Stella Compares F1 Rivals Downplaying Sidepod Advancements to “Pinocchio”

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The focus on the design of sidepods in F1 teams’ cars has significantly intensified with the advent of the ground effect era, as diverse and intriguing designs emerged.

Red Bull’s downwash concept seems to have taken the lead, with numerous competitors opting to replicate it due to its perceived advantages.

Ferrari left its in-wash solution behind at the Spanish Grand Prix to align closer with Red Bull’s concept, while Mercedes deviated from its zero-pod idea one race before in Monaco.

Despite the clear shift in strategy, several teams have attempted to downplay the importance of this move, asserting that the shape of the sidepod isn’t crucial to a car’s overall performance.

Stella firmly refutes this perspective, having seen firsthand the performance boost in his own team from modifying the sidepod shape this year.

He believes that the sidepod’s role in managing airflow around and over the car and the floor area is vital to achieving optimal lap time.

“Any team that insists the bodywork and sidepods don’t impact performance under current regulations has a growing ‘Pinocchio-style’ nose,” Stella remarks, alluding to the famed puppet whose nose lengthened whenever he lied.

“Every aerodynamicist, whether working on simulations, in wind tunnels, or gathering data at the track, knows that both factors are interdependent.

“This adds another layer of intrigue to our business, as we see the diversity achieved with sidepod shapes and how they interact with the floor.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, at the Team Principals Press Conference

Photo by: F1 Flow Images

“Now, it seems that all teams are gradually adopting the same approach, a trend I expect to continue.”

Stella has always maintained that while the floor of current F1 cars plays a significant role in performance, the right sidepod design can significantly enhance the underside’s effectiveness.

He proposes that broader sidepods can stimulate the airflow to seal the floor better, much like the skirts did in the previous ground effect era to boost downforce.

Discussing the advantages of Red Bull-style sidepods, Stella elaborated: “It’s more than just downwash, it’s about wide sidepods.

“It appears to be the primary design that synergizes well with the floor. In layman’s terms, the sidepods act much like mini skirts.

“From an aerodynamic perspective, these wide sidepods aid in enhancing the floor’s suction. It seems like a crucial element to maximize the floor’s suction and the car’s load. And it’s apparent that all teams are moving in this direction.”

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 sidepod design

What is the recent focus in F1 car design?

The recent focus in Formula 1 car design is on the shape of teams’ sidepod designs. This has gained significance due to the new ground effect era, and teams have introduced a variety of intriguing concepts.

What is Red Bull’s contribution to the sidepod design trend?

Red Bull has seemingly taken the lead in sidepod design with its downwash concept. This design has appeared to offer certain advantages, leading to many competitors opting to replicate it.

How does Andrea Stella view the impact of sidepod design on overall car performance?

Andrea Stella, the Team Principal of McLaren, firmly believes that the shape of the sidepods plays a critical role in a car’s overall performance. He suggests that the sidepods are key to managing airflow over and around the car and the floor area, which is essential for optimal lap times.

What is Stella’s comment regarding teams downplaying the importance of sidepod design?

Stella disagrees with teams that downplay the significance of sidepod design. He likens these dismissive attitudes to the character Pinocchio, suggesting that teams are not being truthful about the importance of sidepod shape in car performance.

What does Stella propose about the right sidepod design?

Stella suggests that a wider sidepod can stimulate the airflow to seal the floor better, thereby increasing the car’s effectiveness. He likens this to how skirts functioned in the previous ground effect era to boost downforce.

What does Stella say about the advantages of the Red Bull-style sidepods?

Stella speaks favorably of the Red Bull-style sidepods. He believes that they act like “mini skirts”, aiding the suction in the floor, which is crucial for maximizing the car’s load and floor suction.

More about F1 sidepod design

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PeteThePistonHead July 19, 2023 - 1:13 am

Honestly, if Stella’s right, these teams gotta get their act together. who knew sidepods were this big a deal?

McLarenMad July 19, 2023 - 2:31 am

Good to see McLaren leading the charge in innovation, Stella’s doing great work!

RaceJunkie July 19, 2023 - 4:01 am

Stella just doesn’t mince words, does he? lol. But hey, if the shoe fits…


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