Red Bull still needs fix for ‘flappy’ F1 wing problems

Red Bull has admitted it is still chasing a fix for the ‘flappy’ rear wing problems that it has suffered from at recent Formula 1 events.

Red Bull still needs fix for ‘flappy’ F1 wing problems

The squad has faced a run of issues with its medium downforce configuration in the last few grands prix, which have given it headaches throughout practice.

TV images have shown the top element of the rear wing flapping when DRS is open, with the problem appearing to be caused by the actuator element not being able to cope with the forces being put through it.

The issues in practice in Qatar came before Red Bull switched to its high downforce wing from qualifying onwards, which is a design it knows can be run without drama.

However, the next races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi will likely lean towards a low or medium downforce requirement, which puts some pressure on Red Bull to ensure its problems in that configuration do not return.

Team principal Christian Horner said after the race in Qatar that going with the higher downforce option was what it wanted for there anyway – but is aware that it could need to use its more troublesome wing at the next venues.

“That was our preferred wing and it was the setup direction we wanted to go in,” said Horner about the change for the high downforce version.

“If those other wings are required in either Jeddah or Abu Dhabi, obviously we’ll need to have fixes in place to straighten them up, and the DRS mechanism.”

Red Bull’s ability to get on top of the problems are not helped by the fact the DRS actuator is an homologated component for 2021, so it is not possible to change the design at this stage, even though a fix would in theory be simple.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Horner is confident, however, that the matter will not cause his team too much of a problem to resolve.

“I think from a reliability point of view it should be relatively straightforward to sort out those actuators,” he said.

“We’ve been using them for many years now, so it's not a new technology.”

Explaining Red Bull’s wing problems

The issue in question revolves around the rear wing’s top flap starting to flutter when DRS is in operation.

This fluttering occurs when the DRS actuator and linkage is unable to remain stable, owing to the loads imparted on the assembly.

While it doesn’t offer a performance advantage, so there’s no suggestion of it being an attempt to get around the rules, the flapping is something that Red Bull would not want to carry in to a race for fear of the FIA getting involved on safety grounds.

Red Bull, just like everyone on the grid this season, has two rear wing adjuster designs at its disposal, with the FIA having included the DRS actuator and linkages in the homologation list for 2021.

In order for these to be redesigned, teams would be required to spend one of the two development tokens at their disposal. Red Bull spent its tokens at the start of the season on a new gearbox carrier.

 

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This means the designs have been carried over from the freeze point in mid 2020. While the general design and layout of Red Bull’s rear wings haven’t changed dramatically since then, there are aspects that need to be taken into account.

There’s three main downforce arrangements (high, medium and low) in Red Bull’s pool that we’ve seen used on more than one occasion this year.

Furthermore, there’s also its ultra low downforce arrangement for the Italian Grand Prix (small inset) to consider too, along with various flaps and Gurney options that can be leveraged for a slightly different downforce to drag offset.

In the past, teams could match and evolve the DRS actuator to suit the individual demands of each wing setting; whereas the homologation limits mean that isn’t possible this season.

In Qatar, Red Bull trialled both the high and medium downforce arrangements on Friday, with the team expected to prefer the medium downforce arrangement for qualifying and the race.

However, with the DRS issue persisting throughout FP3, it made the switch to the high downforce arrangement, which meant sacrificing some of its straight line speed.

To give some idea of how detrimental this could have been to performance, Red Bull has only used the high downforce arrangement at two other venues this season - Monaco and Mexico.

 

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Keeping it cool

Red Bull has also made some changes in regard to its cooling over the course of the last few races too, with the cooling outlet beside the rear legs of the halo opened up more than has been the case so far this season.

The solution from Red Bull is novel when compared with the rest of the grid, as whilst everyone else has a section of bodywork outboard of the halo leg that can be exchanged for louvred panels of various sizes, depending on the cooling required, Red Bull has placed its inside of the leg.

The overriding factor here, as always, is aerodynamic, as the introduction of heat in this region can have a bearing on the surrounding flow structures.

When cooling isn’t at a premium, it is able to run with the outlets closed off entirely. For the majority of the season it managed with the smaller outlets seen in the image on the left. And, in some cases, it has only required one of the outlets to be open.

However, in Mexico the team increased the opening on both sides of the car, in order to assist the much larger layout deployed at the rear of the car.

In Qatar an asymmetric layout was favoured once more, with a larger outlet on the right-hand side of the car and the smaller one on the left-hand side.

shares
comments

Related video

Masi insists F1 racing rules have been "made clear" to drivers
Previous article

Masi insists F1 racing rules have been "made clear" to drivers

Next article

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022