Force India presented the tenth car in their history named VJM10 which caught attention thanks to some questionable aesthetic solutions, but a closer look reveals that the car is very well developed and uses some interesting and complex solutions.
After team achieved the success that few of them had expected with fourth place in 2016.., Force India aim to finish third in 2017., regardless of the much smaller budgets than the factory teams.
Force India started using an 60% scale model in a wind tunnel in 2016., unlike the previous 50% model, and new VJM10 is the first car in their history designed with the 60% scale windtunnel model.
The new model offers engineers greater precision and correlation with actual data on the track, and this year team should certainly benefit from this improvement since the development of the car during the season is going to be incredibly intense with new technical regulations.
Front wing and nose
Although it seems strange, nose (1) is actually extreme interpretation we have already seen last year with a central portion protruding to the required distance and lowered to the required height to meet the technical rules and safety tests. Sections between middle portion and the pylons are extremly swept inside and form the channels for the air to pass underneath the nose, which is the main goal of all nose solutions since the maximum height of the nose in 2014. was significantly lowered.
Launch specification of front wing is similar to last year’s version, but because of the 60mm wider front tires and 150 mm wider front wing the geometry of the outer parts has been changed.
The leading edge of the wing lowermost section has three tunnels (2), similar to Renault, but the tunnels start earlier than in 2016. due to the greater width of the front tyres, which require a larger radius of the tunnel formed by seven elements. Central part has six elements while portion closest to the nose (with Kingfisher logo) has five elements.
The outer part of the front wing forms a increasing radius tunnel which creates vortices that help direct the airflow around the rotating front wheels. Above that section there is a cascade (3) and another horizontal element behind it which also help direct air flow around the front wheels.
Uppermost element in the middle has slit (4) so wing has six elements in that area and above it there is the intake for cooling the front brakes (5) which in Formula 1 for many years has an aerodynamic function, visible from the position of curved elements that hang from the intakes. FIA don’t require teams to prove that elements in this area are actually used for brake cooling, as well as to the rear wheels.
Area behind the front wheels
The area behind the front wheel has become one of the key areas of development of new cars for 2017. due to the new technical regulations that allow engineers to use aerodynamic devices in a much larger area than in period from 2009. to 2016.
This area starts 430 mm behind the front wheel centreline and so far we have seen very interesting and different interpretations even with launch specifications as teams don’t want to reveal too much to their rivals.
Force India VJM10 has large main bargeboard (1) with four vertical slits running down to about half the height, as well as smaller, lower bargeboard (2) which cooperates with a large one and helps separate the turbulent air flow coming from the front wheels.
Front suspension is a common push rod, and its pick up point is extremely high which is why the monocoque has the transition step (3), which is reminiscent of the solutions that we saw in 2012 and 2013. Force India used vanity panel that mitigates this transition, but considering how high attachment point for the push rod is, the cover could not fully offset this transition.
There is a possibility that the team decided to take this step in order to use hydraulic elements that connect the left and right front suspension, just like Mercedes and Red Bull, but only when the FIA clearly says what is allowed and what is not. Team like Force India does not want to spend money and time on something that will eventually be banned because they want to be as efficient as possible with their budget.
The team continue to use blown front axle (4) which they used for several years, as well as several other teams. Engineers use it to improve the airflow in this area and slightly increase downforce (and drag). At faster tracks teams often closes the front axle as we saw last year at Spa and Monza.
Also, between the front wheels and below the monocoque are long vertical vanes cut to 12 irregularly shaped parts to custom the airflow in this area and direct it to the floor’s leading edge and complex bargeboards in front of the sidepods.
Sidepods and airbox
Force India is the first team in 2017. to use additional width of the sidepods (1) which can be as 1600 mm wide (minimum is 1400 mm). The new VJM10 has noticeably wider sidepods in their widest part which can be seen across the width of the floor in this area.
The idea is to take advantage of the width to the sidepods to be able to shrink the rear end, in which the Force India definitely succeeded because the rear end is so far the narrowest of the featured cars.
Sidepod vanes (2) do not descend to the floor, but down to the radiator opening lower edge and they are vertically cut into two parts. Also, vanes continue over the upper surface of the sidepods while their profile from above resembles a boomerang shape.
Radiator openings (3) are vertically divided into two parts, and the area below them is cleared for the smooth airflow to the rear of the car. The curved edge of the floor has a long horizontal parallel strake (4) which helps keep the airflow that travels around the sidepods attached.
Airbox (5) follows the trends set by the other new cars in 2017. and is now wider and divided into three sections with a shape very reminiscent of last year’s intake of Mercedes W07. The part below the intake is swept back to reduce drag as much as possible and connected to the upper part with an inclined connector.
Rear wing and rear end
The rear wing is now lower and wider and it is impossible not to notice the huge fin (7) that divides the engine cover that in some form was shown by all teams. The fin is re-used this year, first time since 2010., because of the lower rear wing which is therefore more exposed to turbulence from the rear tyres and airflow that travels along the car. Force India showed convincingly largest fin of all teams that have shown their cars so far.
The rear wing endplates (1) are now inclined by 25 degrees, and the main plane of the rear wing holds the DRS mechanism (2) connected with the single rear wing support pylon (3) which passes through the main exhaust pipe.
The upper part of the endplate contains now common horizontal slits (4) which reduce turbulence near the edges of the wings and increase efficiency while lower part of the endplate is curved (5) according to the new technical regulations.
The floor in front of the rear wheels comprises a series of eight slots (6) to help reduce the effect of the tyre squirt that affects the diffuser and the horizontal longitudinal strakes (6) placed inline with the inner edge of the rear tyre.
The diffuser of 2017. cars is 2.2 times larger than last year and will certainly be a key area of development during the season. Now it is 175 mm high(previously 125 mm) and 1050 mm wide (previously 1,000 mm). Force India placed the double horizontal profiles (Gurney flaps) that help to speed up the airflow from the diffuser and increase downforce, which is also a common practice in recent years.