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

The F1 upgrades that spurred Mercedes on to a Mugello 1-2

Mercedes made some small but meaningful tweaks to its W11 as Formula 1 raced at Mugello for the first time in the Tuscan Grand Prix, with both the front wing and T-Wing treated to optimisations.

The F1 upgrades that spurred Mercedes on to a Mugello 1-2

The alterations to the front wing centre on the distribution of chord length between the upper two flaps and the design of their tips at the inboard end. On the new version (below), the upper flap now features a more conventional design that arches over the top of the flap to position its tip where the upper of the two tips in the index flap resided.

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail

Mercedes F1 W11 front wing detail

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

To understand how and why Mercedes has split the index flap into two in the first place, we must revisit the changes that were made in the regulations for 2019, whereby only five wing elements may be used. Until now, Mercedes used a small loophole in the regulations that permits some variation at the tip end. The index flap had a small cut in that section to effectively create a sixth section and another tip which could be used to create a vortex that converges with the main Y250 vortex.

The strength of the core Y250 vortex means that altering its makeup has a knock-on effect that can keep adding up to extra performance downstream too, as aerodynamic surfaces such as the bargeboards or floor are able to work a little more effectively.

This is an area of the car that the team has made changes to in previous races, so the new alterations are aimed to further unlock some of the latent potential. So let’s look at what was new in Belgium…

Mercedes F1 W11 bargeboard detail

Mercedes F1 W11 bargeboard detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes made the following changes to their bargeboard cluster and deflector panels at the Belgian GP (above):

  1. The forward-most vertical element in the bargeboard cluster has had its leading edge straightened, which also alters the shape of the first slot in the surface.
  2. A canard on the top edge of the chassis helps drive airflow down, around and through the sidepod, the shape of which was altered to coincide with the changes to the bargeboard cluster below.
  3. The aerodynamic furniture on top of the serrated footplate and the footplate itself were changed
  4. The venetian blind-like deflector panel has been altered to and it reduced the number of slats from five to four.
Mercedes F1 W11 T-wing comparison detail

Mercedes F1 W11 T-wing comparison detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes also made several small changes to the T-Wing for Mugello (above). The thickness of the elements has been increased, including the main load-bearing arched element that protrudes up from the exhaust cover (blue arrow).

A change in the shape of the uppermost element (red arrow) gives the T-Wing a distinct Gull-like look and further demonstrates the difference in approach when it comes to the thickness of the elements in the central section that will also influence the airflow and exhaust plume.


McLaren tests new nose design

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren has been taking a measured approach to adding performance, and on several occasions it has tested new parts but not rushed to keep them on the car. At Mugello it tested a new nose design (above) that it seems likely introduce in upcoming races.

The overall design of the nose is inspired by the one used by Mercedes since 2017, featuring the slender nose shape, something that holds commonality with their current design, a more bulbous tip, narrow wing pillars under the nose and a higher position for the cape, which is its own entity, rather than being paired with the wing pillars.

The intent is to make the nose and cape less sensitive, and give the Y250 vortex more breathing room.


Red Bull gets new floor 

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor comparison

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull made changes to its floor in Mugello with both drivers simultaneously having access to the upgrade. The new design uses twelve fully-enclosed holes angled at approximately 45-degrees to the edge of the floor, rather than four angled holes and two long ones running parallel to the floor’s edge as before.

These holes are used to alter the flow along the floor’s edge, preventing the wake turbulence that’s generated by the front tyre being ingested. It also helps shape the turbulence being created by the rear tyre which can, if left unchecked, be damaging to the performance of the diffuser as airflow is squirted laterally into its path as the tyre deforms.


Renault trials new bargeboards

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 comparison

Renault F1 Team R.S.20 comparison

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Renault arrived in Mugello with a new bargeboard cluster and deflector array (above) to test but didn’t actually race the parts, likely using them in forthcoming races instead, having collected the data they needed to verify they work as anticipated.

The changes to the bargeboard cluster are more obvious at the upper end, as it’s clear to see that the vertical elements are exposed in a different way relative to the boomerang (blue arrow). The changes at the lower end and in the footplate can’t be seen here but the extra slots in the surface of the boomerang are a tell-tale sign that changes have been made, as the slots are needed to maintain legality with anything on the reference plane below.

The upgrade also extended to the deflector panel which saw the team install a new venetian blind-like array to the vertical element (red arrow), rather than having just a single element jut out.

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