Motorsports

F1 - In pursuit of innovation for teams and fans

F1 - In pursuit of innovation for teams and fans

New season has started and it’s already providing exciting races, competition and surprises!

How are they able to spark so much excitement already? In today’s blog post, we will discuss what is different about it compared to last one and what some interesting changes were implemented this year to give you an even better sensation of being right in the middle of action!

As a part of annual revamps of the on screen layout providing all the information to the fans behind the TV screens there is an idea to make it fresh but also more functional and more informative. Easy to digest and funky looking graphics on the screen are a fantastic way to help a viewer stay hooked and engaged with what is happening.

That’s why coverage has been enhanced this year with access to all 20 eye-level cameras for all drivers on the grid. It was tested over the years several times and last season was a first real attempt at making it an integral part of the feed and excitement for fans around the world.

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In 2022 only a handful selected drivers had their helmets equipped with such a camera as only Bell helmets were cleared to have them installed inside. In 2023 it’s for all helmet brands and we can now enjoy the eye-level view on what it is like to be a F1 driver rushing through corners at 250 kph and experience all the vibrations, bumps and sheer adrenaline.

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Ever improving F1tv feature allows you to watch the entire race from a perspective of one selected driver if you wish to do so and with just a push of a button change to TV feed, live timing with sector times, track map with cars shown where they are around the circuit. Each year the feature becomes better, richer and more packed with additional capabilities!

That’s something that regular fans can enjoy but at the same time F1 engineers and deeply interested enthusiasts treat each year as a playground for innovations on a technical level that can be an endless source of “find what’s different from race 3 to race 4 on a car from team XYZ” which then can be analyzed and even recreated at home using CFD to find out how something is meant to work.

F1 engineers read regulations hundreds of times. You could also think that’s what they read when they wake up in the morning, before going to bed and during dinners. Unsurprisingly it might not be far from the reality as many ideas that appear on the grid on some cars are the result of finding loopholes that are often created unintentionally by changing something as innocent at the first glance like a comma.

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In 2022 Mercedes arrived with seemingly the same solution on their W13B car and it immediately started a discussion whether it is legal and very quickly it was banned as it was breaching the rule that says that these gap separators can only work as structural items and not as air conditioners for aerodynamic reasons.

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AERO CHANGES

However in 2023 there was a change in rules 3.9.8 Front Wing Auxiliary Components where in section b it says:

“b. Up to eight slot gap separator brackets, per side of the car, which connect consecutive FW Profiles.

These brackets must:
i. be in their entirety within 40mm of both of the two profiles they support in relation to each other.
ii. be no more than 6mm thick. A fillet radius no greater than 2mm 4mm will be permitted where these brackets join the two profiles.
iii. have no dimension that exceeds 70mm”

Aerodynamic purpose of those gap separators was once again allowed by making small changes that allow the use of those for structural reasons but if they also help your aerodynamics, it’s ok.

One of the many reasons why F1 engineers are paid handsomely to find loopholes where no one even tries to find some and then come up with an idea to exploit that loophole to their advantage.

Other changes were made to the floors of F1 cars in 2023 to combat the nemesis of 2022 cars which was named porpoising.

Porpoising is an unwanted side effect of rule changes which were introduced in 2022 to enhance racing by allowing cars to follow each other closer in corners by eliminating dirty air which disrupts the airflow to the car following and causes it to suffer significant aero loss that makes it extremely difficult and frustrating to get closer to your rival and challenge him for position.


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To achieve that more emphasis was placed on generating downforce from venturi effect which is created by floor and diffuser working in tandem to allow the air rushing under the floor to get expanded which creates lower pressure under the floor and much higher pressure over the floor and that sucks the car to the ground and the more air you allow to enter, get expanded and sped up towards the exit, the more suction you create.

On paper it looked like a fantastic idea however no one predicted that the suction would be so strong that it would cause the cars to change rake angles rapidly or outright cause the car to hit the ground and bounce back up which breaks the air seal that generates all the downforce (or negative lift as it should be called) and car goes up. Once that happens almost immediately the air rushing through creates sucking again, lowering the car and causing the issue to repeat over and over again.

This is not aerodynamically efficient and frankly quite uncomfortable for a driver as not only it feels like being bounced like a rubber ball on hard asphalt but your vision can’t compensate for vibrations resulting in blurry vision.

In 2023 a new rule was introduced which forced the teams to raise the floor edges by 15mm. Doesn’t sound like a lot but that was enough for the teams to lose quite a big chunk of downforce.


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Of course teams found a way to condition the air around the car to seal the floor using vortices generated from other aero pieces.

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Racing in F1 is just a byproduct of huge brainstorms by brilliant people creating state of the art cars that have only one goal: Be the fastest possible.

What we can do is just follow all that innovation with marvel and witness more changes provided by the broadcasters to make the experience of following F1 even more insightful and exciting!

We hope you are enjoying the season so far. This one looks to be a thrilling one!

Yours sincerely,
Trak Racer Team

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