What is the nose duct on Red Bull's 2017 F1 car for?

The duct in the nose of the Red Bull's 2017 Formula 1 car, the RB13, is the most obvious area of difference between this car and the rest

What is the nose duct on Red Bull's 2017 F1 car for?

This part of the car is governed by the crash structure regulations, Article 15.4.3, which dictates a single external vertical cross-section of at least 9000 square millimetres, 50mm behind the tip of the nose.

Article 3.7.5 of Formula 1's technical regulations allows a single-inlet aperture in the nose, provided it is for the purpose of "driver cooling".

But this has to have a maximum projected surface area of 1500 square millimetres and must be one-sixth of the size of the cross section mentioned above.

Based on what Red Bull has released of the car, in my opinion this opening looks far bigger than that.

At some point, through its ductwork, it might converge down to comply with the 1500 square millimetres regulations, but there is no way to see that from what we have seen so far.

There can be some debate as to what you count as a duct for driver cooling. Usually, the argument is about this being its "primary purpose".

On the way to cooling the driver, it may just pass over some other hot surfaces to help control their temperature.

Looking at the Red Bull, the sidepods are compact and drop away very quickly once you get past the driver, so there might be a need for that extra cooling.

This duct is a good idea, because if you look at the other 2017 cars there is a solid surface at the end of the nose and for the airflow to get around this it has to decide on its stagnation point, in other words where it separated.

With this duct you will probably get more uniform airflow around the sides of the nose structure.

There are some other ducts where the nose meets the chassis, and while it's impossible to know for sure there's every chance they are to feed the cooling of ERS components that will be located low down in the sidepods and close to the centre of the car.

Let's see what turns up on the car when we see it in the real world on Monday.

Gary Anderson's full technical analysis of the Red Bull will appear on Autosport.com on Monday, once the RB13 has appeared at the Barcelona test.

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