F1 2023: Red Bull, Ferrari has lost. Let’s start from a photo we all remember very well. Charles Leclerc and David Sanchez in conversation during the pre-season tests in Bahrain 2023. Like many others who were present that day in Bahrain, we could see how much bitterness lingered in the Ferrari environment. The image unmistakably testifies to it because lying to the soul is impossible. Two dark, arid faces perfectly reflected the mood embraced in those truly complicated winter days.
Today’s article starts like this, recalling not too distant past. This is important because it’s crucial not to forget where you come from to know what the future might hold. Undoubtedly, this is the time of year when speculations abound. The press, both well-informed and not, tries to attract readers by inventing the performance of a car that, ladies and gentlemen, is not only not complete yet but has not even put its wheels on the track.
The world of Ferrari has always been targeted by this type of scenario. Every year it happens, and no matter how “bad” the red car may have been the previous year because in the meantime, the dream of chrome-plated plastic according to which the red one will fly and defeat everyone always makes an appearance. A toxic narrative put into action by pseudo-communicators. Lies crafted with legs under the table, produced ad hoc by information merchants for a few bucks who, despite calling themselves experts, often don’t even know what they are talking about.
And so, Ferrari has already won the championship in January because, frankly, who doesn’t like to gloat, longing for a Prancing Horse in the spotlight? In practice, it plays dirty on the unwavering faith of the fans, nurturing false hopes that unfortunately, much more often than they should, end up sinking into the sea of lies told. Is this the communication that pleases Italy? We believe not, and precisely for this reason, once again, we emphasize it. In doing so, let’s get serious…
While speculating on Ferrari, Red Bull is forgotten: Adrian Newey tells the secrets of the championship car in the wing car era.
Adrian Newey has recently spoken. Every time the genius from Stratford-Upon-Avon expresses himself, he manages to provide a clear insight into certain topics, some of which we analyzed and discussed throughout the last championship. Adrian has provided some truly interesting insights that we will comment on below and that we will discuss again soon. First of all, he talked about bouncing, a phenomenon that has significantly marked the evolutionary paths of several single-seaters, revealing the concrete problems at the base of this phenomenon.
“The problem of bouncing is multidimensional. So we are talking about the aerodynamic shape of the car itself, the suspension, and possibly the stiffness of the bodywork. Technicians have gradually discovered it in the last year and a half.”
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The current generation of cars needs to run very close to the ground to generate the maximum pressure difference possible. As the British technician explained, a serious problem arises from this. From an aerodynamic point of view, the goal is to find the minimum height from the ground at which impacts with the ground (bouncing) do not occur. It is, therefore, necessary to first establish a certain static ride height and then optimize the load parameters around that value.
From here comes the first discriminating factor, that is, figuring out what value simulations should be carried out between CFD and the wind tunnel. The key to making the floor work correctly is to make it work over a range of different conditions that determine the dynamics of the vehicle. Simulations, therefore, need to have a certain degree of robustness. In simple terms, the parameters should not deviate too much from those predetermined when the vehicle is in motion and moves away from the reference height.
A few millimeters of difference, in fact, can completely change the structure of the flow and how it evolves over the length of the floor. From these few lines, it is understood how, at an aerodynamic level, the problem of bouncing is governed by different variables, where the behavior must be understood in-depth to make things work. This considering that there are two other dimensions in which the problem can extend. Suspensions play a decisive role. In this case, too, we discussed it in depth.
The suspension scheme must be able to guarantee a good “ride” while ensuring considerable stiffness, precisely because the further you deviate from the height set by the project, the more the problem reduces its complexity. For this simple reason, in the 2023 championship, Red Bull struggled to bring the front axle up to temperature in general, suffering particularly during the qualifying sessions. Below are Newey’s words on the matter:
“The only weak point of the RB19, if we can say so, was the inability to generate the right temperature on the front axle fast enough to reach turn 1 during a qualifying lap in the correct working range. For this reason, Max Verstappen won “only” 13 poles against the 19 victories.”
Adrian also commented on the famous technical directive DT039, which, since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2022, has established a clear distinction between Red Bull and other opponents. A gap still not filled. We know well, despite Mattia Binotto‘s constant denials (who knows why), how much this measure by the International Federation limited Ferrari, transforming the F1-75 from a winning car into a mere supporting role.
“When the change regarding ground clearances was announced, we discussed it internally. Some of our guys argued that the directive had to be fought. I thought that in high-speed corners, we were behind Ferrari. Our car had problems at very high speeds, so actually that change of direction could be suitable for us. That’s why we didn’t protest much.”
Without a doubt, Newey’s genius lies precisely here, in being able to understand which path could favor his single-seater even without clear evidence. Remember that through directive DT039, the minimum height of the floor increased by 15 millimeters, and the height of the diffuser from the ground was raised by 10 millimeters. The British man also mentioned another interesting aspect related to the more hidden changes that affected the chassis of the RB19.
The chassis of the 2023 single-seater indeed had a very evident “V” shape. A topic we talked about during the Bahrain tests last February. At the time, it was not easy at all to understand the details of this change, while today it is decidedly easier to do so. Essentially, the speech is always the same: with a section of the hull more “V” shaped and less stubby, some useful cubic centimeters can be saved to better manage the fluid that passes through that area and then directs under the single-seater.
In a very simplified way, we can say that it is a larger mass of air useful for feeding the Venturi channels, a tool through which some load points can be recovered. Even the undercut under the sidepods could be increased in terms of volume, bringing a certain advantage in terms of the power of the generated outwash, as the vortex that detaches in that area was of greater size.
Small precautions of great specific weight. Also from this perspective, Newey left very few doubts. He did so by talking about the efficiency of the system that manages the movable wing combined with the work carried out by the beam-wing/diffuser pair, a topic on which we have expressed ourselves many times during the year, defining it as a very important technical aspect to ensure a lot of competitiveness to one’s single-seater.
“The effectiveness of the car’s DRS has improved with a “double kick” in the diffuser ramp, which, in all likelihood, we can define as a key element. With a very aggressive effect of the beam-wing directing the airflow towards the lower part of the main wing, when the DRS was used, it seemed that the stall reached was greater.”
It is interesting to note how the British engineer openly emphasizes the philosophy of “double kick” present on the RB19 diffuser. Usually, this type of observation is not so open. The ‘kick,’ in essence, is that point that marks the beginning of the diffuser, located in the fluid expansion region. On the RB19, there were two well-defined regions with different expansion rates for a clear reason.
We remember, in fact, that inside the floor, there were different geometries designed to further increase the volume useful for expansion. The expanded mass of air, therefore, grazed the back of the rear wing thanks to the direct help of the beam-wing, an element that acts as a perfect extender of the diffuser and that on the Red Bull was noticeably “angled.” Also for this reason, when the movable wing opened, the stall was higher.
Source: Niccoló Arnerich and Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica