Sauber To Test F-Duct System On C29 In Practice Sessions

Sauber To Test F-Duct System On C29 In Practice Sessions

Sauber have become the first team to implement a McLaren-style F-Duct system to their cars ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. The innovative system employed by McLaren makes use of the driver covering a vent in the monocoque with their knee to adjust the airflow through the car and over the rear section, effectively causing the rear wing to stall at speed and improve straight-line speed.

The system, called the F-Duct, caused a bit of a furore at the season’s opening race in Bahrain two weeks ago, which ultimately resulted in the FIA having to inspect the MP4-25. The governing body deemed the system to be legal despite some unofficial protests suggesting that the system employees a movable aerodynamic part, outlawed in the regulations. McLaren felt the driver could not be considered a movable aerodynamic component and thus it was left up to other teams to decide whether or not the cost involved with developing something similar was worth the potential performance gain.

Sauber believe the system is worth the investment and the C29 sports a similar vent for this weekend’s race in Melbourne, albeit fitted to the top of the left sidepod rather than the top of the monocoque. The positioning of the duct suggests the airflow to the main section of the rear wing is affected, unlike the McLaren which adjusts the airflow over the upper-element. The Hinwil-based team haven’t been able to test the part in their windtunnel due to maximum speed restrictions limiting effective testing (the duct only becomes useful at high-speeds) and so Sauber will run the component in Friday’s free practice sessions to determine it’s use during the race on Sunday.

It is a prototype, and the team has been working the last week flat out. We just have to be open minded. We have no testing, and this is the first opportunity we have to try it. We have to test it, make sure it works and then decide if it is raceable or not. We just have to have the patience to test it properly. Pedro De La Rosa.

Interestingly, Pedro De La Rosa was McLaren’s main test driver up until this year and has previously been outed as not always playing to the spirit of the rules when it became known he was involved in the Ferrari/McLaren dispute a couple of years ago. However, De La Rosa has openly admitted he was aware of what McLaren were trying with their F-Duct, but insists the Sauber version is entirely their own.

I knew a little bit about what McLaren was trying, but this is a Sauber system. It is a different system. Honestly, it is so new the system that I have to get in the car and check – where it is, how we do it! So we are in that phase now. I will know more later on today. Pedro De La Rosa.

De La Rosa also praised his team with the response to the system, stating that often the smaller teams are more prepared to take risks and can therefore react quicker when something new comes along. The Spanish pilot also believes the duct makes the car quicker and has no questions over its implementation.

It is a prototype. We are not sure if we will race it or not. We have to develop it, that is the main thing. The earlier you start the earlier you will have it. And definitely it is a system that if you make it work, it makes the car quicker. Full stop.

I have been impressed to see how quick the team realised this system was possible. They have come up here with a system that is pretty impressive from what I have seen. I think that it is a very agile team – it is a very quick reacting team and this is something I have realised since day one.

Sometimes being smaller than a big team means that sometimes you are prepared to take more risks, and react quicker. That can be a strength. You have to be quicker to react than the big teams. Pedro De La Rosa.

I would expect, now that one other team has designed a duct system similar to McLaren, the others to follow suit in the coming races or at the start of the European leg of the season in May.


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