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Tech F1i – Bahrain GP analysis

FORCE INDIA INTO MERCEDES’ SERRATED FOOTSTEPS

Force India introduced many tweaks to the VJM10 for round 3 of the season, starting with serrated bargeboards that featured nine elements instead of four previously.

The Silverstone-based outfit thus followed into the tracks of reigning world champions Mercedes whose aerodynamicists pioneered the trending aero philosophy of segmentation last year.

Adding saw-tooth details to the bargeboard has expanded its role. Besides pushing away the turbulent air, the element also helps re-energising the flow by creating vortices.

One can note that the small lower deflector (yellow arrow) has been elongated, and so has the triangular-shaped fin (compare white arrows).

Basically, the bargeboard fulfills two needs. First, it serves as a flow conditioner, driving away the dirty wake of the front wheels. Otherwise, the turbulent air would disrupt the air flowing on the upper face of the diffuser, thus limiting its efficiency.

Secondly, the component is also a vortex generator that produces two vortices: a lower vortex (see green lines on the image below) and an upper one (see blue lines).

LOWER VORTEX

On each side of the car, the lower vortex flows towards the leading edge of the floor, which basically sits below the sidepod air intake (see white arrow). By accelerating and re-energising the airflow, the vortex increases suction in the profiled area, which results in more downforce.

Sitting between the bargeboard and leading edge of the floor is the triangular fin mentioned above (see yellow arrow), an element that features on most 2017-spec cars. When the lower vortex flows underneath the fin, it creates a pressure differential that increases downforce below the element, while also producing small vortices on the edges of the fin, which strengthens the overall vortex of the bargeboard.