Technical: Mercedes the only team to debut performance upgrade in Jeddah

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Mercedes were the only team to introduce a pure performance upgrade at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix while their rivals only brought circuit-specific developments to Round 2 of the 2024 F1 season. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reflects on the teams' developements in the Jeddah F1 round.


Mercedes have had a more difficult start to their 2024 F1 campaign than hoped. The Brackley-based outfit appeared to be optimistic after the three-day pre-season testing with their drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell sounding content with improved balance of the W15.

However, the car has lacked performance in the opening two rounds of the season, producing too much bouncing and lacking downforce in high-speed coners.

The Anglo-German squad became the only team to introduce a performance-related upgrade in Jeddah. The team debuted a modified lower deflector at the rear of the car which reduces loading on the forward element, and leads to improved robustness of the lower deflector throughout the ride height range.

Red Bull

Despite having dominated proceedings in the early races of the season, Red Bull do not appear to rest on their laurels.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix saw the Milton Keynes-based squad debut a range of circuit-specific upgrades including a modified engine cover. The new version includes a reduced cooling exit which was possible due to the timing of the sessions, the average speed of Jeddah as well as the absence of a series of low speed corners.

During Thursday practices, F1 teams experimented with various rear wing configurations to find out the best lift/drag level. While Ferrari used a steeper rear wing, the RB20 was equipped with a lower camber rear wing assembly. It was therefore no surprise to see the RB20 dominate the last sector given the extremely long high-speed sections that are taken at full speed.

Moreover, the team reduced the camber of its beam wing, again aimed at a lowering the drag level of the RB20.


Ferrari also used a different rear wing compared to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Although the Scuderia used a lower downforce design, it was still steeper than what their rivals used in Jeddah.

Interestingly, Ferrari have fully carried over the Jeddah rear wing from their 2023 car, and they intend to use this 2023-spec configuration at lower downforce tracks later on during the current season.

Similarly to Red Bull, Ferrari experimented with a lower drag beam wing. In fact, the Scuderia brought two variations to Jeddah. One of them was an extreme one which featured a single element arrangement As for the top rear wing update, these modulations were targetting the optimum aerodynamic efficiency around Jeddah circuit layout peculiarities.


McLaren appeared to lack pace in the three-day pre-season testing, but they upped their game in the season-opening Bahrain round. Although they seem to be a long way off the field-leading Red Bull and some way off second-placed Ferrari, they are very much involved in the fight for the position of the third-quickest team with this battle including the Woking-based squad, Aston Martin and Mercedes.

Just as most of the teams, McLaren also brought a lower-downforce rear wing to Jeddah to reduce drag on the circuit that is the second-quickest track only behind the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The new configuration features an offloaded mainplane and flap compared to the verson used in the Manama season-opener.

The MCL36 sported a modified beam wing that featured a new upper and lower element. The aim was to improve the interaction with the rear wing assembly and hence reduce the downforce and drag.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin have started the 2024 F1 season in a less competitive state than they hoped for. Fernando Alonso delivered brilliant qualifying performances both in Bahrain and Jeddah, but he was restricted to defensive driving in the races with Red Bull, Ferrari and even Mercedes and McLaren showing better race performance.

The Silverstone-based outfit brought a modified rear wing to Jeddah. The circuit-specific upgrades sported a less aggressive rear wing cascade while the lower-downforce rear wing were available with two different flap options.

The front end of the AMR24 sported a revised scoop shape with the geometry modifying the flow around the tyres. The aim was to improve the wake shape to reduce the effect on the parts of the car downstream.


Williams have had a less successful start to the 2024 F1 season. The Grove-based outfit was eager to build on the positive end of last year that saw Alexander Albon excel in qualifying conditions.

While their 2023 F1 car was excellent on high-speed circuits, the team was adamant to build a car that is an all-rounder which can deliver good performance on tracks that do not feature a series of long high-speed sections. However, the early signs indicate that the new car is a step backwards in terms of competitiveness.

As for Jeddah round, Williams introduced a modified beam wing which features a reduced chord length. The team noted that "the reduction in size of the beam wing simply reduces the downforce and drag of the rear wing assembly to deliver a drag level appropriate for the Jeddah circuit."

After the hot opening race in Bahrain, the team brought a modified front brake duct that sports a reduced exit area relative to the version used in Manama. The smaller duct exit limited the cooling flow rate through the front brake system.


The Visa Cash App RB showed an encouraging level of competitiveness in qualifying trim in the opening two rounds of the 2024 F1 season with Yuki Tsunoda even earning the promotion into Q3 in Jeddah. However, the team appears to lack race speed with both the Japanese driver and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo falling down the order in the first two races.

The Faenza-based squad brought four circuit-specific updates to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It included a modified engine cover with the shape and the slope of the top deck of the bodywork having been altered. The team noted that the aim was to improve the flow quality passing over the bodywork before it passes to the rear of the car.

Moreover, the team experimented with a different range of cooling louvres on the top-deck of the bodywork during Thursday practices. The aim was to test a range of cooling options for future races.

The team brought a lower-downforce rear wing to Jeddah with the modified configuration sporting a smaller upper rear wing element. In conjunction with the modified rear wing, another experiment centred around the front wing with the flap chord trimmed down. It was an experiment to tune the front balance level for lower rear wing levels.