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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech analysis: Dissecting the new Sauber C36

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Tech analysis: Dissecting the new Sauber C36
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Feb 21, 2017, 9:41 AM

Sauber is the second team to reveal its car before the pre-season tests get under way, if we discount the wind tunnel shots we were able to see of Manor Racing's still-born 2017 challenger.

The Swiss team is celebrating 25 years in the sport this year, something you'll find emblazoned on the side of its C36 along with a new hint of gold to its livery, replacing last year's more lurid yellow-highlighted scheme.

Sauber C36 front wing detail
Sauber C36 front wing detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

The front and rear wings are similar in design to their predecessors, but have been altered to suit the dimensional requirements of the new regulations.

McLaren MP4/31 front wing fins, Mexican GP
McLaren MP4/31 front wing fins, Mexican GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The front wing also features a much flatter leading edge, similar to the concept trialled by McLaren late in 2016 (above), virtually doing away with the trend to create a tunnel in the outer section and aggressively turn airflow out around the front tyre.

The flatter wing profiles match the increase in tyre width, redistributing the way airflow moves across and around the tyres front face and the shape of the wake created.

Sauber C36 sidepod detail
Sauber C36 sidepod detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

The bargeboards have been treated to an increase in length in keeping with the new regulatory framework, whilst a squared tab punctuates the front section (inset) [1], increasing the height of the leading edge. Meanwhile, the tail section joins up with the floors axehead section [2].

The sidepods feature an inlet in keeping with the last generation of cars, and, rather than taking up the opportunity to increase their size that the new regulations allow, they've actually been reduced in size, with a extremely deep undercut utilised, maximising how much airflow moves rearward down the car.

The sidepods are flanked by arch-shaped airflow conditioners that feature slats that sit over the front of the sidepods and improve their aerodynamic performance, tripping the airflow as it moves over the surface.

Midway up the outer vertical surface of the conditioner, there is also a small canard which will have an aerodynamic impact downstream [3], much like the small 'r' vane which sprouts forward over the floors axehead [4].

Sauber C36 floor detail
Sauber C36 floor detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

The floor ahead of the rear tyre features 11 tyre slots angled at 45 degrees and two vertical strakes, which all work together to manage the effects of tyre squirt.

Tyre squirt is airflow pushed laterally into the diffuser's path as the rear tyre deforms under load; this robs the diffuser of consistency and therefore performance.

The forwardmost strake [5] sits further down the floor than we ordinarily see, and is angled quite aggressively, the first sign that teams may be looking to push some of the airflow that passes across the face of the wider tyres in 2017.

Sauber C36 cockpit and airbox detail
Sauber C36 cockpit and airbox detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

A vertical guide vane has been created on the downward slope of the cockpit protection bodywork, much like Manor did last season albeit this is much more aggressive and outwardly turned in order to incite a specific flow across the surface of the sidepods.

Mercedes W01 air intake evolution
Mercedes W01 air intake evolution

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The most surprising feature of the C36 is the use of a bladed rollover hoop and split airbox, which we saw numerous teams use between 2010-11 (Mercedes GP W01 - 2010, Force India VJM04 - 2011 and Team Lotus T128 - 2011).

Of course the Sauber version has its own merits, but serves similar purposes - reducing weight, improving airflow to the rear wing and altering the supply of fresh air to the engine/turbocharger.

Force India VJM04 air intake
Force India VJM04 air intake

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The regulations were changed for 2011 to stop teams using the very thin roll blade structure used by Mercedes, but the idea did spawn similar solutions from Team Lotus and Force India in 2011.

Such are the ever-changing aerodynamic relationships between the airbox, roll hoop, engine cover and rear wing this is the first time since then we've seen it adopted since 2011.

The bladed airbox does away with the trapezoidal airbox design used for some time which was also supplemented by cooling 'ears' combining them into larger inlets, albeit divided by the blade and supported by several much smaller inlets in the bodywork below, which are likely used to cool ancillary cooler and electronics housed around the power unit.

Sauber C36 rear wing detail
Sauber C36 rear wing detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

The C36 features a shark fin engine cover, just as we'd already seen on the Manor Racing wind tunnel model and is expected to be a part of many of the 2017 designs given the lower rear wing position and the aerodynamic stability it can provide to the rear wing.

The rear wing features the open-ended louvres that Toro Rosso first sported last season and became in vogue, featuring on the Mercedes, McLaren and Sauber later in the season.

The endplates also feature slots in the lower rear quarter as the team looks to garner a similar effect to what they've got in the past from strakes and should help to improve the performance of the diffuser below as the airflow structures being created interact.

Sauber C36 rear wing detail
Sauber C36 rear wing detail

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

The wing is supported by a central pillar which arches from a position just over the exhaust (likely intersecting it like last year's design) and connects with the DRS actuator pod.

Meanwhile, the rear wing's upper flap has an interesting shape to the central section, not only dipping for the V groove but also arching with some more aggressive camber on the leading edge.

One of the limiting factors that has been brought up is that the team will run a year-old power unit, rather than the likely more powerful and efficient unit that Ferrari and Haas will have for 2017.

However, in Sauber's case, this may not be a bad thing, as knowing the architecture of the power unit it will use since the start of last season should have allowed them to isolate any issues in last year's car and refine them.

Furthermore, this will have likely pushed more resources over to the aerodynamic department, which is crucial in terms of maximising performance in a shift dominated by aerodynamics like the ones we face this year.

However, where their use of a year-old power unit may fall down is at the very limits of performance, with the new power units designed to withstand the additional lateral load that will be placed on the new breed of cars - whereas last year's were not.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber
Author Matt Somerfield