The Brazilian Grand Prix was the penultimate round of the 2010 World Championship and many teams have already stopped developing this year’s car and are fully focussed on next year’s.
There are quite a few changes for next year, with the banning of the double diffuser, the introduction of the adjustable rear wing, the switch to Pirelli tyres and the return of KERS. In the paddock in Brazil there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction with KERS coming back.
It was Ferrari who pushed it through, funnily enough around the time they were due to appear before the FIA World Council to face the team orders charges relating to the German Grand Prix.
To make KERS more attractive next year the minimum weight limit has been increased and as a safety net the top teams also pushed through a FOTA edict on weight distribution with between 45.5% and 46.5% front weight distribution. This cuts down the risk of a team which decides not to use KERS being more competitive. The weight distribution has also been done with one eye on the new Pirelli tyres.
Whereas teams like Red Bull and Renault did not use KERS last year, next year they definitely will. The smaller teams are annoyed that they don’t have the opportunity to be competitive without KERS – as Brawn were last year.
Also causing general unhappiness is the cost of the exercise, put at around €10 million per team and the fact that the power output from the KERS has not been increased, to make it more challenging.
Ferrari adopted their latest evolution of the blown diffuser with the airflow from the exhausts also blowing inside the side channels. This helps dramatically in terms of improving the efficiency of this element in each of its sections. The Ferrari diffuser differs from the Red Bull’s as it features a horizontal hole rather than a vertical one of the RB6. The central section used in Korea has been modified with more rounded profiles and the additional middle plate in the side channels is no longer present. Ferrari also had some updates to brake ducts, a tiny fin could be seen, showing that the teams were looking for any and all additional downforce possible on this downforce dependent circuit.
The weakness of this year’s Ferrari relative to the Red Bull was in sequences of fast corners like Sector 1 in Suzuka or Becketts at Silverstone. With these small but important increments, Alonso was on a similar race pace to the Red Bulls around Interlagos, while qualifying pace was hard to judge because of the damp track condition. Alonso was particularly fast once the cars switched to the hard tyre after the pit stops.
McLaren again made some detail changes to the front wing (see drawing left) and rear wing of the MP4/25. Noticeable was the return to the standard F Duct with air blowing into the flap of the wing, rather than copying the Force India solution of air blowing downwards into the main plane of the wing, which many teams have found has a more powerful effect (see photo below)
But the main novelty was in the front assembly with a different intermediate splitter under the nose cone. This one in fact is subtly different in its front edge, now slightly rounded and featuring a sort of slightly V shaped entry profile. This improves the efficiency around the front suspension wishbones, in particular diverting in a more efficient way the air flow, divided in two portions, one directed to the engine radiators, and the lower portion underneath the car.