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Why Alpine’s low-drag F1 upgrades should pay off in the short term

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This is due to a number of tracks with medium/low downforce characteristics, so the upgrades are expected to pay off over the course of the next few races.

The most substantial change comes around the waist of the car, as the team has redesigned the front sidepod section. Not only will this have an impact on cooling, given the now squarer intake shape, but it also has several aerodynamic consequences.

To achieve this redesign, the team increased the length of the sidepod, bringing the front section closer to the front wheels.

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Increasing the pontoon length in this way results in less room to work with, due to regulatory bounding boxes that govern the size, position and shape of the bodywork. However, it’s a design scheme we’ve already seen championed by AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and to some extent Red Bull, although the latter’s solution has an open top.

While the inlet may appear smaller than its letterbox-shaped predecessor, the volume of the front section of the inlet will be relatively similar, as the pontoon inflates outward from then on as well.

The extra length also has a significant influence on external airflow, with the bodywork being better able to direct the wake generated by the front tire more effectively, especially in the undercut region, which is likely to have a knock-on effect on performance. of the tire. downstairs too.

Not new, but also worth noting, are the two winglets mounted on the side of the halo (red arrow, main image) that help correct airflow as it passes by.

Alpine A522 rear wing comparison

There was also a lot of buzz around the new rear wing specification unveiled by Alpine in Baku, as the upper elements clearly took up much less space within the permissible box region, resulting in a wing with a small profile.

Compared to the lower downforce rear wing setup previously used at Jeddah and Miami, this wing also has the rear corner endplate cutouts we’ve grown accustomed to, rather than being infilled (inset, red arrow up).

The team also overhauled the design of its transverse wings, being the first to take inspiration from the stacked design we’ve seen Red Bull use since the start of the season.

Alpine A522 Beam Wing Comparison

Alpine A522 Beam Wing Comparison


Red Bull gives you more wings…

On the subject of Red Bull, he also made changes to the rear wing for Baku in an effort to reduce drag, without compromising too much on the downforce needed to be quick in the middle sector.

This resulted in the use of one of his lower downforce offerings, with which he duly withstood DRS issues during free practice again. But the main change was the use of a single bottom element for the beam flange, as the top elements were removed (red arrows, inset below).

Red Bull Racing RB18 spoiler comparison

Red Bull Racing RB18 spoiler comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola


…just like Ferrari…

Ferrari also made changes to the F1-75, as it also sought to reduce drag on the 2.2km straight, without compromising performance in the middle sector.

To achieve this, the Scuderia fitted the new rear wing setup that was ready for Miami, but chose not to race; he preferred a higher downforce option to preserve the tires there.

The new spec (bottom left) is still a scoop design, but when comparing the two wing designs you’ll notice how much less wing there is in the allowed box section, while the flat edge in the center section of the main plane and the upper flap is much wider.

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing Azerbaijan GP

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing Azerbaijan GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing detail

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola


Mercedes has been battling a straight-line speed issue all season, and the team introduced a new, lower-downforce rear wing in Miami that it used again in Baku.

However, Toto Wolff commented that his drivers had said it was like driving with a parachute attached to the rear of the car, with the W13 dropping as much as 20km/h relative to its rivals on the 2.2km straight.

Mercedes W13 rear spoiler

Mercedes W13 rear spoiler

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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