The S-shaft has been established in Formula 1 since 2012, and there are still various outgrowths of this system today.
The S-shaft has been part of Formula 1 since 2012. At that time, Sauber came up with this solution to solve the aerodynamic inefficiencies caused by the new stepped noses. It became known as the S-shaft due to the shape of the shaft within the 150 millimeter area that it was allowed to occupy in front of the central line of the front wheels.
Although the design still bears the same name today, the complexity has increased significantly over the past ten years.
The turning point came in 2016. At that time, Toro Rosso and Mercedes came up with solutions in which the inlet could be placed much earlier than with the nasal duct interpretation that Ferrari drove back in 2008.
This was made possible by an interpretation of the “single-section” rules, in which the inlet was not viewed as a hole, but rather as the opening of a clam shell.
A section was made through the component, which still resulted in the individual section required by the regulations. That is why you can still see dividers today when you look into the entrance of many teams. They help to keep the legality.
Only one team currently does not have an S-slot in their car: McLaren. Everyone else has fine-tuned their shafts over and over again in recent years.
At the head of the field, Mercedes and Red Bull are pretty similar in that they have noses with a so-called cape attached to the main part of the nose. Nevertheless, the internal and external structure of both solutions are enormously different.
Both have inlets on both sides of the nose so that the air can be guided in earlier.
However, while Mercedes maintains separate ducts for the right and left sides to direct the airflow to the exhaust, which is on the vanity bezel which is then mounted on the chassis, Red Bull has merged its airflow into a single duct which makes its much narrower one Outlet feeds.
There are a few reasons why one team might prefer one design over the other. The most important, however, is the construction of the internal structure of the nose, which must meet the strict crash test requirements of the FIA.
When we talk about Red Bull’s nose, it’s also interesting to look at the changes the team made to the assembly to improve the flow under the chassis.
While most teams, such as Mercedes, have a narrow boat stern under their nose towards the middle part of the cape, Red Bull has opted for a wider opening.
This opening now closes the area under the chassis where the team used to house its air baffles and provides a controlled flow for the airflow trapped under the nose.