Cooling is an important requirement for any race car but when it comes to Formula 1 it can have wide reaching ramifications that can compromise qualifying pace or race strategy.

Apertures in bodywork are strictly controlled by the regulations in order to limit any aerodynamic advantages that may have been gleaned in the past.

One of the areas that leaves scope for cooling apertures around the main body of the car is alongside the cockpit. As such, teams use a plethora of design ideas to improve how the heat is rejected and the aerodynamic impact it has.

Each team has various solutions that it will use throughout the season based on the demands of the power unit at the given circuit.

Clearly, lower speed events like Monaco and Hungary demand much more cooling to keep air passing through the car to maintain power unit efficiency.

At high-speed circuits, like Monza, the teams will open up bodywork as little as possible to negate drag caused by the turbulence of the air flowing around and through the car.

This small window in the regulations affords a smorgasbord of differing solutions from the teams, highlighting how each of them have their own design philosophies.

We can't show you every solution used by every team but the following gallery gives a good indication as to just how different each team is.


Mercedes W07 top exits, Hungarian GP

Mercedes has numerous solutions to keep the W07 cool depending on the circuit at hand but in the image above we can see its maximum cooling solution, which features eight louvres to direct the airflow. In this high demand configuration, used in Hungary, the shape and height of the deck has also been altered to accommodate the redistribution of the hot air exiting the sidepod.

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing RB12 detail

The RB12 features only a handful of bodywork panels around its midriff with the team utilising a one piece engine cover. However, its cockpit cooling solution is one of the panels that can be changed at the behest of the prevailing demand.

The solution used by Red Bull features a panel that forms part of the headrest protection with almost chevron-like shaped apertures used to shape the rejected heat, as it looks to proportionally improve performance as it meets with the airflow moving over the sidepod and engine covers surface.


Ferrari SF16-H detail

Ferrari utilises a removable panel on the upper surface of the sidepod that transitions with the vertical cockpit protection. However, whilst most of the teams shape the louvres to create a curvature, Ferrari's louvres maintain a flat finish.


Williams FW38 side vents, Monaco GP

Williams has a fairly conventional layout when it comes to its louvred outlet, with the number of fins dictated by the circuit layout and powerunit demands. However, for maximum cooling the team employs a pair of slots which extrude up the side of the headrest section, allowing more heat to escape whilst changing how it impacts on the aerodynamic surfaces.

Force India

Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09

Rather than using a louvred panel, Force India continues to utilise a chimney-style arrangement, something we've seen teams do for many years in this area of the car. Like the other solutions, the size and frequency of the chimneys is determined by the demands of the given circuit.

Toro Rosso

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 detail

The Italian outfit uses a stylised louvre outlet that is shaped to encourage the direction of the airflow as it leaves the aperture and improve flow over the sidepod.


McLaren MP4-31 detail

McLaren's louvre panel sits on the transition between the sidepod's upper surface and the vertical cockpit protection, leaving rise to a curved set of louvres that increase in size as they move along the car.


Haas F1 Team VF-16 detail

The VF16's internal sidepod layout is very similar to Ferrari's with the radiators, oil and intercoolers stacked in a V-shape within. The number of coolers within the sidepod clearly demands a certain level of cooling at every circuit and as such the Ferrari-powered team has a significant number of openings alongside the cockpit.

 The chevron-shaped louvres start off flat but twist upwards to take advantage of the space granted to the vertical cockpit protection.


Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16

The RS16 is one of the odd balls in this rogues gallery, as the team does not use cooling apertures in the area around the cockpit. However, we must remember that the car was conceived on a relatively low budget, with the design team unsure if it would be a Mercedes or Renault power unit being used too.

The sidepod and engine covers have been designed in such a way that apertures could be used if necessary but even at the likes of Monaco and Hungary it has done without thus far.

Manor Racing

Manor Racing MRT05 detail

The MRT05 is the other oddball here as it doesn't feature the cooling apertures beside the driver. However, it does feature a novelty in this area, as the vertical cockpit protection, which is 20mm taller for 2016, has been shaped at the trailing edge to form a fin.

This allows the team to meet the dimensional constraints from a side view but remove the internal bulk, hopefully improving the aerodynamic footprint of that region, which has many conflicting aero structures due to the surface geometries all meeting.


Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C35 cockpit louvres detail

The Swiss outfit's 2016 machine is outwardly very similar to the 2015 car as it has been held back by budgetary issues. One such carry over is the layout of the cockpit cooling louvres, which come as two panels that can be interchanged for blanks depending on the cooling criteria.

In Sauber's case, the smaller and most forward of these panels starts just behind the sidepod's leading edge, much further forward than most of the other teams.

Behind this is a much larger panel that mirrors the transition curvature of the sidepod and cockpit protection and features the most apertures on the grid.

Co-author: Matt Somerfield, Assistant Technical Editor


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