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The low-drag F1 wing that helped Red Bull top Bahrain GP speed traps

While there was a growing consensus in the Formula 1 paddock last weekend that Ferrari had produced the best engine, it was actually Red Bull that topped the speed traps in Bahrain.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Erik Junius

That feat was helped by a revised rear wing configuration brought to Sakhir, which produced less downforce (and therefore drag) than the team had run before.

Pictured below, the design featured a more defined spoon shape, with a less abrupt rolling of the endplate juncture.

Red Bull RB18 rear wing comparison

Red Bull RB18 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

It is much more akin to the designs presented by F1 ahead of the arrival of the new cars. The redesign is not limited to just the main plane though, as the shape, chord and camber of the upper flap is clearly different too.

It’s also worth noting the trade-off that occurs in the upper corner of the rolled tip between the two downforce configurations, with a much shallower angle deployed on the design raced by the team.

Meanwhile, the central V-shaped cutout is also less abrupt as there’s less work for it to do in the race trim configuration.


Alpine's new sidepods

Red Bull was not the only team making aero tweaks since the Bahrain test, with Alpine making one of the biggest visual changes.

It introduced a revised sidepod package that not only tightened up the rear end of the A522 but significantly altered the car's aerodynamic outlook.

Building on the package the team used during preseason testing, which features a downwashing ramp solution, the bodywork now features a more distinct outer ridge, which can be seen in the side profile and highlighted by the addition of a green line.

However, as seen in the forward projection, this ridge is a mechanism created by the sidepod body being pulled in closer to the centreline, while the downwashing ramp section is also now a little steeper too.

Alpine A522 sidepod comparison

Alpine A522 sidepod comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The team is hoping to provide a cleaner route for airflow towards the coke bottle region but the ridge being set more inboard also means the sidepod tapers in more too. This will have an impact on several other surrounding flow structures and likely alter the pressure distribution on the rear tyre.

The introduction of the new package didn’t go entirely to plan though, as while both drivers were initially fitted with the bodywork, Ocon’s disintegrated during FP1, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the car.

Without the necessary spares on site, the Frenchman was forced to use the older specification parts for the rest of the race weekend.

Interestingly, while the cooling louvres in the upper surface of the sidepod were opened up on the left-hand side of Alonso’s car (pictured), it was the opposite on Ocon’s car, with louvres used on the right-hand side of the car.


Small Aston aero tweaks spotted

Aston Martin AMR22 Comparison

Aston Martin AMR22 Comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Aston Martin also made a change to its sidepods, albeit a relatively small change, with the corner radius of the lower outer corner of the inlet increased (red arrow).

The change didn’t require a whole new section of bodywork to be flown in though, as the section was simply cut away and a new piece patched in.

The alteration has an impact on the quality and quantity of airflow into the inlet but it also reshapes the outer bodywork too.

The team also mounted a new set of winglets on the halo, which have a very steep inclination in order to correct the airflow’s direction, sweeping it down over the upper surface of the sidepod.

Aston Marting Racing AMR22 detail

Aston Marting Racing AMR22 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola


Red Bull gives you springs

Interestingly, several teams have introduced sprung devices between the chassis and the bib this season in order to help stabilise it when it collides with the track. This also helps limit the wear this inflicts on the plank.

These devices go above and beyond the more basic thin metal stays that we’ve seen teams use in the past, suggesting that these teams understood the challenge at hand in regards to how much the bib and plank come into contact with the track surface.

Of course, the overall stance of the car is very different to what has been seen in recent F1 history, with the nose down, highly raked attitude, traded in for a much flatter posture.

With teams looking to set their cars up as stiff as possible, while also lowering the car as close to the track as they dare in order to maximise the performance of the underfloor tunnels and diffuser, there was always going to be an initial phase in the development cycle whereby teams would look for ways to extract more performance without compromising the ride.

Ferrari and Red Bull are among the handful of teams that have these sprung devices, albeit they’ve all opted for different springing mechanisms. Ferrari has a damper-like arrangement, while Red Bull has opted for a Belleville spring setup.

 

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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