Tech bite: Ferrari's mirrors to thank for tiny sidepod inlets

One of the stand-out features of the Ferrari SF71-H, launched on Thursday, is its tiny sidepods, which have shrunk dramatically compared to its predecessor, the three-time race winning SF70-H.

Whilst the reduced size of the sidepod inlets is likely down to a number of factors, which could include improved engine reliability and therefore reduced cooling requirements, plus a larger central airbox – although this is partly down to the Halo creating disturbance in this area – another key factor is the SF71-H's unusual wing mirrors.

Mirrors might not seem an obvious area for development, after all their primary function is to allow the driver to see what's behind him – although it's debatable as to just how effective they are at doing that – but with designers looking for any gain, no matter how small, they can't be ignored.

This comparison shows the difference in size (2018 car right)

Teams will often play with the mirror stem, shaping it to create better airflow, but Ferrari have taken this a step further. The Scuderia have actually opened up the front of the mirror to create a duct to channel the air inside the casing, but around the mirror itself, and directly into the sidepod, increasing the amount of air passing through the radiators located inside the sidepods.

However it doesn't enter through the traditional inlet, but through an upper opening (see lead image).

As you can see from the below image, the mirrors are perfectly aligned with the openings on the tops of the sidepods on either side.