Comparing the 2008 F1 cars

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It gets harder and harder to spot the differences between F1 cars.

But it’s always interesting to see which teams have copied ideas from their rivals, or given up on a flawed concept – or desperately bolting wings onto any available surface in a desperate bid to increase downforce.

This year, wheel shrouds are in, and aerodynamic tweaks are continuing to get smaller and more intricate. But which team has the best solutions? Here’s some close-ups of the 2008 cars we’ve seen so far and some thoughts on the differences between each.

Front wings and bridge wings

Many teams are now using the bridge front wing first seen on the Renault in 2006. Honda’s RA108, with its high nose, does not have adopted the configuration. Renault have lowered the nose on the R28 to increase the size of the wing element, whereas the nose on the Ferrari is higher than on last year’s car.

BMW have added an extra element to the front nose of the F1.08, and the second element of the wing is now the point of attachment to the nose, as on last year’s McLaren.

Front wheel shrouds

Ferrari are using the shrouds but this is another aerodynamic device that Honda lacks. BMW’s shrouds extend beyond the inner wheel and overlaps with the tyre. Both Ferrari’s and BMW’s remain stationary in the airflow, unlike the rear covers which rotate with the wheel. McLaren have also tested them.

Bargeboards & sidepod fore-wings

Most teams now have combinations of bargeboards and sidepod fore-wings. However few are using the combined sidepod wings plus mirrors as seen on some cars last year – Renault notably have abandoned this design.

Although it’s hard to see on the image above, BMW have added a small part connecting the exhaust vent to the side of the engine cover, presumably to condition the airflow.

Engine covers

The regulations were changed a few years ago to require the cars to have a minimum area of engine cover when viewed from the side. A glance at the 2002 Ferrari indicates just how small this area might be, six years on.

McLaren’s airbox is quite deeply sculpted with some unnecessary bodywork cut away. And Red Bull tried an extended version of their engine cover in the Barcelona test last week.

Rear wheel shrouds

Rear wheel shrouds have also become increasingly widespread. Like the front wheel shrouds, there were originally concerned that these would be interpreted as moving aerodynamic devices, which are banned by the rules, but Ferrari have been using them since the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix.

There have also been safety concerns as some mechanics have injured themselves on their sharp edges while struggling to fit their air guns through the narrow aperture to the wheel nut. Some cars have shed them during races, leaving sharp debris on the track, though many of the modern cars’ small aerodynamic appendages are at just as much risk of that.

Photos copyright: Ferrari – Ferrari S.p.A. | BMW – BMW Media | Honda – | McLaren – McLaren Media | Williams – Williams / LAT | Renault – ING Renault F1 | Red Bull – GEPA / Red Bull | Toyota – Toyota Media

More on the 2008 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Comparing the 2008 F1 cars”

  1. i want to see who will be the first to copy the ugly fin from Red Bull …

  2. How long do you think it will be before we see sponsor logos on the stationary wheel shrouds?

  3. They’d be good for the night race :)

  4. Ferrari already has BBS logo’s on their stationary wheel shrouds…

  5. “i want to see who will be the first to copy the ugly fin from Red Bull …”

    Answer: The first team to test it in a wind tunnel and realize there is some benefit. I have to believe the added surface area may add drag, besides creating lateral stability.

  6. I never liked the wheel shrouds…I like the deep wheels and they must be cumbersome for the mechanics to change.

    ..and why does BMW insist they must have something protruding from the atop the nose of the car?

    Remember the “twin towers”?

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