Ferrari works to study and understand the RB19’s rear end

20/04/2023

The long break from racing in April has given teams and insiders time for reflection before an intense period of ten races in the next three months. Ferrari will continue its pursuit of Red Bull.

The work in the factory has certainly not stopped, considering that Baku – and even more so Miami – will mark the beginning of the first real development phase of 2023.

The first three races showed that Red Bull (reigning World Champions) has an advanced understanding of the RB19, which is in firm control of the championship . Red Bull’s optimism after the pre-season tests in Bahrain was clearly well-founded.

At that moment, the only question is about Ferrari’s relative performance.

The current reality is that just to give a somewhat extreme example, Sainz would have to win 4 races in a row to put himself into Championship contention. Leclerc, meanwhile, would have to win 6. Realistically, this is difficult to imagine.

Leaving aside the rankings, the next few months will still be interesting for the competition. Mercedes wants to shorten its gap and erase the shame of being slower than a customer. 

Ferrari must recover points and morale, while Senator Fernando Alonso is looking for something more than the podium.

Red Bull: incredible speeds on the RB19 thanks to the beam wing stall?

The RB19 has attracted attention from rival engineers (more so than the RB18 did) due to its unattainable top speed. Mercedes has tried to find solutions, but there is ultimately little answer.

The opposing engineers have long been convinced that there is a  concept behind it, and they are all asking the same question: How does the RB19 stall a rear wing element?

Red Bull RB19 rear view
Rear of the Red Bull Rb19 – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

Meanwhile, it should be emphasized that being able to create the conditions to deliberately stall an aerodynamic element  – ​​operating within the regulation –  is a matter of merit.

In the past, the opposite has even happened, ie that some older generation cars ran into harmful stalls, which suddenly sent the balance into a crisis. Something not easy to solve, just as difficult to identify in the complexity of the design of an F1.

Each wing has an angle of attack, ie the angle at which it generates a certain amount of drag and downforce. 

However, there is a critical point where the separation of the flows is generated, defined as the critical angle of attack.

If the angle of attack increases beyond the critical angle at some point all downforce will be lost while drag will continue to increase until the so-called ‘stall’. It’s different in F1. 

Thanks to certain blowings on the back of the aerodynamic profiles, the detachment of the flow is obtained, avoiding the increase in drag  for a higher maximum speed.

Then there is a significant loss of downforce due to the lower pressure delta between the top and bottom of the wing, which generates an indirect  reduction of the porpoising trigger due to the % of load lost.

This last factor is very useful in the lightning phase in the race, as well as in terms of greater mechanical elasticity since it allows to decrease in the basic rigidity with many advantages.

RB18 rear views
Rear view of the RB18 (2022) – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

The stall of the beam wing would seem very convenient since, from calculations in the simulator, the maximum speed of the car could increase up to 8km/h according to the steepness of the element.

The trick is to get it in a non-random way and only at certain speeds. It should be noted that the steeper a wing, the easier it is to induce a stall, as the flows will separate more easily.

It would obviously not be new; in the past, teams have tried to use a wing stall to get maximum speed by reducing drag.

We can think of passive DRD blowing to break up the flows behind the gurney flap, forcibly separating them.

Or, by flexing the wings at a certain speed, the wings move by limiting the spaces of the smallest slots, which reduces the power on the rear of the next flap leading to the consequent stall of the same.

Representation of an (older generation) rear wing that flexes – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

The FIA ​​has acted both by tightening the load tests on the profiles and with the small separators between the slots so as to prevent these attempts.

However, there are no important constraints, for example, around the design of the beam wing or in the normal structural flexion under very high loads. Moreover, it is known that the single pylon wing boasts flexibility which makes it particularly efficient.

It goes without saying that this generation of F1, being able to afford a very steep beam wing specification, offers significant downforce values ​​at all speeds. Being able to neutralize it, even partially, would offer important gains.

Ferrari: already set development has undergone and will undergo significant corrections in terms of design of updates

The SF-23 is second in peak performance and pays from 4 to 7 km/h from Red Bull. However, the engineers have identified the margin for improving aerodynamic efficiency. Maranello’s technicians soon understood that the SF-23 had important limitations that needed to be corrected. 

The already set development has undergone and will undergo significant corrections in terms of drawing updates. It was to be understood if the direction taken with the new fund was correct. 

At the moment, one thing is certain, by Barcelona, the aerodynamic look of the SF-23 will change with the installation of the new bellies. It is likely that the tank concept will not emerge unscathed, meeting the criterion of improving aerodynamic efficiency before lifting the load from the wings.

In Maranello, are they trying to maximize the flow further down, in Red Bull style, towards the diffuser ramp,  involving more of the lower part of the beam wing (creating a rather different blowing towards the rear)?

In any case, the need remains to maintain the qualities of the SF-23 and not completely distort the good areas of the single-seater, also for a question of costs.

Gap comparison between Red Bull and Ferrari (Qualifying/Race) in Saudi Arabia and in Australia.

The only thing you can do while waiting for the updates is to progress and know the areas for improvement. Looking at the graph, it is clear that the least stable cars between qualifying and the race are all powered by Ferrari.

If it can’t be a coincidence for Haas, the strange performance of Alfa Romeo is surprising, a car that is expressing itself all too badly in qualifying. 

On average, however, it is true that all the furthest concepts from Red Bull are struggling when they take on the 100 kg. 

It is no coincidence that Aston Martin is the one that suffers the least. Melbourne has shown that Ferrari has taken some steps forward with the understanding of the car alone, thanks above all to the revised basic specification, but of course, that is not enough to fight with Verstappen and Perez.

However, looking at one of the most sensitive data for this generation of cars, the car in the corners under 200 km/h went from a 13% delay between qualifying and the race in Arabia to 5% in Albert Park. 

A more coherent gap and a question of the layout. Nevertheless, it is a discreet signal, considering that the RB19 has gone from 11% to 6%.

In a nutshell, the Red recovered a good 1% in all the corners where a lot of downforce is required, about 3/4 tenths, maintaining a good consistency on the straight and when braking. This clearly illustrates how he underperformed in Jeddah.

Gap of the various Teams against Red Bull in Qualifying and in the Race.

When you have to correct a single-seater during the championship, it means that there is no downhill road and no even better alternatives. As Vasseur himself explained, there won’t be a B version.

After all, there isn’t the time or the budget to do it. The technicians will have to be good at optimizing resources, knowing that every massive change heavily modifies the set-up work and will need time to digest.

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

Autore

SEGUICI SU

Podcast