While some races have provided epic on-track battles between the top drivers in the first half of the 2019 season, the majority of the year has seen Mercedes controlling the championship fights so far. While Ferrari and Red Bull have been unable to match the rival’s performance on a regular basis, the off-track development battle is undoubtedly raging between the top members of the sport.
Interestingly, the Brackley-based team has been following a different approach to its rivals Ferrari and Red Bull when it comes to in-season development. The reigning world champions has usually opted for major upgrade packages while the sport’s most successful outfit has often split and divided its development into smaller steps. As the summer break enables a breathing space, after our first analysis, we take a second look at the major steps of Mercedes’ and Ferrari’s development programmes for the 2019 race machines.
French Grand Prix
Mercedes – For the French Grand Prix, Mercedes made some changes to its car design to optimize its package. The engineers placed the single-element T-Wing beneath the rear part of the upper wishbone to further improve the car’s rear stability. The team also trialled new cooling panels. The most interesting outlet was a panel behind the point where the halo is attached to the car. The team tried to find the best cooling package which can release the heat generated within the sidepod, but in the same time has the least effect on the car’s aerodynamics.
The Anglo-German outfit was also adamant to continue its analysis on the upwash strikes which were recently added to the rear wing endplate. The W10’s featured three strikes with different lengths and shapes.
- Cooling panels
Ferrari - As cooling is less problematic on the Paul Ricard circuit with only two heavy braking zones, Brembo brought a discs with only six holes in a chevron formation. On top of that, inspired by Mercedes, the discs was characterized by a scalloped surface to decrease the weight of the cooling system. It allowed Ferrari to have a better front response, an area where the team has been suffering with its car since the start of the season.
A much more important upgrade was presented by the modified front wing. The upper wing elements have had their shape altered. While the team stick to its outwash design in contrast to Mercedes’ high downforce front wing, the Maranello-based outfit installed a new steeper upper element to generate more downforce in order to gain front grip. The new rear wing also featured a new shorter endplate with a rearward cutout. On the footplate, a new triangular fence appeared which helped divert air outboard and a small vertical Gurney-element was added to the rear end of the footplate, as well.
The team also tested a modified floor with four vertical vanes sitting along its trailing edge. This should have enabled Ferrari to have a better control of the air flying over the top surface of the floor, but it resulted in instability, forcing the team to abandon to use it.
a new front wing
revised front brake - a modified floor
Austrian Grand Prix
Mercedes – To tackle the heat in Austria, Mercedes introduced a small window in to the front brake drums to release some of the heat generated by the brakes.
- Revised brake drums
Ferrari - The Maranello-based outfit debuted a reshaped set of turning vanes under the chassis and the nose of the SF90. While various elements of this complex configuration were revised, the most significant change affected the horizontal leading element which was given a forward-reaching extension. According to Charlec Leclerc, the new configuration increased the downforce level generated on the front of the car, curing the understeery nature of the SF90.
Ferrari gave its new floor a second try that the team first used in the practice sessions for the French Grand Prix. The team only tested it for a few laps and decided to delay its introduction, but team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that his engineers found the answers why it did not work in Austria at its debut. It is expected to make appearance in the coming weeks.
- new turning vanes
track-specific brake disc
German Grand Prix
Mercedes – For reliability reason, the team made changes to the cooling to avoid any overheating issues it hampered its performance in Austria a couple of weeks ago. To have complete control over the cooling of the W10, the team implemented a raft of changes including opening up marginally the rear bodywork.
To enhance the performance of its 2019 challenger, the Brackley-based team reworked its rear wing. The new version has an overhauled endplate featuring stepped cutouts at the back of its top trailing edge. It also incorporates six new fins which should control the vortices induced by the rear wing.
The team also reshaped multiple parts of its front wing design. The latest version incorporates a footplate featuring a small flick which should help deflect airflow outwards. The top two elements of the wing have been made shorter in a bid to make the front end of the car even sharper.
Not only in terms of performance, Mercedes has been the leading force regarding its turning vanes and bargeboards design. For its home race, the team came up with an even more complex assembly. The completely reshaped design features three horizontal slim slats and an overhauled mounting arrangement to fine-tune to way even more how the aerodynamics of the W10 control the turbulent air and the airflows heading to the back of the car.
Revised rear wing
Reshaped front wing
New brake duct design
Reshaped turning vanes and bargeboards
Hungarian Grand Prix
Mercedes – As high temperatures were expected for Hungarian Grand Prix which it quite normal at this time of the year in Hungary, Mercedes tested enlarged louvred cockpit panel in the free practice sessions. These outlets placed behind the sideward mounting points of the head protection system were first tested and used in France.
Ferrari – To improve its performance in the medium-speed corners, Ferrari introduced a whole set of new aerodynamic elements around the bargeboards area. Taking inspiration from McLaren, several teams have already developed complex boomerang-shaped vanes. In Hungary, the Italian outfit has also introduced a two-element boomerang extension to have better control over the airflow coming off the front wing area.
The multi-element sidepod deflectors have also been revised while the new bargeboards feature additional vanes. The team was delighted with the upgrade as they brought the same results as anticipated.
- New bargeboards
New turning vanes