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F1 2021 : The British Grand Prix technical gallery

F1 2021 : The British Grand Prix technical gallery

balls2brakeLate44

Translation: > Silverstone tech: Mercedes' latest update > > With Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas eagerly awaiting the latest evolution of Mercedes' W12, has it produced the expected gains? > > MERCEDES DEVELOPS - A LITTLE... > > After five consecutive losses to Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, Lewis Hamilton was looking forward to the arrival of developments to the bodywork of his black car (as the rest of the parts are fixed) - developments that Toto Wolff says will be the last of the season. > > There has been a lot of talk about the apparent discrepancy between the statements of the Mercedes boss (who said that the car would not be developed any further) and those of his right-hand man James Allison (who corrected his boss's words and confirmed that new features would be coming). In reality, there is always a gap between what has been developed in the wind tunnel and what will be installed on the car. In the case of a front wing, for example, the time lag is several months. > > The new developments by Mercedes engineers are concentrated on the side panel. This part, installed on each side of the car as an extension of the bargeboard, directs the air flow outwards (in what is known as an "outwash" movement), in order to eliminate the turbulent wake produced by the rotation of the front wheels. The horizontal tabs, which form a kind of Venetian blind, direct the air flow outwards and upwards. > > As can be seen from the comparison between the yellow arrows, the vertical deflector at the front of the piece has been cut in half, so that the Venetian blind strips are now significantly longer. Other changes can be guessed at rather than seen (such as the probable enlargement of the quarter-circle piece under the boomerang, itself probably modified), for lack of pictures. > > Further back, the angled deflector that surrounds the air intake of the pontoons has been disjointed. The part is no longer made in one piece, it is now split into a horizontal fin with a turned up edge on one side and a vertical element on the other (compare the red arrows). Their base has also been reworked, as indicated by the blue arrows above. > > ... AND VERY (TOO?) LATE > > As an extension of this part, the Brackley aerodynamicists have reworked the lower part of the diffuser, a fundamental area for its performance. To summarise the changes made, we can say that Mercedes has taken up solutions seen on competing single-seaters. > > The famous wavy-edged flat floor, typical of the W12, has been abandoned in favour of a more straight-edged underbody (compare the green lines). The aerodynamicists have also split the tongue that sends the air flow to the sides by directing it upwards (in an "outwash" movement that expels the air to the sides to divert, and take with it, the turbulence caused by the rotation of the front wheels). > > Above all, the flat floor of the Mercedes has small vertical deflectors (two groups of four pieces), elements that have been present on most single-seaters for several Grands Prix. Even Aston Martin, which shares a similar low-rake concept, installed such appendages much earlier. One wonders why the team has been so slow to develop new features that have long been seen elsewhere. > > LESS WING = MORE SPEED, BUT... > > Anyway, these developments seem to work. They allow the flat floor and the diffuser to work better, i.e. to generate more load. This extra support in turn makes it possible to install a less sloping rear wing, which produces less drag. > > The Mercedes engineers have replaced the "dirty" (i.e. drag-inducing) downforce with a "cleaner" downforce, which causes less drag and thus allows the car to gain some top speed. > > But is this enough? This is an undeniable improvement (especially compared to the Austrian Grand Prix), even if the W12 still uses a rear wing that is more loaded than the RB16B's and therefore faster. In an attempt to make the wing flatter, Lewis Hamilton used a wing without the Gurney flap, the "tool" often used in the set-up, while Valtteri Bottas used one and therefore drove with a little more downforce. Similarly, Max Verstappen used a half flap (cut at the ends), while Sergio Pérez used a full Gurney flap. > > These gains in aerodynamic finesse (downforce/drag ratio) allowed Hamilton to set the fastest time in Friday qualifying (which determined the order of the sprint qualifying). But only by 75 thousandths of a second, and without dominating as much in the Saturday qualifying race. > > > The reason? The Red Bull is inherently quicker than the Mercedes, but Friday's track temperature of 37°C did not suit it, as its camber had been reduced to limit front tyre blistering (another sign of this cautious tyre approach was that the Honda V6's ERS deployment was interrupted in Woodcote - allowing Hamilton to get closer before Copse - in order to reduce rear tyre degradation). > > With less camber, the RB16B was less likely to warm up its tyres on a cooler track. On the other hand, when the track was warmer, as in the sprint qualifying session (49°C) or during the race (47°C), Max Verstappen's car was faster (not in a straight line but over the whole lap). > > A superiority that could not be demonstrated on Sunday because of the collision between Verstappen and Hamilton. We will therefore have to wait for the Hungarian Grand Prix to have a complete head-to-head and get a clearer idea of the advantage brought by the evolution of Mercedes, which seems tenuous and probably insufficient to clip the wings of the Red Bull. > > RED BULL KEEPS SPREADING ITS WINGS > > Less publicised than the Mercedes evolution, a new part has been fitted to Max Verstappen's Red Bull (his teammate usually receives the new specification at the next race). > > Installed at the edge of the flat floor, this appendage has three upwardly curved tabs, installed in a stepped pattern. Given its shape (which directs the airflow upwards and outwards, creating a depression underneath), the purpose of the piece seems to be to extract air from the flat bottom, which seems very strange to the uninitiated. > > Only Dan Fallows (Milton Keynes' chief aerodynamicist, who will be joining Aston Martin in a year or two) and his colleagues know the precise function and role of this strange part. > > The update is the eighth development Christian Horner's team has made in seven Grands Prix. In contrast to Mercedes, Red Bull has constantly added new parts to the car at every race: in Portugal (flat floor, bargeboard, brake scoop, diffuser), in Spain (brake scoop), in Monaco (front wing, diffuser), in Azerbaijan (front and rear wings), not in France (no changes noted, apart from the installation of the second Honda V6), in Styria (diffuser) and finally in Austria (front wing and side panel). > > After seven years of being beaten by Mercedes, the Austrian team has decided to seize its chance of victory by constantly developing its car (whatever the impact on the next season?). It has to be said that the opportunity is historic, with Mercedes never having been threatened in this way since 2014.