Front aero of the new Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype

Updated on July 10th, 2021 with new images and information

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team (WRT) revealed last Thursday (July 8th, 2021) the prototype of the new Puma Rally1 rally car, the hybrid car that will be aligned by the British team in the 2022 WRC Championship. The images show only a few modifications with respect to the mule test car already seen in previous tests, but still, some of these modifications are worthy to review, while we wait for new images of the full car.

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – images by MSport Ford World Rally Team

The first important modification is the adoption of the Puma body, which is wider (1805 vs 1735 mm) and taller (1555 vs 1466 mm) than that of the Fiesta. This means that the front area is higher (unless the body has been scaled down). The drag resistance (or the resistance to air) is proportional to the front area of the car, this meaning that the new Puma will initially generate a bigger drag (air resistance) than the Fiesta, thus reducing the top speed of the car.

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – images by MSport Ford World Rally Team

The lack of some aero appendices in the Puma (such as dive planes) will partially compensate for the front area increase, so we will have to wait until the final version to determine how big the drag increase can be.

Also, the front area can be compensated with a smaller drag coefficient (Cd), which is related to the shape of the car. If the final shape of the Puma is smoother than that of the Fiesta, the impact on drag could be reduced or even neutralised.

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – images by MSport Ford World Rally Team

The images of the new Puma also show a slightly more prominent front splitter (but it could still be a visual effect).  A more prominent front splitter is more effective in reducing the amount of air entering under the car, thus reducing pressure there and increasing downforce. Also, the higher area of the splitter means that it can get more pressure down from the impact of that air flowing over it. These contributions will partly compensate for the smaller amount of downforce the new cars will be able to generate without some of the characteristic aero parts of the 2017 WRC car generation, such as dive planes or the side vertical fences (present in the Fiesta’s front splitter).

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – image by MSport Ford World Rally Team

The front grille has also changed, due to the adoption of the Puma body. While the central grille is very similar to that of the Fiesta in size and shape, the lower grille (where leaves tended to accumulate) has disappeared, thus eliminating a potential source of problems for the new car. The consequence is that new air intakes for front brake cooling have been added (as shown by the arrow) on both sides of the front bumper.

Ford Fiesta WRC 2022 mule test car (left) and Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype (right) – images by Motoresport.cat and MSport Ford World Rally Team

No major differences can be observed between the mule test (on the left side of the image above) and the new Puma prototype (right side). The location o the side air intake is the same, as well as the aero parts (side skirts, side dive plane above the rear brake air intake, rear fender and rear wing). Note the lack of side mirrors in the Puma prototype, which will surely be added lately. Also, the rear lights and rear windows (camouflaged with stickers) are those of a Fiesta, confirming that the prototype is a mixture of both models.

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – images by RallyingUK

The rear vent is also located at the same position of the mule test car (image below), sending the air above the rear diffuser area, thus helping to remove air from under the car (which contributes to reducing the pressure under it).

Ford Fiesta WRC 2022 mule test car, development test – image by Motoresport.cat

No other modifications from the test mule car can be observed at the rear.

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – image by MSport Ford World Rally Team

The press note released by MSport with these images adds some interesting details about the new car, such as the hybrid system is liquid- and air-cooled and housed in a ballistic-strength casing to resist the impact of debris and g-forces in the event of an accident, that the battery pack can also be recharged using an external power source at service points between stages, with a recharge taking approximately 25 minutes, weighting 95 kg. They also explain the hybrid operation system in detail: the powertrain captures energy normally lost during braking and coasting and stores it in a battery that can power an electric motor to enhance the road car’s fuel efficiency or provide a performance boost – in the case of Puma Rally1 as much as 100 kW for multiple boosts of up to three seconds during competitive driving.

The Ford Puma Rally1 prototype car shown in the pictures will be used as a development car ahead of the 2022 season.

Later, in an interview with DirtFish, Malcolm Wilson confirmed the higher involvement from Ford with the 2022 car. They had access to the moving floor wind tunnel from the beginning, while in 2016 the Fiesta WRC was developed with no wind tunnel support. He confirmed Ford participated in the process since the beginning (early 2020), in the modelling and simulations, with full access to Ford’s simulation resources, while in 2016 the simulations were carried out by an external company (TotalSim).

Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – image by Autocar Magazine

During the car’s first runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, new images of the car allowed to see some other details, such as the safety crash cell (above) or the side air intake (below).

Side air intake of the Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype – image byDirtFish

6 thoughts on “Front aero of the new Ford Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype

  • 2021-07-08 at 11:15
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    At long last! Can’t wait for the floodgates to open and the other factories to release their definitive cars (which will be torture for you to write if they occur almost simultaneously, I’m sure). A few questions regarding some of the interesting points you raised up:

    1. I’m curious whether frontal cooling, running through and inside the car, for the hybrid unit near the middle of the car is legal. Can they do this, thus eliminating the need for sizeable side-scoops?
    2. It’s interesting Ford has modified the exhaust outlet, yet still chose the assymetric layout instead of the central one… I think they’re one of the main proponents of this design to take advantage of exhaust blowing? Do you think this is something they’re still keeping under wraps, or is it already too late to change? I know it’s going to need repackaging of the hybrid unit, but still… performance is performance.
    3. Honestly, I’ve expected the lack of diffuser details in these photos. Undoubtedly, the decision to choose an LWB car is partly the larger surface floor area for underbody downforce. Is there some loopholes which the teams can play with in this area (like Toyota’s current mirror-FW array)?

    Reply
    • 2021-07-11 at 10:28
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      Hi Kevin! We’re. ready for the novelties, hope they are shown soon. And thank you for your always interesting questions.
      1. Sending cool air to the rear from the front I don’t think it’s a legal issue, but a complication for the inside of the car. Also, long and complicated pipes would be required, thus generating high pressure drop to air, for what the refrigerating capacity would be reduced. What I would expect is smooth side intakes…which is not still the case in the Puma. But there is time for improvements.
      2. It would be nice to keep the exhaust blown design, but they have place the hybrid vent on that location, forcing to move the exhaust pipe to one side. OK, it has less energy than exhaust gases, but radiator ventilators can force the airflow at some interesting velocity, to partially keep the effect. So, we should maybe talk now of rear vent blown diffuser… if there’s finally any diffuser.
      3. I’m afraid there’s not many room for improvements there. Also, advantage of internal ducts has been forbidden, but I’m sure they will find something.

      Reply
  • 2021-07-09 at 21:14
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    Hi again ! I saw a picture of the mule Fiesta, where the side doors were opened. Maybe I am wrong, but the driver and co-driver seating position is moved much farther away to the front of the car (because of the hybrid system?) This should partially help to manage the understeer as more weight is at the front wheels. Engineers can also maybe worry less about front aerodynamic force and make the car less draggy.

    Reply
    • 2021-07-11 at 10:41
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      Hi Laur! You’re probably right about the drivers position, although this car seems longer than the original Fiesta. I’m sure the center of gravity is located at a different position, not only by the drivers position, but also by the addition of the hybrid system at the rear (95 kg). Even so, they still need to generate more downforce. The question is how, with more restricted aero. We will see in the coming months.

      Reply
  • 2021-07-13 at 08:15
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    Is that the main hoop or just an additional rollover protection bar? The door x-bar seems to terminate at the usual B-pillar area which suggests that the main hoop is around that area as well.

    Either way, that is one small ingress/egress opening.

    Amazing coverage as usual! Thank you!

    Reply
    • 2021-07-13 at 08:32
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      Hi Amir! Glad that you like it! Thanks!
      I think it is the new crash cell designed by FIA that all three cars will have to use. And yes, it is a significant limitation for driver/codriver to get in and out. But they are in good shape, it won’t be a problem… unless they have to immediately leave the car because of a fire. Or, for the guests invited for a ride in the new cars…

      Reply

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