Renault’s new car R.S.17 is the first real car that the French constructor designed and manufactured in their latest return to Formula 1, and thus their ambitions are far bigger than last season when they finished in ninth place in the constructors’ championship.
The new RS17 has been designed in accordance with the new F1 technical regulations, which will make the cars a few seconds faster per lap thanks to 25% wider tires and significantly higher levels of downforce created by wider wings and bigger diffuser. There are also some cosmetic changes, such as swept wings which should make cars visually more attractive.
- TEAM PROFILE: Renault
As well as new cars from Williams and Sauber, Renault’s new car is longer, with a longer wheelbase to accomodate 5% bigger fuel tank and to better exploit the area behind the front wheels which is greater if the wheelbase is longer.
Renault R.S.16 was the longest car in 2016., with the longest wheelbase, but new R.S.17 is even longer to exploit the new technical regulations which focuses on the aerodynamics of the car.
Another novelty is the new supplier of fuel and lubricants (BP / Castrol), which also cooperates with McLaren Honda, and Renault says that R.S.17 their first real car because they could invest far more time and money in its development, which is evident in every detail.
Front wing and nose
The front wing is conceptually very similar to last year, but with noticeably higher level of details and greater similarity with the front wings of the top teams. Wing, according to the rules, is swept back for 12.5 degrees and 500 mm wide neutral section (1) is the same as on all the cars. The nose (2) is also similar to last year, but pylons are set slightly wider to enable more air to pass under the nose.
The outer edge of the front wing consists of three tunels (3), unlike Sauber C36 which has an almost completely flat lowermost element. The tunnel closest to the middle of the wing is the beginning of the big growing radius tunnel which is formed by the rest of the above elements and that extends to the outside of the front tyres. Other two tunnels, one of which has flat entry, also generate strong vortices which help direct the airflow around and over the turbulent front wheels.
Cascade element (4) consists of two horizontal elements verticaly split into three sections. Especially interesting is external fin (5) which pass beyond the front wing endplate.
Nose pylons are very pronounced and prolonged (6) to direct airflow to other aerodynamic elements underneath the car and towards the beginning of the floor, similar to last year’s Red Bull but even longer thanks to new technical regulations.
Area behind the front wheels
The area behind the front wheels 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 this much larger area into aerodynamic purposes than in the period from 2009. to 2016.
This area starts 430 mm behind the front wheel centre line and the main bargeboard (1), which, viewed from the front, has an S-profile, and which has a large horizontal section at its lowest part (2). There is also smaller bargeboard (3) closer to the sidepods which is connected to the main bargeboard..
The outer edge of the floor (4) is tapered at its edge in order to create a powerful vortex on the edge of the floor that will help separate the airflow under the car from the turbulence on the outside, which helps diffuser to work more efficiently.
Vertical sidepod vane (5) has an unusual shape and expands to the front more than we have seen in previous generations of F1 cars and its upper edge is connected with the top of the sidepods, also in a very innovative way. Interestingly, the study photographs doesn’t have vertical slits in the lower part of the vertical vanes, while the photos from the launch have.
Mirrors have dual vertical holders which also have an aerodynamic function and direct the air around the peripheral area around the opening of the cockpit.
Between the front wheels there is a common laser ride height sensor to measure the distance from the ground (7) which is used by all Formula One cars.
Under the nose there is an opening for S-duct system (8), similar to those in last year’s Mercedes W07, and the exit is on the top of the chassis (9). This system teams use for years to improve air flow on the upper surface of the monocoque, with a certain aerodynamic drag that it brings.
Mandatory cameras (10) cannot stand on the protruding carriers like in 2016. and must be closer to the chassis. Below the opening for the S-duct system are small vertical vanes (11) that direct the airflow below the front suspension elements.
Front suspension is a conventional push-rod, just like on last year’s R.S.16.
Sidepods, airbox and engine
The sidepods on F1 cars in 2017. can be 1600 mm wide, but also must be at least 1400 mm wide. Vertical vane (1) begins at the edge of the floor and the lower portion extends more towards the front and helps deflect airflow around the sidepods and also reduce the turbulence that come from rotating front wheels.
Renault showed some interesting details at the top with vertical vanes (1) connected with the top of the sidepod with an unusual design which splits the airflow into two segments (2). Their orientation is followed by two smaller fins (3) with the small horizontal fins (4) protruding from the chassis helping to shape the airflow down the sidepods.
In this photo we see the aforementioned bargeboards behind the front wheels, larger (5) and smaller (6) that insulate the turbulence from the front wheels and help direct airflow around the lower part of the sidepods.
Airbox also has an unusual shape with a horizontally divided central part and two additional curved ducts on each side which are divided vertically. Although bottom part looks very wide, view from a different angle reveals that it extends to the rear while initially being quite narrow.
It is possible that Renault moved some of the coolers from the sidepods in the space behind the driver to save a crucial space in the lower part of the sidepods while larger openings may be a sign of larger cooling demand of the new, more powerful power unit. Also, due to significantly higher percentage of time spent at full throttle, engines will be under significantly more load than last year which is one of the reasons why all teams have bigger intakes above the driver’s head.
The power unit 95% is new, says engine technical director Remi Taffin, while Renault says power exceeds 900 HP. Crucially, a new power unit is designed to fit into their new chassis, unlike last year when chassis was designed for the Mercedes engine Lotus used in 2015.
Renault decided not to follow the Mercedes split turbo route which they use since the beginning of the new engine era in 2014. (unlike Honda who decided to follow Mercedes’ path with their new engine for 2017.), but they continue to use the pre-chamber ignition that improves the efficiency and power.
Rear wing and engine cover
Rear wing (1) consists of two elements which is mandatory since 2004. and the main plane is attached to the DRS mechanism which operates the flap and thus reducing air resistance in the DRS zones.
Curved rear wing pylon (3) is attached to the DRS mechanism and passes through the main exhaust pipe (4). The exhaust pipes are placed on the rear crash structure (5).
The rear wing endplates are following last year’s trends, and horizontal slits on the top (6) is placed maximum forward as pioneered by Toro Rosso in 2016. while most of the other teams have adopted this trend. The lower parts of the endplates are curved (7), according to the rules, with several thin curved horizontal strakes that enhance the upwash effect of the diffuser and rear wing. Also, the leading vertical edge of the endplate has vertical slit, which is also a trend that is present in F1 for few years and is used to increase aerodynamic efficiency.
Due to the lower rear wing (800 mm instead of 950 mm), teams use extended engine cover, the so-called shark fin (8) which stretches to the maximum permitted height (950 mm) and looks angled from the side because the whole car has healthy amount of rake (greater ride height at the rear which increases volume of the floor and the diffuser).
There are no official photos of the rear end, but there are some pictures that confirm that Renault decided to place lower wishbone and driveshaft within a unique aerodynamically shaped profile (9) which several teams used in the last few years as pioneered by Red Bull.
The rear suspension has (now common) pull-rod configuration that was re-introduced in Formula 1 by Adrian Newey 2009. with Red Bull RB5.
With so many interesting details, it would be easy not to notice the wheel design produced by OZ Racing. The front wheels have a large central ring, which team used for years to achieve the desired aerodynamic performance and efficient heat and air flow through the wheel for better brake cooling. Rear wheels have outer and inner ring.
Unlike the front wheels where the ring is placed over the conventional ten-spoke design, rear-wheel ring divides the wheel into two parts with different number of spokes. The inner part of the wheel has ten spokes, as on the front wheel, and the outside part has 20.