Despite the fact that FIA attempted to discourage teams from exploiting the nose fairing and gaining aero advantage over it, many teams bypassed the regulations spirit and developed elegant structures both to gain improved airflow over the nose and keep the weight penalty due to the added fairing as low as possible . To be honest this was something more than expected as many changes caused the opposite effect than the wanted one, with the recent ban of the blown diffuser to be the best example. The only team which does not need a fairing is Marussia because of its low chassis .
Ferrari, Mc Laren, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso followed a conservative pattern as shown in the illustration below
Sauber developed a unique “ Π ” shaped fairing to create a deep channel on top of the nose, separating the air stream flowing over the nose with the one flowing at sides .
Red Bull’s dwarf fairing is an outcome of the desire to limit the fairing dimensions to the minimum required for opted aero efficiency so as to keep the extra weight as low as possible .
Mercedes evolved further last season arched nose . Instead of being flat at the top it has an intense arched shape and a more smooth bulkhead height transition . This is to reduce drag by diverting the air flowing above the nose tip towards the nose sides while the main flow is channeled smoothly over the bulkhead , all aiming lower drag production . The optical result of this pattern resembles to a duck nose .
Finally Caterham and Lotus rejected the possibility of fixing a weight costly fairing and instead developed a sculpted chassis on top, thus forming a smoother airpath for drag cut . However Caterham features a deeper and a more obvious sculpted area than Lotus does .
It is of high possibility to see teams developing further their initial idea or even coping rivals patterns . It is good to remember that the nose fairing, as all new designs, needs to be examined and studied further , unless FIA decides to make regulations even stricter .
- 2013 season – A goodbye to stepped noses (formula1techandart.wordpress.com)
A short piece of history about noses
The nose height reached the front wing level before 1991 but Benetton team (and now Lotus) launched that season the first modern F1 car with a raised nose letting the front wing to hang under the nose cone via two vertical pylons ( Tyrrell was the first car in 1990 to have a raised nose but with a single pylon to the front wing, a designed once again seen in 1997 ) . Since then nose height went from high to low again and vice versa depending on technical rules changes taking effect from season to season .In 2001 new rules forced an increase of the front wing height from ground level by 10 cm favoring in theory a high nose . But that’s only in theory because the inspired spoon curved front wings showed in 2001 surpassed the need of a high nose favoring shorter “banana” style designs . ( it is obvious why are called banana because they look like one ). Ferrari and Sauber pioneered the spoon feature while Minardi presented the so called dolphin or crocodile nose which started thick but becomes very thin at its tip . The dolphin nose was a promising design and adopted by McLaren someyears later.
2012 birth year of the stepped noses
In 2009 new technical rules stripped the car body off the aerodynamic add-ons and restricted the diffuser volume forcing teams to develop a more aggressive chassis design philosophy, building higher chassis to the upper limit allowed by the rules. Such an approach raised worries about safety because the high noses reached the cockpit area in height and potentially could penetrate into the cockpit and thus capable of harming the driver.
Safety ringed a bell to FIA reflexes and so new technical changes forced the teams to adopt lower noses in 2012 .The new regulations gave birth to the so called stepped noses and are explained below .
The nose starts 450 mm wide (point A) and gets narrower where the nose box meets the chassis (point B , named also bulkhead ), being only 300 mm wide . Then the nose drops down steeply to meet the maximum height of 550 mm at a distance of 150 mm ahead of point B . After the point C the nose becomes wider till the nose tip (easily noticed on top view image) in order to allow the maximum possible quantity of air to flow under the nose .
Almost all teams in 2012 adopted the stepped design but only McLaren and Marussia chose to follow the path of the lower “banana” nose . However McLaren opted to a higher hybrid nose later the season . The advantages and disadvantages of each design are summarized below
Richer flow of air under the chassis and thus better aero efficiency
Higher chassis cause increase in centre of gravity (COG), uncomfortable driver position
Better front suspension geometry and thus enhanced mechanical grip
Poorer airflow under the chassis , stronger negative interaction with the front wing
Compromise the strong points of each design
2013 a goodbye to ugliness
To improve the aesthetic appeal of the 2013 cars, FIA meet an agreement with the teams and was decided to fix a fairing on the nose surface to cover the stepped nose ugliness . The new article coded 3.7.9. of the Technical regulations dictates that the fairing should consist of a single part and describes the allowed dimensions and characteristics .
“With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any point, no bodywork situated more than
1950mm forward of rear face of the cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane.
The external surface of any longitudinal or lateral cross section taken through the above fairing may contain no concave radius of curvature less than 50mm. “
The fairing is placed above the stepped area and may extend up to the nose tip
The fairing aims nothing more than to improve the “beauty” of the car and any attempt to create aerodynamic advantage is discouraged . Additionally the fairing is optional and not obligatory for teams. However important details about how the fairing is placed on the nose cone and its internal structure are still grey zones and I believe designs like Sauber’s nose hole may be enhanced by such fairings .
As regards the fixing of the fairing on the nose, more attention should be required by FIA to guaranty safety . Multiple crash tests should be carried over to examine possible detachment of the fairing itself in a crash situation.A detached fairing is obvious a dangerous flying debris (remember Massa accident back in 2009 due to a flying suspension debris from Barrichello’s car).