Technical developments – Bahrain GP

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

The third race of the weekend, the Bahrain GP saw the introduction of a raft of upgrades at many teams. The trend of serration of aerodynamic parts continued as several teams brought ultra-complex serrated aero elements to the Bahrain International Circuit lying in the desert.


Ferrari started the 2017 championship neck on neck with the former pace-dictating Mercedes in terms of speed. The Italians, however, promised after the season-opening Australian GP that they will follow an ambitious development programme.

Its first signs were seen in Bahrain where the Scuderia introduced a raft of upgrades. The new front wing follows Ferrari's philosophy of the recent past, but it was completely redesigned. The mainplane is now completely separeted into three pieces. Two full length slots traverse it. The upper main flap has a new, less curved shape, the outer section of that has also been completely revised. The outer section of the front wing has also been rethought, there is now a more distinct squared tunnel section as an adapatation of the Mercedes' solution.

The engineers also added a few cooling louvres. The SF70-H operates with a very aggressive cooling package with very tiny air intakes which requires additional cooling in places like Bahrain. It is never a voluntary solution of the engineers as they would never put additional drag-increasing pieces on to the car.

Ferrari also brought a new floor to Bahrain. It added a slot to the frontal extension of the floor behind the bargeboards. It allows air to get taken into the flow which passes around the sidepods. Ferrari also took its rear part of the floor to another level. The Italian team experienced with an interesting floor during the pre-season testing with heat sensors placed on it. It was rumoured to serve cooling purposes. In Bahrain, the latest version of the floor had a lip on the upper surface which is believed to house pipeworks which transports oil to the gearbox.


Renault has presented one of the biggest surprise of the season so far. The team which started its second year of his last endeavour as works team has enjoyed a huge lift in performance so far. Its qualifying speed has been strong with its newly recruited Nico Hülkenberg. However, the team has still to fine-tune the car for race distances.

For the Bahrain GP, the French manufacturer brought an upgraded diffusor. The Enstone and Viry-based squad modified the edges of the extension of the floor. They are now less round and more rectangular.

Force India
The Silverstone-based team introduced a series of aerodynamic modifications in Bahrain. The team’s most important upgrade was the hyper*complex bargeboars which was always expected to be one of the key development area this year thanks to the new technical regulations which freed up the restriction in that particular section of the car.

Force India’s bargeboards were already a serrated solution with four cuts. The new one features nine cuts which leads to a ten-element bargeboards. The saw-tooth details are inspired by Mercedes’s development route which the championship team began last year and took to another level with this year’s regulations.

The bargeboards’ primary function is to direct turbulent air of the front wing wake away from the sidepods. In that sense, it is an air conditioner. Furthermore, it also acts as a vortex generator as it re-energizes the flow by creating vortices.


Despite to the lack of engine power and reliability woes, McLaren tries to improve its chassis to make up ground to its rivals.

The Woking-based squad introduced its own T-wing and a revised floor in the Chinese GP. The team brought a new rear wing to Bahrain. The original version was a rather unique one in itself with its complex serration, but the squad’s engineers made it even more complex with more serrated parts. The slits act as an air conditioner as they aim to curb the effect of the turbulence coming off the rear tyres. It is obvious that McLaren had to balance its aerodynamic balance out to improve its top speed due to the underpowered Honda power unit.


Mercedes’ reliability woes with its complex multi-element T-wing continued in the desert of Bahrain. After the element flew off Valtteri Bottas’s car in the third free practice session in China, the additional vane in front of the rear wing came alive again over the course of the second Friday outing in Bahrain again on the Finn’s car. Max Verstappen run over the wing which caused serious damage to his Red Bull’s floor. The FIA urged the Anglo-German team to reinforce the element before the action continued on Saturday. The reinforced T-wing held on well over the rest of the weekend.

Over the post-Bahrain testing, Mercedes completed runs without the T-wings bolted on to see what aerodynamic effect it has on the car. The team developed its solution to a great extent over the last weeks as it became a triple-element wing from the original sole-vane solution. The engineers were keen to know how much of a weight advantage the absence of the wing brings in comparison to the loss of aerodynamic functions.