They have utilised a feature that connects the rear wing endplate and upper flap’s tip section differently in a bid to help manipulate airflow in this area of the car.
Teams have diligently experimented to counteract the effects of FIA’s modifications aimed at minimizing the turbulence caused by cars. This, in turn, enhances their capacity to closely trail one another.
The FIA aimed to avoid, or at least decrease, some of the deceptive aerodynamic practices that had occurred in recent regulatory periods.
Teams have invested significant resources in optimizing the performance of the vortex shed from this area. This is because it is highly effective and can greatly minimize drag while enhancing downforce.
However, understanding the significant impact that can be achieved by utilizing the potential of this specific area of the rear wing, and recognizing the subsequent influence it can have on other elements of its construction, the teams were determined not to passively accept the loss of that valuable lap time.
This has resulted in numerous variations in terms of the design of the endplate, the tip section and the flap juncture, with the latest interpretation leading to the separation of the tip section from the endplate, with a metal support placed inboard of the outer surface curvature instead.
The idea first emerged at the Monaco Grand Prix, when it appeared simultaneously on the Alpine A523 and Aston Martin AMR23, although both teams did it in a slightly different way.
There are currently two distinct paths of development stemming from the same source. Aston Martin has pioneered one path, which Mercedes has subsequently adopted, while Alpine has forged another path, followed by AlphaTauri.
For Aston Martin and Mercedes, their approach continues to depend on a metal insert. However, this insert is positioned on the shoulder of the endplate, forming a more circular shape for the lower part of the tip section. Meanwhile, the upper half expands outward, enabling a bigger rear cutout.
By comparison, the approach taken by Alpine and now AlphaTauri has the metal support sat further inboard and allows the tip section to become a flatter, horizontal extension of the upper flap. This not only increases the size of the rear cutout but also introduces another shedding surface into the mix too.
Alpine A523 rear wing
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Alpha Tauri AT04 rear wing comparison
Photo by: Uncredited
As it’s perhaps easier to conceptualise how the wing might operate in the closed position, there’s also the performance of DRS to consider and how this new design trend might alter its behaviour.
It will be interesting to see if any of the other teams decide to add this design concept into their arsenal in the second half of the season and which, if either, of the two variants is ultimately seen as the more effective.
Aside from redesigning the rear wing, both Mercedes and AlphaTauri had some additional surprises in store for Hungary as well…
Mercedes W14 suspension detail, Hungarian GP
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Mercedes W14 front wing endplate comparison
Photo by: Uncredited
Mercedes has made some changes to improve the performance of the W14 car. These changes include a modified front wing diveplane and front wishbone fairing. These adjustments were made to optimize the new features that were recently added to the car. The team introduced a new front suspension arrangement during the Monaco Grand Prix, which has resulted in additional aerodynamic benefits.
The lead arm of the upper wishbone was relocated to a higher position on the chassis as part of that update package but the fairing has now been modified and a kink added that should better guide the airflow downstream.
At the British Grand Prix, Mercedes made changes to the design of its front wing endplate. They utilized a curved leading edge and a profile that was angled more outwardly.
To further enhance the new flow conditions that have been created by these changes, it introduced a new diveplane design at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is shorter than its predecessor and more steeply angled.
Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
AlphaTauri raised the central section of its front wing and nose, while altering the spanwise load distribution of the flaps at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as it looked to improve the car’s balance and offer aerodynamic assistance downstream.
It added to this by making changes to the central section of the floor, a feature that’s squirrelled away out of view but has been a focal point for many of its rivals.