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The aero secrets revealed by F1's dirty cars in Turkey

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The Turkish Grand Prix really threw a spanner in the works for Formula 1 drivers and teams as they scrambled to get on top of the freshly laid track surface and weather conditions.

The challenges certainly were unique, but there were also some unintended consequences from the weekend too as they offered a fascinating glimpse of teams' aero secrets.
For not only did the weather allow us to capture images of some of the vortices, the wet surface gave us clues about how the aerodynamics of the car disturb the airflow and manipulate the tyre wake to improve performance.

On top of this, the track surface was still leeching oil residue. This emulsified when mixed with the rain and, after nearly two hours of running on Sunday, left the cars covered in a grey hue. This behaved much like the flo-viz paint that the teams use to assess aerodynamic performance in testing and free practice sessions – so offered the chance to see a car's aero secrets at work.

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Join us as we take a look through a collection of the best images from the weekend that can be used to visualise how the car's aerodynamics move the airflow around to improve performance and cause the turbulence we always hear about.

 

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Red Bull is known for its aerodynamic prowess and this picture just goes to show how well the airflow moves around the RB16's sidepods into the coke bottle region.

 

Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 detail

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 detail

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton climbs out of the cockpit of his Mercedes W11 as a seven-time champion, and we are treated to a view of both how the airflow moves over the surface of the sidepods, and how the design of the halo fairing alters the flow too.

 

Ferrari

Ferrari SF1000 detail

Ferrari SF1000 detail

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

In this image of the Ferrari SF1000, we can see a vortex that has formed beneath the car.

 

McLaren

McLaren MCL35 rear detail

McLaren MCL35 rear detail

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

A vortex forms due to the adverse pressure gradient at the rear wing tip on the McLaren MCL35 and is visible due to the climatic conditions.

 

Renault

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 sidepods detail

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 sidepods detail

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

This shot of the Renault RS20 shows how the Venetian blind style deflectors push the airflow down and around the sidepods.

 

Williams

Williams FW43 sidepods detail

Williams FW43 sidepods detail

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

This shot of the FW43 is aided not only by the oily residue kicked up off the track, but also some dirt that appears to have clung to the car. It shows how the ramped section of their sidepod drives the airflow in to a point on the floor where it will be picked up again by another aerodynamic airflow structure.

 

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

The spray from the wet conditions gives us an idea of how the airflow is pushed away from the car by the various aerodynamic surfaces. This in-turn prevents the airflow being ingested by the floor which would reduce performance.

 

 

Gallery: Turkey's dirty cars

For more images of the airflow secrets revealed by the dirty cars in Turkey, here is an extensive gallery.

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 sidepods detail

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 sidepods detail
1/24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail
2/24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB16

Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB16
3/24

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear wing detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear wing detail
4/24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team R.S.20

Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team R.S.20
5/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16
6/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 nose detail

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 nose detail
7/24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Racing Point RP20 sidepods detail

Racing Point RP20 sidepods detail
8/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

McLaren MCL35 sidepods detail

McLaren MCL35 sidepods detail
9/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Haas VF-20 side detail

Haas VF-20 side detail
10/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing RB16 side detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 side detail
11/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear detail
12/24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes F1 W11 detail

Mercedes F1 W11 detail
13/24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 sidepods detail
14/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 detail

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 detail
15/24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11 tyres lock-up

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11 tyres lock-up
16/24

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail
17/24

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Racing Point RP20 detail

Racing Point RP20 detail
18/24

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Mercedes F1 W11 detail

Mercedes F1 W11 detail
19/24

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 tyres detail

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 tyres detail
20/24

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11
21/24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000
22/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000
23/24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000
24/24

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Matt Somerfield