Images of the Red Bull floor, taken thanks to Sergio Perez’s crash in Monaco, have been a big talking point within the design offices of teams in recent weeks. This is not with the intention of bringing a copy, but to understand how it works and transfer those concepts to their own cars.
“On these F1 cars, there is little that you can just copy. It’s more important to understand what another team is doing and make it work for your car, along with all the other parts it interacts with,” said Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams.
The 2023 regulations made it more complicated to implement a floor in the wind tunnel
On one hand, with ground effect floors, it can be very easy to try and minimise concepts, given that the Venturi effect is quite simple in terms of compression and expansion of the airflow. In reality, the bottoms of current F1 cars are very complex.
This can be attributed to the 2023 regulatory changes bringing about a certain technical instability. In fact, a top-level engineer revealed to us that these raised floors, which only appear to be simpler, have actually become super complex once implemented in the tunnel, as they are a real ecosystem that works in a very confined space.
This area is certainly even more different from the old generation of cars, where the technicians dealt a lot with the edges and even more with the study of the micro aerodynamics of the bargeboards.
On the bottoms of current cars, it is a question of managing a greater quantity of macro and micro vortices compared to the beginning of 2022 to stabilize the aerodynamic platform, which clearly works in symbiosis with the mechanics of the car.
Meanwhile, the Red Bull floor has shown that in Milton Keynes, they are at least a year ahead of many teams, according to a rival team. Resuming an idea that works 100% shortens the time considerably. However, the disadvantage in terms of knowledge is defined as truly significant. “Under the bottom, there are some pieces whose geometry you can analyze.
You can design, simulate and test something like this, to try to understand what they are trying to achieve and especially if you can then use it in your machine.” always said Dave Robson of Williams.
Because the real advantage for rivals won’t be in a carbon copy of the Red Bull floor but in finding ways to evolve their knowledge and produce benefits to their projects independently.
Meanwhile, according to Red Bull, the images from Monaco will certainly be of help to the various teams, and they expect that the first specifications born from the ideas given by their 2023 background may appear on the track towards the Japanese GP after some teams have already copied them some features from last year’s specification.
Ferrari already on its third floor of 2023: Before going forward, it is necessary to take some steps back
What the Red Bull floor showed is the strong three-dimensionality of the tunnels, with many changes in slope both in the front and in the rear. That is, a network of interacting airflows, which are then also influenced by the airflow above the seabed; here, the aerodynamic concept comes into play, understood as the geometry of the bellies, often minimized by the various teams.
However, it is no coincidence that everyone is heading in the direction of having a large initial undercut and rear downwash descent because this is the best geometry to be able to open the setup and operation window, which will clearly have to correspond to a bottom and adequate mechanics.
To obtain such precise control in the design of a very elaborate floor such as Red Bull, which Robson (Williams) has defined as “pretty daunting,” requires a formidable understanding, especially of flows, but also of porpoising.
The problem for those who have conceived, like Ferrari and Mercedes, real ground effect cars are having missed one of the keys in the medium-long term, i.e. making the Venturi channels less extreme, which at least theoretically could certainly not seem to be a benefit.
It is there that Red Bull has taken that large advantage that it has been showing on the track for almost a year now.
The DT39 for Ferrari, and above all porpoising, with the resulting change in the rules, have practically destroyed the idea of the two top teams. At Mercedes, they had already announced last autumn that the new regulations would favour Red Bull, above all due to a fund to be adapted only minimally, and so it happened.
It is no coincidence that both teams, but above all, Ferrari, are working hard on bringing innovations to their floors. With the fund that will debut between Austria and the Silverstone GP, we will arrive at four updates, even if the real new funds are to be considered three (Miami, Spain and the next one).
The direction of development is to have a less extreme suction effect, that is, learning to better control the depression areas under the floor with shallower channels that help limit sensitivity in terms of heights.
The vortices that are generated must be kept energized under the channels to be pushed towards the diffuser and, not least, towards the small but very effective elements on the sides of the rear wheels and Venturi with greater height allow to hit the target more easily.
In theory, the aim is to try and decrease the pressure peak (negative) under the bottom, as seen in the simulator. But in reality, on the track, it is producing unexpected stalls at certain speeds.
Something that reduces the load generated, making the platform much more unstable, especially at low and medium-high speeds corners.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang