Tech Analysis: Sauber C33
Things are ramping up at a vast rate of knots in the F1 world, with Sauber the latest team to unveil their car ahead of testing that starts on Tuesday. Outward appearances may seem a little dull and samey compared to its 2013 predecessor, but the C33 is a totally new machine with some intriguing features.
Arguably the most aesthetically pleasing nose to date, the C33’s front end is a tidy number with some revealing bits and pieces.
The nose itself follows the “finger” path, although the way it is blended in with the wedge shape above takes your mind away from the visually awful concepts we have seen so far. The front wing pylons, attached to the upper segment of the nose, allows airflow to pass around the narrow lower section to the underside of the chassis downstream.
It is unclear as to whether Sauber have utilised a thin crash structure bonded to a vanity panel above to form this shape, although judging by the fact that the pylons are attached to what-would-be the vanity panel wedge above it is likely to be one unified structure.
The pylons taper inwards to allow more airflow to glide down the upper wedge to the lower part of the car. This process is aided by the placement of camera pods ahead of the front suspension.
As for the front wing, this appears to be completely renewed although the lack of images presented by Sauber makes this uncertain. The endplates have definitely received an update, closely resembling Red Bull’s philosophy in that the outer elements of the wing are revealed and almost blend into eachother.
As with all the cars we have seen so far, it is surprising to see how little the angle of attack the endplates are relative to the front tyre, as teams continue to push airflow around the tyre despite the narrower front wings.
There are some hints that the C33 features a stepped chassis although this is yet to be fully clarified. A small removeable panel, that has the car’s carbon telemetry aerial attached to it, is visible just behind the nose fixing point. This panel could be removed and replaced by the ‘S-duct’ device that they ran last year, which would be a common solution should the chassis include a step at its base.
Sauber have been using Ferrari power since 2010 and will continue to do so for 2014. Much like the Ferrari F14 T that was launched yesterday, the C33 features absurdly small sidepods. Although the Hinwil based squad have recently become the kings in this area of the car, there is a strong feeling that the Ferrari power unit requires far less cooling than its Renault and Mercedes rivals. The bodywork on the Sauber supports this idea.
The intakes are small but very square. Although this is less aerodynamically efficient that a more curved shape, the base of the ‘pods have been heavily undercut at the leading edge and continues all the way to the back of the car.
A horizontal vane has been attached to the cockpit side, stemming and bonding to the vertical airflow conditioner at the car’s outer regions. A subtle change to the rear-view mirrors allows this vane to be exploited more sufficiently, as the vertical mounts clear up space for airflow to pass over it compared to last year’s horizontal mounts.
Unlike its already-released competitors, the C33 does not appear to have huge sidepod outlets at the back of the car. I struggle to believe how the car can remain in this compact state so we could see the bodywork opened up once it hits the track.
Not extensively covered so far this year, the airbox and roll hoop area have undergone some treatment to accommodate for the new power units. Sauber are no different and have revised this entire section of the car ahead of the season.
The airbox is far less rounded that the outgoing C32 and almost resembles the Brawn BGP001 of 2009 in that its supports straddle in line with the leading edge of the ‘box itself.
You can see the extreme undercutting of the roll hoop, which has a few benefits in feeding the central section of the rear wing with cleaner airflow. With the wing shallower than last year, this could be paramount in regaining some of the lost downforce from 2013.
A small inlet is visible towards the back of the engine cover just before it starts to slope towards the exhaust. It is quite small in size, although there are presumably two of them, which suggests that their primary function is for additional cooling. This potentially leads to the turbo unit rather than the gearbox oil cooling system due to its size.
However they could well be the inlets for Drag Reduction Device. This is complimented by the fact that there are two, large removeable pieces of bodywork (‘Claro’ logo section and the piece below), which suggest that an alternative solution – that could utilise DRD – is available.
Rear detail & Exhaust
The rear wing’s central section is raised slightly higher than its outer portions, which is intriguing because the wing this year will already be shallower than before. So why further lower its profile? This decision could correlate with roll hoop design, as raising the wing’s leading edge could meet a much cleaner band of airflow. With this in mind, it is worth considering that a shallower rear wing with cleaner airflow passing over could produce more downforce than a deeper wing with slightly less clean flow.
Like Ferrari, Sauber have opted for a twin central pylon to support the rear wing and there is barely any difference between the Swiss and Italian designs. This could be down to the fact that Ferrari were using the Sauber windtunnel facility for some time due to their ongoing correlation problems. Another reason that this may be the case is that, as Sauber are a Ferrari customer, the gearbox comes with these pylon fixings “as standard”, therefore it is easier to implement with their car.
Visible between the two pylons is the central exhaust exit. There is no evidence of a Monkey Seat winglet just yet, although most teams are not showing their hand in this area just yet.
Finally, there are some intricately detailed fences and ‘tyre squirt’ slots placed ahead of the rear tyre. The two fences, similar in design to those seen on the Red Bull RB9 last year, are there to produce vortices that offset the turbulence produced by the rear tyres, extracting further performance from the diffuser.
Images courtesy of Sauber F1 Team
William Tyson - a Mechanical Engineering student at Swansea University - has been writing about the technical side of Formula 1 since February 2013. After joining the Richland F1 team for 2014 he has continued to establish himself as a more rounded technical analyst whilst maintaining a healthy following on his blog.