The Formula 1 season enters its final phase, with 5 race weekends ahead in the next six races. In Austin, there will be just one Free Practice session before entering Parc fermé and Qualifying begins. Despite this, some teams have brought important development packages – largely the last of the season. These updates could determine battles in the championship and provide valuable reference points for 2024.
The most important packages are those introduced by Haas and AlphaTauri, teams at the rear of the ranking, with more time available to work in the factory and are looking for answers with a view to 2024. So are Mercedes and Aston Martin, who expect to close this 2023 on growth and have answers on the direction chosen for next year.
Haas: The VF-23 follows Red Bull’s concept with a chassis designed for an inwash concept
The most substantial and obvious innovations were introduced by Haas, which arrived in Austin with a full-fledged VF-23 Spec B, revolutionizing the aerodynamic philosophy of the sidepods and a significantly modified floor.
The sidepods of the American team have aligned themselves with the downwash style with a slide that recalls the early season designs seen above all on the Aston Martin (and Alpine). The sidepods now have a different shape, unlike the inwash philosophy adopted until recently launched by Ferrari.
Haas’ new floor features solutions similar to those introduced on the Ferrari SF-23 at Suzuka, especially in the pavement area near the rear wheels.
However, the American team has also taken inspiration from the solutions studied by McLaren and Red Bull – especially in the entrance part of the Venturis.
The structural limits also prevented Gunther Steiner’s team from implementing a real revolution. The Ferrari Power Unit has lateral dimensions due to the cooling system, which other engine manufacturers instead concentrate in the central part, covering with the bonnet and then exploiting its shapes on an aerodynamic level.
However, Haas decided to build a rather large bonnet, compared to the previous one, to recreate the tray effect, which directs the central flow of air towards the rear area between the beam wing and the rear wing.
Finally, although produced in-house and based on Simone Resta’s ideas, following the development trend of the ‘parent company’. Haas has also set up a frame with a Side Impact Structure (SIS) not embedded in the floor but placed in a rather high position.
Despite this, unlike the Maranello team, rather than working around this limit, they decided to expose the SIS in order to widen the undercut under the entrance to the sidepods, which was also revised, going more in the Red Bull direction.
The shape is more oval and elongated without reaching the minimum volumes of the RB19, slightly lengthening the lower lip of the radiator inlet.
The surface has been modified in the visible areas, such as the pavement and the entrance to the Venturi channels, with the lateral strip replacing the work previously carried out by the revised bargeboards.
There have also been important changes in the floor, the most important and crucial one which produces most of the downforce of this new generation of cars.
The macro solutions are inspired by McLaren and Red Bull. Even the Haas B-spec car confirms that rivals are adopting the solutions designed by Dan Fallows at Aston Martin – and then by the Woking engineers at McLaren.
These have been preferred to those used by Adrian Newey and Pierre Waché, especially regarding the slide on the sidepods.
On the RB19 car, the shape designed by the Austrian team is now used on almost all the cars on the grid.
New loor for Mercedes and Aston Martin to find immediate performance and answers for 2024. AlphaTauri continues to evolve the AT04
However, Haas was not the only one to intervene on this fundamental issue. Mercedes and Aston Martin also made significant changes to find performance and seek answers for the future.
At Brackley, they raised the entrance roof of the Venturi Tunnels in the outermost part to increase the volume of air channelled into that area and then quickly conducted outwards by the curved conveyors placed under the bottom.
The modification in the SIS area is also evident, sunk into the bottom, which works in combination with the entrance part of the Venturi channels to allow a greater flow of air to flow underneath the car body and be transported towards the rear with the aim of having more load and stability from the underbody.
There is also a change in the initial part of the surface, immediately after the entrance ramp to the Venturi Tunnel, where the curved area has been revised.
That is a very delicate detail because the air is immediately expelled, which is then directed to the sides of the pavement to try to seal the remaining part of the surface as much as possible.
Aston Martin has intervened more decisively by entirely revisiting the main components of the bottom, diffuser and sidepods. A new beam wing will also appear on the AMR23, which can be better combined with the new speaker profiles.
The floor has been revised mainly in the pavement area, with a small wing now exposed, whereas previously, it remained below the floor.
Floor and diffuser work in combination with the sidepods, and so Aston Martin has revised the undercut by increasing its volume.
Alfa Romeo introduced its package of important innovations in Singapore, and in Austin, they have made further revisions.
These tweaks follow a normal development program, which should lead to an increase in rear aerodynamic load. AlphaTauri – as anticipated – does not stop and continues to introduce substantial innovations.
In Austin, the AT04 will be equipped with a completely redesigned floor both in the structure under the body and in the entry and initial part of the floor with the clear aim of increasing the aerodynamic load and modifying the management of the floor flows.
The Scuderia di Faenza also changed the chassis, something not very usual in the current season and especially in the final phase, modifying the portion of the body located between the front suspension and the cockpit, with the aim of having more front downforce.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang