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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Red Bull's Barcelona F1 upgrades are bigger than it claims

The changes Red Bull has introduced for Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix are a bigger deal than the team suggests

Red Bull Racing RB20 technical detail

Red Bull Racing RB20 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull has been at pains to play down the extent of modifications made to its Formula 1 car for the Spanish Grand Prix aimed at improving cooling.

Indeed, after the first day of running at Barcelona on Friday, world champion Max Verstappen said that the various tweaks were almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

"I mean, they were very tiny," he explained. "It's nothing, nothing too big."

It was a stance the squad made in its official FIA submission documents as it noted adjustments made to the sidepod inlets were merely conceived as a means to counteract any "potentially warm races ahead in Europe."

The team went on to suggest that its simulations suggested these alterations would allow it to minimise the need to increase the number of exit louvre openings.

But while the size of the inlets has indeed been adjusted, there has also been a great deal of work done by its aerodynamicists in order to optimise the shape of the undercut and beltline thereafter, which will undoubtedly yield more performance as a consequence.

Inlet-wise, it's the lower vertical one that's doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of the changes being made.

While the changes might appear subtle, it's the change in geometry that affords other tweaks to be made downstream.

Rather than having a leading edge that's simply straight up, or straight down, it now has two kick points, which produce a wider inlet at the top and bottom but, interestingly, the central section is actually narrower than before.

Red Bull Racing RB20 technical detail

Red Bull Racing RB20 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This results in a deeper curvature in the top section of the undercut, which opens up more space beneath the sidepod and has also allowed the designers to raise the beltline thereafter, which in turn alters how the sidepod's bodywork interfaces with the floor alongside.

There's also been work undertaken at the rear of the car, as the team has prepared a new beam wing arrangement that required alterations to be made to the lower portion of the endplate.

The team has confirmed that this region of the endplate was not at the full width permitted within the regulations, with the area now seemingly more fanned out than before.

This has allowed the designers to extrude the beam wing outwards and increase each element's span.

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