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2009 F1 Car Design

The next season of F1 is around the corner and the cars are starting to roll out of their respective garages.  The changes with the F1 cars for 2009 are well documented, smaller rear wings, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), larger front wings, and the return of slick tires (About time!),  I’m not going to cover everything.  What I did feel needed some discussion is specifically the new aero package.  With Ferrari and Toyota now releasing pictures of their 2009 contenders we can start to compare the cars and identify various aspects of the design and compare it to 2008.

Below are the 2009 cars from both Ferrari and Toyota, 2008 on the right, 2009 on the left.

ferrari-2008ferrari

The most striking difference is obviously the smaller rear wing and much wider front wing.  These changes were done for one reason, passing, or at least that’s what is hopped will come from this.  The problem with 2008, and car from previous years was they generated a great deal of disturbed air off the rear of the car.  This turbulent air had a negative impact on any car trying to pass, as the turbulence caused the front of the car to lift, causing under steer and making it virtually impossible to pass.   Let’s hope the smaller rear wing and larger front wing work, I’m not very optimistic.

The reason I have my doubts over this new design, and I’m no aerodynamicist, related to the changes in the mirrors.  Notice how the 2008 had angled uprights holding the mirrors to the body of the car.  The 2009 has gone with more upright design harking back to the banned x-wings of years ago.  I suspect that this may counteract any turbulence reduction that the smaller rear wing will generate.  Notice too that the 2009 “x-wing” is out from the rear wing, effectively the Ferrari designers are trying to make up for the loss of rear wing by trying to turn the mirrors into wings.  Will this generate as much down force as a larger rear wing?  Of course not. But if one can get some down force benefit and mix that with disturbing the air off the back of the car it makes it harder for an opponent to pass.  Would I suggest that car designers would look for ways to disturb the air off the car?  Of course they would so long as it didn’t upset their car.  Ferrari, still up to their sneaky ways?  Who knows.

The Toyota images below, again 2008 left, 2009 right, show that Toyota has remained with a mirror side pod setup similar to their 2009 contender.  Too bad we can’t convince Ferrari to publish a CFD analysis of the car to see if I’m correct in my assumptions, we’ll see in a few weeks. I can’t wait!

 

toyota_f1_2008toyota-f1

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