Tech Analysis: Force India VJM07 render
Although the car won’t be officially launched until Jerez next week, Force India decided to spoil us by posting a 3D render of its 2014 challenger, VJM07. This presents a great opportunity to have a look at some of the technical changes ahead of the season using a real life example, rather than predictions and outlandish interpretations.
Although the render is from the side, there is still a lot we can learn about the 2014 changes to the front of the car. We can clearly see the low-style nose that must lie 185mm above the reference plane, showing that the team have gone down the “finger” nose path.
It is unclear yet as to whether the front wing is mounted to the “finger” itself or the wedge shape it forms further back. At closer inspection, there is a suggestion that the black segment could be the “finger”, with the white area highlighting the pylons that the front wing attaches to.
The team are reporting that the nose on this render is a launch version only, with a more aggressive design in the pipeline. Expect to see this nose when we reach the final test session in Bahrain.
The endplates of the front wing feature two fences that curve outwards to direct airflow around the front tyre, with a further set of fences inboard visible just above the ‘Royal Challenge’ logo directed in the same manner.
A small area of the wing surface itself is revealed between these two outboard fences, showing how the profile of the top flap appears to be similar to that of its predecessor.
As expected, Force India have taken a design route that realises the benefits of retaining a high underside of the chassis.
The rules stipulate that the chassis must be 100mm higher at a point just before the cockpit entry than at the front bulkhead line – just before the front wing is attached to the car. To maximise aerodynamic performance, the designers will want the chassis as high up as possible beneath the car to increase the potential of the floor.
As a result of this approach to the regulations, a sharp step is created between the main body of the chassis and the front bulkhead line. This frees up space below the car although it creates a sharp decline in the bodywork above the car. This can be glossed over with the use of a vanity panel, leaving a smooth surface on top with the additional space remaining below.
A small detail change can be seen towards the middle of the car, where the split line between the chassis and the bodywork behind appears to be further forward than last year. This is because the fuel tank (that sits in the chassis) is now a lot smaller due to the 100kg fuel weight limit, reducing its length.
With the single exhaust pipe exiting at the centre of the car, the sidepods will be very clean-looking pieces of bodywork this year as the teams attempt to reduce drag and create opportunities to exploit the rear diffuser’s potential.
On the VJM07, the airflow conditioners (vertical elements lying at right angles to the sidepod air intake) are almost identical to its 2013 cast-off.
The sidepods themselves appear to be undercut quite aggressively towards the intake, although the render is quite deceptive. The general consensus is that the ‘pods will be bigger this year as the addition of turbochargers requires more cooling, although I personally feel as if there won’t be any dramatic changes.
There is, however, an additional inlet just behind the roll-hoop. This is reminiscent of the 2011 McLaren MP4-26 and the 2012 Mercedes W03, which both fed the oil cooling unit. I should think that the inlet on the VJM07 does the same as its size indicates that it does not require a lot of air.
The leading edge of the sidepods feature at least one vortex generator. These generators were predominantly used to aid the downwash of the exhaust plume during 2012/13, although these can be used this year to guide airflow to specific regions of the car such as the top of the diffuser.
Another talking point regarding the 2014 technical regulations has been whether to mount the rear wing via central pylons or to the floor of the car. This debate has come about due to the ban on beam wings, which should reduce downforce significantly as they normally interact with the rear wing above it and the diffuser below to extract further performance from the two.
In this render it appears that Force India have boldly gone for a solution that attaches the rear wing endplates to the floor of the car, for a central pylon is not visible. This is an interesting design manoeuvre because the structural rigidity of the endplates will be severely tested, although aerodynamically this solution appears to be the best option.
An extra slot has been added to the endplate’s leading edge, just behind the already existing one from last year. These slots are designed to bleed off turbulent airflow produced by the rear tyres – ‘tyre squirt’. These transfer turbulent flow away from the outer walls of the floor and diffuser to create a little more rear downforce.
The central exhaust exit is also visible and I have no doubt that there will be a Y100 (Monkey Seat) winglet just above it.
It is also worth mentioning that there are some small, detail fences along the floor just ahead of the rear tyres. The fences are shaped like those seen when teams were guiding the exhaust gases between the tyre and edge of the floor last year, although these were further developed (by Red Bull in particular) to produce vortices.
These vortices displace the turbulence created by the motion of the tyres and prevent it disturbing the laminar flow beneath the car. Although teams do not have the exhaust gases to play with, they can still do a lot to prevent turbulence interrupting the airflow beneath the floor. In conjunction with the vortex generators on the sidepods, I am sure this is a possibility.
Images courtesy of Sahara Force India F1 Team