How Red Bull began its RB18 F1 weight-saving push in Melbourne

Red Bull is under no illusions that to close its current Formula 1 performance deficit to Ferrari, it must make an aero step and reduce the weight of its RB18.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Its 2022 challenger is understood to be one of the heaviest cars on the grid, and part of a raft of updates that are expected over the next few races is believed to include the arrival of lighter components.

The very first hint of Red Bull's weight saving – albeit a minor one – appeared at the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, with a new front wing design. It featured both an aerodynamic revision and, according to its official explanation to the FIA, some weight saving tweaks aimed at reducing the overall volume and weight of the assembly.

The changes to the front wing endplate are quite obvious when compared with the previous specification. Not only has the leading and top edge been reprofiled, but so too has the diveplane.

PLUS: How decisions Ferrari aced and Red Bull regretted led to Leclerc’s Melbourne masterclass

The more angular leading edge of the endplate has given way to a much more gradual curvature. This also significantly reduces the length of the upper edge, as the team looks to tweak the airflow's behaviour ahead of the front tyre.

This is compounded by the arrival of the S-shaped diveplane, which sees the rear section in a higher position than the older specification, whilst also being mounted closer to the trailing edge. However, the shape means this final section of the diveplane is not pitched as aggressively as its predecessor. 

It’s worth remembering that the teams are heavily restricted in what they can do with the design of the endplate and diveplane to limit how much outwash can be generated.

It’s also not the first time we’ve seen the S-shaped diveplane variant employed, with Alpine and Alfa Romeo also favouring the arrangement.

Red Bull RB18 front wing endplate comparison

Red Bull RB18 front wing endplate comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Other Melbourne upgrades

McLaren settled on changes to its rear brake winglet’s end fence layout, a component that teams have far less design freedom with than they had in the past.

But rather than taking away material, as has been the trend up until this point, the team increased the size of the end fence (see dotted line on the right-hand image below).

These winglets are important when we consider not only the local flow distribution but also how they can have an impact on the wake shed from the tyre and the diffuser alongside, with even the most minimal of changes able to have a sizeable effect.

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McLaren MCL36 rear brake winglet comparison

McLaren MCL36 rear brake winglet comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Alpine also investigated the impact of changes in this region of the car. It trialled a new end fence layout during free practice and while this didn’t appear to make its way onto the car for qualifying and the race, changes made to the outer floor strake did.

The team had already remodelled the design of the strake on several occasions during testing and the first few races in order to optimise its performance.

It’s a change that appears to have an impact further down the floor edge too. It’s clear that the boundary line of the strake has been shifted upward and rearward to create a more defined rear edge (white dotted line), the floor transition also seems to have more of a bulbous shape too (red arrow).

Like the bargeboards that used to occupy this region of the car, the design of these strakes is going to provide a rich source of performance, not only in its own right but also when allied to any optimisations made to the floor.

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Alpine A522 outer floor strake comparison

Alpine A522 outer floor strake comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

For the third race in a row, Aston Martin had a different rear wing at its disposal, as the Silverstone team looked to strike the right balance between downforce and drag for the prevailing conditions and circuit characteristics.

Notably this rear wing has a more traditional, flat leading edge shape to the mainplane, rather than the spoon-shaped designs that the regulations incite. This characterises the transition into the endplate, with a tighter radius required depending on the configuration at hand.

Read Also:
Aston Martin AMR22 rear wing comparison

Aston Martin AMR22 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

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