After trying to make their cars as slippery as possible for Monza, the Formula 1 teams desperately threw drag back onto the cars for the tight street-circuit layout in Singapore. Formula 1’s tech team of Mark Hughes and Giorgio Piola explore the different approaches of Red Bull, Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari.
Singapore’s multiple corner sequence means that it is particularly downforce-sensitive to lap time. As at Monaco, teams even add relatively ‘dirty’ downforce here – i.e. wing levels and add-ons that could not justify themselves on more conventional tracks because of the cost in drag. They still add drag here, but the relative lack of straights means that is less punishing to lap time than elsewhere. Force India and Red Bull, for example, each ran with their Monaco double T-wing arrangements.
It also means that a high-downforce/high-drag car will tend to be more competitive here – and we saw the Red Bull RB14 have its most competitive race since Monaco. Team boss Christian Horner feels that the software-related misfire occurring in Max Verstappen’s car probably cost it pole position.
The title-contending Ferrari and Mercedes teams continue apace with development, and at Singapore both featured new rear wing endplates. For the first time, the Ferrari endplate incorporated the McLaren-led innovation of overhangs between the upper and lower parts, forming two big slots in the side below the level of the wing underside
The Mercedes’ similar endplate slots were increased to four. In both cases the slots are placed and angled in a way which implies that additional airflow will be sucked into the wing’s underside. This would have the effect of reducing the pressure differential between the wing’s upper and lower surfaces around the outboard ends and would seem therefore counter-intuitive. However, it will improve the wing’s performance as the car is turned and the angle of the oncoming air changes by reducing airflow stall. In that transient phase of the corner therefore, these slots will be expected to improve rear stability, giving a more progressive build-up in downforce..
Any rear wing will be giving non-constant downforce as the angle of the airflow and the speed of the car changes. But the driver will take his reading of the grip of the car from the lowest point, and if the initial downforce is relatively low, a higher peak immediately afterwards will not be accessible. Progressive downforce will usually be preferred to a wing generating a higher peak number in the wind tunnel but with a more ‘peaky’ performance. These slots probably soften the peaks.