F1 Forensic: Ferrari F138 Technical Analysis

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F1 Forensics is brought to thejudge13 readers in partnership with  SomersF1, Like most of us, Matthew Somerfield has a day job and his is being the manager of a car & van rental company in the Isle of Wight.

His passion is to try and bring us non-techies closer to F1 by bridging the gap between the full blown engineering publications and the simplicity of much that is provided by TV.

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The articles will be on a different page to the main blog. Look for the F1 Forensics tab at the top of the screen, below the main site picture.

If you missed the Ferrari launch and subsequent interviews, here they are. To be fair to Ferrari we get some technical guys talking to us – unlike McLaren.

And now, Over to Somers…

Ferrari announced earlier in the week their 2013 challenger would be designated F138 (13 for the year and 8 denoting the last year F1 uses the V8 engine configuration)

Its been well documented that Ferrari’s problems last season were compounded by correlation issues with their Wind Tunnel. The team realizing this have set about updating their facilities in Maranello and shifted design focus for this challenger during last season to the Toyota facility in Cologne.

The F2012 had been muted to be an aggressive design leading upto it’s launch last year. The car featured a step nose much to the annoyance of many of their fans but more importantly at the front of the car pull rod suspension.
It became apparent early on that Ferrari had made some design decisions that may impinge on their performance.

The Sidepod layout featured a return to upright radiators meanwhile their exit at the rear of the car exited in combination with the exhaust plume. Ferrari’s solution was trying to pull the airflow through the Sidepod and create more flow over the rear of the floor.  The team swiftly set about changing their exhaust position running many different versions of their Acer duct before settling on a more McLaren inspired external exhaust.

Alonso’s championship assault was mirrored by Ferrari who were aggressive in their application of upgrades. These didn’t always and get raced as they continued to struggle with scale and CFD correlation with quite a few front wing designs falling on the scrap pile.

The F138 launch images perhaps show the closest car to what the a team will test with so far, plenty of detail changes when compared to the F2013.  Starting with the Front Wing the top flap’s inner section has been split into two sections much like other teams started adopting last season.

This increases the co-efficiency of the section whilst also setting up the airflow aft of the wing better.  As per 2012 the team continue to have a stacked wing effect at the outer portion creating 6 elements

In side view we can see the Endplates complete the same structure as the F2012 helping to maximise the 6 tiers working on the Wing elements inside of them.  The nose just like McLaren takes the height rules to it’s limits allowing more air to be driven under the car.

Utilising the vanity cover allows the nose tip to be placed even higher allowing more clearance underneath, with the nose tip so high the team have decided to offset the Wing Pylons by graduating them rearwards meaning the frontal area is maximised and the pylons themselves extended further back to aid in controlling the air further downstream.

The image below shows how high / flat the nose meanwhile the team show their under nose turning vanes to be similar to last years.  The Pull Rod Front Suspension used by the team in 2012 has been re-designed in order to make working on the car easier for the mechanics.

Moving down the car to the Sidepods and the 2012 ethos appears to have carried across to the F138, without the bodywork off I obviously can’t confirm it but it would appear that the team have stuck with their vertically mounted radiator layout rather than returning to the slanted layout (Signaled by the abrupt bodywork curves in that area).

The Inlet remains relatively unchanged as do the Vortex Generating fins next the to the cockpit entry and the twisted twin element Sidepod Airflow Conditioners.  The bargeboard features a less aggressive design with the serrated edges missing at present.  The roll hoop remains unchanged in design as does the duct behind.

At the rear of the car the launch images show the F138 sporting the semi-coanda exhaust just as they did through the 2012 campaign.  Ferrari like McLaren and Force India have also adopted the integration of the halfshaft into the lower wishbone as I talked about alot (sorry) last season as a concept Adrian Newey’s lineage of cars from the RB5 have used.

This allows the wishbone to be placed higher whilst also removing the aerodynamic effect the halfshafts rotation has on the exhaust plume.  Like Red Bull it would seem that Ferrari have also placed a couple of vertical strakes underneath the wishbone in order direct the plume over the diffuser.

It would appear that Ferrari have also taken the opportunity to lengthen the gearbox area to further take advantage of the exhaust plume manipulation in the coke bottle region.
The team have retained their outer floor slots just in front of the rear tyres but I suspect as the team extract more performance from the exhaust and enable airflow to seal the floor between the tyre and floors edge these will become redundant.  Further modifications have been made to the rear brake ducts with holes cut into the top edge increasing it’s efficiency.

Lastly and perhaps most radically are the Rear Wing Endplates which feature slats at their rear, I will look into these further to assess their true purpose but just like the strakes we see adorn the bottom of the endplates on most cars these slats will manipulate the airflow ahead of them.  My initial thoughts lead me to believe they are using these in order to enhance the diffusers effect.

The lack of cooling at the rear of the car clearly signals this isn’t the complete story from Ferrari and just like their rivals I suspect they will test with a different exhaust design.

10 responses to “F1 Forensic: Ferrari F138 Technical Analysis

  1. Interesting analysis Mat. It does seem more like a refined car than a new one and perhaps as the Judge mentioned yesterday, they made a pigs breakfast out of a really good car last year (through wind tunnels etc.). Perhaps the Rory inspired car of last year was not that bad after all. If recall correctly some analysts did say the car is not that bad and if you look at their race pace they were pretty fast (in the hands of Alonso and later Massa). Is it possible to see from this design if they’ve addressed the airflow re-attachment issue they had last year when using DRS?

    • Hi John and thanks for taking the time to read my analysis, in regards to DRS delta this is an area where Ferrari were a little late to the party and so in trying to play catchup to Red Bull and McLaren fudged a few things. With DRS now limited to the zones only I’d suggest the development towards a massive DRS delta for qualifying will be diminished.

      • Quick question and maybe something you could explain to me.. I’ve noticed the keel section of the cars launched so far differs in length with the Lotus starting almost immediately behind the front wheels and the Ferrari the furthest back. Do you know what dictates this length and what the consequences of the length difference would be?

        • What do you mean by “keel section”? The splitter? or the plank?
          The splitter is what cuts the air under the nose and directs it to each side and if possible stops it going underneath. It is very important to get it right as it can screw up the airflow over the rest of the car. (as can a lot of things) You need negative pressure under the car as a large percentage of the total downforce comes from it.

          The plank is strictly and fully defined and goes on the bottom of the monocoque ie it is screwed on underneath and is the lowest part of the car, it often gets worn, but only a small amount of wear is allowed. (It is one of the many parts subject to random check by Charlie’s men)

          • When John talks about the keel think about a boat’s keel he is talking about the section under the nose that V’s to the tub (ie above the splitter/bib/tea tray/plank.

            In answer to your question it will be several things that dictate this but predominantly aero and the way in which the airflow continues to presented and turned at the Sidepods. This is why you will also see differing designs/philosophies in terms of bargeboards and airflow conditioners. The key to understanding each design is looking at the car in it’s entirety, as a car not just about the sum of it’s parts. Every detail must be carefully managed as part of the whole aero platform. I’m just writing the intro to my RB9 launch piece and it may explain this better (without going into too much detail here) but think about the mass changes RBR made in Singapore rather than just introducing incremental steps.
            I have three words for you that must be considered when thinking of the car as a whole: Centre of Pressure

            I hope that goes some way to explaining the topic from my perspective.

  2. Nice contribution SomersF1, really good to read some technical stuff here. Looking forward to reading more of your work, it makes a great addition to the other types of content thejudge13 and others write 🙂

  3. Whilst it may look like a refined design, we should remember Luca’s exhortations to “be aggressive in design” which is almost what he had said the previous year. The trouble is that it is only when on the track that one gets an idea of whether the design is any good. If they get it wrong they could be behind Sauber this season.

    Look like they have added on that sharp fin down the engine cover as an afterthought, which could disappear once it reaches the track.

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