Brought to you by TheJudge13 technical analyst: Lorenzo De Luca
Austin : a first look into 2015
The season is coming to an end – with both titles assigned to Mercedes which has been dominating the field on all types of circuits, teams have started (some far in advance) developing their 2015 cars.
Even in Texas there was no change in the story. Mercedes showed all its advantages; just leaving the others with mere crumbs. The gap the Silver Arrows demonstrated over the rest was lmost two seconds per lap and it was this gap that pushed all the other teams into focusing their resources towards 2015 – with the exception of Williams and Red Bull.
Race pace + stint strategies :
Two of the biggest disappointments in 2014 have been Lotus and Ferrari. The Enstone team suffered an exodus of significant technicians and endured abandonment from Renault who had previously supported the team. The other – Ferrari – has remained stagnant in a technical crisis for years. In Austin, as we previously said, we had the opportunity to see these two teams testing 2015 stuff . The most glaring, was without doubt the Lotus 2015 prototype nosecone,
Lotus 2015 prototype nosecone :
The experimental nosecone, obviously not the final one we will see on the E24, is very similar to that of the Mercedes and Ferrari designs – thus meeting the new regulations for 2015 . The new design, has a beak “duck” shape, very low on the tip with a sort of bulge beneath it and then expanding to create a little Venturi effect. The downforce created by the nose at the front end, has a contraindication of disrupting the airflow going towards the rear diffuser, hence affecting its efficiency ( just look at Grosjean struggling during FP1) and the overall balance of the car. Without question, the Lotus team will have to start their design with a clean-sheet which also has to incorporate the new Mercedes power unit.
The most active in regards developments for 2015 was Ferrari. In Austin, the Prancing Horse, took advantage of the free practices using solely Kimi Raikkonen’s car to study airflows and test new materials for the 2015 car. On Friday, we saw Raikkonen’s car full of sensors to study airflows coming from the nose and how they interacted with the turning vanes towards the side pods. This was likely in conjunction with the view of a likely change to the front suspension – from pull rod to a push rod design that will bring not only a lower COG but also aerodynamics benefits as the design would prove less disruptive for the airflow.
There was also a new rear wing, which according to rumors, will be the new concept on which engineers will base the rear wing design for 2015.
Ferrari new rear wing :
As we can see the new one has different endplates, with two slot gaps on it that take the flow from the outside and energizes it beneath the main profile – to increase its efficiency. Less striking, but very important was the new rear suspension introduced in Austin,
Ferrari revised rear suspension :
Shown adjustment of the points of attachment of the upper arm to improve traction , weakest point of the F14-T.
Red Bull confirmed its role of “best of the rest” in Austin and to confirm this, we have just to look at the different setup chosen for their drivers (Ricciardo more downforce) and (Vettel less downforce) – and just from Vettel’s setup we can see how great the aerodynamic skills of the RB10 are in comparison to Ricciardo, who like all other drivers, used a medium\ high downforce setup
Red Bull rear wings comparison :
The rear wing used by the four time world champion, is the same as was used in Spa FrancorChamps, with no louvres on the endplates and a main plane almost neutral, combined with only a skinny monkey seat. Unlike Ricciardo, who used a more “standard setup” with a 3 louvres on the rear wing endplates and a double monkey seat for more downforce.
There was a new rear wing for Force India too, the new one was designed for more downforce and has 5 slots on the endplate , a gurney placed on the DRS flap, and a monkey seat combined with the wing.
Force India new rear wing :