MCL32 Analysis brought to you by TJ13 Forensics contributer Joao Lamberio McLaren unveiled their charger for 2017 with a great deal of fanfare and tumultuous change. New rules, hope, livery, engine, boss and a new car. Can McLaren finally rekindle their lost former glories with the newly nomenclatured MCL32? Uniquely, the nose of the car has […]
Brought to you by TJ13 Forensics contributer Joao Lamberio Ferrari have a ton of pressure on their shoulders for 2017, and Sergio Marchionne will not abide another year without a proper challenge to the Silver Arrows. The SF70H represents Tifosi hopes, and from the early running it’s looking very promising. The lower wider stance certainly gives […]
The Ferrari SF70H was launched this morning. The car is completely new and Ferrari hopes it will close the gap to Mercedes. The engine is also new and the team says the 062 engine is a definite step forward compared to its predecessor, when it comes to chasing performance. The layout of some of the […]
Mercedes-AMG Petronas has launched its new W08, which is now officially known as the W08 EQ Power+, the additional EQ Power+ having been added because this will be the technology brand for all future Mercedes-AMG hybrid models. The launch formed part of the team’s official 100 km filming day, with Lewis Hamilton driving the car in […]
Laurence Edmondson F1 Editor
Although most of the focus of the 2017 rule changes has been on the chassis and aerodynamic side, Formula One’s new regulations have also impacted power unit development.
In a video on Mercedes’ YouTube channel, the head of the team’s engine division Andy Cowell explained why more downforce and wider tyres would lead to higher fuel usage and some new challenges for his engineers.
“The power unit’s principal aim is to propel the car down the straight,” he said. “Now, if the tyres are stronger and if the aerodynamics are stronger, the straight actually starts a little bit earlier because the driver can get on full power sooner and the straight actually finishes a little bit later because the driver can come on the brakes later, so the period of full throttle increases and it’s increasing considerably.
“It’s increasing by just over 10 per cent, which equates to just over five seconds of full throttle time. Now, the engine is limited in fuel-flow rate to 100kg/hour, but if the time is going up by 10 per cent then the total amount of fuel that will be used per lap is going to go up by 10 per cent. Now, last year the limit for the race distance was 100kg of fuel. That’s a limit that was set in 2014 and maintained through 2014, 2015 and 2016 and through efficiency improvement of the manufacturers we all ended up at a point where typically for a race distance we needed less than that.
“So, the starting point is less than that, the increase amount for this year is plus 10 per cent and where the regulations are set to is 105kg of fuel for the race. It still means that you need to be efficient with the aerodynamics and efficient with the power unit, but we won’t have all the ridiculous fuel saving scenarios that we had in 2014. So that’s a major change for the power unit.”
The increased workload of the power unit in 2017 will also see greater demands on cooling, which will in turn affect the aerodynamics of the car. Cowell said Mercedes has put a lot of effort into improving the cooling system on the new W08 to ensure the most efficient package possible.
“One of the consequences of having an extra 5kg of fuel and an extra 10 per cent used per lap is that the waste energy — the engine is very efficient but not 100 per cent efficient, so there is some waste energy — how do you get rid of that waste energy? We have put a lot of effort into the cooling system on the engine to get that waste energy out of the piston, out of the cylinder head, out of the crankcase and out of all the bearings, transmit that to the car and the cooling packages on the car need to increase as well.”
Now that the calendar is back down to 20 races, teams are only allowed four power units before getting a grid penalty, rather than the five power units they were allowed last year. Combined with the increased cornering forces and use of full throttle, Cowell said Mercedes has had to pay even more attention to the reliability of its power units this year.
“The last change, although not regulated, is the durability of the engine, and this is in terms of both the number of revolutions you can do, the number of qualifying laps you can do but also the structural load. If the car goes through the corner quicker because the tyres are stronger and the aero is quicker, the lateral load on the car is higher and the power unit is a critical structural element of the car, right in the middle of the car with engine mounts front and rear connected to the chassis and the gearbox.
“We have had to do a lot of detailed analysis on those and the engine is a little bit heavier as a consequence of that, but the structural stiffness has been maintained and the strength of the car has been maintained. This year, also, we are going from five power units before we get a grid penalty to four, so there is a big extra demand on each of those power units both in terms of the heat that’s going through it, the structural load and the kilometres that the power unit needs to do.”
Never before has F1 seen such an era of utter dominance by one team than what we’ve seen from the Silver Arrows from 2014. The Ex Ferrari president, Luca Montezemolo threw some light upon why this has been the case during rather candid talks with the Italian press yesterday. He explains the reasons for the superiority of Mercedes-Benz […]
Intrigue over Formula 1 suspension systems pioneered by Mercedes is nothing new, but the latest row over what is allowed can be traced back to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
According to sources, a radio conversation between Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull pitwall about car set-up and the impact of the suspension on aerodynamic performance left some teams suspicious that there was more to these devices than originally thought.
In particular the idea of the suspension being used primarily to help aerodynamics prompted Ferrari to write to the FIA to clarify exactly is allowed.
Such a request for clarification to F1 race director Charlie Whiting is common – as it offers teams an opportunity to discern the legality of designs they intend to pursue, the chance to better understand the ones used by their rivals, or highlight to the FIA where others might be operating in grey areas.
Ferrari has queried the use of more complex systems than the one that Mercedes has legally put to good use – primarily one that stores energy that can be then be released to improve the car’s aerodynamic platform over the rest of the lap when it is better needed.
But have teams like Mercedes and Red Bull been doing it already, were they planning on doing it for 2017 – or is Ferrari’s bid simply to cut off an avenue of expensive development before it pushed on with its own concept?
The crux of Ferrari’s request for clarification centres around the recovery and storage of energy to be used at a later time to extend a spring seat or other parts of the suspension assembly.
This infers the use of hydraulic accumulators that are designed to store and dispense energy under certain conditions, creating a sort of high-pressure hydraulic computer.
This fluid logic system would react to inputs, as the car undergoes various conditions around a lap.
Think then of the heave element and ancillary remote accumulators as a three-dimensional map, rather than just the cylindrical elements they outwardly appear to be – with small and large chambers interspersed to accommodate the various inputs, loads and conditions.
As an F1 car brakes for a corner, the weight of the car should shift forward and the aerodynamic loads are altered.
If a team fully understood the inertia from a mathematical perspective you could model a reactionary response from the front and rear suspension that would keep the platform of the car within an acceptable tolerance, improving both mechanical and aerodynamic performance.
The knock-on effect is that the driver can carry more apex speed and will accelerate out of the corner earlier than is ordinarily the case.
REPLICATING THE FRIC EFFECT
The intrigue surrounding the pre-Christmas technical directive from Whiting suggesting trick suspension systems that stored energy would be illegal comes in the wake of what teams did with FRIC (Front-to-Rear-InterConnected) systems up until their effective ban ahead of the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The potential aero benefits of a clever suspension system can even be traced back to Renault’s famed mass damper during Fernando Alonso’s title years – and in recent seasons it was Mercedes that was at the forefront of the FRIC technology.
With FRIC gone, resources were shifted to replicate the peripheral advantages it gave -teams set about creating a similar effect, albeit without the hydraulic connection front-to-rear.
Much of the work done by FRIC revolved around heave – the vertical displacement of the car.
Being able to connect the front and rear also helped to stabilise the car’s roll through corners, improving aerodynamic stability as a consequence.
It is natural that the teams would have the FIA believe that the reason for these systems was to improve tyre performance and life, enhancing mechanical grip with an emphasis on increasing the contact patch.
However, while this is true, a chief motivation is always going to revolve around improving aero, with a more stable platform able to provide the team with the ability to hone in on aggressive solutions.
The heave element provides stiffness at speed to improve how the car reacts to aerodynamic load.
At lower speeds, the heave damper is decoupled, giving the driver the type of compliance he needs. But it is during transient conditions that the designers have had to find more and more performance.
In an interview with Giorgio Piola, Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe was open about the aerodynamic benefits of the suspension system Mercedes ran at times in 2016.
“A spring classically was linear, [but now] we are playing with far greater and more complex ranges of non-linear compliance,” said Lowe.
“That’s allowing us to play games with getting the aero platform exactly where we want.
“It’s more difficult to do than it was with FRIC, but it’s the same thing really.”
WHAT HAS RED BULL BEEN DOING?
There were rumours last year that Red Bull had also made gains in this area – with it able to have a car with a high rake for aerodynamic benefit in the corners but then sank down at the rear on the straights to minimise drag.
The effectiveness of rake is dependent on a car’s overall concept, because adding a Red Bull- or McLaren-level of rake to the Mercedes is no guarantee of more performance if all of the other aero surfaces are not in tune with it.
The use of a well-tuned HPC (Hydraulic Pitch Control) suspension system, as some of the teams have called it, is something that has been part of Red Bull’s success throughout 2016 as it overtook Ferrari.
For a team that usually had an abundance of aerodynamic updates at each race, Red Bull was surprisingly quiet on that front last season.
Instead at each GP it honed its set-up, perhaps trialling a different front or rear wing on occasions, in order to maximise the car’s operating window.
While it’s understood that it sacrificed some of its resource early on to focus on the 2017 car, it’s perhaps its mooted acquisition of a full chassis dynamometer that has allowed it to make further strides.
The VTT (Virtual Test Track) as it is known replicates its car in every aspect and allows it to run the car in the simulator loop, including the power unit.
Suspension actuation is also conducted and helps the team to make some decisions about the set-up, both aerodynamically and mechanically, before getting to the track.
This has led to what has been interpreted as a hunching over of the car on the straights, causing a drop in downforce and drag and boosting straightline speed, helping the team to overcome some of the deficit of its the Renault engine.
Red Bull’s use of HPC is different in its approach to Mercedes, but both systems are aimed at improving the relationship between all aspects of the chassis to improve overall lap time.
So when Ricciardo was overheard on the radio in Abu Dhabi, talking in detail about the impact of suspension settings, did that trigger a new thought process in Ferrari’s head?
WHAT IS LEGAL?
Ferrari’s move has obviously led to the pointing of fingers about what Mercedes and Red Bull are up to – but only those two teams know exactly what they have been doing.
The debate about what is allowed is still ongoing with the FIA – but from Mercedes’ perspective at least, it remains convinced that the system it ran when needed in 2016 does not fall foul of the FIA’s interpretation of a moveable aerodynamic device so there is no impact from the latest ruling.
The feeling is that Ferrari’s clarification could have more of an impact on what Red Bull may have been planning for 2017 as it bids to push its suspension system on even further.
That the matter is not closed yet shows that some teams are on the limit of what is allowed – and that leaves Ferrari in a bit of a dilemma.
Does it now push on with its own trick system, does it accept Whiting’s interpretation, or does it keep fighting and open up the prospect of a protest at the Australian Grand Prix?
Cast minds back to 2009 when the double diffuser row kicked off and Ferrari’s belief that a protest to the stewards in Melbourne about the designs would be enough to get rid of them.
Ferrari may feel like it has dealt a blow to the opposition in Whiting’s ruling, but nothing is ever that simple in F1.
Ahead of the all-new cars coming for 2017, the suspension issue is likely to be the first of many skirmishes between teams.
Teams up and down the pitlane want the FIA to close a loophole that could possibly explain the massive advantage that the Silver Arrows car currently holds. The claim comes from Germany’s Auto Motor und sport, who go on to say that the team with the best engine, also have the best chassis. The report suggests […]
Paul Hembery on today’s F1 Commission approval:
This is it. We cannot do our job without this. We cannot deliver.
The continuing procrastination over 2017 regulations has reared its ugly head once again, with F1’s sole tyre supplier showing its frustration at F1 Strategy Group’s inability to ratify a coherent plan to reform the physics of the cars.
Pirelli has developed a rather mixed reputation since its return to F1 in 2011, with the tyre blow out incidents at 2013 British & 2015 Belgian Grands Prix incurring the ire of teams across the paddock. It appears this news announcement is a cunning attempt by Paul Hembery and his executives to arrest some political power towards themselves, as the Italian tyre supplier attempts to redeem its image. It is clear that Pirelli are stuck in an existential crisis, having indulged many of FIA’s wishes for variable tyres with a wide range of degradation and performance. However, it has struggled to avoid heat sensitivity issues related to their compounds, with many teams and drivers infuriated by unpredictable operating temperatures and tyre pressures required to achieve optimum performance and mileage from the Pirellis.
A much touted belief amongst F1 Strategy Group revolves around wider car and bigger tyres, raising the wheel rims from 13 inches to 18 inches. However, there is much debate over the effects over the handling of the cars, as well as how the tyres and the enlarged size of the cars will affect the ergonomics of the driver’s seating position and his peripheral vision. It was Michelin who proposed the idea of larger wheel rim, but Martin Brundle’s unfavourable verdict of this when he tested a modified GP2 car at Monaco, it was quietly shelved. Michelin had been contenders to take over as F1’s control tyre supplier for this season, but disagreements with FIA over the manufacture of tyres meant their return failed to materialise.
Pirelli clearly want as much time as possible to eradicate these prevalent issues, but whether the CEOs are willing to cut their losses and pull the plug on its ailing project is one to be seen.
After the news of F1’s return to 2015 qualifying system, Sebastian Vettel spoke of his belief that F1 should return to naturally-aspirated engines.
“I personally think the current power unit regulations are too expensive and it would be beneficial for all the teams and the whole sport to go back to something normally aspirated,” Vettel said.
Vettel’s opinion is very much contrary to that of Ferrari, who last year vetoed a cost cap proposal for engines. It will appear strange to profess, but one could speculate that the sentiments of team personnel of how well Vettel gels with the infrastructure is merely little more than corporate jargon. Many have viewed Vettel’s establishment within the Ferrari team to be similiar to that of Michael Schumacher’s reign; however, the management structure could not be more different.
Mauricio Arrivabene’s official role is listed as “Team Principal”; a position where he manages the team in accordance to the orders of President Sergio Marchionne within the Scuderia hierarchy. This differs greatly to Jean Todt’s role during the Schumacher era, where he performed the role of General Manager, with greater freedoms granted by then-Chairman Luca di Montezemolo. It is important to realise that Arrivabene’s influence only stretches as far as race day operations of the engineers during race weekends, whilst Jean Todt had controls on the general direction of Scuderia Ferrari within Formula 1 in his reign.
The Michael Schumacher era was infamous for the German being able to command orders to the likes of Todt, Ross Brawn and team personnel to cater every one of his whims and desires. Schumacher was never seen or heard arguing with his team, due to their incredible close bond not seen before or since. When Schumacher left Ferrari in 2006, the golden formula was disbanded, lending far greater control to Luca di Montezemolo and placing Stefano Domencali as Team Principal. This management structure, along with their next prized superstar Fernando Alonso, have since been disposed, but a need to improve the Prancing Horse’s sporting brand has ended any hopes of “Driver Power” ever re-emerging. Controversy over team orders incidents- 2002 Austrian & 2010 German Grands Prix still evoke F1 fans with embitterment.
Sebastian Vettel therefore cannot command the same power as Schumacher could in his time as Ferrari lead driver. Vettel does not have a “Number 1” driver clause written into his contract, leaving the Prancing Horse to pair him with a young hotshot, with Max Verstappen speculated to be an option should he part ways with Red Bull. Vettel was notorious for his excellent politicking within the Red Bull hierarchy during his four WDC era, often finding ways to encourage Adrian Newey to design chassis tailored to needs.
At Ferrari, Vettel is paired with a close friend in Kimi Raikkonen. Many outsiders view this as a favourable situation for Ferrari, however, it may prove detrimental to Vettel, as his willingness to share data with Raikkonen is passed onto engineers, who may share this data in coming years with potential new team-mates of Vettel. When Raikkonen retires, Vettel will be pulled out of his comfort zone and he need to combat a team-mate who is likely not to care much for his contribution to Ferrari.
Vettel’s statement of which he believes costs should be cut, contrary to Ferrari’s desires to remain free to defeat the opposition through financial power, is one which may come back to haunt him if results begin to deteriorate.
F1’s Procrastination over 2017 Regulations
With just four months remaining before teams head to their 2017 chassis drawing boards this summer, F1 Strategy Group are nowhere near close to submitting their technical regulation proposals to F1 Commission.
The consensus amongst drivers is that adding more downforce is absurd and making cars wider (therefore heavier) is further pushing F1 away from its “halcyon” days of light 600KG cars fitted with loud V10 engines.
In my opinion, the most important technical change that needs to happen is the reduction of the front wing. It is a foremost priority for the sport to improve the cars’ ability to follow each other closely. Nothing puts fans off more than seeing cars who clearly at least a second quicker than the defending car in front, unable to find a way past due to the turbulence of the car in front causing their tyres to lose grip in braking zones.
It is absolutely pivotal for FIA to put their foot down and demand teams to agree to a reduction of front wing sizes in order to attempt to improve the quality of races for consumers immediately.