Every year the Monaco Grand Prix comes around, and each year the track remains almost unchanged. With its tight corners, bumps, changes of camber in the road and ever present barriers. As a result, Monaco provides the teams with consistent if punishing set of demands on the car.
This year was no exception, except that the far-reaching rule changes left the teams without the downforce they are used to and with little scope to add extra load from the bodywork. However, the slick tyres provided some of this lost grip.
Due to the lack of scope to add, technical development was not as noticeable at Monaco as it would usually be. As teams have been running near maximum downforce at most tracks, all they have been able to do is run their largest wings and crank up the wing angles to their highest settings.
In some cases this extra angle of attack lead to solutions to keep the flow attached to the steeper surfaces, but these were all small innovations.
In the slowest corners, the lack of downforce is less of an issue, mechanical grip and the grip from the tyres is more critical. Teams run higher ride heights, softer spring settings and a more rearwards biased weight distribution. To get around the Loews hairpin, revised steering racks, re-valved to provide more travel to turn the front wheels at a more acute angle, were used. Teams also sometimes need to modify the front wishbones to clear the more angled wheel.
Monaco might not be a power circuit and traction is at a premium, but Ferrari and McLaren decided to run their KERS system around the principality. At first, KERS might seem to be a hindrance through the slow corners, but in fact some of the compromises with the 2009 KERS set ups are off set at Monaco.
The natural tendency for the KERS installation to add weight towards the rear of the car is what is required at Monaco anyway, so the two teams did not need to move as much ballast about. While the slow turns see the car traction limited for long stretches of the track, there is still the long run through the tunnel and also over the start finish straight.
In the race we saw the KERS-equipped cars using a lot of the six seconds of boost through the tunnel, allowing for an overtaking move at the chicane at the tunnel's exit. Certainly with limited opportunities to improve lap time through more downforce the use of KERS is a strategic advantage in the race.
This slot fed the underside of the rear wing to prevent stalling © AUTOSPORT
The MP4-24 showed good pace around the streets, as the car's lack of downforce which has hindered it at conventional tracks is less of problem at Monaco. The team's traditional strong point of good mechanical grip made up for the deficit.
A small extra element was added to the rear wing just ahead of the beam wing © AUTOSPORT
Reliability issues aside, The team's performance in Spain appears to have carried over to Monaco, suggesting the B-spec upgrade to the car has worked. This bodes well for a good performance over the high speed high downforce tracks coming in the next few rounds.
Without KERS and with its Spanish update package still being understood, the team arrived for this race without its double deck diffuser, which is now going to arrive for Turkey. Even with its mini winglet above the rear wing, the team appeared to be struggling for grip in both fast and slow corners.
So this might be as much to do with the car's tyres usage as the car's layout or aerodynamics. Turkey should provide the team a chance to evaluate its full upgrade package on a definitive track.
Renault added two small winglets to their rear brake ducts © AUTOSPORT
As with many teams catching up to the Brawns and Red Bulls, Renault brought only small changes to its package for this race.
In amongst the rear suspension, the team found space to add two smaller winglets to the rear brake ducts. One being placed just behind the driveshaft and one below the lower wishbone.
Additionally, the fence that sat within the side channels of their double deck diffuser was removed, leaving an open 20cm-wide tunnel either side of the double deck section.
A race earlier than expected Red Bull brought its double deck diffuser (DDD) to Monaco. Although the car was updated in several other areas too.
A host of changes to the Red Bull included its new double deck diffuser, rear wing slot and rear wheel fairings © AUTOSPORT
Both the gearbox and the rear crash structure are placed low and shape din lien with the original diffuser. Plus the linkage for the pull rod rear suspension (which is sited just behind the engine at floor level) takes up space needed to narrow the step under floor to feed the upper deck.
Rather than a completely new rear end, Adrian Newey has taken a different approach to feed the upper deck: rather than windows in the step leading into the upper deck, Newey has added a wide scoop under the floor. So that rather than pulling air from under the floor, it is force fed by this scoop shape.
Allied to the new diffuser, the floor running along the sidepods has been given a large curled detail, this works with the pod wing to control the flow under and over the floor. Then the rear wheels have gained Williams-like vaned fairings, with nine fins to aid extracting hot air from the brakes. Also aiding cooling was an even larger outlet made at the trailing edge of the airbox cover.
Lastly just as with several other teams Red Bull added a central slot to the rear wing flap, this was a smaller slot in the flap, compared to the bigger main plane slots at Ferrari or McLaren.
Just two weeks after BMW Sauber appeared with a small winglet above the rear wing, Force India produced its own version of it. This was probably parallel development, rather than copying, as two weeks is not much time to design,test and make such an influential aero component.
Again running the revised diffuser seen in Spain, Brawn brought some new developments to Monaco. The area ahead of the sidepods was reviewed by adding a fin and new mirror supports. Brawn has an extremely undercut sidepod shape, so keeping the airflow attached to the this undercut is tricky given the complex shape of the car just ahead of it.
Flow around the Brawn sidepods was aided by the new fin and mirror mount © AUTOSPORT
Above this fin are new mirrors mounts which are probably required to match the new fin and shaping thee flow over the front of the sidepods.