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Ferrari’s R&D Department Have Developed Something Weird

Ferrari’s R&D Department Have Developed Something Weird

I’m not entirely sure how to write this post, but I will attempt at my very best to describe Ferrari’s recent innovation that will, it is hoped in Maranello, adorn the F2008 at some point this season. The component in question has been tested at Vairano last week with Marc Gene taking to the wheel of the Scuderia’s 2008 car. The circuit was shared, by the way, with Brendon Hartley, the New Zealander shaking down the brand new STR. Of course, the STR3 is a derivitive of the RB4, designed by Adrian Newey and hopefully built more solidly than the parent car. Anyway, back to Ferrari’s innovation…

Here’s a picture of Felipe Massa testing the F2008 earlier this year. If you look at the nose you’ll see several sponsor logos on the top, heading along the monocoque towards the drivers head. For this innovation, we are solely concerned with the Bridgestone ‘B’, located between the FIAT and Martini logos. Apparently, Aldo Costa has arranged some kind of opening on this part of the car. According to some who were present at the circuit, it looks like a cut away on the top side of the nose.

Felipe Massa - Testing In 2008

I can’t quite see the purpose of this, but undoubtedly Ferrari can. I’m wondering if the nose-hole (here within known as the nostril) is to aid cooling somehow? We have seen Ferrari struggle with reliability thus far this season, and Ferrari engine units have been going pop in other customer teams as well. It could be that the air forced in through the opening is channeled back to the engine. It is also possible that the nostril could help cool the drivers. In Australia and Malaysia we heard of problems with drivers getting very hot, and the drinks bottle resembling a pot of tea. Although I personally can’t see a team going so far as to redesign the front of the car just to help keep the drinks bottle cooler, and I think we’ve already had the hottest race of the year in Malaysia.

It could be that the innovation is designed to channel air better around the drivers head and monocoque area and over the driveshaft and suspension arms. But then, why would it involve having a hole cut into the car? Either way, whatever the reason for the change, it will unlikely debut in Bahrain. Instead, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has decided to introduce other smaller aerodynamic updates to the car for Bahrain and Spain.

The plan for this year is that we should have continuous updates throughout the season. We aim to improve the package step by step with changes coming for almost every race. Aldo Costa.

Perhaps after further testing in the three week break following the Bahrain Grand Prix the team will consider showing the world what weird and wonderful parts they plan on bolting on (or taking off) from their car. Until then, I’m going to go on a hunt for a photograph of this innovation. As they say, a picture can speak a thousand words.

Oliver White

11 comments

  • I mentioned this strange modification in the forum I frequent and the answer was that the nostril (which all the cars seem to have) is for cooling some electronic equipment in the nose. The new hole may have something to do with this but that doesn’t fit with what Ferrari have been saying about it. The story is that it’s an aerodynamic tweak.

    At this point I go “Huh?” How that can be an aero tweak is beyond me. But then they go on to say that they’re not introducing it in Bahrain because they are concerned primarily with reliability at the moment. I fail to see how a hole in the nose can affect reliability.

    My own theory is that Ferrari are hoping that all the other teams are taking notes and will spend the next few weeks cutting holes in the noses of their cars for testing in the wind tunnels. It’s called sending the others off on a wild goose chase while making sure that your real tweaks don’t get noticed until it’s too late.

  • There is another possible reason for the delay. It may be that the hole is large enough to require modification of the nose crash structures, in which case Ferrari may have just realised that they need to re-test the front of the car before they can race the component.

  • This is a strange one, me thinks. I can’t find any photos of the Vairano test last week. If anyone has an image of this “aerodynamic tweak” I’d love to see it.

    All the cars have holes at the very front, the tip of the nose so-to-speak, but this modification is apparently much further up. It almost seems like it’d be a hindrance rather than a help. Maybe they are just creating some hot air to distract everyone else.

  • Also been discussing this on another website. It was originally suggested by someone on there actually, not sure if ferrari heard of it this way or not but anyway..

    apparently it can help with removing stagnated air on the trailing edge of the front wing. The hole is not just in the top of the structure, but a tunnel all the way through. Whilst this itself is generally thought to not make much use of the airflow, it can help alleviate the air ‘trapped’ between the top of the front wing and the underside of the body. Removing this air increases the efficiency of the wing.

  • @Ali: I don’t think this is an April Fools, well noticed though! The original talk of the radical nose started in mid-March as far as I can tell. The delaying of it happened either yesterday (1st) or early today (2nd).

    @Bazanaius: Thanks for sharing. I just found Geoff Willis’s thoughts on this from March which go along with what you’re saying about the front wing.

    Its function is probably to use the central part of the front wing in a better way. Geoff Willis.

  • Without seeing it it is difficult to say. The most likely explanation is some aero tweak as the existing slots in the nose aid colling. If any more cooling is needed surely the nose hole would be modified.

    One possible aero tweak is as a vortex generator to channel high speed, low pressure air more efficiently around the driver and to the lower part of the rear wing. However, as I said, you’d need to see it really to have any clue.

  • Wow, great find John. If it is like the first image shown in the forum you linked to then I can see why it might take some rigourous crash tests before being approved.

    I don’t know why, but the image I had in my head was the opposite; like the bonnet (hood) of a Ford Mustang. I hadn’t thought that the air could be coming in from underneath.

  • If I remember correctly, Autosport or F1 Racing (can’t remember which) ran a story a few years back about the nostril on the end of the nose cone. I think McLaren were the first to introduce it and it was to cool the drivers feet. A quote from the Tech Director at the time said that the aerodynamic impact was tiny and it helped the drivers.

    Soon it appeared on every car. I suspect it’s probably changed purpose in the last few years though and there’s another reason for it.

  • This idea has actually been tried before. Anyone remember the Walrus nose? Here is what Paddy Head said:

    “Looking at the car for this year, it’s got a very unusual nose. It came out of a development that started two years ago where we were looking to bleed air up from the upper surface of the wing, up through the nose and over the top of the car. We started with a fairly conventional-looking nose with a big hole in the middle, then as that developed we ended up taking the front bit away, resulting in what we’ve got now.”

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