Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst Lorenzo De Luca
The Spanish GP was much anticipated by both the teams and fans, as with the start of the European season teams can now work at full speed on the development of their cars.
It was perhaps easily predictable that Mercedes would continue its triumphant march with no-one able to hinder them. The Montmelò track is well known to be a reliable indicator of a car’s aerodynamic qualities.
Those who believed that the W05 strong point was just the power unit, will have to think again, the Spanish weekend proved that Mercedes also have a great aerodynamic package that could well enable them to win all the races.
The upgrades brought here by the other teams were useless in their attempts to counter the Mercedes dominance. Hamilton and Rosberg were able to do what they wanted, when they wanted, as free practice, the qualifying sessions and the first laps of the race proved as they opened an embarrassing gap to the rest of the field.
Mercedes dominates, Red Bull is getting closer and disaster for Ferrari
Average lap time chart:
The chart above, show that Mercedes have a substantial advantage. Even though Red Bull were closer, the configuration of the Barcelona circuit proved less demanding of the team’s Renault engines – but the data confirms their position as the first team behind Mercedes. Behind them Ferrari will be worried by the progress shown by both Williams and Lotus.
Sector times & speed :
By analysing the sector times, it becomes easier to appreciate the differences between cars. The chart above clearly shows the amazing fight between Hamilton and Rosberg, ultimately decided by mere thousandths and it demonstrates Red Bull is really closing the gap.
Indeed looking at the chart , Red Bull set the next fastest time in the 3rd sector – this requires high downforce and a perfect traction- attributes that Red Bull has owned over the last couple of years and only Rosberg was better by just 2 tenths.
With Red Bull’s performance improving, the Montmelò track emphasised Ferrari’s aerodynamic and traction issues that have had a detrimental effect on their tires.
The car is one second behind Red Bull and almost two behind the Mercedes, but of more concern is they have to face the fact that even Williams was faster here (just take a look at the ideal lap times) and Lotus too.
The E22, showed a good level of downforce which allowed Grosjean to reach Q3 and score the team’s first points of the season. While the sector 2 times proved that Williams still lack optimal downforce; a point further confirmed by their having recorded the highest top speeds of the race due to a very low drag factor.
Important steps forward have also been made by Sauber after they introduced massive updates in Spain. Whilst Force India and Toro Rosso merely confirmed their lack of downforce.
The Mercedes dominance was also supported by the new aero package introduced in Montmelò, which included almost every area of the car, such as a new front wing with a new profile on the inner side of the end plate to better manage the airflows
The new package also included new tapered side pods
And also a new Red Bull-esque outlet exhaust, which not only helped with the high temperatures of Barcelona, but it’s secondary use was it also acts like a beam wing to increase the aero load at the rear end.
Red Bull did not bring the eagerly awaited B-spec of the RB10, conversely Renault keeps working hard on the power unit software, lubricants and fuel, while Newey & Co. are performing finite work on the RB10. In Spain we saw a new rear wing end-plate sporting the more traditional gills.
In Barcelona, Ferrari were also expected to introduce a B spec version of the F14-T, but this has now been changed for Montreal. Highlighting the lack of downforce at the rear end, the team has introduced a new rear wing mounting pylon, with a monkey seat attached to it, a solution inspired by Mclaren.
The rear wing was also new and the main differences are the endplate gills which now numbers six in total. In an attempt to improve power delivery, the exhaust pipe has been increased in size. This is an attempt to mitigate the bigger counter-pressure waves generated by a turbine that has been deemed too small.
The Enstone team brought some new updates as well, the biggest change on the Lotus E22 was a new front wing which incorporated two convex scoops on the end plates.
Lotus also introduced a monkey seat for the first time this season -attached to the asymmetric rear wing mounting pylon and it’s purpose – to maximize the downforce.
Also of interest was a new solution adopted in Spain. To assist the cooling of the power unit and ancillaries, a bulge appeared on the on the left hand side pod which contained a duct to channel the hot gases away.
The most active team in terms of upgrades was without doubt the Sauber F1 Team. The Swiss team finally introduced a new lightweight chassis which helped the C33 to lose about 15 Kg and allowed Gutierrez to run for the first time with ballast on the car.
The new aero package consisted of a new front wing which has changed in the cascade section, it now has bigger flaps with a flow diverter on it and a curved profile on the end plate.
The sidepods have also been redesigned with a design that is significantly more tapered than the original.
This proved a great step forward as they could fit smaller and lighter radiators .
New for Barcelona were new barge boards with two integral winglets and a vortex generator.
The turning vanes underneath the nose of the car had been subject to attention to and were sporting three elements to them.
As the season continues, we will see more and more aerodynamic developments as the focus of the teams returns from understanding the new technology to the dominant design language of Formula One. Whilst it will be interesting to watch what each team tries to stop Mercedes dominance, it is practically impossible.
The next event is the Monaco Grand prix and we may see Red Bull really challenge Mercedes there. Ferrari will struggle due to the nature of the circuit and maybe the point of interest will be to see how Williams, Force India, Lotus and Mclaren adapt to this unusual track.