What Ferrari's new rake tells us about its 2021 F1 car
A handful of Formula 1 teams have already been openly testing 2021 parts, but in Abu Dhabi there was special interest in how Ferrari was evaluating the changes.
For the Italian team emerged in first free practice with a brand new rake at the rear of the car that offered clues to the complexity of understanding the impact of next year's tweaks.
The framework of the rake was heavily contoured to limit its displacement of the airflow and minimise the affect it has on the readings captured by the kiel probes mounted on it.
Interestingly, this extremely large rake also has the kiel probes mounted in a more flow orientated way too, breaking with the more rigid grid-style formation we are used to seeing.
This gives us an indication of the flow structures that the Ferrari aerodynamicists are trying to evaluate too, as they look to capture data about the mushroom shaped wake that's created by the diffuser.
The rake was there to measure key new developments that Ferrari had fitted to its car.
Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Abu Dhabi GP
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
It had a new floor to evaluate which featured three twisted fins in the middle of the diagonal cutout, as the designers look to prime some of the airflow before it reaches the rear tyre.
Meanwhile, the dog-eared corner that appeared on the original 2021 specification floor was replaced with a series of more vertical fins, as the Scuderia's aerodynamicists are already looking to investigate the effects of solutions that micro manage the airflow.
Having tested 2021 specification parts in Bahrain, Renault also trialled a new floor in Abu Dhabi.
This time it took a leaf out of Ferrari's book with a dog-eared section present ahead of the rear tyre.
Having had a quite substantial chunk of aero real estate taken away by the new regulations, this will be an area of intense development throughout 2021, as each team optimises the airflow's path towards the rear tyre in an attempt to reduce the negative aerodynamic effect it can have on the diffuser.
Haas F1 Team VF-20 floor comparison
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Haas also leapt aboard the 2021 test bandwagon in Abu Dhabi, as it fitted the VF20 with parts associated with next season for the first time.
It wasted little time on a plain solution with just the diagonal floor cutout like some of its rivals have done, trialling a more complex solution straight out of the box.
In an effort to improve its performance, Haas had concentrated a serious amount of its resources on the area ahead of the rear tyre for 2020, with a mixture of fully enclosed holes, slots, flaps and strakes used to manipulate the airflow received by the rear tyre.
This was an attempt to reduce the turbulence created by the tyre and the impact it can have on the diffuser, which in-turn robs the car of downforce, especially in transient conditions as the tyre deforms.
The 2021 specification floor applies some of those lessons whilst remaining within the bounds of the new regulations.
On the edge of the floor, it has the dog earned treatment seen elsewhere, but interestingly it has a relatively large triangular shaped horizontal flap mounted above the floor and connected to the vertical strake.
Red Bull Racing RB16 floor detail
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
Red Bull also began its investigations into the effects of the 2021 regulations back in Portugal but arrived in Abu Dhabi in search of more answers.
Just like its rivals, the floor used by Red Bull in FP1 had a more progressive solution and featured a twisted strake ahead of the rear tyre, albeit displaced from the edge much more than everyone else.
Meanwhile, the single pillar solution used to mount its rear wing, which was tested in Bahrain, reappeared. This time though it would stay on the car for the duration of the race weekend.
Red Bull Racing RB16 rear, single pillar
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Mercedes abstained from testing aerodynamic components out in the open in advance of 2021, but that's not to say it hasn't been using its free practice time to prepare for next season.
On several occasions it has set the car up without its DAS system for FP1 as the drivers prepare for life without the ability to adjust the front wheel's toe angle on the fly.
The system has been useful at moments this season when the drivers have needed to put heat into the front tyres, and has undoubtedly given them the edge when we've encountered safety cars, VSC periods, or race restarts.
During FP1 in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes set Bottas' W11 up without the DAS enabled steering assembly, whilst Hamilton got himself reacquainted with his machinery in the specification he was most used to.
Mercedes AMG F1 W11 power steering DAS and no DAS
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Bathurst 12 Hour: Record provisional pole for Engel
Bathurst 12 Hour: Record provisional pole for Engel Bathurst 12 Hour: Record provisional pole for Engel
Ford still not satisfied with Supercars Gen3 parity
Ford still not satisfied with Supercars Gen3 parity Ford still not satisfied with Supercars Gen3 parity
No Bathurst lap record for Red Bull F1 car
No Bathurst lap record for Red Bull F1 car No Bathurst lap record for Red Bull F1 car
Newgarden impressed by Chevy on 100% renewable Shell fuel
Newgarden impressed by Chevy on 100% renewable Shell fuel Newgarden impressed by Chevy on 100% renewable Shell fuel
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver
Assessing Hamilton's Mercedes stint Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver
Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era
Why new-look Haas is a litmus test Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff
Assessing Wolff's Mercedes influence The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate
The line-up Ocon, Gasly may emulate The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?
Who were the fastest F1 drivers? Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?
Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return
Why Hulkenberg is ready for return Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss
Why Vasseur relishes the pressure Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023
F1 2023's crucial tech changes The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023
Subscribe and access Motorsport.com with your ad-blocker.
From Formula 1 to MotoGP we report straight from the paddock because we love our sport, just like you. In order to keep delivering our expert journalism, our website uses advertising. Still, we want to give you the opportunity to enjoy an ad-free and tracker-free website and to continue using your adblocker.