Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

F1 technical update: Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren & Williams

In the ongoing development war between Formula 1’s teams, keep up to date with what’s new with our regular technical updates. Today, let’s look at three outfits at the Styrian GP – Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Williams.

F1 technical update: Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren & Williams

The second Grand Prix in as many weeks again delivered on the upgrades front, as the teams push hard to recover from time lost during lockdown. A number of teams had new parts in a quest to not only improve performance this week but to get ahead of the game for the Hungarian GP and beyond.

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Ferrari

The Scuderia has been adrift of its primary rivals for some time now, with the winning streak between Belgium and Singapore last season seeming like a distant memory. The subsequent sanctions over its operation of the power unit has clearly hit them hard but it also appears  to have headed in the wrong direction with the aerodynamic package too.

The team rushed through some of the new parts updates originally scheduled for the Hungarian GP to the second race in Austria in an effort to arrest the slide and help get a real handle on where it has gone wrong. The update included a new front wing and floor, both of which look to alter the way in which the aerodynamic surfaces cater for the wake turbulence created by the tyres.

Ferrari SF1000 front wing, Styrian GP

Ferrari SF1000 front wing, Styrian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The changes made to the front wing (inset) include a new footplate, as the team return to an arched design, rather than the flat version used for some time now. Several changes were made to the upper flaps, with the outermost section now joined to the endplate at a lower point and the inboard geometric shape altered too.

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Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Styrian GP

Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Styrian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Teams have been using the slots on the edge of the floor as a means of controlling the wake turbulence created by the front tyre, limiting how much is ingested by creating flow structures that ‘seal’ the edge of the floor. Ferrari had settled on using three longitudinal fully-enclosed holes ahead of four angled holes just in front of the rear tyre.

The new design shortens these longitudinal holes in favor of more holes angled at 45 degrees ahead of the rear tyre. These holes help to limit the effects of tyre squirt on the diffuser, with airflow pushed laterally into the diffusers path, robbing it of performance, if left unchecked. 

The horizontal flap that Ferrari mounted above the floor has been altered too, with a more twisted profile used where it connects to the vertical strake, amplifying its effect. These changes suggest that Ferrari had gone too far in its quest to control the front tyre wake, which resulted in a loss of performance and stability at the rear of the car.


Red Bull

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear wing endplate comparison

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear wing endplate comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull had a new rear wing available for the second race of the season which was not only significantly more complex than its predecessor (which was very similar to that on last year's RB15, see inset), it also featured several distinguishing features already seen elsewhere up and down the grid.

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Haas F1 Team VF-19 rear wing detail

Haas F1 Team VF-19 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear wing detail

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas (above left) and Mercedes both introduced fresh ideas at the German Grand Prix in 2019, Haas with its sinuously shaped hanging vanes and Mercedes with its serrated upper rear cutout, both of which have found their way into the RB16’s design package.


Toro Rosso STR14 rear wing detail

Toro Rosso STR14 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alfa Romeo Racing C38 rear wing detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C38 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A design concept first seen on the sibling STR14 (above left), and subsequently on the Alfa Romeo, is also present. The designers fold the upper front corner of the endplate to deliberately influence the airflow in a different way and, just like the sinuous hanging vanes, serrated rear cutouts and new upwash strikes that have been added, all of these are used to alter the strength of the tip vortex and the overall drag-to-downforce ratio of the wing.


Red Bull RB16 rear wing detail

Red Bull RB16 rear wing detail

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

It appears that Red Bull has to work on the structural integrity of the new hanging strake design though, as both drivers ended up finishing the race without them and likely suffering from an imbalance due to it. It appears that the team was not convinced by the updates introduced at the first race in Austria, as neither driver raced the new nose or floor (below).

Red Bull Racing RB16 front wing Austrian GP

Red Bull Racing RB16 front wing Austrian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola


McLaren

McLaren MCL35 chassis front

McLaren MCL35 chassis front

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren continues to impress, with the MCL35 proving to be even handier than perhaps the team imagined, relative to its competitors. This illustration above highlights a novel solution, as the team uses a triangular-shaped chin spoiler beneath the chassis that undoubtedly helps to guide the airflow toward its intended target.


McLaren MCL35 floor detail

McLaren MCL35 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL35 engine cover detail

McLaren MCL35 engine cover detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton

The team also used some Free Practice time at the second race in Austria to test out some experimental parts and cooling solutions it’ll use in Hungary. The image (above left) shows the new floor solution trialled by McLaren, which is similar to the one run by Ferrari, with a flap mounted above the floor ahead of the rear tyre which connects to the vertical floor strake.

With temperatures expected to have an impact on performance in Hungary, the team evaluated a solution we’ve seen from previous years, whereby a flap is placed on the trailing edge of the cooling outlet to act much like a Gurney flap to extract heat from the outlet beneath.

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Williams

Another team that impressed during the wet weather on Saturday was Williams, with a collection of smaller parts used on the FW43 to advance its performance. Although it slipped back during the race, the signs are encouraging that the team is beginning to turn a corner.

Williams FW43 bracket detail

Williams FW43 bracket detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Tested during Free Practice during the first race weekend in Austria, the team once again evaluated a new, slimmer suspension upright extension this weekend, as it looks to make aerodynamic gains without losing structural integrity.


George Russell, Williams FW43 downwash fin & T-Wing detail

George Russell, Williams FW43 downwash fin & T-Wing detail

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Both drivers had a new T-Wing available to them (blue arrow), with an extended endplate employed to influence the surrounding airflow that the previous looped variant didn’t feature. 

At the front of the car, a new chassis fin could be found on just the right-hand side of George Russell’s FW43 (red arrow), which is an interesting asymmetric feature given they have an air-to-air intercooler on one side of the car and a normal engine coolant radiator on the other.

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