Mercedes has applied a novel feature that differently connects the endplate of the rear wing and the upper flap’s tip section. This approach aims to effectively manipulate the airflow around this region of the vehicle.
This strategy is a response to efforts made by teams to mitigate the effects of alterations made by the FIA. The intent behind these changes was to lessen the wake turbulence produced by the cars, thereby enhancing their capacity to trail each other more closely.
The FIA sought to discourage or at least minimize the aerodynamic subterfuges that have been prevalent in the recent regulatory periods. This was prompted by the understanding that the vortex emanating from this region is exceptionally potent. Teams had devoted a substantial amount of resources to customizing its performance to both minimize drag and augment downforce.
Given the understanding of how much performance this rear wing area can contribute, and the resultant implications on the design’s other aspects, teams were unlikely to passively disregard this potential gain in lap time.
This understanding has led to various design variations of the endplate, the tip section, and the flap juncture. The latest rendition separates the tip section from the endplate, introducing a metal support inward of the outer surface curvature.
The concept was initially unveiled at the Monaco Grand Prix. It appeared simultaneously on the Alpine A523 and Aston Martin AMR23, albeit with slight differences in application by the teams.
Interestingly, these variations have given birth to two separate development trajectories. Aston Martin established one path, which Mercedes has followed, while Alpine spearheaded another that AlphaTauri has adopted.
In the case of Aston Martin and Mercedes, the technique still involves a metal insert resting on the endplate’s shoulder, creating a rounder section for the lower half of the tip section, while the upper half expands and allows a larger rear cutout.
Conversely, the method employed by Alpine and AlphaTauri situates the metal support further inboard, rendering the tip section a flatter, horizontal extension of the upper flap. This not only enlarges the rear cutout but also introduces an additional shedding surface.
As it might be simpler to visualize the wing operation in a closed position, it’s also necessary to consider the performance of DRS and how this emerging design trend may influence its behavior.
It remains to be seen whether other teams will adopt this design concept in the season’s latter half and which, if any, of the two versions will be viewed as superior.
Aside from the rear wing redesigns, Mercedes and AlphaTauri had additional strategies up their sleeves at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mercedes debuted a modified front wing diveplane and front wishbone fairing. These changes can be seen as optimization efforts for the new features recently added to the W14, including a new front suspension configuration introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix that has since yielded further aerodynamic benefits.
The upper wishbone’s lead arm was moved to a higher position on the chassis as part of that upgrade package, and the fairing has now been altered and a bend included to better direct the downstream airflow.
Mercedes also debuted an updated front wing endplate design at the British Grand Prix, featuring a curved leading edge and a more outwardly angled profile.
To complement the new airflow conditions created by these changes, a new diveplane design was introduced at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is shorter and more steeply angled than its predecessor.
On the other hand, AlphaTauri elevated the central section of its front wing and nose, while changing the spanwise load distribution of the flaps at the Hungarian Grand Prix, aiming to enhance the car’s balance and offer downstream aerodynamic assistance.
AlphaTauri supplemented these changes by modifying the central section of the floor, a feature tucked away out of sight but one that has attracted attention from many competitors.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 Aerodynamic Design
What recent changes has Mercedes made to their F1 car?
Mercedes has adopted a new design feature for the rear wing of their F1 car, which differently connects the endplate and the upper flap’s tip section. The purpose of this change is to manipulate the airflow around this area more effectively. Mercedes also introduced a modified front wing diveplane and front wishbone fairing for optimization.
Why were these changes in the rear wing design necessary?
The modifications were a response to efforts made by teams to mitigate the effects of alterations made by the FIA. The intent behind these changes was to lessen the wake turbulence produced by the cars, thereby enhancing their capacity to trail each other more closely.
What approach did Mercedes and Aston Martin take with the new rear wing design?
The technique for Mercedes and Aston Martin still involves a metal insert resting on the endplate’s shoulder. This creates a rounder section for the lower half of the tip section, while the upper half expands and allows for a larger rear cutout.
How does the approach by Alpine and AlphaTauri differ from Mercedes and Aston Martin’s?
The method employed by Alpine and AlphaTauri situates the metal support further inboard, rendering the tip section a flatter, horizontal extension of the upper flap. This not only enlarges the rear cutout but also introduces an additional shedding surface.
What front wing optimizations were introduced by Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix?
Mercedes introduced a revised front wing diveplane and front wishbone fairing, aimed at optimizing the new features that have been added to the W14. The upper wishbone’s lead arm was moved to a higher position on the chassis, and the fairing was modified to better direct the downstream airflow. In addition, a new diveplane design was debuted, which is shorter and more steeply angled than its predecessor.