Technical: How top teams have developed their cars so far in 2024

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The optimal downforce level has been the leitmotif so far this season with teams' engineers having been eager to improve their cars' aerodyanamic efficiency. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó analyses the five top teams' development path.

Although the current technical regulation has embarked on its third season, the development race is still relentless. While many teams have mimicked Red Bull's development direction with its heavily undercut sidepod design and downwash engine cover concept, the Milton Keynes-based outfit has moved towards the zero-pod concept that Mercedes was unable to master for over a complete season.


For the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari submitted a total of three upgrades. Compared to Scuderia's 2023 F1 car, the SF-24's sidepod inlet has been reworked and raised in conjuction with the new engine cover. The latter has been inflated with a different cooling exit topology and more prominent central exit. The sidepod shoulders are higher and wider compared to last year's car. Moreover the rear suspension has been adapted to suit the bodywork development.

The high-speed track of Jeddah saw Ferrari introduce two circuit-specific changes. The team brought a medium-downforce rear wing that was fully carried over from the 2023 F1 car. The Scuderia explained that the new configuration sports a "depowered top rear wing profiles", and it will make an appearance in further races that require lower downforce levels. Moreover, the Scuderia tried out two beam wing versions: one with the conventional two-element assembly and one with a single-element solution.

Ferrari introduced a new rear wing assembly in Melbourne. The new version sports additional side winglets at the botton of the pylon that supports the rear wing. The additional winglets produce extra drag, albeit Ferrari appear to think that the downforce gain is greater than the loss induced by the drag.

Bahrain Grand Prix: engine cover, sidepod inlets, rear suspension.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: rear wing and beam wing.
Australian Grand Prix: new winglets at the bottom of the rear wing pylon.

Red Bull

For the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix Red Bull submitted a total of seven upgrades. The front wing sports re-optimised wing elements to better attain the pressure gradients and more stable load. The new nose was developed in order to achieve better pressure control along the length.

The sidepod shape has been revised to better utilise the available pressure to feed the radiators or primary heat exchangers. The floor edge sports a more aggressive geometry to attain more local load whilst maintaining adequate stability.

The engine cover has been reprofiled to improve pressure upstream of the rear wing. Interestingly, Red Bull confirmed that they have taken inspiration from a competitor’s design for creating a new front wing endplate which has been better optimized for reduced local loss and thus more load.

The Jeddah circuit prompted Red Bull to bring three circuit-specific upgrades. The beam wing used in Jeddah was a reduced-cambered solution while the rear wing was a lower-downforce assembly to further cut the drag level produced by the RB20. Furthermore, the bodywork panel forming a suspension aperture and cooling exit has been reduced in exit size.

Red Bull did not submit any developments for the Australian Grand Prix.

Bahrain Grand Prix: front wing, nose, sidepod inlet, floor edge, cooling louvres, engine cover, front wing, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: beam wing, rear wing, engine cover
Australian Grand Prix: -


Mercedes submitted a total of six upgrades for the Manama season-opener. The story of the innovative front wing element has been well-docmented with rival teams questioning its legality. The fourth element of the front wing is detached from the nose of the W15 which should improve the flow to the rear of the car.

The sidepod inlets have also been completely redesgined with the new triangular shape improving the flow quality to the radiator and also improving the flow to the rear of the floor. The floor has also been altered to generate increased local load which in turn increases mass flow under the floor.

The W15 was also equipped with a new coke cover that features "softened" engine cover shoulders. Moreover, the team has also designed a range of beam and rear wing configurations that will be used across the season.

The W15 featured a performance upgrade in Jeddah on the front brake duct assembly. The forward element was updated to reduce loading in the hope that the lower deflector achieved improved robustness throughout the ride height range.

Mercedes did not submit any developments for the Australian Grand Prix.

Bahrain Grand Prix: front wing, sidepod inlet, floor body, engine cover, beam wing and rear wing.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: rear corner
Australian Grand Prix: -


For the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, McLaren submitted a total of four upgrades. The MCL38 features completely reshaped sidepod inlet and chassis integration with the aim to improve flow structure management in all conditions as well as cooling performance. In conjunction with the sidepod inlet, the bodywork has been redesigned to complement the changes as well improve interaction with the floor.

The floor edge has been altered to improve both floor loading as well as flow conditioning. Moreover, McLaren designed a completely new rear and beam wing with the aim to enhance efficiency at a given drag level.

McLaren followed the trend of its rivals teams in Jeddah by introducing a revised rear and beam wing. The circuit-specific rear wing sports a lower drag assembly with an offloaded mainplane and flap, resulting in a reduction of downforce and drag. Furthermore, the circuit-specific beam wing featured a new upper and lower element, which, as a result of the interaction with the upper rear wing assembly, led to an efficient reduction of downforce and drag.

McLaren did not submit any developments for the Australian Grand Prix.

Bahrain Grand Prix: sidepod inlet, engine cover, floor edge, rear wing.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: rear wing, beam wing
Australian Grand Prix: -

Aston Martin

The season-opener saw Aston Martin submit a total of nine upgrades - front wing, nose, floor body, floor edge, sidepod inlet, engine cover, rear suspension, rear corner, beam wing.

A key change was the revised mounting position that improved loading distribution of the front wing and the surrounding parts. As far as the sidepods are concerned, the team has carried over its 2023 design path, but it has raised the inlet to better manage the flow to the rear of the car. In conjuction with the raised inlets, the engine cover sports an increased undercut. The rear brake ducts have also been revised to suit the altered rear suspension layout that Aston Martin purchased from Mercedes.

The Silverstone-based squad brought a performance and a circuit-specific change to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The second-quickest F1 track prompted the British outfit to introduce a less aggressive rear wing cascade which produce less drag, but less load as well. The front corner of the AMR-24 has also been updated in form of revised inlet and exit changes. This new geometry modifies the flow around the tyre and improves the wake shape to reduce the effect on the parts of the car downstream.

Aston Martin brought a new front wing to Melbourne. The new configuration sports revised flaps that achieve changes to the loading distribution across the span. The aim was to achieve better balance.

Bahrain Grand Prix: front wing, nose, floor body, floor edge, sidepod inlet, engine cover, rear suspension, rear corner, beam wing.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: front corner, rear wing.
Australian Grand Prix: front wing