#F1 Forensics : Interlagos between finishing works and an eye on 2015

Brought to you by TheJudge13 technical analyst: Lorenzo De Luca

With only one race to go and with a season that has already given its verdict, Mercedes is in a league of its own, with Williams and Red Bull fighting for the third place of the podium. Ferrari and Mclaren are left fighting for the remaining points however never being able to represent a threat yo the top three teams unless in particular circumstances.

The Interlagos circuit, located at a rather high altitude (786m above sea level), has placed greater emphasis on the turbocharging group, revving at its max, specially on the final sector, and it is just here where we saw the greatest gaps between teams. It goes without saying that the Mercedes powered cars showed their dominance here thanks to the well known turbocharging group design.

Sector 1 analysis chart :

SN1useZSector 2 analysis chart :

G9mR3EvSector 3 analysis chart :


Top speed chart :


From the charts above, we can see how in the sector with long straights, where a high turbocharging efficiency is required, the Mercedes powered teams have a clear advantage over the rest of the field, especially in the final sector, while in the middle sector, where downforce comes into play, we see a substantial balance between top teams yet Lotus, Force India and Sauber continue struggling a lot.

Also worthy of notice is the embarrassing advantage of the Mercedes powered teams (Williams most of all) on the top speed chart, with Massa reaching 342,9 Km\h, whislt Ferrari and Lotus are almost 20Km/h slower. Only the layout of the track (the shortest one after Monaco) prevented bigger gaps between teams, nevertheless we saw four Mercedes powered cars in the first four positions.

Top 10 race pace comparison :


Race pace and stints strategy :


An unexpected sunny and warm race (track surface over 50°c) allowed us to see tires management being the key to have a successful race. If on one hand it doesn’t surprise anymore seeing the Mercedes duo clocking 1,5-2 seconds lap times faster than the others, on the other one we have to record some improvements by certain teams, like Sauber who for the first time in season had a fully comparable race pace with Toro Rosso, Force India and Lotus F1 Team . To highlight Raikkonen’s performance, he was only able to to a two pit stop strategy , but even without the mistake made at the box, Ferrari wouldn’t have been able to fight with Red Bull or Mclaren.

Mclaren : signs of awakening

Mclaren is one the most active teams on the grid, the updates brought in the second half of the season are obviously aimed for the 2015 season and after a poor first half of the year, Mclaren is now back fighting for heavy points.

In Brazil we saw a new front wing endplate, the new one presents a cut-out at the bottom of the trailing edge, to favour the outwash which thereby increases the management of airflows around the tires.

Mclaren new front wing edplate :


The study of the airflows at the front end kept going on throughout Friday, with a big rake of sensors placed ahead of the side pods in order to collect as much data as possible about the behaviour of the airflows in that area and, most likely, comparing them with the wind tunnel/CFD data against the 2015 nose/suspension design.


Mclaren with sensors rake :


In Brazil we saw evidence of the “pelican” nose introduced in Austin – in itself – a solution inspired by Marussia. With a bulge that starts from the tip of the nose to energize the airflows toward the turning vanes beneath the chassis

Mclaren pelican nose :


There were slight changes to the rear diffuser also, with the gurney flap now having a more contoured shape just above the “u” element in the central section, notice also the return of the full “butterfly” to maximize the downforce at the rear.

Ferrari : 2015 experimentation

After having lost the third place in favour of a much more brilliant Williams – Ferrari started to focus purely on 2015. Indeed since Austin, Ferrari engineers were studying the rear suspension behaviour (the current geometry is under investigation as one of the likely reasons for the poor F14-T traction ) . If in Austin we spoke of a new suspension design, in Brazil it can be confirmed that the suspension has nothing new, apart from the material used on it. On Friday, we had the chance to clearly see on Kimi’s car the different material, it comes to composite materials used as layering, inside which there were sensors to study the behaviour (kinematics, pro-squat etc.)

Ferrari rear suspension :


In Interlagos Ferrari had to face another reliability issue related to its 053/9 V6 Turbo, in an attempt to fix it, Ferrari used different engine covers for its drivers, in order to keep down the temperatures thus avoiding any issue. Alonso used a slightly larger solution, a compromise between aero efficiency without risking an unexpected rise in operating temperatures of the power unit elements.

Ferrari engines cover solutions :


Confirmed the rear wing tested in Austin, with a different endplate and two slot gap on it to improve the outwash by energizing the airflow under the mainplane

Ferrari rear wing :


Finalising work for Mercedes and Red Bull

There was little changed for Red Bull. In Interlagos the Austrian team confirmed the latest updates introduced in Austin and Japan, such as the monkey seat, to increase the downforce at the rear

Red Bull monkey seat :


Also ran was the rear wing with a vertical slot gap on the endplate leading edge, with two different angles of incidence between the drivers, Vettel with more wing and Ricciardo with less, notice the different mainplane leading edge

Red Bull rear wing :


Mercedes arrived in Interlagos with its standard package, so nothing new, but we can appreciate the changes made to the rear diffuser, where the “U” element (now used also by Mclaren) is now replaced with little vortex generators in the central section to keep clean and energized the airflow

Mercedes rear diffuser :


Lotus : failed the 2015 nose test

After having tested the first 2015 nose design, Enstone’s engineers realized that such a design didn’t give them the hoped for results, so in Interlagos we didn’t see the nose that was tested in Austin (a duck nose design inspired by Ferrari). On Friday engineers kept gathering data to study and compare them and we saw sensors at the height of the front brake duct to study how the airflow interacted with the front wing

Front brake duct rake sensor :


And a sensor “backpack” attached to the chassis


5 responses to “#F1 Forensics : Interlagos between finishing works and an eye on 2015

  1. The sensor on the Lotus’ front brake duct is a 2D laser displacement sensor for measuring tyre shape and deflection.

  2. McLaren are said to be shaking down a MP4/29H (Honda) on a filming day at Silverstone today. Could this be the start of something special?
    I do hope so.

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