For the next edition of Kaspersky Motorsport’s Tech Corner we move around the garage to look at the huge rear wing of the Ferrari 488 GT and analyse how important it is for the car overall.
Much like any airplane wing, the wing of the 488 GT is there to provide a force. On an aeroplane that force is needed to help the aircraft stay in the air. However, that’s the last thing the 488 GT drivers want, so the wing in this instance is flipped upside down – same dynamics, different purpose. In this instance the car is subjected to the opposite force and weight is pushed down on the car.
It’s actually additional weight when the car is moving beyond that of the car when it stands still. This is what is called “downforce”.
The higher the downforce the more mechanical grip the drivers have for cornering and the more speed they can carry into those turns.
So a rear wing even bigger than the one the 488 GT has now, would be great, right? Unfortunately it’s not quite that easy due to the restrictions by the SRO in the Blancpain GT Series.
The team knows that the perfect balance involves speed and downforce, a relationship in which the rear wing on the Ferrari 488 GT plays a pivotal role.
How does it work?
In simple terms, rear wings add drag, reducing top speed and top-end acceleration, but at high speeds, they help to create the downforce required to help the car turn faster. This will be adjusted at each circuit to reduce the drag and improve car performance around the circuit to gain those all-important tenths. For example, The Nurburgring is more aero-dependent than the high-speed track of Monza.
The car also has a number of additional aerodynamic solutions to accelerate air into the rear of the car, reducing drag. The air intakes on the rear panels guide air to the rear wing. The car also boasts a blown spoiler, which guides airflow into the rear duct below the rear window and out through the back of the car, also generating downforce.
The rear diffuser channels the airflow underneath the Ferrari 488 GT (active aerodynamics) and simulates DRS by opening the rear flaps by 17°, giving the car an advantageous boost which helps to reach top-end speeds and helps to reduce drag – similar to a Formula 1 car.
The Blancpain GT Series states that all rear wings MUST be within the same dimensional parameters, meaning that all rear wing designs will largely be identical. The Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 488 is set-up for the maximum size that is permitted within the GT series.
The team measures the aerodynamic set-up differently to previous techniques used; there is no use of any aero-mapping tools to configure the different wing positions that give wing element and ride height data and how the car performs under different track settings.
So the car is fitted with a number of sensors in the dampers, which details the loads on the front and rear of the car as it is driven around the track. This data is then recorded and analysed by the Chief Engineer – Jacopo - and then fed back to the drivers in the debrief.
At a track such as Monza, the rear wing position will be configured to 0 – 1 (level of degrees). There is a rear wing swing of 12 degrees ranging from -4 to +8 degrees of choice. In dry conditions it is set at 0 and in wet conditions it is 1 or 2 degrees.
The perfect driver set-up
During Testing and pre-race events the drivers will complete a series of outlaps and flying laps to report back to the pitwall on their experiences, suggesting different rear wing positions to help fight the cars’ understeer (turning less than needed) or oversteer (turning more than needed).
Kaspersky Motorsport drivers will be analysing straight-line speeds vs. speeds in the corners to find the right balance – it’s a system of trial and error. The Nurburgring is a good example of a circuit being aero-dependent with many high-speed corners. So the drivers will spend more time on the radio reporting any movements in the car.
With a bigger rear wing, drivers can brake later. And although the car may be slower down the straight, it will be quicker through the corners and the drivers can also be more aggressive on the throttle at the apex of the corner.
Our Chief Engineer Jacopo can see the load in the dampers as the car travels around the track. The adjustments can be made according to the amount of load from the rear wing and how this affects the ride height, as the car enters each corner. The rear wing in Position 1 – 3 can add 2mm to the ride height in any high-speed corner.
Jacopo commented, “We can afford to be 1kph slower on the straight, but then this will balance out to be quicker in the corners, so once the car is stable you can push the throttle quicker on the exit to help overtaking when the opportunity comes”.
Another feature is the preferences of each driver. Kaspersky Motorsport has a balanced set of drivers for 2017 who like a similar set up. However, the challenge comes when this is not the case. For example, Last season’s Kaspersky Motorsport driver’s Stephane Lemeret liked a softer set-up, whilst Rui Aguas preferred a much harder set-up.
Whatever the setup, the aim is to keep consistent lap times.
The Kaspersky Motorsport team don’t risk oversteer, it’s always better to race with a safer car set-up for the 3-hour endurance races.