Following Lotus’ use of DRD in British Grand Prix, Mercedes tested their updated DRD system in Germany GP practice. The basic idea of Mercedes DRD is similar to that of Lotus, although the mechanism for turning on/off the air switch might be different.
Instead of having two ears besides the airbox as Lotus did, Mercedes has two additional inlets at the back of airbox. This is easily fitted as Mercedes has integrated some removable design to their bodywork around roll hoop this season. The combination of a big and a small inlet may act as the control system for the air switch.
In terms of outlet, there are two outlets with the upper one below the main plain of the rear wing and lower one below the monkey seat/ beam wing. Above a certain high speed, such as long straights and high speed corners where less downforce is needed, the upper outlet switches on. The air blowing out under the rear wing disturbs the flow and therefore stall the wing for less downforce and drag. This would give an extra boost on the speed of the car.
Another noticeable detail is that both Lotus and Mercedes now have an extra small outlet below the rear wing. This is used to let out leaked air under the rear wing when the upper outlet is not supposed to be switched on.
F1 came back to its home in England with a great race taken place at Silverstone. Most teams have made noticeable upgrades on their cars, although tyre issue caught all the attention by the end of the day. Pirelli states that “a series of different causes led to the failures, including rear tyres mounted the wrong way around, low tyre pressures, extreme camber angles and high kerbs”. Although they could blame a combination of various causes, it’s really the time for them to take a serious look at those tyres they made.
In aerodynamics perspective, Lotus brought out the DRD systems that they’ve been developing since last year, Ferrari modified both their front and rear wing, and Red Bull made some change to their diffuser.
I have written about the DRD on Lotus E20 last year – Lotus E20 Drag Reduction Device. DRD is basically a passive air switch that operates by air velocity. Several teams have tried out this device including Red Bull, Mercedes and Sauber. However Lotus was the only one who insisted and has a possibly €12.5m budget on it. Lotus E21 is designed with DRD inlets, however it was mostly closed during the season. In Silverstone, DRD was put on Raikkonen’s car while kept closed on Grosjean’s car. Lotus have also made different modifications to the car body based on DRD.
There is an obvious periscope shape outlet on Kimi’s car with DRD fitted. Romain’s car however, without DRD, features a slimmer body with shark fin on it. And correspondingly a slimmer monkey seat was used on Romain’s car. The slimmer bodywork may improve the performance of diffuser and rear wing without DRD.
The different setup on two cars would enable Lotus to carry out direct comparison between the package with DRD and a whole new package without DRD. And hopefully they’ve got some valuable data from Silverstone so that we can see more of their development on the drag reduction device.
Ferrari’s Front and Rear Wing
Ferrari added a new cascade (green arrow below) on their front wing, which improves the airflow rearward by directing more air over the suspension into the sidepod.
At the rear end, they added a vertical slot on the side of the rear wing endplate. This could potentially help dealing with the wake come off the rear wheel.
Red Bull modified their diffuser with some additional slotted strakes to seek for more downforce.
Another obvious update is from Force India, who added some vortex generators on the front wing as Red Bull did in Canada. They would create more guidance to the air and re-energise the flow to make it better attached to the surface.