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
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021