Monday, October 21, 2013

Ferrari's illegal brake ducts

When Ferrari launched their 1976 car, the 312T2, it appeared with a pair of outrageous front brake-duct appendages. These extended forwards, and curved around the inner front shoulder of the tyres, presumably with the intention of reducing front-wheel drag and turbulence.

These brake-duct extensions appeared only once during the racing season, in modified form, at the French Grand Prix (above). Pete Lyons reported in Autosport/Autocourse that "As a member of the CSI [the sport's governing body], Jabby Crombac pointed out that these appeared to contravene the regulations about 'movable aerodynamic devices' and the first session times for both cars were disallowed."

Note that these brake ducts were declared illegal, not because they intruded into a region from which bodywork was prohibited, but because they constituted movable aerodynamic devices. That is to say, being attached to the wheel uprights, they moved with respect to the sprung mass of the car, the reference frame against which movability is judged in this context.

It is a curiosity, then, that despite this precedent, and despite the fact that section 3.15 of the current Formula One Technical Regulations still requires bodywork influencing the aerodynamics to be "immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car," brake ducts are explicitly exempted. Devices such as those pictured below seem not dissimilar to those on the 312T2 at Paul Ricard in 1976. Perhaps Ferrari should ask for their Friday morning times to be reinstated...