F1 returns to Baku after an almost 1-month hiatus, with the Azerbaijan GP becoming a crucial round for the teams to introduce their first development packages of the season. The new Sprint format for this weekend features just one free practice session, putting teams under pressure to optimise set-up early.
This weekend is somewhat anomalous for teams like Red Bull, who had prepared the Azerbaijan GP as a stage to test their first updates and compare different aerodynamic solutions. Ferrari is not one of the teams, who never planned to introduce updates in Baku.
With just one practice session, there is not enough time to complete the necessary data on different structures and configurations.
It will be essential for teams to hit the ground running with a strong set-up, based on the data taken from simulations.
Ferrari carries the same wing from 2022, featuring a novelty on the rear suspension
Across the various teams, there will be a great variety of approaches to the Baku city track – from low/medium downforce – regarding the rear wing.
Ferrari returns with the design used in 2022 , with a multi-chord mobile wing and a much flatter main profile, supported by the scheme that sees the return of the double pylon.
The SF-23 will feature some minor technical innovations in Baku, in preparation for a more important package planned between Imola and Barcelona.
The rear suspension has modifications of a purely aerodynamic nature as regards the fairing of one of the many arm. In any case, the Maranello squad has focused on maximising efficiency, hence the low downforce configuration, similar to Alpine, who have brought a new, extremely unloaded rear wing to Azerbaijan.
Aston Martin has opted for a slightly scooped solution – in Red Bull style – while still keeping enough pace compared to the competition, as is now customary for the AMR23 .
Red Bull introduce new sidepods, Mercedes bring mechanical novelties
Mercedes will introduce the same rear wing from the first GPs, with small aerodynamic innovations, including those on the fins that are in the middle of the outer sides of the diffuser and the wheels.
The main novelty of the W14 black arrow is mechanical, concerning the suspensions. As previously mentioned, Mercedes’ updates will be part of a gradual transition to their new vision for the W14.
Meanwhile, Red Bull will bring the same wing configuration already seen in Jeddah, while the RB19 novelty package includes a review of the cooling vents.
To increase the entrance section of the undercut, the entrance of the sidepods has been revised, with a wider entrance making the openings flatter.
This is a different compromise for the team, but still ensures a similar volume of air arriving towards the radiators.
McLaren’s season begins in Baku: A revised floor on the MCL60
Baku represents an important round for McLaren, who will be introducing the updates that should have been present from race 1 in Bahrain. This sentiment was echoed by Lando Norris ahead of this weekend’s action.
Team Principal Andrea Stella was very honest in his assessment of the situation at McLaren, admitting that assembly delays cost the team over winter.
The first important package, of at least three, will be introduced in Baku, which, as announced by Andrea Stella himself, will not change the aerodynamic concept.
Still, it should still be a major step forward. The main changes to the car concern the bottom, the part of the car which with these cars is the main object from which to find load and efficiency.
McLaren’s goal is to find high-efficiency cargo, just what it’s been missing since floors are 15mm higher. The entire side skirt has been visibly redesigned, with the aim of extracting turbulence from the floor and bringing cleaner airflow to the diffuser through the micro-fin in front of the rear wheel.
The updates are also below the floor and are certainly the most important in terms of load generation. The bottom has also been partially revised in the venturi entry area, in the final part of the external drift.
The upper edge has also been revisited to guarantee a different management of all the air that crosses the undercut and which is very important for minimizing the drag of the car body. The surface of the floor that incorporates the anti-intrusion cone, designed to act as a real flow diverter, has also undergone refinement work.
In terms of aerodynamic adaptations, McLaren remains quite loaded in the rear wing. The compromise to minimise drag comes from the new beam wing design, with the first element essentially a neutral wing. A not entirely innovative solution, used by Red Bull in mid ’22 and then copied by Alpine.
Author: Rosario Giuliana
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang