Formula 1 has banned the so-called Monkey Seats – small wing elements centrally mounted below the rear wing on the crash structure – for the 2018 season.
The rule-keeper wanted to push the final blow for aerodynamic elements with exhaust gases. That this is not entirely successful is shown by a technical analysis after the first week of Formula 1 2018 testing in Barcelona.
The latest designs and concepts, first seen at the winter tests in Spain last week, make it very clear that the teams have not given up on the fight for benefits in that area yet. The solutions to the cars from Renault, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams make it clear that the engineers are trying their best to continue using the exhaust gas flow. An exciting development race is emerging in this area.
The exploitation of the exhaust gases for aerodynamic purposes is an issue that the FIA would like to have banished for years. Although the greatest excesses from the time of the earlier V8 engines, in which the teams began to blow out their diffusers with complex engine settings, have meanwhile actually come to an end, the same is still being done in the turbo era of Formula One.
As part of the 2014 season changes, when the new V6 turbocharged engines were introduced, the FIA decided that the exhaust gases could only flow out through a single, centrally located tailpipe. In addition, two more tubes have recently been added as Wastegate to improve the sound of the V6 turbos. The designers have continued to work to direct the exhaust flow so that the air flow at the rear is optimized.
Renault takes a drastic path
This was achieved primarily by so-called monkey seats. However, because the teams in this area were very worried that a strong development race would devour a lot of money, they agreed to major changes in that area. This was to prevent another attempt at blowing aerodynamic elements.
The tailpipes moved 50 millimeters to the rear, the elements such as Monkey Seats must no longer be positioned in a central position at the rear at a distance of more than 20 millimeters from the outlet. But the teams are already working on alternatives. Especially Renault has an aggressive approach in that zone. The French have placed the Wastegates directly below the tailpipe. Visually, the constellation al reminiscent of a double-barreled shotgun under a cannon barrel.
The outlets from the drive are set to maximum upwards (five degrees) within the framework of the regulations. Thus, the air flow from exhaust tailpipe and Wastegate is directed towards the lower rear wing element. Interestingly, the lower blade was not final painted during the test. One fears burn marks. The team closely monitored the temperatures in that area with appropriate sensors. One wanted to find out, what is the name of the grand piano in reality.
In the end there is always a wing
Renault also follows a trend that had already sparked Mercedes and Ferrari in the past season. At the far rear end of the crash structure at the rear, there is now a small wing as an employee’s trailing edge. Such small items can be found on many cars this year. The most extreme step in this area has Williams made. The British have an extra wing hanging from a gooseneck.
The Monkey Seat as a wing element on the rear crash structure may be dead, but the teams are clearly looking for appropriate replacement solutions. For example, McLaren has put a very simple element on the tailpipe. This wing has a positive angle of attack, so it directs the air towards the lower wing element. Mercedes uses two vertical baffles to direct the flow of air.
It will be interesting to see if the FIA will stand by and watch further developments in this area. The teams will present ever more complex and complicated solutions. If the designers are allowed to do so, then this area of the vehicle will allow one of the most exciting development races in the 2018 Formula 1 season.