A picture is worth a thousand words, and here’s one to prove it. We managed to capture a photo of the Alfa Romeo C42 splitter while the mechanics were assembling it in the garage during the previous Hungarian Grand Prix.
It is clearer than ever that the front splitter of the ground effect cars that have been born as a result of the new regulations of 2022, are no longer part of the bodywork, as was the case in the most recent past. Now it is a metallic element attached to the chassis with two fixing points that allow an upward deflection that is controlled by a spring-loaded shock absorber.
What is the damper for? To prevent the 10mm thick board, which must be installed under the car, from rubbing against the tarmac or curbs as engineers seek to minimize the ground clearance from the track in order to achieve the greatest possible downforce through Venturi tunnels.
Solution of AlphaTauri’s AT03
This is the “spirit” in which the regulations were written, but it is clear that a designer does not create such an eye-catching (and heavy) metal splitter if that structure cannot become useful in the search for performance. And the work they have done at Alfa Romeo has been worth it, but the rest of the teams have done it in different ways.
The objective, therefore, is to make the front part of the wooden skate flex upwards to make the board move as much as possible both in the splitter area and in the rear area, where the junction of the diffuser with the I usually.
Smallest shock absorber and splitter compared to the rivals of the Ferrari F1-75
Fans have surely noticed that the single-seaters produced a lot of sparks in past seasons, when the backgrounds rubbed against the asphalt, something that was caused by metal supports that were wearing out, which made it very difficult to capture them on camera.
The FIA wanted these blocks for two reasons: to protect the background from possible breakage and therefore costly replacement of parts, and to offer spectators an effect that would help increase the spectacle.
In order to protect that area of the car, the international federation authorized the division of the wooden skid into three parts, so that only the damaged or most worn section could be changed without having to resort to a new one at each grand prix.
Central part of the dashboard of the Red Bull RB18 and the splitter area of the Ferrari F1-75
And then we saw the slider block divided into three elements: the divider, the middle and the back, near the end of the floor and the beginning of the diffuser. Evolution and research have led to modifying the blocks with two increasingly advanced systems, capable of changing their shape depending on the layout of the carbon fiber.
It’s nothing new: sliding on asphalt heats up these materials, and they are modified to prevent block wear, thus allowing the car to roll with less and less ground clearance.
Haas VF-22 front block, divided into several parts
There are those who believe that some have used true ” springs ” or polyurethane substances, but in these cases the FIA could have stepped in to ban solutions that may go far beyond the spirit of the rules.
As we know, the international federation will introduce changes from the Belgian Grand Prix, with static checks of the flexibility of the slip blocks: the solutions we have described pass the regulations, but something could change from the appointment in Spa-Francorchamps , because the 2mm bending tolerance will be strictly enforced, and the stiffness around the bottom hole will have to be uniform to have another 15mm radial distance, for 75% area.
The complete wooden board in three pieces and the sliding block
The sliding block, in fact, had broken down into several parts, and each one of them only deformed if it touched the asphalt or the curbs, absorbing impacts of up to 6 mm , avoiding the wear of the board, which at most could be 1 mm thick compared to the 10 mm of the original.
Disassembled McLaren MCL36 boards
In particular, Red Bull and Ferrari were criticized by the FIA, with the help of Mercedes, and it is that the governing body intervened using safety as an excuse, the only argument that allows the international federation to change the rules without a majority agreement. (eight of ten teams). Nikolas Tombazis ‘s technicians used the alleged porpoising issue as a reason to modify the dashboard control, prompting harsh responses from dissenting teams.
The measure has already been accepted and, apparently, the changes that have been made will not modify the natural order of the grid too much.
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