Tech Analysis: Lotus brake ducts
Despite ongoing reliability problems, Lotus felt the need to start introducing further aerodynamic modifications to its E22 after a small batch of parts made their way to the car two weeks ago in Australia. Malaysia hosts the first aerodynamically testing circuit, which is why we normally see who has done well over winter at this early stage of the season. Small bodywork amendments may look timid, but at high speed they are vitally important to how the car behaves during the long, sweeping turns of Sepang.
Three fins have been added to the top of the duct, each slightly stepped down from eachother. These act like the fins and canards we see on the side of the cockpits ahead of the sidepods, creating small vortices at their tips and guiding airflow to a desired destination downstream. As you can see, the fins are in line with the top wishbone mounting point, which suggests that the team were perhaps not happy with how airflow was being projected downstream from this point.
The path of the airflow trailing these fins is probably in the region of the front tyre wake, keeping the highly turbulent air produced by the rotation of the tyre at speed away from the undercut of the sidepod. This is aided by the vertical airflow conditioners that flank each sidepod.
It is also worth noting that the ducts themselves are no more open than they were in Melbourne despite the higher temperature/humidity levels, although the ‘cake tin’ hubs have had bodywork removed to extract heat from the brake assembly.
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.