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

How Ferrari’s mirrors became a talking point

Formula 1 designers have long viewed rear view mirrors as a necessary inconvenience - because for all their safety benefit they are far from ideal in aerodynamic terms.

How Ferrari’s mirrors became a talking point

This season though, the design of Ferrari's mirrors has become a major talking point, with rivals all keeping a close eye on what the Italian outfit was up to.

Monaco was the third race in a row that the SF71H featured a new wing mirror design, as the team reacted – and then was forced to react – to a new development avenue opened up by the FIA.

But how and why did this come to pass? 

Unique concept

The two-piece mirror design used by Ferrari this year has already put it under the microscope, as other teams tried to identify how they to could use such a design to improve performance.

Ferrari SF71H side pods, Australian GP
Ferrari SF71H side pods, Australian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

However, in recent races, the design has gone through numerous changes, some more controversial than others as the FIA stepped in to request that alterations be made.

In Baku, the team was ordered to adjust either their floor or mirror design as they did not comply with associated regulations 3.5.2 and 3.5.5, which require no bodywork be found in a box section ahead of the sidepods in plan view.

However, teams have taken to hiding items beneath the mirrors, enabling them to comply with the regulations but also maximise their design envelope.

This small overlapping area in the regulations has permitted teams to run floor strakes, which extend out from the floor and improve performance.

In the case of Ferrari, it had added these floor strakes but not taken enough care to cover them with its mirrors, causing rivals to question the design with the FIA - which subsequently requested they be modified.

In order to comply, the Scuderia's design team simply added three small appendages to the rear face of the mirror housing.

Ferrari SF71H mirror detail, Spanish GP
Ferrari SF71H mirror detail, Spanish GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team courted further controversy when it arrived in Spain sporting halo-mounted wing mirrors. The fact they were mounted on the halo was not controversial in itself, as a recent technical directive from the FIA opened the door to the opportunity.

However, ever in search of performance, the team had also placed winglets above the mirrors, arguing that they were there in order to meet the required stiffness levels.

The FIA did not agree but allowed a stay of execution for Spain, requiring Ferrari to make further changes in Monaco.

Ferrari SF71H mirros Monaco GP
Ferrari SF71H mirros Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Unsurprisingly the mirrors used in Monaco were very similar in design to those that featured in Spain, perhaps highlighting the fact that the winglets were just that and not additional supports as had been suggested.

Will Canada be the fourth consecutive race that Ferrari tries to push the envelope again?

 
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