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Bahrain F1 testing: Tech images from the pitlane explained

Join us as we delve into the Formula 1 technical features on display during the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, courtesy of Giorgio Piola and Sutton Images.

Mercedes W15 nose detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

Wednesday was our first chance to see all the cars together with nowhere to hide their latest design developments and secrets ahead of the new season.

Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull has not only changed the sidepod inlet arrangement on the RB20 but also completely overhauled the internal makeup of the car too, as the sidepod contains two radiators in a V-shaped configuration that are cantered away from the floor.

This means the larger saddle-style cooler arrangement above the power unit has been abandoned, albeit with a smaller cooler housed here instead. This shot of the car without bodywork suggests that the inlets beside the halo feed airflow to the ductwork on the outer face of the engine cover’s shoulder.


Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Here’s a shot showing the inlets beside the halo that take in some of the airflow in that region and ducts it rearwards to the outlets on the side of the engine cover.


Mercedes F1 W15 detail

Mercedes F1 W15 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Let’s look under the covers of the Mercedes W15, which has a very different arrangement having fully abandoned the zeropod solution this year. Aside from the position of the upper side impact spar (SIS) and radiators it’s interesting to see the internal supports used to prevent the floor from flexing too much.


Haas VF-24 detail

Haas VF-24 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas F1 Team has opted for something a little different in regard to the front wing diveplane this season, with a double kick or wave-like appearance along its length.


Haas VF-24 detail

Haas VF-24 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas has also joined a number of teams utilising semi-detached flaps, whereby the flaps don’t connect to the endplate and each have their own shedding surface, while a small connecting strip is used for legality purposes. It has also added another winglet that’s attached to the vertical section of the last flap to help create even more outwash.

Also note the camera mounted on the inside of the endplate is mounted on its own winglet as high as possible in the front corner.


Haas VF-24 detail

Haas VF-24 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Top-down overview of the outer portion of the front wing on the VF-24, which gives us a great view of how the flap tips are turned outward to help generate outwash.


Mercedes W15 nose and front wing detail

Mercedes W15 nose and front wing detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The much talked about upper flap arrangement on the Mercedes front wing, which features a very slender element in the non-moveable region in order to fulfil regulatory criteria and allow for the larger chord element outboard of it.


Underfloor of the Williams FW46

Underfloor of the Williams FW46

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

A great view of the Williams FW46’s underfloor and diffuser as it’s craned away from the circuit. Note the revetting in the vertical transition as it works rearward towards the boat tail section.


Aston Martin AMR24 detail

Aston Martin AMR24 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A close up of the Aston Martin AMR24 and the pull-rod rear suspension layout it is using this season. Also note that the winglet under the crash structure that the team introduced last season seems to have reappeared, albeit in a slightly different form.


Aston Martin AMR24 detail

Aston Martin AMR24 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A shot of the rear portion of the sidepod on the Aston Martin AMR24 shows how sculpted the flank is, while we’re also able to see how the twisted edge wing is connected to the underside of the floor.


Alpine A524

Alpine A524

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A close up of the P-shaped sidepod inlet on the Alpine A524 this season, which you’ll note has a lower leading edge which is twisted downward to help with flow into the inlet and the undercut.


Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A closer look at the smaller rounder inlet used on the MCL38, with the remainder of the sidepods width providing the space for the intake winglet ahead and above of the inlet that has a variable camber across its span.


Mercedes F1 W15

Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The elongated downwash ramp-style sidepod bodywork on the Mercedes W15, with an elongated midline cut out, while a twisted edge wing – similar to the one used during the backend of 2023 – is also in use.


Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The Red Bull RB20 is outfitted with two snorkel-like driver cooling inlets on the chassis, rather than in the nose tip, owing to the new regulations for 2024 that allow them to be placed in either or both positions.


Mercedes F1 W15 front detail

Mercedes F1 W15 front detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The Mercedes undergoes some changes in the garage which gives us a nice view of some of the inboard suspension elements, including the heave damper.


Alex Albon, Williams FW46

Alex Albon, Williams FW46

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Williams FW46’s front wing, nose and suspension doused with flow-vis paint in order that the team can get visual confirmation that the aerodynamic surfaces are performing as was anticipated from their CFD and wind tunnel studies.


Ferrari SF-24

Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A Kiel probe rake fitted to the side of the engine cover on the Ferrari SF-24 to gather airflow data in that region, with the team likely interested in correlation data in regards to the new layout around the halo.


Ferrari SF-24

Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Aero rakes with a small army of Kiel probes attached were also fitted behind the front wheel assemblies on the Ferrari SF-24 during the first few runs of the morning session.


Haas VF-24

Haas VF-24

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A close up of the sidepod inlet on the Haas VF-24 which features more of an underbite this season.


Haas VF-24

Haas VF-24

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas has clearly been inspired by Red Bull when it comes to the floor edge and edge wing design this season too, with the segmented forward section, upwardly scrolled edge, control strakes and twisted rear section all design features seen on the RB19 last season.


Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The sidepod of the Alpine A524 is doused with blue flow-viz paint as the team look for signs that the region is performing as anticipated.


Mercedes W15 detail

Mercedes W15 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

This angle of the front brake duct shows how the end fence sits away from the drum and the inlet straddles the gap, allowing airflow to be taken in outside of the fence and between it and the tyre’s sidewall.


Ferrari SF-24 detail

Ferrari SF-24 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

As the Ferrari mechanics make some adjustments to the SF-24 we’re given a relatively unobstructed view of some of the inboard suspension elements.


Ferrari SF-24 detail

Ferrari SF-24 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari uses a more organic rake arrangement for collecting data in conjunction with the attached Kiel probes than some of the more traditional ladder-style rakes you might see elsewhere.


McLaren MCL38 detail

McLaren MCL38 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A close up of the scrolled front portion of the edge wing with strakes included to help manoeuvre the airflow outboard, while the edge wing then twists along its length and is married to a similar geometry on the floor edge.


Kick Sauber C44

Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Uncredited

A rear view of the Sauber C44, including the rear wing, beam wing, brake duct winglets and the diffuser.


VCARB 01 detail

VCARB 01 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A large Kiel probe array was fitted behind the rear wheel of the RB01 as the team looked to gather some data, with some notable changes already made to the sidepod’s bodywork geometry compared with what they showed in the renders.


Alpine A524 detail

Alpine A524 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The Alpine A524’s rear end layout is fairly similar to last year, with the team opting to use its bi-plane beam wing arrangement today. Also note the rear brake duct winglets have been trimmed much shorter than the regulations permit.


McLaren MCL38 detail

McLaren MCL38 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The McLaren MCL38 with Kiel probe rakes mounted across the rear section of the car, ahead of the rear wheels and also inside the diffuser, as the team looks to capture real world data that can be used to correlate with the CFD and wind tunnel data they’ve already seen.


Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Red Bull Racing RB20 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A rearward shot of the RB20 noting how the gullies in the engine cover taper outwards when terminating at the cooling outlet, while there’s also outlets beside the cover (around the Honda logo). There’s also a considerable amount of contouring in the underfloor and diffuser’s surfaces.


Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Uncredited

A look at the Ferrari SF-24 from the front, with the handlebar-style mountings for the airbox camera housings now more visible given there’s no longer winglets surrounding them. It has mounted cameras inside the sidepod inlet which appear to be looking at the front tyre and are likely capturing infra-red footage.


McLaren MCL38 detail

McLaren MCL38 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The McLaren MCL38 returns from a run whereby flow-vis paint has been daubed over the rear wing and beam wing.


VCARB 01 detail

VCARB 01 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A close up of the RB01’s rear wing, which features a semi-detached tip section in a similar vein to its predecessor.


Alex Albon, Williams FW46

Alex Albon, Williams FW46

Photo by: Uncredited

The rear wing and beam wing of the Williams FW46 is covered in flow-vis paint as the team looks for visual confirmation that the assembly is performing as expected, aerodynamically speaking.


Alpine A524 detail

Alpine A524 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A look at how large the cooling panel could be on the Alpine A524, with only a few louvres employed in this variant at the rear of the panel.


Mercedes W15 detail

Mercedes W15 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

An overview of the Mercedes steering wheel with its various rotaries, switches and buttons that control the power unit and chassis. Also note the cooling inlet housed in the vanity panel, which is possible owing to the new regulations this season, whereas before it could only be located in the nose tip.


Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The Red Bull RB20 with flow-vis paint applied to the rear wing and beam wing.

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