BRACKLEY INNOVATES AT THE FRONT
On Lewis Hamilton’s and Valtteri Bottas’s cars, the suspension rockers are attached to metal pieces in the form of a pointer or “drops of water” connected to each other (see the yellow arrow). In roll, they work the torsion bars (there is no conventional anti-roll bar). In pitch, however, it is the third suspension element – indicated by a red arrow – which is activated.
By linking the left wheel to the right one, the heave spring controls dive pitch under braking – or more generally the pitch movement depending on the downforce –, as well as the cars’ ride height. In other words, it increases damper stiffness when necessary (at high-speed on straight-line, i.e. when there is a surge in aero load), while remaining neutral in cornering.
This means the third suspension element has an impact on the front wing as well as the car’s stability. Should the car dive too far forwards, the splitter would rub against the track, which would lead to excessive and illegal wear of the skid block. One can therefore appreciate how crucial of a role the heave spring plays on an F1 car, besides its usual purpose as part of the suspension systems.
At Mercedes and Red Bull (third image), this heave element is completely hydraulic (it consists of a damper and an inerter, i.e. a damper of inertia), while it has a mechanical spring on the other cars. This installation differs quite clearly from the one that could be seen on the W08 (see the second image above).