Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

The F1 upgrades that spurred Mercedes on to a Mugello 1-2

Mercedes made some small but meaningful tweaks to its W11 as Formula 1 raced at Mugello for the first time in the Tuscan Grand Prix, with both the front wing and T-Wing treated to optimisations.

The F1 upgrades that spurred Mercedes on to a Mugello 1-2

The alterations to the front wing centre on the distribution of chord length between the upper two flaps and the design of their tips at the inboard end. On the new version (below), the upper flap now features a more conventional design that arches over the top of the flap to position its tip where the upper of the two tips in the index flap resided.

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

To understand how and why Mercedes has split the index flap into two in the first place, we must revisit the changes that were made in the regulations for 2019, whereby only five wing elements may be used. Until now, Mercedes used a small loophole in the regulations that permits some variation at the tip end. The index flap had a small cut in that section to effectively create a sixth section and another tip which could be used to create a vortex that converges with the main Y250 vortex.

The strength of the core Y250 vortex means that altering its makeup has a knock-on effect that can keep adding up to extra performance downstream too, as aerodynamic surfaces such as the bargeboards or floor are able to work a little more effectively.

This is an area of the car that the team has made changes to in previous races, so the new alterations are aimed to further unlock some of the latent potential. So let’s look at what was new in Belgium…

Mercedes F1 W11 bargeboard detail

Mercedes F1 W11 bargeboard detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes made the following changes to their bargeboard cluster and deflector panels at the Belgian GP (above):

  1. The forward-most vertical element in the bargeboard cluster has had its leading edge straightened, which also alters the shape of the first slot in the surface.
  2. A canard on the top edge of the chassis helps drive airflow down, around and through the sidepod, the shape of which was altered to coincide with the changes to the bargeboard cluster below.
  3. The aerodynamic furniture on top of the serrated footplate and the footplate itself were changed
  4. The venetian blind-like deflector panel has been altered to and it reduced the number of slats from five to four.
Mercedes F1 W11 T-wing comparison detail

Mercedes F1 W11 T-wing comparison detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes also made several small changes to the T-Wing for Mugello (above). The thickness of the elements has been increased, including the main load-bearing arched element that protrudes up from the exhaust cover (blue arrow).

A change in the shape of the uppermost element (red arrow) gives the T-Wing a distinct Gull-like look and further demonstrates the difference in approach when it comes to the thickness of the elements in the central section that will also influence the airflow and exhaust plume.


McLaren tests new nose design

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren has been taking a measured approach to adding performance, and on several occasions it has tested new parts but not rushed to keep them on the car. At Mugello it tested a new nose design (above) that it seems likely introduce in upcoming races.

The overall design of the nose is inspired by the one used by Mercedes since 2017, featuring the slender nose shape, something that holds commonality with their current design, a more bulbous tip, narrow wing pillars under the nose and a higher position for the cape, which is its own entity, rather than being paired with the wing pillars.

The intent is to make the nose and cape less sensitive, and give the Y250 vortex more breathing room.


Red Bull gets new floor 

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor comparison

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull made changes to its floor in Mugello with both drivers simultaneously having access to the upgrade. The new design uses twelve fully-enclosed holes angled at approximately 45-degrees to the edge of the floor, rather than four angled holes and two long ones running parallel to the floor’s edge as before.

These holes are used to alter the flow along the floor’s edge, preventing the wake turbulence that’s generated by the front tyre being ingested. It also helps shape the turbulence being created by the rear tyre which can, if left unchecked, be damaging to the performance of the diffuser as airflow is squirted laterally into its path as the tyre deforms.


Renault trials new bargeboards

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 comparison

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 comparison

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Renault arrived in Mugello with a new bargeboard cluster and deflector array (above) to test but didn’t actually race the parts, likely using them in forthcoming races instead, having collected the data they needed to verify they work as anticipated.

The changes to the bargeboard cluster are more obvious at the upper end, as it’s clear to see that the vertical elements are exposed in a different way relative to the boomerang (blue arrow). The changes at the lower end and in the footplate can’t be seen here but the extra slots in the surface of the boomerang are a tell-tale sign that changes have been made, as the slots are needed to maintain legality with anything on the reference plane below.

The upgrade also extended to the deflector panel which saw the team install a new venetian blind-like array to the vertical element (red arrow), rather than having just a single element jut out.

shares
comments

Related video

Ten things we learned from the Tuscan Grand Prix

Previous article

Ten things we learned from the Tuscan Grand Prix

Next article

FIA looking into Hamilton's anti-racism T-shirt at Mugello

FIA looking into Hamilton's anti-racism T-shirt at Mugello
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Tuscany GP
Author Matthew Somerfield
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021