18 [the DRS], any car system, device or procedure which uses driver
movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car
is prohibited."

Seeing as the system has already been approved by the FIA, it would be assumed that the device is operated by the car automatically and not the driver.

Predictably, many of the top teams have already begun to research and design their own version of this ride height stabiliser.

Two independent DRS zones for Monza

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

The FIA is planning to use two DRS zones for the Italian Grand Prix – each with its own detection zone.

The Canadian Grand Prix saw the debut of double DRS zones, but both were activated by the same detection zone, which many believed gave an unfair advantage.

With this, a seperate detection zone for each area was improvised. It is believed that the DRS zones will be on the start/finish straight, and the straight from 2nd Lesmo to the Ascari chicane.

The extreme low-downforce nature of Monza means that the effect of DRS will be smaller compared to other races, but it is believed to be still significant.

As opposed to Jenson Button’s high-downforce strategy last year (utilising the F-duct), most teams are expected to run minimally angled rear wings.

FIA bans DRS for Eau Rouge corner

After speculation earlier today, the FIA has announced that the Drag Reduction System will be banned for the Eau Rouge corner.

The DRS system will be blocked from after the La Source hairpin (Turn 1) all the way until the exit of Radillion (second half of Eau Rouge).

However, it has also emerged that this is not just a driver issue. Team engineers have noted that the open rear wing would not be able to close if a driver hit the brakes through Eau Rouge. This would apparently lead to the rear wing possibly becoming stuck open for the rest of the lap. This issue is believed to be because of Eau Rouge’s high downforce/speed/incline combination.

Also, going far too quickly through Eau Rouge can lead to massive crashes – see Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta in 1999 (both drivers had agreed to take the corner flat out before the qualifying session).

The DRS zone for the race will be placed after Radillion, and will continue on until the Les Combes complex.

 

Pirelli to drop hard tyre for rest of 2011

Pirelli's hard tyre will soon be replaced

Pirelli's hard tyre will soon be replaced

Pirelli has stated that it is unlikely to use the hard compound tyre again in 2011.

After announcing tyre compounds for the next 3 races (a mix of super-soft, soft and medium), it was becoming increasingly likely that the unpopular compound would not be used again.

Today, Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery has explained that the medium as effectively replaced the harder tyre:

"I don't think we'll see the hard compound again. I think it's probably too hard and 
that the medium is proving sufficiently robust for the aggressive circuits we've 
still got to come. So don't think we'll be going the hard route."

This will prove beneficial to Fernando Alonso’s title hopes, as his Ferrari team has struggled massively on the harder compound this season, with particular problems bringing the rubber up to temperature.

Hembery also revealed that the hard tyre probably will not make an appearance in 2012, with the medium taking up that role:

"Probably next season the medium will become the hard. We'll probably slot something 
in between the current softs and mediums - We want to keep about one second between 
each. The super soft and soft gap is about right to be honest, because you've got a 1s 
speed advantage but you've got a clear degradation and limitation on use. If we could 
replicate that now with a new medium and a new hard then I think we'll be well placed."

FIA to use incident-spotting software during races

New software from the FIA will automatically detect accidents like this

New software from the FIA will automatically detect incidents like this

The FIA has announced that it is testing software that will automatically notify Race Control when a driver breaks the rules during a race.

This software is a combination of real-time lap timing, GPS co-ordinates for each car, and data regarding tyre patterns. All of these are combines to detect when a driver has broken a rule while out on track.

The end result of this software is that it can advise Race Control, and race director Charlie Whiting, if a car has been behaving oddly, which in turn may lead to swifter penalties.

This information was released through the FIA’s magazine InMotion. The designer of this innovation, Gareth Griffith, explains the software’s function:

"We tied in the cameras with the timing and the GPS, so we knew exactly where a car 
was on the track.

Then we started to analyse the data to pick out incidents. The software creates 
alerts and that automatically takes the Riedel technicians to the right cameras, 
instead of them having to find them, as used to happen.

Within a few seconds Charlie [Whiting] can be looking at the incident: either for 
safety purposes or to refer it to the stewards. It is automated, using the data 
available and algorithms based on the interactions in that data.

In the case of baulking, for example, the algorithms can analyse the proximity of 
two GPS signals to see how long it takes the car behind to close from five to two 
seconds behind the car in front. We can then measure how long the second car stays 
behind the first and if there is no time lost then there was no incident.

The data can show us when a car is not behaving as it should be behaving and so we 
can ascertain at what moment that changed and if there was another car in close 
proximity at that moment."

However, this new technical innovation is still well away from passing judgement on drivers’ actions. It can already detect what kind of an incident has occured, but the responsibility of penalties still lies with Charlie Whiting:

"With all of this it is still Charlie’s decision whether to refer incidents 
to the Stewards and their decision as to whether the driver is penalised or 
not."
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