Formula 1 teams are always striving for marginal gains – and that was evident ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix when Ferrari unveiled their halo-mounted mirrors. So what aerodynamic difference will this new design make? Mark Hughes explains…
Ferrari have certainly raised some eyebrows in Barcelona with their radical wing mirrors which for the first time are mounted on the halo – as allowed by the regulations post-China – and also incorporate dramatic-looking winglets for aerodynamic effect.
The mirrors, which retain the unique slot within the casing that redirects air to the radiator inlet, are only connected to the winglets sprouting from the halo through a narrow strip, thus qualifying the winglet as part of the mirror to meet the letter of the regulations.
This is a great example of how even a regulation change made as a safety measure can be used by the teams to create more performance. The FIA announced between the Chinese and Azerbaijan Grands Prix that henceforth mirrors could be mounted on the halo – in order to improve visibility for the driver.
Since the move in 2016 for wider and lower rear wings, rearward visibility has been especially restricted and it was felt that this may have been contributing to contact incidents on track. Moving the mirrors from the cockpit surround to the edges of the halo has allowed a better view above the rear wing.
But Ferrari aerodynamicists have been especially quick to exploit this. The angle of the winglet implies that it redirects some of the upward wash (created from the air hitting the front of the car) downwards.
Getting that part of the airflow angled back down earlier will give a better airflow to the edges of the rear wing and may even be used to further accelerate the air along the lower part of the bodywork, past the 'Coke-bottle' section.
This will likely give only marginal gains, but it illustrates the intensity of the search for every gram of performance that typifies F1.