Recently, Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe said that aerodynamics had become more crucial in the F1 sport.
There is no doubt that Mercedes has had a dominant year in 2014. And its new V6 turbo power unit proved to be the most powerful one on the grid, eclipsing all the other rivals.
However, team’s technical boss Lowe was eager to stress that Mercedes’s aerodynamics package has played a bigger role last season than it has done before.
He said: “A lot of the talk of the new formula has been about power units, but actually aerodynamics have become more crucial than ever.
“Incorporating the power unit in a car with the minimum aero impact is more important than before, not less.”
Indeed, some pioneering aerodynamics designs have been applied to 2014 cars. Among them, the most dazzling one is a unique front layout, which features a compact and a forked lower wishbone rather than the wide ‘V’ shape used elsewhere. It helped improve the airflow around the front tyres and thus improve front wing performance and aid airflow to the sidepods.
Lowe said: “The front suspension was a big part of the aero performance and that project was started in June/July of 2013.
“To make it work structurally was quite difficult. But we could see fairly early that it was feasible, so we went with that aero concept and let the structures guys loose on it.”
Another key factor Lowe mentioned is cooling, which helps package the new power unit with minimal drag.
He said: “A good part of the story has been cooling efficiencies that were achieved. We did it bit by bit, pushing the efficiency of each part of the cooling circuit up, and that's what brings the sizes down. Your first go at it is not nearly as good as your 27th go. Initially it had looked like the whole story of the car was going to be, 'How are you going to get in enough heat-exchange areas to get the job done?' By the time we arrived with a car that seemed little different to the year before in terms of radiator area etcetera, that felt pretty amazing as an achievement.”
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