John Beamer’s F1 tech file: Monza

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Honda ran revised front wing endplates on its troublesome RA108 at Monza

In what I hope will become a regular series John Beamer, editor of F1-Pitlane, takes a look at the teams’ technical developments from the Italian Grand Prix.

Not only is Monza a classic F1 track but it unique among current F1 tracks in that it demands teams to bring one-off aero packages to the race.

The combination of three long straights interspersed with some corners and a couple of chicanes mean that top-speed is off the essence. As a result teams opt to run flat wings that minimise drag at all costs.

As a point of comparison downforce is about 30% less than it is at a typical F1 track – think Silverstone or Barcelona. Given the monsoon conditions in qualifying and the early part of the race teams probably wished they were able to run slightly higher downforce but that would have compromised performance in the drier conditions seen later in the race. Anyway let’s take a look at how some of the teams adapted to the challenge of Monza.

Bye-bye and Dumbo ears and flow conditioners

McLaren's Monza nose (left) and Spa nose with flow conditioners

Unsurprisingly most teams dispensed with Dumbo ears. These flow-conditioners are designed to moderate the air at the front of the car to aid rear downforce. As this creates drag the removal of these devices allows teams to increase top speed. Interestingly Honda was the only team that opted to keep its Dumbo ears suggesting that, on the RA108 at least, the purpose of these wings is to rebalance the car rather than create a lot of downforce. A second clue is their positioning, which is more forward than McLaren’s and BMW’s implementation.

In contrast most teams opted to keep bridge wings as these create much less drag than the dumbo ears. Toyota was the only team to remove the bridge wing, not that is seemed to improve performance.

Front wing attachments

Another subtle innovation sported by both BMW and Ferrari was the presence of more sculpted front wing pillars. Rather than the standard straight pillars, they are more curved to ease flow over the wing and increase aero efficiency.

Teams can get away with this because of the shallow font wing run at Monza. On any other track the pillar would adversely interact with the rear wing flap causing a loss of efficiency, hence straighter pillars are the order of the day.

Rear wing

Despite the wet conditions the teams ran skinny rear wings to boost top speed

Take a quick look at any car lining up on the grid and the flatness of the rear wing stands out. By virtue of being at the back of the cars, the rear wing is often run at a steep angle to create adequate downforce.

Not only does the back of the car need to do less work but the wake from the front is less disturbed than it usually is. Flow conditioners in the mid-region of the car often remain to help feed the rear wing – these devices create very little drag and are important to overall aero efficiency of the car.

Front wing endplates

Endplates are some of the most interesting aerodynamic devices on an F1 car. For a start, the interaction between the front wing and the wheel is astonishingly complicated and counter-intuitive solutions often appear.

Perhaps the most interesting was Honda’s new endplate, which featured a downward bending tear drop shaped vortex generator along its top edge (see top image). In isolation this device creates lift (and drag) but in conjunction with the wheel actually reduces drag of the total system.

Spot any other technical tweaks at Monza? Post them in the comments…

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 you need here.

21 comments on “John Beamer’s F1 tech file: Monza”

  1. Great writeup, I really hope this becomes a regular section. I like the sometimes-infrequent technical updates on but this seems in-depth and explanatory.

  2. I meant to say “*more* in-depth and explanatory”

  3. Thanks Kevin – plan is for it to appear after each race and then in the off-season I’ll do some reviews of the season and also some previews for the coming season (errr … provided Keith wants it!).

    Next year will be especially interesting given the considerably changes to the regulations

  4. I enjoyed this article very much,I am lacking in aerodynamic knowledge.Hope for more info,thanks John.

    can I be the first to refer to the Honda development as “batwings”.

  5. Honda’s end-of-hope-plates ;-)

    great article!

  6. Has anyone found an artist’s rendition/impression/interpritation of next year’s car rules, and what a 2009 car will look like?

  7. Very good article John- for someone who is both new to motorsports and lacking major skills in aerodynamics, it’s some very good insight. I noticed the lack of the dumbo ears, or “antlers” as I refer to them, and figured they must be due to some unique requirements for Monza, so thanks for the info!

  8. honda’s nose dumbo thingies look like Rolls Royce Flying Lady from certain angles…

    but move an inch and the car is well ugh.

    excellent article, i look forward to more!

  9. This is a very welcome addition to an already great site… more of this! :)

  10. Brilliant article John, keep it coming..
    Could you tell in detail more about the different types of dumbo ears?
    The ones on BMW and those on Mclaren are almost opposite.. one seems concave while other seems convex, don’t they?

  11. Sush I had that in mind too. But we all know the Rolls Royce is not a very light car

  12. its probably more aerodynamically stabile though.

  13. The BMW and McLaren dumbo wings are interesting as the designs are completely different. One thing to bear in mind is that BMW doesn’t have a bridge wing so it manages flow a little more aggressively in this area – hence the “convex” shape – though it isn’t really covex, the device does interact with the airflow closer to the ground (slightly). For McLaren the bridge wing does this so they can get away with “higher” dumbo ears.

  14. Great stuff! any comments on Vettel’s setup for Monza? I remember him being asked about his trap speed being 10kph higher than everyone else, he laughed and said ‘that’s because we were using a dry setup’, which would make his cornerning performance rather, perplexing. But at the same time he didn’t finish that far ahead, so it does seem like he had to be rather slow in corners. It would be nice to get some apex/straights speed table on this one :D

  15. It occurred to me also that Seb made the most of a dry setup on a yet track. It would be very interesting to see who ran quali on a dry setup and which out of the top ten stuck to the dry… simply because the ITV team seemed sure Sunday was going to be dry…

  16. Thanks for the insights John! I am interested in what you have to say about the last few racetracks of the season, I guess I mean Shanghai and Brazil, which are the downforce/speed requirements of those tracks and which car do you think has the upper hand? I tend to think ferrari because of their strong finish last eyar but I really don’t know, maybe you could help?

  17. Jian – after Singapore I’ll do a preview of the last three tracks. By the way, it will probably mostly come down to track temperature.

    Singapore should favour McLaren (slightly) partly because it is run at night. Temp will still be mid-high 20s but Ferrari tends to excel when track temperature is in the 40s or so ….

  18. And on the BMW/McLaren dumbo ears the convex/concave point is largely one or perception. If you look at the bmw wings they are actually the same shape as McLaren but just with “endplates” on.

  19. Thanks John,

    I was confused about the shape since the BMW ears seem far more infused in the body, while those on Mclaren seem crude extensions.

  20. Sumedh – yes, you are right. That is partly because BMW dispenses with the bridge wing so the exact purpose is ever so slightly different.

  21. williams also removed its bridge wing. great article

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