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Monday, May 10, 2010

F1: RW80 'F' Duct System, How It Works. Advantages and Disadvantages.

The 'F' Duct, In Brief.
The F-Duct system, (as it has become known as in the pits), or 'RW80' as Mclaren calls it. Was originally introduced by McLaren and has been further developed by Ferrari. The F Duct system allows the car to go faster on the straights by channeling air flow, controlled at the discretion of the driver, to the rear wing. This reduces down-force and drag, making the car gain approximately 3 miles per hour on the straights, if used timely.

The 'F' Duct, in More Detail.
The regulations state that no movable aerodynamic parts are allowed to manage the airflow. Ingeniously, McLaren have thought their way past this by placing an intake scoop that scoops air from the top of the chassis, into the cockpit. Initially, at slower speeds where the car needs maximum down-force in corners, the port-hole of the F Duct system into the cockpit is left uncovered. This air coming into the cockpit helps to keep the driver cool.

However, at faster speeds, the car gains more down-force from the rear wing. This down-force is not required for straight-line speed, and actually causes drag and slows the car. When the McLaren driver operates the F Duct, he uses his left knee to block the hole where the air into the cockpit comes out. This then forces the air, further along a duct.

McLaren's Secrets.
(This duct is possibly shaped like an 'F', as we are all guessing, that this is the reason for the nick name, 'F' duct).
This duct, channels air around the driver and out under the rear wing. The air passes through a slot at the trailing edge of the rear-wing, and disturbs the natural air flow which the wing uses to provide down-force. Thus, the down-force and drag are reduced, speeding up the car.

F1 cars have more than enough down-force to stay on the track in a straight line. Even at the slightly higher speed offered by the F Duct.

At the end of the even-faster-straight, the driver releases the air, back into the cockpit. This returns the down-force and drag to the rear wing, which aids with the braking to slow the car for the next turn. The brilliance and ingenuity, is in the concept of the control of the F Duct, with the left knee, which is redundant during the sprints down the straights, as the right foot is on the accelerator.

Ferrari's Secrets.
Every other team can see the technical brilliance of this F Duct, and it may just give McLaren an edge through-out this season. Although there are talks of banning the F Duct. Many think it will remain, if it can be proved to give extra control of the car. Ref - the breaking + the drag element. Ferrari, however have copied the idea, but use the drivers left hand to cover the cockpit hole. This is scary to watch as the driver approaches a turn at 100 plus miles per hour, with only one hand on the wheel.

Exponents say that having one hand on the wheel is no problem for the driver, yet if there were an accident where the hand operated version of the F Duct were to be a factor. It would probably be banned immediately. McLaren and Ferrari may have to spend another £5.50 on a roll of 'Duct-Tape' to block the hole! (ha ha ha). But all joking aside, the F Duct, may have been the best new development in F1 since KERS.

I'm sure if the F Duct does get banned, it may only be the hand operated version that suffers. Perhaps McLaren should have 'LICENCED' out the F Duct for use, to the other teams, who were bound to copy it anyway. They could probably keep better control over modifications to the F Duct operation, like with the hand operated version, and not risk getting it banned. It would have also helped to provide funds for McLaren.

Some people seem to think, that if race-car technology doesn't really have a relevance for use, outside of F1, then it shouldn't be allowed to exist.
Ref - Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry's comments, in a video interview with BBC Sport F1 reporter Jake Humphrey.
Look, race-car technology has a side benefit, that new technological developments, 'may' be of use in standard road cars. But, that's all it should be, 'a side benefit'. Race car technology should not have to fit constraints like that.

Racing has a right to exist without having to justify itself as being a route to road car development!

Racing cars is a separate endeavor and as different from driving on the road, as driving a chieftain tank. Why should F1 have to up-hold some false reason to exist. F1 exists, because enough people enjoy motor racing, both as spectators and enthusiasts.


We should be wary of comments like this from Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry.

VIDEO -F1 teams to decide on 'F-duct' ban for next season.

Nick Fry says that once all the other F1 teams have the 'F' Duct, it will neutralize the advantage of using it! This cannot happen if all the teams have their own version of the design, because each version will be slightly different! Currently we have two methods of operating the 'F' Duct, Left hand or Left Knee, who is to say further variations won't be developed!

This is the type of thinking that is restricting F1. YES - 'maybe' all the F1 teams would have their own F Duct by the end of the year, but this will not neutralize the advantage that McLaren have currently got, as Nick Fry claims!

What it will do, is require MORE input from the driver, thus bringing in more diversity in their driving, and thus produce less predictable races, which is what we want in F1. Drivers will choose when and where to implement the F Duct, just like they do currently with choosing where and how hard to accelerate, where to change gear, choice of gear, a breaking point and where to turn in etc. The F Duct gives more control back to the driver.

This reporter (AndyGold), agrees with Martin Brundle, (from the video), that the 'F' Duct is the kind of innovative idea that should be developed and not banned. Nick Fry says that these kind of 'zany' ideas don't have a place in F1. Thank god everyone does not think like this. Dreamers create the world, thoughts become things, every physical thing started as a 'zany' thought idea in someones mind!

Reading between the lines.
What I hear Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry saying is, 'we have had an advantage for a few races and we hope the 'F' Duct is banned, then the other teams won't be able to get the same advantage we have had!'

VIDEO -F1 teams to decide on 'F-duct' ban for next season.

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AndyGold. © 2010 AndyGold.
TAGS: F1,F Duct,'F'-Duct,McLaren F Duct,Ferrari F Duct,


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