The entry into force of new technical regulations in the past has often led to a relative differentiation between the cars, with the teams still intent on evaluating the best design approach, identified which is witnessing a progressive convergence between the solutions. The diversity in terms of interpretation of the new regulations is particularly rich in 2022, thanks to the extent of the technical revolution, with the most evident differences that have emerged in the designs of the sides. However, also on the suspension front, different geometries have been proposed, starting from the basic kinematics for actuating the rod, with three recognizable bottom configurations. Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, Aston Martin, Williams and Haas have retained the dominant geometries of the last technical cycle, with the push-rod at the front and the pull-rod at the rear. Red Bull and McLaren have instead subverted the schemes, mounting the strut at the rear and the tie rod on the front, while Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri adopt the push-rod on both axles. However, the differences extend beyond this basic classification, as the teams have interpreted each configuration differently. There is thus a greater diversification between the suspension kinematics, which correspond to different dynamic and aerodynamic behaviors.
Inequalities emerge by observing the inclination of the triangles. Their positioning is the result of a compromise choice between multiple aspects, including the aerodynamic disturbance of the external elements, which in some cases can be exploited to better direct the flows towards the entrance of the Venturi channels and the rear. Then there are obviously the various kinematic aspects of the suspension itself, including the recovery of camber, that is to say a geometry capable of guaranteeing the vertical alignment of the tire on the ground when cornering, so as to maintain the maximum contact footprint on the ground and hence the optimal grip. Finally, there is the search for a mechanics capable of obtaining expected aerodynamic behaviors. The goal is maximum stabilization of the aerodynamic platform, i.e. a mechanical set-up and suspension kinematics that minimize the movements of the car body, so as to keep the bottom and the Venturi channels at a relatively constant height from the ground to work at maximum efficiency and generate high load values in all conditions of gear. There is therefore the need to counteract the rolling and pitching movements, that is the lateral and longitudinal rotations of the frame respectively under the thrust of the accelerations experienced when cornering, traction and braking.
From this point of view, the arrangement of the external elements of the suspensions can be eloquent of the behavior sought by the designers. The observation from the outside is limited to the comparison of the front views, also simplifying where possible the geometries on only two dimensions, with the awareness, however, of the greater complexity of the suspension as a whole.
Alpine, AlphaTauri and McLaren appear faithful to a more conventional scheme and close to the dictates of the last technical cycle, with high triangles and greater reciprocal parallelism. Mercedes, Ferrari and consequently Haaswhich mounts the components of Maranello both at the front and at the rear, highlight one discrete convergence of the upper and lower triangles on the frontal plane. The images therefore suggest the search to raise the roll center, the most immediate consequence of which is a lower amplitude of the lateral rotations of the car body when cornering, with a different control through the calibration of the internal spring-shock absorber group. About, Williams and Aston Martin are the stables with the most accentuated inclinationoutlining a geometry that differs from the competition.
The schemes proposed by Red Bull and Alfa Romeo, on the other hand, are decidedly more extreme, on whose cars the triangles have a non-negligible opening and inclination in all three dimensions, making it impossible to simplify the geometry on the frontal plane. Both the RB18 and the C42 sport an upper triangle whose rear arm is significantly lowered compared to the front element. It was difficult to establish whether the priority in the design phase was the guidance of the flows coming from the front or the stabilization of the chassis. The latter hypothesis, however, acquires significance by noting how the resulting pattern of Red Bull and Alfa Romeo appears aimed in search of an anti-pitch geometrythus stabilizing the aerodynamic platform in acceleration and braking, a very helpful behavior on stop & go tracks.
Observations from the rear turn out to be even more delicate, as the actual mutual orientation of the elements is distorted from the perspective of the images taken from different angles. The raising of the diffuser and the return of the beam-wing obstruct the view from behind, making comparisons on the frontal plane impossible. Furthermore, the lower triangles are often difficult to observe, without neglecting that the choices for the suspension unit at the rear are even more conditioned by the need to channel air to the environment behind the car. Limiting itself to the upper triangles, we can see how Alfa Romeo and Red Bull, whose rear suspension is shared with AlphaTauri, are again showing the arms with the greatest inclination along the lateral plane, thus suggesting a greater degree of anti-pitching.
The picture that emerges is that of a fleet of machines as varied from an aerodynamic as from a dynamic point of view. The two aspects, on the other hand, are strictly interconnected, since one is conceived as a function of the other and aerodynamic effectiveness cannot transcend the control of mechanics. Although therefore the temptation is to evaluate the goodness of the projects on the basis of the best aerodynamic philosophy and in the detail of the sides, the judgment cannot transcend the car as a whole.
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