Formula One car development blog

Engine cover design philosophy: Ferrari vs Mercedes

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Where the Ferrari F1-75 and the Mercedes W13 were already vastly different beast when it came to sidepod design, their 2023 contenders are even more contrasting.

Taking a quick look at the way they have approached the airbox and engine cover design it is clear that Ferrari's SF-23 has a very slim, triangular airbox that rapidly converges in the flat, black vertical panel required to meet the minimum surface regulations. The bodywork at the back is so closely packaged that you can vi... Read more

Moving components into the car's centreline to slim sidepods

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A clear trend that has been going on even before the current set of regulations is for teams to move components closer towards the car's centreline. This trade-off has everything to do with an attempt to aerodynamically optimise the sidepods. Since most teams now agree the latter need to feature a downward slope towards the rear, components needs to be put elsewhere.

Alpine's A523 is no different and also follows the 2023 trend of further enlarging the car's shoulders to guide hot a... Read more

Mercedes reveal dramatic sidepod redesign at Bahrain test

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Mercedes's F1 W13 car at today's Bahrain pre-season test turned out to be a different beast compared to what the team tested at Barcelona two weeks ago. The team have made it a tradition to use an early version of the development to test first before introducing the latest and greatest aerodynamic developments in the final test before the season kicks off. Eyes turned when the car was revealed with a major development of the sidepods and floor.

Though the BCN iteration already featu... Read more

A closer look at Red Bull's high downforce rear end

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Red Bull Racing have once again produced a very interesting car with its RB18, a car that was well hidden until it his the track today at Barcelona. Apart from its particular sidepod shape, the rear end boasts some significant details in an uncharacteristically high downforce set-up, especially compared to what Ferrari is testing on day 1 at Barcelona.

The RB18 for instance features sidepods that slope down, creating a ramp for airflow to continue over the diffuser. While some other... Read more

Ferrari F1 75 sidepods validated through CFD

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Ferrari have gone radical in their approach to this year's F1 75 contender, not least by the design of their sidepods that are very unlike anything else seen so far. A dented upper surface and a flat sidewall are its most intricate details that quickly triggered the aerodynamicists' interest. To validate Ferrari's approach and stop guessing in the dark, forum and F1T team member Vanja#66 made a new car model and ran some CFD analysis, with surprising results!

It is clear that Ferrar... Read more

Alpine already switching to more compact rear end

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Lots of people were stunned by Alpine's decision to fix a bulky airbox on the A521, but the team have already run their new car today with a new, more compact design that sees the rear end of the car considerably slimmed down. Along with the airbox that now tapers down more more quickly, the sidepod air outlets are smaller, leaving a lot more room low above the car's floor for clean airflow.

As the image shows, Alpine were focusing on front end aero on Friday morning with a rake fit... Read more

Mercedes vs Red Bull - Rear end comparison

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Mercedes's secrecy about their car's floor triggered the interest of many ahead of winter testing. Though the team were perhaps most clear about it, others similarly tried to not reveal too much about the floors, as this area is where teams had to adapt their designs to comply with the modified regulations without losing too much downforce.

The reduced floor width towards the rear wheels meant teams had to redesign an aerodynamic area that is crucial for the efficiency of the diffus... Read more


Again no S-duct for McLaren?

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Even though most teams still use the S-ducts, even when featuring narrow nose likes like on the Renault RS20 or Mercedes W11, it seems like McLaren will once again opt against an S-duct. Last year, with the introduction of the MCL33 car, the team switched to a narrow nose, and at the same time ditched the S-duct. It might be less advantageous to have an S-duct with a narrow nose, but the most likely reason why McLaren opted against is to be able to package things closer, while still... Read more

A closer look at Alfa Romeo's front end

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Alfa Romeo have maintained a similar front-end philosophy compared to what featured on its 2019 contender. While many other teams went for narrow noses, Alfa stuck with the regular, flat-top nose cone with apertures at the tip of the nose to feed the S-duct.

The picture shows how the new Alfa continues to feature a very wide S-duct outlet, almost the entire width of the nose cone and just a few centimeters in height.

Left and right of it are new winglets since the second test at Bar... Read more

Red Bull joins louvre sidepod panel trend

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The second week of pre-season testing at Barcelona saw Red Bull Racing bring a fairly considerable aerodynamic update to its RB16, featuring detail changes on the front wing and the diffuser. The most obvious change was however the change in the barge boards where the team have now joined Mercedes and Ferrari in having louvres as sidepod panels, instead of only vertical deflectors.

The new design, at least in this area, is very similar to that from Mercedes with a number of flaps pu... Read more