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

Ferrari mirror tweaks show scrutiny team is under

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Ferrari mirror tweaks show scrutiny team is under
Giorgio Piola
By: Giorgio Piola
Co-author: Matt Somerfield
May 8, 2018, 9:03 AM

Formula 1 teams know that delivering a successful car can come with a price, with rivals and cynics often suggesting that a car is only fast because the team has found some form of unfair advantage.

Ferrari has been no exception to this, with rumours of oil burn, secondary oil tanks, and clever exhaust blowing maps all having been floated around – despite the FIA never finding anything untoward during on-event checks.

But that has not stopped Ferrari's competitors from examining in detail Ferrari's design, and a tweak that was made to the team's innovative mirrors in Baku shows just how deep the scrutiny is to ensure everything the Maranello team is doing is above board.

Ferrari SF71H side pods, Australian GP

Ferrari SF71H side pods, Australian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The SF71-H's mirrors have already been a talking point this season given their unique multi-part design, allowing airflow to pass through them and improve the localised flow field.

However, in Azerbaijan the team made some subtle changes to the mirror casing in order to fully comply with the regulations, after some queries were floated by rival teams about whether or not their design complied strictly with the wording of the rules.

FIA diaram
FIA diaram

Photo by: FIA

A requirement of article 3.5.5 of the technical regulations is that no bodywork in a box region ahead of the sidepod and floor's leading edge should be able to be seen from above (marked in red on the diagram from the FIA's technical regulations).

Teams often override this rule by using a mirror caveat from another rule (article 3.5.2 a) which allows them to be situated in areas where other bodywork cannot be – so they can be used to 'hide' such car elements underneath.

Ferrari SF71H mirror
Ferrari SF71H mirror

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It could have been suggested that Ferrari's mirrors fell foul of article 3.5.5, as the floor strakes being utilised by the team this year could be seen between the leading edge of the sidepod/floor and the trailing edge of the mirror casing when viewed from above.

Mercedes and Red Bull also run similar floor strakes, but overcome the 3.5.5 element by straddling the area entirely with their mirror housing, ensuring that the lower design elements cannot be seen.

Whilst moving the entire mirror casing rearward was clearly an option for Ferrari, it may also have negated some of the overall aerodynamic effect that it is trying to achieve with their mirrors.

Ferraro SF71H mirrors
Ferraro SF71H mirrors

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

As such, with rivals questioning the mirror solution Ferrari started the season with, the team opted for a different response to ensure that there were no doubt that its car followed the letter of the law.

It added three tabs to the upper surface/corner of the mirror, shielding the strakes if the car were to be viewed from above.

Ferrari SF71H front wing end plate
Ferrari SF71H front wing end plate

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Wing changes

While the mirror change caught attention, and almost certainly had no impact on its car performance, there were other changes introduced in Baku that did bring speed gains.

Having utilized a fresh front wing design for 2018, the team modified the inner and most rearward endplate canards in Azerbaijan, reducing it to a single element configuration rather than two [1].

The latter portion of the endplate is now more outwardly angled and features a cut in order to force more air out across and around the front tyre [2]. These changes have also resulted in the flap that was attached to the trailing edge of the endplate being affixed to the flap behind [3].

These changes have been made in tandem as they have an effect on how the airflow is turned out around the front tyre.

In the case of the endplate flap, its movement is now governed by the rotation of the flaps under load, which changes its interaction with the wheel wake, potentially improving downforce and reducing drag dependent on the car's speed.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Giorgio Piola
Article type Analysis