2010 F1 cars technical analysis (Part 1)

Posted on | Author John Beamer

The MP4-25's details set it apart from the RB5 clones
The MP4-25's details set it apart from the RB5 clones

F1 Fanatic guest writer John Beamer examines the seven 2010 F1 cars revealed so far.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for F1 fans as teams have begun to unveil their 2010 challengers.

From a technical point of view, 2010 should be a belter. Teams are still learning what works and what doesn’t after the radical technical overhaul last year. Now that the double diffuser is legal aerodynamicists have the opportunity to design their cars around the device – expect to see some radical solutions.

Add to that a couple of subtle rule changes – in particular no refuelling, the loss of KERS and narrower front tyres, which has the potential to mix up the grid.

Its no surprise to see teams borrow the best bits from the 2009 cars – the high Red Bull v-nose, the double diffuser, outboard mirrors, heavily undercut sidepods, double endplates – but these features are tied together in trying to achieve two outcomes.

These are getting more air to the rear of the car, and in particular the diffuser, and managing the air flow around the front wheels, which are a major source of drag.

The diffuser

Forcing air under the car speeds it up and creates low pressure. The diffuser is a piece of kit towards the back of the car that returns this high-speed, low pressure air to freestream. This is done by allowing the air to expand in a controlled manner.

Typically the larger the diffuser, the more air can be accommodated through the floor, the lower the pressure and the greater the downforce. ‘Double decker’ diffusers allow complex structures above the floor to help manage this airflow.

It’s not only air to the diffuser that’s important but airflow over it. Getting fast airflow over the top of the diffuser is critical to generating suction. The beam wing – the aerofoil below the main double element rear wing – works in tandem with the diffuser by creating low pressure at the diffuser’s exit. This reduces the pressure differential between the diffuser and freestream making the rear of the car more efficient – the wing acts to pump the diffuser.

Bargeboards and undercut sidepods also play a critical role in managing air to the diffuser. Undercut sidepods with a tight, heavily tapered coke-bottle zone translates into a more consistent, higher-speed airflow to the rear of the car. This is why Red Bull elected for pull rod suspension on its RB5 – it allowed for tighter packaging at the rear of the car (although wasn’t conducive to retrofitting a double diffuser).

The tyres

Bridgestone 2010 F1 tyre width
Bridgestone 2010 F1 tyre width

The narrower tyres will increase straigh-line speed by reducing drag. The equation is simple – less surface area presented to the oncoming air equals more speed.

A second effect is that a higher volume air can funnel between the tyres (space between the tyres has increased by 50mm in total), which will improve the efficiency of vanes and bargeboards in this region.

However, this comes at the cost of lower front grip, which affects cornering speed. The net effect will be to give the car more of an understeer feeling. As in previous years the temptation for teams is to ensure a forward weight bias to control for this.

The intent of the rule change is to flip the balance back towards the handling characteristics of the 2008 cars, where the grooved tyres resulted in less front grip.

Unfortunately the cost for the teams will be substantial. One feature of 2009 technical development was the proliferation of front wing endplate designs. Given the ever tightening regulations there were few areas of technical freedom where designers could claw back downforce. Managing air around the tyres was one of them – hence the complex detail of the endplates with teams spouting all manner or wierd and wonderful vanes and flicks in this region.

The rule change for 2010 means that designers need to re-base their knowledge rather than simply copy last years’ solutions.

Other trends

The other significant change to the regulations is of course the banning of refuelling. Fuel tanks must now be twice the size which presents some unique challenges for designers, particularly in trying to maintain as low a centre of gravity as possible and ensure weight doesn’t shift around the car in low fuel.

From an engineering perspective fuel efficiency becomes a lot more important and if you believe the reports the difference between the most and least efficient engines could amount to 15kg. We’ll see.

Let’s take a closer look at how the different teams approached 2010 from a technical standpoint.

Ferrari F10

Very few teams have published detailed specifications of their machines so it is hard to get a read on wheelbase, but the F10 appears to be one of the longer cars in the pit lane. Compared to the F60 the F10 is more tapered in the coke-bottle zone, which means the diffuser should work better. Ferrari has adopted a longer gearbox as a way to optimise the diffuser and this is one of the reasons for the more tapered sidepods.

Ferrari has also heaving borrowed from the Red Bull school of design with the V-nose. The V-nose does two things.

The regulations specify a minimum width and height for the chassis by the footwell area. The V-nose raises the outer part of the nose which allows the bottom of the nose to taper to the centreline. This creates more space between the front tyres and the chassis optimising the airflow.

The second effect is that the V-shape reduces lift on the nose by containing the air. The concave shape of the nose induces lift so by keeping the flow inline with the nose (which is what the V does) the lift is less.

The F10 is strikingly simple. The diffuser isn’t as intricate as others and the two-piece front wing lacked the fins and extra mini-decks we’re used to. No doubt the body shop is working overtime on upgraded parts for the later tests and the Bahrain GP. Also the sidepods look a bit bulkier than the competition – although that may be a photographic trick.

The Ferrari was fast out of the box in Valencia and the consistency of lap times was impressive – if testing form continues into the race 2010 could be a good year for the Scuderia.

McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25

The MP4-25 is the most radical new car – so far (who knows what Adrian Newey might reveal later this week).

Although the Woking outfit is one of the few teams to not adopt the V-nose there are plenty of other features to get excited about. First that overly-sophisticated diffuser.

McLaren has publicly acknowledged that it pushed the diffuser regulations to the limit and the resulting device is highly complex. The diffuser balloons out of the rear of the car and joins the beam wing. Although there are few close-up shots there a couple of different channels with a range of flicks and vanes. The detail is classic McLaren. One risk of such a complex device is that it may lack consistency across a range of speeds and corners.

To the chagrin of some fans the MP4-25 sported a shark fin. These fins serve two purposes. During cornering, air is directed so it is ‘normal’ to the rear wing, which improves downforce. Fins also reduce lift over the engine cover by ensuring a lower pressure zone isn’t created on the leeward side when turning.

Two final things to mention on the McLaren: the endplates and the snow plough. The McLaren endplate sports a drooping vane from the top edge of the plate. It is incredibly intricate on its outside and is different to the double-vane favoured by many teams last year. The effect is similar – namely to push air around the tyre and set up a vortex to control airflow.

The addition of the snow plough is intriguing. Williams conceived the device last year with the aim of controlling flow under the nose and spilling it under the floor to feed the diffuser. No other team adopted the device so it was a surprise when the eggheads at Woking unveiled it on the McLaren.

The McLaren implementation is a little different as the plough appears to merge into the chassis. The theory is to better control the air feeding the sidepods and floor but the risk of such a contraption is, again, consistency. Trashing the air under the nose is a sure fire way to wreck the performance of the diffuser. I’ll be intrigued to see if McLaren keeps the snow plough and if other teams pick up the device.

Mercedes W01

Mercedes, like Ferrari and a host of other teams, have also adopted the V-nose. Interestingly the front part of the nose appears to droop and is lower than that of other teams. This droop is to try to force air between the nose and wing which then expands into a venturi between the wheels. The theory is similar to the Brawn solution last year, although the implementation is different.

This will counter some of the lift produced by the nose although, ironically, the droop shape will create more lift. High noses are all the rage this year. Again this treatment should allow a more consistent flow of air under the car to the floor. And guess what that means? A more effective diffuser.

Perhaps more interesting is the re-emergence of single keel suspension. When raised noses first came into vogue designers placed a keel below the nose to attach the lower suspension arms to. This kept the integrity of the suspension geometry but at an aerodynamic cost. Eventually teams figured out that the aero compromise was too large and changed the suspension geometry to connect direct to the chassis. The W01 has a small keel in at attempt to improve the suspension and the loading on the tyres. The chamfered V-nose allows this implementation and it will be interesting to see if it is a one-off or if other teams follow.

The two other innovative features sported by the Mercedes W01 are the air box and engine cover. The engine cover is a hybrid between the classic tapered cover and the shark fin. The W01 looks like it has a razor blade (or perhaps a Stanley knife) emerging from the top of the airbox. The principle is the same as the shark fin – to control flow to the rear wing and mute lift.

The other innovation is the airbox. The airbox usually incorporates the roll hoop but the hoop is now a thick vertical support on the centreline of the car. To cool the car there are openings either side of this support – the airbox is effectively split in two. In addition there are some openings a bit further back allowing cool air to seep over the engine cover. At this stage it is unclear exactly its purpose but it is likely to help cooling with some of the engine and ancillary components that have been moved rearwards e.g., the oil pump.

Other teams

Given the RB6 is yet to be unveiled, outside the top three there are few startling aerodynamic innovations. The new Renault is intriguing with suggestions that the designers haven’t had to lengthen the car as much as some other teams, which may give an advantage at some tracks.

Also the word in the paddock is that the Renault powerplant is among the most efficient. Renault later introduced a W shaped rear wing in an attempt to improve the consistency of airflow particularly when cornering. 2009 didn’t see a lot of innovation with the rear wing – teams were spending more resources optimising the endplates and diffuser. Expect more development focus on the rear wing in 2010.

In early testing Sauber posted some competitive times but that could have more to do with a lack of sponsorship rather than a glut of speed.

Nevertheless the car looks well packaged, with small sidepods and a highly tapered coke-bottle zone – all important for optimising the diffuser.

Although Williams promised a lot last year – especially in free practice – the team rarely delivered over race distance.

That was due in part to a compromised car which was designed with KERS in mind but never ran it. The FW32 is designed from the ground up and is different to last year’s incarnation.

The Didcot-based team has adopted the obligatory v-nose and also has a snow plough type device ahead of the front splitter. This works different to the McLaren snow plough and channels air down to the floor. The air spills under the floor and feeds the diffuser.

The FW32 was the first of the Cosworth powered cars to be launched – at this stage its far too early to say whether the Cosworth is going to be competitive. It was slightly ominous that the FW32 was among the slowest cars in Valencia, but the team made a lot of comments about not knowing what fuel loads everyone else was running.

This is also the first time in Toro Rosso’s five-year history the team have had to design and build a car without Red Bull’s engineering help.

Unsurprisingly, the new car looks very similar to the RB5. This team, which has effectively used a customer chassis with some developments since 2006, are likely to suffer most in the development race.

Finally a big hand should be extended to Nick Wirth and his team at Virgin Racing.

The VR01 rolled off the production line last week and look reasonably detailed bar an noticeably simplistic front wing. Here’s hoping that Wirth comes good – Virgin, by going for a CFD-only approach, is innovating where others dare not to.


Although its tempting to read a lot into the testing times, this year we should be even more wary of making that mistake. Not only has the variance in fuel loads increased considerably but the Valencia circuit is one of the worst for getting a proper read on a car’s performance. It has virtually no high speed corners, which is where the performance of a car is really measured. To wit, the MP4-24 would do well at this track – the last thing any prospective team principal wants is to have his car compared to that dog.

After the Barcelona test we’ll have much greater insight into the speed of each team. Expect there to be fewer surprises than there were when Brawn showed up at the end of last year’s tests.

Before then, we have anything up to a further seven cars yet to appear,starting with the Force India and Red Bull later this week.

Pictures of the 2010 F1 cars launched so far

This is a guest article by John Beamer. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information please email Keith.

75 comments on “2010 F1 cars technical analysis (Part 1)”

  1. Bigbadderboom
    7th February 2010, 21:57

    Great piece John, it does seem that some teams have really rolled the dice with the new aero solutions to the recent reg changes, it looks like the one with the most consistent effort will win overall. I like to see revolutionary solutions but have Mclaren landed themselves with a can of worms, will they be able to set up their car for every circuit with so little track time. Visually a like Ferraris solutions but as you say lets wait for Mr Neweys offering, although speaking to Team Red Bull members, they are not optimistic about the Renault engine.

    1. Toro rosso is doing their car alone but im sure the two red bull team will share some info the only prob is the enginne no one knows the values of the engines but is evident that renault cosworth and toyota are under developed so i dont believe oon a red bull miracle next week

      1. RBR will be king of the heap this year…just dont expect them to do a Ferrari and ‘win’ every test session…

    2. Fantastic article, thanks so much John. Your pre-season speculations are some of the really great things about this site.

  2. I am most surprised with renault’s design this year (so far). They seem to have an improved version of last years car which wasn’t all that great. They didn’t use the high nose like most other teams. I expect them to fail for another consecutive year, but anything can happen and I am sure they will make additions to the car before Bahrain.

  3. I’ve spotted a micro error- so small it’s hardly worth mentioning! In the paragraph opposite the picture of the Virgin (car that is), it says ‘an noticeably’ instead of ‘a noticeably’.

    Anyway, very interesting article. But could someone elaborate and/ or provide a picture of this so called ‘snow plough’ device on the McLaren’s front wing, I’m not sure what John meant by that

    1. Nick Somebody
      8th February 2010, 1:11


      look under the nose:


      the black bit. It starts half a foot under the nose and goes upward to meet the nose further back.

        1. Ahh, now I see what he means, thanks guys

          1. In case this helps as well:

  4. This is an excellent post. It’s been one of the more enjoyable pre-seasons purely trying to work out what direction the teams have decided to take.

    Top post adding clarity to this.


  5. I’ve got one basic question – Is the Torro Rosso this year again an Adrian Newey RB design clone like the last year’s car?
    I don’t really know how it works between those teams in terms of bulding their respective cars.

    1. this year is not going that way, each team has to build its own chassis, so probably STR has a completely different car from Newey’s RB.

    2. No because of the rule changes and double diffuser optimization they can’t really do much with last years Red Bull.

      1. ? they wouldn’t need to lengthen last years car too much…very similar to the Renault..it was long last year.
        But I hear the RB6 won’t be a carbon copy of the Toro Rosso

  6. Top article, thankyou.

  7. Thanks John, that was a nice read.

    Recently, I went back and looked at some articles from testing from 2009. I think James Allen (whose articles I wasn’t reading at the time) managed to get a decent read on the pecking order and was also quite willing to stick his neck out to single out winners and losers. That being said, I think he overestimated Ferrari’s pace and underestimated how much of a dog the MP4-24 was. (Please note: this summary is my opinion)

    It’s also clear that quite a bit can change between the start of testing and the first race.

    Will be interesting to see what happens on the more aero demanding circuits.

  8. Great post, John — many thanks. Now I will understand a little bit more.
    One of the next steps for next year is to start making the cars a lot shorter in total length. They are so long now that passing is difficult and many historic race tracks are being made obsolete.
    The cars are full of interesting features, but in the end they have to be raced on a track. The car-track relationship is what is important for an exciting visual show.

  9. I think McLaren’s job over testing is simply to make the package more efficient. They don’t need to introduce anything particularly radical to improve the car, they simply need to understand what they’ve built.

  10. I think McLaren, as in 2009 season, is behind Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull in the early tests. But will be ground before the start of the championship!

  11. Great article John, very informative and a good read, thank you. I liked it that you covered the aero aspects in detail as I find this fascinating. Also good to see an analysis of what the different teams are concentrating on, though I would have like it if you’d covered Renault and Sauber in more detail, especially how the Enstone team managed to achieve such a short wheel base. I look forward to your covering the remaining teams in the following week(s) and seeing how the all CFD VR-01 does!

  12. Mark Hitchcock
    8th February 2010, 0:20

    Nice article John.
    I haven’t quite got my head around even basic aerodynamics, even after 8 years or so of watching F1. So these sorts of articles are very helpful!

  13. Awesome article,really a lot of hard work have gone into it.The car which is surprising me the most is Renault,with a small car relative to the Mclaren & Ferrari.

    From my point of view I hope Sauber are fast because I do want Kobayashi to fight on track with a good car.

  14. thanks john. always look forward to your technical insights.

  15. Beautiful article. Thanks so much.

    With regards to:
    ” It was slightly ominous that the FW32 was among the slowest cars in Valencia, but the team made a lot of comments about not knowing what fuel loads everyone else was running.”

    There was also talk of Williams running the Cosworth at a lower RPM than possible.

  16. Great article. It would be even better if there were some sketches, or marked up photos, sort of showing where the different parts of the car are, where the air would flow etc. It would really assist with the understanding. Sort like how they do it with the Cricket on TV. Sometimes when the commentators are explaining something they draw all over the screen. I think drawing over the photos would really help.

    1. Watch this space – can’t promise anything but we’re working on it.

  17. Very helpful, John.

    Thanks for this article.

  18. What a great read! Thanks for the effort you put into this, i thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    I hope Mclaren dont have such a dismal season this year as being patriotic i would love to see both drivers fighting for the championship.

    More than anything though, i would love to see Virgin do well with their CDF designed car and low budget. I would love to see a supprise podium out of a new team.

    Anyone know whats happening with Campos-meta?

  19. That was a great article John, thanks!

    It would have been great to hear your thoughts on the Sauber C29 though, it’s the most visually striking of the new cars so far in my book. The front end of it alone must be worth an entire article! ;-)

    1. I’ll write more about the C29 next time!

      1. I only realised after I posted that the heading said “Part 1”. Looking forward to part 2.

  20. Great article, these technical write-ups are easily among my favourite articles.

    The one thing I was wondering is (an since it hasn’t been mentioned I assume not) if anybody copied Red Bull’s rear suspension? I’m technically not capable enough to understand all the implications of the push vs pull rod suspension but the effect it supposedly had one the RB5 is a lower backend (which might end up not being as useful with a double decker diffuser as it would have been without, as it was easily the fastest of the non diffuser cars).

    Compared to a radically different suspension type, aerodynamic differences seemed almost like a superficial change to my untrained mind… I’m wondering if Red Bull is likely to keep it?

    1. The pull rod suspension allowed Red Bull to have a more tightly packaged coke bottle zone. However it also impeded airflow to the double diffuser. I think red bull will probably go back to push rod this time round

  21. Come on do you actually believe that Ferrari ran so many laps without a full tank ?

    1. I think the Ferrari engine is the reason of their domination in pre-season testing.

  22. Wow, great article. This really gets me going for the 2010 season. Just a few more weeks….

  23. Thanks for the article, John. I look forward to Part 2. It’s interesting that this year’s Renault looks similar to last year’s Renault. The Renault from last year was a dog. Does that mean Renault have a trick up their sleeve or it is because they are behind on development?

  24. Nice article, although sometimes the technical side of F1 does go over my head I do like to try to follow it as much as I can.

    I hadnt read about Mercedes going back to a single keel suspension, I remember a few years ago when there was quite some debate as to the merits of single keel, double keel and I think Renaults solution which was a V-keel. It seemed this debate had ended with teams all going for a twin keel but I wonder if any other teams will do the same as Mercedes.

  25. HounslowBusGarage
    8th February 2010, 13:59

    Fascination article, John. A pleasure to read.
    But here’s a question about the regs and future interpretation.
    “The regulations specify a minimum width and height for the chassis by the footwell area.”
    Am I right in thinking that these regulations were intended to safeguard a minimum area for the driver’s legs and that the minimum height made the assumption that the floor of the car at footwell area would extend down close to the minimum clearance from the road?
    What I am getting at is the tighter and tighter confines within the nose of the car for the driver’s legs and the rise in their height. As the noses seem to have risen, the cross-section of the nose seems to have become smaller, constricting the legs in a way unforseen and unintended by the ‘minimum’ height for the nose in the footwell area.
    I wonder if there will be future regulations specifying not just a minimum height or width, but a mninmum cross-section area for the footwell, so that the driver’s legs can be afforded some additional space and protection in the event of a front-ender.
    Part of me thinks that someone will have to be severely hurt before this is seriously addressed. I hope not though, and hope the FIA will at least consider minimum cross-section regulations.

    1. I took ‘height’ to mean it’s vertical magnitude, rather than the vertical distance between it and the reference plane. In essence, a minimum width and height enforces a minimum CSA, while keeping proportions within acceptable limits. Regardless, the car has to pass the crash tests anyway, irrespective of what shape or dimensions the nose is.

      1. Yup – that’s exactly right … cross section area is constant under any solution – all designers have done is distort the rectangle

  26. As many before me pointed out: A very good article! Lots of info, putting into understandable decriptions, the things we all see, but (I) cannot decribe so accurately!

    Were there ever experiments with a golfbal-like structure of the cars in F1?
    Also lately in swimmingsuits, there have been developments with none-smooth surfaces. Ok, water is not the same as air, but maybe one sport can learn from others.

    This sprang to mind when reading about the ‘concave’ shape, a term which I first heard about when I was windsurfing and it described a possible shape of the bottom of the surfboard. And I was wondering what the next radical thing would be in the design of the cars.

    1. I have wondered the same thing about body texture ever since seeing a Mythbusters episode that tested whether or not dimples on a car body increased fuel efficiency. They did. Ugly as sin, but dimpling did improve mileage.

      In a sport where engineers are looking for even a tiny edge, it’s surprising no one has tried it.

    2. Are you refering to the concave indents on golfballs to aid aerodynamics?

      I only a layman, but I think this is only useful for a ball because it has a much higher proportion of pressure drag (to skin friction induced drag), drag caused by the pressure differential between high pressure air in front of, and low pressure air behind the object. It creates a turbulent boundary layer which remains attached around the “back” of the ball if you will, longer than a laminar flow, thereby reducing pressure drag and furthering the ball’s range.

      With a Formula One car, like a fighter plane or a bullet, skin friction constitutes a higher percentage of drag than pressure drag. (not including the wheels, which do produce form drag but putting golf-ball style dimples in them would have other ramifications, and wings, which create induced drag and are a reality of the sport).

      If this is complete bovine faeces someone please call me on it.

      1. There is also some clause in the regs (or at least there was last year!) saying that there mustn’t be any piece of bodywork on the sidepods etc with a radius of less than 75mm – i.e. no fiddly aero bits. Or dimples.

  27. Alejandro Lanza
    8th February 2010, 15:59

    Excellent article John.
    However, are you sure about this?

    “However, this comes at the cost of lower front grip, which affects cornering speed. The net effect will be to give the car more of an understeer feeling. As in previous years the temptation for teams is to ensure a forward weight bias to control for this.”

    don’t you mean the opposite, putting more weight towards the back to get a more neutral balance?

    1. I’m not so sure Alejandro, the more weight in the front the more “artificial” mechanical grip (maybe at the cost of tyre wear).

      Looking at the opposite angle front tyres with little grip have a harder job turning a fat more grippier ass at the back, specially rear wheel drive cars.

      Said that and for the record, I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about here.

      1. There is always a need to get weight forward with the bridgestone tyres. The need for forward weight bias is less than last year but with the extra fuel shifting weight slightly to the rear (a lot of components move back slightly) there is absolutely a need to shift weight forward.

        1. then comes into play brake balance and brake lock and front aero downforce until our brains melt. I love this sport!

        2. Hmm…. i’ll definitely give this one a thought. Last year they were frantic about moving mass forwards, given tyre grip was unbalanced by the fronts gaining more surface than the rears did when the grooves were removed. Now that’s supposedly fixed with the skinnier fronts, so i’m not sure i understand why they would once again look towards moving mass to the front, especially if they are admitting the cars are understeering (as expected) more than last year. Also, I wonder how close the fuel tanks are to the car’s horizontal CoG, one would assume as close as possible to maintain a balanced car throughout the race, thoughts?

      2. That’s the thing. The increased mass pushing down is the same mass trying to ‘escape’ through the tangent of the car’s trajectory in any given point of a corner. Given that the coefficient of grip does not increase linearly with weight, due to tyre load sensitivity, the set of wheels closer to the centre of gravity are the ones more likely to give up and thus produce under/over steer.

        1. One of the main reasons to move the weight forward last year was to make the rear tyres work better (relative to the front). This produced a more oversteery car.

          This year the narrower front tyre is designed to equalise front/rear tyre wear, that is at very least part of the intent. There are also cornering speed implications that are important too.

          However the CoG will move back. The fuel tank will push other components back as will the desire to have a thinned out coke-bottle zone – the F10 has a longer gearbox as a result – this pushes weight back. This then causes more understeer and the need to move weight forward. It has always been a characteristic of the b’stones that forward weight distribution is a good thing. Nothing will change in 2010 – it will be less extreme than last year but the longer car will mean it is still a design challenge.

          1. Alejandro Lanza
            9th February 2010, 22:16

            John, very interesting about how the components have been reshuffled with the longer wheelbase, i wonder what the end result will be. With the longer gearbox, for the teams that have it, then the engine is further away from the rear axle, so is the gas tank (single heaviest component), and definitely the driver that’s pushed forward not only by longer gbox but also bigger fuel tank. I guess those 3 are the heaviest single components of an F1 car at race start. Now increased wheelbase, depending on how much, may mean these parts keep their relative position, or maybe not. There’s also the oil tank (s) reshuffle to consider, as I understand it not all teams have taken the same approach. So I understand in the end they may need to move weight forward, it’s just that in general terms I’ll have to agree to disagree with you in that an understeery F1 car would need a more front weight bias to cure the problem.

  28. very nice piece. more, please!

  29. Fantastic article! I’ve always assumed that the up-close photos from the car launches do not necessarily represent all of the new aero tweaks on the car. It would be easy enough to throw on a prototype for a front wing, for example, than use the final product. Does anybody know if that’s true?

    1. Definetely. Sandbagging. Don’t give time for you rivals to copy your ideas. Ferari front wing looks very similar to last year’s and they already said that they don’t plan to introduce aero evolutions until ther practice round. On the other hand they won’t present simply a 2009 car so my guess is sidepods, rear end engine cover and so on ( excluding the difuser) are 2010. All bits bolted onto the main body of the car are 2009ish.

  30. Thanks, John-nice analysis.

  31. Are there any good shots of the MP$-25 diffuser yet?

  32. The weight distribution discussion is fascinating and I confess to being more used to hydrodynamics on boats than aero on cars, however, I remember driving an MG C (an MR B with a lump of V8 in the front).

    The excessive forward weight forward made for a car that just wanted to go straight on at corners (like putting a weight at the nose of a glider or having all the heavy bit of a dart at the front.

    I admit I may well be another who is spouting garbage but I still dont see the point of having weight at the front when surely that is where the MASSIVE front wings are holding the car down

    1. Don’t take the massive front wing at face value. It’s gigantic compared to the rear, yes. But the entire middle section of the front wing does jackall. It’s in the regulations as such so it will not produce downforce. It’s only the elements on either side of the middle section that provide downforce. If you want, you can just imagine the flat middle section doesn’t exist to compare the actual sizes of the front and rear wings (though it may not be so accurate, obviously).

  33. “The net effect will be to give the car more of an understeer feeling. As in previous years the temptation for teams is to ensure a forward weight bias to control for this.”

    Uh, this isn’t right… Steve Matchett of SpeedTV, and formerly Benetton, did a piece on weight distributions in recent years. In general, the car is biased towards the rear, but in 2009, due to the larger increase in grip at the front than the rear due to the slicks, the weight had to be moved further forward. So instead of say 45:55 (2006), it was now 48:52 (rough numbers, I can get them off Matchett’s segment if needed). This was to counter the oversteery nature of the cars due to the slicks. So the thinner front tyres were introduced to make the cars less pointy, and more to the 08 standard (as written).

    But, this means the weight distribution is now moved more to the pre 2009 numbers – further to the rear. You don’t need to be an engineer (or student like me) to understand this. Just put all your groceries in the front of your shopping trolley next time. You’ll feel HUGE understeer. Then move them all to the rear of the trolley. It’ll be much easier to turn.

    1. Not disputing that David – ever since the Bridgestone control tyre era there has been a need for shifting weight forward. That is one reason why Renault struggled in 2007 – the weight distribution was incorrect.

      The tyre change has meant a shift of weight rearward (compared to 2009) but there is still a need to move weight forward. You’ll still see this year teams putting ballast in the front wing.

      Maybe it was a badly phrased sentence – 2 takeaways:

      1/ Narrower tyres mean more understeer – also weight distribution will also be slightly rearward due to slightly longer cars

      2/ Although less extreme than 2009 there is a need to shift weight forward.

    2. David have you a link to this article, Iam finding it hard to understand correcting oversteer by moving the weight forward.

    3. Alejandro Lanza
      9th February 2010, 22:35

      David seems we both agree on the weight bias bit. However the trolley example is a bit different from what we’re discussing. In a car, front wheels do the turning, and when they give up before the rears do, then you have understeer. However in a trolley it’s your arms in the back doing the turning, front wheels actually just follow the trolley. However you are right, but the reason is the trolley’s moment of inertia is larger when mass is further away from the rear axle/your hands. It’s the same reason people use a long pole when tightrope walking. Of course in a car is undesirable most of the times as it makes the car harder to turn in, thus the goodness of a midengine car.

      1. I think (?) we are all agreeing. My first explanation was badly worded.

  34. Wonderful article . Looking forward to the second part .

  35. Great read John.

    I wanted to ask you, what you make of the enormous differences in total length and wheelbase this year.

    The just launched Force India car is stated to have a length of only 4900 mm, compared to the Virgin for example (approx. 5500 mm). That is a massive 600 mm difference!

    Do you think we will see larger and varying differences between cars on different tracks (tight Monaco, Highway Shanghai, …)?

  36. John you have wrote one of the best articals i have read on the sport. You should be on the live coverage along with David and Eddie. You are truly giving us a great insite to the cars. Keep up the good work. .

  37. John,

    There’s a couple of other major changse to the regulations that aren’t really being discussed, and which you didn’t bring up:

    1) The ban on wheel covers. This is going to have a huge effect on aerodynamics and downforce.

    2) The ban on wheel-rim heaters. This is going to produce a major challenge to teams to get tires into their operating temperature ranges. I think it will particularly be a major factor in the McLaren battle, as Hamilton is known for getting heat into the tires quickly while Button is known to struggle at doing this.

  38. 1) Mclaren have a inner wheel Fairing

    2) Expect tyre crews to be running out of the pit area while carrying red hot tyres to the exchange area ( after several hundred Risk Assesments ) as the driver brakes into the changing area ( after several hundred Risk Assesments ).

  39. Doh just rememered its cold tires for everyone, that will increase the show an health an safety for everyone Not

  40. Interesting aside from my old man who worked in the aircraft industry in the 1950’s. When they started producing supersonic aircraft they applied what was known as the “cross section area rule” to the fuselage which gave it a pronounced waist. The press dubbed it “coke bottle” and it stuck.

    Also makes you wonder how much the aeronautical industry could still help F1.

    Outstanding write up Beamer, clear and coherent. Bring on part 2

  41. Very informative. I think the author should concider pencil drawings to ullustrate some of his discriptions as this will illuminate matters substantially…

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