Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

British GP tech debrief: Ferrari's upgrade push fails to deliver

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British GP tech debrief: Ferrari's upgrade push fails to deliver
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Co-author: Matt Somerfield
Jul 13, 2016, 12:48 PM

In the second part of the British Grand Prix technical debrief, Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield take a close look at the updates introduced by Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Sauber.

Ferrari

The Italian squad's march toward Mercedes has been quelled in recent races, with Mercedes unleashing the might of its development in response.

However, in Silverstone Ferrari had several updates of its own to focus its efforts once more.

The changes made to the SF16-H's front wing centered around alterations to the outermost section.

In the 2D animation above, we can see that the latter part of the endplate was changed significantly, not only with a more curved trailing edge being employed but an increased curvature, allowing more airflow to spill out and guide the airflow around the front tyre.

As such, the slot at the lowest and rearmost point of the endplate was also extended too.

Ferrari, front wing arc
Ferrari, front wing arc

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Further to the endplate changes, the arc on the main plane's leading edge was also amended, with the geometry altered to change the shape of the nozzle that it creates as the flaps create and expansion tunnel behind it.

This will focus the shape of the airflow differently, changing the way it imparts itself on the airflow passing across the tyres surface and out around it.

Ferrari SF16H brake duct fins, captioned, Silverstone GP
Ferrari SF16H brake duct fins, captioned, Silverstone GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

While not new, having been used since Canada, the British GP gave us a rare glimpse of some new fins that have sprouted from the SF16-H's front brake duct.

The lower of the two fins is a simple horizontal blade that can be found on most of the challengers up and down the grid, while the curved upper fin is very similar to the 'Cobra' vane used by Mercedes, named as such because of its distinct similarity to a Cobra in the strike position.

Ferrari SF16H fins, Silverstone GP
Ferrari SF16H fins, Silverstone GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

 

Sometimes it's difficult to lead aerodynamically, especially when chasing a team like Mercedes; rather it is easier to look around the grid and use ideas that have worked for your rivals, with teams devoting entire working groups to such tasks.

However, for Silverstone, Ferrari introduced a new chassis vane (arrowed), which is mounted above the cars splitter and will continue to work the air that has passed by the turning vanes ahead of it.

The shaping of the vane suggests that it will create another vortex that will help to direct airflow down and around the sidepod, improving the direction of airflow structures that are already destined for that location.

Sauber C29 fins
Sauber C29 fins

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

While not in exactly the same position as the ones introduced by Ferrari, a selection of fins used in 2010 on the C29 were used to control how airflow moved down along the side of the chassis toward the sidepod.

Ferrari SF16H side pods, Canadian GP
Ferrari SF16H side pods, Canadian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Having updated the SF16-H's sidepod bodywork in Canada, the team has reverted to its previous specifications since. However, the cooling and aerodynamic demands of Silverstone was enough for Ferrari to give the newer configuration a recall.

Williams

Williams' general performance when compared with its rivals has certainly dropped away since its stellar 2014 performance. But as Claire Williams alluded to during the weekend, it seems to be an issue of the team adding downforce, something that is even more exposed in wet conditions.

As such, the team set up a separate low-speed and wet weather working group, but is at pains to say that it still hasn't resolved all its issues.

Williams FW38 front wing, Silverstone GP
Williams FW38 front wing, Silverstone GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In recent races the team has introduced a new front wing (pictured), which we covered in detail in the Austria debrief.  Unfortunately, damage sustained by Massa during qualifying in Austria meant the Brazilian couldn't use it during the race and had to start from the pitlane.

Clearly buoyed by the performance shown in Austria, the team assessed the wing again with both drivers back-to-back testing it with the previous configuration.

Furthermore, they tried the new and old wing in combination with the nose pillars first trialled in Canada (inset), which feature a taller leading edge before arching back to the nose.

McLaren

McLaren MP4-31, front wing detail
McLaren MP4-31, front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Fernando Alonso used a new front wing in Britain, and although it had many of the same genetic precursors as the one used in Austria, there were several nuances that desire our attention.

Metal inserts were placed in the more complex and loaded sections of the wing, including the endplate's T-juncture with the mainplane, the arched sections leading off the footplate and the flapped section that meets with the central neutral section of the wing.

This is likely in a response to indications that the wing is deforming more than the designers intended, with these metal inserts helping to increase the wings rigidity.

The team also focused some of its attention on surface finishings with paint usually used on the flapped section of the mainplane deleted, while it continues the trend of only painting limited sections of the upper flaps too.

You'll also note different finishes are also applied around the trailing edge of the flaps to improve the performance of the strakes that terminate behind and around the base of supports or winglets that are mounted on the various flaps and cascades.

These various finishings are used in order to alter how the airflow attaches and detaches from the various surfaces, micro-managing the airflow to improve the overall performance of the wing.

McLaren front wing detail
McLaren front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

As a comparison, the wing used at the last round in Austria is in the image above.

McLaren, brake duct Austrian GP
McLaren, brake duct Austrian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren retained the brake duct configuration that they introduced in Austria (below), which features the tapered drum and changes how airflow and heat radiates around the brakes and then into the tyre.

However, at Silverstone it closed off several of the channels within the drum and taped over the top part of the inlet as it didn't require the same cooling or aerodynamic effect.

McLaren, brake duct British GP
McLaren, brake duct British GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Sauber

Sauber's precarious financial situation has meant the C35 has had little aerodynamic development in 2016.

However, recent investment has kick-started things again at Hinwil, with the promise of at least updated front and rear wings for the team going forward.

Sauber C35, rear wing and monkey seat
Sauber C35, rear wing and monkey seat

Photo by: XPB Images

During FP1 at Silverstone, Marcus Ericsson tested a new specification of high downforce rear wing, which features several aerodynamic elements we've already seen used by other teams.

Aside from this, the twin centre mounting pillars which combine to create a Y-shape and intersect the exhaust have been replaced by a single pillar. This will undoubtedly improve the efficiency of the mainplane and top flap causing less disturbance as the air moves over the surfaces.

Sauber has clearly looked at what others have been doing with their own designs and incorporated them with this update, inclusive of Toro Rosso-style louvres to displace the tip vortex created when the flap and endplate pressure gradients collide.

While the gradient slots we've seen various teams use over the last few years, that allows airflow from outside the endplate to pass inboard and help the mainplane and top flap have also been added.

The monkey seat has also been changed, mounting to either side of the crash structure rather than on a central support hung from the pylon.

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