Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
FP1 in
15 days
09 May
Next event in
21 days
23 May
Race in
38 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
52 days
13 Jun
Race in
59 days
27 Jun
Race in
73 days
04 Jul
Next event in
77 days
18 Jul
Race in
94 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
108 days
29 Aug
Race in
136 days
05 Sep
Race in
143 days
26 Sep
Race in
164 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
168 days
10 Oct
Race in
178 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
192 days
31 Oct
Race in
199 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
220 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
241 days

Why indecision dogged teams in attacking the Sakhir GP

The Sakhir Grand Prix was not the first time that Formula 1 teams have experienced back-to-back races at the same venue, but it was the first time that they had run on a different track layout.

Why indecision dogged teams in attacking the Sakhir GP

The switch to the short outer loop delivered a multitude of challenges, as the removal of the inner section of the traditional grand prix layout meant fewer high speed corners and more straightline action.

This had a significant bearing on the aerodynamic solutions used by each team, with a trade-off sought for the high speed first and third sectors over the more downforce dependent second sector that was characterised by the chicane.

But there was no clear answer as to whether the track would require more focus on the straightline speed aspect, or it was worth piling on a bit of downforce for the middle sector.

Teams and drivers took to the circuit with different aerodynamic configurations during free practice as they evaluated the challenges of each sector and resolved that against the performance of the tyres.

The bumpier, twistier second sector offered some respite from what would otherwise be considered a low downforce circuit, and made mechanical and aerodynamic set-up changes pivotal in terms of performance.

As seen in the main image above, Racing Point initially opted for its spoon-shaped rear wing during FP1 and FP2, as it hoped that the configuration, last seen at the 70th Anniversary race at Silverstone, would offer the best compromise between downforce and drag.

However, having seen some of its close rivals try lower downforce arrangements on Friday, the Silverstone team experimented in FP3 with its own low downforce offering, akin to the one used at Monza.

Racing Point

Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20

Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

But after the experiments in the final practice session, it felt that the spoon-shaped rear wing was a much better solution and it shifted back to it for qualifying and the race.

Racing Point also paired the spoon-shaped rear wing elements with the updated endplate design raced since the Tuscan GP. This design follows the same design lineage of the Mercedes it was originally inspired by. (The old specification, as ran at the 70th Anniversary GP, is inset in main image).

Racing Point was not the only one looking at its downforce options for this race though, with most of the midfield runners paying particular attention to the difference of a medium downforce set-up compared with that of a low downforce set-up.

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ferrari did back-to-back tests with both drivers trialling different downforce levels. Here it has a low downforce rear wing paired with a double element T-Wing, whilst the front wing is a specification that's not been used on the SF1000 for several races.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Both drivers switched to the front wing specification that's been used for the last few races with the upper flap cut down and a spoon-shaped rear wing, albeit without the T-wing.

McLaren

Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35

Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren trialled a more conventional lower downforce rear wing during free practice before switching to the spoon-shaped rear wing.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

McLaren's spoon-shaped rear wing features a more abrupt curvature between the two heights of the mainplane than some of its counterparts.

Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alfa Romeo was also toying with the level of downforce it should run around the outer loop circuit configuration. Kimi Raikkonen stuck to his guns early-on, though, opting for this more conventional layout, albeit with much taller rear wing pillars.

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear wing pillar detail comparison

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear wing pillar detail comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It's a solution that we've seen at various times during the season with the pillars offering a different DRS effect.

Sparks kick up from Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Sparks kick up from Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The spoon-shaped rear wing that Antonio Giovinazzi trialled during free practice, but later abandoned, produces more downforce in the deeper central section. However, the shallower outer section results in the strength of the tip vortex being reduced and so too the drag created.

Renault

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.20

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.20

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Meanwhile, over at Renault, a team that has constantly run less downforce than its rivals this season, Ricciardo spent time during free practice assessing whether he could get away with using a wing level akin to what we'd usually see at Monza. Note also, that in this configuration, the endplates are much more simplified too.

Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team R.S.20

Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team R.S.20

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The other option for Renault was still pretty low downforce when compared with some of its rivals but did feature their regular endplate design.

Cool runnings

Another important aspect of the team's set-up at any track is the amount of cooling capacity they have on the car, as not only does this have an impact on the power unit's performance it can also influence the car's aerodynamics.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11 rear detail
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 rear detail

During free practice, Mercedes ran its car with different cooling configurations, as it tasked Valtteri Bottas with collecting some important information ahead of 2021, whilst also getting Russell comfortable in the car.

It's understood that the team will use its development tokens on this area of the car for next season, with the team anticipating an improvement from its new power unit that will result in it being able to use smaller radiators and tighten the bodywork even more than it has this year.

Being able to run the power unit with less cooling capacity is a big win from an aerodynamic point of view too, as it can result in less drag and as a consequence other aspects of the car can be optimised.

Mercedes W11 radiator detail
Mercedes AMG W11 front

The tests conducted by Bottas were with the higher waisted configuration that both cars were eventually fitted with for the race, just as they were for the Bahrain GP.

Meanwhile, the rear wing with a double central mounting pillar that Bottas tested was cast aside for the single pillar arrangement seen on George Russell's car. This also meant that the team paired the single pillar rear wing with its gull-like T-Wing design ahead of it for the first time too.

It's also worth noting that just like it did at Portimao, Mercedes ran Bottas' car during FP1 without DAS in preparation for 2021 when it won't be able to use the system at all.

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear detail
Red Bull Racing RB16 rear detail

Red Bull continue to put resources into the end of its 2020 campaign too, although the tests it did during free practice at the Sakhir Grand Prix likely had more to do with 2021 than this year.

Both drivers trialled a new rear wing configuration during free practice that featured just a single mounting pillar, rather than the two pillars that it has run so far this season.

This change comes off the back of the team's movement of its wastegates from a more elevated position, to what's considered a more conventional placement just above the crash structure.

Both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon reverted to the double pillar configuration for qualifying and the race.

shares
comments

Related video

McLaren: Safety car hurt "on the hunt” Sainz

Previous article

McLaren: Safety car hurt "on the hunt” Sainz

Next article

How Mercedes ambition produced the fastest F1 car ever

How Mercedes ambition produced the fastest F1 car ever
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Giorgio Piola
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Prime

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is no guarantee.

The themes to watch in F1's Imola return Prime

The themes to watch in F1's Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Prime

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. Ben Anderson looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Prime

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Prime

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle.

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021