after two weeks of extreme formula one
team secrecy
we’ve had a deluge of designs properly
uncovered in pre-season testing
last year’s top three teams mercedes red
bull and mclaren all went out of their
way to hide parts of their 2021 cars
during launch season
and others across the grid have also
kept cards close to their chests
but as testing finally began in bahrain
many tech secrets were laid bare
and there’s plenty that have already
caught our eye
mercedes bounced back from its poor
start to testing by topping day two and
the most interesting part of the new w12
is still its advanced floor design
the team was especially coy about its
floor at the car’s launch where mercedes
was concealing an unusual design with
eye-catching elements at the front and
mercedes floor has a wavy edge from
where the floor sits beneath the turning
veins to roughly halfway to the rear
which artificially increases the surface
on the front corner it has separated the
normally continuous turned up section on
the outer edge into four
segments with another slightly milder
segment preceding that underneath the
middle of the barge board area
in one continuous section the tendency
will be for the rear part to work harder
than the front
by separating it mercedes will improve
the overall performance but more
importantly improve the performance
further forward
and it will help direct the airflow
towards the reprofiled side pods
and direct it to the back of the car at
the rear of the floor mercedes has a
small turned up section on the surface
and another horizontal turning vane with
angled separators
this package is to reduce the amount of
airflow that will be pulled under the
which would reduce the downforce this
area could potentially produce
the horizontal turning vein and
separators will be an attempt to connect
this part of the floor to the turning
veins that are mounted on the inside
surface of the rear brake ducts
the lower ones of which have been
reduced in size for 2021
that’s part of the quartet of aero
changes around the back half of the car
that have cut downforce levels
and this is all part of mercedes attempt
to claw as much of that back as it can
interestingly the details of the aston
martin floor are similar to the mercedes
but before we get too carried away with
the similarity in light of the pink
mercedes controversy aston martin
endured when it was called racing point
last year
it’s worth pointing out mercedes version
is more mature than what we can see on
the amr-21
in fact it’s immediately obvious from
looking at other teams that the levels
of complexity on the floors are
extremely varied and mercedes is at a
different level for now
red bull was the most secretive of all
when it came to what it was willing to
show of its car
with just two studio photos of the rb16b
and a host of assets showing the 2019
rb15 on track
so what’s it been hiding the rb16b’s
rear suspension follows the mercedes
lead from last year in moving the
forward leg of the rear lower wishbone
it’s best described as reversing the
normal suspension layout
red bull has moved the lower wishbone
behind the drive shaft shown in red
our technical expert gary anderson
reckons it doesn’t have a typical
v-shaped wishbone and instead both legs
are contained in a single bigger
aerodynamic shroud
with what we can see visibly marked in
gary’s theory is that it has a bend to
it as well with the forward leg of the
wishbone curved forward to use the same
mounting point as last year where it
disappears under the bodywork
it will still have three mounting points
with two inboard mounts to the gearbox
or crash structure
and a single outboard mount to the
upright the adjustable toe link shown
here in green
is now in front of the drive shaft the
outboard end pickup is on the upright
and the inboard pickup on the gearbox is
in a similar position to last year’s
lower wishbone rear leg
which was nearest to the driveshaft
all of this is to reduce the blockage
between the tyre and the body profile
and also influence the airflow rear of
the drive shaft to help the diffuser’s
if all this works as planned it should
enhance the diffuser’s influence and
increase the underbody downforce which
is vital given the aero rule changes
red bull has also run a different
version of its floor with changes to the
veins on the surface
in the first three sessions of the test
the challenge is to seal the rear part
of the floor as best as possible
and to reinvent all those slots we’ve
seen in the outer part of the floor
develop over the last few years
on the first morning red bull ran its
basic concept then on friday afternoon
a turning vane that we’ve marked in
yellow was added this will induce a new
vortex to improve the ceiling
either pulling air from underneath the
car or at least stopping airflow from
being sucked underneath which we’ve
shown in blue
on saturday morning another two turning
vanes were added marked here in red
these two vanes will change the
direction of the vortex slightly helping
to align it across the front of the rear
tyre and connect it up to the tire
tyre squirt which we’ve shown in green
is generated by the rear tyre rotating
and displacing the airflow around the
inside or the outside of the rear tyre
these vanes will help trying to get it
to the outside which is what red bull
mclaren went to great lengths to hide
its barge boards when the car ran on its
promotional days at silverstone but they
were on full show in bahrain
the barge wars are crucial in channeling
the airflow to the rear of the car and
the underfloor which is why teams put so
much effort into these ever more
elaborate designs
the airflow coming through these
horizontal louvres marked in yellow and
green to note the two different levels
they’re sighted at
is used to help entice the flow out from
underneath the front corner of the floor
which we’ve marked in blue this helps
produce more downforce from this area to
overcome the losses from further
obviously in the end they all merge
together and are pulled through the
undercut side pod and in turn the coke
bottle area by the low pressure area
behind the car
the red line marks the trailing edge of
the floor that’s been turned up
and you can see this turn up increases
as it goes rearward
and mclaren is aiming to get the more
forward area to work more efficiently
another part of the mcl35m hidden at the
car’s launch was the diffuser
once seen at testing it triggered quite
some excitement with suggestions the
team has found a way around the new
limitation on the length of diffuser
but bowing to the wisdom of gary
anderson once more it appears to be
completely legal and with no trickery or
loophole involved
the modified regulations for 2021 do
allow for longer inboard strokes as long
as they are inside 250 millimeters from
the car center line on either side
but there is another regulation that
explains why mclaren was able to have a
more explicit vein last year
but now has a more simplified and curved
shape to fit in with this regulation
the reason mclaren has taken this
approach with the center section which
is called the reference plane
is it will work this area that is lowest
to the ground harder and get more
downforce from it
renault never really had a slimline air
box engine cover combination
but the version on the first alpene f1
car is taking it to the extreme
it’s triggered comparisons with the
legion js-5 of jacques lafitte from 1976
amid f1’s trend of tall air boxes
outlawed after four races of that season
the bulbous solution is a technical
compromise the team has made to have
slimmer side pods
alpine has repackaged and relocated some
of the bulkier internals behind the air
which has created what the team admits
is a fairly spectacularly bulky shape
alpine says the overall aero gain is
worthwhile despite the centre of gravity
and weight compromises that come with
the idea
it has trialled a slightly slimmer
solution as well but this one’s not
exactly elegant either
we know hass doesn’t have the most
innovative 2021 car but this test has at
least finally shown us the real thing
after a brief shakedown video cameo and
a 2021 livery launch using a 2020 car
has committed to limited aerodynamic
development over the winter hasn’t spent
any development tokens and won’t be
upgrading this car through the season
but there are some noteworthy changes
including the introduction of a cape on
the second day
which finally brings hass into line with
other teams
elsewhere the vf21 has the necessary
changes to meet the new rules requiring
a narrower floor at the rear
with a small curve upwards it was also
seen evaluating two different floors
with different edge profiles there are
gains from ferrari’s upgraded power unit
which has led to slightly more tightly
packaged rear body work
but really hass’s biggest changes remain
the new paint scheme and two rookie
those are our tech highlights from
testing so far but have we missed
anything that’s caught your eye
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