The 2nd pre-season test at Barcelona seemed a much busier affair than the likes of Jerez. With the system checks and certain reliability issues under control, teams could get down to performing the important tasks of race weekend preparation practice, plus all the important aerodynamic checks to make sure the wind tunnel is actually behaving itself and matches what is going in the real world – resulting in flow-vis paint galore on all the cars.
With Williams choosing to launch the FW35 at Barcelona rather than Jerez, they got straight down to business and tried 3 different nose designs on the new car throughout the week.
Starting off with the nose that was launched on the car, this was then replaced with a stepped nose similar to last season, followed by the nose seen on the FW34 at the Jerez test. This was complimented with a mixture of old and new front wings as well.
Mercedes as well were also running comparisons, but mainly focusing on the their new exhaust solution after having trouble adapting the Coanda-style exhaust system towards the end of last season.
The new W04 was seen running the new Coanda-style exhaust followed by a change back to a more Lotus 2012-esque design – blowing exhaust gases towards the lower part of the rear wing rather than the floor.
With the problems Mercedes were having last season with adopting the now common Coanda-style exhausts, they were clearly being extra cautious by making sure everything was working as expected.
It is worth noting that there’s an engine performance hit when running the Coanda-style exhausts, so this does have to be overcome and taken into account. Mercedes might have been checking what kind of power hit there has been by comparison.
Sauber too were busy, and were continuing work off the back of last season’s Young Drivers’ Test at Abu Dhabi by again trying out the drag reduction system on the rear wing.
I mentioned this last season on how this works to stall the lower part of the rear wing, reducing drag and increasing speed, but doing this automatically based on the rate of airflow and air pressure through the “ears” that have appeared on the Sauber’s airbox. Lotus and Mercedes have also been trying this type of solution on and off.
In addition to the clever drag reduction idea, Sauber were also trying out a new rear wing which bows in the middle, creating a larger surface area and increasing downforce.
This week at the final test in Barcelona we should start to see what upgrades the teams have come up with as they begin concentrating on performance, ready for the first Grand Prix at Melbourne.