Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

The Mercedes/Red Bull set-up splits as F1 title battle intensifies

Red Bull and Mercedes are locked in a battle for the Formula 1 championship that looks all set to go the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The Mercedes/Red Bull set-up splits as F1 title battle intensifies

And, like in any war, there are going to be casualties and missteps along the way, with both teams trying to play their best hands to try to cover off retaliatory efforts from the other.

In Russia, the skirmish revolved around engine penalties, as Red Bull elected to take a grid drop for Max Verstappen by fitting a power unit to replace the one that he lost in his British Grand Prix crash with Lewis Hamilton.

Heading into the qualifying knowing that the Dutch driver was starting at the back had a hefty impact on the team's setu-p choice for the remainder of the weekend.

Verstappen duly took a lower downforce front and rear wing configuration when compared with Sergio Perez, as starting from the back would clearly mean he would need to overtake cars throughout the race.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B rear wing detail
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B rear wing detail

The difference between the two cars was clear, with the wing section on Verstappen's RB16B taking up much less space within the permissible box region. Furthermore, the intricate wing tip vortex altering elements seen on Perez's endplate were also missing.

The lower downforce arrangement on Verstappen's car was accompanied by a Gurney flap on the trailing edge of the upper flap to help improve balance, which is very similar to the set-up that the team used in Baku.

Red Bull RB16B front wing comparison

Red Bull RB16B front wing comparison

There was a subtle difference between the two front wings mounted on either RB16B too, as the team looked to balance the car front-to-rear depending on what rear wing set-up that each driver had.

Mercedes experiments

Mercedes began its practice programme with its drivers on different aerodynamic configurations, just as it has done at several races already so far this season.

This provides the team with more data about the direction it should take during a race weekend, but has often seen its driver pairing continue to take different routes as the weekend unfolds.

More frequently, Lewis Hamilton sticks to a lower downforce configuration compared to Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes AMG F1 rear wing comparison

Mercedes AMG F1 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In Russia both drivers began their programme on the lower downforce rear wing, before Bottas made the switch to the higher downforce configuration that both drivers would run during qualifying and the race.

You'll note that the higher downforce wing (marked Bottas) has a larger central V-shaped groove and larger edge cutouts in an effort to reduce the drag created.

Mercedes W12 front wing comparison

Mercedes W12 front wing comparison

Interestingly Mercedes also trialled a revised front wing on Hamilton's car during FP1 (top). The upper flap is shaped differently.

As you'll see from the dotted lines, the new upper flap design swoops down more where it meets with the non adjustable outboard section. It appears this was more of a test with future races in mind though, as the team opted not to race the design.

McLaren wing focus

McLaren continues to impress this season, with a one-two at Monza and leading for most of the Russian GP testament to its progress.

McLaren MCL35M rear wing, Russian GP
McLaren MCL35M rear wing, Italian GP

The two venues, just two weeks apart, have very different characteristics too, so required different downforce demands.

The team's high downforce arrangement (left) was used in Russia, whilst a one-off, low downforce configuration was mounted on the MCL35M for Monza.

As you can see there's a dramatic difference in the size of the wing section, with much less of the permissible box region utilised in the low downforce set-up, whilst the angle of attack is also reduced significantly.

shares
comments
How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1
Previous article

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Next article

How the pitstop rules change has left F1 teams scrambling

How the pitstop rules change has left F1 teams scrambling
Load comments
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021