John Beamer’s F1 tech file: Fuji

Posted on | Author John Beamer

Toro Rosso ran similar nose wings to those seen on BMWs and Red Bulls
Toro Rosso ran similar nose wings to those seen on BMWs and Red Bulls

John Beamer from F1-Pitlane looks at the technical tweaks from Fuji.

In contrast to the tight corners and slow speeds of the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore, Fuji Speedway, with its 1.5km start-finish straight, puts a premium on a low drag car. Although over 80% of the corners are low speed and would typically demand a high downforce set-up, the associated drag leaves drivers extremely vulnerable to overtaking into turn 1.

To manage these trade-offs teams optimised lower efficiency, higher drag parts without switching into full low drag mode as demanded by somewhere like Monza.

Also as F1 circus enters the twilight of the 2008 season innovation is starting to tail off as teams focus their developments efforts on 2009 and the raft of new regulations that must be mastered.

So what technical innovations were on show?

Front and nose

Toro Rosso came to Fuji with nose fins. This is no surprise given the shared development resource with its sister team, Red Bull. Red Bull ran the nose fins in Singapore and the Toro Rosso implementation was remarkably similar.

To recap, these fins condition air flowing over the nose of the car and redirect it to the rear wing increasing overall mass flow, which helps downforce. Despite the need for less drag no team deleted their nose fins suggesting that they are reasonably efficient at generating downforce and also are useful in tuning the overall balance of the car.

Many wonder why Ferrari has not elected to adopt nose fins. The F2008 nose cone is more raised than others in the paddock, which makes the fitting either a bridge wing or nose fins tricky and less effective. Interestingly the trend over the last few years has been to lower the nose cone because when raised (although structurally more sound) air flowing below the nose and over the front wing is block which harms front wing efficiency.


Yes, yes, he\'s very happy. But just look at the undercutting on those sidepods!
Yes, yes, he's very happy. But just look at the undercutting on those sidepods!

Renault is the one team that visibly keeps on innovating and it brought a revised sidepod package to Fuji. The radiator inlet was more tapered than previously partly as the cooling requirements are lower than at other tracks.

Moreover, the narrower sidepod structure channels a higher volume air around the side of the car to the coke bottle zone, which helps pressure recovery of the diffuser. Air flows faster over the diffuser, hence is lower pressure and the adverse pressure gradient that the diffuser must work against is reduced. Downforce is increased with little increase in drag.

That Renault is aggressively developing its car while other midfield teams such as BMW are focusing efforts solely on 2009 explains the shifting fortunes of the two teams.

Rear wing

Toyota slightly revised its rear wing by deleting the central pillars which were mostly for structural purposes. Given the lower drag nature of the circuit the wing was run at a slightly shallower angle resulting in less loading. One big benefit of removing the pillars is that air flowing beneath the wing is less disturbed.

Similar to Renault?s solution this helps air flow faster at the rear of the car, which not only helps rear wing efficiency (blocked air reduces downforce and causes drag) but also helps pressure recovery above the diffuser.

10 comments on “John Beamer’s F1 tech file: Fuji”

  1. So the two teams fighting for the title didn’t bring anything new to Fuji at all?

  2. Probably but nothing as overt as the teams featured. By Fuji most of the teams have finished their design programmes. Parts which get added tend to either have slipped or are modified slightly following new data when used at a “similar” track earlier in the season. Also remember a whole ton of stuff below the surface has gone on, which you can’t see.

    No doubt Ferrari has played extensively with is suspension to to try to better warm the tyres in qualifying.

    I do believe that Ferrari ever so slightly reshaped some of the fins on its bargeboard but I had a look and it was a very small change.

    There is probably some stuff I missed – the teams aren’t exactly keen to give away secrets!

  3. Yes, Massa made it clear in his final stint (incredible pace) that his Ferrari is not struggling in cool weather anymore. But then how could Kimi not make his own perform any better? Keith’s graphs show him unable to reach Kubica until Robert started having serious graining problems in his 3rd stint.

  4. More, more!! I love these articles…keep up the good work!!

    Also would be great to have more articles on other more hidden areas of the cars, such as fuel tanks, suspension etc. These don’t necessarily have to be totally current innovations, as the teams would likely not give too much away…perhaps even info from previous years?

  5. Massa had better win in Shanghai, because McLaren is bringing a major update to Brazil and Lewis has the joker engine still available. So he will finish no lower than third in Interlagos, worst case.

  6. Massa had better win in Shanghai, because McLaren is bringing a major update to Brazil and Lewis has the joker engine still available. So he will finish no lower than third in Interlagos, worst case.

    Could someone clear up the situation regarding the joker engine. I thought the rules didn’t allow for it to be used in the last 2 races of the season..??

  7. Sporting Regulations:

    28.4 f) Except during the last Event of the Championship season, each driver will be permitted to use a
    replacement engine without incurring a penalty the first time this becomes necessary during the

    So you can make a change at Shanghai without penalty, but not Interlagos.

  8. I used to think that sidepods are used as air-inlets for cooling of engine.
    Am I wrong? Or do they doubly function as downforce generators as proven in the above article.

  9. Both – they play a cooling role – and, by the way, inefficient cooling results in more drag. The shape of the sidepods also plays an internal and external aero role

    For instance if the sidepods have an inverted aerofoil shape they generate downforce. Also imagine if they stuck out twice as far – they’d generate a lot more drag. Any part of the car can and will influence air flow

  10. Did Massa set the fastest lap in his final stint at Fuji?

    And this was a really interesting read John thanks.

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