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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

The floor changes defining F1’s best-of-rest battle

While the identity of Formula 1’s top four teams seems pretty settled right now, things are far more open behind Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes.

McLaren MCL60 detail

So, it’s no wonder that both McLaren and Alpine, who are vying for honours at the head of the chasing pack, are pushing on hard with car developments

Both teams brought similarly sized upgrades to Azerbaijan, which appear to have improved the overall performance of their cars relative to the rest.

As part of both update packages, there were changes made to the design of their floors, with a significant amount of work being done on the underside of the floor to help improve flow through the tunnels and to maximise the work being done by the diffuser.

And whilst this area is hidden away out of sight, we can still appreciate how the changes visible on the top surfaces can have an impact below.

McLaren MCL60 floor comparison

McLaren MCL60 floor comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

In McLaren’s case, the alterations being made might at first appear to be isolated to the floor edge and edge wing, but definition and contour changes been made to the entire surface of the floor.

This includes the height of the forward floor blister (red arrow), which will have a direct influence over the shape of the tunnel and strakes beneath.

Meanwhile, the section of floor that encloses the lower side impact spar has also been modified, with a crescent-shaped blister shrink wrapped around the safety structure to tighten the floor’s bodywork (green arrow).

At the rear of the floor, it’s clear to see that the interface between the sidepod and ramped kickup has also been recharacterized in order to take advantage of the changes that have been made upstream (purple arrow).

The elongated edge wing has also been ditched, in favour of a shorter variant that still includes the scrolled section (blue arrow). The three vanes that had been used here previously are retained but are reshaped and reorientated to better manage the airflow’s passage.

Ahead of the rear tyre, the floor cut-out has been retained and a small horizontal fin now protrudes from it (white arrow), which is a design feature we’ve seen others deploy under these new regulations, as it can help to adjust the airflow’s passage before reaching the rear tyre.

As a consequence, the rear portion of the floor has also been modified to make better use of the new flow structures generated ahead of it.

Alpine A523 floor comparison

Alpine A523 floor comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The changes made by Alpine are not as extensive but could be just as rewarding from a performance standpoint, given they are optimisations of the design language that was already present in the old specification.

The midway flap that’s created by the two cut-outs either side of it now has the leading-edge curl facing down toward the ground, rather than away from it, whilst the surface geometry of the flap has also been adjusted besides.

Thereafter the floor has been contoured slightly differently in order to take advantage of the alterations ahead of it (green arrow) and further modify the flow structures received by the floor cut-out, horizontal blade fin and floor spat region, which has also taken on a new form too (blue arrow).

Red Bull Racing RB19 side pods comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Red Bull Racing RB19 side pods comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull also deployed a new floor in Azerbaijan as it modified its design in order to take advantage of revisions made to the RB19’s sidepod.

The sidepod redesign centred around the size of the inlet, with the aperture widened but reduced in height in order to both improve cooling efficiency whilst increasing the size of the undercut to reap the aerodynamic rewards that’s on offer for doing so.

The outer fence has been reprofiled (highlighted in yellow) with the upper front corner shape altered, whilst the first step in the drop off has been increased.

Meanwhile, the depth of the scroll on the floor’s edge was increased (red arrow) which has resulted in the support brackets having to be moved around too (blue arrow).

The chord of the floor edge wing has also been increased (yellow arrows) to better help support the aerodynamic effect that the designers are striving for.

Red Bull RB19 Floor fence and floor edge comparison

Red Bull RB19 Floor fence and floor edge comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

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