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Saudi Arabian GP tech: F1 teams unveil low drag solutions

The long straights and high-speed nature of Saudi Arabia’s Formula 1 track provides the perfect opportunity for teams to unveil low drag ideas.

Ferrari SF-23 front wing comparison

Ferrari SF-23 front wing comparison

Uncredited

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.

Ferrari duly delivered a series of tweaks to its SF-23 F1 car, not only in order to tackle the specific challenges of the circuit but also as part of its ongoing quest to find more performance. 

This started with the front wing which had detailed changes in two areas. First, the upper flap was trimmed back to help reduce downforce and drag, which will balance out similar reductions made with its rear wing. 

Plus, there was also a significant change made to the flap and endplate juncture (red arrow).  There’s now a C-shaped cut-out here, similar to the solution that we’ve seen other teams already pursue this season as they look for ways to recover some of the outwash effect that the regulations are trying to prevent. 

Ferrari’s solution is likely a quick workaround to improve matters, while a more solid solution is worked on for the upcoming races, given it’s only the rearmost flap that’s been modified. 

As a comparison, others have more extensively incorporated the remainder of the flaps and endplate in their design. 

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Jon Noble

There’s also some changes to the floor’s edge, as the forward cut-out and raised rear section have been refined to help improve the airflow’s passage, while also enhancing the performance of the underfloor. 

Ferrari SF-23, new rear wing
Ferrari SF-23 beam wing

The lower downforce and single pillared rear wing that Ferrari tested during practice in Bahrain also returned, along with a depowered beam wing arrangement, to help reduce downforce and drag further still. 

Red Bull has introduced another rear wing into its suite of options for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which isn’t massively different in terms of its appearance and isn’t right at the low downforce end of the scale either.  

Instead, it’s a balanced shift towards that lower end of the spectrum that will still provide enough support in the corners when required, but also produce less drag than its counterpart that was used in Bahrain. 

Red Bull RB19 rear wing

Red Bull RB19 rear wing

Photo by: Uncredited

Similarly, the beam wing has been backed off a little too, in order that it works in conjunction with the rear wing to deliver the right level of performance. 

Mercedes has made a small change to the camber of the outer floor fence when compared with Bahrain, a subtle alteration but one that the team hopes will improve the airflow's passage to the underfloor and diffuser.  

Mercedes W14 floor fence
Mercedes W14 rear wing specs

Meanwhile, the rear wing has been modified to better suit the high-speed characteristics of the Jeddah circuit, with the upper flap’s trailing edge trimmed back in the central section (blue arrow), while the endplate cut-out panel has also been changed to incorporate a full span section. 

This is a design solution that first appeared on the Alpine in Saudi Arabia last season and Mercedes subsequently introduced its own version when arriving at lower downforce venues.  

In this instance, the team also has another option at its disposal (inset, red arrow) whereby the trailing edge of the tip section is also trimmed back. 

Aston Martin is looking to follow-up on its impressive start to the season and has modified both its front and rear wings in order to cater for the challenges posed by the Jeddah circuit.  

In both instances the trailing edge of the upper flaps have been trimmed in order to reduce downforce and drag, while balancing those changes front-to-rear. In line with the changes to the rear wing, there’s also modifications to the beam wing layout, with a reduced angle of incidence employed, alongside an adjustment to their chord length. 

Aston Martin AMR23 detail

Aston Martin AMR23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

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