The Updates Showing RP Are Actually Moving Away from a Mercedes Design
Have Racing Point found a way to develop a near alien concept?
The heavily updated Racing Point used by Lance Stroll in the Tuscan GP (I'll hide my frustration they didn't give Perez any...) showed a significant change from their original design to what seems to be a more homegrown package. The update consisted of reshaped sidepods, new front brake ducts (which were different to begin with), a new rear wing endplate and minor changes to the front wing.
There's a catch though. The updates are clearly linked to the W11. So maybe not as homegrown as at first glance...
They did work however, with Stroll always faster than Perez (until the final Q3 run) and ahead of him in the race until a suspension failure/puncture rendered them to 'toast'.
Perez still doesn't have them. *sigh*
They have now moved on and are evolving RP20 in exactly the same way it came about – by taking a close look at other cars (Mercedes) and simulating how certain parts perform, then building them if the tunnel and CFD [computational fluid dynamics] confirm them as quicker.
The new ducts are not identical to those of this year’s Mercedes, but their evolution from the W10/RP20 ducts is very much in the same direction as Mercedes did with their W11.
They are lower and flatter than the previous ducts, with a straighter top section where it extends out from the brake ‘cake tin’, a circular piece of carbon fiber that has in it the brake discs and ducts, allowing the latter in particular to manipulate airflow for aerodynamic effect.
This change will be all about boosting that aerodynamic effect, as the air rushing through the 'tin' and out through the wheel rims comes out to meet the airflow that has just been out-washed (pushed out) around the tyre by the front endplates.
The blown wheels can be used in this way to enhance the energy of that combined flow as it moves down the length of the car, preventing it from being sucked in by the lower air pressure beneath the floor and thereby reducing the effectiveness of the crucial underfloor.
On the other hand, flow that has come from inboard (not been 'out-washed') of the tyres and through the barge boards, making its way down the body surfaces, has to pass the huge obstruction of the sidepods.
On the W10 and original RP20 these were shaped with the minimum width at the front and a beautifully elegant in-sweep for the coke bottle section behind.
This coke bottle section reduces the air pressure, inducing the airflow to rush into it, thereby accelerating the speed of the flow and the downforce it creates as it gets to the rear of the car.
But in doing that you compromise the forward section of the sidepods, as they unavoidably slow the flow just by the natural obstruction it provides as the air finds its way around them. The Racing Point’s new sidepods are bulkier at the front in order to create a downward ramp on the top:
That ramp will accelerate the flow from above as it sweeps downwards, and as the bottom of the ramp it meets with the flow coming around the sidepods it accelerates it, which is good for downforce.
This was a feature first used by Red Bull and Sauber a few years ago and was incorporated into the W11. Now it's been incorporated into the RP20.
The teams have to use the existing tubs next year (part of the cost-saving measure put in place due to the pandemic) and can only develop the bodywork around it. The tubs of the W10 and W11 are quite different and so Racing Point won't be able to model next year’s car as closely on the W11 as they did this one on the W10.
But that doesn’t prevent them taking inspiration from the features on the bigger team’s cars.
And Perez still doesn't have the updates.