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

F1 2022 tech review: How Alfa Romeo's short and light C42 helped its revival

Alfa Romeo had lived through two difficult seasons in F1’s COVID 2020 and 2021 campaigns, as its form seemed to be falling away as rivals made good gains.

F1 2022 tech review: How Alfa Romeo's short and light C42 helped its revival

But an early headstart on its 2022 car, allied to it being helped out by F1’s aero development handicap system, did just the trick in allowing it to impress a few times this season.

The C42 was one of the shortest cars on the grid and also one of the first to make the minimum weight allowed in the regulations.

These factors, coupled with some other smart design choices, set the team in great stead for climbing back up the constructors' standings.

Alfa Romeo C42

Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Erik Junius

A great shot of the Alfa Romeo C42 on the stands in the garage as the team prepared the car for the first race of the season. 

Steering wheel for the Alfa Romeo C42

Steering wheel for the Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The back of Valtteri Bottas’s steering wheel, highlighting his use of a single left-handed clutch paddle, which has the finger socket design to help him modulate the clutch.

Alfa Romeo C42 rear detail

Alfa Romeo C42 rear detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A poke around under the covers of the C42 shows how the power unit is packaged, the radiators installed in the sidepods and gives a glimpse of some of the rear suspension details.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A lower downforce rear wing solution was introduced in Saudi Arabia to match the high-speed nature of the circuit. General changes included a new rear brake duct layout and revisions to the rear suspension fairings.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

A new sidepod package arrived at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with an emphasis on the rear of that bodywork.

The section had previously been undercut and quickly tapered into the coke bottle region, but the update did away with this methodology, incorporating a ramped section that merged into the floor below.

Alfa Romeo C42 floor detail

Alfa Romeo C42 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Building on the aforementioned changes, Alfa Romeo made further optimisations to its sidepod package at the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 rear detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A look at the high downforce rear wing employed in Spain, along with a good view of the rear brake duct assembly without the drum in place. Note how the disc has been faired in and the pipework used to deliver cool air and extract heat generated by the caliper.

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 brake drum detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 brake drum detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Similarly, at the front of the car, we can see how the team opted to fair in the brake disc to help isolate the airflow’s passage and heat being generated, given the much larger drum for 2022.

Alfa Romeo Racing C42  nose and front wing detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 nose and front wing detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A top-down overview of the C42’s front wing which was modified in the outer section. Also note the team’s use of the slot gap separator brackets, which are angled in order to marginally influence the airflow’s direction.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A shot of the rear wing with the DRS deployed shows the central slot gap bracket which prevents the wing from closing too far.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

A low downforce rear wing was deployed in Baku, with the front wing’s upper flaps trimmed to help balance downforce front-to-rear.

Steering wheel for the Alfa Romeo C42

Steering wheel for the Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The C42’s steering wheel with the various buttons, switches and rotaries used to control the various power unit and chassis functions.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Flow-vis paint on the C42 here as the team looks to gather some visuals on the flow structures around the front suspension, chassis and sidepods. Also note the team introduced an inlet for driver cooling in the nose tip at Silverstone too.

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 front detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C42 front detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Alfa Romeo approached the front brake duct inlet in a fairly unique way, with a slender but tall inlet framed top and bottom with metal wirework to prevent tyre marbles and other debris from collecting in those sections.

Alfa Romeo C42 sensors detail

Alfa Romeo C42 sensors detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team mounted an array of cameras and sensors on the C42 in Hungary as it looked to collect data on a new floor that it introduced. Note the use of the flow diverting strikes on the upwash scrolled section of the edge wing.

Alfa Romeo C42 technical detail

Alfa Romeo C42 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A great shot of the C42’s metal bib section and the Bellville sprung mechanism employed to keep the bib at an optimum height during a range of rideheight conditions.

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing Belgian GP

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing Belgian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In order to help reduce drag, whilst maintaining the necessary downforce, Alfa Romeo chose to cut a triangular section across the span of the endplate and flap junction for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing detail

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Retaining the endplate and flap junction cut out that it used in Belgium, the team went one stage further in its quest to reduce drag for the Italian Grand Prix, trimming the upper flap’s trailing edge.

Alfa Romeo C42 front wing nose

Alfa Romeo C42 front wing nose

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team overhauled its front wing design for the Japanese Grand Prix, altering the ratio of the static and moveable flap portion of the wing.

Alfa Romeo C42 front wing comparison

Alfa Romeo C42 front wing comparison

This side-by-side comparison illustrates just how much more of the flap was made adjustable on the new design left, providing the drivers with access to a more versatile set-up window and catering for the team's aerodynamic needs. Changes were also afoot with the most outboard section of the flaps and their juncture with the endplate (inset, yellow highlight), whilst the trailing edge cutout was also removed (blue arrow).

Alfa Romeo C42 technical detail

Alfa Romeo C42 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A change to the floor’s leading edge profile was made for the United States Grand Prix, with the floor attached to the side of the chassis, whereas formally it created a channel to feed airflow up from the bib section, which narrowed the available tunnel entrance section.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The outer floor fence was modified in Mexico, with a chamfered edge applied to the ramped section that would not only have an impact on the external airflow but also that on the underside of the floor.

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing cutout comparison

Alfa Romeo C42 rear wing cutout comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alfa Romeo had two main endplate cutout solutions during 2022, one you’d consider to be more traditional (inset) and another with a deeper cutout towards the base, both of which are used to manage the tip vortex depending on the load being generated by the wing.

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