Ferrari’s Floor is too Simple: Red Bull has a double venturi effect

CIRCUIT DE MONACO, MONACO - MAY 26: Marshals remove the damaged car of Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, from the circuit during the Monaco GP at Circuit de Monaco on Friday May 26, 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Sutton / Sutton Images)

It was inevitable that in Montecarlo, the tacit agreement between the teams, FIA, and track operating personnel (that recovery vehicles would not lift cars too high into the air) was broken.

Not only was this initially agreed to in order to minimise damage to the cars, but to make it more difficult to take pictures of the most important aerodynamic part of these new generation cars: the underbody.

As such, it is no coincidence that until Monte Carlo, they were practically not seen, while in the Principality, among the many, the Ferrari fund was also seen. However, there was a lot of anticipation on the part of all the teams to see, especially that of the RB19.

“It was truly a Cirque du Soleil performance to see the W14 hanging 50 meters off the ground. However, I think Red Bull has more to lose than us, especially with regard to the bottom,” Toto Wolff rightly said.

Red Bull has once again given up the peak downforce generated by the Venturi

According to a senior engineer, the floor and the mechanic components are the most complex components of these new-generation cars and from which the most important performance differences come.

It is no coincidence that the various teams, including Ferrari, worked immediately to obtain the most detailed images possible of the underbody of Adrian Newey’s new creature. A base not too dissimilar to that of the multi-winning 2022 car but which has been further optimised without distorting it.

The bottom of the Red Bull RB19 is the most complex ever

As in last season’s specification, Red Bull is bringing a very complex background to the track, which differs significantly from that of Mercedes and Ferrari – defined by a competitor as “very basic”, while the team that comes closest is ‘ strangely’ the Aston Martin.

On the RB19, the actual throat of the venturi channel is quite high and set back, which means that Red Bull has once again given up the peak downforce generated by the channels in order to be able to widen the generation window as the height from the ground varies.

However, this doesn’t mean that the RB19 doesn’t generate enough downforce. It simply generates downforce differently, without focusing only on the theoretical dictates of ground effect, which would like the Venturi channel to be as close as possible to the asphalt.

Conversely, the Ferrari SF-23 remained a clearly ground-effect car, with the central part of the Venturi tunnels almost in contact with the asphalt.

The Italian team is thus forced to use more rigid settings of the mechanics to contain the lowering of the height from the ground at higher speeds, under penalty of the risk of going beyond the wear of the plank, regulated and under the magnifying glass, especially after the introduction of DT 39/22.

It is also no coincidence that the SF-23 still suffers from bouncing, also due to the characteristics of its bottom and the central section of the Venturi canals very close to the asphalt. With the important evolution that will make its debut in Barcelona, ​​we’ll see what direction the Maranello technicians have taken.

Red Bull fund with very three-dimensional channels and stalls at high speeds 

“The new, more Red Bull-style bellies didn’t necessarily bring any additional performance. The real secret of these cars is under the floor, said George Russell on Saturday in Monte Carlo.

That secret was revealed right on the Monaco circuit and is one of the macro characteristics that is allowing Red Bull to dominate this world championship. The English car has a bottom with a sort of double Venturi effect.

The entrance to the tunnels is very high, which is immediately followed by a first narrowing in terms of height, which, however, does not lead to the actual gorge at the bottom, as it is followed by a new vertical widening towards the central part.

A solution that neither Ferrari nor Mercedes presents on the current specifications. The third and fourth forces on the track, in fact, have a much more classic profile with a single groove, while Red Bull has two, the front one and the real groove moved more to the rear. 

The Mercedes fund for the Monaco GP – Illustration Rosario Giuliana

These new generation cars no longer have the now well-known bargeboards. The lower part of the floor is now more complicated. This makes it more difficult to keep the low-pressure constant along the entire floor and to prevent the flow from becoming detached and generating losses.

In fact, the flux tends to detach easily. Therefore, areas are needed where it must be glued again. This occurs through vortices and continuous distortions of the speed and pressure diagrams.

It is no coincidence that the Red Bull fund is the most worked out from a three-dimensional point of view, with many slope changes both in the front and in the back.

These continuous pressure variations across the floor allow the flow to maintain the starting characteristics, i.e. to flow as fast as possible, without generating gaps and making the aerodynamic centre of pressure work well without moving it too much forwards and backwards.

The bottom of the Mercedes W14

Many will wonder why the other teams, such as Ferrari and Mercedes, have not yet fully copied the Red Bull fund, given that some characteristics, especially as regards the cross-section of the channels, have been copied, such as the initial narrowing of the keel.

Talking to an engineer from the Milton Keynes team, not too worried about the photographs taken of their underbody in Montecarlo, he explained to us that it is easier to work on the cross-section of the channels while the slope (height) variation part inside is much more complicated.

This an infinite job, among other things, since a car never works with a constant height but has many external elements, such as bumps and dynamics, such as roll, pitch, etc., which greatly complicate the design of what it is the most important aerodynamic component of these new F1 cars.

“It is not said that a more complex fund is necessarily better because it also risks worsening the behaviour of the car, but if it works, it goes much faster,” the Red Bull house technician let us know.

Without forgetting the other peculiarity of the Red Bull background, i.e. a very particular and aggressive diffuser in terms of angles, a necessary feature to generate that programmed stall, also thanks to the beam wing and the rear wing, as well as mechanics that keep the RB19 close to the ground even with the mobile wing open and many kilograms less which push the car downwards, which make the Anglo-Austrian car very fast on the straight.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang