Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Tech analysis: Understanding Ferrari's complex sidepods
One of the big technical talking points of pre-season testing has been Ferrari's sidepod layout, such is the complexity of the structures that the designers from Maranello have opted to use.
Up until this point it's been particularly difficult to get a good look at its make-up, given the screens that teams put up when they're working on the car.
However, come race weekends, that privilege is lost and so we have the first images of the sidepod during the build-up phase, which allows us to take a peek behind the scenes and get a better understanding of how it all comes together.
The sidepod bulks the trend set by the rest of the field as the inlet is placed up high, above the suspension and steering arms when viewed straight on.
This not only clears a path for the air to be driven into the cooling inlet but also frees up a significant space beneath with which to guide the airflow around the sidepods.
In order to achieve its bold design ambitions, Ferrari had to make several lateral design considerations. Firstly, it has pushed the actual sidepod back further down the car, in order that it neatly circumvents articles 3.5.4 & 3.5.5 of the technical regulations.
Secondly it has changed the height at which the upper side impact support structure is normally placed (red arrow), housing it ahead of the sidepod inlet, rather than above it as is normally the case (inset).
The side impact structures, which used to be designed in-house by each team, became a spec component in 2014 and have reduced the scope for innovation, as was the remit when the change was made.
However, Ferrari has proven that the 2017 regulation changes have re-opened the opportunity to innovate, even if it is just in the positioning of the structures.
The other interesting component captured in this image is the bodywork and ducting that sits ahead of the sidepod (green arrow).
This C-shaped appendage in the engineer's hand is twisted, but if you imagine it rotated slightly rearward, it then slides over the crash structure to meet with the faux forward face of the sidepod (black arrow).
This also presents us with the first indication that there are actually three extremely curved fins being used inside the C-shaped flow conditioner - as previously it appeared that only one fulfilled this role.
These fins (yellow arrows) are used to shape the direction of airflow into the corner of the inlet and around the sidepod undercut, improving flow toward the coke bottle region.
Lastly, the upper cooling inlet is exposed for all to see (white arrows), showing how airflow captured by the bodywork is persuaded to enter the duct and helps to improve the efficiency of the radiator(s) housed within, that are also framed by secondary flow diverters like we've seen the team use since 2015.
The following image gives an overview of how this is achieved while also presenting us with a comprehensive overview of the other surfaces being mentioned.
Ferrari appears to have made progress this year, but it must be relentless in its pursuit of perfection if it want to challenge for the championship and so in Melbourne we can see it has numerous changes to the SF70H in order to mount its challenge.
This may seem like a minor change but the wing mirror stalks have been altered and now feature a curvature, rather than a simple vertical fence (white arrows).
This not only moves the mirror into a more outboard position, which will also affect airflow over the sidepod's upper surface, but also sees the vertical strake that resided behind it deleted entirely.
Just ahead of the mirrors a fin can be found too (white arrow), which featured during the second pre-season test (inset) after having been absent at the launch or the first test.
The shape of the fin has been revised for Melbourne (shape highlighted in yellow), with a more prominent L-shaping moving the latter part of the fin away from the chassis.
The fin itself, no matter its shape, is placed here in order to change the shape and direction of the airflow as it moves toward the sidepod, improving flow around it.
Given the additional speed and loads being generated by the cars this year, the brakes will generate more heat in a much shorter time frame, as such a concession was given to the teams, increasing the width of the disc from 28mm to 32mm.
In order to take advantage of this, the brake suppliers, Brembo in this instance, will use various ways of dissipating the heat.
Ferrari was the only team on Brembo's roster to use a disc with five drill holes across the face of the disc last year and has gone one further this year, as the disc shown during set-up in Melbourne features six drill holes across the face.
Inspection of the chassis without the nose present shows that, like last year, the team has cut away the upper part of the chassis to allow the packaging of its suspension, including the housing of the hydraulic third element.
F1 2017's enlarged diffuser dimensions have seen Ferrari complement the outer portion with an expansion of the winglet stack (white arrow) and additional strakes to the semi-detached diffuser gurney (red arrow).
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