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Formula 1 Bahrain February Testing

Nowhere to hide for latest F1 technical tweaks in Bahrain test

Day two of pre-season Formula 1 testing in Bahrain is in the books, and with all the cars having nowhere to hide there are plenty of interesting details for us to uncover.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

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.

There was plenty of early doors aero rake action, just as there was on day one, with teams using that time just as the session kicks off to do some constant speed runs before getting into the thick of the action.

Mercedes W14

Mercedes W14

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 detail

McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The rakes being used carry an array of kiel probes that measure the pressure in the surrounding flow field, data from which can be used to check correlation between the real-world environment and the teams’ simulation tools.

As you can see, like car designs, the aero rakes themselves all serve different purposes. Mercedes, for instance, had rakes set up ahead of the rear wheels and coke-bottle region on the W14, with the kiel probes all positioned in a uniform manner.

McLaren’s rakes, at least in this case, were a little wider and mounted in the car’s midriff, around the sidepods and airbox, while the rake itself also has its own features that set it apart from the others.


Alpine A523 rear wing detail

Alpine A523 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alpine has made significant changes to the rear of its car heading into this season, with the switch to a push-rod rear suspension having a knock-on effect on packaging and aerodynamic choices.

This angle allows us to see some of the suspension details mounted atop the crash structure and inside the rear cooling outlet, while also providing a generous view of the bi-plane beam wing arrangement and the tightly-radiused diffuser corners.

Also note the thermal strips fixed to the rear wing support Y-Lon that will help the team to monitor temperatures in that region.


Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Red Bull’s RB19, with flow-vis paint applied to the front suspension arms, along the side of the chassis and the sidepods, as the team looks for visual confirmation that the airflow is behaving as intended.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ferrari opted for a similar approach, albeit spraying flow-vis paint on the rear suspension, floor and coke-bottle region (above).

Ferrari SF-23 brake detail

Ferrari SF-23 brake detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The SF-23 has also been outfitted with a solution that many of Ferrari’s rivals had already adopted during 2022, with the brake disc now supplied its own enclosure inside the main brake drum to help control the passage of heat and airflow around the assembly more concisely.


Alfa Romeo C43 detail

Alfa Romeo C43 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The Alfa Romeo C43 without the sidepod and engine cover bodywork in place not only illustrates the work done to package the internals components – such as radiators, coolers and electronics – it’s also a visual lesson in how teams aren’t shrink-wrapping the components in all the places they might have in the past.

The void that can be seen behind the radiators is more about heat rejection, airflow throughput and perhaps more importantly, the ability to shape the external bodywork for aerodynamic reasons.


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

This shot of the Mercedes W14 allows us to appreciate several aspects of the car’s design, including the wedge-shaped bodywork applied to the chassis around the front suspension, which helps downwash the airflow to the surfaces, while the squarer sidepod inlet but wider topline of the sidepod is also noticeable.

This forward section of the sidepod now blends into wider, sloping bodywork of the sidepod, while the shelf-like engine cover, complete with gulley, is a feature that Mercedes has exaggerated for 2023.

Interestingly, the quantity of shut lines in the bodywork on the W14 suggests a high level of modularity, meaning any changes that might be forthcoming will be relatively easy to achieve.

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