Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Exhaust-blown undercuts

A new constellation of Formula 1 cars is burning bright at Valencia this week, and most intriguing amongst them are the contra-flavescent Lotus-Renaults, sporting exhaust exits in front of the sidepods.

Craig Scarborough suggests that the purpose of these is to accelerate the airflow under the leading edge of the floor, and he might well be right. My immediate instinct, however, is to postulate that the function here is to increase the velocity of the airflow down the flanks of the car, beneath the undercut sidepods, and ultimately over the top of the diffuser.

The new Toro Rosso, meanwhile, exhibits severely undercut sidepods, reminding some observers of Ferrari's double-floor F92A of 1992. Rumours suggest that the McLaren MP4-26 will feature exhaust-blown undercuts of a similar depth.

Such anterior-lateral thinking is a characteristically sparkling example of Formula One's technical creativity, but one hopes that the Kelvin-Helmholtz turbulent instability arising the confluence of two distinct airflows at the rear of the car will not further hamper the quality of the racing.

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