As a bit of fun I always enter as many of the Fantasy GP predictors etc as I can but this year I thought it would be fun to get you all involved too and so here are the links to all of my leagues and the passwords etc for you to join too:
Badger GP - Fantasy Grand Prix - League Name: TechF1 Pin: 614375
Hilton H Honors Fantasy Racing - League Name: SomersF1 League Password: TechF1
Castrol Edge Grand Prix Predictor - My League Link: http://gppredictor.com/league/join/id/5310ef9e7f392831550004ec/code/e5201feafab0de28dce10778757fc060
Throughout the season I'll see what I can rummage together as prizes for each league too
Monday, 10 March 2014
McLaren were criticised in 2013 for their lack of development on their Front Wing with the MP4-28 featuring only an evolutionary variant from the previous few seasons. With other teams seemingly using outwardly more complex wings with multiple ties and deltoid shapes it seemed that the Woking based outfit had been left a little behind. McLaren of course responded but the Wing still lacked the level of complexity of say a Red Bull or Ferrari, however with development curtailed early on last year in order to concentrate on this years car it was expected the team would respond with something a little more radical.
It's clear that the team have clearly enhanced this area of the car but they are staying fairly close to their ethos at the same time. The thicker profiled 3 flap arrangement (mainplane and two upper flaps) remains but with the mainplane now sliced into 2 sections and both the flaps having slots added at the outer sections the wing bears a much closer resemblance to Red Bull or Ferrari etc. The Cascades used by McLaren are orientated at pushing airflow up and around the top corner of the tyre whilst the Endplates attachment only on the footplate alongside the mainplane, means airflow aft of this can converge with the elongated vortice that's being generated with the arc'd outer section of the flaps.
Something that went un-noticed by me, (until I checked back) on the final day of the last test and once again at this test the team have also added a vane that protrudes from the endplate, over hanging the footplate. A similar vane can be found on the WO5 but it's firstly much larger on the McLaren, has a slot placed along it's length but is also placed in the opposite diagonal direction which will therefore affect it's pressure gradient differently. Although they have the their differences both teams vanes look to do a similar thing, create a pressure gradient. The slot placed in the vane helps to create a vortex that pulls on the airflow structures inbound and will aid in the turning of the airflow outbound of the tyre. These flow structures are crucial as they will once again impact the car further downstream as the wheel wake tries to impinge on the floor performance.
Ahead of the rear wheels is quite a crucial zone especially with the teams having lost the ability to seal the diffusers edge with exhaust energy this season. The tyre itself creates turbulent airflow that can impinge on the diffuser, something we call 'Tyre Squirt'. Even with exhaust blown diffusers a plethora of solutions to this problem were used up and down the grid last season with vertical strakes and slots being the order of the day.
Having already utilised a singular curved strake and multiple floor slots on the WO4 the team have clearly continued to evaluate the region. Red Bull ran with a twin strake arrangement and multiple slots for much of last year on the RB9 a configuration that we now see being tried on the WO5. Flanked by sections of metal in order to reinforce the floor and stop it from flexing the strakes and slots work in combination to create vortices that try to prevent the incursion of airflow into the diffusers path by 'tyre squirt'. The length and orientation of each of these strakes and slots is carefully designed by the team in order to make them work over a wider operating window / speed threshold.
Having already discussed Mercedes use of the U bend in this years diffuser due to the change in regulations regarding the starter motor hole, it may come as no surprise that the team are already making change around the central portion of the diffuser.
Added at this test we see a pair of triangular sections flank the Y100 region (lower inset), their intent to lower the pressure and increase the upwash. In the upper inset we can see the previous configuration, much like their competitors is simply a blunt section that creates a pressure gradient under the crash structure, forcing it upward through both the slot and trailing edge. This of course lowers the pressure behind the crash structure encouraging the diffuser flow to do the same. The addition of the triangulations will lead to the area becoming 'fenced off' as the pressure gradients entwine and create vortices. This is by no means a 'silver bullet' and would be relatively easy to copy by the other teams but as always must be done so with the consideration of many of the surrounding elements that come into play.
Mercedes have the luxury of bringing aerodynamic refining parts at the last test with the team having covered significant ground in the previous two tests.
As part of these refinements we find new bargeboards ahead of the Sidepod, bargeboards have long been an essential way of managing the airflow dispatched from the front wing toward the sidepod. Over the years the FIA have done their best to curtail the size and placing of these devices as the teams came up with more inventive solutions. Last year we saw both Red Bull and Lotus using slotted bargeboards which leads to more efficiency in the region.
Mercedes have however taken this one step further with the introduction of a two element bargeboard. The stepped arrangement will allow airflow that isn't fully contained when it passes between the splitter/chassis to the front of the sidepod to join up with it further downstream. This injection of airflow further downstream should help to enhance to flow around the sidepod. Furthermore the Bargeboard is used in order to generate longitudinal vortices that's intent is to aid the Diffuser downstream. The splitting of this element therefore alludes to the team wanting to create another set of vortices to feed the floor/diffuser. The aim of the game as always is efficiency and so it comes as no surprise to me that this area is under close scrutiny with it able to yield some favourable results over a wide speed range.
The increase in performance from ERS means that braking balance becomes a priority for the drivers this season.
Having been used to seeing drivers manually adjusting brake bias in previous seasons (driver reaching down to the left of the cockpit) this season the process will become electronic. Additional paddles or buttons will be found on the steering wheels for the driver to make adjustments.
The standard hydraulic front to rear braking system is retained but the electronic system sits on top of this. This is because with the driver harvesting upto 5 times the electrical energy per lap (2mj up from 400kj's) it puts more prominence on bias.
When the driver applies the brakes the amount of pressure will be monitored by the ECU. Dependent upon how much harvesting the MGU-K is doing the ECU will then proportion off how much physical braking is done by the rear brakes.
The whole system is software controlled, with code written by each individual team. Thus far, drivers have been complaining of a lack of feel from the brakes, due to the momentary delay between his input, the ECU working out the bias split, the amount of harvesting happening and the reaction of the physical braking force. This will undoubtedly lead to an area of improvement as the relationship between the systems and the drivers are realised and additional code written.
Note: The systems fail safe reverts to full hydraulic control in order that the required braking pressure is achieved.
Friday, 7 March 2014
The team from Milton Keynes that dominated all but the initial phase of the last regulation phase (arguably better than BrawnGP once their car had a Double Deck Diffuser installed) is struggling to convince even themselves they can take the chequered flag in Melbourne, let alone be competitive. A list longer than my body, let alone my arm awaits the technical team as they re-assemble post test.
There seems to be several key issues at play along with some rather confusing ones to talk about in regards to both the RB10 and the teams approach pre-season.
It's only a small point, but one worth making, the RB10 used at all three tests thus far would be illegal if it were to start the race in Melbourne.
Since the RB10 was unveiled it has been devoid of the FOM camera's on the side of nosecone, now this may seem like a trivial matter but it points to the fact that the RB10 isn't being shown in a competitive guise. Can we therefore infer that Red Bull have another nose design that they aren't willing to show to their competitors until the very last moment? Or are they being considered such low performance differentiators that they'll just place them on the side of the nosecone come Melbourne? Lest we forget that Red Bull have been a team over the last few seasons to have leveraged these items for an aerodynamic advantage like no other. Placing the camera's in several locations to best suit the circuit demands (Nose tip: hammerhead position, Between the front wing pylons: taking advantage of the restricted central section of the mainplane and lastly in the most neutral position on the side of the nose) and moving the airflow in different ways.
When I first analysed the RB10 I remarked at how basic the rear end of the car seemed in comparison to some of the teams opposition, expecting the team to revise the concept throughout pre-season testing. This however never came to fruition with the team doing some rudimentary cut away and piping work on the original bodywork to quell the thermal issues caused by such tight packaging.
The downforce losses associated with the rule changes has led to many teams taking a sledge hammer to a nail whilst Red Bull appear to be using a tack hammer. Whilst the other teams are desperately proliferating the area above the floor with aero trinkets aimed at mitigating the loss of the Beam Wing, Red Bull have a relatively sparse floor etc. What is obvious though is that everything has its place, with the shrouded halfshafts within the lower wishbone placed directly behind the lower cooling outlet. Above these outlets we find the extremely shrink wrapped section of bodywork
We all know that the new powerunits are insanely complex and that due to the reduction in engine capacity (2400cc V8 to 1600cc V6), inclusion of a turbocharger and the increase in performance demand from two energy recovery systems that the car's thermal footprint has increased. Cooling therefore has become a massive priority to the teams and this comes in the form of several heat exchangers too: The ICE is cooled by the conventional radiator(s) whilst the inlet charge (turbo) is taken care of by the intercooler(s), there is then a plethora of oil coolers taking care of the ICE, Turbo and Gearbox. The quantity, sizing and orientation of all these heat exchangers have an impact on the car's weight and design. Having seen the layout being utilised by Toro Rosso and Lotus (ICE radiators, Intercoolers and Oil Coolers mounted in both sidepods) it's clear that Renault have designed their Turbo to receive cooled air from two sources (an intercooler in either Sidepod) whilst the extremely tight packaging displayed by the RB10 alludes to something different, with the team likely following their usually extremely marginal arrangement.
I'd suspect the team have tried to use an asymmetric layout with an Intercooler placed in one Sidepod and the ICE radiator in the other, with the core thickness of the intercooler being substantially larger than it's radiator counterpart it would allow for the stacking of oil radiators to be done with the ICE radiator, retaining uniform packaging. In terms of cooling this perhaps isn't too much of an issue although the pipework may cause somewhat of a conundrum when returning the charge back to the turbo.
One of the key components of the changes for 2014 and that will feature heavily in both team and driver excuses, whilst becoming a firm fixture in commentary is: Brake-by-wire. The brake-by-wire system is a legacy of the increased performance being extrapolated from the MGU-K this season and puts a demand on both the engineers and drivers in getting it right.
Brake-by-wire put simply is an electronic system that sits on top of the hydraulic braking system in order to regulate the amount of braking done by both the ERS/MGU-K and the standard mechanical braking system. This is due to the fact that the MGU-K must now harvest 5 times the amount of energy per lap than it's KERS predecessor (2mj's rather than 400kj's). This additional braking force from the MGU-K requires much more focus in terms of balancing the front to rear brake bias and so this where the electronics step in. The driver will still select the amount of bias he requires for each corner, but rather than using the old mechanical setup that you're used to seeing them reach for on the left hand side of the cockpit, they will instead make changes via the steering wheel (additional paddles or buttons). These changes are metered by the amount of MGU-K harvesting happening at that given moment, allied to the amount of pressure applied to the brake pedal.
This requires a level of compliance between the driver and the software (which has been pre-written by the teams engineers), at this stage many of the drivers are still finding problems with this and are complaining that they have a lack of feel. Red Bull are believed to be one of the teams having issues with their code and have likely been trying to push the performance envelope too early.
Energy Store (ES)
In terms of performance gains from one team to another who utilise the same powerunit there isn't perhaps huge scope in 2014, with homologation encompassing almost the whole powerunit. One area that was left open for inter powerunit gains however was the Energy Store and this is apparently where Red Bull tried to steal a march on their competitors but appear to have fell a little short. As we know over the last few seasons Red Bull have been plagued by problems associated with KERS, with the blame largely falling on Adrian Newey's shoulders for the extreme packaging he requires for aero. For the past few seasons the team have run with a split system that required a battery pack placed in the sidepod and a set of supercapacitors placed around the gearbox casing. The team did this not only for performance gains within the KERS but also to assist in the cooling and overall packaging of the system.
For 2014 however the ES has a prescribed position under the driver and will likely be encased by the fuel cell too. To continue to gain an advantage over their fellow Renault competitors and they hoped over the rest of the field the boys from Milton Keynes had decided to invest in their own battery technology. This appears to have been one of the teams biggest faux pa's and has led to the low mileage during testing and numerous stoppages throughout. When installed and allied to the Renault unit they've had a difference of opinion, this has a massive effect as not only does it affect the physical installation of the ES and associated cabling. It also has an effect on the software code that has been written, especially the way all the sub systems (Turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K) have to work in perfect harmony this season.
For the final pre-season test in Bahrain it appears that Red Bull finally bit the bullet hard and switched to the Renault ES as used by Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham already and led to the increase in mileage. The problems associated with this will have led to compromises in installation and packaging though that will take some time to rectify and will likely never be quite right. Furthermore the code that had been previously written by the team to control the turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K and brake-by-wire systems will largely be classed as junk and have to be re-written. “Why so different?” I hear you say, well it was to do with the way the original Red Bull ES was able to receive, store and transfer the energy and so intrinsically led to different energy pathways and a possible performance advantage that is lost now they've had to revert to Renaults.
Red Bull are clearly several steps behind where they wanted to be but as they've proved in the past, they are more than capable of overcoming hurdles put up in front of them. With so much reliable and consistent running displayed by their opponents however I wouldn't expect them to be close in the first part of the season and they may be rubbing their hands together over the prospect of a double points finish at the final race.
Mercedes had the luxury of bringing aerodynamic refining parts to the last test with the team having covered significant ground in the previous two tests.
As part of these refinements we find a new set of Airflow Conditioners alongside the Sidepods of the WO5 (old version in top left inset). These more complex conditioners are split into two with the forward element retaining it's vertical stance whilst the rearward section arc's over to reach the Sidepod's shoulder / outbound vertical vortex generator. The creation of a two part element has already been done by several of the teams rivals and so it's no surprise that the team has at least evaluated the part for their own challenger.
That area of the car is quite sensitive especially in yaw, with tyre wake impacting the flow both over and around the Sidepod. Furthermore as the teams try to use the Sidepod's large aerodynamic surface to affect the performance of the car it's crucial to keep it operating in as wide a performance window as possible (over a wide speed threshold). The splitting of the conditioner into two elements will help to both control the front tyre wake and it's impact on the airflow around the Sidepod and create vortices that will both manage the impingement of airflow further downstream and increase the efficiency of the airflow structures in that region.
Having used a fairly simple design for the splitter on the W05 thus far it was no surprise to see the team install a new one at the last test. The new splitter features an assortment of sections and fences that will help to both collate, re-purpose and generate of it's own, vortices that will be used by the floor and diffuser downstream of it (old splitter in top left inset).
As we know the splitters purpose is not only to direct the airflow it receives around the sidepods or condition it for the floor/diffuser but to house the plank. This is an important job as if it's worn beyond the FIA's limit at any of the 7 pre determined holes, it can lead to the exclusion of the driver from the race standings. With this in mind Mercedes (not exclusively) looking to continue the quest to run with as much rake angle as they can achieve (rake is the nose down attitude of the car, allowing the diffuser more expansion and therefore downforce) the team have also added a very thin vertical stay (mounted to the underside of the chassis and top of the diffuser).