The car tested in Jerez (pre session test) was stripped of significant aerodynamic elements like sidepod panels and nose vanes because the team focused solely on improving and checking mechanical reliability instead of pushing for the ultimate time. This changed soon after the first test as wide vertical panels attached on sidepods alongside with lateral flow conditioners and skirts added under the nose where the suspension wishbones meet the chassis.
After Jerez test a heat sensor appeared on the inner surface of sidepod panel’s body to monitor front tyre performance . Sauber and Ferrari are other examples that used analogous sensors in that zone.
Apart from the introduction of vertical twin element sidepod panel, a single short vane also appeared on the top of the sidepod, with both additions to offer better airflow management towards the rear of the car.
It was surprising to see Mc Laren adopting a relative short, missing the complexity of former seasons, vertical sidepod panel on the MP4/29 . The answer however to this was given shortly on the first test at Jerez with the team to add a chimney just above the panel for enhancing cooling. That chimney simply does not leave enough free space for the panel itself to develop vertically. Chimneys lastly introduced as cooling solution on cars back in 2001 again on a Mc Laren car and onwards for a few years more. Its shape and use gradually evolved and expanded, in some cases combined with a side winglet (Williams), in others used sealed solely as flow conditioner (Ferrari) or even housed the periscope exhaust tailpipes (Ferrari and Jordan ) .
Another new feature on the MP4/29, not present on Launch, was the addition of double vertical flow conditioners on sidepods .
Lotus literally works overtime to constantly improve performance and thus frequently presents new aero components on its cars . This time several middle zones updates followed the introduction of a modified front wing at last pre season test in Barcelona . The upgrade package included apart from innovative serrated bargeboards, a relocated closer to the car body sidepod panel ( yellow double-edged arrow shows the volume between the panel and the car body) and an additional element which leans outwards, inspired by Sauber’s former cars .
The new philosophy is to speed up the air flowing through this zone, due to now less available volume, while the serrated bargeboards bleeds portions of air to cut drag . The total volume of air may now be lesser but the increased speed counters this negative effect . The low height and leaning outwards extra vane helps to decrease further drag and provide a cleaner airflow towards the rear of the car . All changes aim to create more downforce especially when the cars changes directions .
Serrated bargeboards may look brand new and innovative but spring their origins a decade back to Ferrari saw-tooth bargeboards .
F112 launch version lacked any bargeboards but soon a set of 2011 (F111) alike flow conditioners added on the car before Melbourne . At Spain the team moved not a year back but two instead by placing a 2010 (F110) alike set ! The two years dated bargeboard has a saw tooth upper profile and does not extend behind the sidepod panel (no1 in the image below) but ends exactly where the floor surface starts . That itself proves that old parts could sometimes be more effective than newer ones and should never be forgotten .Worth’s remembering though that F112 chassis is based on the same 2010 Dallara chassis opted to regulation changes .
The new bargeboards dictated the sidepod panel’s vertical slot to move slightly to the rear (no 3) , some changes to the rear zone and finally the floor vanes become thicker , longer and more aerodynamic (no 2) to cope better with the new set .
New sidepod panels have also been placed on the car before Melbourne. Old panel had a wing-alike joint that connected the middle of the panel to the chassis .The new one has a top extension that bents vertically inwards to meet the sidepod roof, resembling more to a ‘biting jaws’ style connection , which is less draggy, leaving more room for air to pass through the panel and the car body guaranteeing a richer flow to the rear .