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Tech review - 2017 testing well underway in Austin

24 Oct 2016

With just three rounds of the 2016 season remaining, it’s perhaps no surprise that teams are now utilising practice sessions to gather data for 2017 design solutions. Here’s a handful that were on show in the United States…

McLaren MP4-31 - front wing development

Like Mercedes, McLaren have been trialling front wing developments and this revised solution looked very much like a first step towards what could well be seen on the Woking team’s 2017 machine. As with Mercedes, the big changes are concentrated on the outer part of the wing, as this is the area - beside the endplate, in front of what will be wider tyres next year - crucial to controlling airflow over and around the front wheels. Highlighted in yellow, you can see the footstep near the endplate is gone, with the main plane now almost totally flat - without the previous U-shape (red arrow). Note also the extra vertical fences under the main plane. McLaren also caught engineers’ eyes in Austin with their engine cover camera.

Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid - floating front wing endplate

In Austin it was Nico Rosberg’s turn to run the innovative endplate design seen briefly on team mate Lewis Hamilton’s car at the previous round in Malaysia. This front-on view from below the wing clearly highlights (in yellow) how the main plane is detached from the endplate for around the first 20cm.

McLaren MP4-31 - rear diffuser

It wasn’t just the front of the car coming under McLaren’s consideration in Austin. At the rear the team are still pushing hard with development work, including this new diffuser with a return to two vertical splitters (red arrow), not dissimilar to those seen in the days of the blown diffuser.

Ferrari SF16-H - T-tray winglet

On Friday in Austin Sebastian Vettel tested a different configuration of under-chassis aero, with the winglet shown here (red arrow, left) no longer attached to the car’s underside, but instead attached directly to the T-tray (area indicated by dotted red arrow) as Red Bull and McLaren have been doing this season. Unfortunately, heavy vibrations over kerbing caused the winglet to detach whilst on track, forcing Vettel to revert to the previous layout, as tested in Malaysia and race in Japan.