How Force India is solving its problems

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How Force India is solving its problems
Giorgio Piola
By: Giorgio Piola
Co-author: Matt Somerfield
May 18, 2018, 12:35 PM

Force India has admitted it has missed its performance targets with its 2018 Formula 1 car, but continued to make progress during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend and post-race test.

Force India sensors
Force India sensors

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team mounted numerous airflow sensors to the sidepod during free practice to help identify any problems that may be appearing in the real world that do not show up in CFD and wind tunnel simulations.

In one of these tests, the kiel problems were mounted in a line following the curvature of the bodywork (right hand inset, red arrows).

In the subsequent tests only the lower two probes remained (inset).

This followed the introduction of a small triangular flap in the undercut gutter (white arrow) as the team looked to create a pressure gradient to improve flow around the sidepod in the opening races.

Force India VJM11 detail
Force India VJM11 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team also introduced a new floor in Spain as it looks to improve rear downforce consistency.

The longitudinal holes are a concept first seen on the McLaren this year and have subsequently featured elsewhere.

These not only drive the performance of the outer section of the floor, but also change the flow characteristics of the tyre squirt slots behind.

This should help with the fluctuating rear load and difficulty in managing the rear tyres that the team has been experiencing.

Force India VJM11 rear wing detail
Force India VJM11 rear wing detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Force also ran a programme at the post-race test to evaluate any rear wing problems.

The rig, which resembles another wing element mounted behind, is loaded with sensors to produced baseline performance figures.

The central section has heat reflective tape and temperature strips affixed to it, as the team looks at how the exhaust gasses influence that area.

Force India's problems have delayed the introduction of the team's new front wing concept.

As the wing first rolled out in Bahrain has been left on the sidelines until they are happy with the balance of the car.

"We are still very confident that the front wing does what we wanted of it," said technical director Andy Green earlier this season.

"But, it was designed to go with a car that generates more rear load, once that load appears and you put the wing on, that generates even more rear load so it is a double whammy.

"That is why we are very keen to break into it."

With setup and tyre confidence growing allied to the introduction of the new pars, the team re-evaluated the front wing specification during Friday's free practice sessions in Barcelona.

It returned to the previous specification for the rest of the weekend, but ran the front wing again in the test.

Force India VJM11 front wing detail
Force India VJM11 front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Front wing comparison, by Gary Anderson

The older version of the front wing has a very quick change of section between what are classed as the downforce-producing components (pink section) and the outer parts, which are doing their best to turn the airflow around and over the front tyres.

With this abrupt change of section, it is very easy to get transverse airflow in this area, which will also be influenced as the wing gets closer to the ground at high-speed and/or with a bit of roll mid-corner.

The new version, with its increased tunnel (arrowed) allows those two areas to work more independently.

But this will affect the front wing's mid-corner characteristics, especially through long, fast ones like Barcelona's Turn 3.

This new wing probably works more effectively in this type of corner, but that can lead to mid-corner oversteer so more time testing post-race is probably needed.

Technical director Andrew Green is confident the front wing will be raced soon.

"It still needs a little bit of work, but it will become the wing of choice very shortly," he said.

 
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Series Formula 1
Author Giorgio Piola
Article type Analysis