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

F1 tech race: How Ferrari now follows Mercedes’ lead of 2017

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F1 tech race: How Ferrari now follows Mercedes’ lead of 2017
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Sep 25, 2019, 8:27 PM

Ferrari arrived in Singapore with two victories under its belt in as many races and a spring in its step. However, those victories were recorded at tracks that suited its low-drag characteristics, so how did it then pull off a win at the street circuit?

The Marina Bay circuit offered a completely different test of the car’s abilities, a high-downforce and bumpy street track that requires a setup firmly at the other end of the spectrum. So, what was new on the SF90 and how did it help the team overcome its issues in such spectacular style?

Let us investigate, beginning with the ‘cape’ nose solution…

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Ferrari SF90, front wing comparison

Ferrari SF90, front wing comparison
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari arrived in Singapore with several key updates, the most significant of which was a revised nose design, featuring the widely adopted cape-style solution. It’s a design first seen over at Mercedes back in 2017 and has been a trend that’s been followed elsewhere since…

Evolution of the Mercedes W08 nose in 2017

Evolution of the Mercedes W08 nose in 2017
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes was the first to introduce a cape-style design back in 2017, but it took several iterations of that design before it was ultimately happy with how it worked with that year’s car. It’s been refined further in the seasons that have intervened.

Williams FW41 layout

Williams FW41 layout
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Williams’ 2018 challenger featured key design trends from many teams up and down the grid, but was the first to incorporate the cape solution pioneered by Mercedes.

McLaren MCL33 front wing Spanish GP

McLaren MCL33 front wing Spanish GP
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren introduced a complex nose design at the Spanish GP in 2018, complete with a cape solution.

Alfa Romeo Racing C38, front wing and nose

Alfa Romeo Racing C38, front wing and nose
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alfa Romeo has paired a cape solution with a flared nose hole solution this season.

Renault F1 Team R.S.19 nose

Renault F1 Team R.S.19 nose
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Renault introduced its version of the cape in France this year.

Racing Point RP19 nose

Racing Point RP19 nose
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Racing Point utilised a cape earlier in the season but has since abandoned the concept for something a little more simplistic.

Ferrari SF90, nose

Ferrari SF90, nose
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Rather than construct an entirely new nose, Ferrari’s approach has seen it utilise the same main construction and replacing the vertical and slotted front wing pillar section with a fluted surface. This, in combination with the surface mounted between the pillars and the nose tip, influences the flow around that region and help to redistribute the cars aerodynamic centre of pressure and influence the performance of the front tyres – bringing them into (and keeping them in) their working range more effectively.

Ferrari SF90, side

Ferrari SF90, side
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The edge of the floor has become an extremely sensitive area since the rules were changed in 2017, with a growing number of slots and vanes used to create a sealing effect that negates the issue of tyre squirt downstream. In Singapore the team added some metal inserts to strengthen the floor and reduce the chance of the gaps in these slots closing when they flex. This would lessen the chance of any aerodynamic flow stability and should improve performance when the floor was at full load.

Ferrari SF90, rear detail

Ferrari SF90, rear detail
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To take further advantage of these alterations it also made a revision to the outer portion of their diffuser, favoring a similar solution first tested in France and long since thought abandoned. The change relates to the upper perforated Gurney-style flaps, their position and the strengthening used to improve rigidity, which like the aforementioned changes to the floor result in an overall performance gain.


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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari Shop Now
Author Matt Somerfield