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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Diffusing a Bomb - Brawn GP - Diffuser Row

What's all this diffuser nonsense about I hear you say, well I'll try to explain. The regulations for this year are obviously somewhat different to last and so those clever technical guys back at the factories have been busy trying their best to claw back some if not all/more of the previous years aero advantages. Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota are coming under fire now that the other teams have seen their designs in regards to the rear diffusers. Well firstly lets clear up the matter that it's not actually the diffusers that are causing the issue. All 3 teams diffusers are within the regulations dimensions and rules, It's the parts around them that are forming part of the diffuser arrangement that is causing the controversy. The flat floor of the car can no longer meet the diffuser (as this would give a tremendous amount more downforce) instead the floor has been channeled just above the diffuser into a 'downforce funnel' which is giving around a 10% downforce yeild that wouldn't be available without the funnel. The 'downforce funnel' is being produced by a grey area in the rules which allows for the rear crash structure to be designed in such a way that the above teams have manipulated to meet with the diffuser.
In the picture above (Taken from http://www.autosport.com/ and originally illustrated by Craig Scarborough) You can see how the diffuser is designed. The red line is the extremity to which the 'diffuser' can be designed. The blue section which I have added is the 'downforce funnel' I refer to and is formed by the crash structure meeting with the diffuser and being fed by the floor aero.

So why the big who har? Well Flavio and company are annoyed as their engineers obviously didn't spot this little area in the regulations and have designed their car around their non funnel designs. Brawn, Williams and Toyota seem to have based the car from the front to the back with the diffuser/funnel becoming a key element to the cars setup. The size and shape of this funnel will also change from circuit to circuit i'd imagine to utilise each circuits downforce requirements.
Not only does the funnel create downforce but Flavio and co's argument is that it will detrimentally affect the cars wake eliminating the overtaking advantage of the car behind.

At the end of the day this is what defines F1, people/engineers pushing the design boundaries to make faster cars. Otherwise we would just end up with a spec series and I certainly don't want to see F1 go that way.

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About Me

I have been an F1 fan from a very early age, however in my very early years I didn't really support a team just loved the racing. Since the BAR years I have been supporting this team through it's highs and lows. I'm confident under Ross Brawn's control the team will go from strength to strength and hopefully Jenson and Rubens can find themselves in a competitive car once more.


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