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How Red Bull keeps improving its RB19 F1 car

Red Bull may be clear at the front of Formula 1, but that hasn't stopped the team from pressing on in an effort to extend its advantage.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

And while its rivals search for ways to close the performance gap, Red Bull is not sitting still because it continues to work on the progress it made from last year's dominant RB18.

Building on the foundations laid down when creating its 2022 challenger, and dealing with fresh complexities thrown up by new floor regulations, Red Bull has focused on some key areas where it feels performance gains can be made.

One of the major differences between last year's challenger and the RB19 is the position of the front suspension, as the team has subtly modified the assembly to improve various facets.

Red Bull Racing wheelbase comparison (Anti-dive, inset)

Red Bull Racing wheelbase comparison (Anti-dive, inset)

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull, contrary to a large proportion of the field, opted for a pull-rod front suspension layout for the new generation of cars, while at the rear it returned to a push-rod layout.

This was something we had not seen from it since 2008, with the team pivotal in a wholesale shift by the grid to pull-rod from 2009 until the end of the previous era of regulations.

As always, these are decisions that are driven by the prevailing rules and a team's interpretation of how best to handle the different variations based on global car performance.

While the mechanical performance of the suspension is clearly still a dominant factor in the decisions being made, there is always going to be a trade-off sought with how that impacts the car's aerodynamic performance.

Most of the field has opted for a similar upper wishbone layout to Red Bull with these new regulations (inset), with the lead arm mounted high on the chassis, while the trailing arm is slung lower.

However, Red Bull does have one of the more extreme examples. This not only helps from a mechanical point of view, in order to reduce dive under braking, but it also has aerodynamic benefits, given the airflow is redirected to a more desirable location, under and around the sidepods.

The wishbone fairings obviously provide an aerodynamic benefit here, as they are tailored to further improve their flow characteristics. This is something that other teams have tried to build upon, with Mercedes and Alfa Romeo both fielding chassis blisters to further enhance the effect.

Alfa Romeo C43 front suspension comparison

Alfa Romeo C43 front suspension comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

That said, Red Bull has clearly realised that the position of its front axle relative to the rest of the aerodynamic surfaces was suboptimal in 2022, with the team shifting the entire assembly forward this season.

Obviously, this has a mechanical impact, not only from a direct suspension point of view but also in how the tyres behave.

Meanwhile, from an aerodynamic perspective, the shift in the axle line alters the behaviour of the turbulent wake being generated by the wheel assembly, which results in the team being able to make both macro and micro changes to the aerodynamic surfaces both up and downstream of the assembly in order to extract even more performance.

Red Bull Racing RB19 endplate detail
Red Bull RB19 front wing comparison (Arrowed)

In that respect, its update push began properly in Australia as it modified the design of its front wing endplate and the associated architecture, in order to alter the flow around the front corner of the car.

The endplate is now more cambered across the top and middle section, which presents more of the dive plane to the oncoming flow (right image, white arrows). This should improve the outwash effect too, which is likely why the team made adjustments to the inner flapped portion of the wing.

In order for this trade-off to work, the new flaps, which are the two uppermost elements of the wing, are different across the middle of their span (yellow line, above, right image).

There is more chord presented at the inboard end, whilst there's more camber all the way to the outboard adjuster (note the crease and shade line in the upper flap).

Red Bull Racing RB19 side pods comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Red Bull Racing RB19 side pods comparison, Azerbaijan GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull swiftly followed this up with a significant change to its sidepod inlet design in Azerbaijan, with the inlet reduced in height to increase the size of the undercut but widened in order to maintain cooling capacity.

As a consequence of the bodywork being widened around the inlet, the rest of the sidepod's geometry was subtly tweaked. This takes advantage of the additional space afforded to the undercut to improve both the physical interaction with the floor and their aerodynamic kinship.

In order to fully complement the changes made to the sidepod, attention was also paid to the geometry of the floor's edge and the aerodynamic furniture that is mounted upon it, all of which were re-crafted to increase their performance in line with the other changes.

To further capitalise on those efforts, there was a change made to the outer floor fence, with the top edge gently massaged in order to better align the local airflow and take advantage of the changes made downstream.

Red Bull Racing RB19 floor detail

Red Bull Racing RB19 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

As the other teams look to make up ground on Red Bull, they will hope that the sliding scale of resources available to each team based on their championship position and the resultant penalty given to it for breaching the cost cap rules stems the pace at which the RB19 can be further improved.

Red Bull itself will be hoping that, by the time that happens, the world titles will be pretty much in the bag.

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