How Formula 1's big three diverged in Baku

Discussion in 'F1' started by Giorgio Piola, May 3, 2018.


Crash in Baku..Whose fault was it?

  1. Verstappen

    23 vote(s)
  2. Ricciardo

    1 vote(s)
  1. Giorgio Piola

    Giorgio Piola Rookie

    Apr 11, 2018
    Full Name:
    Giorgio Piola
    Mercedes claimed its first win of the 2018 Formula 1 season last weekend in Azerbaijan, where it brought a special rear wing to handle the Baku circuit's unique demands.

    Straightline speed is essential on the 2.1km flat-out blast from Turn 16 to Turn 1, but reducing downforce to move towards a low-drag set-up comes at a price through the rest of the lap, which is a more traditional street circuit layout.

    The top three teams opted for slightly different solutions in Baku, where Lewis Hamilton snatched victory when teammate Valtteri Bottas hit debris and suffered a puncture in the closing laps of the race.

    Mercedes' spoon-shaped rear wing had two distinct features to reduce drag but improve downforce efficiency. Its shallower outer profile creates smaller vortices and less drag, while a serrated strip with the saw-tooth facing rearwards was placed just behind the throat of the wing. See the video demonstration:"

    The small vortices this sawtooth sets up picks up the airflow, making the main plane of the wing perform more consistently when the DRS is opened.

    Renault's Carlos Sainz described confidence under braking into Turn 1 as "80%" of a lap in Baku.

    Mercedes' solution would have targeted fixing exactly that while running reduced downforce levels because it also helps the airflow reattach faster to the flap section when the DRS is closed.

    The team tried something similar in 2016, but this was in the slot-gap area to improve the airflow reattachment on the flap section of a much larger-section rear wing.

    Higher-downforce Ferrari seeks more efficiency

    The Mercedes drivers were quicker than their Ferrari rivals down the straights, with Hamilton convinced Sebastian Vettel's team went with more downforce.

    Ferrari's push for a 'pole car' – getting a big enough edge in the long middle sector to outweigh its straightline speed deficit – worked with Vettel leading from the front and only denied victory by the late safety car caused by the Red Bulls hitting each other.

    The Ferrari rear wing assembly that ran in Baku is very similar in profile to what they used in the race in 2017, but the mounting pillars were very different.

    In 2017, the pillars mounted to the underside of the wing but for 2018 the wing is hung from the pillars.

    The airflow on the underside on any racing car wing is the surface that does all the work and having the pillars attach to the wing reduces the surface area.

    As the airflow on the undersurface of the wing is traveling very fast and the airflow on the pillars much slower, it can induce airflow separation at that intersection if it is not profiled correctly.

    A small separation just under the leading edge will increase as you go rearwards and you could lose as much as 50mm of underwing surface for each pillar.

    Hanging the wing, as Ferrari has done for 2018, means that the airflow can reattach after the trailing edge of the pillars before it starts to accelerate under the wing's undersurface.

    This all means that for the same wing area and profile the actual wing will produce more downforce and be more efficient.

    Comparing the two drawings 2017 to 2018, the monkey seat wing and the high up T-wing are gone – but not forgotten with the introduction of the new droopy T-wing.

    This just helps tidy up the airflow to the rear wing, making it work more efficiently.

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    Red Bull Racing RB14 rear wing Azerbaijan GP
    Photo by: Giorgio Piola

    Red Bull gives you (small) wings
    Red Bull and the other Renault-engined teams had to go more aggressive in reducing drag because the French manufacturer still trails Mercedes and Ferrari on engine performance and the Red Bull rear wing was probably the smallest in the Baku pitlane.

    Red Bulls seem to have a car that is fairly consistent with its downforce, so it is able to run lower downforce levels than most and get away with it.

    The rear wing is a little more of a W-shape than Ferrari's, but that's no bad thing. The airflow on the centre section of the wing is the least consistent as it has just fought its way past the drivers head, around the engine cover and then presented itself to the leading edge of the rear wing.

    In doing all that it will have lost most of its energy, so it's not good for producing downforce.

    As with Ferrari, the rear wing mounting sweeps over the wing and hangs it from the upper surface.

    This means that there is less disturbance to the airflow on the undersurface so overall the wing assembly ends more efficiently.

    Unfortunately, I sometimes don't have enough time to post regularly, but there is always something interesting on my Facebook page, e.g. up-to-date F1 related videos.
    jgonzalesm6, tifoso2728, NEP and 3 others like this.
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  3. jgonzalesm6

    jgonzalesm6 F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Oct 31, 2016
    Corpus Christi, Tx.
    Full Name:
    Joe R Gonzales

    It was both drivers (33% / 33%) and management (34%)....all share in the responsibility.
  4. itschris

    itschris Formula 3

    Sep 15, 2011
    Full Name:
    Gio...another top post. I have learned more from your posts and illustrations than from any other source. The technology is truly amazing in these cars and it’s the intricacies that make it so fascinating. Thanks for shining a big bright light on it all.
    daytona355 and 375+ like this.
  5. trumpet77

    trumpet77 Formula 3

    Jun 13, 2011
    Great Neck, NY
    Full Name:
    Robert Nixon
    Great point above about Ferrari focusing on a faster middle sector in Baku!
  6. Giorgio Piola

    Giorgio Piola Rookie

    Apr 11, 2018
    Full Name:
    Giorgio Piola
    My pleasure! Appreciate the support:)
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  8. Giorgio Piola

    Giorgio Piola Rookie

    Apr 11, 2018
    Full Name:
    Giorgio Piola
    100% of replies here voted for it being Verstappen's fault..Red Bull's Management actually favours Verstappen, so that's interesting
  9. ricksb

    ricksb F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Apr 12, 2005
    Montclair Village
    Full Name:
    B. Ricks
    Max certainly was a catalyst, but I agree that was a team failure all around. It was avoidable if there were better rules of engagement.
    daytona355 likes this.
  10. 4rePhill

    4rePhill F1 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2009
    Worcester, England
    Full Name:
    Phill J
    The curious thing is, the stewards agreed that Max moved twice in the braking area, but then tried to justify it by saying they were "minor moves" and that Ricciardo had contributed to the accident by moving to the left to overtake "too late".

    Now Mad Max has got form for moving around in the braking area, and the FIA were supposed to be clamping down on any driver moving more than once, in order to prevent such an accident as we had in Baku, but now it seems, you can move around as much as you want, so long as they're only "minor moves" .

    Ricciardo for being blamed moving to the left to overtake "too late" makes little sense to me - it didn't appear to be that late, and I don't recall a rule stipulating exactly when you should start making an overtaking move, and if Max only makes a single move to the right, would it matter how late he started his overtake? (surely the most likely outcome would have been that he would have overshot the corner, just as Sebastian Vettel did?).

    As for the team doing more to prevent the accident from happening - What were they supposed to do?

    They can tell their drivers to race clean and avoid hitting each other until their blue in the face, but if neither driver pays any heed to what they're told, what do the team do next? - Sacrifice their race opportunities in order to keep their drivers in line? Okay, so how do they do that? Which driver has to pay the price and have their race ruined for the greater good?, Verstappen or Ricciardo?

    Early on in the race, when Max was vigorously fending off Ricciardo, whilst at the same time complaining that he was losing performance because his battery wasn't recharging, I was thinking: "They need to swap these guys over and get Ricciardo on his way. They're just holding each other up right now!" , but watching it all unfold, it quickly became apparent that even if Max was told to let Ricciardo through, chances are he simply wouldn't do it. His defence was so stubborn, right up to the point of rubbing wheels together, and pushing his team-mate towards the wall. As Kimi said after the race, the accident was always on the cards, it was simply a matter of when, not if!

    Perhaps they could threaten to drop one of the drivers if they don''t tow the team line - But again, which one do you choose?, and wouldn't that be detrimental to the team in the long run?

    The reality is, whilst a resolution to two squabbling team mates seems simple, it's actually easier said than done!

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