Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
The Mercedes-style F1 tweaks helping McLaren push forward
McLaren introduced a fairly substantial update at the French Grand Prix in a bid to help its fight with Ferrari for best of the rest in Formula 1 this year.
The first of these changes was at the front of the MCL35M, as McLaren finally saw fit to adopt the chassis ‘horns’ that we’ve seen other teams use for quite some time now.
The ones introduced by McLaren share a similarity with those used by Mercedes, rather than the multiple element variants seen elsewhere, such as at Ferrari or Alfa Romeo.
These winglets help to redirect the airflow that passes by that region, in order to enhance the performance of the flow moving down the car.
At this point in the season, McLaren has a better handle on the cooling requirements of its Mercedes power unit and it has opted to slim down the cooling outlet at the rear of the car in order to make gains aerodynamically.
To offset this, the team has the option of opening up the cooling panels alongside the cockpit, which McLaren did in France and were easy to spot given they were in raw carbon, rather than painted items.
The panels could only be found on the left-hand side of the car, suggesting that the components within that sidepod need a little more cooling assistance than the right-hand side.
At the rear of the car, the team have made a significant change to its rear wing endplate design, opting for a horizontal set of louvres where there would ordinarily be slots to create strakes.
McLaren MCL35M rear end plate detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
The panel incorporating these louvres almost appears to be a mirror image of the one in the upper section of the endplate, with the louvres curled upward, rather than down, whilst the airflow is moved outboard, rather than inboard.
Ferrari tweaked wing
Ferrari SF21 front wing comparison
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Ferrari arrived at the French Grand Prix with a revised front wing assembly that featured numerous subtle changes.
The newer specification wing is the upper of the two in the illustration and shows how the flat section of the footplate has been removed, increasing the width of the arc, which alters the shape, speed and direction of the vortex that’s created.
Meanwhile, the ratio of the flaps that can be adjusted has also been altered, with the adjuster moved further outboard, meaning more of the upper two flaps is affected when a flap adjustment is made.
This would allow the team to trim the car a little more to help improve car balance, at the expense of directing airflow across and around the front tyre in the outermost section.
Ferrari also made a change to its rear wing at the French Grand Prix, with the lower tail section of the endplate cut back quite significantly (blue arrow).
Magic button shroud
Mercedes AMG F1 W12 steering wheel back protection detail, French GP
Photo by: Giorigo Piola
Mercedes opted to make a small alteration to its steering wheels in France in order to head off a repeat of the issue that befell Lewis Hamilton at the restart of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
As you can see in the inset, Mercedes has deployed button guards to prevent the button being pushed inadvertently, with a more deliberate button push required to deploy brake magic from now on.
Alpha Tauri AT2 floor comparison
Alpha Tauri continued to look for performance for the AT02, as it introduced a new floor for the French Grand Prix.
The updates took care of the area ahead of the rear tyre, as where a single flap was previously attached above the section of floor that was scrolled up, an additional flap has been added.
However, this is shorter than the previous version, as an extra strake has now been added on the floor’s edge (red arrow), which also results in the scrolled section being shortened.
AlphaTauri AT02 new front wing end plate with arrows details, French GP
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
AlphaTauri had introduced a new front wing at the Spanish Grand Prix which altered several aspects of the overall design, including a revision to the shape of the flap’s tips, the strakes on the underside of the wing and the shape of the footplate.
The footplate has been squared off, which also means the shape of the surface leading to the cavity it has in its footplate is also altered.
Yuki Tsunoda’s car being lifted away after his accident during the French Grand Prix gave us a great view of this area of the wing from beneath too (below).
You’ll note that the footplate has a strake in the middle (red arrow), whilst the airflow travelling through the cavity appears to be sent out into a channel that’s carved into the side of the lower portion of the endplate.
AlphaTauri AT02 front wing detail
Photo by: Uncredited
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