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

The unique wing ideas that Monza’s F1 challenge throws up

The challenge of the Monza circuit represents something very different for Formula 1 teams, as minimising drag is the name of the game over maximising downforce.

The unique wing ideas that Monza’s F1 challenge throws up

This usually requires a rear wing design that will be rolled out just once in a season. It’s also meant that we’ve seen some pretty peculiar interpretations down the years, along with some extreme skinny looking setups.

Here we take a look at some of the solutions used in more recent years, and some of the designs that we can expect to see mounted by the teams this weekend.

Mercedes AMG W11 rear wing comparison
Mercedes AMG W11 rear wing comparison
1/16

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Mercedes has followed a similar formula this season as it did last, so expect to see something akin to what was run on the W11 at Monza last season.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
2/16

Photo by: Erik Junius

Red Bull might have already shown its hand for Monza this year, as it wheeled out this very low downforce wing during FP3 at Spa, before thinking twice and installing its higher downforce version for qualifying.
Red Bull Racing RB15 rear wing comparsion
Red Bull Racing RB15 rear wing comparsion
3/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It follows the tactic deployed by the team in 2019, with both wings following a similar design path, albeit with a shallower angle of attack and a revised DRS pod.
Ferrari SF90 front wing
Ferrari SF90 front wing
4/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In order to balance the downforce front-to-rear, we often see teams take a slice out the trailing edge of their front wing’s upper flap, rather than designing an all-new part.
Haas VF-17 rear wing, Italian GP
Haas VF-17 rear wing, Italian GP
5/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas implemented a centrally bowed mainplane design when it visited Monza in 2017.
Haas VF-16 rear wing, Italian GP
Haas VF-16 rear wing, Italian GP
6/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It had a much more interesting interpretation for its rear wing design when it visited Monza in 2016 though, as the narrower wing assembly meant it tried a waved design for its mainplane.
Mercedes W05 rear wing
Mercedes W05 rear wing
7/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The 2014 regulations undoubtedly slowed down the cars, not only because the teams and manufacturers had to get used to the characteristics of the all-new power units and additional weight they carried, they also had to deal with the implications of a dramatic overhaul in the aerodynamic regulations.

As we can see here, whilst it still had ground to make up in terms of recovering downforce, it also had a lower downforce option for Monza with two large V grooves cut into the top flaps trailing edge (lower right).
Red Bull RB9 rear wing, Vettel's car
Red Bull RB9 rear wing, Vettel's car
8/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull had dominated the years before F1 moved to the hybrid power unit regulations, not only through its use of the Renault engine but also its superior grasp on the aerodynamic regulations.

This allowed the team to run a very low downforce arrangement for Monza in 2013, featuring a rear wing with no endplate louvres and a DRS actuator pod that sat right on top of the mainplane, rather than being mounted slightly above it.
Red Bull RB9 front wing, Italian GP
Red Bull RB9 front wing, Italian GP
9/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In order to balance that out, at the front of the car, the team removed the outer cascade elements that usually adorned its front wing and took a significant slice out of the upper flap too.
Mercedes W03 rear wing double DRS
Mercedes W03 rear wing double DRS
10/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Not Monza specific but worth revisiting was Mercedes’ double-DRS from 2012, which used pipework housed within the car to ‘stall’ the front wing when the movement of the DRS flap exposed a hole in the rear wing endplate.
McLaren MP4-25 rear wing endplate louvres conjoined with flaps
McLaren MP4-25 rear wing endplate louvres conjoined with flaps
11/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The 2010 season gave us the F-Duct and, whilst Jenson Button ran the device on his McLaren for Monza, Lewis Hamilton’s MP4-25 was fitted with a low downforce alternative.
Brawn BGP 001 2009 Monza rear wing comparison
Brawn BGP 001 2009 Monza rear wing comparison
12/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The 2009 regulation change really stripped back the aerodynamic complexity that had grown up around the cars in the preceding years. Whilst the teams looked for ways to recover that downforce, they still needed ways to reduce it and the drag induced for Monza.

Here we can see the difference between a normal and low downforce arrangement on the BrawnGP BGP001.
BMW Sauber F1.09 2009 Monza rear wing
BMW Sauber F1.09 2009 Monza rear wing
13/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A very shallow wing selection of the BMW Sauber F1.09 was utilised, as it looked to boost straightline performance.
Toyota TF109 2009 Monza rear wing
Toyota TF109 2009 Monza rear wing
14/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Toyota, meanwhile, looked to maintain some downforce by running a spoon-shaped rear wing on the TF109, albeit with much less wing than it had taken at the Belgian GP with a similar arrangement.
Honda RA108 2008 Monza rear wing
Honda RA108 2008 Monza rear wing
15/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Aerodynamic complexity really peaked in 2008, before the sport changed the rules and outlawed many of the devices being used the following year. However, teams still took downforce and drag reduction seriously for Monza, as we can see here with Honda’s low downforce rear wing.
McLaren MP4-22 2007 Monza rear wing
McLaren MP4-22 2007 Monza rear wing
16/16

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren’s MP4-22 featured a single element low downforce rear wing that had almost no angle of attack either, and just a small Gurney flap in the central portion of the wing to help provide some balance.
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