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Formula 1 Monaco GP

The Monaco crane lifts that show how Red Bull and Mercedes' F1 floors compare

Crashes for Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez at the Monaco Grand Prix offered a rare glimpse at the secrets of the underside of the Mercedes and Red Bull cars.

Mercedes W14 after a crash

Photo by: Uncredited

As Hamilton’s Mercedes was lifted into the Monaco skyline following his barrier collision at Mirabeau towards the end of FP3, the paddock was treated to a view of the W14’s underfloor, an area of the car that we’re rarely able to see.

The timing of the incident was especially frustrating for Mercedes, with team principal Toto Wolff describing the lift as an act straight out of Cirque du Soleil.

Mercedes debuted a huge raft of changes the weekend in a bid to improve its level of competitiveness following a difficult start to the campaign, with the floor being one of the biggest updates.

In recent years, marshals have diligently lifted stricken cars from the track in a way that makes it difficult for photographers to capture images of the finer floor details.

However, the logistical constraints and challenges unique to Monaco's narrow streets have already allowed us to see the Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull this weekend, as all three have been lifted clear from the track by nearby cranes.

And, while there’s a clamour to see these images, perhaps it’s the infrequency of their appearance that makes them more appealing than what’s actually to be found when they surface.

Nevertheless, the images do offer small pieces of information about the direction that teams have taken with these new regulations, even if we lack a frame of reference from earlier this season.

Comparing the Mercedes floor to the Red Bull, which seems to have one of the most detailed underfloor designs in the field, there appears to be less going on in terms of surface topology.

In particular, Red Bull has been much more eager to contort the floor and floor strakes to micromanage the airflow’s behaviour and pressure distribution.

Marshals remove the damaged car of Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, from the circuit after a crash in Q1

Marshals remove the damaged car of Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, from the circuit after a crash in Q1

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

However, Mercedes has definitely made strides when comparing this year’s design to the underfloor of last year's W13. It has taken design cues from its rivals, such as the jagged keel design, rather than using a teardrop-shaped transition into the crash structure, as had previously been the case.

That helps manage the expansion into the diffuser section, with a view to improving flow stability as the car’s ride height changes.

As with any component on the car, the shots captured on Saturday of the underfloor are just a snapshot in time. The entire car is in a constant state of design flux that could be very different at the next event, with the development of last season's underfloors from Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari a prime example.

Ferrari F1-75 floor development

Ferrari F1-75 floor development

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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