Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

How a McLaren idea helped Ferrari and Mercedes

McLaren’s design team has no shortage of great ideas, a claim substantiated by the frequency at which its concepts can be found on other cars up and down the grid.

Listen to this article

But while imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, it will come as scant consolation for the Woking-based outfit as it has failed to get the most out of an idea this year that title rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have been able to properly exploit.

McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes rear wing comparison

McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes rear wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

One of the best ideas that McLaren came up with has been a straked wing solution that it first used back in 2017 (left), and has its roots in a test item we saw the team deploy at the Austrian GP in 2016.

The team’s designers seized upon an opportunity to improve the amount of downforce that could be generated by the rear wing, as they had noticed a vagary in the way the regulations had been written.

The rules essentially offer a ‘box region’ in which the narrow bottom half of the wing transitions into the wider upper section – but it was not clearly defined whether or not overlapping bodywork was allowed.

This ambiguity led to the use of the strakes on the upper outer edge of the wing, which technically sit in a region where the transition should occur.

These strakes drive the airflow harder and look to increase the wing’s aspect ratio, which should result in a need to run comparatively less wing angle. The strakes also create a vortical structure that affects the formation of the tip vortex above.

Mercedes and more recently Ferrari have taken advantage of the gains that this new endplate design offer – having added it to their cars this year. Mercedes first ran it in Austria, while Ferrari followed suit in Singapore.

The use of this wing has been limited to higher downforce circuits, with Mercedes introducing a special iteration of the design to help counter the issues it has previously faced in Singapore.

It’s pretty clear to see that the lead duo hold the concept in a high regard when it comes to the higher downforce circuits, as the slots help to artificially increase the wings’ aspect ratio and create an airflow structure that also alters the tip vortex above.

Mercedes AMG F1 W09 rear wing comparsion, Singapore GP

Mercedes AMG F1 W09 rear wing comparsion, Singapore GP

Photo by: Gorgio Piola

The Mercedes design features a much taller slot on the rearward most strake (highlighted in yellow) and also resulted in the deletion of the upwash strikes that usually occupy that space.

Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18 rear wing detail

Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Conversely Renault, another to adopt a similar design, has run the straked endplates at low downforce circuits too, hinting at the aerodynamic void between the leading duo and the two Renault powered teams, as they suffer more drag to gain apex speed.

McLaren MCL33 vs MCL32 rear wing endplates

McLaren MCL33 vs MCL32 rear wing endplates

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

But while others have copied the McLaren idea, the Woking-based has actually moved away from the concept as part of its bid to improve straightline speed.

The Russian GP was the first time this year it ran a more conventional set of endplates

It can also be considered a sighter for next year too as, whilst the wording in the regulations have permitted this practice for the last two seasons, it’s an avenue that’s expected to be closed off for 2019.

shares
comments
Revitalised Force India re-signs Perez for 2019
Previous article

Revitalised Force India re-signs Perez for 2019

Next article

Hamilton: Schumacher will "100%" make it to F1

Hamilton: Schumacher will "100%" make it to F1
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Prime

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Prime

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing.

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Prime

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Prime

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Prime

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? Luke Smith asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Prime

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Prime

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Prime

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023