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Formula 1 Spanish GP

How Red Bull has taken inspiration from slower F1 rivals to go even faster

Red Bull's domination of the 2023 F1 season is leaving its rivals in its dust and some of that is down to it taking inspiration from its competitors to strengthen its position.

Adrian Newey

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.

At the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull appeared with changes to the floor's edge wing and the diffuser, using features widely seen on competitors' machinery.

These were most likely spotted by Adrian Newey on his regular grid walks before the Milton Keynes-based squad applied its own twist on a couple of solutions others have used for some time.

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Having been proof tested on the opposition, it implies that these should add performance without even needing to be run extensively in CFD and the wind tunnel, given they've both been used for some time by several teams and optimised extensively by them.

Nevertheless, it's not as simple as cutting and pasting the solution from what is used elsewhere.

The concepts need to work in tandem with the existing architecture that Red Bull has in place, with the team creating its own branch in the development tree that will likely be optimised further as the season unfolds.

Red Bull RB19 floor comparison

Red Bull RB19 floor comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The edge wing's forward section already features a C-shaped profile to mimic the cut-out in the floor beneath.

However, as the edge wing reaches rearward beyond this, there's a strake that has been added to the upturned scroll section. This should help to guide the airflow that's being offloaded from the floor in this region.

The upper corner of the diffuser has also been modified with an inverse pocket arrangement employed, similar to many of its competitors.

The change is a double-edged sword, as it not only changes how the diffuser performs internally but also alters the behaviour of the airflow over the upper corner.

Red Bull RB19 diffuser corner

Red Bull RB19 diffuser corner

Photo by: Uncredited

Mercedes made what you might consider a retrograde step for the Spanish Grand Prix, as the upper slat element was removed from its wing mirror assembly. The inboard stalk is now simply mounted to the side of the mirror housing.

The change has been made in order that the passage of air beyond the wing mirror assembly is more complimentary to the alterations that have been made to the sidepods, with the slat having previously altered the flow around the mirror housing's bluff body.

The team also made a modification to the diffuser's sidewall which it suggested allows more flow into the diffuser, in order to improve flow quality and hence increase local load.

Mercedes W14 mirror comparison
Mercedes W14 diffuser

In search of the right setup for the W14, while also working on understanding its new aerodynamic package, Mercedes employed several different solutions during Friday's free practice sessions.

Both its medium and high downforce rear wings were trialled, the latter being used for qualifying and the race.

The team also gave the larger rear cooling outlet option another outing, before making the switch back to the narrower solution for the competitive sessions.

Mercedes W14 rear wing and cooling comparison

Mercedes W14 rear wing and cooling comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Aston Martin has obviously got off to a fast start this season, but the teams around it have made substantial changes over the course of the last few races in an effort to claw back at its performance advantage.

The Silverstone-based squad responded with a cache of new parts in Spain, as the team looks to not lose ground.

Aston Martin AMR23 new front wing
Aston Martin Racing AMR23, front wing endplate

Its front wing has been overhauled as part of the update package, with the span-wise distribution of the upper two flaps altered in order that they're more uniform, rather than having a swooped section ahead of the front tyre.

This is much more in line with the designs we see elsewhere up and down the grid. This has also opened up more development opportunities for the outboard section of the wing, with the flap and endplate juncture also redesigned.

The second, third and fourth elements are now all stepped away from the endplate and twisted in order that they promote more outwash than the outgoing solution.

Like the notch seen on the third flap of its old configuration, the new design also employs this but further forward on the second element instead.

In response to the changes made to the front wing, the team has also reset the angle of the camera pods mounted on the side of the nose, given the airflow reaching them has been altered.

Aston Martin AMR23 rear wing endplate inboard strake
Aston Martin AMR23 rear wing endplate tip section

At the rear of the car, there are further enhancements to the latest rear wing specification, with the main alterations having already been raced in Monaco.

These include a different attachment method for the tip section of the endplate, as rather than merging with the outer edge of the endplate it sits inboard and turned inward.

This will have an impact on the pressure gradient and as a result, alter the vorticity of the tip vortex.

There are also changes to the inboard geometry of the endplate, with a similar, albeit more steeply angled swage line to the one used on the outer face.

Like the change to the upper tip section, this will not only have direct aerodynamic consequences but will also impact the surrounding surfaces, with the beam wing having been modified to take advantage of this.

Aston Martin AMR23 halo winglets

Aston Martin AMR23 halo winglets

Photo by: Uncredited

Not mentioned in the car presentation submission, and only briefly tested, were a pair of additional guide vanes atop the halo.

The team will likely bring a more refined variant of these in the coming races, as it looks to alter the flow around the safety structure and improve performance downstream.

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