Motorsport Blog
Topic

Motorsport Blog

Five F1 tech talking points of 2017: Teams chance their arm on the 'slots'

We have had a great response to the launch of this seasonal special series on tech talking points from 2017, so here is the second of the five topi...

Five F1 tech talking points of 2017: Teams chance their arm on the 'slots'

We have had a great response to the launch of this seasonal special series on tech talking points from 2017, so here is the second of the five topics.

We're going to get close to the ground to inspect the growing influence of floor slots.

In previous iterations of F1 floor designs, a small number of slots had been used to reduce the effect of “tyre squirt” at the rear of the car but, thanks to a loophole in the 2017 regulations, teams have been able to trial more outlandish solutions.

When the FIA widened the maximum allowable bounding box for bodywork by 200mm, the regulation for “continuous” bodywork on the car’s floor remained the same as the previous season.

This gave teams the chance to exploit a 100mm area on the outboard edge of the floor to experiment with slots and cuts parallel to the sidepod geometry.

Floor slots

Two key variations in the early season existed: McLaren (above), Haas and Toro Rosso trialled a slot with a raised trailing edge, shaped to carry further vortices outboard, as indicated with the yellow arrow.

This is to reduce interface with the rear wheel, minimising the effect of the vortical wake produced by the rotation of the wheel creating a range of unpredictable flow patterns.

Meanwhile, Mercedes and Ferrari had both considered different solutions to the floor slots, and both trialled their initial solutions with a trailing edge cut away from the floor.

Below is the Ferrari solution, which is provided with some concave curvature in order to manage the flow emanating from the bargeboard region, using the slot to bleed off low-pressure airflow and working it with the curved lip to help seal the floor in the diffuser area.

Ferrari soon had to bolster the cutaway section with a small metal insert, having experienced some dramatic fluttering at high speed which will have disturbed the predicted airflow patterns.

The ultimate principle behind each floor slot design is the same. Teams have identified the need to introduce a vortex along the floor’s edge to help seal the diffuser, which reduces the chance of turbulent flow bleeding into it.

With a more consistent flow pattern in the working part of the floor, the overall pressure distribution of the diffuser itself is more even, providing a more consistent downforce output. Combined with the existing bargeboard pieces, the airflow can be directed through these slots with minimal additions to the current aerodynamic packages.

At this sharp trailing edge, the teams are able to create a small vortex to carry along the edge of the floor and stop “dirty” air from drifting underneath the floor.

Teams soon began to work with this area further, and appeared to find greater gains through augmenting the scalloped section of the floor with an extra vortex generator to carry the circulating airflow along the edge of the floor.

Designs varied in their extremities, McLaren electing to stick with the slot alone while the likes of Renault, Red Bull and Force India eschewed the slot's inclusion and incorporated just the vortex generators (red arrow) to work airflow aft of the bargeboard geometry.

Whether teams will choose to pursue further gains in this area remains to be seen, as the teams appear to have not reached a consensus over their usefulness.

Ultimately, incorporating any new design idea into a car must work in tandem with the existing package, and so perhaps teams will have been able to consider the slots at an earlier stage in their car's development.

What did you think of the F1 tech developments of 2017? Do the cars appeal to you? leave your comment in the section below
shares
comments
Massa was a "great reference" for Williams - Lowe
Previous article

Massa was a "great reference" for Williams - Lowe

Next article

Lauda taunts Marko for rushing Verstappen’s Red Bull F1 deal

Lauda taunts Marko for rushing Verstappen’s Red Bull F1 deal
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Prime

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Motorsport.com heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Prime

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Prime

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. Mark Gallagher ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022