As the car track hit the track today, the nose hole was indeed still there and at first is puzzling as to how and why this is done. As explained in the previous article about noses, the rules set out two minimum cross sections for the nose tip, most teams form these two sections into a wedge shaped nose with the thumb-like tip protruding from it. In addition the nose needs to be one enclosed surface without holes (except for the driver cooling vent). While we can see the basis of the Red Bull nose is a thumb tip design, how can the tip be open and still legal?
Looking closely at the nose, we can see the tip is the minimum size 9,000mm2, but the hole pretty much fills that area. When viewed from a slight angle the nose tip has an opening behind it, so the air entering the hole vents nearly straight back out again. It doesn’t appear to be ducted up into the S-duct, as we can see the usual S-Duct inlet further up the nose. Although two small outlets ‘appear’ to be made into the nose behind the front wing mounting. Again these do not appear to fit in with the closed rules, but we will have to have a closer at exactly what these are and report in due course.
Having the nose open and venting straight back out behind it, makes aerodynamic sense, as the blockage of the regulatory nose cross section is reduced, pushing more airflow under the raised chassis to power the newly enlarged bargeboards for a strong aerodynamic effect down the rest of the car. So, if the nose has to be a closed shape how is the hole legal? To understand how the one closed section rule works, imagine passing the nose sideways through a meat slicer. As long as each slice is one piece, then the nose cross section is legal. If we sliced through the nose hole, you’d had one big nose slice and little piece formed from the bottom of the nose hole, this wouldn’t be legal.
What Red Bull have done, is take a trick from an old BAR rear wing and one also subsequently used by Lotus for its twin tusk nose. Inside the nose hole are a series of vertical vanes arranged in a “V”. Air can pass between the vanes, as they are offset from each other, but when viewed from head on the they line up and appear as one solid surface. This is all that’s needed for the one section rules, as one vane will always link the nose to the bottom of the nose hole, creating the single slice. These vanes do not need to present an obstruction the airflow, as the duct formed by the nose hole widens in the middle to offset their volume.
But for all the attention the nose is gaining, the nose hole is not a game changer, merely a simple way to make a small gain and not one that is likely to send other teams off to copy it. Indeed some teams have said they already looked at such a solution.