Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

F1 technical update: Mercedes, Red Bull & Renault

In the ongoing development war between Formula 1’s teams, keep up to date with what’s new with our regular technical updates. Today, let’s look at three outfits at the Austrian GP – Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Renault.

F1 technical update: Mercedes, Red Bull & Renault

MERCEDES

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Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing comparison
Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing comparison
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Here we see alterations to the rear wing, with a revised endplate. The trio of hanging strakes are now longer than their predecessors in order to pick up and manage the airflow they receive sooner than before. This builds on the change in design they made for 2020, where the first element is no longer just a simple vertical element, instead it also features a longitudinal tail that reaches back across the two other elements.
Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing detail
Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing detail
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It also used a single pillar rear wing design that merged with the central DRS pod. This is a design that’s a trade off between weight and aerodynamic freedoms. It’s using what’s known as an inverted Y-Lon, as the single pillar wraps around the exhaust, rather than going through it, as they have in the past when using a single pillar. Note that the structure beneath the carbon fairing is not a completely solid item – it’s been manufactured in a way that removes as much weight as possible without leading to fatigue.
Mercedes F1 W11 fin detail with comparison
Mercedes F1 W11 fin detail with comparison
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

The team made changes to fins mounted on the side of the chassis (red arrow). They’re not only larger but also mounted higher. They have much more curvature, as the designers look to propagate a flow structure that will improve the airflow's path towards the sidepod.
Mercedes W11 comparison
Mercedes W11 comparison
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Just behind this, and perhaps taking advantage of a cleaner flow to them, it has also altered the shape of the wing mirror stalks, changing them from a curved element to ones that are squared off instead.
Mercedes F1 W11 cooling detail
Mercedes F1 W11 cooling detail
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

This maximum heat-extraction arrangement features a large louvred panel beside the cockpit, accompanied by a different engine cover panel behind, which creates an opening in the panel gaps. This panel gap solution is not strictly a new idea, but the contours used certainly are, as they create two airflow channels. The contours are designed to alter the trajectory of the heat that’s escaping, rather than just releasing it to mix with the flow over the sidepod. The team opted not to run the panel gap cooling outlet for the race.

RED BULL

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Red Bull Racing RB16 front wing Austrian GP
Red Bull Racing RB16 front wing Austrian GP
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull trialled an upgrade package at Silverstone but only had enough parts to outfit Verstappen’s car with the new nose and floor. The nose (inset) is a development of the narrow-vented solution it’s been running for a number of years now, with the front wing pillars, usually mounted on the side of the structure, moved closer together and mounted on the underside – much like the Mercedes design. This has allowed the channels beside the vented nose tip to be shaped more smoothly, whilst the additional vent atop the nose tip now has just one opening rather than two.
Red Bull Racing RB16 floor
Red Bull Racing RB16 floor
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull’s new floor has rows of fins placed at intervals that coincide with where the aerodynamicists believe the airflow structures need to be helped along. Their combination with the slots helps to create a stronger flow structure that increases the power of the ‘seal’ created at the floor’s edge, which should improve the car's balance and increase downforce further still.

RENAULT

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Renault F1 Team R.S.20 front wing comparison Australian GP and Austrian GP
Renault F1 Team R.S.20 front wing comparison Australian GP and Austrian GP
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The front wing featured numerous changes, most of which focus on improving the operation of the outboard performance of the front wing. A revised footplate shape alters the airflow's vorticity, which combined with the new vane mounted on top of it, helps to pull the airflow across and around the front tyre. The outwardly angled kink in the endplate has also been altered to take into account the changes to the footplate and the notch added in the upper rear corner. The point where the flap meets the endplate has also been adjusted in accordance with the lost real estate that it would ordinarily connect to.
Renault F1 Team R.S.20 bargeboard
Renault F1 Team R.S.20 bargeboard
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The bargeboard is an extremely complex and sensitive region of the car, as it is a meeting point for numerous flow structures. The first main vertical element of the bargeboards has been altered in shape, whilst a cluster of mushroom-like fins have been added on top of the footplate, as designers look to tease the airflow into following a different path. On the outermost section of the assembly, a trio of fins help to manipulate the airflow as the wake and flow structures collide.
Renault F1 Team R.S.20
Renault F1 Team R.S.20
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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

An interesting aside is that the team used an asymmetric cooling outlet at the rear of the car in Austria, with a larger opening on the left side of the car. The diffuser also saw some alterations in the outer corner, with an additional slot added to the uppermost of the perforated Gurney-style flaps, while the shape of the main outer profile was altered too.
Renault F1 Team floor detail
Renault F1 Team floor detail
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Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The floor has also been altered to take advantage of all of the revisions ahead of it, with several fins added alongside the sidepod undercut to help redirect the airflow. The fully-enclosed holes that run parallel to the floors edge have also been altered. These holes help to create a flow structure that ‘seals’ the edge of the floor, otherwise the wake turbulence created by the front tyre would be ingested and reduce downforce.

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