Besides trying to get extra downforce out of the diffuser by injecting hot exhaust into the thing in appropriate places, teams have been trying to drive the underbody by sculpting airflow around and over the car. This is of course nothing new: back in 2009, the Red Bull RB5 and its tightly-packaged rear bodywork managed to get enough mass flow through the car’s single diffuser to more or less keep up with BrawnGP’s double-diffuser car in the downforce department. In fact, you can probably trace the trend of sleek and narrow rear bodywork back to about 1983, when venturi sidepods were banned and cars were mandated to run a flat underside. This is not a coincidence.
Speaking of venturi sidepods: ever since they were banned the teams have been doing their damndest to recreate them within the rules. One example of such was the ill-fated Ferrari F92A, which ran a so-called “double floor” to create a venturi tunnel between the mandated flat floor and the bottoms of the sidepods. Tall outboard radiator inlets, narrowing as they approached the chassis tub, encouraged airflow to stay within the tunnel or pass over top to drive the exits. Alas, the F92A was rather less than successful, and the double floor concept was relegated to the dustbin of history.
But someone forgot to tell Giorgio Ascanelli, designer of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s STR06:
- Toro Rosso STR06 – Double floor (ScarbsF1)
The STR06 takes the already-dramatic sidepod undercuts seen on the past few years’ cars to their logical extreme, cutting all the way under the sidepods to provide the diffuser exit with plenty of clean airflow. While other teams are messing around with exhaust exit tricks to blow the diffuser, STR are simply ducting the exhaust into the sidepod undercut to similar effect. This is rather an exciting technical development.
Meanwhile, McLaren have taken another feature from the F92A and lopped off the inner half of their sidepods:
- McLaren MP4-26 – “L”-shaped sidepods (ScarbsF1)
Rather than direct flow under the sidepods to feed the diffuser and beam wing, McL have taken a chunk out of the sidepods to direct flow over them to feed the diffuser and beam wing. The visual effect is rather dramatic, to say the least.