RACING

TECH TUESDAY: Analyzing Red Bull and Ferrari’s clever ground entry arrangements for Paul Ricard

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Red Bull and Ferrari have raced at Paul Ricard with extensively modified floor entry layouts as their development run continues apace.

The change zone in both cases is around the entrance fences of the tunnels under the floor. Teams are allowed three fences in addition to the outer “barge board” which effectively forms a fourth fence. Generally their function is to accelerate the air into the venturi tunnels which create the downforce under the body of the car – and the faster the air can be made to flow, the more downforce will be created.

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But there is a downforce created by the suction effect of the tunnel (at its peak around the “choke point” where the gap between the tunnel and the ground is smallest) and that created locally by the interaction of the air around the exposed upper and lower surfaces of the front floor. Aerodynamicists trade against each other to vary the aerodynamic balance between the front and rear of the car.

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Aerodynamic balance is the aerodynamic equivalent of weight distribution. This is the proportion of the total downforce that works on each axle. For a low-speed circuit, it is generally desirable to have more forward aerodynamic distribution for crisp directional change response than on a higher-speed track where stability in fast corners is desired.


Red Bull and Ferrari had a tough wing decision to make at Paul Ricard

Around the fast and long corners of the Paul Ricard circuit, it would be desirable to have a center of pressure generally directed towards the rear.

The easiest way to move the center of pressure rearward is to run a larger rear wing. However, it is expensive in straight-line speed. Red Bull in particular prioritized straight line speed and came to Ricard with a low downforce wing.

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This made it even more important to have a center of pressure further back from the underbody in order to compensate. They wanted both strong straight-line speed and a more profitable center of pressure, two conflicting goals that they solved with a rearrangement of their fences.

RED BULL

Red Bull appears to use the layout of its fences at the front of the tunnels to vary the aerodynamic distribution from track to track as needed. They’ve already performed a lot of different arrangements this year and it seems to be a key sophistication of the RB18.


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A look at Red Bull’s floor entry layout for Paul Ricard. The team used a variety of different arrangements in 2022. The outermost vanes were splayed out on the Red Bull for Ricard, as the team sought to shift the aerodynamic balance rearward.

So how does fence layout influence aerodynamic balance? There’s a clue in Red Bull’s explanation of their new FIA fences to Ricard, where they said:

Reason for change: Performance – local load
Difference: Revised fence geometries extending to the edge of the ground
The description: Fence layout changed to redistribute local pressure distributions to improve loading while maintaining flow stability

“Local loading” refers to the downforce created at the front of the ground surfaces as opposed to that created by the tunnel further back. Just as with a fender, a pressure differential between the exposed upper and lower surfaces of the floor can be used to create downforce directly on that area of ​​the bodywork. The outermost enclosures will tend to do most of this, while the air traveling through the innermost channel goes directly to the venturi tunnel.

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Prior to France, Red Bull ran its two outer fences extremely close to each other and converging to the rear, and the interaction between them likely helped to accelerate the outward air sweep. , away from the tunnel. By doing so, it will create a pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces of the ground at that point. This is towards the front of the car and will therefore tend to advance the aerodynamic balance. Any airflow used to achieve this is airflow that is not fed into the tunnel, further improving that forward balance.

For France, these two outer fences were much further apart. This implies that Red Bull was looking to shift its aerodynamic balance to the rear, increasing the proportion of flow fed to the tunnel and decreasing the load on the front section of the floor. This would allow them to compensate for using a smaller rear wing, which they felt was necessary for good straight-line speed.

Moving the center of pressure to the rear will also minimize thermal degradation of the front tires – which was a problem for everyone at Ricard, especially with such scorching track temperatures.


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Red Bull has separated its two outermost fence surfaces for Ricard. The broken yellow line shows where the previous fence ran very close to the ‘barge sign’ (as can also be seen inset). Moving the inside of the two surfaces further inboard, away from the barge, was part of shifting the aerodynamic balance rearward despite having a smaller rear wing

FERRARI

Ferrari’s changes to their floor were less circuit specific than Red Bull’s and were part of their overall development.

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Ferrari increased the height of the tunnel entrance area inside and used a lowered body section to maintain the same height as previously for the outboard section. They also extended the outer “barge board” further forward.

Increasing the height of the interior inlets will feed a greater volume of flow to the tunnel and although – as with Red Bull’s changes – this should shift the aerodynamic balance to the rear, it would also potentially give more full support – and that’s what Ferrari’s aim seems to be, as confirmed by their own explanation of car changes to the FIA ​​at Ricard, which read:

This new floor component is part of a standard development cycle. It aims to improve overall aerodynamic performance across the car’s operating range and is not specific to the Paul Ricard circuit layout.


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Increased height of the interior tunnel entrances (in carbon black, next to the Shell panel) and a lowered body section towards the lower exterior entrances

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