So far this season, teams have shown they are not afraid to take risks during Sprint Race weekends. In Baku, Red Bull brought updates; in Austria, it was Ferrari and McLaren. Here in Belgium, it is Mercedes and Alpine, despite the limited time available to them, who bring substantial improvements.
It should be noted that rain is expected this weekend. The paddock was already hit by rain today, as the weather is set to become an extra complication for all the teams for this last round before the break.
Low downforce rear wings make their debut for some teams at Spa
The Spa Francorchamps circuit is the first low-downforce track, after Baku, that teams will face this season.
On the Azerbaijani track, many reused their 2022 specification wings, such as Ferrari. Others opted for structures that are not totally unloaded to have greater downforce and improve traction, taking advantage of the many DRS zones in the various stretches.
Here the balance to be found is more complex also due to the many fast corners, though this has become less and less of a concern with these ground effect cars – to the detriment of slow corners where finding the right setup is more difficult.
Ferrari, as per the preview, brings no new parts – aside from the circuit-specific changes to adapt the SF-23 to the characteristics of the Belgian track with yet another rear wing.
In Maranello, work was done on a specific low-load single pylon wing, which has a mobile flap featuring a large gurney flap.
The specific shape of the mobile wing, which has a cutout in the central part, is notable where usually ‘V-shapes’ are seen in the area of the DRS actuator.
No revolutionary solution for Aston Martin, which instead continues along the path already undertaken in Miami with the medium-low downforce wing.
The curvature of the angle between the endplate and the main plane is not very pronounced, and the latter has a very flat shape.
As such, it is less pronounced than the spoon of the previous version – in a bid to gain top speed even with the DRS closed, eliminating further drag from the AMR23 to have more km/h on the straights of the Belgian circuit.
Along with this, the Silverstone team will also introduce changes to the floor, as announced by their Team Principal, Mike Krack.
The team’s objective in Spa is to bring the first corrective measures to try to bring its green machine back on the right track.
Mercedes bring new sidepods and floors
Mercedes has not limited itself to purely adaptive interventions to the circuit. In the preview before this weekend, Toto Wolff revealed there would be some new features on the W14.
These have been eagerly anticipated since Silverstone, with these updates, as told by Andrew Shovlin after Hungary, designed purely for performance – rather than to solve the car’s more fundamental issues.
The W14 needs to find further ‘stability’. To achieve this, James Allison’s engineers are working above all to improve the rear of the W14.
It was precisely Allison, who returned as technical director, who wanted this change of philosophy, abandoning the desire to bring important packages and moving on to understanding a few updates at a time.
In Belgium, in addition to removing the aerodynamic appendages that were positioned under the mirror above the inlet from the radiators, the cooling inlets of the bellies have been revised.
The W14 now features a more rounded and conventional shape with a slightly more pronounced excavation in the initial part.
But that’s not all, as the sidepods themselves have also been revised.
The final part of the W14’s sides now has a more pronounced internal downwash effect, with the side profile having a double downwash effect.
In fact, another feature has been added, in addition to the one at the belly inlet.
This innovation is located towards the rear, to direct air towards the upper part of the underbody and towards the crucial area between the diffuser and the inner shoulder of the rear tyre.
A new floor will also debut on the W14, which features changes in the central and rear parts.
This new component specification arrives with the new sidepods – it is no coincidence that it makes its debut here in Belgium.
There are also changes to the rear wing, which has taken up concepts that were seen on the wing of the Ferrari SF-23 in Baku.
Mercedes brings a low-load wing that sees a rather loaded side part and then a ‘tray-shaped’ mainplane ‘, flat, although not as extreme as the one seen on Ferrari during the season or the one introduced here by Aston Martin.