New Formula 1: A car without a side box is allowed?

You have to look far back to see such huge differences in the Formula 1 field as they are today. The new set of rules produced ten different cars. Not even the Formula 1 makers around sporting director Ross Brawn and technical director Pat Symonds would have dreamed of such versatility. The cars look so different that you can name each team even if you paint all the cars white.


Side boxes in particular are different. They can be roughly divided into four families. Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin undermine them. Red Bull, Alpha Torri, and Alpine build a ramp in front of the rear suspension. Ferrari and Haas pull the side box out and extend it – including the trough. McLaren, Williams and Mercedes are trying to keep them as small as possible. The world champion in design strives to follow the most radical concept.


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Mercedes has stunned the competition with its radical concept.

Coolant in the side box

Mercedes even separates the bumper body from the side box and puts it in a wing. A gray area is used in the regulations, which do not specify the area of ​​​​the mirrors in sufficient detail. Mercedes building complies with the rules. The question is whether it also complies with the spirit of the regulations. But could there be a return? Not right. The FIA ​​should have intervened when Mercedes sent in its CAD data – weeks ago.


From above, the advanced element looks like a large mirrored plate with four fins on it that direct the flow. This solution scares the competition. With the “collision chassis wing” Mercedes is likely to generate additional downforce. Wash effect with fins and small sides curved outward. Thus the air is pushed out. In theory, this makes the car faster. During our test drives, the rebound issue still masked the true potential of the W13.


Mercedes has almost wiped out the sidebox. The question then arises what will be the next step. Will we see a car in the near future completely abandon the decorative parts on its side? “I don’t think the regulations would currently allow you to not have a coolant in the side box. It’s not meant to be,” says Alfa Technical Director Jan Monchaux.


Guanyu Zhou - Alfa Romeo - Formula 1 - Bahrain Test - Today 3-12 March 2022

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Alfa-Sauber trims and lengthens the sidecar like an Aston Martin.

Monchaux Explains Concepts

Der 43-jährige Franzose führt weiter aus: “Es wird sicherlich eine Diskussion mit der FIA und den Teams geben, ob wir es zulassen wollen, dass möglicherweise einer so weit geht, und gar keines keine Kühler eglitz. next step.” So the conscious omission of a sidebox. It is doubtful whether this would not damage the aerodynamic balance so much. “We have to see if it works. If it was really the best solution. It worked with Mercedes. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have brought him into the car.”


Alfa Romeo’s Chief Technology Officer is one of the best explainers on the track. Monchaux knows how to describe in simple words and how to explain the technology of moon rockets on four wheels to even ordinary people. Large or small sidewalls, thin or wide hoods: what is it all about?


Let Monchaux explain: “You can assume that every engine needs roughly the same cooling capacity. The question is: Where do you put the coolers? Some want to store their coolers in the side bins. This allows them to build very thin on top of the engine, which is usually very good for a wing rear”. This is the solution from Ferrari and its customers Haas and Alfa.


Mercedes vs Ferrari

“Others think the coolers in the middle above are better. Even if that’s not the optimal center of gravity.” Alpine jumped on this train in 2021 with the A521. “They get better flow quality there. The coolers work more efficiently. These teams pay a price for this on the rear wing, but they have more freedom in the sidepods. Then we have those teams that distribute them in both places – as we did in the past a little in the middle, a little on the side “.


In the pictures, you can see that the cooler is placed in the side box of the W13 at an angle of about 45 degrees. When comparing two opposites, Mercedes and Ferrari, it is noticeable that the silver arrow is more massive at the top. This then compromises the flow of the rear wing. However, the lower part is more important due to the influence of the earth. This is where the most lap time is won. No additional coolers can be seen in the photos when the silver cap is removed. This suggests that Mercedes must have developed an ultra-efficient cooling concept – for example via a charge air cooler.


Teams play a lot with simulations to find the perfect solution for themselves. “We, Ferrari and maybe Haas chose the track: There are no coolers in the middle, but it’s very narrow. Then there are different interpretations of how the coolers are installed. Is it ‘floating’ (floating), is it nearly vertical, it’s ‘re-shoot.'” You see different interpretations. Then you have the teams that you live by to the max – like Mercedes.”

Lando Norris - McLaren - Formula 1 - Test - Bahrain

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McLaren features slim side trunks and a massive hood in the center section.

What is the most likely concept?

If you trim the side box, you create a lot of free space above the lower body. Better control over turbulence caused by tire footprint with asphalt. Here one talks about the so-called follow-up. It flows so that especially the roof diffuser and the lower rear spoiler cleaner. He wins in slow corners. At lower speeds, and listening to the competition, the Mercedes W13 is already very powerful. And there, in slow and medium-speed turns, you can better distinguish yourself from the competition. Because you spend more time in this type of corner than you do in fast corners.


On the straights and in fast corners, Mercedes lost in the tests because the engineers didn’t bring their car into the aerodynamic comfort window. If the W13 is set too low, it will bounce a lot more on the straight. Too loud and there was a lack of downforce in the fast corners. Mercedes is looking for a solution to keep downforce high without slipping into rebound.


If that worked, the silver arrow should immediately gain a few tenths. But that doesn’t mean the car has the most potential in the long run. Monchaux: “It is important for me to understand which concept has the greatest potential for further development. Whether it is the Mercedes concept. Or our concept. Or the Red Bull or Ferrari concept. Who is most likely or the last to reach their plateau? What is” the true potential of each concept ? No team can know or anticipate this at the moment. Maybe the concept’s journey stops after four or five months because it’s exhausting. Others have more potential. Only time will tell. “


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