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How F1 teams chased big top speed gains in Baku

Almost every Formula 1 team arrived in Azerbaijan with a lower drag offering as they looked to maximise performance at the high-speed street circuit.

Ferrari SF-23 comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Ferrari SF-23 comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari installed a new rear wing on the SF-23 which featured a revised layout for the mainplane, top flap and the tip section of the endplate.  

These changes all appeared subtle at first but, when overlaid (inset above), we can see how different the two solutions are.

Notably the central spoon-shaped section of the mainplane has been flattened, while a steeper gradient is used in the outboard section where the mainplane and top flap meet with the endplate. 

And, while Ferrari had preferred the sawn-off tip section for its endplate before, the new variant has been returned to a more conventional square edge layout.


Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Red Bull was the exception in Baku, as it continued to utilise the arrangement that’s propelled it towards the top of the speed trap charts throughout the course of the first three events.

Just as we’ve seen in the opening races, Red Bull opted for a lower downforce rear wing variant and paired it with just a single beam wing element, in an effort to reduce drag on the straights, without overly compromising its cornering performance.


Mercedes W14 rear detail

Mercedes W14 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Mercedes has already focused its attention on the upper corner cut out section of the endplate throughout the course of these new regulations, with the team designing its endplate in such a way that the section can be changed quickly without the need to completely dismantle the entire wing.

As part of its ongoing development process, subtle changes were made to the shape of the endplate and tip section for Azerbaijan to improve flow around its upper corner, with the team carrying various corner cut out and infill panels in order that it can trim downforce and drag levels accordingly.


Alpine A523 rear wing detail

Alpine A523 rear wing detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Alpine A523 front wing detail with sensors

Alpine A523 front wing detail with sensors

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alpine’s new rear wing solution features an interesting approach to the design of the mainplane and upper flap’s leading edge, as they’re both recessed when compared with a traditional layout (red arrows).

This means the mainplane and top flap are not only taking up very little space in terms of the allowable box region but the chord of both is also significantly reduced.

To balance out the car, Alpine’s designers have also taken an equally intriguing approach with its front wing, opting to cut away a crescent-shaped section at the inboard end of the upper flap, rather than trimming the entire trailing edge, as is the normal approach.


McLaren MCL60 rear detail

McLaren MCL60 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren had a sizable update package at its disposal in Azerbaijan, which included a new rear wing and beam wing layout, both being more suitable for the requirements of the street circuit.

The rear wing is a variation upon the spoon-shaped theme already employed by McLaren this season, with the mainplane and top flap taking up less space in the allowable box region. The curvature of the elements had also been amended to help reduce drag without compromising downforce.

The upper flap’s trailing edge was also cut back to further improve the car’s top speed, albeit with a central strip retained in order to keep the same attachment point for the DRS mechanism, while the outer tip sections also remained at full height.

The updated rear wing was also paired with a new beam wing layout, utilising the bi-plane arrangement that we’ve seen Red Bull and Alpine deploy in the past. 

McLaren’s version sees the upper element displaced from the lower one, which is mounted at the lowest point between the endplates, in order that both elements improve the relationship between the diffuser and upper rear wing elements.


Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin added a new top flap to its suite of parts in Azerbaijan, with the team opting to trim back sections of its trailing edge.

Its weekend was blighted by DRS issues, as the team struggled to get on top of the issue that arose on both cars early-on.


Alfa Romeo C43 technical detail

Alfa Romeo C43 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Alfa Romeo is another team that opted for the more cost effective trimmed trailing edge approach with its rear wing but paired it with a design it introduced last season, whereby the tip section of the endplate is sawn-off.

A new beam wing layout was also deployed, with a bi-plane layout favoured over the stacked configuration that’s usually used.


Haas F1 Team VF-23 rear wing

Haas F1 Team VF-23 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas F1 Team VF-23 rear detail

Haas F1 Team VF-23 rear detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas also trimmed its upper flap’s trailing edge, albeit in a much more aggressive way, taking several centimetres out of the trailing edge to increase its top speed.

In addition, only the lower beam wing element was fitted to the VF-23.


AlphaTauri AT04 technical detail

AlphaTauri AT04 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

AlphaTauri also introduced a smorgasbord of new parts for the AT04 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with a new rear and beam wing arrangement just some of the items on the menu. And while the AT04’s new rear wing was designed to help reduce drag, with a less loaded upper element the main feature, there were actually two beam wing variants on offer.

Like some of its rivals, AlphaTauri had a bi-plane option at hand but opted to use just the lower single element version as a means to trim the car for the demands of the circuit.


Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Williams, unlike many of its rivals, didn't have a new, lower downforce, rear wing on hand. However, it did add a new beam wing variant to its collection, which follows the same basic geometry as some of its other variants, but is trimmed to suit the downforce and drag levels required for Baku.

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