Monday, 28 January 2013

F1 2013 - Lotus Noses Ahead With E21 Launch

Interesting new sponsor on the air intake for Romain's car...
It's that time of year again, folks! New F1 car reveals will be happening over the next week, with the first pre-season test at Jerez taking place next Tuesday on the 5th February. But what will the cars look like? Well they never reveal 100% what they're going to do right away, but to give us an idea of their evolved car - and livery, by the looks of it - Lotus has shown us their E21 (named to celebrate 21 years of the "Enstone Team", previously called Lotus-Renault GP, Renault, Benetton-Renault, Benetton and Toleman). It now features more red, which might be subliminal advertising by the people behind Mars bars...

There's not much we can gain from pouring over official pictures, other than the revised exhaust area, tweaked wings and the continued presence of a stepped nose. This is mildly intriguing because teams are allowed to use a "vanity panel" to cover the step in the nose, should they find it repulsive. However, technical head James Allison pointed out that a purely cosmetic panel "weighs a few grams", and that adding unnecessary weight to a Formula 1 car does not compute. He did promise that "if we find a cosmetic panel that looks nice but, much more importantly and crucially, develops a bit of downforce, then we’ll pop it on quick as you like." Keep looking, lads and lasses!

At the rear end, there is a weird fuzzy thing sitting in the now-commonplace central engine cover hole, perhaps covering up some clever new thingymabob, or just the fact that the show car has no engine. There's also a lot going on between the rear wing endplates and the rear wheels. Most of it's rear suspension and the rear axle, but some of them might be little aero flaps. Possibly, they're rear brake ducts designed to make a weeny bit of extra downforce as well as cool the brakes. With restrictions on aerodynamics tightening up every year, the aerodynamicists will be looking for any breathing space in terms of new winglets, flaps and turning vanes, as evidenced on the front wheel hubs, seen below:

The exposed wheels make a lot of turbulence, so cleaning up air flow around them is always important. Something not on the show car but present in Lotus GP's supporting CG renders is that the (red) air snorkel is wearing earmuffs. The two flanking intakes might be for KERS cooling, or additional cooling for other hot bits, or even the start of their "Double DRS". In fact, it turns out it is for DDRS. While systems that work by exposing holes in the rear wing when the flap is open - thereby channeling air through the car to stall the front wing as well for a speed advantage - are banned, a passive system that works at a certain speed to divert airflow to the rear are still allowed. This probably limits creativity and takes a small percentage off Red Bull's advantage. Lotus tested the system a lot in the latter half of last season but never raced it. While not on the show car, it will be used next week to see if it adds to the overall package or not. Oh, and they're sponsored by Burn, which is Coca-Cola's new energy drink. Because there are no F1 teams sponsored by energy drinks at all...

Wide front wing is wide
Lotus had a good season last year, showing much promise in testing and scoring multiple podium finishes. In the end they came 4th in the World Constructor's Championship, with just the one win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Kimi knew what he was doing (just in case you haven't subsequently heard that phrase a hundred million times already). Their issue, much like Scuderia Ferrari, was qualifying pace. Odd considering both the car and the two drivers were fast over a flying lap. They'll be hoping to rectify that this season while still having the race pace to make the most of any high starting positions they get.

The next F1 car reveal will be the McLaren MP4-28 on Thursday. Until then, here's Kimi spitting his new catchphrase out at a sitcom actor (i.e. someone who knows all about spitting out annoying catchphrases)...

...and some more pictures, via F1Fanatic.

An arty angled shot.
Side view shows the new low-mounted Coandă exhausts.
Rear wing mullet introduced by McLaren, now commonplace on all F1 cars.
Slightly raked ride height introduced by Red Bull, now commonplace on all F1 cars.
Actually, it might be McLaren that the red sidepods remind me of, not Mars bars.

So there it is. Let's see how the others compare. McLaren will probably go for a low nose again.

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